Chapter 3: Kenji’s identity.

I went to visit Kenichi’s house on a Saturday morning.
Both of his parents were doctors, so they were often away during the weekends.
Still, in the times they could sit down with us, they were very good to me.

“Yo, welcome.
C’mon upstairs,” he lead the way.

His room hadn’t changed much, even after the long while we didn’t talk with each other.
Despite his crass way with words, he likes his room clean and preem.

“Nice room as always, man.
Oh, damn, you got a new PC?”

“Yeah, Risa put it together for me the other day.”

Risa did? I was about to ask him for it when I heard a knock at the door, followed by a soft voice, “Bro, I brought you some tea.” Then, she creaked it open to see me.
“Huh, big bro Kyo?!”

“Ah, Risa-chan? …Umm, you’ve become so b–beautiful.”

She’s always been cute and a sight for sore eyes, but after not seeing her for a while, she’s grown up to be an incredibly dazzling girl.
I was so affected by that shock, I sounded like an old man with that lame-a*s greeting.

“Wha— b, beautiful…”

Her face poofed up into a mushy mess of red, along with mine.

“Well, I know it’s nice to see each other again after so long and all, but please, sit down with us Risa,” Kenichi called and she sat down on the carpet.
“Kyohei, you know I’m a straightforward guy, and that I hate slugging around, so I’ll just say it.
Here’s your buddy, Kenji,” he pointed at his sister.

“What?! Big bro, why are you just going out with it?!”

Eh? Risa is Kenji? No, it must be a… They don’t look like they’re joking.
I’m so confused I can barely think straight.

“I’m sorry, Kyo.
I didn’t mean to lie to you, and I was going to tell you myself someday, but… I was afraid.
I just didn’t feel nervous and it was way easier to talk to you that way…”

She desperately apologized, and I didn’t feel any malice in her words.
Does that mean, they’re really serious about it? But then…

“I’m so surprised I can barely put it into words, but… Thank you.
You’ve always lent me an ear to my troubles, and to things I can’t say in real life.
Really, you’ve always cheered me up a lot.”

I tried to speak as honestly as I could.
“You helped me get back on my feet when times were rough, and, um, there’s also the fact we’re an amazing duo in that game…

“I can’t believe it was you all along, Risa-chan, but that’s it.
I don’t feel cheated or anything.
And even though we’ve only ever talked to each other through voice calls, I could tell you were honest with me in every joke and word we had.

I concluded with, “So you have nothing to apologize for.”

“…” She was silent.

“Actually, you were so receptive and mature when we talked, I even thought you were older than me…”

Wait a second.
In hindsight, I remember talking to her about some very embarrassing topics.
To confirm my realization, her face turned from a tomato to a ghost pepper.
Yup, she remembered everything.

“Heya, you two! Stop staring at each other with these red-a*s faces.
Have a cup of tea and calm down.”

I did as he suggested, and I realized I’m the type of person that can calm down surprisingly quickly if the situation calls for it.
Interesting stuff, really.

“But why, Risa-chan?”

She took a deep breath, calmed her own nerves, and began to speak.

“I’ve always liked you since we were kids, Kyo.
My eyes were always on you, even back then,” she paused.
“But after I got into junior high, we suddenly couldn’t talk to each other anymore.

“That’s when my brother told me about a game you were hooked on, and I thought that was my chance.
I studied and practiced a lot, to the point other people started to recognize me for my efforts.

“Then, I sent you a friend request.
And you accepted! That made me really, really happy.
After that, I just had to wait for the right time to reveal myself, but…”

I see…

“But I complained about some heavy stuff and you felt like you just couldn’t out it anymore, right?”


“But why through the game? I would’ve been super happy if you had just come up to me in real life.”

“At that time, you had no one in your mind but Maika…” She said, giving me a sulky look.

“O, oh, yeah, you’re right… I’m sorry.”

“But after you told me all that happened to you over the past few days, I just couldn’t sit still… Kyo, I don’t care if it starts as a friendship or whatever, but please go out with me! And I mean that in real life!”

Risa had a determined look on her face, a far cry from someone that lies for the sake of it.
She’s also really cute.
Even more than that, she took me seriously even when she feigned being “Kenji,” so I have to respond in kind.

“I’d love to,” I smiled.
“I look forward to being with you…”

“Ayo, good for you, Risa!” Kenichi quipped.

“Yup, thanks, big bro.”

“Oh, but let’s keep the duo going, okay?” I said.

“Of course, Kyo! Let’s get that bread and win the next tournament!”

“Yup, let’s get it!”

And this is how I came to start dating Risa after spending a lot of time with each other online.

“Welp, my main goal for the day is a donezo, and look at that, it’s not even noon! So, what are we gonna do now?” Kenichi said with an accomplished look on his face.

“Oh, thank you again, bro.
I’ve been going through a lot lately, and I’m just thankful for these amazing friends I have,” I said so with my heart on my sleeve.

“So you’re the kind of guy who can say some pretty embarrassing lines with a straight face, ay?”

“That’s one of the reasons I like him,” Risa added fuel to the fire.

Stop it, guys, I’ll get embarrassed for real…

“How about if Risa cooks you up a nice homemade meal for lunch, ay?” Kenichi kept going.

“That would be nice, yeah, but I don’t want to take her time and effort…”

“I’ll do it!” Risa protested my worries.
“Just wait, and I’ll prep you something!” She said, tip-tapping her way to the kitchen as fast as she could.
How cute!

“As for me, I feel like I’ve taken advantage of your troubles and roped Risa into it.
Though, with the way things are going, it looks like I don’t need to feel guilty at all.”

“Yeah, thanks again, man.
But wow, Risa’s become so darn cute! I can’t help but be a bit giddy.”

“And I’m just happy her wish came true as well.
In any case, please take good care of her, dude.”

“That’s a given.”

The dish Risa chose to make was pasta.
Despite cooking it up in basically no time, she still made it excellent, hitting all the right notes for my own taste.

“This is spectacular! You’ll be a good wife, Risa-chan,” I said without thinking, to which both looked at me in awe and shock.
“Oh, sorry! This is gender discrimination in this day and age, isn’t it?” I apologized for my gaffe.

“No no no, I was just admiring the speed of it all.
I mean, you just started dating, right?” Kenichi kept his dumbfounded look, and Risa’s face was kissed in red, aghast.

Finally looking back on what I said, I feel my face start to burn with embarrassment as fuel.

“Kyohei, you really say the most embarrassing things without batting an eye, ay?”

“I, I’ll give it my all to become the best wife!” She was out of control.

“T, thanks,” that’s all my flabby-a*s brain could come up with.

“Oh no, I’ve witnessed the birth of the newest couple of idiots in town,” Kenichi’s voice was rather distant as he muttered in dismay.

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