"I understand the naga queen's motivation," Annabelle said.
Ben raised an eyebrow. "And what is that?"
"Those crabs have been overfishing, destabilizing the ocean's eco-system. They're bad guys…"
"It's like the Earth today. Humans are ruining the environment. I sure wish I had the naga army. I've considered wiping out humans myself…but it would cost billions of man-hours." She sighed. "I don't have so much time…"
Ben's face became solemn. 'Would she pass the entrance exam at an insane asylum? ...I should have gotten a hint of this when she agreed to draw me as a dragon on our first meeting... Those damn titties cast a spell on me…' Despite thinking that, he nodded in agreement. "You're right…"
He was helpless. 'I'm still bewitched by those breasted warlocks…'
The two strolled the gallery, viewing paintings and getting to know each other. They conversed about this and that: art, music, the likelihood of being caught in a Groundhog's Day scenario…
Ben tried his best to keep the conversation in the realm of human logic. Yet, Annabelle had a tendency of jumping into tangents like the Titanic's passengers jumped into lifeboats during the iceberg collision…
"What made you decide to study art?" he asked.
Annabelle smiled. "I enjoy learning about the universe...Nothing lasts forever, you know? Everything erodes in the tragic sea of entropy… Art's amazing because it captures things that only exist for a moment, or don't exist at all--only visions in someone's mind. Then you can show that art to people, and watch time melt them away like ice cream on a summer day…"
‘Lost me at the end there...and how can I follow that up?’ Ben swallowed. “I like ice cream…”
He swallowed again. ‘That’s the best you could come up with, stupid brain?!? Are you forcing me to exist as the world’s comic relief?!? ...That’s it...isn’t it? Brain, I urge you to rethink thrice! Comedy isn’t popular! We want tits and ass!’
Ben continued to complain. ‘Look, I’m not a Gary Stu, nor am I a Japanese novel mc, so these girls don’t have the decency to throw themselves at me! ...If you keep making me spit out stupid things in front of them, it’ll be death at this rate!’ He sighed internally. ‘...Forget it. To be fair, Annabelle’s personality isn’t generic enough to make this easy…’
Annabelle’s eyes brightened. “I like ice cream too…I…also like you.”
[Target's current attraction level: attracted(+1)]
Her statement caught Ben off guard and brought him back to reality. His impression of Annabelle was unusual, to say the least. 'She sure is honest. I don't even need the system to tell me about her feelings…'
After spending another hour together in a conversation reminiscent of an Adult Swim sketch...Ben led Annabelle out from the art exhibit and toward his dormitory.
[Target's current attraction level: attracted]
[Target's current comfort level: familiar(+1)]
Comfort didn't decay as fast as attraction. So Ben was lucky to start from acquaintance which he reached on their first encounter. After a long time, her comfort level rose again at last.
Ben's goal now was to get Annabelle to come up to his dorm room. However, Annabelle didn't live on his floor like Miyuki, so he needed an excuse to get her up. Antonio told him any excuse could work with enough practice, but Ben preferred something relevant. 'It's a good thing I prepared something in advance for this.' As they walked towards his building, Ben threw his lasso. "Hey, I never told you, but I'm an artist too."
'A shlong performance artist...' He continued. "I have a piece upstairs I've been working on that I want you to see. Let's go up."
Annabelle seemed interested and didn't hesitate to agree.
A few minutes later, they were in front of Ben's dorm room as he inserted his key. 'It's a good thing Fariq's never here at this time.' Ben led Annabelle inside and told her to sit on the bed. Meanwhile, he excused himself to go to the bathroom.
Inside, he turned on the faucet and took a few seconds to gather himself. He looked himself in the mirror and exhaled, then lowered his head and whispered some motivational words. "Don't f*ck this up...I've worked too hard for this…This is the big debut...so don't disappoint big bro." He was talking to his penis!
Soon, Ben opened the door and went over to sit down next to Annabelle. He put his phone down and played some classic 60s music on the Apple radio app since he didn't have any on his phone and didn't know many musicians in that genre. Earlier, Annabelle told him she loved that genre…and he said he loved it even more…
After a little chit chat, Ben was ready to show the artwork he prepared in advance for her. 'I wish I could exchange my tsundere system to be reborn in a Chinese novel, then I could show her an incredible song or poem by stealing copyrights left and right...'
He grumbled, 'How nice it would be to have my brain on auto-pilot, throwing out stock phrases and cliched idioms, making the world swoon...Instead, I'm forced to make random ass-pulls...'
Then his eyes flashed. 'Ever since I summoned truck-kun, I've had my suspicions about this world. There's a system, dungeons, cultivation pills, and Pokemon sex techniques...I just don't get it.'
'System, if I'm not in a Japanese or Chinese novel world, then what kind of world is this?' Suddenly, he had a bad premonition. 'Please tell me it isn't an English web original...' His face became grave. 'That would be a death sentence. No one reads that sh*t!'
Ben received no reply. 'B*tch...'
With no recourse to the system's silent treatment, Ben refocused on the date. "I'm going to reveal to you my masterpiece, which I've been working on for a year. My ultimate goal is to get it into the Museum of Modern Art…" From a drawer in his desk, he took out the artwork with great care.
There it was--a piece of blue construction paper with a drawing in colored markers. A smiling sun, a house, a dog, and a couple holding hands--male and female stick figures...It was a perfect work of art...if drawn by a demented 6 year old... In other words, a crapsterpiece...
Despite that, Ben pointed to the couple on the drawing. "This is me and you…" He intended to play it for laughs.
But the laughs never came.
'Oh, sh*t. Is she upset because I insulted the art world?'
Annabelle's face turned serious. Her fingers shook as she pointed at the drawing. "Did you really draw this magnum opus?" Her eyes shined in amazement.
'What the hell are they teaching her in that art school?'