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Tutoring and Its Rewards

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April 30, 2013

“Thank you for picking me up from school, Kouta.” She hadn’t given him much notice, but Kouta had agreed to help her with shopping when she had asked him earlier that morning.

He smiled as they started walking. “It’s really no problem. I’m not sure how much I can help with shopping, but I’ll definitely try my best.”

She smiled. “Of course you can help. I was wondering if you could help me find something for Uncle Keiji, something someone who loves games would like.” She sighed as they passed an advertisement for the Mega Man game that had just come out. “I haven’t tried his newest game yet, not that I’d be any good at it.”

”You’ve never tried any of his games?” Kouta looked stunned, much to her amusement. She knew how much her uncle was revered by gamers the world over, but it was especially endearing to see how much Kouta liked his games.

"Of course I've tried," she said with a laugh. "With Uncle Keiji being in the family, everyone in the family has at least tried his games, at least the Mega Man ones, but to be honest we're all not very good at them. Uncle says he can’t make them easier because people would get bored though. I agree, though they’re too hard for me, especially that franchise.”

"...Do you want me to show you how to play?" This was finally something he could help Saki with. Considering how he couldn't help her with school in any way, not that Saki needed it since she was very serious about her studies, this was a rare occurrence. Besides, it was pretty surprising that with an uncle who had produced so many different popular games that Saki didn’t really play any of them – he was sure that her uncle – Inafune Keiji, he reminded himself not to be giddy – would like to see Saki playing one of his games more than anything they could find for him in any shop. Mega Man was a good place to start, since it was one of his most famous games.

"Could you?" Saki's face lit up. "Uncle Keiji will be so surprised! He’s always sad that I haven’t tried playing his new games every time I see him."

Kouta nodded, then suddenly blushed deeply. "Um... but, my Mega Man games are for console only and I don't have them on the PSP, so..."

Saki looked at him curiously. Kouta was always shy, of course, but this was the first time he’d blushed so profusely in a while. "Kouta?"

"... You-you have to come over to my house if you want to learn."

This time it was Saki's turn to blush. "O-oh, I wouldn't want to be trouble for you-"

Kouta looked earnestly at her, his face still fire red from embarrassment. "You wouldn't be trouble, Saki. Really."

Saki looked at him and nodded finally. "Oh, then thank you." Maybe she should bring something in preparation for her visit?

***

May 1, 2013

“Koichi, what are you trying to do?” Meoshi Kana was shocked to see her twin brother Koichi crouching next to Kouta-nii-san’s door when she got home that day from school.

“Kana, shh! I’m trying to hear what Kouta-niisan and the girl he brought over are doing!”

Kana blinked, so surprised at what Koichi said that she nearly dropped her schoolbag onto the floor. "What?! Did Kouta-niisan really bring a girl home?"

"Shh! Yeah, he did! Saki-san, the girl we saw visit him at the hospital sometimes, the one in the news with him! I recognized her voice from the news."

Kana’s eyes widened. Everyone in the family had been surprised to see someone visiting Kouta-nii in the hospital (since he hardly ever went out of his room except to buy games and all) and especially such a normal looking girl and all. Kouta-nii had been very quiet about everything that had happened that time that had made him hurt enough to go to the hospital for a while, so they hardly knew much of what had happened except for what had been talked about on TV. Even their parents didn’t know anything. Maybe they were talking about it? This was her chance to find out more about what had happened, since Kouta-nii would never tell them otherwise! "Where are they?"

Koichi bounced up and down for a moment, clearly excited, before suddenly stopping. "In his room, of course! That’s why I’m well, you know."

“…Are you going to continue listening in on them?”

Koichi nodded. “You wanna join me?”

Kana looked conflicted. Kouta-nii was so nice and Mama always said that eavesdropping wasn’t good, but this was Kouta-nii! If she waited for Kouta-nii to finally tell them what really happened, she’d be well into university before she found out. “Sure!”

******

“And if you’re ever stuck on a stage in Mega Man, there are always walkthroughs on the internet and you know, some people even do what’s called Let’s Plays on the internet, like video walkthroughs so you can see them actually playing parts of the game online. Those can be very helpful.”

Saki smiled as she adjusted her grip on her controller. "I don't think I’ll ever need a walkthrough if you're around, Kouta. You understand everything about games."

"I look at them at times too," Kouta said modestly, his cheeks red.

"More likely to see if anything's wrong in them, I bet" Saki said smartly, her guessing right when Kouta's blush deepened. "I know people ask you about games on your blog too – I’ve even seen classmates look up your website during breaks at school, you know."

Kouta continued to do an excellent imitation of a tomato. "W-Well, because I do have that name online, I suppose people are interested in my tips on games, especially games that are hard to get through..." His eyes widened at the new stage that had just loaded on the TV screen – this was the hardest stage so far in this game, something Saki would most likely have trouble with unwarned.. "Saki, you have to be careful at this stage, there are traps you haven’t encountered before."

Saki nodded. “Please teach me, Kouta-sensei!” She had added the suffix playfully on a whim and was infinitely amused when Kouta’s blush grew even deeper.

****

“Do you hear anything?”

“Not a word. I think I do hear the TV.”

“Seriously, do you think nii-san is just watching TV in his room with a girl?”

Kana shook his head. For all that what Koichi said was true, at least from what she’d heard from classmates and from watching anime, this was nii-san, who didn’t seem to deal with girls well – well, anyone who wasn’t family, to be honest… And it didn’t feel right to spy on Nii-san who was always kind, even if a bit distant from the family… “Well, it is nii-san…”

Koichi shook his head impatiently. “Nii-san is a man, you know? I can’t take it anymore! I can’t hear anything!”

“Wait, Koichi, what are you planning to do?”

“If this isn’t working, there’s always another way!”

“What other way-“ Kana’s eyes widened as Koichi suddenly opened the door to Kouta-niisan’s room.

"Kouta-nii-san! We're disturbing! Hope we won't see anything disturbing-"

***

Saki and Kouta blinked as they saw Kouta's little brother and sister barge into the room, their eyes comically covered by their hands. On taking them off, their shock at seeing Kouta and Saki simply playing Mega Man was somewhat amusing, though it made Kouta turn red.

"What? You're just playing games?"

"Yes, Koichi" said Kouta, attempting to recover and mostly succeeding. "Why, what did you think we were doing in here?"

Saki groaned at Kouta's naivete. Kouta, for all that he'd played hundreds to thousands of games in different genres, was surprisingly innocent in many ways in real life. He must not have played many galge, if at all, she thought.

Koichi didn’t hesitate at all, seeing that his brother wasn’t even touching the girl he had in his room in any way. And she had a controller, for goodness’ sake! Nii-san was so weird. "Perverted stuff!"

"Koichi!" Kana berated her brother though she looked curiously over at her brother’s friend.

"What?" Koichi rolled his eyes. "It's always like this in anime. You know what I mean, we both watched that episode together last week!"

Kana groaned before swatting Koichi on the shoulder. "Idiot, you're not supposed to say that in front of Kouta-niisan, he'll-"

"What have you been watching, you two?" Kouta, embarrassed beyond belief, stood up to get closer to them. “You know you’re not supposed to watch anime that’s too old for you!”

“Like you didn’t when you were our age,” Koichi said quickly. “Besides, Nii-san, we were worried about you!”

“W-Worried?” Kouta looked so flummoxed about everything that was happening that it was rather cute, thought Saki. She decided to help him out.

“Um, Koichi-kun, is it? Why were you worried?”

Koichi blinked upon being addressed by the mysterious girl Kouta-nii had brought home. She seemed so… normal. He couldn’t believe that his brother had really brought home such a normal girl, one who was cute too. Maybe she liked games too? “Because nii-san has never brought home a girl before! Of course we were worried, we didn’t think he’d even know what proper things to do with one-”

“Koichi!” Kouta looked like he wanted to sink into the ground.

Saki laughed, though she felt a blush creep up onto her cheeks. “You didn’t tell your siblings I was coming?”

Kouta shook his head. “They’d already left for school – they’re preparing for a festival and all. I told Mom and Dad before they left, though-”

“YOU TOLD MOM AND DAD?!” Koichi shouted, completely taken aback from his nii-san’s words.

“Yeah,” he said. “Mom especially wanted to meet her too.” He turned to Saki embarrassedly. “She might ask you to stay for dinner, you know, especially since there’s no school tomorrow and all.”

Saki felt she was now blushing. “You did? Kouta, you should have told me! I would have brought something much better if I had known-“

He shook his head. “No need, Mom understands you had to come straight from school and well, after everything that happened, she really just wants a chance to thank you.”

“Thank you for what-“ Koichi started, only to have Kana clap a hand over his mouth.

“Nii-san, Saki-san, we’ll just be going! We’ll tell you when Mom is back, okay?”

“Kana, what-“

“Leave them alone for a while, Koichi!” She had his ear in his hand now and tugged him quickly out of the room, leaving Kouta and Saki to look at each other with amusement.

“So, this stage, the best way to get through it unscathed would be-“

***

May 11, 2013

“Thank you for coming to pick me up again, Kouta.”

“It’s no problem, Saki” he said. “Where did you want to go today?”

“Um, I really wanted to thank you for your help with Uncle Keiji” she said cheerfully, carefully evading his question. “I was able to get much farther in the new Mega Man game compared to everyone else yesterday.”

He smiled. “That’s good. You really improved a lot, I was surprised myself when you got farther than Mitarashi-san especially when he’s been playing the game much longer than you.”

“But you didn’t coach him, did you?”

Kouta groaned. “I did. You can’t believe how much he messaged me at work about certain stages and even called when I was on break. He might just be really bad at those kinds of games.”

“We can’t all be gods of gaming like you, Kouta” she teased.

He blushed. No matter how much he had heard those words from those commenting on his blog online, Saki commenting on his gaming always never failed to make him flustered. Before he could say anything, though, Saki stopped walking and looked earnestly at him.

"Will you get mad at me if I surprise you, Kouta?"

"You-you know I never get mad at you, S-Saki!" His stutter had come back with a vengeance. He was doomed when Saki looked at him that way. He doubted this would change anytime soon.

Saki crossed her fingers quickly as they started walking again. "I really hope so."

"I know so," Kouta countered quickly, now very curious. "Why do you think I'll be mad at you?"

She smiled at him. "Because you might have wanted to be prepared for this-"

"Saki! There you are!"

She turned to see her uncle walking up to them, a bright grin on his face. "Sorry, Uncle Keiji, I got held up at school!" She looked at Kouta, who had suddenly frozen in his tracks at seeing her uncle. Well, she was somewhat used to seeing boys and men of different ages take a step back when hearing her last name or realizing who her uncle was in the world of games. Seeing Kouta react to seeing him in person, though, that was a very interesting thing to see. It was adorable.

"Saki!" His voice was urgent as he grasped her arm lightly. "I know he's your uncle, but that's still Inafune Keiji! I-I can't talk to him!"

She shook her head, amused at Kouta's stammering. It was obvious now how much of a fan he was of her uncle’s games by how torn he looked. "Uncle wanted to meet you, you know, after everything we went through during that time and since you're my boyfriend-" She stopped, now feeling herself blushing, but pushed herself to continue. "And because he really, really wanted to know who taught me to get past all the stages in that Mega Man game. He said that I did better than a lot of the people at his company, even, and especially when I’ve been playing for such a short time."

“Saki, is that the boy you told me about?”

“Uncle, you know him from that incident, remember? But I haven’t introduced you to him properly – Uncle, this is Meoshi Kouta, my boyfriend and the one who helped me get so much better at Mega Man.”

Uncle Keiji smiled as he turned to look at the boy Saki had brought to meet him. “It’s nice to meet you. I have to thank you for helping Saki with my game, goodness knows while she understands game theory well she isn’t really good at games like Mega Man. Made my birthday to see her get so far with my game.”

Kouta couldn’t believe it – Inafune Keiji was thanking him – him – for what he did? “I-It’s an honor! I- I’ve played all your games, Mr. Inafune!”

“Oh? I’m glad. What did you think of my latest game?”

“I-I really liked how you implemented that stage, how the blocks started moving-“

Saki smiled as she watched Kouta and Uncle Keiji talk about the games they’d played and how much work went into them.

***

“I think Uncle Keiji liked you,” she said cheerfully as they walked home later that day, Kouta carefully tucking his autograph from her uncle into his bag. “He hasn’t been able to talk with fellow gamers later with how much he’s been promoting and working hard on this new game.”

“H-He did?” Kouta’s cheeks were red with embarrassment.

Kouta was adorable like this, she thought. Maybe Uncle Keiji knew other game developers of games Kouta liked especially? She would have to ask. Uncle Keiji had been so impressed with Kouta’s helping her with Mega Man to the point that she had played so well a few days that she knew that if he hadn’t been so busy he would have asked Kouta to come with him to an arcade and asked him to play several games with him.

“Yeah, definitely. He might ask me to bring you along again,” she said. “Maybe when another one of his games comes out he’ll definitely ask you what you think.”

“I-I’d be honored!”

“You’re making me jealous of my uncle,” she teased, becoming more infinitely amused when Kouta looked up at her, stricken.

“D-don’t be, Saki!”

She leaned up to press a kiss to his cheek, adding layers of red to his blush. “I’m teasing you, Kouta.”

“S-Saki!”

“Continue helping me with games? I really want to play with you.” She had enjoyed Mega Man, and if Kouta enjoyed her uncle’s games so much, she wanted to play them with him when they both had time.

“O-Of course! Anytime!”

And this time Kouta surprised Saki by pressing a kiss to her cheek.

Even as she blushed at Kouta’s sudden show of affection especially given how shy he was, Saki knew a good line to say at a time like this.  

“Affection + 1?”

Kouta blinked, then laughed. He then murmured something that made Saki blush every time she remembered it for the next month.

“You already reached maximum level months back, Saki.”