Chapter Thirty-Four: Collapse:

Mike and Vivian stared at each other.

“Hello, Vivian,” Mike said. They struggled to speak. Her friends stood off to the side. Ouch, too painful to watch. Mike looked at his drink.

“So… how have you been?” he asked.

“Good,” she said. “You?”

“Good,” he said. “I’m good.” They couldn’t make eye contact. Her friends stood watching. Meanwhile, Hotaru saw the scene herself. She cringed for them. But, the loli demon can’t step in. It’s not her mess. Hotaru held her breath and stayed on the sidelines.

“Why did you come here?” Mike asked Vivian.

“I was invited,” she said.

“Oh,” he said. The wolf demon looked out at the crowd.

“How’s the party?” she asked. Mike looked at the crowd.

“It’s a party,” he said.

“I can see that.”

“Yeah.” He looked at her roommates. “Hello, ladies.” They didn’t speak.

“Right…” Mike said. Their eyes judged him. He turned his attention back to Vivian.

“I’m… I’m… he said. The girls stared him down. The lead roommate looked ready to stab him. Mike narrowed his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he said. There was pause.

“For what?” Vivian asked.

“I’m sorry. I hurt you,” he said. “I… I am getting help.” The girls said nothing. Vivian nodded once.

“Okay,” she said. “Thank you.” There came another pause.

“Hey everyone!” they heard across from them. They looked up to see Hotaru walking towards them with a snack platter in hand.

“You girls look hungry,” she said. “Have these cheese pieces.”

“No,” Yuuko said. “We’re good.”

“Oh please,” the loli demon said. “This is a thank you talking care of Viv. Please, I insist.” She smiled at them like a little fairy. The roommates hesitated. Then one by one, they picked up pieces of cheese.

“Very good,” Hotaru said. She turned to Mike and Vivian.

“Cheese?” she asked. The pair shook their heads.

“No,” Vivian said.

“We’re good,” Mike said. Hotaru shrugged.

“Okay,” she said. She turned and walked back to the party. Mike and Vivian turned to catch other with confused looks. The roommates ate in silence. Hotaru smiled to herself in relief. Now back to the party.