In retrospect, Chidori supposed she shouldn't have been
quite so surprised that Sagara didn't even know what an arcade was.
Well, that wasn't totally accurate. He knew what it was, but, as usual ... he didn't relate to it in anything like a normal way.
"It's a place full of simulators, correct?" he'd said when she mentioned it. "Flight simulators, gunfight simulators ..."
"Basically," Chidori had started to agree, but Sagara carried on.
"In short, a good place to train for active combat," he concluded. "That's good, the civilian population should know how to defe--"
He didn't get any further because Chidori had cracked him over the head with her fan, which, as usual, had shut him up. "Not good at all!" she had snapped. "Come on, come on, you military freak, I'll show you."
Which was how she found herself at the arcade in the Shinjuku district, in front of the "how hard is your punch?" machine, taking out her frustrations at the price of 10 yen per punch.
"I don't think I understand," Sagara called to her from where he was puzzling out Time Crisis 2. "The kickback on this simulator gun is completely unrealistic, and the cord connecting to the machine is too heavy to allow for proper movement and aim. Why do people use this sort of thing?"
"It's called a game, Sagara, a game!" Chidori howled back, and at the same time she set a record for the hardest punch on the machine.
"A game ..." Sagara sounded puzzled, and when Chidori turned around to look at him, he was blinking at the pink plastic gun in his hand. "This is considered entertaining? But--"
Chidori sighed at him. With Sagara, she could never sigh too much. It was easier when she just accepted that he couldn't be normal, she reflected, but when he was so dumb about even the simplest things ... "It's the sort of think Kazuma-san would like," she explained as gently as she could manage, interrupting him. "Military obsessors. See, most people haven't ever fired a gun," she added, unable to help the edge of sarcasm that crept into her tone, "so they don't know what it feels like for real."
"Ah." Sagara looked back up at the screen. "Mm. Perhaps that's why the targets always remain stationary, although any sensible enemy would keep moving to avoid being immediately shot."
Chidori sighed again. "Maybe," she suggested, "You'd like to try another game instead."
It couldn't be helped, she reflected a few minutes later, that he gravitated towards the games with guns and the meccha simulators; it was what he knew, after all, and even Sagara was probably happiest when he was in a setting he understood.
Probably ... probably not, she amended to herself, as she watched him pick up the various simulator guns and put each one down with a frown. He'd lost all his friends through war, and it wasn't like it made him happy or anything. It was hard to tell what made him happy. He was so straight-faced about everything ...
But that didn't stop her from giving him a good strong crack over the head when he almost pulled out a real shotgun on the zombies in House of the Dead.
"That hurt," he said as he straightened from his bent-double position.
"What did you think you were doing!?" she demanded - but it was too much trouble to wait for an answer. "Never mind!" she added as he opened his mouth to explain; she grabbed him by the hair and dragged him away from the game, which blipped unhappily that he had died, would he liked to continue? She was going to find Sagara a game that even HE couldn't misunderstand, dammit, if it was the last thing she--
And then she saw it. Of course. Why hadn't she thought of it before?
"I'm going to teach you how to play Tetris," she informed Sagara, and dragged him over.
* * *
An hour later, Chidori had exhausted her alloted coins and most of Sagara's coins as well; he hadn't needed many in the end; it was only on the fifth round of payment on the Tetris game.
"This is surprisingly engaging," he told her without looking away from the screen when she told him she was ready to go.
"Do you want me to just go on ahead?" she asked.
"No," he answered, unblinking, manipulating the rapidly falling blocks into place - but not fast enough. They were piling up. "This is where I fail." And fail he did, a few moments later, a precarious tower of tetris blocks up the middle of the screen proving his downfall. "My reflexes aren't good enough," he added, picking up his bag.
But the machine blinked 'High Score! 2nd' at him; Chidori pointed. "Hey, look! You got second place," she exclaimed.
"Second place?" he asked; he looked around. "I had an opponent?"
For a brief moment Chidori was aggravated, but when she looked up at him and saw his genuine confusion, she just sighed. "You racked up a lot of points on the machine by playing well," she explained, "So you get to put in your initials so everyone knows how good you are."
"But my initials won't mean anything to anyone who doesn't know me," Sagara pointed out.
"Just do it," Chidori rolled her eyes, pushing him back to the machine.
* * *
"So you liked Tetris," she said, mostly to start a conversation when she got bored on the way back to their respective apartments.
"It's surprisingly engaging," he repeated, not looking at her. "It requires good reflexes and quick thinking. It also teaches strategy."
Chidori hung her head, and for the umpteenth time, found herself sighing at her perpetually military-minded companion. "Can't you relate to anything normally?" she asked, turning around and standing in his way; he stopped. "Can't anything just be fun for you?"
She'd meant it rhetorically at first, but suddenly, she found herself expecting an answer; she frowned at him, and Sagara's brow furrowed a little more than usual. "Well?" she demanded.
"... I'm not quite sure what you mean," he said after a moment, "But I would like to go back there and play that game again sometime."
For a long second Chidori couldn't decide whether to be disappointed or angry with that answer, but the second passed, and she remembered that from him, that was practically the same as saying he loved it. "I see," she said, with a tired smile; she mustered a happier, energetic look. "We'll have to go back, then!"
Sagara nodded. "That would be enjoyable," he agreed.
I, Chidori thought, know exactly what to get him for Christmas.