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She kept on saying 'tomorrow will be' when it came to meeting Alkaid, that she started to think she's just a coward. She did notice she really is one big coward since long time ago, but for that one reason lately she felt like she was even more of a bigger coward. She wondered if anything were going to be any different if she hadn't changed characters at least.

Unlike what 'Nanase' is, 'Sophora' have his own reputation to keep, anyway. One of a silence. If suddenly such guy talks to Alkaid, it would probably just creep her out or makes it awkward.

Sighing at the tab indicating 'The World R:2' upon receiving an email with an address of festival, the girl in glasses bit her lips once her auto-correct typed 'Nanase' account just below Sophora's.

Of course she could've just logged back in as Nanase and maybe it would be less awkward in calling Alkaid when she met her over there. It's not like she's deleted, just inactive and never used again. Yet, she felt like she needed to proof herself that it wasn't even an option. Shaking her head, she reminiscence her recent worries.

There was certainly a reason why 'Sophora' is a male character. Well, beast, but still male. One thing is so no one would suspect her being 'Nanase', but the other thing was to discover herself.

For the longest time, the girl with glasses thought she were in love with Silabus, the Canard guild master--- well, apparently he's an 'ex' guild master now, hearing that Haseo had taken over that role. However, back then when she worked hard to gain back Alkaid's trust with Silabus and Gaspard's help, she noticed that a lot of part of it were more platonic than expected. It was growing stranger when she decided to make Sophora out of worry for Alkaid.

As she watched Alkaid from shadows in worry of her state of mind after losing from Endrance, she felt something strange. Her feeling to Kuramoto Chika or better known in The World as Alkaid was supposed to be a longing, an adornment of someone she couldn't be, yet she felt something more...romantic, per-say.

When she heard Kuramoto was in coma and ends up visiting her unconscious figure once, that's when she realizes she might have been fallen deeper in love with Alkaid more than she was with Silabus. She knew her in real life, that even she wondered if she knew Silabus in real life instead, everything would be different. Or maybe, she would admit her feelings towards Kuramoto if her family weren't old-fashioned homophobic. Or maybe, if she's a guy. Or maybe, if Alkaid haven't been seen clearly having a crush on Haseo.

All the what-ifs in her head confuses her at some point that she just clicks randomly. As her email rings out notifying some messages from other Moon Tree members-- presumably Hiiragi inviting her out to that place linked, maybe--- she noticed her thought process have led her to clicking randomly near logging in with Nanase. Panicking, she clicks Sophora's account instead and logs in.

If she ends up meeting Alkaid or maybe even Silabus in that field, that's when she's going to say anything, that's the thing she decided.


 

 

"Want some noodles, Mister?"

Never she would've thought Silabus would greet her in such manner right away when Sophora stepped in. Granted, she's Sophora right now and Silabus' selling out some noodles with Gaspard--- they never changes and always try to have fun. Maybe it's just her who changed too much, on a quest of both her sexuality and own power.

All she could do is to make Sophora nod for now as she let him take the noodle and dashes away, but she remembers back her resolve. Running back to the noodle stall, Silabus were a bit confused, asking "Did you left something behind?" until Sophora, or just her, started speaking.

"It's not that. It's just--- c--can we talk for a second?"

Upon hearing her voice, Silabus is stunned for a while. At first it was more looking like confusion as if 'why is one of Moon Tree's captains is talking to me', but as he remembers the voice, his mouth were opened wide.

"...Don't tell me." Silabus says, looking over to Gaspard, who haven't noticed the voice and classic stuttering and was just confused, before looking back at Sophora.

Sophora took off his hat and the girl inside him spoke as she let the beast man wave his hands.

"I--it's me. Nanase. Well, Sophora now. H...hey... it's been a while."

After she said so, Gaspard ran out of the booth to jump on Sophora, effectively hugging the beast man.

"I missed you! Wh--- where have you been and what were you---"

"...Lots of things better not spoken." She bit her lips as she paused, remembering the ruckus with Sakaki and her rather confusion that led her obeying him. "But I missed you two too. It's just... hard to login as Nanase right now and I wouldn't want you two to get involved."

Silabus smiles at her brightly. If it was her a year ago, she would've tripped awkwardly as she tries to conceal her lingering feelings for him.

"You want to consult us about something, don't you?"

"How do you--"

"Hey, we're friends with 'Nanase', and you're actually just her under a new PC. I just knew."

She sighs. Of course. Silabus never changes much. Taking a deep breath in real life, she muster up her courage.

"I.... used to like a guy I was close with as 'Nanase'." She said, not revealing her past crush to Silabus. "But then I noticed I loved someone I knew even in real life more, but that person's also a girl."

"Nanase's a girl in real life, right?" Gaspard asks.

"Y---yeah. That's a part of why I'm so confused right now. Sorry if it disgusts you." 

"There's no way we'd get disgusted! It's okay, don't worry." Gaspard smiles rather adorably and it eases her. Meanwhile, Silabus puts his hands in his chin as he was thinking until he came to a conclusion.

"Sorry if I were wrong, but is that girl you like Alk---"

Sophora's loud screeching sound as he ran over to interrupt him confirms his suspicions. Silabus pats Sophora's shoulder in attempt to calm him--- or more exactly the girl player inside him down.

"Hey, it's okay." Silabus smiles gently before giggling a little. "Sorry, it was rather obvious since we knew from Alkaid that she knew you in real life."

Sophora was in more of silence after that, until Silabus decided to speak up.

"....So, you're going to confess to her today?"

And the shy girl inside let Sophora wear his hat back and answers without looking back to Silabus.

"I feel like I should at least tell her I'm 'Nanase' for now before building back everything. That is, if I meet her here. I don't even know if she would be here..."

Gaspard points at one direction on opposite of them and spoke out something that may have make her screech again if it wasn't for Gaspard's body language that got her prepared.

"If it's Alkaid, she's over there, though?"

As she were a bit prepared, instead of screeching, she face-palms in real life.

True, from a bit far away of the opposite direction, Alkaid could be seen approaching the stall, waving at Silabus and Gaspard before she decided to stop by the noodle stall. The duo notices how Sophora was silent and ultimately decided to leave the player alone as she must be stuttering very hard in real life right now, by returning back to business as they offers Alkaid the noodle.

"I'll take one! Good luck with the stall--- hm? You are...?"

"Uh, um!" Sophora spoke up, stuttering after she grabs Alkaid's hands to stop her from leaving. "I... uh, I..."

Silabus and Gaspard are staring at her with a gaze indicating 'good luck!', and she wants to log out so badly yet she feel like she shouldn't. She set up her courage, before she spoke up.

"I'm... Na--- namely curious about the rumors saying you're dating Haseo."

"H--huuuh?!"

Silabus and Gaspard audibly fell over comically and noticing their reaction, Sophora realizes she spoke out a little bit of her true feelings. Well, she were curious if the two were really dating as the rumor said, yet she can't believe that's the first thing she says to Alkaid after forever.

"I-- I mean, uh." Sophora gulped. "Honored to meet you, miss Alkaid. I--- I'm a fan."

Silabus sighs. He'd pull over a support a la a reliable wingman, and would at least yell out 'She's actually Nanase!' if he could, but he really feel like he shouldn't get in between of Nanase's, or maybe now Sophora's determination. So he decided to let it be and signs to Gaspard to just continue the business and leave the two alone.

"Don't tell me you're asking that because you liked me and is jealous of Haseo or something?" A bit irking, Alkaid's expression is, as she honestly replies. It made Sophora started thinking if she would just think she's disgusting if she confesses that she is Nanase and that she likes her. But she shook off those negative thoughts by mumbling chants, confusing Alkaid to an extent, before she went back to replying her.

"No! Uh, I mean, a part of it was.... but uh, no, I mean--"

"Just spit it out clearly!" Great, now she got Alkaid pissed. 

"I---I'm sorry. It's just..." Sophora gulps. "I--- I don't know how to talk to you after so long and I just--- I mean---"

"For so long--- wait. That voice too. Are you---" Alkaid started guessing, and Sophora just knew it that she already realizes. Chanting random meaningless mantra, Sophora logs out, and Silabus, who was watching them, sighed, as he wondered if it was a failed mission.

At least, until he saw a particular PC going online on his friend list right after that. Alkaid received a mail that leave her suspicions correct right after that and leaves for the deeper side of the area, and Silabus gulps as he prays for the best for Nanase.


 

After the fireworks faded, the stars once again reclaims their position as the light of the night. Upon the scenery, and upon the sight of Nanase sitting down Alkaid grins. 

"I did promise you we'd go stargazing together. Heh, never thought we'd get to it here."

Nanase's been really silent after that and just looks down that Alkaid can't help but wonder if she did something wrong by yelling at Sophora. Sighing, Alkaid sits beside her and decides to stay silent until she could say anything. It feels rather nostalgic.

"Alkaid--- no, Kuramoto-san." Nanase finally spoke up. "I... I'm sorry. For embarrassing you just before by that weird question, also... For not contacting you all these time. It's just... I need to sort out my feelings and gather up my courage."

"No problem, though I rather not to answer more embarrassing question." Alkaid chuckles. "Besides, didn't you visit me once when I was in coma? My parents told me. Thanks."

Nanase gazes down once again.

"S---Sorry."

"For what?"

"For that question. B--but, to be honest.... I am curious. We're alone now, is it okay for you to tell me now?"

Alkaid turns back to blushing in embarrassment as she shifts her gaze back to the night sky and the stars in embarrassment. 

"I'm not dating him. Well, I... like Haseo." Alkaid scratches her cheek before her gaze turns to one a bit sad. "But he seems to have another person he loved more."

Nanase's eyes widens as she felt horrible for asking and assuming.

"S--Sorry!" She blurts out. "I-- I didn't mean to..."

A part of her is glad as it would've meant she had a chance, but she couldn't speak it out to the broken-hearted Alkaid, of course.

"It's okay, don't worry. I'll get over it." Alkaid sighs. "How about you? Got any crushes? It's just fair, a girl-talk to be said."

Nanase really want to log out and run away right now if it wasn't for her determination.

And so, she musters up the last bits of courage she have persistently stored in her heart, before she grabs Alkaid's hand, though she lack the courage to gaze into her eyes and stared at the sky instead.

"I... have someone I like, too. Someone I admire a lot." Nanase gazes at the stars above. "I missed her so much both in here and in real life, yet I kept on ruining all my chances to see her back for real and ends up looking like a creepy stalker---"

"...'Her'...? And that description. Wait, Nanase... that sounds---"

"Yeah, sorry. I'm disgusting, aren't I?" Nanase looks back down.

"...That's not a problem for me, but....How do I say this?" Alkaid turns into a blushing mess. "I feel like... that girl you've described is...me."

Nanase just realizes her rant haven't made the identity of the girl even a little vague. She's the one blushing now as she screeches and her eyes widen.

"Uwaa! I--- I'm sorry! Please forget that!"

"How could I just forget after you just implied me a confession?!" Alkaid blurts out. "I... Uh, I... I'm thankful for your feelings, but..."

"I understand." Nanase could just see herself tearing up. She could already hear her saying goodbye to her second love story in The World. "Please just forget---"

"No, that doesn't mean I reject you or something!" Alkaid yells to interrupt before Nanase got the wrong idea. "It's just... we haven't seen each others for so long that I... probably need time."

"T--Time?"

"Ugh, this is way too awkward!" Alkaid complains as she scratches the back of her head. "I--It's not like I'm not interested! B--but... let's take it easy for now and rebuild our friendship first and meet in real life. Then we think about that."

"...T--that means...?"

"T---try stealing my heart or something meanwhile since.... I wouldn't... mind." Alkaid blushes before she raises up and taking her leave. "Aaargh, that sounds stupid! I'm going back to the festival! Just... keep in contact from now on or I won't forgive you!"

After seeing Alkaid leave, the blushing Nanase gulps. She decided that she still have hope, as Alkaid dashes back to the festival area blushing. Smiling to herself, she logs out as Nanase, remembering the invite Hiiragi sent her to Sophora.

Oh well, may as well asking for advice from someone she knew that's openly gay.