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How aggravating that girl Merui is. While I was busy typing up the rules for the Computer Club Tournament during lunch, she came bouncing over and interrupted me.
Trying hard to hide my annoyance, I gave her a nod to go on as I continued typing. Then, she had the audacity to ask why I wasn't replying, as if accusing me of being rude – instead of her. In any case, she told me to fix the computers, as the internet had disconnected for the third time that day. All so she could continue playing Rivenwell Online, of course. It's not as if I'm responsible for the computers. Really, did she think I was the school's IT guy?
Actually, I think she might've at first. I recognized her, of course. She's the girl who's always playing RO in the corner during every Computer Gaming Club meeting – though she apparently did not know I was Travis, the president of that club. I think she's a little dim... or at the very least dense.
So I shut her up by promising to help her if she solved that little puzzle about knights and demons someone had told me last time I was on RO. She looked completely befuddled as I left the computer lab for class.
When I returned after school, she came back to gloat that she'd found out the answer to the puzzle – though of course someone had told her. She's not sharp enough to figure it out for herself. She insisted I keep my promise… only the connection was already back on.
She looked rather put out… But I mean, I did tell her I had no control over the network. You just have to wait. She got fooled of her own choosing.
But I must not think of her any more.
Did I just not tell myself to stop thinking of her?! So why then did I just look at her Spacebook profile? Though the profile was rather informative ...
Ah! I must stop with this tendency. I confess I would otherwise be nervous conversing with her. I consider ignorance about the people one speaks to a social disadvantage.
I again saw Rui – Merui – her Spacebook said she liked that name. It's a nice name, and more suited to her clumsy tomboyish tendencies. As if to prove this point, she started off the morning by bumping into me in the hallways. She then gave me a dirty look and said I wasn't a human being. I wonder if she knows that such insults from her aren't insulting at all? She's much too open and quick-tempered to mean them. In fact, it's rather endearing.
I must stop. Brian and Tom are playing cops and robbers and making a great deal of noise. Mom may be home from the hospital now, but she's still quite weak. I must shut them up and make dinner before Dad gets back. What should I make? Hm… I wonder.
Richard got food poisoning. I did tell him during lunch that shrimp should not be green. In any case, there was suddenly no one to keep track of the club tournament's eliminations. I could not do it, as I had to oversee the rounds. Thankfully, Rui offered to help out when I told her I would pay. Though she's part of the school's after school work program, it pays scarcely anything. Of course, if it did, I would not be a Global Moderator for RO and risk getting expelled; but it's what I expect from a school which cannot maintain its computer labs but replaces the gym's floor every year. If I didn't think the school elections weren't just a popularity contest, I'd run, if only to get more funding and repeal that stupid "no outside work" rule once and for all.
Rui did a good job, actually. Double eliminations are tricky, but she made no mistakes. When she finished, I smiled and paid her. She seemed a little taken aback that I could actually smile.
Ran into Rui in the morning again. She looked like a panda, the circles beneath her eyes were so dark. Too much Rivenwell, I suppose.
I recommended her to check out Diamond Moon. The latest installment just came out. For one thing, it has an actual plot. For another, the main character is exactly like her.
But why do I feel that I'm just helping her stay sleepy in class…? I can't imagine her grades are that high as it is.
Augh… What an obvious answer. "Does one plus one equal two?" As the demon lies and the knight doesn't, the demon would have to say "no" and the knight "yes"…
How aggravating! The thought never struck my mind How could that possible be a solution the puzzle? It's something a child would think of. No, it's something only she would ever think of.
And why must Rui be shocked every time I am nice? Does she consider me such an unpleasant human being? Should it be a surprise that I apologize after accidentally bumping into her? If anyone's rude, it's her. She was the one who insulted me after she ran into me a few days ago!
Really, did she expect me to say, "Watch where you're going, you stupid girl!"? What am I, some sort of catchable guy from those girly Japanese video games?
Rui came by the computer lab during lunch today. Since you're not allowed to eat in there, I thought she had skipped lunch. After all, girls are continually on diets.
It turns out she actually just shoveled all her food into her mouth and ran to the lab. The girl seems addicted to video games and Spacebook. I wouldn't be surprised if she has a stomach ache tonight. Silly girl.
Rui stopped by the computer lab during lunch again. When I saw her come in, I quickly shut down RO, but she's so unobservant she didn't seem to notice She's been coming in a lot lately. I asked Rui if she had any actual friends to eat lunch with, and she told me I counted as a friend.
Had to freeze nearly 6 RO accounts today. Do these people actually read the rules?! They clearly state that bets made on and off RO concerning RO items breach the rules of the games. They are furthermore illegal. In a court of law, the bets can easily be misconstrued as underage gambling, as the majority of RO players are below 18 and pour millions into RO goods each year.
Rui didn't come to the computer lab after school today. I did not see her in the hallways or during lunch either. I suppose she's bored of video games.
As I was walking to Gamego to grab that new Demon of Edo game, I saw Rui with our school's vice-president, Derek or something. They were walking around the mall chatting. She looked happy, like she was on a date. I don't think she saw me.
Really, that popularity-hoarding basketball jock with his obnoxious smile and that insipid pink streak in his hair? What does Rui see in that guy?
Demon of Edo is excellent. There was one particular tricky spot where you have to time your entrance perfectly in order to get into a castle. It took a bit of practice but I finally got in. The rest of the game is a breeze.
Rui hasn't been around lately. I think she's been eating lunch in the classroom and leaving school with a boy in her class. He's tiny, four or five inches shorter than me, with earphones constantly around his neck. They're RO merchandise, I think. So he plays RO as well. Figures. Perhaps they play RO together in his house.
The computer lab is much quieter without Rui around.
There was a Computer Game Club meeting today. The members teased me about playing RO. Apparently, it's not hardcore enough – but it pays me very well for being a GM. With how tight money in our family is lately, I'd be a fool not to play. Furthermore, it's has many strategic elements and a compelling plot. Who decides what is or is not hardcore anyway?
I haven't seen her in so long I've forgotten how much of a fool she makes me act!
Why does it not surprise me that Merui is one of those players who have never read the rules of RO? I was in the lab by myself and monitoring the RO when she showed up. Of course I angled the screen away so that she couldn't see I was a GM. She suddenly got suspicious and confronted me about calling her "Rui". I had to tell her that I looked at her Spacebook account. That was mortifying enough, but not all.
I then quickly changed the conversation by asking why she cared about the nickname. It turns out the fool's name on RO is Ruiofthesword and a player named Alistair had made a bet with her. He's a student of this school, and if she finds out his identity he'll return her Blessed Stone. Apparently, she thought I was the guy who had stolen her boss and loot. How flattering.
Thinking to be a nice person, I let her know that was illegal. She should just call it off and report it to a GM. Instead of thanking me, she started prying into how I play RO instead! She thinks I'm hiding that fact from the Computer Gaming Club because I have to keep up my image as its president! Hah! Does she really think I'm that vain?! At that point, I was so angry I pressed her against the wall and told her to mind her own damn business.
She looked so shocked my anger softened. I noticed then that her lips were a soft plump pink…
Of course, I quickly recollected myself and made a bumbling job of clarifying that what she thought wasn't true. She still looked shaken and unconvinced when she left the room.
I did not see Rui - No, Merui - today. I think she's keeping clear of me. But I couldn't very well tell her I was a GM, could I? She has a loose tongue. If she let it slip, I would be expelled from the school! Mom would never be able to take the stress. And the rumors. I only transferred last year to be closer to Mom and save the tuition money, but all those idiotic rumors painting me as a stoic first-shooter gamer mafia started.
I did not mean to argue with her. It just slipped out. And after a week of not seeing her… for that to be our first re-encounter – but what do I care what she thinks of me? It's not as if I do not know she has had a poor opinion of me from the beginning.
Has she called off the bet? Hm… I wonder. Who is this jerk anyway? How dare he act in such a manner against her? It's not only against RO rules, but against internet protocol. Can she take care of this by herself? I somehow doubt she'd be able to find the culprit.
I can not sit still. I am after all a GM – but how can I approach her again? No. That would never do. She's probably still angry… but I can email her. I'll ask what server he plays on and track him down. Hopefully her email address is in the student database.
I know what server Alistair is on now. It will be easy tracking him down, but I still need evidence against him. I can't ask Ruiofthesword. Merui will know Oda is me if he suddenly comes over asking for the chat log. There's this girl she always plays with. FionaWings. If she was present when the chat was made, she will also have the chat log.
Merui was in the computer lab during lunch playing Demon of Edo. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I hadn't offended her enough to keep her away. But maybe she just didn't care enough about me? Hm… I wonder.
I was determined to show her that I could be nice, and so I readily helped her when she complained about how she could not get into the castle. It was the same spot I had trouble with a few weeks ago.
I could feel her eyes staring at me. I must've looked ridiculous. A 5'11" 17 year old guy playing Demon of Edo on a pink DSP while his glasses dangle on his neck.
But I got it eventually. She looked a little flushed as I was giving it back to her and wouldn't look at me. I don't think she noticed me leaving, her eyes were so glued to the game. I didn't think she'd be so into Demon of Edo. So she does not mind gore. Good. I do not like squeamish girls.
Merui comes by nearly every day now. I think I'm getting attached to her chatter. Today she told me she tried out Diamond Moon, and it moved her nearly to tears. When I told her she reminded me of the main character, she looked extremely confused. I bet she's wondering whether that's a compliment or an insult.
It's quite fun teasing her.
I give up on writing that incident report for RO. While I was typing, the image of Merui's lips while I was pressing her against the wall came rushing into my memory. What is wrong with me? I could barely type anything legible after that.
Another long week done! Fridays are quite nice. Merui seems to share my sentiment. She came to school wearing track pants. I had fun teasing her for a bit about them, but I think she's beginning to get me. She didn't seem at all offended, even when she thought I was implying that she never dressed well. It's nice to meet a girl who is not so hung up on fashion she won't wear something comfortable for once.
But of course I wasn't implying that she never dressed fashionably. She does sometimes, though she doesn't need to. Even without fashionable clothing she's cute enough. Ah, what am I writing? I think Merui is stealing my sense. She's becoming more and more sensible while I'm becoming more and more insensible.
Weekends mean more time on RO. As I still have no evidence against Alistair, I've basically been making his life on RO as miserable as possible. Challenging him to duels and beating him soundly, the like. Hmph. He's nearly 20 levels below me. What a weakling. No difficulty at all.
Today was Tom's birthday. Mom came downstairs for the first time in awhile, and she looked so much healthier. I gave him that video game he's been begging for. He was so pleased he even did the dishes. And he hates doing dishes so much I have to do them even when it's his day to take care of the chores. While he was gone, Mom whispered, "Thank you. We wouldn't have been able to buy it for him otherwise." She looked so happy. But if it wasn't for the GM job, I wouldn't have been able to afford it either.
I suppose I've gotten attached to Rui. She's easy to be around. Most students at this school are either scared off by those stupid "mafia" rumors or are intimidated by my demeanor. On the other hand, Rui is never stilted around me. She laughs. She teases. She gets mad. One moment she's dense, the next surprisingly keen. Though she complains about me incessantly, she's eager to help me and seems to enjoy my company.
Take today, for instance. The entire network crashed, and I was going around manually resetting each computer. I had started with hers first, figuring she'd come in playing RO before leaving for work like she usually did. She did come in, like I expected, but unlike what I expected, she didn't demand I finish quickly. I teased her about it and we bantered like we often do. She even copied my "Hm…I wonder." (Do I even say it that much?) She sounded so much like me I had to stop myself from bursting out laughing.
Though no doubt I smiled. It's hard not to when she smiles so disarmingly and speaks with such playfulness.
But she had a stronger head than she lets on. Rui got mad for my sake when she heard what I was doing. She demanded to know why I had to take care of the computers when the school didn't pay me. I told her I was only doing the logical thing. If no one took care of the computers, the computers would continually be down, and where would we be? To my surprise, she smiled that captivating smile again and told me I was a much nicer person than I pretended to be. Apparently, she didn't buy my "logic". I can't say I mind. I could say the same for her. After wards, she skipped work and helped me reset all the computers. I wasn't even paying her.
But maybe all this is just her personality?
At least I know she no longer seriously considers me an unkind, rude human being. I want her think well of me.
This is ridiculous. This is my journal. I must be honest.
I'm omitting something.
I was showing her how to reset the computers. She had the processes open, but was clicking the wrong file, so I leaned over and placed my hand over hers to move the mouse. Her hand was warmer, softer, and smaller than mind. Her entire hand could've fitted in the palm of my hand. I suddenly became conscious that my chest was pressed against her back and my head was almost against hers. Her chestnut-brown hair tickled my neck. I realized she used a floral shampoo I quite liked. Though I did not suffer from asthma, I had all the symptoms of it. I could not breathe. My heart felt like someone was violently squeezing it. I moved the mouse to the correct file as steadily as I could and calmly explained the rest of the procedure.
As soon as I stepped away from her and busied myself with the computers, the symptoms disappeared. When we were done with all the computers, she turned back to me and grinned, exclaiming, "Yes!" My symptoms returned. I thanked her once or twice and left.
I must be sick. Surely.
Who am I kidding? I am not sick. Thankfully I have a poker face and am not one to blush. I may very grateful to her for last night, and for the tournament, and for the countless other times when her presence cheered me, but I am not simply grateful.
But confessing is out of the picture.
Though she is much friendlier to me now than before, she certainly does not like me. There is that Derek guy, who causes a frenzy from the girls every time he walks by. I may not care for popularity, but I know it when I see it. And that guy she sees in class everyday. She spends much more time with him than with me.
I came home and snapped at Tom. He ran screaming to Mom. I suppose I can't blame him. He only forgot to put away his shoes, and I hardly ever snapped at either of my brothers. Then, I burned the steaks I was cooking for tonight's dinner. Brian and Tom ended up cooking instead, and we ate nothing but salads. I must be exhausted.
I saw Rui after school today, but could not stay long. Today was my turn to cook dinner. She seemed shocked when I told her this. I suddenly had an impulse to tell her about my family. Rui has been so… open… with me, since the beginning, it was only courteous to repay some of the trust. So, I told her my mom was still undergoing treatment, though her cancer was gone, and that my brothers and I took care of the family while my dad worked. She seemed impressed that I was so responsible; but I am the oldest brother. I have to be.
I envy her carefree nature.
I kept being a GM to myself, however. Someday, soon, I will tell her. Maybe after I successfully ban Alistair. Until then… I can only hope she continues to think better of me.
It's become our custom to see each other in the computer lab at lunch. Merui wasn't paying much attention to me. She was watching some cats video… and then she suddenly mentioned she'd probably wouldn't see me after school that often until the end of the month. Apparently, she's behind on a school project about Athens. She's been working with that boy in her class. That explains why they sometimes walk home together.
And she hasn't seen Derek lately, I think. I mean, I see her most days after school. If she does not like someone else, perhaps it's not hopeless after all.
I left school right after classes ended. The deadline for that bet Rui had with Alistair was fast approaching, and I still had no evidence on him. Even if she correctly figured out his identity, there was no guarantee he would return the Blessed Stone. Even if he did, the bet was still illegal. I had to ban him, but I can not without a chat log. I've been hoping to come across FionaWings, but I haven't seen her at all… What if I can not ban him before the deadline?
Though I assure you I have no ulterior motives for helping Rui. It simply incenses me to see someone trick Rui. I can not stand to have her treated that way. But I would not protest if she thinks better of me for it… Augh! No. I have no ulterior motives. None.
Finally! Talked with FionaWings. She will send me the chat log. The chat log will be enough evidence for me to freeze Alistair's account. Rui will no longer have to worry about him. I shall tell her the good news on Monday.
She was not lying about rushing on that project. I did not see her during lunch or after school today. No matter. Tomorrow is the Tuesday, June 30th, the deadline. I will ban his account tomorrow at lunch and tell her.
It's done. It's done.
I was walking in the hall after school, trying to find Rui. I had made up my mind. I would tell her I was a mod, I had banned Alistair, and that I liked her. While gathering my courage, I suddenly heard Rui's voice rising in outrage. I turned the corner to see that boy Derek hovering over her, sneering. As I got closer, I could hear her ask, "Wait, what about my Blessed Stone?" and him reply, "What? You're still hung up over that?"
When she reminded him they had a deal, he paused, put his hands in his pockets, wrinkled his noise, and said, "I'm afraid I don't remember what you're talking about." Rui was nearly in tears at this point, she was so angry.
I couldn't take it any more. I stepped in and said, "Funny, because the chat record certainly does."
He went pale. Obviously, even if Rui didn't know the rules, Derek did. I advised him to desist from the offline harassment, or the mods would have even more to take care about. He slammed a locker so hard as he left its metal dented.
He'll have a nasty surprise tonight when he tries to go online and find his account gone.
I can't believe Rui never suspected I was a GM. Really, how dense is she? Did FionaWings not tell her Oda had been asking about Alistair? I told her I've been hiding it carefully in school so that I would not be expelled, and online so that other players wouldn't treat me differently. I even said her it was against GM protocol to confront a player offline… which led her to ask why I took the trouble.
When I told her honestly that I couldn't stand him treating her like that, she didn't get what I was implying. What a great time for her to be dense… and so I – and I – Well, it was as good as any opportunity for confessing I would come across. She was thankful, and as I was unloading all my secrets anyway…
And so I told her... that I liked her. That I felt inexplicably drawn to her. But as soon as I said it, I regretted my words. She looked shocked – almost displeased. Even though I had told myself not to expect any reciprocated feelings, even though I told myself it didn't matter... her silence stabbed at me. It was as if she was searching for the right words to reject me. It hurt. I didn't want to hear them. I turned and made to walk away… when I felt a hand on my sleeve pulling me back.
"Wait!" she exclaimed. Her face was almost the color of her hair. "I…I like you, too," she stammered, "Even…even though you're difficult sometimes, I think it's just because you mean well. You're a lot nicer than you let on." She was not searching for the words to reject me.; he was searching for the words to accept me.
I blushed. I could tell I was blushing. I couldn't even think of any better reply to what she told me other than "Thanks". And to think I was hoping my poker face would carry me through.
She flashed that disarming smile of hers again. "So, what do you play as?" she asked.
"A guardian," I said.
"So if we teamed up, you'd protect me?"
She was teasing! I regained my composure, and, as she enjoyed teasing me so much, supposed I could play along too.
"Of course, my lady. I will protect you with everything I am," I said exaggeratedly, even taking her hand and bowing.
She laughed, protesting that she was a knight and didn't need my protection.
"I meant in real life," I said, and pulled her in for a hug. I was not usually so impulsive, but I guess Rui and joy had a strange effect on me.
I tilted her head up. The last time I was this close to her, I had warned her to not get too close to me. To imagine, this is where we ended up… and that it was me -me- who had willingly revealed everything in the end. Her brown eyes stared up at me, the lips I had noticed before curving into the smile I loved. I bent my head… and kissed her.
My entire family asked me why I was so unusually happy today. I'll tell them later. Should I invite her to dinner next weekend? I could cook… I want them to see her. Hm… I wonder.
Rui played another trick on poor Oda again. When I left the computer lab for a bit, Rui took the opportunity to leap onto my computer. When I came back, I was of course immediately suspicious. After she equipped Oda with a reindeer costume during Christmas, I didn't trust her anywhere near him unsupervised.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
She gave me that sweet innocent smile of hers. "Nothing," she said. Hah. Maybe I had fall for that one early on in our relationship, but not anymore.
"Let me see!" I demanded, hoping she hadn't equipped Oda in a bikini.
She jumped quickly away, but, being clumsy, tripped on the chair's legs and collided headfirst into my chest. I wrapped my arms around her and smirked.
"Let go," she snarled. "No," I said. This was prime teasing position. "Now that I have you captive, are you going to tell me what you did?"
I could tell she was trying to hide a smile as she said that I was threatening her. When I denied that I would ever threaten my princess, she glanced up at me, an eyebrow raised, and demanded to know what I was doing if not threatening her. "Don't tell me you're flirting with me!" she said, her eyes dancing.
Like I would tell her that's what I've been doing our entire relationship. So I just said, "Hm…I wonder."
Does she know that in actuality, it's not me who hold her captive, but she who holds me captive? Probably. Rui may be forever pretending to be naïve, but she must know how I feel about her. Else she wouldn't poke and prod me like she was doing then so often.
"Princess, have I told you that you're a tease?" I asked, running my hand through her soft hair. She laughed, stood on her tiptoes, and pressed her lips against mine.
Not that I don't enjoy it.
She equipped Oda with Fluffy Bunny Slippers.