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Dulce Periculum

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Junna has always been an incredibly meticulous person. Even her parents, no matter how much she doesn’t particularly like thinking about them, stated as much in the past.


Especially in regards to her studies, she gives her all for a chance to improve her acting every day. No matter how insecurity keeps knocking at her door every now and then, she will always strive so that she will, one day, hold a star of her own. 


Which is the reason why, notebooks on the desk and highlighter in hand, she previously studied hours and hours per day, not becoming surprised at all ― whenever she allowed her eyes to detach themselves from her books for once in the whole afternoon ― to realize how late it had gotten without her noticing. 


That’s all in past tense, because especially after that time when she collapsed out of exhaustion on the desk, there is now a certain someone who regularly checks on her, reminding her to take a break and absolutely not accepting ‘no’ for an answer. That last part is usually coupled with a pout that, on someone who is roughly twenty centimeters taller than Junna, makes her look like a tall child. 


So, Junna isn’t surprised at all when Nana opens the door, the characteristic smell of her banana muffins permeating the air.


Once Nana comes right beside her, a tray in hand and a bright smile on her face, before she can even say ‘Junna-chan, please, eat something and relax for a while!’, Junna asks the question she doesn’t know she is absolutely going to regret ever asking. 


“Nana, would you like to play a video game with me?” 


Nana, at that, tilts her head slightly, her eyes widening a little. Junna has always liked surprising her roommate mostly for that reaction, which Junna can’t help but find endearing. The one thing she surely avoids doing at that is wondering why exactly she finds it endearing; those are dangerous waters and ones Junna doesn't allow herself to navigate.


However, Junna appreciates even more Nana’s knowing smile of understanding that usually blooms right after. 


“It’s for Epic of Bravery, isn’t it? Junna-chan just wants to keep studying!” Nana says, her words holding no bite considering how she is keeping herself from grinning at the suggestion. 


“As Einstein says, Play is the highest form of research.” Junna recites, getting up from her chair and attempting to take a muffin from the yellow tray now placed on the table. 


“And Life is more fun if you play games,” Nana answers in kind, taking the tray away from her before Junna can actually grab any of the sweets. “So, before we start to play, Junna-chan must promise me she is going to take a break after that.”


Junna gawks, staring at that delicacy being taken away from her grasp. 


“But we will be playing! It’s already akin to-”


“Umh, I remember Junna-chan saying that Play is the highest form of research.” Nana counters, the tray still far from Junna's reach.


“... Okay, I will take a break, but only for five minutes.”


Nana raises her right eyebrow, shifting the tray a bit farther away from her again. Junna sighs, restraining a laughter that’s on the verge of escaping from her lips. 


“Alright, alright, ten minutes!” She relents, watching Nana’s smile becoming, if possible, even brighter than usual, as she hands her one of the muffins. “You truly are too considerate at times.”


“Junna-chan, I told you that you can rely on me. I do this because I just care about Junna-chan a lot.” she states, making a beeline towards the door and motioning for Junna to follow her to the living room. 


Junna promptly decides to ignore the warmth spreading in her chest.


“Junna-chan, is everything okay?” 


No. It absolutely isn’t okay, Junna wants to say. For the first time in her life, she wants to physically shake Sakuragi-sensei and ask her why, of all possible plays they could have done, she assigned to them a RPG based one. 


Epic of Bravery is a terrible and terrifying game, and Junna, who understands the scariest mathematical formulas on the planet, absolutely has no idea of what to do with the thing she has in her hands. 


After Nana turned on the game, a lengthy dialogue introduced them to the prologue, where they could choose the role they wanted to play and customize their characters. Both girls picked the roles the teachers assigned to them, and Junna thought she could do it.


But then, after the words on the screen informed her there was going to be a battle between her character and Nana’s, there it is, her avatar, standing there. Doing nothing. Nothing at all.


She has tried pushing a few buttons, but to no avail. Even moving her own body or shaking that technological hazard with her hands produced no results.


“I think my game is broken.” she starts, a bit alarmed, looking at the device with the most quizzical look Nana has ever seen on her even after sixty loops. 


At that, Nana can’t help but giggle lightly, shifting closer to the other girl and softly taking the controller from Junna's grasp. 


“Junna-chan, this is your first time playing a video game, isn’t it? To move your character, you need to use these analog sticks,” she instructs, pointing at each mentioned part of the controller as she speaks. “and the buttons here are used, respectively, to attack, dodge, consume one of your items and trigger your ‘special ability’. Also, you were holding the controller upside down.” 


Junna blushes out of embarrassment, humming when Nana gives her the controller back. At that, she can’t help but let a particular question escape from her lips.

“Have we ever played together during one of your loops?” Junna whispers, even if no one else would be able to hear them. Her classmates are either outside running, like Claudine and Maya, or at practice. Possibly, only the two top students are bound to come back pretty soon.


Junna usually refrains from mentioning that topic, since she doesn’t want to hurt Nana’s feelings, but most of the time her worries aren’t founded. Nana, as per routine, smiles and answers, even if Junna can feel a tinge of melancholy in her words. 


“No, curiously enough. This is a first for both of us, Junna-chan! So, don’t worry about not knowing how to play, I am here to help you whenever you need. I know Junna-chan and I will have fun.” 


Junna smiles, not surprised Nana can read her like a book by now. Her enthusiasm is contagious, so she doesn’t hesitate to grip the controller more securely, this time positioning it in the correct way. 


“Well, you are on, Daiba Nana!” Junna fiercely proclaims, the fire in her eyes reflected in her roommate's.


After her third loss, Junna can’t honestly believe it. She knows the cause, she just can’t help it.


She keeps moving her body as the character on screen, and, believe it or not, that becomes absolutely distracting after a while. 


Junna knows Nana has been watching her with a both amused and bewildered expression on her face, and she just wants to slap herself.


Junna slumps on the couch, sighing lightly and steeling herself to face Nana and ask her to please give her another chance for the third time.


Her words die in her throat when she feels someone embracing her from behind, a pair of hands firmly placed on each one of her arms. 


“I noticed Junna-chan keeps moving along with her character, and that must make the game harder to play. I can let my character be controlled by the game itself, so how about Junna-chan tries to fight against it while I hold her like this?” Nana explains, her voice dangerously close to her right ear.


Junna thinks she must be the emptiest person in the world right now. Her ears are absolutely burning, her mind is able to focus only on the other’s strong, but gentle grip on her arms. Her brain has stopped working for a bit, so much so that she can distantly hear Nana calling her name with worry laced in her voice, but can’t compute the words clearly. 


Only when the blonde starts distancing herself, Junna shakes her head and takes Nana’s wrists, positioning her hands right back where they were before.


“Sorry, I was a bit… lost in my thoughts. About, umh, you know, the game and its mechanics. We can try like this, but only once, I don’t want you to not enjoy yourself.”


“I have the most fun when I can help Junna-chan.” the other states, her smile returning full force.


Needless to say ― forgive Junna, she has quite the source of distraction right behind her ― the class president ends up losing her battle again. Even less surprising is how Nana ended up convincing her to try another time, with Junna finally getting it right on the second try. 


They continued like this for a while, with Nana keeping her in place while commenting on the game and reassuring Junna that ‘I enjoy Epic of Bravery like this even more with Junna-chan having fun too!', and it’s all going well, until the class president hears a strange sound. 




Junna turns around, almost expecting Nana to have multiplied, because normally whenever there is the sound of the camera shutter, Nana’s bright smile follows.


But no, it’s way worse than that. 


“I suppose you want me to send you this later, Banana?” Claudine questions, her phone in hand and one of the biggest grins she has ever sported plastered across her face. 


Junna can only hope the wiggling eyebrows that follow are a post-photograph French tradition, and not what she thinks they mean. Claudine’s gaze moving from Junna to Nana doesn’t leave the former with much room for doubts, and Junna is aware of how warm Nana’s touch is now more than ever. Not to mention how close they are. 


She suddenly wants the couch to swallow her whole.


“Sure thing, thank you so much, Kuro-chan!” Nana beams, and Junna can somehow feel her smiling beside her. 


Maya entering, looking at them for a second and humming with a knowing smile should have been the last blow to Junna's pride. 


But somehow the brunette follows it with ‘We should do that as well, Saijou-san’ and Junna decided right then and there, she is never going to play this game ever again. No matter how greatly it feels to be held by Nana, she won’t give in again. 


(Her weak newly born gamer heart knows that’s a lie).