Sarah claiming to be awesome at racing games was a severe understatement. When Josh had finally been able to convince Rebecca and Sarah to join him in a live stream – rather, when he had finally been able to convince Rebecca, for Sarah had been raring to go as soon as he had voiced the idea – it was to play one of the more popular racing games that were on the latest consoles, Burning Rubber.
Sarah had left Rebecca and Josh, and the other computer-controlled characters, in the dust right after the first lap, leaving Rebecca and Josh to duke it out to see who would cross the finish line first. Josh had a better handle on the controls, but Rebecca was trickier, able to use the course’s obstacles to her advantage much better than Josh was able to. She had even launched herself off of a ramp with the help of a speed boost, a ramp that Josh had never even noticed before despite how many times he had played the game.
Even though he came in fourth at the last second, with Rebecca zooming by his character for a third place, Josh couldn’t help but grin. If he had lost like that to Ethan and Calvin, he would have pretending to be angry, complete with pouting and name-calling. With the girls, he just felt like laughing.
Sarah had done a little dance when she came in first, much to the amusement and entertainment of those watching the live stream. She seemed delighted at the compliments and even answered a few questions to those who had directed them at her. Rebecca shared some tips of her own, even if she was a bit more soft-spoken to the camera despite her smiling. Josh planned on teasing Rebecca, normally so confident, for how shy she seemed in front of the webcam.
Then some asshole mentioned how the girls should take off their tops and other such insults, but before Josh could ban the user, one of his chat’s moderators did it for him. While the rest of the well-meaning chat tittered and scolded the asshole, Josh smiled and merely said, “Thanks, Ethan, for responding to that so quickly.”
“Oh, Ethan’s here? Hi Ethan! Responding to what?” Sarah asked, apparently having missed the asshole, but as her gaze skimmed through the chat’s comments, comprehension dawned on her face. “Ohhh… Dude, why would you want us to do that when there’s perfectly good porn all over the Internet?”
Josh spit out his drink at her casual question. Rebecca laughed and reached over to the wad of napkins they still had on the table from their pizza dinner, handing them over to Josh.
“Thank you, Ethan,” Rebecca said as well.
“Of course, ladies,” Ethan had typed in the chat. “That kind of disrespect should not be condoned by anyone.”
“It shouldn’t,” Josh agreed, pleased that the majority of the chat had been respectful to the girls so far. In fact, most of them seemed downright angry at the moment, especially some of his viewers that he knew to be female, and he feared that it would become a sticky topic in his chat if he didn’t divert their attention somehow.
“Thanks for your support,” Rebecca said, reading the chat as well. “Although, right now, I think Josh and I could use some support on how to get revenge on that computer character that beat us both in that last race. Should we bulk up with the missile or speed boost power-ups?”
“I like the idea of the speed boosts, keep him way behind,” Josh said, glad that the chat directed its focus on debating which power-ups were better thanks to Rebecca changing the subject.
Rebecca gave him a wicked grin. “I prefer the missiles, especially the firework-like ones.”
He raised an eyebrow at her, the corner of his lips twitching. “Should I be frightened?”
“Only if you get ahead of me in the next race.”
Choruses of “Ohhhh!”s and emotes ranging from laughing and devil horns spammed the chatbox.
“Speaking of the next race,” Sarah said, “are you losers ready to race again?”
“I’m leaving you behind with all those speed boosts too,” Josh said, picking up his controller and going through the options to set up the next race.
The girls beat him in that race, too.
“You have no mercy,” Josh said, whipping around to Rebecca.
She only shrugged. “I warned you.”
Someone in the chat was spamming, “SAVAGE,” and a few had posted applause emotes, Ethan included.
“I need to meet you two ladies in person,” Ethan typed out. “I’m going to challenge Sarah in a racing game and Rebecca in whatever game she feels she’s good at. As long as it’s not platforming.”
Sarah laughed. “I’d love you if you can kick her ass in a fighting game. Like, Mega Punch.”
“Dunno about that,” Ethan said, “but I’d love to try!”
“You guys are coming out here in a couple of months, right?” Rebecca asked, much to the delight of the chat.
“For Tradeline, yeah,” Ethan typed. “Josh, you’re taking the girls, right?”
“Of course I am,” Josh said, “if they’d like to.”
“Sounds like fun!” Sarah piped up. “It’s at the end of the summer, right?”
Rebecca paused. “It depends for me,” she said. “I’d love to go, but I have a wedding—No, no, I’m not getting married!” The chat went crazy with the question, asking if they could see the ring, who the guy was, and – much to his embarrassment – asking if the groom was Josh. “It’s one of my best friend’s wedding, I’m one of the bridesmaids. That’s all. Well, I shouldn’t say, that’s all, considering how much lighter my wallet is going to be after it’s all over…”
“You’ll probably be exhausted,” Josh said lightly. “The option will stay open, of course, if you find yourself wanting to join us at Tradeline after the wedding.”
“Thank you,” Rebecca said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to go with you guys.”
“Josh, I’ll be clinging to you the whole time, just so ya know,” Sarah warned.
Josh chuckled. “That’s fine. After seeing your sister use those missile power-ups so effectively, I don’t want to imagine what she’d do to me if I accidentally lost you at a convention.”
“Neither would I.” Sarah’s agreement was devoid of any mirth, and Josh choose not to comment on it.
“I hope both of you will be able to come,” Ethan typed. “We need a group meet-up!”
“Ethan, aren’t you guys staying at my place?” Josh asked, ignoring the small flip his stomach did at the though. “You’ll meet them, don’t worry.”
The chat began to speak about sleepover games, and Sarah joined right in. Ethan continued to type out comments about Tradeline to Josh and Rebecca, and Burning Rubber was soon forgotten. Eventually, Rebecca glanced at the time and mentioned that they should go back home.
“It was nice talking with you all,” she said to the chat, and the chat chorused back a series of goodbyes, well-wishes, and hopes to see the girls on Josh’s streams again.
“I would love to stream with these two again,” Josh said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to do it soon!”
“Yeah, this was great.” Sarah waved to the webcam.
“You walking them home?” Ethan typed out.
“Of course,” Josh said, and the rest of the chat praised him for being a gentleman. He rolled his eyes in good humor and added, “Not that the girls need protection. You saw how fast Sarah was and how savage Rebecca was in a video game, didn’t you?” He said one final goodbye before shutting everything down.
“You don’t have to walk us back,” Rebecca said, gathering her coat and their share of the leftover pizza.
“I want to,” Josh said simply, tying up his shoes despite Peanut trying to eat his laces.
Sarah picked up Peanut to give her a goodbye hug, much to the cat’s chagrin. “If you’re sure,” the younger sister said, placing the cat down on the sofa.
It was a short walk, one that Josh spent the entire time trying to schedule the next stream that the girls would do with him. “I’m thinking maybe we should play Mega Punch?”
Rebecca chuckled, but Sarah said, “Yes! Rebecca will kick both of our asses, but it’s also an online game, right? Think Ethan can be player four?”
Josh paused for a moment, having forgotten that aspect of the game, and nodded. With a crooked smile, he said, “Sure, I’ll ask him. The time zone difference may be a little weird, but we might be able to figure it out.”
“Yes!” Sarah pumped her fist in the air. “And we can do teams for some of the fights, like girls versus guys, or old people versus younger people, who’s older, anyway? You or Ethan?”
Josh raised an eyebrow. “Uh, Ethan.”
“Great, Ethan and Rebecca versus you and me! We’ll totally lose, but it’ll be fun.” With that declaration, Sarah hugged Josh goodnight and skipped into the house.
“Thanks for tonight,” Rebecca said, smiling up at Josh. “You alright?”
“Huh? Yeah, of course I’m alright,” Josh said. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
She gave him a half shrug. “Just wasn’t sure how you were doing with your crush, that’s all. You don’t turn red as much anymore when Ethan is brought up.”
“Oh.” Josh scratched the back of his head. “Well, he’s my friend first and foremost, as is Linda. I’m fine.”
Rebecca hummed and gave him her own hug. “Good night, then. We’ll probably talk to you tomorrow, if not sooner.”
“Good night, Bec.” Josh watched as she went into the house, chuckling to himself as he heard Moose’s excited yips at the girls finally being home, before turning around to walk back up the street by himself.