Yumi gives me a spare change of clothes since my uniform was ruined by the fight earlier in the day. We let Hitomi and Rika know that we were going out, and left our numbers on the table in case they needed to call us. Though, judging by the sound of their passionate sex and Rika's familiar loud moans, they probably didn't hear us. Whatever Hitomi was doing to her in there has me a little envious since it was almost me.
Yumi grabs her stuff and then takes my hand. "Come now. The lovebirds would like their privacy. Ufufu~"
A taxi pulls up on the side of the road outside of her apartment. She opens the door for me, and then comes inside right after.
"Tsukiji Boardwalk, please." She says to the driver.
"Couldn't we just fly there?" I ask quietly.
"It's true we can easily fly there, but you miss out on quiet moments like this." Yumi reaches into her purse and pulls out a piece of candy for me. "Would you like one?"
"What am I? A kid?"
"Ah. It's a habit! How about this?" She puts the hard candy away and offers me gum instead.
"I'll… take it."
I pop the cool mint gum into my mouth, and after a few chews, a minty flavor quickly spreads across my tongue. It's almost therapeutic.
"The thing about Mio is, Hana and I were her only friends back in Elza." Yumi begins, leaning back on the headrest with her eyes shut. "The other succubus teased her because she was Queen Beatrice's little sister. Mio was doted on, sheltered, and kept her out of the war. Naturally, our peers saw that as favoritism and didn't like that."
"Next, you're going to tell me that's why Mio became such a trickster."
Yumi giggles, reminiscing of a memory she had with Mio.
"Can you say you haven't had fun since meeting her?" Yumi asks.
"I would be lying if I said I haven't…" I glance down at my hands. "Is it normal for two succubus to uh… fall in love with each other?"
"Ara, ara! It isn't just like? You love Mio, don't you?"
Blood rushes to my face. "I didn't say her name!"
Yumi pinches my cheek and smiles. "It's written all over your face."
The taxi jerks to a stop. Yumi pays for our fare and we come out onto a boardwalk crowded with people. Beyond them is a whole carnival set up along the length of the pier and road. Bright neon lights flash into the night, a giant ferris wheel rotates and its carriages rock slowly as it moves, it's a spectacle against the starry night in Tsukiji.
Come to think of it, Tsukiji Boardwalk hosts a carnival twice a year. One marking the beginning of Summer and another marking the end of the sweltering season. Carnivals always seemed so childish to me. The idea of paying so much money to play games set up to be stacked against the player, and the only prizes are stuffed animals that I can buy online is silly to me.
If it weren't for Yumi's spontaneous decision to take me out, I would be at home reading manga. I glance over to her, and she looks absorbed in something on her phone.
"What are we doing at a carnival?" I ask, drawing her attention away.
Yumi stuffs the phone back into her purse. She fishes around until she finds two tickets. "What you're supposed to do at a carnival— have fun!"
We head to an exchange booth where Yumi exchanges a five-thousand yen bill for two cups full of game tokens. She hands one of the cups to me.
"Let me pay you back—" I reach for my wallet but she wags a finger in my face.
"Tsk, tsk. This is my treat," she says, patting my head. She takes my free hand and pulls me down the boardwalk lined with a myriad of games. "See anything you want to play?"
"Even if you ask me that…"
Glancing around, nothing particularly comes to mind as fun for me. It's as I thought— I'm old enough to be working a job, none of these are appealing to me.
I'm getting bored walking around, and just as I'm about to ask Yumi if we can go home, a balloon darts game catches my attention. Not the game itself, but the prizes that are hanging from the top of the game booth. A plastic scimitar and tricorn hat are among the many pirate-themed prizes. They remind me of what Mio told me the other day. About what she wanted to do when she returned to Elza.
"That— I want to play that," I tug on Yumi's sleeve, and suddenly feel embarrassed because I'm acting like a kid. There's like a matronly aura around her that makes me ten years old again.
"Sure," she says.
We wait in line behind a family of three who are on their last few darts. The game is set up with four rows of balloons taped to the wall, with the largest balloons at the bottom and smallest balloons on the top. You get one point for hitting the bottom row balloons, two points for the second, three points for the third, and ten points for the top row.
The way it's set up makes it easier to hit the largest balloons at the bottom row, but the only prize you can earn with so little points is a balloon. Smaller balloons, especially the ten-point ones are the size of my fists, and there's a good chance it's deflated enough that the darts will bounce off.
Both of the prizes I want costs twenty points each. Ideally, I would need to pop the smallest balloons four times.
The kid of the family in front of me throws a tantrum. All of their darts aimed at the top two rows missed or flat out didn't pop the balloons. Of their ten darts, only three of them managed to hit the ones on the bottom row. Yumi and I take their place at the front of the booth as they leave, having only earned a single balloon from their efforts.
"How many darts ya want, young ladies?" The game attendant asks from the ground as he replaces the popped balloons.
"Ten darts," I say, exchanging ten tokens for ten darts.
Yumi also asks for the same amount and positions herself next to me.
"You're going to play, too?" I ask her.
"I like to think of this as a rare Saeko-Yumi bonding time. Ufufu~" Yumi aim for the topmost balloons, but she misses every single one. "Ara… looks like I'm not so great at this game."
She steps aside for me to center myself in front of the booth, but I know better than to fall for that trap. Most people don't know it, but if you shoot from the left or right of the booth, you have a slightly larger surface area on the balloons to hit.
The first dart misses. The second hits but doesn't pop the balloon, then the third, and fourth, until I'm down to two left.
Maybe aiming for the top balloons was a mistake to begin with. My hand-eye coordination isn't bad. It's just that whenever I hit the small balloons, the darts bounced right off.
"Tough luck, kid. Hah!" The game attendant's mocking laughter is getting on my nerves.
If I really wanted it, I could charm him to give us the prize. But that's not the point. It won't mean anything if I don't earn it myself. Well, since I'm a succubus, it shouldn't be a problem to give myself an edge.
"Two more darts, please!" I hand the man another two tokens.
The game booth isn't fair to begin with. I can at least tell myself that if I hit the balloons it still counts. I aim at the topmost balloons again, but this time I use my magic to heat up the darts before launching.
I'm able to pop all four balloons with ease, leaving the game attendant speechless. I didn't even need to stick it. As long as the metal tip touched the balloons, it was hot enough to pop them.
Yumi claps excitedly at my success. I puff out my chest to the baffled attendant. Those are clearly thicker balloons, and judging by his reaction, weren't meant to be popped by normal means.
"I'd like to choose my prizes now," I declare aloud.
We walk away with both of the prizes in a small bag. But even though I have this now, it dawns on me how silly and immature these prizes are. Am I dumb to think Mio will like this?
"Just what the heck am I even hoping for…"
I bump into Yumi not realizing that she had stopped moving.
"Oh— sorry!" She pulls in the opposite direction of where we were going.
"Didn't we just come from there?" I ask, trying to keep up. I look where Yumi was just facing and see a kissing booth with a long line of people. At the very front of the line, leaning over the tiny booth is none other than Hana. Wearing a moustache no less.
"Wait. That's Hana—"
"It's just your imagination!" Yumi says, stowing her phone away.
"There's no mistaking the pink hair and goofy smile. Look!" I turn back around but Hana is suddenly nowhere to be seen. Another woman has replaced her at the front of the booth. "You've been on your phone talking to them, haven't you? What are you guys planning?"
"It's nothing, really! You had a tough day, and it's been wearing you down." She produces two ferris wheel tickets from her purse. "What do you say we end the night on the ferris wheel? I've always wanted to see the city from above."
"...Nice try, but you're a succubus that can fly."
Yumi pouts, red in the face and steam billowing from her ears.
"Fine," I say, sighing.
Just what are they up to?
We get to the ferris wheel as it is letting out passengers. The line is surprisingly short. Yumi and I are about to board on a carriage but she backs out as soon as I get inside.
"Hold on," she says. "I forgot something."
I peek out to see Hana's moustached disguise staring right back at me.
"Welcome aboard the ferris wheel, young'un!" Hana croaks at an attempt to deepen her voice.
Glancing around, I don't see Yumi anymore. "Uh, no one is falling for that. What are you doing?"
"Whaddya mean, what am I doing? I'm your ferris wheel operator, silly."
I try to open the carriage door, but Hana has it locked from the outside.
"Hana, open the door—"
The words lodge in my throat when I see Yumi guiding a blindfolded Mio towards me.
"Quit pushing. I'm going," Mio complains. She has her hands out in front of her to keep herself from bumping into anything.
A wave of force pushes me away from the door and onto the seat. Hana throws open the door, and Yumi pushes Mio into the carriage. She lands on top of me.
"What the hell was that for…?" Mio lifts her blindfold and sees me.
The both of us lock eyes with each other. We instantly turn to Hana and Yumi who are waving at us from outside of the carriage as it begins to take us to the top.
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