10: Self Conscious
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They watched the whole concert, but there were no more pointed messages that Danika could detect. It was amusing though, when, as Underneath walked away from their last bow, Shinichi pulled out his phone just before the camera stopped following them, and a moment later Danika received: "Was it enough?"

Danika glanced at Mei and laughed. She replied quickly: "Yeah! Thanks."

Shinichi's reply was more serious though: "I thought about calling out your name too, but Danika is pretty unusual, while there are probably a million girls named Mei. I would anyway if you want! But I don't want to make things even more complicated for you."

Danika sent back: "There are probably a million named Danika or Danica too, just not around here. :p " 

Mei was obviously dying to peek at Danika's texts, and while Shinichi's offer made her feel a little giddy, there wasn't anything embarrassing in his message, so she held it out for Mei to read.

Another message arrived before she finished reading, and Mei rolled her eyes at it and pushed Danika's phone back. 

Danika glanced at the new message and blushed. Shinichi had responded: "There's only you for me, no matter the name."

She glanced at her cousin. She wanted to ask, but she didn't want to ask it in front of Mei. 

Mei stuck her tongue out and then complained, "It's written all over your face that you wish I wasn't here right now."

Another message arrived: "Have time to play in about half an hour?" 

Danika laughed and admitted to Mei while she replied to Shinichi, "Maybe, but you can stay as long as you want, as long as you understand that I'm going to be in 'Living Jade Empire' and not here."


Shinichi grinned at Danika's reply. She hadn't responded to his claim that she was the only one, but she'd replied, "I'll be there."

Naoki leaned over to look, and Shinichi pushed him away. Kimitoshi was on his other side, and in trying to avoid Naoki, Shinichi ended up waving his phone in front of Toshi, who asked, "Will you? Did you forget we're not going to a hotel to sleep next, we're getting on another plane."

Hideki asked, "Will he what?"

"Be playing the game in half an hour," Toshi explained.

Shinichi cursed, and pulled his phone close. He sent: "Sorry, I mean for about half an hour, before we get on the next plane?" 

Naoki laughed. 

"What else can I do at this point?" Shinichi demanded. 

Akito caught up, and the whole thing was repeated for him. He said, "I haven't figured out the right answer to that yet. Sometimes admitting that I messed up goes better, sometimes it's better to just gloss over it like that."

Naoki took Shinichi's arm as he loaded the game. Shinichi glared and said, "You don't get to watch you know."

"I'm just filling in as a guide for the poor game blind soul who will stumble over every step if left alone," Naoki replied laughingly.

Shinichi rolled his eyes but didn't shake Naoki's arm off as he logged in. 


Danika read Shinichi's correction and glanced at Mei. Mei arched an eyebrow at her. Danika explained at the same time as she scooted over to the VR-medi pod. 

Her cousin waved her hand dismissively. "Fine, don't worry, I'll head out now. But seriously, invite me to dinner or something with you guys after he gets back." 

Danika paused and asked, "Are you a fan of Underneath?"

"Like you aren't?" Mei countered.

Danika thought for a moment. Even leaving Shinichi out of it, when she thought of how cute Naoki could be as Nao1, how intimidating SilentSky could be, and how normal Akito had seemed in person compared to his pyro genie in the game, it was hard to imagine calling herself their fan. "I don't know," she admitted. "It's hard to think of them as pop stars?"

Mei rubbed her nose. "Ah, so." She nodded. "I guess that there really is something about you that a pop star might love after all." 

"What?" Danika asked.

Mei just smirked at her and asked sweetly, "Aren't you late for the virtual date you claimed you didn't have today?"

Danika rolled her eyes and pulled the cover shut.


ZipZing was still in Shrubbery's garden, and so was Aishin. To Danika's surprise and Shinichi's chagrin, so were MatchlessMinion and Shrubbery. 

MatchlessMinion greeted her arrival with triumph. "Yes!" he shouted. "Do it!" 

"Do what," Danika asked blankly.

Shrubbery explained for her laughingly, "We can buy the space, but we needed you."

"Why? Shouldn't it complete automatically?" Danika questioned. She glanced at Aishin who gave her a shrug. 

"It keeps saying the guild leader must confirm it," MatchlessMinion announced with disgust.

Danika glanced apologetically at Aishin again and assumed the silly pose to call up her menus. She'd gotten so used to it that she hadn't thought about it for awhile, but she suddenly felt self conscious in front of his steady gaze.


Shinichi didn't know whether he was lucky or not. He obviously wasn't going to be spending this half hour with Danika alone, even aside from Naoki glancing at his screen.

He'd really hoped to, actually, he wasn't entirely sure what he was hoping for. He'd just felt like he wanted to see her expressions. He thought that his solution for convincing her cousin had been a little bit cool, but maybe it was completely uncool to want her to think it had been cool.

He looked up from his phone as they crossed the road, and by the time they reached the other side, ZipZing had completed the purchase and he typed, "Nice, do we destroy the existing building?"

"Destroy what building," Naoki asked, showing that he was still watching Shinichi's screen too.

"The one on the property our new guild hall will go on," Shinichi answered dryly.

"What, no!?" Hideki protested loudly.

Everyone, including a few bystanders turned to look at him. "No, what?" Shinichi asked.

"Don't destroy it, we can sell it," Hideki explained.

"But we want the spot, that's why we've been doing all these quests to buy it," Naoki interjected.

Hideki rolled his eyes and started walking again. "We don't have to sell the space to sell the building," he explained. "It's a magical world. With the right kind of storage item, you can easily just move a whole building, no problem!"

Shinichi saw that MatchlessMinion had made almost the same protest, and quickly typed, "Yeah. Edwardian also says don't destroy it, and that we can sell it."