“…And this is the game center.”
After their window shopping…or rather, shopping since they bought clothes, Amane accompanied Mahiru to the game center he usually frequented.
They had no plans beyond this, other than to return home, and took their time.
“It is loud.”
“Ah, that’s most of the game centers.”
Mahiru frowned slightly. The noises here would leave anyone unfamiliar with game centers really frustrated. Amane was fine however as he was used to it.
It was noisier at the slot machines and arcade games, so Amane avoided that area as he lazily led Mahiru past there.
“So, what are we doing?”
“I want to try the crane game, and catch a doll.”
It appeared Mahiru was aiming for the crane game, and once she was led to that area, she clenched and relaxed her fists several times when she saw the machines. She looked really excited.
It was Golden Week, and there were more dolls, especially the cute family oriented ones. There were many dolls Mahiru might like.
“…Amane-kun, I wish to pick that one.”
“Hm, which one?”
“That one. Does she not resemble that cat, Silk-chan?”
Mahiru pointed at a white cat doll with some charred tea colored fur near her face. The blue eyes did truly resemble the cat they met at the cafe.
It appeared Mahiru was really interested as it really resembled Silk, which Mahiru first encountered.
“Sure does. You want it?”
“I want to try. May I?”
“Sure. The cranes here are easier. If you can’t, leave it to me.”
“I will try my best not to trouble you.”
Mahiru looked enthused in challenging the crane machine, and Amane chose to watch.
Amane could nab the doll immediately, but since Mahiru was the one who requested, he felt it was better to acknowledge her independence and competitiveness.
Mahiru inserted the coin, cautiously touched the knob to move the crane horizontally, and affirmed the situation. The cautious Mahiru probably wanted to be sure how long it would take until she could move the crane.
However, such crane arms would automatically move vertically once the user let go.
“Eh, eh? It cannot move.”
“Sorry, I forgot to tell you. This machine will move vertically once you let go. You only have one chance.”
“Ah? In other words…”
“There’s no way to get the doll.”
At this point, the doll was in the middle of an empty area.
The crane was positioned slightly away from the drop zone, and would only move vertically thereafter. There was no way to salvage it, or even poke at the doll.
There were some that had a joystick allowing it to move around, and some were time limited, but this was a button type, and she could not redo it. It was a common issue to anyone playing this game for the first time, one they had to live with.
“Well, you wasted 100 yen, but since you can move the crane sideways, use this chance to figure out the speed and the lag in releasing the button, and make use of it next time.”
“Uuu…I shall do so. It is my fault for being careless.”
Mahiru said, moved the crane arm seriously, and grasped its speed.
Amane felt responsible for not reminding her, so he discreetly slipped a coin in, and was met with a displeased look from Mahiru. “Alright alright.” Amane said as he patted her on the back, prompting her on, and she returned to the crane game.
She managed to align the crane with the doll, for she grasped its speed.
Though she missed the center of gravity slightly, she could still catch the doll at this position. It was possible for her to catch if she considered the center of gravity, the crane grip, and the timing to let go.
Not bad for a beginner, Amane thought as he watched over her.
Mahiru cautiously moved the crane arms, finally moved it above the doll, and tried to pull it up.
She aimed well, but as the item was a little longer, the doll quickly dropped off despite the firm grip of the crane.
“Too bad. You should push it sideways using the crane instead of grabbing it. It’ll be easier to use its center of gravity to nudge it off.”
Luckily, the partition to the drop zone was not that tall. A single nudge should do the trick.
Mahiru blinked, and obediently did as told.
A virtue Mahiru had was that she was never one to be completely stubborn, and would obediently listen to any advice given to her.
After she considered the position of the crane and the doll’s center of gravity. “Over here…use the head, flip it over…” she continued with her trial and error.
Amane gave a smirk when he saw Mahiru’s serious face reflected off the mirror.
She slotted coins a few times, and after a little while, managed to flip the doll into the drop zone.
Ahh, she muttered, and the doll landed in the receiving box.
After a short silence, Mahiru looked up at Amane blankly.
“…I did it.”
“Oh, nice going…that’s proof that you worked hard.”
Amane took out the doll that was won after a grueling duel, and handed it to Mahiru. She finally felt a sense of success, and an elated look of joy appeared on her pretty face.
“I-I did it. I did it, Amane-kun.”
“You did. It’s your first time, but you did great.”
Amane patted Mahiru’s head, and she narrowed her eyes bashfully, embracing the doll resembling Silk in her clutches.
She appeared really delighted that she won the doll, and looked completely overjoyed as her cheek clung onto the doll.
She embraced the doll firmly in her clutches with an innocent smile. Amane felt jealous of the doll, and felt his self-control was insufficient.
One moment, she was happily hugging the doll, and the next moment, she timidly turned the doll towards Amane.
“…Erm, Amane, will you like to keep it?”
“I did receive one from you, and I feel you like Silk-chan, Amane-kun…”
Amane liked Silk because he was fond of cats, but the bigger reason was that it resembled Mahiru, and was adorable. He did not say it out however, as he nodded and scratched his cheek.
“Do-do men dislike dolls after all…?”
“No, that’s not it. Are you fine giving me this when you worked so hard?”
“I worked hard because of you, Amane-kun. No, I am not going to force you to accept, but I thought you might like this doll, just as you like Silk-chan…”
I can put it in my room if you do not want it. Mahiru said, and lowered her shoulders, looking slightly devastated, and looked up at him uneasily. Amane could not refuse.
“I’ll put it in my room then. Though I can’t put it by my pillow like you, Mahiru.”
“I-I hope you will forget about that matter…”
“I’ll treasure this well.”
Amane solemnly received the doll, and took a bag used to contain prizes next to the machine, slotting the doll in.
Mahiru smiled immediately, and once Amane was about to reach out towards her again—
He froze once he heard the voice next to them.
Mahiru too froze, and the duo turned towards the voice gingerly. Standing there was the friendly yet dignified boy with a handsome face they encountered often recently…Kadowaki.