61 – Ohana means family
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Happy Valentine's Day! Well, it's probably not that time yet everywhere, but here's an early gift anyway in lieu of chocolate.

Rin yawned and then stretched her arms. Light filtered in from her bedside window, and the clock on her wall showed that it was eight o'clock. Still early in the morning.

She got out of her bed, rubbing her eyes, and said, "I shouldn't be sleeping in too late..."

It might be a Sunday, but that didn't mean that she could slack off completely! The life of an idol was always moving.

"Let's see..." Rin walked over to her dresser and absently started picking out her change of clothes for the day. "Since it's Sunday, I'm not heading to the studio today... Ah! I have that gaming stream at noon."

It was something that Miss Beta suggested in order to change things up and give her some time to relax. After all, while she might be an idol-in-training, Hana and herself were still ordinary teenagers. It was important to do things that normal teenagers would do.

At least, that was what Miss Beta told her.

Rin pulled out a loose white blouse, a pair of jeans, and her usual undergarments before heading to the bathroom.

She didn't really mind practicing every day, but since Miss Beta had told her not to, Rin decided to follow her. After all, Miss Beta was really smart and patient in helping her practice singing and dancing.

Rin kind of missed Mister John though. It had been a while since it was just the two of them... "Ah!" Rin shook her head and said, "What am I thinking?"

A shower. She needed to take a cold shower to clear her head. It was because she was still sleepy that her thoughts were all weird like that.

Her face red, Rin quickly opened the door to her room and walked out.

"Oh? You're up Sweetie?"

A mature female voice called out. Sakura's.

Rin's mother walked over, a plate of pancakes in her hands. Smiling, she said, "I was just about to come wake you." She paused, noticing Rin's red face and then said, "Oh?" Her smile turned into a grin and she said, "Did you have a good dream?"

Rin's flush turned into a full on blush and she quickly walked past her mom. "I'm taking a shower!"

Sakura laughed and said, "Take your time, Sweetie! But don't turn it too cold, alright?"

"Mom! Stop that!"

Sakura giggled and then said, "I'll leave your breakfast in your room. If you need me, I'll be writing articles in the living room, okay?"

Rin huffed and slammed the bathroom door shut. After that, she took off her clothes and turned on the shower, letting the cold water run off her body.

"Mom's such a meanie... It's not like I made fun of her flirting with Uncle Kai the entire drive back."

Rin shampooed her hair and then frowned, remembering that.

It was weird too. Her mom had always been kind and caring, but she was also always a bit strict. Recently though, she had been a lot livelier.

At first, Rin thought it might have been because her mom was just happy to not be sick anymore. But now that she thought about it, there might be another cause behind it.

"Did Mom ever mention who my dad was...?"

Rin tried to remember. She used to ask her mom a lot when she was younger, but after always getting an angry but scared look, she stopped.

She was curious now though.

Her mom tried to hide it, but she seemed really happy being with Uncle Kai. And Uncle Kai seemed happy to be with her mom too, but he was holding himself back.

"Hm..."

It would be nice to have a little sister. And Tsuki was fun to play with too. They also had a lot of fun in the studio making her an avatar like Hana.

Maybe she should try to get her mom and Uncle Kai together?

Ah! And Uncle Kai was Mister John's friend too, right? The one who was supposed to bring her out to look at cars tomorrow!

Rin smiled. "That's perfect!"

She could spend time alone with him and probe him about her mother. Then if he was really interested, she could help get them together-

"Ah. No, I can't do that to Tsuki..."

Rin suddenly remembered the cute younger girl and frowned.

Tsuki had just lost her mother and was reunited with her long lost father. The cute younger girl got along well with Rin's mother, but she would be upset if Rin's mother became her mother too.

At least, Rin knew that she would be in that situation.

If her mother had really died and someone tried to take her place...

Well, maybe if it was someone like Miss Beta it wouldn't be so bad. But even then, Rin would still be upset.

After all, Rin barely had anything that belonged to her mother. All that would have been left would be the memories, and if someone else came, those memories would fade away.

That was probably what Tsuki was going through right now. She didn't seem to have much from her mother at all, so she must treasure her memories.

"...I shouldn't be so selfish." Rin muttered.

It was already enough that Miss Alpha accepted being her older sister and that Uncle Kai and Tsuki came into her life.

Not only that, but there was all the Ohana supporting her and Hana from behind the screen too.

Rin nodded. "That's enough."

Right. That was enough.

Besides, it wasn't like that couldn't happen in the future.

Rin liked Tsuki and Uncle Kai. Tsuki liked Rin and her mom. And Rin's mom and Uncle Kai liked each other, even if they were dancing around it more than Miss Beta and Alpha onee-san when asked about their mom.

And Christmas was coming up soon too! If she worked hard enough and saved enough money, maybe-

A knock on the door.

Rin jumped and turned towards it. "M-Mom?!"

"You've been there a long time, Sweetie. Is the water not warming up? Or did you want me to lend you something to help you finish up?"

"Mom! Stop!"

Sakura giggled and said, "No need to be embarrassed, Sweetie. You're getting around that age. If you want me to buy you-"

"MOM!"

Sakura's giggle turned into a full laugh and then she said, "Fine, fine. I'll stop teasing you. But 'Mister John' just called to say that he'll be busy for the next week, so Miss Beta will be handling your lessons and streaming sessions in the studio starting Monday."

Rin blinked. "Mister John's going to be busy...?"

"Yep. He said something about a top secret project... Though I think he's just messing around. I mean, he's streaming right now on that John Titor channel."

"He is?!" Rin quickly shut off the shower and jumped out. She snatched a towel off from the rack and dried herself off before tossing on her clothes. After that, she opened the door and ran out, dashing back to her room with her hair and clothes still slightly damp.

Sakura's laughter echoed from the hallway behind Rin, but she ignored it and grabbed her phone. Opening up UTube, she went to John Titor Ch. and tapped on it.

There was a live stream happening. It seemed like her mom really wasn't lying about Mister John streaming. But...

"A retro game?"

Rin frowned and sat down on her bed, staring at the screen.

It wasn't Mister John, but it was indeed a 'Mister John' streaming. Slicked back black hair, a white lab coat, and a handsome but slightly arrogant face. It was John Titor, the person that saved Hana and started Project MirAIs.

In the corner of the screen, he was sitting on a worn-out gaming chair in the warehouse that he first shot the video teasing Hana's debut. The rest of the screen showed a timer and gameplay of a young swordsman in a green tunic running around. Lonk, from the Legend of Lonk series.

"As you can see, we can use the exact angles of the camera position to map certain coordinates and memory addresses."

In the game, Lonk spun in circles, the camera rapidly shifting at random points. The character also kept twitching, shielding and unshielding while standing in place.

Rin blinked. "What's... Mister John doing?"

It didn't seem to be an ordinary gameplay video. Unless this was how you were supposed to play retro games?

Curious, Rin glanced at the chat.

[My head hurts...]
[I still don't know what's going on.]
[I give up. Mister John has to be a time traveler.]

Ah. So this wasn't normal then.

"Now, when we use a bomb to trigger a collision and quickly swap out an item, we can overwrite the inventory and place certain story flags. In theory, we could skip to the credits like this. But first, we have to talk about parallel universes- Ah." John glanced off to the side and said, "Morning Hana. And to you, little miss."

Rin froze and quickly glanced at her phone. "W-W-What? Can you hear me?"

[Huh?]
[Hana's awake?]
[Ohanayo!]

John chuckled and glanced to the side. "In case you're wondering, no, I can't hear you. You're a moderator on this channel though so I can see when you're online. And you should really be relaxing right now instead of watching me. Now where was I...?" He turned back to the front and said, "Right. So here we can store up some speed to enter that parallel universe I mentioned earlier. By holding the charge attack for exactly thirteen and a half frames, we can underflow the rotation speed because of the game's poor hitbox programming. In doing so-"

Rin felt a headache coming on so she closed the stream. "Well... it seems like Mister John is having fun."

That was good. Mister John seemed to have been working really hard recently, so it was great that he managed to find some time to relax.

He had looked really serious the other night, but it looked like everything was fine.

Though, he would be busy for the next week, huh?

Rin sighed and turned on the MirAIZ app.

The screen flickered for a bit, the loading animation, and then Hana popped on the screen, waving at Rin from her room.

Rin flopped onto her bed and stared at her phone. "Looks like it'll just be you and me today, Hana."

Hana's face fell, matching Rin's sad expression.

Seeing that, Rin shook her head and smiled. "It's alright! We're going to have fun playing games with the Ohana today!" She paused. "W-Well, it's a horror game... But it should be fun, right?"

Hana smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes. Instead, it seemed hesitant, like she was worried.

Which meant that Rin looked the same at the moment.

Rin sighed. "Maybe I should have picked another game..."

Miss Beta had cautioned her against it, but Rin really wanted to try it out. After all, the other gaming streamers on UTube used to play it a lot, and she thought it'd be fun.

But now that it was coming time to actually load the game up...

"At least it's day time?"

There was that saving grace. She wouldn't be playing in the dark. And she also wouldn't be alone.

*ding*

A soft chime, as well as a faint vibration. A text message alert popped up on Rin's phone.

"Huh?" Rin blinked and tapped on the message.

At first, she thought it might have been from Mister John or Miss Beta, but it was someone else.

[Hi~! It's Tsuki, Rin nee-san! Good luck on the stream! I can't wait to watch Hana play The Eight Pages! Love you! Have fun! Oh! And we should play together sometime! Send me your Mintendo ID when you have the time! K, bye!]

A packed and rapid-fire message, filled with bubbly energy.

Rin giggled when she read it. "Tsuki really is cute. Don't you think, Hana?"

Like always, Hana didn't respond, only staring back at Rin with her own expression.

But also like always, Rin liked to imagine that she could hear Hana agreeing with her in her head.

'She really is, Rin! I'd love to have a cute little sister like her!'

"Isn't she?" Rin smiled and said, "It'd be nice if Uncle Kai got together with Mom..." She sighed and then hopped out of her bed. "Well, we should probably set things up now, Hana. Are you ready for this?"

'I'm... a little scared.'

"Me too. But we'll have each other and the Ohana. Plus it's daytime! It can't be that scary. Right?"

'I hope so...'

Rin sat down at her computer and started eating the pancakes her mother left her, idly going through her settings to make sure everything was ready.

"Let's see... Ah, I should probably give Hana some lights and decorations now. It'd be too mean for her to be in that cold dark room all by herself..."

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