THREE

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Dodo had jumped in front of all of us and used the Hello Friend emote to say bye. It was clear enough and I got the gut feeling that all that excitement was credited to being in the presence of Fresh, and having gotten to play with him. Not only that but to win.

"See ya, dude. Nice playing with ya." The streamer was the first to respond, as all our players were condemned to be frozen in whatever position we had them in.

I followed up with my own, "Nice meeting you," then our mute friend was gone and transported back to his lobby. "Blues, you okay, girl?"

#1 Victory Royale still hung above the remaining screens and the finale music floated its way from my PC and throughout the bedroom behind me, but all any of us could focus on were the sounds of Babyblues' light sniffles.

"Awe, don't cry, Blues," Fresh cooed gently at her after taking notice of it, too. "Is it allergies?"

"Mrfresh," I started, a sigh riding the wave of exasperation in my voice. My head shook, though not quite in a disappointed manner but rather in an unbelieving way. The least I could do was try not to slip a giggle, not when something was making my young friend emotional.

The girl sniffed again and I could imagine her wiping her face with an oversized sleeve. She always complained about how cold Australian winters were. "No, it's not allergies." Her simple innocence earned her two 'hmphs' of amusement from Fresh and I both. "It's just that you got us a Victory Royale, Fresh."

"Awe, you don't have to cry," the boy repeated again in a softer, more sympathetic tone, though there still were the underlying hints of cheekiness. "And it wasn't all me. Peps helped, too, you know. You know, she... uh, carried the meds."

My heart had warmed the second the words came out of Blues' mouth, being the sweetheart she was, but the swell in my chest had deflated the second Fresh's own words cut through like a hot knife through butter. "Hey! I got us kills, too." I'd sat up in my seat so fast to defend myself, making a face at the sound of his sniggering. "I saved your butt, mister. Don't forget that."

"Alright, okay," Fresh chimed, obviously concealing his enjoyment from the teasing. "Okay. Yes. Peps was a big help, too, but you know what Blues? You got us the Victory Royale, not me. I'm the bot, remember?"

After a time, there was a hesitant, "Yeah," from her.

There was a knock on my door and I held the mic from my face to call out a, "Yeah?" but mom responded by reminding me to open the door. It was followed by the sound of soft pawing on the white painted wood, rattling the locked knob on impact, then came a dog's woof.

"You know he'll start scratching the door if you don't have it open by the time he wakes up, [Y/N]," mom was saying. "And don't forget to eat breakfast."

I moved the coffee mug from my arm space and stretched, calling back a strained, "M'kay, mom!" As I moved my mic back into place, Blues had stopped sniffling and was saying bye to Fresh. "You're going already, Blues?" Getting up from my desk brought the blood flow back into my legs, but it also caused the pins and needles that came with the numbness from sitting too long. "Ah, heck," I uttered, doing my best to keep things PG.

"Yeah, it's my brother's turn to play Roblox."

"Roblox, huh? Nice choice, nice, but tell him to come and talk to me once he's converted to Fortnite. The better game. Alright?" I didn't know what it was, maybe the accent, but the way Fresh accentuated the word 'alright' sent shivers down my arms. Or, you know, it was the winter weather leaking into my room. "Bye, Blues. It was nice meeting you."

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