I just wanted to catch up with my little sister
“A signing session rehearsal?“
It was a certain day during the summer vacation in July. I, Nagami Yuu, was sitting in my room, writing an entry manuscript for the contest I wanted to apply for but all of a sudden Suzuka entered my room, saying that out of the blue.
“Yes, that’s right. Tomorrow is your first signing session after all. To please all the fans that came out of their way to see you, we have to practice.“
The girl who said that was my little Sister, Nagami Suzuka. Being the student council president of the prestige all-girls middle school Hakuou, having top-grades, a calm personality and athletic skills, she was, at least from my point a view, a beautiful cheat-like superhuman. And to add on that, she was actually also a professional light novel writer, it really is unfair.
“Even if you say practice….there won’t be any problems since I will just sign their books, right?“
“Not exactly. Since you will be meeting the fans face to face, we will have to think of how you will act towards them. This is an important event to celebrate the release of the second volume, you know? I will be troubled if you don’t act like the proper Towano Chikai.“
Towano Chikai—-a new author that won the first place in the contest and landed a big hit with that novel, climbing right on top of the summit of light novel authors. The first volume of that novel [The story of a little sister who loves her big brother way too much to cope] sold an incredible amount of 30.000 copies instantly, which became an unparalleled event in history of sales. To cut it short, a legend. And the person that wrote this was currently standing in front of me, my little sister.
“Onii-chan is my stand-in, remember? Please pull yourself together.“
And like she said, I am currently acting as her stand-in. This year in April—on that fateful day. Since that day where Suzuka told me that she won the grand-prize, I took it upon me to play her role as the light novel author, Towano Chikai. On my end, I was just a normal first-year high school student that also shared the same dream of becoming a light novel author…but because of various reasons, I decided to help out my little sister Suzuka. Because of these circumstances, our relationship changed drastically. Before, we were only able to hold the most basic conversations without any real emotion to it….but now we talk normally with each other.
“Since Onii-chan is seen as Towano Chikai by the outer world, you have to keep up the appeal.“
“But, is practice really necessary? We haven’t had any real problems thus far. And—“, I continued, while focusing my eyes on my notebook PC.
The deadline for the next contest was slowly closing in. Becoming a light novel author with my own strength, I wanted to surpass Suzuka as fast as possible. Those are the circumstances right now.
But, Suzuka showed no consent with a calm “That’s a no.“
“If you let down your guard like that, someone is bound to find out your real identity. To prevent that from happening, I really think that we ought to be doing some practice.“
Ugh..she’s not wrong. And I don’t have any chance against Suzuka like that. Even in moments like these, I wonder if our relationship really changed….? At least not in my favor.
“I got it….But what exactly should we do for this practice?“
Turning off my notebook PC, I turned around to face Suzuka again. Ever since I became her stand-in, I was unable to deny her requests…and I didn’t want to be the big brother that turned his sister down when she was asking for help.
“Let’s see, I think that it would a good start to simulate a signing session. Something unexpected my happen after all.“
“Please try to see me as a fan. First, I will come up to you like this, right? Then…[O-Onii-chan, I am a fan of yours….please give me your autograph!]“
Saying that, her facial color gradually changed into a strong red one and she pulled out a small paper.
“S-Somehow…..even if this was meant as an act, that seemed oddly realistic.“
“Eh?! O-Of course it would be! I have to do it earnestly after all! I-It’s not like I really want your autograph or anything, so don’t get any weird understandings!“
“I won’t make any weird assumptions, alright…But, you just said you were a fan of [Onii-chan]….“
“I-I just misspoke! [I am a big fan of Towano Chikai-sensei!]“
Like that, she once more pulled out the paper. I accepted it and said:
“Uhm…I just have to say [Thank you very much.] and sign it, right?“
“That seems a bit cold, so could you something else after that?“
That….might be right. Thank you for buying it…or something like that?
“Maybe you should add something Towano Chikai-like. How about [Thank you very much. By the way, was my little sister cute?] or something similar to that?“
“Wait! What’s up with that?!“
“Asking for the opinion of the main heroine is a given, don’t you think!“
Now that she says so, it does seem like a good idea…but I still have some reluctance.
“Novel is novel after all, so I think that you should make an appeal about the little sister to the readers.“
“But, it was something that you wrote while being possessed, right?“
“T-That is true but still, that doesn’t change the fact that this is a little sister novel.“
It really troubles me that I can’t find anything to say against that. Since I have a little sister in real life though, a phrase like that is really hard to get out of my mouth…..The little sister heroine of Suzuka’s novel is super cute but it’s not like I’m interested in the little sister attribute, okay? Yeah, that would be no good!
“S-So I should voice my thanks towards my fans and then take the paper to sign it.“
Leaving all that little sister talk behind me, I continued with my acting…
“And then I should ask for the name that I put under my autograph.“
“Y-Yes! Please write [For Nagami Suzuka]!“, she said, seeming really happy.
You really are into this, aren’t you… Touched by her, I also got a bit more serious. I moved my pen with graciousness.
“….You really have a nice handwriting.“
“Hehe, after it was decided that a signing session was held, I practiced signing papers as Towano Chikai. Since I’m your stand-in, I have to do at least that much, you know?“
Suzuka replied to that with an “So it was like that.“
Well, it is kind of frustrating that it isn’t my own autograph….
“Ah, please write [My little sister] before my name please!“
“T-There’s no real reason behind it! There might be some fans that ask for that after all!“
Listening to her explanation, I decided to leave it at that and do as I was told.
“And…while returning it, I should say [Please continue to support me from here on out as well.] or something similar to that, right? See? There was no real need to practice after all?“
But, Suzuka didn’t answer me. She was spacing out, letting out a weird laugh “Ehehehe“ with a flushed cheeks.
“Ehe, ehehe, Onii-chan’s autograph….“
“Hya?! W-What is it?!“
“No, that’s what I’m supposed to say…“
“I-It’s nothing. Don’t let it bother you. By the way, this is your first autograph ever, right?“
Well, it technically is just for practice but yeah. Since I did it as a stand-in though, I can’t really feel happy about it…
“Onii-chan’s first autograph….I am the first….“
What exactly is she on about now?
“Ha?! F-For now, you should’ve understood the rules of the signing session. Now then, let’s practice in a more signing session-like atmosphere.“
Signing session-like atmosphere?….as I asked her for details, she turned me around on my chair, turning me towards the door and told me to wait in that position.
“I will enter this room as a fan of Towano Chikai and Onii-chan will give me his autograph. Like this, we will have the fitting atmosphere.“
Ah, I see how it is. Just what I would expect from Suzuka. She left the room and I waited on my chair exactly how she instructed me to do.
“E-Excuse me! I am a fan of Towano Chikai!“
Without ever telling me, Suzuka instantly entered her role and I answered as Towano Chikai…but:
“Thank you very much for coming out of your way to—–Ha?!“
While greeting her, I almost choked. Why? Because Suzuka’s clothes changed into something unbelievable.
“W-What is it? Why did your greeting turn out so rude?“
“N-No, rather than that! You! Why are you wearing gym clothes?!“
Yes, Suzuka was wearing the sorts of clothes that you would wear during school sports classes. Not to forget the bloomers and the black knee-socks that emphasized the whiteness of her plump thighs.
“T-This is cosplay!“
Suzuka was saying that with an embarrassed expression while I was trying to calm myself down.
“That might be so….but why cosplay?!“
“D-Don’t get any weird ideas. This is also part of the practice. The people that come to the signing session are mostly otaku right? If so, then there is no guarantee that there won’t be any female fans that go to the signing session while cosplaying! Since Onii-chan was surprised just now as well, we have to prepare you for that!“
“No…well, no matter how much of an otaku event this is, I don’t think that there will be cosplayers attending the signing session….“
Listening to my words, Suzuka went [Eh?!] with wide-opened eyes. It seems like she had a misunderstanding that otaku events equaled cosplayers. I thought that she was slowly starting to understand the otaku culture….
“Still, I agree that we won’t know for 100%. But coming in here with gym clothes is also a bit….you know. How did you even get your hands on these clothes?“
“T-This doesn’t belong to me. Double Peace-sensei forgot this when we did our cosplay contest….so I thought I’d borrow it for a short while….“
Ah, there was something like that alright.
“At that time, Onii-chan was really starting at me….and this time too….“
“I-It’s nothing! Since we can’t exclude the possibility for sure, we have to practice that! Please welcome me properly this time!“
As she said that, she once more pulled out the paper towards me. Maybe because she was embarrassed, her hand seemed to tremble a little bit. Somehow, because she was looking at me while fiddling with her hands, I got a very bad feeling in my chest…..something similar to immoral feelings….they suddenly entered my brain…Ah! What exactly am I thinking towards my little sister, me?! T-This is bad, my thoughts seemed to have wandered in a dangerous direction! Let’s focus on the practice for now!
While my heart was beating like crazy, I returned the signed paper, saying my thanks and bowing my head.
“Not bad, not bad. There are some small things but if you do it like our simulation, you should have no problem. Please do your best tomorrow.“
“Y-Yeah. If this was the real thing, I’d be a lot more serious, yup..“
Seeing Suzuka in her cosplay really took me off-track but I pulled myself together and answered vaguely.
“N-Now then, just to make sure, we’ll do one more simulation.“
“Eh? Were doing it again?“
“J-Just to make sure….But, this time please sign it with your own name, Onii-chan……“
“My own name….you mean Nagami Yuu? Why?“
“T-There’s no deeper meaning to that! I just thought that, if we did that as well, we might discover some new things…or something like that….Never mind that…..I’m a big fan of Onii-chan, please sign this!“
Not exactly knowing what was happening, I still accepted the paper in front of me and put my own name as an autograph. Adding the [To my little sister Nagami Suzuka] part too…..I wonder when I will be able to sign with my own pen name on a regular basis…?
“Uhm, is this fine?“
“T-Thank you very much!….Haaaa…..“
Holding this paper in front of her chest, she sighed happily…. I understand that this is just a play…but somehow, she really seems into it.
“I got both the first for the Towano Chikai one….and Onii-chan’s own one…..“
“F-For now, I think that this should suffice as a practice for the signing session, right?“
“….Ha?! Y-Yes, you are right. The real thing will be okay like this….However, I really think that you should bring an appeal for liking the little sister in….“
No, really, I wish you’d let up on that one….is what I told her uncertainly. Suzuka then looked at me with a pouting face and said “Muu, i still am worried after all….“
Still, after looking at the piece of paper on her hands, her expression softened with an “Hya…“
“Anyway, I’m counting on you for the signing session tomorrow. Since you and me are one as Towano Chikai, I ask you to do your best.“, Suzuka said and left my room.
Reminiscing about it, what the hell was all of this….
“But still, I have to do my best for my first signing session.“
Although I was frustrated that I was doing it as a stand-in, it still was an important event for Suzuka, the original author. Thinking that, I turned the power for my notebook PC on and continued to write on my manuscript. In contrast to Suzuka, I was always on the verge of losing. Since I already lost a whole day tomorrow, I can’t keep wasting my time.
Still…..an appeal for liking the little sister…
“No, it certainly is true that the little sister of my novel is cute, you know? Honest, and dishonest and direct, really an ideal heroine!…..But there is no way that I like my real-life little sister because of that, okay?“
And then, the next day, I was sitting in a certain bookstore. On the table in front of me were papers and pens lined up and all around me were shop employees, preparing to open the shop. In the middle of that, standing in front the table I was sitting at, was Shinozaki-san, which turned her head towards me in reaction to my words.
“You wrote such a novel…and still expect me agree to your words?“
While I couldn’t really retort to that, I still didn’t want to be labeled as a person that loved his little sister, so I tried my best to deny my words.
“Since most of your fans come here expecting you to have a real little sister anyway, you should present yourself like that. No need to hold back there, right?“
“As I told you before, I’m not holding back or anything.“
“In the second novel, you even wrote a scene where the little sister lifted her skirt a little bit so that the brother, that turned around at that second, could see her panties. Such a great scene.“
“That was just a practical scene inside the novel! A-Anyway, I’ll do it as always.“
“Well, if you’re that set on it, I can’t do anything about it.“
I don’t really know how our conversation about acting towards the fans turned into something like this but in the end, it still feels like there are some misunderstandings.
“All things considered, you really are calm—no, you are too calm. One would normally be really nervous about their first signing session.“
Listening to her complaint, I answered “That makes sense“ in my heart. Since I am the stand-in, this doesn’t feel all to real after all.
“I know what I have to do after all. It’s better to break down emotionally, right?“
“How naive. A lot of authors make some blunders on their first signing session. They were fine moments before it started but there are people that get nervous after. Letting your guard down is no good.“
To my surprise, Shinozaki-san actually said some helpful editor-like words of caution. Linking your arms together with a serious face is good and all but it really pushes the chest area out, so it’s more like poison to my eyes.
“….Is that so?“
“Yes. There are people that hurt their physical condition, or others where they hurt their relationships to their fans because their tension got the better of them in the heat of the moment. You have to do your utmost to make sure that this doesn’t happen because it might hurt the reputation of your novel. Since you’re our star writer right now, we are really worried about that.“, Shinozaki-san explained, her face getting rarely clouded. “Listen. No matter how many girls have the type that you like, don’t let your desires get the better hang of you, alright? If you have to let it out no matter what, I will help you the best I can.“
“I don’t even know where to retort on your statement just now though?!“
“This is the job of an editor after all. If you’re worried, you can fondle my breasts like you did that one time.“
“Wha-?! Don’t say such things that could lead to misunderstandings around so many people! And that was you forcing yourself on me…“
“Hm? Might you be dissatisfied with this dull signing session? Just what I would expect from Towano Chikai-sensei. A newcomer but always aiming higher.“
“No no! Don’t just categorize me as such an ambitious human! And it’s not even about that! There won’t be coming more than about a hundred people right? If it’s on that scale, then—“
“Muh, you’re wrong about that. True, our plans were approximately a hundred people but those are the people that we selected beforehand. We have around 50 times more people that are enlisted, you know?“
“Of course. A lot of people from the inside of our company but also from the outside world want to see how you look like after all.“
R-Really? I didn’t know that…..
“Your awareness really is lacking after all. Even though it’s technically a signing session, it’s still an event where the fans of super popular writers like you will come to meet you. Not counting the editorial department, the people from the sales department or public relations are coming as well. You met them a few moments ago, right?“
“Now that you say it….I did receive business cards.“
“And it’s not only that, the people from this bookstore that we rented are here too and not to forget our chef from the editorial department, who would’ve come himself. Sadly, something urgent came up and he won’t be able to make it here.“
“It’s something that concerns your novel. Some sort of crisis you might call it.“
“If you say crisis…..did something problematic happen?!“
“I’ll tell you later. It might be that I have to leave throughout the signing session because I have to get in touch with them but you should focus on the session. The reason that so many people that so many people are moving around and about is because you are a super popular writer after all. I won’t tell you to get nervous…but it would trouble me if you don’t take this seriously.“
Ugh….Somehow, I felt like my calmness was washed away because of her words. Suddenly realizing the cold truth that , as a stand-in, I can’t afford to fuck this all up……I’m getting kind of nervous now.
“E-Excuse me. I need to go to the toilet….“, I said to Shinozaki-san, leaving my seat.
It happened at the time I was about to return. Hearing a tumult, I was about to check on the source of it from a corner. As I did so:
“I’m sorry. This area is off limits and only available for the winners, so I would ask you kindly to understand that and—“
The bookstore employee that was guiding the mass of people said that to some of them. Is that what Shinozaki-san was talking about? Are these the people that want to take a glance at the person Towano Chikai? Looking at these numbers, I felt the sweat on my forehead. I was once more reminded just now popular Suzuka’s novel really is. Feeling happy for her, there was also an envious feeling, it was really complicated….Well, I shouldn’t really dwell on it too much but after what happened, my thoughts seem to wander in that direction naturally.
“Ah, no good, no good! I have to focus on the signing session for now! Still, that’s a lot of people—-huh?“
At that moment, a certain person in the mass of people caught my eye.
“W-What’s up with that person…? A sunglasses with a mask and hat? And also a trench-coat…..totally looks a little too suspicious….“
Pulling the eyes of the surrounding people towards them, they really didn’t fit in there. For them to be in the mass of people…..is that person also a fan of Towano Chikai? As I thought that, the person vanished into the crowd, I heard the sound of the employee that switched places with them.
“The signing session will begin shortly so could the people with numbers please line up—-“
“Ah, shit! I have to hurry back!“
I made my way back while running.
“We will now begin the signing session of Towano Chikai-sensei“
While I was sitting in front of the table, I heard these words. Shinozaki-san said “The circumstances of your novel have gotten worse. To say clearly, we’re in a pinch. I have to attend a meeting as well so please hold the fort alone!“ before and left the stage. This was the first signing session ever for me….just where did this women go now of all the times. Rather than that, seeing all these people now made my body really tense up….
Am I shaking…? C-Calm down, me! This is an essential beginning! If I get used to it now, everything later on will be much easier! Luckily, this was a one-on-one situation with signing and all, so they let them in in small groups. But, seeing the first person to enter, I almost chocked.
“I am the number one fan of Towano Chikai-sensei! Please give me your autograph!“
“W-W-What are you doing here?!“
That was because the person with the entry number one was no one else than Mai. Himuro Mai. A girl that was my classmate and also at the same time the pro novel writer Enryuu Homura. After reading my (Suzuka’s) novel, she became a huge fan. She wanted to find out the secret of what makes it so interesting and started troubling me with conducting certain stalker activities.
Well…thanks to her personality being pretty incompetent, nothing really bad happened. Still, because of her reputation as the [Ice Queen] cool-type of character, my tension rose up even more. Having the reputation of being the school’s number one beauty and her cute changing expressions were one thing but her bothering actions were a big minus.
“Why? That’s because I am your number one fan? So obvious!“
Mai instantly answered me with a questionable self-confidence.
“N-No, I was asking that because I see you everyday…..“
“As your number one fan, I do have my obligations to fulfill! That is why, on your first signing session, I have to be the first fan that you give your autograph to! Anyone other than me would be impossible after all!“
“I don’t get your point at all, though?! First and foremost, this ticket should’ve been won by lottery! How did you manage to get that?! Don’t tell me you used your rights as a fellow light novel author?!“
“No way in hell! I just kept on buying the tickets until I won it! Thanks to that, I almost bought close to two hundred tickets!“
No matter how much you wanted that ticket, that were to many!!! And it’s crazy that you even kept going for so long after continuously losing!!!
“And since the line was made up of the timing when the people arrived, I was lining up from four o’clock in the morning! Now, please give me your autograph for the first person in line!“
“Four o’clock? Is this the comiket or something, oi?! How much were you looking forward to this?!“
……W-Wait, this isn’t the first time that she went overboard like this…Never mind that, for now, I’ll sign it and hope that she’ll leave quickly like that.
“Ah, I don’t have any paper for the autograph. I came prepared for that though, so please put your sign on this.“
“Prepared you say…you really were looking forward to this…“
“W-What about it? Since this is your autograph we’re talking about, that’s only natural….Uf“
Like the sound of something heavy slamming on the ground, a big plastic bag appeared in front of me. I got a bad feeling about this….again.
“W-What could possibly be inside that bag….? This is….“
“That’s as clear as day! It’s the special version of your second volume!“
“You want me to sign 200 hundred books?! Are you planning to use all the time of this signing session for yourself?!“
“No need to worry. I only brought 30 books with me today. I do have enough consideration for the Towano Chikai-sensei that I respect so much.“
“No no no no! I can’t do that! There’s no consideration at all there!“
She might be saying that 30 books isn’t much but you have to be joking!
“Uhm….Towano Chikai-sensei? Other people are waiting as well, so I wish you would speed this up a little bit…..“
“Ah! I’m very sorry!“
Ugh….the shop employee gave me a warning…. Ah, forget it! I took one book from the paper bag that Mai brought with her and gracefully put my autograph on it.
“I will sign it…but only this one. Not any of the others.“
“Eh?! Why? My battle against drowsiness will all go to waste!“
“As if I care! Listen, I’ll sign some other ones next time alright?“, I said in a small voice so the other fans won’t be able to hear me.
Mai seemed to be quite dissatisfied but gave up soon after, grumbling “Can’t help it this time.“ while putting away the plastic bag.
“For now, please put a [For Himuro Mai-san] on it. Ah, and in front of my name a [My number one fan] if you would!“
I understand the feeling of wanting the autograph of an author you really like but Mai’s enthusiasm is a bit over the top…..as I thought about that, I signed it as I was told.
“I did it! Like this, I will be the first person to receive an autograph from you!“
Holding the signed book in front of her chest like it was something precious to her, she really had a happy look on her face……Well, originally, Suzuka was the one to receive my first autograph. As Mai was leaving the line, I once more straightned my backbone to greet the next fan. I was a bit surprised to see her leave that easily but I have to focus on the next one in the line—
“Good morning, desu, Sensei! Please give me your sign as well, desu!“
“Uhm, why exactly is Double Peace-sensei the second one in line?!“
I was astonished to see another acquaintance right after Mai.
“Fu fu fu. As your number one partner, I can’t just miss out on your first signing session, desu! I am a fan of yours myself, so it should be pretty obvious that I want your autograph, desu!“
This person with a beaming smile that made anyone powerless, a blonde-haired western beauty was Ahegao Double Peace-sensei. She is also the illustrator for my (Suzuka’s) novel. Just like her name indicated, she was a person that basically fed off erotic stuff, explaining her position as the main key frame animator of the eroge maker [Moon Rabbit]. Originally from England, a genuine foreigner but the details of why she came to japan to act in the eroge business are still a mystery. In more than one way, a mysterious person.
“No, you could have just asked me whenever you wanted….so why bother coming here?“
“Sensei really doesn’t get it, desu. This is so important because this is not a meeting on an everyday basis but on a special occasion. It makes it so much more significant. In eroge as well, the meaning is completely different if it’s inside or outside, right, desu?“
“What are you on about?! But it’s basically that, you came here because you were curious and everything?“
As I tried to confirm my thoughts, Double Peace-sensei answered with an “Yes, yes, desu!“
“By the way, there was supposed to be a lottery for these tickets right?“
“Mhm? I did win a ticket at the lottery though, desu?“
She says it like it’s nothing…..Mai, you can cry if you want.
“But still, a signing session is a nice event after all! I love the feeling when a large group of people come together for one single goal, desu!“
“I get that. It really gives of the feeling that they are all of the same kind.“
“Yes yes! It really gives of a similar feeling to when a lot of men gather around the heroine to sexually assault her, it really is the best!“
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!“
For quite some time now, Double Peace-sensei starts spouting out really dangerous stuff but it really troubles me that this happens all the time….Well, since this has to do with her job and everything, I guess it would be even weirder if she was reserved about using such…..vocabulary. A-Anyway, lets just return to the conversation before this gets even worse.
“E-Ehm, for now it will be enough if I sign something for you, right?“
“Yes! I brought some paper with me, so I would ask you to sign that, desu!“, she said while pulling out a colored paper out of her bag.
What? We have plenty of them here….no need to bring some with you….is what I thought but the second I saw exactly what it was that she handed to me, I coughed.
“Wha-?! Cough cough“
She said colored paper but it wasn’t a white paper as one would expect…..on that white paper, there was already an illustration from Double Peace-sensei. But……an erotic illustration that is.
“And this is…..?!“
“Since this is for the signing session of Sensei, I put an erotic picture of your novel on top of it, desu!“
“Don’t say it like it’s something obvious?!“
On that paper, the heroine of Suzuka’s novel, the little sister heroine Yuuka, was portrayed, together with her big brother, Ryou. Since it was an erotic illustration after all, putting in words just what exactly was depicted was highly inappropriate…..It had a fiendish taste….
“I am an official illustrator after all, desu. So that I wouldn’t be embarrassed when asking for Sensei’s autograph, I put a lot of work into this, desu! How is it? Is it to your tastes?“
“No no! This is the wrong way to put a lot of work into this!“
“In the second volume, there is a scene where the two siblings get locked up close to each other in a locker right? That was the pinnacle of ero, desu! This illustration is based on that scene!“
“A-Actually, there was a scene like that but still!“
“If Sensei puts his autograph on this illustration, it will count as halfway official, desu! Since drawing any ero doujinshi about your novel is prohibited, so I’ll get really frustrated if I can’t let out all of this energy!“
Just because I put my autograph on it won’t make it official though?!
“……..Towano Chikai-sensei? If you take your time like this, the other guests will……“
“Ah, yes! I’ll do it immediately! I’m very sorry!“
I got scolded again….Shit! Whatever, I’ll just do it now! Trying my best to hide the illustration, I put my autograph in it.
“Thank you very much, desu! We have to hang up this paper in our company now!“
Looking very satisfied after receiving the paper, Double Peace-sensei left the line. S-Somehow I’m very tired all of a sudden. Being dealt severe damage because of these two, what a bother really….Well whatever, from here on out it will be only normal fans, I hope.
“…..Uhm, I’d like your autograph, please.“
“Yes, thank you very much for going out of your way to come here……wha-?!“
However, the next moment I raised up my head to look at the fan in front of me, I saw the suspicious person wearing a trench-coat, making me almost burst out screaming but I barely managed to hold back.
“….Why are you so flustered? I am worried that at this rate, the signing session might crash.“
Adding to that, I even got scolded by the suspicious person which really confused me. W-What’s up with this person? She’s even saying similar stuff to Suzuka…….
Ah. At that point, I realized it. This small stature….This overwhelming presence….And that manner of speaking….
“N-No? Please don’t say any weird stuff all of a sudden, Onii-chan.“
“You just said [Onii-chan] didn’t you?!
As I retorted to his statement, the suspicious person answered [You must have misheard me] but that made it even more weirder to believe since that person took his sunglasses and mask of as he said that. Visible there were the the well-known, always displeased eyes and pouting lips from Suzuka’s face.
“You-?! Wh-?! What are you doing here–“
“Be quiet!“, she said, while putting her hand over my mouth.“Be quiet please…. What would happen if the people around you heard you…?“
“T-That might be true but…..“
“This is…..yeah. This is an observation. I am checking on Onii-chan to make sure that he doesn’t do anything stupid during the signing session.“
W-What? Observation?! True, she said that she was worried yesterday but am I really that unreliable that you have to do that?
“Y-Yes. It’s not like I wanted to burn Onii-chan’s majestic figure into my eyes or the sight of Onii-chan standing in front of people as an author or anything like that.“
“Just for that reason, you…..you came here with a disguise like that….?“
No matter how one looked at it, she clearly looked like a suspicious person…no, with one step you might look like a pervert……..
“I can’t help it, can I? Taking in every possibility, I can’t just appear like that in front of all the people that gathered here.“
Still, putting on a disguise and the such……these actions don’t mix up with the Suzuka that I have in mind…..
“Additionally, seeing how such an event goes down is something that I had to see at least once as a light novel author after all. The awards ceremony were pretty much impossible for me after all, so I had to do with this signing session.“
“Well, it’s true that here, other people are also allowed but what did you do about the entry ticket?“
“I did win it. Although only at the second try.“
This one is pretty lucky as well…..I’ll stay quiet about this for Mai’s sake.
“And because of what I mentioned earlier, I came with these clothes that wouldn’t make me stand out.“
“No, you’ll stand out in another way though….“
“T-That’s impossible. No matter how you look at it, this is a perfect disguise. It was supposed to keep Onii-chan from finding out too…..How did you find out?“
“Even if you ask me that….I just happened to.“
It’s like not I’m saying anything weird but somehow, it’s still pretty embarrassing.
“H-Hmpf, you just happened to…huh“
Turning her body around in one motion, Suzuka’s cheeks seemed a bit flushed and she was snickering.
“In any case, you came here because you were missing some data for the research, is that it?“, I said, confirming it for myself.
Suzuka, although being a super popular light novel author, never knew anything about light novels or the otaku culture before winning the grand-prize (And still she wrote such an interesting novel, it’s just so weird, all things considered…….or it’s better to say absurd). And to keep her series going, we conducted a lot of this [research] that she deemed necessary. In the end, it fell onto me to show her grips of light novels and otakus…..but I’d rather not remember all the details to be honest.
Being forced to play an eroge for example, or explaining what a panchira is by having her do it ……and just why am I listing all these memories I tried so hard to forget?! A-Anyway, normally Suzuka is pretty straight-forward and strict but somehow she act kinds of weird during some of these activities.
“Christ, you really are ambitious, aren’t you.“
“That’s right. It’s not like I came here to see a different side of my cool looking Onii-chan or anything, so don’t get any weird ideas.“
“There’s no way I would get any weird ideas like that, don’t worry….“
Still, to think that I would see three people I knew straight at the beginning of this signing session….
“I get your point for now. Since you’ve accomplished your goal now, how about we let the next person in line come up—“
“Ah, that’s right. Well then.“
At first I thought that she was going to leave but she pulled out a colored piece of paper and….
“Please put your autograph here.“
She said such an unbelievable thing.
“Ha?! Why are you asking for an autograph?!“
“Asking for an autograph at a signing session is pretty normal, isn’t it?“
Suzuka looked at me with eyes that said “What are you saying, Onii-chan?“ but hey, that’s what I’m supposed to say here!
“Isn’t it fine? It’s true that I received your autograph yesterday already but I still want one memento from this—-is not what it is! I-I have to check if you really give your best here, that is all!“
“Isn’t it a bit weird for me to give you an autograph in this kind of situation?!“
“T-That is certainly not the case. Currently, I am merely a fan of yours. Rather than that, is it really the time to be thinking about this? The employee over there is looking really worried…..“
Turning around, there really was one that continuously checked at his phone with a worried impression, all the while sneaking glances over here.
Ugh….. can’t help it. Although my heart was really against it, I forced myself to sign it. Adding the [For Nagami Suzuka] part and everything.
“Is this fine?“
“Yes! Thank you very much!“
Accepting the colored paper, she held it in front of her chest like it was extremely important. It was the same like yesterday but why is the true writer of the novel so happy about the autograph of the stand-in? As I muttered these words, Suzuka answered.
“T-This is all for the sake of the research, okay? A-Anyway, thank you very much for the autograph. Please do your best from here on out as well. I am checking on you after all, Onii-chan!“
As she said with a somehow flushed expression, she left the line without waiting for my reply. What was that about? Her face was gradually getting more red….is she okay? Still, even though I only signed three papers…I’m really tired. I hope that I got beyond the hard part. My shoulders dropped from exhaustion. However, I also felt refreshed somehow. Maybe it was because of these three….different individuals (although Suzuka was behaving the most different than usual) but since they were the first three to arrive, my nervousness somehow got blown away.
“U-Uhm, Towano Chikai-sensei’s novel was really interesting!“
The next person that came, was a stranger to me and a normal fan.
“Thank you very much. I will do my best from now on out too, so please continue to support me.“
Of course, I answered just as Suzuka and I practiced yesterday. Is it because of those three that I’m so relaxed now, I wonder…. And after that, the signing session went down pretty calmly. But still…..
“Hey, how about you start acting like a super popular light novel author! This isn’t anything like Towano Chikai normally behaves!“
“Oh, the next fan is a cute girl, desu! I’m sure that Sensei will put his poisonous fangs into her too!“
“W-What did you say…? Onii-chan, I will never allow that….!“
Mai, Double Peace-sensei and also the disguised Suzuka all kept screaming towards me from the sidelines. Now listen….can’t you just go away until the signing session is finished please?! You have no intention to hide anything and you’re voice is clearly audible as well! I take back my prior statement! All I can see is that you came here to hinder meeeeeeeeeeee!!!
“I hope for your continued support from now on.“
Finishing the autograph for the last fan, I watched their back as they walked away with a down-casted head. It’s over…..It felt like such a long time. I continuously signed papers for about an our after all. Though, the feeling of pride and accomplishment highly outweighs my exhaustion.
“Thanks for your hard work. I’m glad that it turned out into such a wonderful signing session.“
The shop employees came to shake hands with me and I thanked them deeply moved. Fu…..I somehow managed to make it through. Like this, Suzuka will also be happy. While we’re at it, where did the three of them go? No matter where I looked, I couldn’t find them. Maybe they were passing the time inside the shop somewhere.
“And….what am I supposed to to now?“
The people here have started cleaning everything up and Shinozaki-san didn’t return yet either. It happened as I was about to stand up from my seat to search for her.
Surprised by the sudden loud scream, I stayed in my current position and only muttered an “Eh?“ As I looked for the source, I saw a single running towards me with a rushed expression.
“Uwa-?! A-Are you alright?!“
Falling down all of a sudden, I made my way towards her and help her.
Although she had tears in her eyes, she returned these words with a smile. But, looking around the scenery, her tears started dwelling up.
“I-Is it already over….?“
“Already over….. do you mean the signing session? If so, then yes, just in this moment.“
Listening to my answer, the girl let her head down immediately.
“Are you…per chance a fan that came here for the signing session?“
“No, that’s not correct. Sakura isn’t a fan or the like…“
“Eh? Y-You’re not?“
“Sakura isn’t just a fan, she’s a super duper mega fan!“, she replied with an earnest expression.“I even won a ticket for the signing session….. Here, I have the ticket with me…But because of my job I didn’t manage to get here on time….“
“Ah…Sakura is so sorry! For me to grumble about that to a complete stranger! Thank you for worrying about me! But, I’m fine. Things like these don’t hurt Sakura in the least!“
Wiping the tears away, the girl answered like that with a smile once more. Her smile was so cute, that my heart almost skipped a beat. Looking closely, she really was beautiful. Her fluffy hair and large and bright eyes really gave her the feeling of a cute girl.
“Anyway, Sakura can’t help it since it already ended, so she will have to wait for the second one.“
The girl was about to leave as I stopped her with my voice.
“W-Wait a moment, please. You want the autograph of Towano Chikai, right?“
The girl answered my question with a straight forward “Of course!“
……Yup, I can’t just let such an enthusiastic fan go home with out an autograph, I wouldn’t be able to.
“I will do something about it. Please wait here for a bit.“
I said to the girl and turned around to ask the passing shop employee:
“Ah, excuse me. This fan seemed to have missed the signing session but she really is a zealous fan, so would it be alright if I got just a little bit more time?“
I knew that I was asking for something difficult but I still cast down my head.
“If it’s like that, there’s no way that we could go against Sensei’s wish. Of course it’s fine. Thank you for your hard work.“
However, my wish was granted. Maybe it was because of Shinozaki-san’s influence but all of the shop employees were really giving it their best… Saying my thanks to the employee, I turned around to the girl and showed here towards the table.
“I will sign something for you, so please come this way.“
“Eh? Eh? W-What is this about?“
“You will receive an autograph yourself, is what this is about.“
“Autograph you say….from whom?“
“That is, from me of course.“
“U-Uhm, I’m grateful that you would go out of your way to deal with Sakura’s problem..but the autograph Sakura wants is from Towano Chikai-sensei so…..Ah! But it’s not like Sakura would dislike your autograph! On the contrary, she would be happy because you helped her just now and everything…uhm…“
Ah, I forgot to tell her who I really am.
“I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you. I am Towano Chikai.“
Looking clearly confused, I once more repeated my statement.
After listening to it, the girl shrieked in a very loud voice. I thought of it before but her vocal volume is something else…I’m actually impressed.
“U-Uhm, a-a-a-are you really, that, uhm…Towano Chikai-sensei?!“
I’m just a stand-in though, is what I thought in my heart but naturally, I kept that to myself.
Although she just went “N-No way….“ at first, after confirming it once more, she apparently trusted me and continued.
“Ah! S-S-S-Sorry! Sakura is just so confused on this whole situation! Uhm, would you sign this for me please?!“
Stretching out her right hand, the item that she wanted me to sign was the newly released special edition of the second volume.
“Ah, thank you very much for buying it.“
“No no! Sakura should be the one to thank you! My thankfulness can’t be described after you’ve made the second volume just as interesting as the first volume!“
The girl was seemingly confused with the whole situation.
“Ah, might I know your name?“
“…Ha?! Now that you say it, I haven’t introduced myself yet! V-V-V-Very sorry! Just what rude things am I doing in front of Sensei….“
“Uhm, it’s fine okay? Please don’t let it get to you!“
“Once more, it’s nice to meet you! My name is Minazuki Sakura!“
“Minazuki…Sakura-san, I see……Heh?“
….What is it….I feel like I heard the name Minazuki before….? However, even if I kept on thinking about it, I couldn’t come up with anything. Still, it would be better to ask her before I’d regret that later.
“Uhm, I might overstep my bounds here but….have we met before?“
…That sounds like a cheap pickup line….Of course, it’s nothing like that though?
“No, today was the first time Sakura met Sensei.“
“M-Makes sense. I’m sorry, I thought that your name sounded familiar but it was probably just my imagination.“
“Ah, might Sensei be watching [Utopia] at the moment?!“
“Utopia…..If you say Utopia….do you mean the currently airing anime [Rainbow Pieces of Utopia]?“
“Yes! I’m also a part of that, so you might know Sakura’s name from there.“
While mumbling “If I think about Sensei seeing me, I get embarrassed….“, her cheeks were slightly blushing. But, that wasn’t what I was on about. She’s a part of Utopia…..and her name is Minazuki Sakura….might she be?!
“A-Are you per chance the voice actress Minazuki Sakura?!“
“Yes! Sakura is that Minazuki Sakura!“
I was at a loss for words as she answered me with a happy looking smile. Talking about that voice actress Minazuki Sakura, although she is a newcomer in the business, she already got the role of the main heroine and getting the role of the main heroine of such a popular anime made her seem like a new star in the business. Being extraordinarily good at acting with a powerful voice, it wasn’t an understatement that she was very often asked for roles.
“Hm? Sensei, is something the matter?“
“Ah, no….it’s just that I didn’t imagine that you would be that professional super popular voice actress….“
“Ahaha, Sakura just had her debut, you know? And I didn’t show my face to the media yet. Still, for you to recognize me so fast, thank you very much Sensei.“
I was a bit staggered to hear such a response.
“Uhm, Sensei? You stopped signing half-way through…“
“….Eh? A-Ah, I’m sorry! I was just a bit surprised that such a professional and popular voice actress would be a fan of my novel…“
“No no! A lot of people in the voice acting scene are fans of your novel! Since the talk about an anime is going around, everybody is aiming for a role in it! But, Sakura won’t give the role of the little sister-chan to anybody else! I will absolutely absolutely absolutely get that role for myself okay!“
“T-That’s some exceptional eagerness…“
“Of course! Sakura really likes the little sister-chan of Sensei’s novel after all! How did you manage to do that? They are the ideal siblings! Ah, if only I had a real big brother like that as well…“
“Ah, no, it’s nothing. Rather than that, I slowly started to get more and more into the role of the little sister because of that! Recently, Suzuka wondered if she didn’t already become one with that little sister-chan!“
“Because of that, please don’t hold back and call me Yuuka!“
“No no! That’s a pretty bad idea though?!“
“Ah, while we’re talking about Yuuka, Sakura has something that she wants to give to Sensei!“
“The person in question changes the subject?!“
While I was retorting her sudden change of topic, Minazuki-san took out a USB-stick.
“W-What is it this time?…“
“I recorded a few lines that the little sister-chan said in volume 1 and put them on this stick. Please Sensei, would you listen to it?“
“A-A voice-over? You even did something like that…?“
“That’s because I wanted to get one step closer to becoming Yuuka?“
Saying it like it’s something so obvious makes it even more scary though?! Somehow, I don’t want to see any other fans of the novel that are this eager?!
“Oh and by the way, this file consists of about 23 recordings.“
“Heavy! So heavy?! I can almost feel the heaviness in my hands here?!“
“Another thing, Sensei modelled the Onii-chan character after himself, right?“
“N-No, it’s not really like that….“
“That’s a lie. Because, the more Sakura talks to Sensei, the more he resembles the Onii-chan in the novel.“
Mai and Double Peace-sensei also said something similar before…but I’m really not such a cool big brother okay? Why is everybody mistaking that?
“Well then, is it alright to call Sensei Onii-chan from now on?“
“How did we get to that?!“
“Eh? That’s because Sensei is really similar to the novel Onii-chan and Yuuka is the little sister-chan, whose role I really want.“
“Please don’t just label our previous conversation as a done deal?!“
Ugh, what’s up with this person. It’s true that she is enacting this terrific love just like the novel little sister but why do I feel a certain level of madness here?!
“She keeps going without waiting for my retort?!“
“…..Yeah that’s right….I suppose that acting doesn’t compete to being real siblings after all.“
“No, that’s not really what I was on about….“
“Uhm, I would like to talk to your parents concerning the topic of adoption. Would you be so kind to contact them?“
“I beg you please don’t say such things with a straight face!“
Scary! Too scary! Although she follows up smiling, with a [I’m just joking.], her eyes are crazily serious?!
“A-Anyway, I finished signing your paper, so here you go!“
“Ah, please change [For Minazuki Sakura-san] to [For my little sister Yuuka] if you would.“
“I won’t write anything so groundless?!“
“Muu, Onii-chan is so mean…“
Shit! Hearing such words from a super popular voice actress would be a heaven-sent for many fans but somehow it doesn’t make me happy at all?!
However, in that moment, a certain thought flew into my mind. Minazuki Sakura-san did debut while I was still in my third year of middle school, right? If I remember correctly, you’re only allowed to actively work as a voice actress if you’re in high school….
“Uhm? You say Onii-chan…..but aren’t you older than me—-“
“What are you thinking about, Onii-chaaaaaaan?“
Although she said it with a smile, seeing some weird black aura dwelling up from her back, I unconsciously dropped my head on the table, trying to apologize.
“Thank you very much for today! I will definitely get the role of the little sister, so please have your fingers crossed for me!“
After that, I somehow got her to stop calling me Onii-chan and she said “I understand. I will hold off until I get the role.“. However, I can’t stop shivering at the thought that she might really get it and just how things would turn out…probably really bad. Well….let’s not dwell on it too much for now.
I kept on sitting on the chair for a little longer, trying to calm down but after a short while I decided to head for the bathroom. I wanted to freshen up a bit before searching for Shinozaki-san but…
“What were you doing? Onii-chan?“
Being suddenly called out with such perfect timing, I stopped mid-way and swallowed my saliva. That’s because the voice that called out to me seemed so cold, it might’ve just frozen up my legs on that spot.
“H-Hey, what happened to the other two?“
As I tried to put an end to this heavy atmosphere with that answer……
“I don’t care. They just went to do something else.“ , she said with her well-known glare and bad seeming mood. She continued:
“Rather than that, who was that woman just now? Why were you two so close?“
“W-Well, that person was a fan and I decided to help her out because she didn’t manage to make it to the signing session in time.“
“Humm…..that is indeed very nice of you but might you be so free to explain why she was calling you [Onii-chan]?“
“Y-You heard that?! T-That was…yeah! That person is the super popular voice actress Minazuki Sakura and it seems like she wants to get into a little sister role……“
“She really was beautiful. And her breasts were the size you like them, right? Did she make your heartbeat go faster when she called you [Onii-chan]?“
“S-Suzuka-san? A-Are you listening to me….?“
“….Really, why does this keep happening….Around Onii-chan, pretty girls just keep on appearing….I finally had a chance to get closer to him by making him my stand-in…..“
“Ah…she’s not listening at all huh“
Seeing her mumbling with a small voice, I dropped my shoulders in defeat.
“And her breasts were really big….. Is it really a no-go after all if my breasts are small…..Breasts…..My breasts are….“
Something similar to the dark aura from before seemed to be forming above her head while she was looking down at her breasts. For a moment it seemed like there was a sad Ding sound……but that’s not the time to be saying that.
“A-Anyway, the signing session ended safely, so I thought it was about time to search for Shinozaki-san. Really, where did she go? Or perhaps it would be fine to just go home like this, ahahaha?“
“I will certify if it ended safely after we’ve had an evaluation meeting after returning home. There are a lot of things that I want to talk about as well.“
A merciless statement. Even though I did my best, was there still something bad?
“W-Well, for now, we’ll have to search for Shinozaku-san, I guess? Maybe she had something planned after the signing session after all.“
“Yes, that’s right. Before I happen to meet up with her, I will go to the bathroom in the meantime to freshen up.“
Leaving me behind with an “Until later then”, she vanished from my sight.
“Ah, Yuu! You were here after all!“
As soon as Suzuka was gone, now Mai suddenly appeared.
“Oh? You’re not together with Double Peace-sensei?“
“That girl received a phone call from her workplace so she returned earlier.“
Did she skip her work again just for something like this…?
“Ha! She just can’t compete with me! To be able to come here to this signing session, I completed my next manuscript with perfect marks! No blunders on my part!“
I wanted to retort her with “Are you a kid?!“ but I couldn’t really do that since she actually finished her work.
“Ah, so this is where you were Towano Chikai-sensei.“
With these words, Shinozaki-san appeared as well, just where did she come out from?
“If it isn’t Enryuu-sensei. What brings you here?“, she asked as she saw Mai standing next to me.
“Since I am Yuu’s number one fan, I just had to come to this signing session!“
Mai answered somehow arrogantly. Are you like this with everybody you meet…..?
“Uhm, by the way Shinozaki-san, where were you until now?“
“I was busy with a phone call this whole time. As a result of that, we somehow managed to avert the crisis concerning your novel. I’m currently waiting for the final phone call from the chief of the editorial department.“
Oh yeah, she said something about that but what happened in the end?
“But that’s not the important part. I have to tell you about the plans after this.“
“Eh? After this….but the signing session ended, so can’t I just go home?“
“I can’t just let the writer come here, finish their stuff and let them go home like that. After this, there will be a dinner party. Normally, it should have been the chief, Sensei and me but I told you before that the chief won’t make it. Because of that, it will only be the two of us.“
“Dinner party….just the two of us?“
“To have a dinner party with Yuu alone…how unfair!“
For some reason or another, Mai suddenly raised her voice to join the conversation.
“Then does Enryuu-sensei want to come along? Spending time together will fellow authors might not be a bad idea at all.“
I somehow felt really uncomfortable, imagining how this would turn out. Of course, that was about Suzuka as well. I can’t just leave her here alone but having her meet Shinozaki-san by coincidence is also no good too…..
“Uhm….“, I was about to decline the offer to the dinner but at that time:
“Ah, excuse me.“, Shinozaki-san grumbled as she took out her phone from a bag.
“Hello? Yes, it’s me…Yes……Yes…..What did you say? You’re saying that you will have to give your agreement to that? Impossible! What should we do about that? We can’t properly talk this out on the phone. I will return immediately.“, she said with a serious looking face and cut the call. “I’m sorry Towano Chikai-sensei. Something urgent came up and I have to return to the company for now. It pains me but you two will have to go eat dinner alone. It’s a good place and I put a reservation there as well. Show them this and they will let you eat anything you want.“
Saying that, she handed me a business a card from the shop.
“R-Rather than that, what happened anyway? Did that crisis you were talking about get worse or something!?“
Shinozaki-san went “Ah….“ with a gloomy expression.
“A certain problem occurred with the project of Sensei’s novel turning into an anime.“
“What happened with the project?!“, I frantically asked Shinozaki-san with a bad premonition.
“The chief you see, he decided on a super popular anime production company. Also, media franchising, games and manga, all of these were also decided upon just now, so I will be pretty busy with all the resulting phone calls.“
Feeling somehow confused, I only muttered “Eh?“.
“W-Well, u-uhm, that isn’t really a bad thing…is it?“
“What are you saying? We can’t just settle down with our current progress. We finally got our hands on such a big hit. We have to at least set sights on a Hollywood film production.“
“That’s only if everything else works out. First, we have to make everyone kneel down at your novel like it’s the new bible and raise up the sells numbers by quite a bit.“
“U-Uhm, Shinozaki-san? Do you understand what you are saying?“
“Of course. My mission as your editor is to make sure that the name of Towano Chikai-sensei goes down in the world history of us humans as the highest novelist. To be precise, we have make sure that in the future, the names of the most influential names of Japanese literature will be [Murasaki Shikibu – Natsume Souseki – Towano Chikai].“
(TLC: Murasaki Shikibu: wrote the Genji Monogatari, one of the most influential literary works of Japanese history; Natsume Sōseki: one of the most famous writers in modern japan.)
“Wouldn’t I be publicly scorned if I was in that line-up?!“
“You can’t help standing out. You are the one light novel author that stands out the most at the moment…..Fuu, light novels really are the ultimate form of writing.“
T-This person is no use. I can’t connect with her at all.
“Anyway, I have to go now or the situation will never change. For Sensei, you don’t have to think about such a small thing and just keep on writing such high quality novels.“
With these words, Shinozaki-san left the two of us behind.
………..Wait a second. The crisis that she was talking about…..was something like this?
“So the reason for all that chaos….is maybe just Shinozaki-san herself….?“
Why was I even so worried in the first place…..
“Well, it turned out to be pretty big but I have to agree with her that Towano Chikai is the best!“
Suddenly, Mai seemed to be agreeing with what Shinozaki-san was blabbering about.
“Rather than that…we we’re talking about that dinner party thing but what do you want to do?“
“Of course I’ll go with you! She went out of her way to put a reservation out for us, so it would be rude not to accept.“
She may say that but she somehow looked really happy.
“Then it will be Yuu, Suzuka-san and me…..by the way, where did Suzuka-san go?“
Before I even got a chance to answer her, we heard something that seemed like an incoming call sound. And it wasn’t from me…that must’ve meant….
“Ah, sorry. It’s my phone. Uhm, the editorial department? What do they want at a time like this?“
As she waved her hand at me, saying “Excuse me for second“, she answered the call.
“Yes, it’s me. Yes…..Yes….Eh? Do you mean? Yes, I understand. No, I am currently in Tokyo. Yes, I will make my way there….“
The reason for the call seemed like a pain in the ass, I thought as I looked at Mai’s clouded expression. Ending the phone call, she turned around with a depressed face and said:
“Sorry. I can’t go with to the dinner party with you. Something came up and I have to meet my editor.“, she grumbled with a displeased expression.
“So it’s a direct meeting with your editor. I have never done that before.“
“I don’t have it that often either…..Ugh, just when I finally managed to go somewhere with Yuu….how did it turn out like this!“
Mai kept on complaining for a short while but after saying her goodbyes to me with a “I’ll see you on the first day of school then.“ she left me alone.
So now it’s just me….
“I’m back…..Onii-chan? Did something happen?“
But at that moment, Suzuka returned with an oddly perfect timing. Still, this flow of events…..doesn’t this mean…?
“Onii-chan? Why are you spacing out like this? I know that the signing session ended but we aren’t home yet so pull yourself together please.“
Suzuka is in her displeased mood like always so I guess I’ll have to use my trump card here.
“Hey Suzuka, do you wanna go eat something together?“
“That’s why Onii-chan is always…..eh?“
Stopping her mid-sentence, Suzuka had a really surprised expression on her face. In the next moment, her cheeks flushed and she only produced sounds like “Uwawawa“
“Dinner…..? Just Onii-chan and me?! Isn’t that just like a dat—“
“Nope, it was planned by Shinozaki-san as a sort of dinner meeting or something.“, I explained to Suzuka.
I thought that it would burden her if she had to prepare the dinner now and maybe eating something delicious in a restaurant might brighten up her mood…..
However, her spaced out expression suddenly turned back to the one before and she said these words while shaking slightly:
“D-Don’t let my expectations down like that! Onii-chan you idiot!“
Eh?! Did I say something bad?!
“For now, I’m glad the signing session went over without problem.“
Still sitting at the dinner table, Suzuka summed up today’s events. Although she seemed to be in a bad mood at first but it improved pretty quickly. Saying stuff like “Eating outside with Onii-chan“ with a faint smile…..girls must really like to eat in restaurants and such.
“A-Ah, yeah, I’m glad myself.“
At first I had a bad feeling. The restaurant that Shinozaki-san reserved for us was a pretty high-class one which made me shrink a little bit, not forgetting when Suzuka was eating calmly but still looked bewildered as well.
“Onii-chan? Is something wrong?“
“Eh? What do you mean?“
“Don’t beat around the bush please. You’re been absent-minded for a time now and your expression looked really dark for some reason. Are you worried about something?“
Ugh….she saw right through me.
“I-I am always looking at Onii-chan after all, so it’s really apparent to me.“
Suzuka’s perception is always right on me, so she would see what I’m hiding anyway. Guess I’ll have no other choice but to spill the beans.
“D-Don’t tell me….You’re not thinking about a woman that you’ve taken a like to, are you?!“
“W-Wha?! What are you saying all of a sudden, I don’t understand anything?!“
However, since the conversation turned into a complete different direction, I sounded even more flustered than I would normally.
“…..I’m thinking about the next manuscript for the great contest.“
“I-Is that so? Haa….Please don’t scare me like that…“
Why are you patting your chest with that relieved expression….?
“Are you still depressed because you didn’t make it past the second preliminaries?“
She hit it right on the mark. As always, my little sister can’t hold back at all. But, she is right. I made it through the first preliminaries of the Ryuusei publisher contest but I splendidly managed to drop out in the second ones. But don’t get me wrong okay? I don’t mean to boast but since my third year of middle school, my manuscript was always rejected instantly in the first round, you know? Normally, one’s spirit would have been broken at that rate! Still, not trying to brag here!
Well….it’s true that I was seriously depressed about it….and I almost fainted on top of my bed because of the agony….but I have accepted it in my heart and I’ll focus on the next contest with a new novel. Of course, as my room neighbor, Suzuka already knew about that.
“….Is that so? Please pull yourself together, Onii-chan. You should still have some strength left, so it’s fine to just focus on polishing your talent. If it’s Onii-chan, then you can do it. Didn’t you say so anyway?“
Now that she says it, as I was feeling down because of the results, she encouraged me as well…. It’s true that I thought so at that time….No, I still think so. But still…you know. There is still something that Suzuka didn’t know about.
It happened a few days after I have gotten the results. I received some sort of evaluation sheet for the novel that I applied with. The judges from the contest specifically wrote these sheets for the people that made it through the first round. Finally making it to the second round and being extremely excited about their opinion, I opened the envelope while my heart was beating like crazy. But, my happiness and excitement was destroyed in that moment. The comments were terrifying. They were packed with such relentless words like I had never seen before.
There were a few praising comments but most of them seemed like an introduction and immediately following were phrases like [But] or [Even so], basically to fortify the bad points. Most of these comments, I would rather forgot and never remember but there was one that wouldn’t get out of my head no matter how hard I tried to delete it from my memory.
—-Even though the potential is clearly visible here, the characters are clearly lacking in quality and resolution. Especially the protagonist, who is a essential piece for moving the story forward.
Well even if you say that, what am I supposed to do about that?! I really wrote the characters with every fiber of my being! Especially the protagonist! What are you on about?! Those were the thoughts going through my head at that time. Thinking “Don’t fuck with me!“, I threw that evaluation sheet out but that one point still remains in my heart. I often tried to write a new manuscript for the next contest but as soon as that comment came back flying into my mind, my hand naturally stopped. I’m still wondering if I can go on like this and I can’t decide on a new plot either.
As soon as the signing session ended and it was just Suzuka and me, I turn back from my stand-in personality Towano Chikai to the normal Nagami Yuu but the moment that happens, these worries come flying back to me and makes me worry what would happen if I can’t manage to write a high quality novel. But well, these are my current circumstances. Oh and by the way, I didn’t show Suzuka that evaluation sheet and she probably doesn’t even that that something like that exists. I have no intention to show her either. It’s not like something would change even if I did and since this is my own problem, I have to get over it on my own or else I won’t feel happy if I do.
“So that is why you were so absent-minded. I do understand the circumstances but please don’t let other people see that weak spot of yours.“
“I said it’s fine, right? I managed to act out as a good Towano Chikai today right?“
“Well, it is true that there weren’t any big problems but….there was the case where Onii-chan was basically goggling at a female fan…..“
“I don’t any recollection of something like that happening though?!“
“Even so, that can’t be allowed to happen. If we don’t change anything about that, our secret will be revealed pretty soon, so I will have you act more like Towano Chikai.“
“Like Towano Chikai….you mean like…?“
“Y-You really should clearly state that you have a thing for little sisters after all! Saying things like [Thank you for your support. Oh and aren’t little sisters the best thing ever?!] every time would be a good starting point, don’t you think!“
“I wouldn’t like an author like that!“
“Or you could try adding a phrase like [I like little sisters so much I can’t help it!] while your signing something!“
“Even if I did that, that would only trouble the fans though?!“
“T-That is not true! These are the things that Towano Chikai would say after all! Onii-chan is my stand-in after all so it troubles me if you don’t try harder!“
She’s saying that with a red face but I wish she’d just take it easy on me, honestly. The title of the the book [The story about a little sister who loves her big brother way too much to cope] is hard enough but now you’re asking me to state things like that in open broad light?! I even have a little sister, Suzuka, in real life! How could you force me to say such gross stuff? And also, I’m already pretty occupied with my own problems…
“Hmpf! After this will be the time for the anime production as well, so the chances for me to go out with Onii-chan are steadily increasing, you know? Please force your consciousness more into the role of Towano Chikai!“
Right…unlike mine, Suzuka’s novel is in top-form, which is one reason why I’m worried right now. To catch up with Suzuka in this state, I really have to give my best. Yup, I don’t have the time to be downhearted because of that evaluation sheet.
“No worries, I will fulfill my role as your stand-in properly.“
“I am not worried in the slightest! I-It’s just….I want Onii-chan to show more interest in little sisters….so that…“
Suzuka says something like that with a red face but that’s not my problem here. I just can’t wait to go home and keep on writing on my manuscript for the next preliminaries.
“Rather than that, we’ve finished eating now so shouldn’t we just go home for now?“
“Why are you in such a hurry? The dessert and after-meal coffee are still coming.“
I widened my eyes open in surprise….and as if Suzuka saw right through that, she continued.
“You will be the stand-in until we come home. Have more self-consciousness please. And—“
“I-Is there something else?“
“I told you to show more interest in little sisters….but I am the only one who has the right to call Onii-chan [Onii-chan], okay? So please look out for that….“
Eh? Is the talking about that incident with Minazuki-san? Why are you talking about that now?, is what I was about to ask her but I stopped myself as I saw Suzuka’s red face while she was sneaking glances at me….she looked mysteriously cute.
“A-And also, thank you for being my stand-in in that signing session. You really worked hard today. Onii-chan.“
Being confronted with her flushed cheeks and bright smile, I could only mutter an insecure “Ah…yeah“ at her words. But….still. Why am I so flustered…I feel like all the stress of today suddenly flew away.
“….? Is something wrong, Onii-chan?“
“N-No, it’s nothing.“
As I was confused of my sudden accelerated heartbeat, I couldn’t help but to swindle. Looking at my reaction, Suzuka merely answers “Onii-chan is weird“ and smiles at me. At that time I couldn’t help but to think anew that Suzuka really was a beautiful girl.
“ Yaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwn ….“
After sitting down in my seat, I couldn’t help but yawn. It”s been quite some time since that signing session. On the first day of school, I fought against my sleepiness. The day after returning from the signing, I fell asleep almost instantly which forced me to take back that time-loss by continuing to pull all-nighters again. That resulted in my sleep-deprived days. As a result of that though, I managed to finish my manuscript for the time now. Only the polishing remains.
“Still, I’m really sleepy.“
Well, today is the last day of classes before the summer vacation, so I should be able to make it through that. I opened my bag to take out my workbook. In there was the manuscript that I would send to the entry of the contest. I wanted to polish it as fast as possible, so I brought it with me to school.
Ah, I won’t take it out of course? I thought of checking it a bit while walking home. I originally wanted to do that during the break but I would run the danger of anyone seeing it and possibly revealing my identity as Towano Chikai (although only as a stand-in). Well, there’s only one person that really knows that but I wouldn’t ever want to show her my manuscript….
Suddenly being spoken to, I straightened my backbone in reflex. As I turned around, that one person was standing behind me, namely Mai.
“Why are you letting out such a scream?“
“I-It’s nothing! Y-You just surprised me a little bit that’s why…“
“Ha? What are you on about? And what’s in that bag?“
Mai was about to come closer to check, so I hurriedly closed the bag.
“In there….is it possibly the manus-“
“N-No! That was….uhm…..a research book for world history! Aha, ahahaha!“
I tried to cover it up but Mai’s expression didn’t change in the slightest. ….Ah, that was close. I have to change the topic somehow!
“A-Anyway, you were late today, right? Normally, you’re always waiting for me in the classroom.“
“Mhm, yeah. Ah, right, this isn’t the time for this. Yuu, come with me for a second!“, she said and pulled my arm along with me outside of the classroom.
“W-Woah, w-wait a second?! What happened?! It’s almost time for classes right?!“
“That doesn’t matter right now!“
“Of course it does?! And wait….! My arm…!“
Since this is the first time that she pulls on my arm like that, I was flustered because of the voluptuous feeling. However, Mai doesn’t listen to me at all and instead accelerates.
“I have something to talk about, so hurry!“
Leaving the classroom behind, I heard loud comments like “So they really had a relationship like that?“ or “This bastard Nagami….to be so close to Himuro-san….“ or “That Himuro-san is so love-struck?!“ but I didn’t have the time to correct them.
“W-What did you want to talk about…?“
Being pulled to a corner of the stairs with no other human in sight, I thought that it wouldn’t be anything serious as usual but Mai showed a really earnest and serious expression.
“Yuu, I will have you tell me your secret for making your novel so interesting right here and now!“
What is she saying all of a sudden?
“N-No no. You were conducting all these stalker activities because you wanted to know that, didn’t you….“
“D-Don’t say stalker! Of course, I gathered a lot of information about you through that research. Still, the current situation is that I didn’t find anything concerning your secret yet….“
She had a really painful look on her face but that’s just to be expected. After all, I’m not the real author.
“That’s why I changed my way of thinking! No matter how much I searched around for your secret, I won’t find it anyway. That’s why I should just make the person in question spit it out…or try to spy on them to find it out myself “
“Why would you tell that to the person in question?!“
“Fu…..I had an awakening after all! I’m not the same person as I was last week! That being said, just go and spill the beans!“
“Even if you say that, do you expect me to just start talking like that?“
This person is just crazy after all! She’s always like that but today is even more extreme.
Like I said before, I’m just the stand-in for Suzuka, so of course I wouldn’t know of her secret? Even I just found out recently what made the novel so interesting for me but I doubt that’s what she is looking for. (What exactly does she mean by secret anyway?).
Mai then started glaring at me with some sort of puppy eyes but that won’t work against me. Finally, my savior, the bell, finally ringed and I started dashing off.
“Ah, hey Yuu! We’re not done talking!“
“Yeah but classes are starting you know? Hurry up and go back to the classroom as well!“
“Ah, h-hey, wait! Yuu! Heeeey!“
Mai tried to catch up to me with tears in her eyes but I manged still kept going towards my classroom.
“I-I won’t give up, okay?! I will definitely find out your secret!“
“Don’t scream such threatening words in the hallway!“
Ahh…with that, my peaceful school life continued to crumble away beneath my feet. Well, it’s not like there was anything to repair anyway!
I was saying that but it won’t be that threatening anyway. Mai’s thought process was probably hindered because of the summer heat and tomorrow is the start of summer vacation anyway, so she’ll probably give up anyway.
But, I realized it too late. It slipped my mind until that event in gym class. Normally, the boys and girls are separated in our school but certain activities are done together. For measuring the times of the shuttle run, both of the groups gathered in the gym hall. On top of being sleep-deprived, conducting a shuttle run in this heat is similar to hell. However, I realized something more important. Something was greatly different.
In the cases of us boys and girls coming together for gym class, Mai would normally continuously gaze at me because of her self-proclaimed research but today, I didn’t feel her gaze at all. Wondering that it was weird, I asked another girl if she knew something and apparently Mai didn’t feel very well and slipped out. At that moment, a very bad feeling crept up my spine. And it turned out to be true. Having slipped out of the gym hall, I started sprinting towards the classroom. And—–there she was. Mai took out the manuscript I wrote for the preeliminaries out of the bag and was currently reading it.
“W-What the hell are you doing?!“
Of course, I immediately took my manuscript out of her hands. However, as I turned around to look at her face, my movements came to a sudden stop and I gulped.
“Hey…Yuu? What in the world is this….?“
While her normal expression was full of emotions, now she just stared at me with a blank face. Seeing her like this for the first time, I couldn’t do anything but freeze up.
“Is…this….a manuscript for a light novel? Don’t tell me….did you write that….?“
“N-No, this is…..“
Of course I couldn’t just spill out the truth. To Mai, I am Towano Chikai. I didn’t have the choice to reveal it.
“Y-Y-You’re wrong, okay?! T-That’s….yes! That’s the novel of a friend of mine! He wrote a novel and wanted me to have a look at it!“
“Oh, so that’s it.“
“Yeah! So that isn’t a novel from Towano Chikai, okay?“
“I see. I already thought that the quality was really low. It’s not interesting at all, the writing style is also pretty weird and most importantly, all the characters don’t seem alive at all. They all just seem like the puppets of the writer. This won’t win any awards for sure.“
Being confronted with these harsh words, I almost started crying on the spot. Is it really that bad…? Nevertheless, I did my best to hold back my tears. I didn’t have any other opinion but to swallow my disbelief. As long as she would believe, it’s fine….but that was wishful thinking.
“Still, that’s weird. I think I’ve seen that writing style somewhere before.“
“Eh? W-What do you mean?“
“…Yeah, there’s no mistaking it. This is pretty similar to the manuscript that I found thrown away in the garbage can in Yuu’s room.“
“W-Wait a moment! You were searching around in my garbage can? When?!“
“Eh? Little by little, as I was invited to come over to your room.“
“Don’t just answer so honestlyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!“
“W-What’s your problem? This is just natural because I want to find out everything about you! Since you threw it away, that meant that you didn’t need it anymore right? It’s totally fine!“
Since I made it a custom of printing out the manuscripts to check them, it must’ve been from when I checked it and threw it away because it wasn’t good. Even though I should’ve seen this coming since Mai is a hardcore stalker, I didn’t imagine her to just check my garbage……
“Hey, what’s this about? Why is the writing style of your friend and yours almost identical in that manuscript?!“
Being driven in the corner, my possible answers were very limited now. Of course, I couldn’t tell her the truth either. Betraying Suzuka’s trust is the one thing I couldn’t do. While I was still trying to fumble my way out of this situation, Mai continued her lethal attack.
“Hey….Yuu? Are you really Towano Chikai?“
Thinking back, that one phrase marked the beginning of my agonizing summer vacation.