After "girl who is not Deen in drag" had joined their team, Tsuruko was at least fairly happy. She had one more friend in her clique; but that was it. Other than Deen and Rosa, she had nobody to really talk to. Rosa was nice and all, but she was a bit too creepy. Deen, she managed to leave a good impression on, but she didn't think she'd be capable of holding a conversation with him.
Constantly talking to Giselle would give off the impression of being a teacher's pet to others, and given Kaguya, that would definitely result in a lot of unhealthy rumours being spread about her...
Sighing, Tsuruko opened her eyes as she rolled off of her bed; thankfully, Rosa wasn't there to jump on her to wake her up; so she could peacefully roll out of bed and not get up for twenty minutes.
Tsuruko Sejren was a master of Depression Parkour.
Walking through the halls with her head down, Tsuruko was actually incredibly disappointed; deciding to actually leave her room for once, the purple-haired girl prepared to go grab a snack and head back to at least talk with Giselle before considering resigning. The pressure upon her was frankly too much to bear.
As she began to leave the academy, a flash of silver filled her big eyes. When she glanced carefully, there was a silver-haired young man that she was familiar with.
As he noticed her, Tsuruko tried to hide, but the young man merely smiled and waved cheerfully. "Hey, it's you!"
"...Huh?" This was the silver haired young man who's from Suzaku, "Gary Straights".
"What's the face for?" His over-cheerful comments were only responded with even more embarrassment from Tsuruko, who hid her face in her hands. "Why don't you try to show a little more passion...? You know, like me! But we're part of a team! That means that we'll always be together! Now, come on!"
Gary put on an mischievous face as he took Tsuruko's hand as he started running after he took Tsuruko, as he turned around, telling Tsuruko, "C'mon, I'll show you around!"
"...This is?" Huh? Tsuruko was getting confused in front of the register.
"W-What would you like to order……?" Even the employee didn't know how to handle this situation. It was lunchtime, as Gary took Tsuruko to a fast food restaurant at the business district; it seemed like Tsuruko had never came to this kind of place before, definitely because she was having a hard time choosing her meal.
As Gary offered his help, Tsuruko responded proudly, "N-no, it's fine, I'll manage it somehow."; because of this, he had been watching her the whole time…
Taking the chance at her indecisiveness, Gary helped her, telling the employee, "Yeah, sorry. She'll have the same order as me."
"Okay." As the employee took the order, Tsuruko was shocked.
"Egh, I'm ashamed. I can't even buy a single hamburger by myself…" Tsuruko lamented, as she and Gary headed towards the empty table as soon as they obtained their meals.
While they were moving inside the restaurant, most of the male customers were looking at Tsuruko. Gary figured that because of how damn adorable she was—well, any guy would look at her because she was really cute in his own mind.
As they sat opposite other, Tsuruko was taking a really good look at the hamburger; not eating it. Gary thought to himself, "...Huh, maybe she doesn't know how to eat it? That's kinda odd." As Tsuruko continued to stare at the hamburger, Gary pointed out to her while smiling, "Tsuruko, you can eat the burger by taking the wrap off like this."
"T-There's actually a way to eat like that!? A-Amazing!"
"You also eat the fries like this."
"Wow!" Tsuruko was staring at Gary, who was eating fries, with eyes that were very keen, indeed.
"No, no, you also eat, Tsuruko."
Tsuruko nodded, as she took a small bite of the hamburger, beginning to eat it. "...Wow, this is really good!" Her eyes shone brightly.
"You never ate a burger before?" Gary questioned, confused.
"N-No, I've seen it often on television, but it's my first time eating one. It's g-great!" Tsuruko seemed so happy it was really cute.
"Oh. So what do you normally eat?"
"Mainly insta-ramen and soup. I also eat vegetable and pasta food." Tsuruko...well, due to being inside most of the time, she ordered the simple things over the Magitech Net so that she wouldn't have to deal with other people.
"...Huh, is that so. Then, enjoy this hamburger, so you'll remember how good it is!" Gary reassured her with a thumbs up. As Tsuruko chowed down, Gary asked gently, "Hey, Tsuruko."
"...Ehhh?" Tsuruko looked up at him in a confused manner.
"C'mon, let's go have fun! Like, let's go to the game center!"
"Haha, didya see that? On the field, I'm a student of Suzaku and the protégé of the Majin! In my downtime, I'm the legendary racer, Gary Straights!" Gary put his foot down on the accelerator, and quickly changed the gear around the curve; flying past both cars.
"Y-You're so fast, Gary...!" Tsuruko was absolutely amazed with his skills.
Just like that, Gary was playing a racing game at the game center. Even though he looked like this, he didn't join any school club; as there was only one friend he could care about back then. Because of this, Gary went through all of the game centers nearby.
Racing game or not, he could beat any game.
The sign that displayed his victory appears on his screen. It appeared that he had made a new track record once more—like that, Gary was falling for himself.
Then, Gary lost sight of Tsuruko. When he looked, she was standing in front of the crane game; as he asked her, "Hm, what is it?"
"Hau—n-no, it's nothing..." When Gary asked, she tried to hide it.
"Is there something you want?"
When Gary glanced inside the crane game, there was a doll of "Gaillardia Bothynus" inside. If Gary remembered correctly, Gaillardia was from a anime developed in Joya called "Ascending Firebird".
Gary stated, "Oh, that! Gaillardia Bothynus, a young man who was born to be the destruction of mankind; however, Gaillardia was saved from becoming the destroyer of worlds by his closest companion, a trickster devil known as Nike; whom he forged a pact with; as he becomes a hero who transforms into the legendary Phoenix Knight to fight the evils that threaten humankind with the help of Nike and his sidekick Military Court Fang!"
Needless to say, the series is highly popular worldwide, as Gaillardia is seen as a highly desirable "waifu" character thanks to his androgyny and tsundere behaviour, while Military Court Fang is known to be incredibly sympathetic to those who suffer from being unable to catch up with their peers, and Nike was seen as an incredibly deep character and additionally being a constant form of humour. Overall, while the plot was rather basic, the catchphrase of the Phoenix Knight and the characterizations of the main trio is what made the series so popular.
So, that was why Tsuruko knew the series.
"Hey, Tsuruko, do you like Gaillardia?" Gary asked gently.
"Eh? N-No, t-that is……" Tsuruko's cheeks became a flushed crimson, and she nodded her head shyly.
"Heh, that settles it! I'll get it for you!" Gary smiled and declared.
"Eh...! B-But!" Tsuruko tried to pass it off, with absolutely no success.
"Don't worry, I'll get it!" Striking while the iron was hot, Gary put the coin in immediately and started controlling the crane. Even though nobody would suspect it, Gary was pretty good at crane games.
Well, that was what he thought, but he had a hard time getting it.
On his first try, he dropped the doll on a good location, and on his second try he totally missed.
On his third and fourth try his missed it as well, but when Tsuruko became worried on his fifth try, he finally managed to get it.
Gary struck a victory pose, and took Gaillardia, which he just dropped out, giving it to Tsuruko with a smile. "Here ya go!"
Tsuruko blushed once more; as she held the doll to her chest. "T-Thank you very much, G-Gary. I will take care of this doll."
"Hey, if a doll like that makes you happy, then I'll get you way more next time!" As Gary declared his ambition to her, Tsuruko continued to blush as she shook her head.
"No, this Gaillardia doll that you gave me represents the wonderful day I met you. Since today is the only day we got to spend time with each other, I will take good care of this doll..." Tsuruko's words made Gary shy; however, when she said it, it actually seemed natural.
"Okay! We haven't started yet! Tsuruko, we'll have fun for the whole day today! C'mon, follow me!"
Gary took Tsuruko's hand, as the two ran further into the game center.
"Hahaha...we had so much fun today, eh?"
"Y-Yes……I'm a bit tired……"
Walking down the streets while laughing, Gary and Tsuruko were smiling in synch; in fact, this was the most fun Tsuruko had in a long time. It was already evening—the two had skipped their team meeting today and had fun until dusk.
The two were lucky that they didn't get caught by the police. If they did, then they would have been taken into custody right away.
However, they were both exhausted.
For Gary, it was fun to see Tsuruko's reaction when they went to the game center and other shops. He really couldn't what could happen in life since he never expected to become useful.
As they continued forward, Tsuruko sighed. "……I just realized why it's been so hard, to make friends. It's because I'm clumsy. I'm so stupid that I can't even eat a burger by myself. I'm useless, useless, useless." Tsuruko wiped her tears while laughing. She put on a complicated expression, then a sad face. Soon after, a single drop of tear fell from her eyes. Then, more tears started flowing out from her eyes.
Gary didn't know what to say to her; so he immediately took her to a spot where they could sit; resting on the bench on the roadside.
Tsuruko was laughing as if she was talking to herself. "I'm sure I will make lots of friends one day. I have a dream. I want to go buy flowers with a friend, buying books and……talk……Mum told me that as long as I have friends, I can do anything...Maybe now, I can make friends..." She was full of tears.
Gary didn't know what to say to her. He felt a kindred spirit—eighteen years ago, he was torn away from the one person he considered his greatest friend; ever since then, he had been walking Earth Land in order to find them once more.
Why did Tsuruko remind him of that person so much?
Gary declared to himself, "Hey, Exalted One! What's the meaning of this!? Why don't you save this girl! She's been longing for help! She's been crying out for friends! What the hell are you doing!? Why aren't you doing anything!? I don't know a single thing about you and I also don’t believe in any religion. On top of that, I'm a demon! But even a demon like me can talk to her! Weren't you the one that gave us magic? This! This is wrong! Ah, I know. This is what I’m going to do! Watch me, Exalted One!"
Gary took her hand while looking directly into Tsuruko's eyes; as she blushed, telling her, "You said it at initiation, but let me turn it back on you. Tsuruko Sejren, I will become your friend. No, we're already friends!"
Tsuruko glanced away, embarrassed, as Gary continued, "So what!? I'm a demon, but who cares about that!? I'll use the feelings of a hundred people to treasure you. Even if there's 100 people... no. No matter if it's a million or trillion people, even if the entire world views you as an enemy, I'll still be your friend." He withdrew his phone from his pocket. "You can call me whenever you feel like it! Ah, and I will also give you my mobile number."
"...Eh?" Tsuruko was actually surprised at this.
"It's not why! Tsuruko, you just chilled with me for the whole day right? We talked right? We laughed together right? Then you and I are friends! A human, a demon, or anything else doesn't matter! We are friends! We'll put other things aside! We'll talk when we wanna, we'll chill when we wanna, and yeah, I'll also go shopping with you! Whether it's books or flowers, we'll go shopping much as you want! Okay?" Even though Gary sucked at conversation; he was gibbering on and on like it was the end of the world.
Tsuruko put her hand on her mouth, and once again started to shed tears; however, her tears didn't seem sad. "...Ahaha." She let out a sad laugh. "I guess I really am an idiot."
"We could learn by going around the city! If you go around looking at different things, you would learn eventually."
"I don't know why, but whenever I'm with people like you, I just get nervous and I don't know what to talk about with a friend..." Tsuruko looked down at the ground, sighing.
Suddenly, Gary gripped Tsuruko's hand tightly. "You talked to me normally for a whole day. That was fine. We were already talking like friends."
"……Will you become my friend?" Tsuruko glanced up, gripping Gary's hand in return. She was so shy about these things—it was really cute.
"Of course! Let's be friends forever, Tsuruko!" Gary made a fist pumping motion, fire burning in his eyes.
Tears continued to flow from Tsuruko's eyes as she smiled gently. "...Forever!" This situation sure made her blush. She would probably tremble with embarrassment once she went to bed after this.
For Gary, as long as Tsuruko was smiling, it was okay. He'd keep her smiling from now on. Even a human and a demon could be friends—even though history books said it was impossible, Gary didn't care.
He was definitely going to see her from now on as not a teammate, but as her friend. He wouldn't let anyone get in their way.
Gary Straights would protect Tsuruko Sejren!