3: Marii to the Touch

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Qualia the Purple

Arc 1: Various Notes on Marii

Chapter 3: Marii to the Touch

When I pulled Marii Yukari into a tight hug from behind, the smell of shampoo and soap rose to meet my nostrils.

That smell was a symbol of her own cleanliness, and of course cleanliness was next to godliness, but underneath it also showed that she was so unconfident in her own looks that she wanted to at least be clean to make up for it. Knowing these sad feelings of hers, I had to push down the emotions that threatened to well up out of my chest, and so I often just buried my head into her hair instead... right into the nape of her neck. I searched for her own scent, underneath all these layers of "cleanliness." I wanted to know the real her. When I did this, I would often feel embarrassed after I came back down to planet Earth and realized what I was doing to a fellow girl. After going home I would toss and turn in bed, cringing in self-loathing. Despite all that, almost every day I would end up pulling her into a hug and whispering into her ear. “Yukari, you're really, really cute,” I would whisper.

She would fidget around a bit when I did that, but after a bit she would turn towards me and hug me right back.

She must've thought that when you were praised, it was your duty to praise that person back.

In the beginning, when I told her she was cute she would always tell me I was cute too.

Unfortunately, unlike normal people, she saw everyone else as robots, so when she called me "cute" it felt a bit... off. Even if she meant it as a compliment, normal girls don't really know what to think when they’re told they "look pretty strong and sturdy!" or "have a lot of cool extra gadgets!" When she told me "You look like you were designed to be one of those super robots!" I’d have no idea what she meant, even if I could tell she was trying to pay me a compliment. "A-Ahh... t-thanks?" was all I could really clumsily muster up in return. Eventually, she had gone through this awkward experience so many times that she finally stopped returning my compliments, but just hugged me back instead.

Honestly, hugs were pretty embarrassing, but I was pretty grateful she chose to go that route.

Not only did I not really know how to respond to her compliments (what exactly did it mean to be "designed to be one of those super robots" anyways?), but honestly, just complimenting each other like that felt like a rather empty pleasantry to me and I wasn't particularly fond of that kind of thing. I felt a strange sense of duty to mention her cuteness to her at least once a day (well, I really did think she was cute, so this wasn't a problem), but it's not like I was such an important person that my compliments should carry much weight. So I'd end up getting embarrassed and fretting over how out of character this was for me. I mean, it's not like I was ugly, but my looks were average at best. So when a cute girl like Yukari told me I was cute, the compliment just rang hollow. Rather than engage in this sad exchange of compliments, I much preferred for us to share each other's embrace, no matter how embarrassing it was. I also had a feeling that my actions spoke more clearly than my words could... that might've just been a feeling, though.

When I hugged Yukari with my entire body, I was greeted by a soft, warm sensation and surrounded by her pleasant scent. It made me thankful that I was born a girl.

If we were opposite genders, then we wouldn't be able to casually do stuff like this. If we were both boys... then yeah, I don't think this would be possible either. I put the special right given to our gender to good use and hugged her tight. I also began to wonder if she felt the same way I did right now. Did she also find me soft? Find me warm?

She saw me as a robot (apparently, a "super robot"?).

Did that mean that I didn't only look like a robot, but that I also felt like one to her?

I saw Yukari as a girl, and when I was hugging her I felt like I was hugging a girl.

But to Yukari, I looked like a robot.

In other words, to Yukari, perhaps the person hugging her did not feel like a soft girl, but just a hard, cold robot.

I asked her about this once, too.

I asked her to describe exactly what I looked like to her, in concrete terms.

Yukari just gave me a sad smile and didn't answer me, but she did tell me the reason why she couldn't answer. She told me that during elementary school, she had been asked the same question and back then, she did answer.

And before she knew it, she and that friend had drifted apart from each other.

Another time, Yukari was asked to draw a portrait of a friend in art class. Of course, Yukari ended up drawing a robot, and once her friend saw that drawing, she began to hate and bully Yukari. So, at some point, Yukari began to hide the fact that her view of the world was different from everyone else's.

I wonder exactly what kind of picture she had drawn.

Had she drawn something that looked completely off?

Or maybe her friend recognized herself even though it was a drawing of a robot. And maybe she was so repulsed by that feeling that she could bring herself to hate a girl even as cute as Yukari.

Yukari begged me.

“Please, please don't ask me that question,” she begged.

She sounded so cornered when she said that that I just nodded and promised her I would never ask again. Though, Yukari was a pretty careless person at heart, so there were still times I could hear her muttering that I was a "super robot" or had a lot of "extra gadgets" and stuff.

Right now, I was hugging a girl who was very pleasant to the touch.

But did Yukari feel like she was hugging something stiff and strong, something like a super robot with a lot of extra gadgets?

I squeezed her a bit tighter, and she squeezed me right back.

Yes, I was certain now. Hugging beat words by a mile.

I still had no idea what she thought she was hugging, and what she thought was hugging her back, but when we did this I knew that she didn't find my embrace unpleasant. No matter how I looked to her, she accepted me and even desired my company... I could feel that from this hug.

So, instead of talking, we would just enjoy each other's embrace.

And I was tempted to think that indeed, my feelings had gotten across.

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