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Café Glasses

I sat on the cold floor, troubled by how things were unraveling. Sanae and Risa sat in front of me. I reached for the glasses in my pocket but felt fragments instead. Oh no.

I took the glasses out followed by many pieces. The slim frame was intact, but the glass—actually bio-polycarbonate—was shredded. Only a few bits still hung from the frame.

Isn't this material supposed to not break?! This is what happens when you buy the cheapest brand…

"What's that?" Sanae asked.

"My glasses. I was going to use them to research idols and write my project's introduction…"

"Aren't they supposed to never break?"

"I bought cheap ones, okay?"

"Why? Are you struggling with money?"

"No. I just want to save the most I can."

"I was curious about that," Risa said. "Do you have another job?"

"I don't. The government gives you a salary whilst you study. You don't even know that?"

They shook their heads.

I sighed. "It's barely enough to survive, though. That's why I save. Anyway. I suppose you don't have any glasses I could borrow."

They shook their heads again.

"Anything else? A computer?"

"We have one," Sanae answered. "But it's so old that it can't even use the QNet."

"Then why do you have it for?"

"Classic games and decoration," she grinned.

Are you kidding me?

"Maybe Gorō has something," Risa suggested.

"I doubt it. He would've given it to us already," Sanae replied. "But asking won't hurt. Probably."

"Very funny," I deadpanned. I stood up. "Where can I find him?"

"Upstairs. Door on the right," Sanae responded.

"Okay."

As I approached the door leading to the hallway, Sanae and Risa giggled behind me.

"What are you giggling about?"

"Nothing!" Sanae answered. "Don't be shy, just go. We'll be waiting for you."

That's suspicious, to say the least.

I walked out of the room and stepped on the stairs. They would creak with the slightest movements. With the bad luck I had in the last hours, I didn't doubt the stairs to crumble and a splinter to kill me. Luckily, nothing happened and I made it safe and sound.

When I got close to the door, hard chops came from inside, followed by something being dragged. They repeated a few times before I knocked on the door.

"Come in," Butcher answered. His deep voice had returned.

I opened the door. "Hey, Butcher. I wondered if you—What the hell!"

The strongest of odors hit my nose like a blow. I immediately pinched it to stop smelling. Dozens of meat, animal corpses hung from a rail on the ceiling. It was the first time I had seen something that gore. There was no blood, but it still made me nauseous.

I can't even see Butcher!

Out of nowhere, he appeared from behind the corpses. He pushed them aside and walked through them as if they didn't exist.

"What's up, young man?" His voice had returned to normal.

I should be brief.

"M-My glasses broke and I need to finish homework for tomorrow. I was wondering if you had any device I could borrow. Glasses, a QPad, a computer…"

He thoughtfully stared at me. "Is it that important?"

"Critical," I replied.

He sighed and walked to the other side of the room. He opened a drawer and took a pair of glasses out. He walked back.

"Someone paid me with these a few weeks ago," he said. "I was waiting to surprise Sanae and Risa on their birthdays with them, but you can use them."

He held one of the most expensive models in the market, if not the most. He probably didn't know that, judging by the fact that he kept them in a drawer in such a room. I carefully grabbed them.

"Thank you very much, Butcher—"

Suddenly, the glass came off from the frame and fell to the ground. It didn't break, but it was impossible to glue them back without special tools. Butcher and I stared at them.

He let out a deep breath. "I'm sorry, young man. I don't have anything else you can use."

"It's fine. Thank you, anyway."

I gave him the frame back and he picked up the glass from the floor.

"I'll have to pay someone a visit later." He put the glasses back inside the drawer.

I pity that someone.

As I walked out of the room, I heard quick and heavy steps running downstairs. I returned to Sanae and Risa, who were dancing in front of the mirror.

"Were you spying on us?" I asked.

"What? Of course not," Sanae stuttered. "Don't you see we are—"

"I'm sorry! She made me do it!" Risa shouted and bowed.

"Risa!"

I crossed my arms and stared at them.

"Okay, sorry," Sanae dully apologized. "We just wanted to see your reaction when you saw Gorō's storage. It was worth it."

"Whatever. I have to buy a new pair. I'll be back in an hour."

"Wait," Sanae stopped me. "Why don't we go to the café?"

"Is there one nearby?"

She nodded. "Two streets away. We are regulars there."

In the long term, it will be better to buy glasses. But now, I'd rather go there than waste money. Who knows how much I'll need for this business.

Without wasting any time, Sanae and Risa told Butcher we were heading out. We crossed the first street and I couldn't help but feel unsafe. However, practically everyone greeted Sanae and Risa as we walked. It was strange. I had never seen anything like that in any other district.

The buildings got more and more exotic as we approached the center of the district. More neon signs, extravagant colors, and a lot more people wandered around. It was much more lively but also incredibly noisier.

There was a point when people started bumping each other because of how crowded it was. Luckily, we arrived at the café. The interior looked cleaner than I had expected, but I still couldn't understand why everything in the district had to have a dark color.

I followed Sanae and Risa to the counter, where a woman stood.

"Look who we have here; the rude dames."

Rude dames?

"Hi, Kiku," Sanae replied. "Do you have a free spot?"

"But of course. There's always a spot for you, sweethearts."

"Thanks!"

Kiku gazed at me. "And who's the dull-looking guy?"

Hey. We haven't even introduced ourselves.

"He's our new manager."

She didn't even deny it.

"You finally got one. I'm glad for you."

Sanae and Risa beamed.

"What's your name, Mr. Manager?" Kiku asked me.

"Kaito Miyahara, fourth-year student of Business Administration at Saitama University. Nice to meet you."

"We have an erudite here. Call me Kiku. I run this place."

Not very respectful, I see.

"Come on, Kaito," Sanae said. "You need to finish your project."

Just like her. When did I tell her to call me by my given name?

They walked away. About to follow them, Kiku stopped me.

"Mr. Manager, don't try anything weird. It's actually a suggestion. They will kick your ass and it won't be pretty." 

"I can imagine that. Don't worry, I won't."

"I don't worry, you should be the one worrying. Anyway, they seem happy, so I thank you for that. Now go, they are waiting for you."

I followed Sanae and Risa through the café. There were people sitting at the tables but not too many. Half of the booths—each one protected by a door and walls—were occupied. We stepped inside one and closed the door. It was barely big enough to fit the three of us and only had one chair.

"You sit, Kaito," Sanae said.

I sat down. "Why do you call me by my given name?"

"You told Gorō to call you Kaito, so I supposed you wanted us to call you Kaito too. We can call you by your last name if you want."

"Kaito's fine."

I stared at the computer. It was made of glass instead of a hologram and it used a digital keyboard instead of being controlled with brain signals. It was old but good enough.

I hate using keyboards. At least it supports InsTranfer.

The screen turned on. The reflections were quite bad, making it difficult to see dark colors. The computer instantly recognized me and asked me if I wanted to transfer the necessary data from the Cloud as I needed it—a feature known as InsTransfer. I tapped on the screen to accept.

I created an empty folder and a new document inside. I had forgotten how slow I was at typing with a keyboard. I could feel Sanae's and Risa's judgmental gazes.

Finally, I opened the QNet browser.

"What should I search?" I wondered.

"You don't know anything about idols, right?" Sanae asked.

"Nothing at all."

"Then just type idols."

Slowly, I typed the word.

"Why are you slow at typing?" Risa asked.

"Because I'm not used to it. Stop judging me."

"I'm sorry!" she fretted.

"Don't worry, that's my humor."

The search results appeared as soon as I tapped the search button. The first result was the definition of the term idol. The second one was an article talking about the decline of idols.

Edited by RedPandaChick

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