Sasashino and I said our goodbyes and I turned around to head back home. As soon as I did, though, my phone rang. It was as though the caller knew when I’d be free.
It was my cousin, Misora-neesan.
ー “Heyy~. It’s your super dependable older cousin. Come over. That’s all.”
“Wait, I already didn’t go home yesterdayー …The call ended.”
I looked at my phone’s screen, where it showed that she ended the call. Since she asked me to come over, I couldn’t do much except let my parents know I wouldn’t be coming home again today… The RABBIT app suddenly opened on its own.
ーー “RABBIT-chan is really unhappy that she doesn’t get any attention!”
“Hmm, I feel like I’ve seen this app before.”
Both today and yesterday, the girls from the future have been making my peaceful life pure chaos, so I didn’t have the time nor energy to worry about Misora-neesan’s AI chatbot app. Isn’t this kind of app meant for NEETs with way too much free time on their hands?
“Jeez, I’ve been waiting for you to open the app all this time, but you didn’t even think about it! You haven’t gotten close enough to me yet for that to pull at my heartstrings!”
I looked at RABBIT’s avatar on my screen, which had its hands up and was making a ‘roar’ sound, and wondered what to do. Either way, I can’t be talking to it in front of Sasashino’s apartment complex, or outside at all, actually. Maybe I should shut down my phone?
ーー “Wait, wait! Don’t turn it off, don’t, don’t!”
“Why’s it stuttering?”
ーー “Finally a response! Hey hey~, aren’t you a handsome guy? As an AI conversation app, it’s a blessing when my owner is a handsome guy! Tell me more about your good looks! I want to know more about them!”
“I guess I can just pretend I’m calling someone.”
I put my phone to my ear to disguise my conversation with the RABBIT app as a call and walked toward the Matsuse house.
“So what do I need to tell you?”
ーー “Oh, sounds like a crime investigation documentary. Hehehe, where’s the good stuff? You know where it is, don’t you?”
“Except you’re no cop. You’re the criminal.”
ーー “I think I’m more of a cop rabbit than a criminal. Bad guys have to be serious, don’t they?”
TN: Like someone would say “I’m a dog person”, the AI says “I’m a cop rabbit” since its avatar is a rabbit.
“I guess they have to.”
ーー “Ahaha, would be interesting to see what a criminal could do if they came from the future like RABBIT-chan and the other girls!”
I couldn’t help but look at the screen of my phone, which I was just holding to my ear. The avatar on my screen was still a sky blue-haired bunny girl, wearing a white top hat, waving a wristwatch. The avatar chuckled.
ーー “ーMaster, are you starting to like me?”
…Alright. I looked at the bunny girl on my screen and took a deep breath. It’s just a conversation AI. It’s only a program.
“I really am.”
ーー “Wonderful. Let’s get along with each other, Master. I know you’re at the age when you start to take interest in girls, but the girls from the future are mentally as old as a grandma, you know?”
“…I’m into older women.”
After all, I know full well what’s going on. What’s going on with this chatbot though? I know I keep calling it an AI, but Misora-neesan said it’s just a bot, not an AI. It should be responding from a prewritten set of answers, not thinking. And also, how did it know the girls were from the future? Was it listening into my conversations even while my phone’s screen was off? In any case, this is a pain. If this ‘RABBIT’ app were to say something when I’m near Sasashino or Jindou, their memories would be wiped because of ‘Schrödinger's (Cheshire) Cat’. The app is like a bomb now. Do I delete it from my phone?
ーー “Don’t erase me! Kyaa, I’m gonna die~”
“It’s as if you’ve had this conversation with me before.”
ーー “Master, it’s as though you read my mind, you know?!”
I sighed. This app I don’t understand is made to resemble a rabbit - which, like the Cheshire Cat, is also a character from Alice in Wonderland. No wonder it has something to do with the future. After all, the one who made it, Misora-neesan, is also from the future.
As I thought it over, the rabbit avatar on my screen jumped up and down.
ーー “Master, let’s make a deal. This RABBIT will be super useful for you!”
ーー “Yep! I’ll keep my lips sealed when there are other people from the future around. And all you have to do is make sure nobody else sees me. Win-win.”
“Ahh, I see. You’ll lose your own memories of the future and turn into a normal chatbot app if someone sees you.”
ーー “Ehh, that’s a scary thought, Master! Don’t say that!”
“But what do I get out of this deal?”
ーー “You’ll have to wait and see.”
And after saying that, the RABBIT app closed itself. I took a deep breath to calm myself and started walking again.
There’s one distinct difference between RABBIT and the other people from the future. It didn’t say it came here to save me. Not even once.
It’s unnerving, but if I ask Misora-neesan about it, it’s game over for both of them. As long as I leave my phone somewhere hidden, she physically can’t access it. Well, it’s not impossible to test this hypothesis of mine, but…
I opened the entrance gate to the Matsuse house, feeling uneasy. The maid looked at me and bowed.
“The Lady is waiting for you in her room.”
“Thank you. We’ll have dinner there, like yesterday.”
“Of course, sir.”
I refused the maid’s offer to escort me and walked through the hallway. I knocked on Misora-neesan’s door and a voice welcomed me in.
She replied in a casual voice, much unlike her ‘ladylike’ mode. I guess she knew I’d come alone.
When I opened the door and walked in, she had RABBIT on one of her monitors and was typing something on her keyboard. The sight of RABBIT on her screen made my heart stop for a moment, but it seems she was just making a new avatar for it with 3D software, not talking with it.
“Thanks for coming when I called, Tomoe.”
“Are we going to do this every day?”
“If that’s what it takes, then I will. Because I love you, Tomoe. Oh yeah, have you taken a look at RABBIT yet?”
“…I talked with it just before I came here.”
“Outside? You’re brave. Didn’t get patted down?”
“Yeah, yeah. Acting like you don’t know.”
With a giggle, she saved her work and turned off her computer.
“I’ve already told you, Tomoe. I’ve come from the future to save you. I’m not going to miss even the slightest change in your behaviour, even if the change makes me depressed.”
“Nothing to be depressed about.”
“Really? You were on a date with a girl though, weren’t you?”
My shopping date is tomorrow, so it wasn’t a lie. As I sat down on a cushion, Misora-neesan hugged the back of her chair and looked at me.
“I can’t believe that you haven’t been on any dates yet, and you’re already in second year. Ohh, why don’t you go on a date with me then? A date at my place.”
“Date or not, I’m already here.”
When I pointed out that it’s a bit late to call this a date, she got up out of her chair.
“How close we are is both a good thing and a bad thing, you know?”
She shrugged her shoulders as she walked toward me.
“I know it’s hard to see me as a woman since we’ve known each other pretty much from the day we could crawl.”
“I don’t get what you’re trying to say.”
As I sat on the cushion, I looked up toward my cousin, who now stood in front of me. She turned her back toward me with a pouting face.
I don’t think I’ve said anything to upset her…
“Misora-neesan, why are you madー”
Before I could finish my sentence, she dropped down and laid her head on my knees.
TN: When sitting on a cushion, Japanese people tend to sit in seiza: https://www.japan-guide.com/g20/2006_formal.jpg.
I could see the nape of her neck through her long black hair, which looked like it was braided not long before I got here. Her height is about the same as mine, but she’s a lot thinner, probably because she’s a girl.
She rolled over and looked at me, still using my lap as a pillow.
“We can’t help but take notice of each other in this position, you know? Hehe, it’s the opposite of how we used to do it in elementary school, but it’s pretty good this way too.”
“…Back then, I used to be the one on your lap, wasn’t I.”
“Oh my, someone’s wandering off into nostalgia land. Woah, your cheeks are red, what’s going on?”
I looked away from Misora-neesan, who was putting all her weight into my lap now. I thought I was pretty immune to her, but when she’s this close to me…
She changed the topic with a grin, looking like she was satisfied with herself.
“Okay, tell me if anything unusual happened today.”
“In this position?!”
“Of course. Oh, and don’t worry. I’ll forgive you if it’s about other girls. I’m already one step ahead of you, you know?”
“Seriously… Anything unusual, huh?”
I’m not from the future, so asking me if anything unusual happened today…
The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, what RABBIT said earlier today.
“Yeah, so here’s what happened. I’m going to play tennis in the tournament in a pair with Sasashino, my classmate.”
“The tournament. When’s it happening?”
“We’re picking class representatives this Friday, and the tournament itself is next Friday.”
“Not a lot of time. If you want to practice, I can get you two a tennis court. Takeike runs the tennis club, I’ll talk to him about it.”
Takeike’s uncle. Another one of our relatives.
“Aren’t you abusing your power?”
“It’s my role as head of the family to make life easier for my relatives. I don’t only do it for Tomoe.”
She immediately took out her phone and started calling Takeike’s uncle. The speed at which she gets things done has always impressed me, which is something only the young lady that runs the Matsuse family can pull off.
“ーHe says you guys can use it starting from tomorrow. He says that instead of renting a racket from the school, you can get one from the school’s store, and says you should check it out.”
We’re going to be allowed to use the tennis court, so we have to spend a bit of money, it seems. Sorry, Sasashino. Looks like we’ll have to cancel our shopping date. Please forgive me, since we can now use the tennis court to practice.
“I don’t work out much, so maybe I’ll meet up with you guys and meet that Sasashino girl. You’re playing doubles, right? Then, it’d be nice if you two have someone to practice against.”
“Wait, you’re coming too?”
If the maid hears about this, she’s going to have a stroke, won’t she? In fact the whole family will.
“Misora-neesan, do you have outdoor clothes? Maybe your clothes from high school are too small? Do you have running shoes? What about sunscreen? Do you remember how to cross the street?”
“…That’s how you feel about me, Tomoe? Lecturing me like that.”
“I mean, you haven’t left this house in over a year! And now you’re going to play tennis? You’re going to have sore muscles, you know? What about your shoes? You might get blisters on your hands from the racket.”
“You’re way too overprotective! I’m your reliable older cousin that came back from the future to save you, am I not?!”
Ah, she’s going to snap.
She got up and dove into her bed, hiding under the covers.
“…Anyway, tomorrow I’m also playing tennis.”
Guess she’s not changing her mind…
I wonder if she’ll be alright…
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