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[Extra] afterwards 2 : Real Profile
The hotel where Heath and Mao would be staying for tonight was two stops away by monorail. Heath and I stood by the door in the train car, which wasn’t that crowded because it was a provincial city and due to the time of day. We could have sat down, but Heath was standing, so I just stood next to him.
“It’s cold around here.”
It’s winter now. At the end of July, logging out became impossible, and at the end of October, we finally logged out, and it’s been a month since then. Now, it’s almost December. The roads were lined with Christmas decorations, and from the window I could clearly see the decorative lights in the nearby park, even though it was daytime.
“Heath, you said you live in New Tokyo, right?”
“Yes. This is my first time in this prefecture.”
Here, Hyouzen City is a boomtown that was developed a few years ago. It’s connected to New Tokyo by the monorail and can be travelled to in roughly an hour and a half.
“The snowy season is almost here.”
“How much will it fall?”
“When there’s a lot, it’s about one meter.”
“If it’s in New Tokyo, traffic will be blocked.”
After such chit-chat, we soon arrived at our station. We passed through the ticket gate, using the same card that was used to board trains, autonomous vehicles, and buses throughout Japan.
The place was one of the most prosperous places in Hyouzen City, and was close to the university I attend. The hotel was located near the station, it was a foreign company-affiliated hotel… a so-called “high-class” hotel.
“Heath must be rich.”
“That’s not the case.”
“I mean the 10,000 yen a while ago… and this hotel too.”1
“This is affiliated with Mao’s company.”
“Is that so?”
I don’t know Mao’s personal information at all. So, when I tilted my head, Heath continued to talk as we were walking.
“He’s currently working as a sales representative for a foreign insurance company. That gives him free time to a certain extent. It seems that the company allows personal discretion most of the time.”
“Really? Speaking of which, what do you do, Heath?”
Come to think of it, I wanted to know more about Heath, so I asked him about his hobbies, favorite music, colors, and many other questions… I hadn’t asked him about his occupation at all on the talk app because I kept asking him questions like an elementary school student who had completely fallen in love for the first time.
“I’m a grad student.”
“I’m still studying at graduate school.”
“You must be smart. What’s your major?”
“VR medical care.”
I was surprised. VR medical care is a profession in which drones are remotely controlled via VR to provide medical care to remote areas. I’ve heard that it’s very difficult to qualify for. Now that VR-based medical care is on the rise, medical school is no longer a six-year program. However, it says that you can’t graduate until you get your license.
“How should I say it…”
He has no flaws. I’m just an extremely normal university student. There was a divide between the hardcore players and the casual players in-game, but it felt like we were on different levels in real life as well. Heath also seems to be a hardcore player in real life too.
As we were conversing about such things, we arrived at the hotel. We entered through a retro revolving door and Heath, who headed for the reception desk, got the key. We went to the elevator hall and went up to the seventh floor. After the elevator door opened, we walked down the hallway to our room.
Heath stood in front of the room and unlocked it. I glanced at Heath, who opened the door for me, and I went in first. There was a sofa and table at the front, and one large bed in the back. I hadn’t been in a luxury hotel like this since my school trip. As I looked at the room curiously, I heard the door close behind me.
Immediately after, he wrapped his arms around me from behind. my eyes widened as he hugged me.
“I’ve missed you so much.”
“Heath… I too…”
With involuntary embarrassment, I touched Heath’s arms with both hands. Thus, Heath’s grip on me increased. He hugged me tightly, and I became happy when I felt Heath’s body heat.
Heath loosened his hold slightly as I tried to turn around. So now, I was facing him, he wrapped an arm around my waist, and lifted my chin with his other hand. He then stared into my eyes.
“Can I kiss you?”
In-game, Heath never asked for permission like that. Nervously, I cast my eyes down as Heath’s face came closer to mine. As I did so, he kissed me, simply touching my lips. The soft touch made my heart race. When I opened my eyes, Heath hugged me, this time from the front.
“I love you.”
Then I was kissed again and again as if he was pecking on my lips. My hand touched his cheek, and Heath’s face tilted slightly, his eyes downcast. I blinked my eyes a few times and looked at him. Heath, with his well-defined face, is simply put, good-looking.
I wonder why he likes me. It makes me feel curious. I think Heath would be popular not only in the game, but in real life as well.
“That’s right. I bought you a souvenir.”
After the kiss ended, Heath smiled. My heart fluttered. His smile is a crime. Surprise attacks are unfair. It’s the first time he smiled after meeting in real life.
“Shall we sit down?”
Thus, I sat down on the sofa, urged on by Heath. Heath sat down on the opposite side of the table and turned over a cup from the tabletop.
“Ah, I’ll do it.”
“No need. This is repayment for the coffee you ordered earlier.”
Heath stated, and made two cups of tea. He was gentle. I used to think that Heath’s gentleness was hard to see, but not anymore. I thanked him and took the cup. Then Heath pulled out two boxes from a bag that was right beside him. One is big, the other is small.
“Didn’t you say you liked sweets too?”
First, I was handed a large box. I smiled as I took it.
“You didn’t need to mind me.”
After all, I haven’t prepared anything… I looked at the wrapping paper of the box, feeling sorry, and saw the logo of an expensive chocolate store that even I knew.
“I got more than enough from my parents.”
“It’s my family’s store.”
“!? Huh…? Is this store owned by Heath’s family?”
“My father runs a Japanese company that has a partnership with the Belgian chocolate company.”
Amazing. He’s a celebrity… I’m left dumbfounded. After all, it’s chocolate that’s renowned as the jewels that you can eat…2
“Now, my younger brother is planning to take over the business and is studying abroad to learn management.”
I almost shuddered. I couldn’t help but feel the disparity.
My family is very average. My father is an employee at a company, and my mother works part-time. B-but! I decided to divert my thoughts, because I didn’t particularly fall in love with Heath because of his family’s background.
“That’s a little surprising. I kind of thought that Heath was an only child.”
“I get that a lot. Why?”
“That’s not really an answer. Neji, do you have siblings?”
“I have one younger sister and two younger brothers.”
“You’re exactly how I imagined you.”
“I wondered if you had younger siblings, because you were good at taking care of people.”
I tilted my head, wondering if that was the case. It’s true that when I was young, my mother worked full-time at a company, and was away a lot, so I may have taken care of my siblings a lot.
“ーーYou and Nachi are classmates in university, right?”
“Yes. We met during orientation because we were in the same department.”
“What about Mao and Heath?”
“We were also classmates in university. We were in different departments, but we had a few lectures together.”
I listened to it and I nodded.
After that, we kept chatting until it was time for our restaurant reservation. The smaller box had a scarf in it. He seemed to have remembered that I had told him that I wanted to buy a new one.
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