I’m Spying on the Heroine in an Otome Game World 3521 min read
Volume 3 | Chapter 9: September (Up) – Part 2
While I recalled maid Maria-jou complete with cat ears, Iinchou took out his cell phone. He pressed buttons or something before he turned the screen to Tsuchiya-shounen.
“Here,” Iinchou said.
“Huh!? Why do you have that picture!?” I screamed.
On the screen Iinchou’s cell phone was a picture of me in a maid waitress dress and cat ears.
“Sasaki-san gave it to me,” Iinchou explained.
“Yumi-chan!?” Come to think of it, Yumi-chan took pictures of me. But to think she would send it to Iinchou… I didn’t see this coming at all.
“Hmmm. I guess it suits you?” Tsuchiya-shounen’s reaction after seeing my picture was very indifferent. Well, it’ll trouble me if he got excited over it though.
“Basically, that’s how it is. I would rather have us do something else over a half-baked maid café. Like a haunted house,” Iinchou said, emphasising haunted house again.
It might be that he just wanted to do a haunted house. Iinchou does look like the type that has fun scaring people.
“Niimi-san, please don’t forget to help out Neo Candle. You have to apply quickly or there’s a chance they wouldn’t be able to use the auditorium.”
Neo Candle was a band made by four boys of our class. They were practising day after day so they could hold a live concert during the Cultural Festival.
“Yeah. They’ve been preparing since spring. It’ll be sad if they can’t show off in the festival,” I agreed.
Voluntary exhibits or shows were considered a separate category from ones done by classes or clubs. The Cultural Festival prioritizes exhibits/shows done by classes and clubs. As such, once the classes and clubs got their seat, it’s first-comes-first-serves for the remaining spots.
Tsuchiya-shounen looked at me with bewilderment when I nodded.
“Come to think of it, why is Niimi helping those guys out? It’s not like you’re their manager or anything.”
“I was there when they formed their group, and that’s about all there is to it. I also participated in their training camp,” I answered.
Tsuchiya-shounen’s expression clouded. “You were at the training camp too, huh.”
We chatted before the meeting and that was when we found out Tsuchiya-shounen didn’t know Maria-jou participated in the Neo Candle training camp during the summer. When summer vacation ended, he heard rumours about it and was surprised. Still, he couldn’t exactly dig up a matter that happened in July when it was already September. It sank restlessly instead in his heart.
“Kyouko-chan was there too. The teacher in charge was Hibiya-sensei. All we did was have a training camp in the academy, so nothing really happened,” I explained.
Tsuchiya-shounen looked relieved. When he was this obvious, I genuinely wondered if he was oblivious to his feelings for Maria-jou.
“What do you think? Is he actually unaware?” I asked Iinchou with a small voice.
He understood what I was trying to say. “I wonder about that too,” he mumbled back with a smile.
The three of us arrived in front of our classroom. All that was left was Tsuchiya-shounen collecting his bag and we could head home.
Naturally, I thought Tsuchiya-shounen would head to the station as well. Yet, to my surprise, he headed off to the bicycle parking lot for students.
“I come to school by bicycle,” Tsuchiya-shounen explained.
“Wow. This is the first time I’ve seen someone who commutes by a bicycle,” I admitted.
The majority of the students here either commuted by train or the bus. However, students who lived in areas without easy access to public transit could commute by bicycle instead. There was limited space in the bicycle parking lot, so you have to apply for space in April.
“Do you bike as a part of your training too?”
“No… My home’s faraway from the station and I don’t like being in a crowded train either…” Tsuchiya-shounen replied.
Here I thought he rode a bicycle as an extension of his passion towards his swimming. It turns out I was completely wrong.
Either way, Tsuchiya-shounen bid us goodbye with a wave and left. I headed to the station with Iinchou only in the end.
The two of us walked leisurely. This was also when Iinchou asked me why I was wearing long-sleeves. It seems like it’s been on his mind the whole day. When I explained, he looked a little bit pained.
“It was tough during the festival,” Iinchou said.
“Yeah… But I’m glad no one asked me about it at school.”
I heard there were rumours going about it, but it didn’t come up as a topic in our class.
“By the way, do you own that yukata you wore at the festival?” Iinchou asked.
“Huh?” It was a strange question, so I was puzzled. The yukata I wore at the summer festival was a iris-patterned yukata given to me by a kind grandpa I met often in my morning jogs. “Yeah, it is. But why?”
“Oh, no, I feel like I’ve the same patterned yukata before somewhere. It feels like something was off with the one you wore…”
“Yukata comes in all sorts of patterns. Won’t there be ones out there similar to mine?” I pointed out.
“You got a point there,” Iinchou agreed. “It looked good on you. It must be my imagination.”
That being said, what did he mean by something felt ‘off’? Like a iris-patterned yukata doesn’t suit my image? But he just said I looked good in it?
“…….What kind of yukata won’t feel ‘off’?” I tried asking.
Iinchou pondered for a moment. “Hmm… Like a goldfish pattern one?”
Is he trying to say I’m childish? So I really didn’t suit the iris-patterned yukata in the end… I feel a little bit shocked. Well, putting that aside, goldfish-patterned yukata are nice. I think they are cute. If it’s goldfishes and water currents then it’ll be refreshing to look at.
“Oh yeah, Iinchou, you didn’t wear anything special. I guess guys don’t wear yukata often?”
“I don’t think there are many guys in the world that are passionate enough to wear a yukata to hangout with other guys at a festival.”
Iinchou had a point there.
Something poked my cheeks when we reached the shopping district by the station. I looked up, thinking it must be raining. The sky above me was filled with heavy clouds that were growing even now. The feeling of heavy rain was upon us was evident.
“I think it’ll be a heavy downpour,” Iinchou muttered anxiously.
I had a folded umbrella in my bag, so no problems here… “Want to run to the station?” We would make it to the station in about a minute.
That was when I saw a familiar person beyond Iinchou’s shoulder. I couldn’t help but snap my eyes wide.
I saw Maria-jou entering a game centre.
Now then, what should I do? This was a chance for me to secretly spy on Maria-jou. Judging from the situation, she was likely in the middle of an afterschool date with a capture target. But which capture target? At any rate, it can’t be Tsuchiya-shounen.
Okay, let’s say goodbye to Iinchou right here. Or at least that was what I planned. I carelessly stared too intensely at the game centre making Iinchou turn around.
“Instead of hurrying, how about we take shelter from the rain? I’m sure if we wait for a bit, the rain will lighten up. What do you think? Niimi-san,” Iinchou asked as he pointed at the game centre with a smile.
I have to admit, I haven’t been into game centres much. I mean, I have the image of them being loud, dark, and smell like cigarettes. However, this game centre had a high ceiling and a cheerful, bright image to it. Crane games lined up at the front of the stores, so it wasn’t too loud either. When I told Iinchou how I felt, he smiled once more.
“Ah, I see. Niimi-san’s image of a game centre where VS game consoles lined up one another for the whole store, right? Games like that are on the second floor or underground. If they dim down the lights on the first floor, it’ll be hard for girls like you to go in.”
It seems Iinchou visits the game centre on a regular basis. He also helpfully explained more to me.
“Crane games are an important source of income for game centres. A game centre that puts efforts will design a space so that couples or families can come in easily.”
Gee, you sure know a lot about this!? I wanted to retort to him but I got distracted by something else. I spotted a duo standing right in front of one of the crane games. It was Maria-jou with Mizusaki-senpai. Faint drops of rain spilled down their bangs.
Iinchou and I walked over to this game centre, but we barely got wet. While Iinchou played a coin game, I spied on the couple quietly.
Mizusaki-senpai put away his cell phone in his chest pocket and said, “A car’s coming this way. Sorry about getting you involved.”
“No, no, it was thanks to that I could take shelter from the rain with you, Mizusaki-senpai,” Maria-jou replied.
“…But you got quite soaked, didn’t you?”
“I’m fine. Also, Senpai, you’re wet everywhere too… Please don’t catch a cold, okay?” Maria-jou said with a slightly troubled smile.
It looks like there was some wet incident. But I can’t guess what exactly happened with this conversation.
Maria-jou peered at the dolls in the crane game with interest. Next, she looked at Mizusaki-senpai with upturned eyes. “Mizusaki-senpai, have you been to a game centre before?”
Mizusaki-senpai shook his head. “No. I always head home by car, so I don’t take detours after school.”
Well, that makes sense. I was seriously surprised when I found out Maria-jou was with Mizusaki-senpai. His fangirls were always around him, yet they were absent right now. How did Maria-jou bring him here and just the two of them alone? I’m curious.
“Want to try it out once?” Maria-jou made a challenging smile.
Mizusaki-senpai furrowed his eyebrows. “Do you actually think I want these cheap toys?”
“We’re not trying because we want the items. We’re trying because it’s fun getting the items with the crane. Come on,” Maria-jou ushered him.
Mizusaki-senpai looked reluctant as he put a 100 yen coin in the crane game.
I learned from Iinchou that the closer the crane game is to the entrance of the game centre, the harder they are. They will also put charming rewards in those crane games to attract customers. Customers will have a hard time winning thanks to the difficulty and find themselves trying repeatedly.
Mizusaki-senpai is an amateur at these game centres but let’s see how his skills are. His result? His crane didn’t even graze the doll. He was always trying to look cool in front of people, so his failure pissed him off. He scowled before putting another 100 yen coin in.
Yet, he failed once again. Afterwards, he challenged the crane machine again and again with no signs of winning at all.
Maria-jou stood at the side with bright smiles. Mizusaki-senpai was getting angry while Maria-jou watched over him even though she knew how this would turn out. …Maria-jou, you’re not a secret agent of this game centre, right?
“Grr… I was so close! Just a little bit more and I would have……. Oi! Honorary member, go and change this to 100 yen coins. The bank should still be opened at this time,” Mizusaki-senpai ordered.
It looks like his expensive brand-name wallet didn’t have any small change left. Mizusaki-senpai looked really vexed as he handed a 10,000 yen bill to Maria-jou. But, Mizusaki-senpai, the bank closed a long time ago. Where exactly was he planning to send Maria-jou to?
“It’ll trouble me if you hand me a 10,000 yen bill. How many more times are you going to play? Also, there’s a money-changing machine right over there, Senpai,” Maria-jou pointed out.
“Money-changing machine? In this store? What would they have one?”
“It’s for people like Senpai who get passionate with crane games. …I’ll go exchange for some coins. 1,000 yen worth of coins is enough, right?”
“I don’t mind. Hurry,” Mizusaki-senpai spat out as he glared at the dolls inside the crane game. I wonder if he thinks the moment he looks away, his prey will run away from him.
The moment Maria-jou came back, he restarted his attempts. After a few thousand yen worth of money, Mizusaki-senpai finally obtained his prey.
It was a big plush toy that was a little bit ugly. It probably wasn’t made out of good material like what Mizusaki-senpai said. Still, he smiled like he was quite satisfied.
“Hmph. Now that I look at you like this, you actually have a cute, charming appearance to you. Alright. Hey, you, I’ll give you an once-in-a-lifetime invitation to my bedroom,” Mizusaki-senpai said arrogantly at the plushie.
Maria-jou giggled when she saw that. “You have a cute side to you, don’t you~”
Mizusaki-senpai’s face turned red. Being called cute must have been unthinkable for him, so he raised up his voice in a panic. “W-Who… are you c-calling……!?”
Maria-jou’s smile deepened.
I had to say, this was a heartwarming scene.
Afterwards, the two of them climbed into the car that stopped in front of the game centre and left. Mizusaki-senpai did mention a car was coming earlier. But a car that would drive all the way into a shopping district was nothing but a nuisance. This said car was also really sleek black with a design like you would see in a yakuza movie.
Once I finished observing Maria-jou, I went to find Iinchou. And sure enough, I found him almost immediately, He was playing a drum game and just finished a full combo on it. A whole crowd of people were watching him play too.
Iinchou is amazing. He’s completely different from Mizusaki-senpai earlier.
Iinchou also challenged the crane games a few times and won every time. He smoothly cleared all the rounds of a shooting game too. I have to ask, just how much has he played the games here? He was so skilled that I kind of want to interview him for an hour.
“Niimi-san, would you like to try too?” Iinchou asked me as I stood dumbfounded.
“If there are people out there in the world who’ll get eager to try after seeing your skills, I would like to ask what they are made out of.”
Also I can’t waste my allowance like this.
In the end, all I did was watch him play. Iinchou eventually presented me with one of the plush dolls he won at the crane game. This plush doll was the same character Mizusaki-senpai won earlier. The difference was the one I have is smaller, fitting right into my palm cutely. I decided to attach it to my umbrella as a strap.
“But I have to say, it’s amazing how you can win this many. Iinchou, is your room actually filled with toys?” I asked.
Iinchou’s crane game skills were beyond words. He only plays one round and captures two, three toys at the same time. If he uses just as much money as Mizusaki-senpai, I wonder just how toys he would end up with.
“I don’t leave any in my room. I usually give them to other people, sell them at bazaars…… Ah, I see now!” Iinchou hit his fist against his palm. “Niimi-san, let’s offer these as prizes in the Cultural Festival.”
“I have a mountain of dolls I don’t need in my house. I was thinking I needed to get rid of them, so this is good timing. Let’s make some random reason and give them out as prizes.”
“We still haven’t decided what to do though. What kind of exhibit or booth do you want to do with prizes included?”
However, Iinchou didn’t seem to hear my question. Instead, he was too busy considering how to force prizes to a haunted house. He mumbled under his breath things like ‘what if they finish in a certain amount of time’ and so on… At the very least, I don’t see our class doing a café at this rate. Maybe we should just do a festival booth?
Soon the rain lightened up, so we stopped playing games and decided to go home.
I took out my umbrella and opened it up with the intention of letting Iinchou in until the station. However, that was when Iinchou took out a folded umbrella from his bag too.
What? You had one after all. And that’s the one I gave you on your birthday.
“Why did you suggest taking shelter from the rain when you had an umbrella?” I asked him.
Iinchou thought about my question for a bit. “I thought it’ll be nice to play at the game centre and also…….” He stopped and gazed at me. “I wanted to invite Niimi-san out on a date.”
Did he really think I’ll be shaken by his words when he said it so aloofly? I stared back at Iinchou with half-lidded eyes. He merely laughed loudly. “I’m joking. …….I just thought it might be a little awkward if you found out I carry this with me.”
His words now were much more embarrassing than what he claimed earlier.
“It makes me happy that you like the umbrella though?”
“…I knew Niimi-san would say something like that to me with a straight face, so I didn’t want you to know,” Iinchou said as he shifted his eyes away.
This time his ears turned red.
□ ■ □
Today was the next day after we changed our seats. I was getting used to my new spot fairly quickly.
At the moment, it was lunch time. I was eating my lunch with Yumi-chan in the classroom.
“Oh yeah, do you remember what I told you during the summer? About the rumours of the church,” Yumi-chan asked like the topic just popped into her mind.
“Yeah… The one where students went to explore and never came back?” It was almost like a ghost story.
“You see, those rumours were actually about boys from Class A. They went missing and their parents filed a search with the police. Matsuri-san was the one who told me all this.”
“Did they really go to the church?” I questioned.
“That’s the part everyone isn’t quite sure about,” Yumi-chan explained.
“If rumours about it are really going around, I’m sure the police will search the church… If they couldn’t find the boys there, they’re probably somewhere else,” I commented.
Still, having a search request placed isn’t a laughing matter. I wonder if we could learn the details from Kyouko-jou, so I glanced around looking for her. However, I couldn’t find her anywhere in the classroom. Maria-jou wasn’t around either actually. The two of them should be eating lunch together — I guess they might be eating outside today.
Designer-kun called out to me as I pondered their whereabouts.
“That’s a pretty annoying rumour~ I’ve been to that church a number of times for Sunday service and nothing’s suspicious about it at all.”
It looks like he overheard us. Designer-kun transferred to this academy because he was interested in the cross at the church. I’m sure this rumour bothers him greatly.
Designer-kun pouted as he stole food from Yumi-chan and my lunchbox. Hey!
“It happened during summer vacation, right? Is guys not coming home really something to be worried about? They might have just eloped with some girls and didn’t feel like coming back,” Designer-kun pointed out.
“No, that’s a problem. The new term started too,” I replied astonished. Designer-kun didn’t help out those guys’ cases at all and maybe even made them look worse.
“If I met my fated soulmate, I wouldn’t care about school anymore though?”
There were problems with Designer-kun’s statement. Yet Yumi-chan looked spellbound and commented, “Kamura-kun is passionate after all.”
It seems like Designer-kun’s opinion suited well in the otome game worlds Yumi-chan likes.
“Well, the problem is that I can’t seem to find my fated soulmate. Hey, Yumi-chan, what do you think? Do you feel like becoming my fated soulmate?” Designer-kun asked.
“I’m not interested in fickle boys,” Yumi-chan clearly turned him down. Her attitude took a 180 from a few seconds ago.
“Che~ You two are the toughest in this class and you won’t come to see me on Sundays either.”
Designer-kun held meetings every other Sunday to find hints for new designs. The people that participated were his fan girls. While he invited boys and girls alike, only the girls went. Yumi-chan and I both got invited, but we have never attended.
“I’m busy during Sundays, so it’s impossible,” Yumi-chan cut him down again with a single stroke. Yumi-chan sure is strong.
“Kamura-kun, you got rejected~” Kyouko-jou said, laughing amusingly as she joined our conversation unexpectedly.
Maria-jou also came around with Kyouko-jou. I’m not sure where the two of them went but they finally came back. Designer-kun went his own way, and the two girls took his place like they switched. I bet Designer-kun was going around stealing bites from other people’s lunch boxes. He samples from a number of people’s lunch boxes every day.
Still, I thought Kyouko-jou and Maria-jou showed up with nice timing. Since I have the chance, I decided to ask Kyouko-jou about the rumours surrounding the church.
“I heard this from Yumi-chan during summer vacation but……” I started.
Kyouko-jou made a serious face before she explained the rumour in detail.
It seems the ghost story and the missing student in Class A were two different stories.
“Rumours about how the church had secrets have been floating around ages ago. With the way you could hear the violin once in a while made it seem like a ghost story too.”
And the said person playing the violin was Tsukishima-bishounen. I’m sure no one really knew though.
“There’s a priest living in that church, but normally you won’t see him at all. Well, he shows his face during the Sunday service, so he isn’t that suspicious. Anyways, four boys from Class A did talk about exploring the church before summer vacation. We don’t know if they actually went to the church or not though.”
“Is that church big enough to even explore?” I questioned.
Kyouko-jou shook her head. “No, it’s actually pretty small. But they forbid entry from everyone but authorized staff, so I can understand the feeling of wanting to go in.”
She has a point. That would stir up guys’ curiosity.
“But it’s true that the four guys went missing. I don’t think the church is involved though. The adults are also discussing how they could have gotten caught in some incident,” Kyouko-jou explained before she crossed her arms. “Well, I do want to do a story on the church at least once~”
As expected of a member of the reporting club. While I was impressed, Maria-jou chimed in with anxiety in her voice. “H-Hmmm… It might be dangerous, so I don’t think you should go… I mean, there’s rumours about people going missing in that place… We don’t know for sure if the church isn’t involved, right?”
For Maria-jou, the church should be the spot where she could encounter Tsukishima-bishounen. She might want to avoid having so many curious eyes looking at the church.
“Jeez~ Maria, you don’t get excited for things like this, now do you. Well, it’s disappointing but I’ll give up here,” Kyouko-jou stated as she shrugged her shoulders.
However, I feel like light glinted in her eyes. It gave me a bad feeling for some reason.
TL note: I’ve never tried a crane machine but I can tell I’ll fail horribly and it’ll eat my money…