NullCase

Misdirection

Mar 20th, 2021 (edited)
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  1. Your phone buzzes once again as you let out an exasperated sigh. Your friends give you a concerned yet understanding look, nodding to you as they lean back into their seats, enjoying their drinks as the conversation is once again put on hold. Of course, it's from Aqua. It's the fifteenth one in the past thirty minutes. Asking where you were, and when you were coming home, if there were any other girls with you, etc. Oh, this one asks you to pick up more ketchup on the way home. That's important. Giving a polite response to Aqua, you assure her you'll be home soon. You omit the part where you want to tell her that if she'd just leave you be, this would be over a lot quicker, but you know that'd just lead to things you really don't want to deal with. Pressing 'send', you pocket your phone, apologizing. While they insist it's fine, it's not hard to tell that they think you're dating a crazy woman. Worst part is, you're beginning to believe they aren't wrong.
  2.  
  3. You've been heading out with work companions more and more lately. It's been a blast...for everyone but Aqua. You live with her, so it's not like you slink off somewhere to be with other women, but whenever you mention you want to go out, she always pouts and lets out a low 'neeee' of disapproval. You always promise to spoil her a bit when it's over, and that normally gets her to relax. But even if she lets you go, she does this! Groaning internally, you take a deep drink of the mug in front of you. Ice cold root beer. +1 Morale. The evening continues like this for the next hour or so, needing to stop every so often to appease Aqua. Sheepishly, you excuse yourself, leaving early. You're embarrassed more than upset. A long talk is in order, later...
  4.  
  5. You head to the supermarket. Despite being...not angry, but peeved at Aqua, she did request you pick up more ketchup. The girl goes through it so quickly you need a bottle at least once a week. Browsing the aisles idly as you lazily make your way down to the condiments, you look at some of the different brands they have on display. Store brand, Heinz, Hernz, Hunts, Annie's, Fanny's...it never really occurred to you how many of these there were. Which one did she like again? You blink, memory short circuiting after examining the different bottles until they all subconsciously blend together. Cautiously, you reach for Annie's. The phone in your pocket vibrates. Retracting your hand, you sigh, pulling your phone out to see what Aqua needs now.
  6.  
  7. 'No, not that one! Get Heinz! Annie's is gross!'
  8.  
  9. You stare at the phone in awkward silence. Slowly, you look around...but you're alone in the aisle. With a huff, you roll your eyes. Tapping a few buttons, you dial Aqua's number, not even bothering to put the phone up to your ear. Some cheery pop song - one Aqua herself participated in, judging from the vocals - blares in the aisle next to you, drawing an excited yelp from the other side. Bingo. Making your way to the other side, you see a woman in a pastel pink hoodie and surgical mask, desperately tapping at her phone screen. With a sigh of relief, she finally manages to quiet the ringing...to jump in fear as she sees you. Your eyes narrow. You've seen this woman before.
  10.  
  11. On more than occurrence, even. Hell, she was at the restaurant you were at earlier!
  12.  
  13. "Aqua?" You ask. The girl shrinks. "Are you serious? Have you been following me?"
  14. "I-I'm sorry," the woman says, very poorly putting on a masculine voice. "You must have me confused with someone else."
  15. "Yeah, right," You say, furrowing your brow as you close the distance. The girl seems to be terrified. "Just a coincidence that I called you and your ringtone started going off, right? Have you seriously been stalking me?"
  16. "S-Sir, please, you're frightening me! I don't know who you're talking about!"
  17.  
  18. Fed up, you reach up, tugging the hood off the girl...revealing a head of blonde hair. You freeze.
  19.  
  20. The girl screams before running off crying, thoroughly terrified. You swallow anxiously. Running back to grab the bottle of Heinz, you quickly make your way through a self-checkout before security descends upon you.
  21.  
  22. You awkwardly shuffle home, incredibly embarrassed and almost guilty. You work through the busy crowds of the main street - one of the fastest ways home on foot - as it's early on a weekend. 7:30PM. Coming up to a cross walk, you wait with a group of others for the indicator to change so you can cross without risk of isekai.
  23.  
  24. Something behind you takes a deep huff of your hair. You jolt, spinning to see...nothing. Someone next to you gives you a look, eyebrow raising. You weren't imagining it. You know you weren't. You could feel it; it was a physical sensation as much as it was an auditory one. Someone moving next to you draws your attention back to the street. Looking across the walk way, you see Aqua standing there. She gives you a smile. You open your mouth to yell something. Before you can, a bus drives past her. She's gone by the time the bus moves out of the way. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You pick up the pace on your journey home, resolving to get there quickly.
  25.  
  26. Unlocking your door, you quickly step in. As soon as you lock the door behind you, a pair of slender arms wrap themselves around your torso, nearly causing you to jump up. Aqua huffs in content as she holds you, starting to chuckle in between joyful 'neeee's, rubbing her face into your back.
  27.  
  28. "Welcome home!" She chirps. "I missed you! You took a long time getting back this time, are you-"
  29. "Were you following me?" you ask curtly. "Like, when I was out?"
  30. "Ehhh? Why would you think that?" You turn your neck enough to see her as she looks at you innocently.
  31. "...How did you know I was grabbing Annie's instead of Heinz?"
  32. "What do you mean? I only asked you to get ketchup...but Heinz is better, so you did good there..."
  33. "No, I mean", you begin, wrestling yourself out of her arms enough to turn to face her. "You texted me AS I was grabbing the bottle! Like you were watching me! Look!"
  34.  
  35. Pulling your phone out of your pocket as Aqua tilts her head, you quickly bring up the messages between the two of you. She moves in a bit next to you, watching you work. Bringing up your messaging app, you see...that no such message is there. Your blood freezes.
  36.  
  37. "Where is it?" Aqua asks, looking at your phone screen. "...H-Hey, are you okay? Your hand is shaking..."
  38. "It...it was here...and you were there in the street, earlier..." You whimper.
  39. "Hmm? No, I wasn't...I never left the house today...n-nor most days, but you know that," She responds. She places a hand on your arm, giving you a concerned look. "Is something the matter?"
  40.  
  41. You don't respond as you stare at the phone in your hand. It was here. You know it was. You saw it...so where did it go? Shakily, Aqua tightens her hold, starting to pull you towards the bedroom.
  42.  
  43. "Okay, you," she begins, looking nervous. "Come on. Lay down a bit."
  44. "N-No, Aqua, I'm...I-I'm fine, honest, it's--"
  45. "Neeee, don't give me that! You look worse than I do if I don't get my coffee! Come on!"
  46.  
  47. Your girlfriend pulls you into the bedroom before patting the bed, urging you to sit with her. Nervously, you do. She wastes no time laying her head on your shoulder, wrapping an arm under yours.
  48.  
  49. "No more going out for awhile." She says bluntly.
  50. "Huh?"
  51. "No more. It's messing with your head...you're even seeing things, now..."
  52. "A-Aqua, that's not related-"
  53. "Was it happening before you started going out?" she asks, cutting you off.
  54. "...W-Well, no, but-"
  55. "So no more! A-At least for a week or two..."
  56.  
  57. You try to say something, but Aqua tightens the hug on you, giving you a pleading look. You frown...but sigh.
  58.  
  59. "Okay...if...you think it's related, sure," You concede. Could it really be? You don't see how, but frankly, you don't want to fight her on it. You know what you saw, today...or, thought you saw...you aren't sure anymore. But Aqua *is* correct. Maybe this is only the first time you're noticing it.
  60.  
  61. You doubt Aqua could've done any of the things you experienced today. So what the fuck is going on in your head?
  62.  
  63. She doesn't respond, but instead hugs you tighter...falling on to her side and taking you with her. She cranes her neck a bit to kiss your lips, cuddling you close as you smile nervously, reciprocating the embrace. Aqua could never do that kind of stuff. You're sure of that. This poor little borderline-NEET is too dorky to do anything like that...which makes you uncomfortable, even though you're with her now. What's wrong with your head...?
  64.  
  65. . . .
  66.  
  67. A few hours pass with the pair of you like that, holding each other and resting. Finally, he dozes off. Smiling, you lean in, kissing the top of his head as you carefully move away from him. Sitting at your desk, you pull the little program window up. Sure enough, his messages are all displayed there. He's been faithful, assuredly, but...you needed to do something drastic. This was a good, clean way of making him stay home. No arguments, no fuss. No more being left here alone while was out...with other people. Sure, he'd be a little scared...worried he's seeing things, worried he's being followed...which he was, to be fair, but now he thinks he's just going crazy instead. You can deal with that, easy, since it's not directed at you!
  68.  
  69. Getting remote access to his phone was the easy part - the PIN was your birthday (cutie that he is) so it didn't leave much in the way of security. Keeping it running was the hard part, but so far it'd been easy goings. The poor girl in the aisle next to him sure got it rough, but if it meant he didn't find you, you didn't care. It was a close call, though...but he luckily wasn't watching his back that closely. Just a pure coincidence that she happened to be a fan. It could've been worse. She could've noticed you in your disguise. Ball caps and sunglasses really do work, just like the movies say they do. They don't lie!
  70.  
  71. Really, though, Annie's? Gross. Beyond gross.
  72.  
  73. The really hard part was the bus trick...or lack there of. You're capable of short bursts of great speed, but endurance...not so much. Your legs are going to hurt for days...but it sure must've looked scary! You saw it in an anime once, but you can't really recall which one it was. He got really quiet when he mentioned seeing you in the street...so it had the desired effect, you think. At least for now, you have your soon-to-be-husband back for the weekends! No more sharing with those stupid coworkers. He has duties to attend to! Like loving you!
  74.  
  75. The bitch who sniffed his hair is as good as gone though. Reine personally said she'd see to that. You cross your arms, fuming in your chair as you grit your teeth. Honestly, what kind of freak would do that? In public? Disgusting! Oi! Get your own boyfriend!
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