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Valentine’s day tactics
It was the 13th of February. For some reason, the whole school was enveloped in a tense atmosphere.
“Y-You already got some? You already got three?!”
“Yeah, chocolate. T-They’re just obligatory chocolates, okay?”
…There was a good reason for this atmosphere. After all, today was the day on which you would give chocolate to your loved one, or close friends. This year’s Valentine’s day fell on a school-free day, though. That was why everyone was giving out chocolate today, and more or less enjoying the event, depending on if they received chocolate themselves. As for me, I don’t really like this atmosphere.
Why? The reason is pretty simple……… I have never once in my life received chocolate at school. While all the other normies did their normie stuff on this normie day, I focused on my light novel contest entries all day long. And while thinking that I wouldn’t get any this year either, I focused on my idea notebook in front of me, but…
“Ah, Nagami-kun, here, have some.”
“Here, Nagami-kun. It’s just obligatory chocolate, though.”
For some reason, I received chocolate from some of the girls in my class.
“Pay me back three-times the amount on White Day, okay~”
“I’m looking forward to it~”
Why so suddenly…? — I thought as I tilted my head.
It’s true that they’re just obligatory, but I still don’t see any reason why.
“…Hmph, good for you. Getting chocolate.”
In that moment, I heard a rough voice behind me, which made me twitch. I hurriedly turned around.
“I-It’s just Mai, huh? Don’t scare me like that.”
“I-I didn’t mean to scare you or anything. Anyway, you really are popular. Though if they knew that you were Towano Chikai, that wouldn’t be so surprising.”
“I’m not popular, you know? They’re just obligatory chocolates… And I’m surprised, to be honest. After all, I’ve never once in my life received chocolate until now.”
“Is that so? I’m glad to hear that!”
“That’s pretty rude, don’t you think?!”
You know, I’m pretty traumatized about it still! That’s even worse than the usual verbal abuse!
“I-I didn’t mean it like that. I was just relieved… And also, I might have an idea for why they would give you obligatory chocolate.”
“And why is that?”
“It’s mostly because of me, don’t you think? No, it has to be.”
“What do you mean? Did you ask them to give me obligatory chocolate…?”
“A-Are you an idiot?! Why would I have to do that?! It’s not that, they just think that the two of us are on good terms!”
“And how does translate to me getting chocolate from them?”
“I-I’m not that close to you or anything. I’m only your fan and rival, okay? Really, it’s so troublesome. And they even think that we’re dating. I-It’s not like I hate it or anything, though.”
“What a hideous misunderstanding… I really want to tell them that you’re nothing but a stalker, but you’d tell everyone that I’m Towano Chikai in revenge…”
“D-Don’t say stalker! I’m just a super-duper mega energetic fan, that’s all!”
“I-I get it already! So what was causing the chocolate now?”
“Basically, they see that I’m actually acknowledging you, so they wanted to give you some chocolate too.”
“…? I don’t really get it.”
“Because you have such a beauty like me next to you, they must be able to see that there’s some worth in giving chocolate to you.”
“…So you’re saying that it’s because of your popularity?”
“That’s right,” Mai nodded.
“…S-Seriously? Girls would give out chocolate for such a reason…?”
“There are girls like that, yeah. Many girls can be pretty realistic in that regard, and they’re always planning ahead. Though that’s a type of girl who would never make a good light novel heroine.”
…I-Is that so? But her explanation does make sense in a way.
After hearing that, my slight happiness from before vanished completely.
“W-What’s up with that gloomy expression? Obligatory chocolate should be good enough, right? As long as it’s chocolate given to you out of good will. Since you’re Towano Chikai, you should get some from your fans anyway.”
“Don’t tell me… Are you going to give me some chocolate?”
“Wha—?! A-As if I would do that! ……………Not today, anyway.”
…So that does that mean that she’ll give me some tomorrow?
“W-What? As your number one fan, it should be obvious that I would give you chocolate too, right?! Just wait for me tomorrow! No going out, okay?! You got that?!”
Being suddenly screamed at like that, I nodded without thinking.
“H-Hmph, you’d better be prepared for tomorrow!”
With these words, Mai left me behind. I was sure that she was planning something weird again. That being said, I was still a tiny bit happy that I would receive chocolate from Mai.
“…But what if it’s something related to her stalking activities again…?”
N-No, let’s not think about that… although the possibility is pretty high.
Anyway, since Suzuka also told me to stay at home tomorrow, I seem to have no reason to object. Not to mention that I’m still having trouble with my entry for the light novel contest. I don’t really have the leisure to go out for a stroll, anyway.
While I was pondering these thoughts, school ended, and since I had work today, I made my way towards Maruneko bookstore.
“Hey, Nagamin~ Tomorrow’s Valentine’s, so I’ll give you your chocolate now~”
“Thank you — Wait a second, this is just a small piece of store-bought chocolate…”
“Well~ I completely forget, see~ This is a leftover from my snacks~”
“And you don’t feel bad about that at all?!”
“Oh, and about your gift for me on White Day~ I really would like you to introduce me to Ahegao-sensei~ And also, please get me her new art book and the game that releases next month~”
“How bold of you to think that I’m going to give you any of that just because you gave me this tiny piece of chocolate!”
“Ahaha~ I was just joking~ Nagamin is so serious sometimes~ To soothe you, Onee-san will make you some hot chocolate~”
“T-Thank you very much. But, rather than that—”
“Now now, just wait here, Nagamin~ Making hot chocolate is my speciality after all~ Though it might take some time~”
“Don’t use such a roundabout way to just force me to tend the register by myself!”
After spending time like that, my work there also ended (I did get some hot chocolate in the end, though) and my next destination was Hakuou.
It didn’t have anything to do with her research, but since Suzuka was worried about my eating habits, I was just going there to pick up the dinner bento she had prepared for me… However,
“O-Onii-sama, it might not fit your tastes, but here.”
“Please accept this, Onii-sama.”
“This is my apology for the trouble we caused before.”
“Please, take my thanks for your lecture at the culture festival.”
“I tried my best for Onii-sama. I hope you like it.”
For some reason, some other female students were waiting together with Suzuka, and they all gave me chocolate. Though I was fairly certain that this was the same principle Mai had told me about earlier, I was still moved from getting obligatory chocolate (not to mention from the girls of an Ojou-sama school).
“O-Onii-chan seems to be pretty happy from being popular like this…!”
With a displeased expression, Suzuka handed me the box with my food for the evening.
“Don’t forget about our plans for tomorrow…!” Suzuka added while I stuffed the chocolate into a plastic bag.
Now that that was out of the way, I walked back home.
“…I thought that stuff like this only happened in light novels in manga… but this is actually happening, huh?”
Well, I knew that it wasn’t because I was charming or anything, and that it was all just because I was Suzuka’s stand-in, but I couldn’t help but be a bit happy nonetheless.
“But, how should I repay all this chocolate that I got? Something like this has never happened to me before, so I have no clue… I’ll have to think of something for next month—”
But at that moment, a certain thought entered my mind.
…That’s right, Suzuka said something about research on Valentine’s tomorrow. I’ll probably get some chocolate, and then it’ll devolve into a Valentine’s event that she can use for her novel.
“…But that would mean…”
I want Suzuka’s research to be perfect. As her stand-in, and as a huge fan of her novel, I want her new novel to be just as good as her current one. To achieve that, I’ll do whatever she wants.
“Yeah. That means that it’ll be something like that, huh?”
Nodding to myself, I started walking in the opposite direction of my home.
The following day, the 14th of February.
I didn’t have anything to do before Suzuka came over, so I decided to work on my own novel. In that one week, I had thought of a plot point for my new novel, and so I’ve written about 30 pages up until now. It was going to be a battle SF novel with special powers set in the near future. Of course, I wrote the main heroine like my ideal type of girl, and the novel would ideally bring out her charm as much as possible.
Currently, I was reading through the parts I had written yesterday.
There’s something good here. I think it’s interesting. Comparing it to the novels I wrote a year ago, I think that it’s much more interesting. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten better at writing characters. Thanks to me finding out what kind of girl I like the most, I’ve been able to improve the depiction of the heroine. Exactly because the character is good, I look forward to reading more of it. But…
…I wonder. I don’t know how to properly put it into words…
“But this is still no good.”
Putting the manuscript back down on the table, I sighed.
…I don’t get it. I don’t know what I’m not getting, but I’m not getting it at all. It’s not like it’s boring. Even reading it with an objective viewpoint, I think that it turned out pretty good. But it still feels like something doesn’t add up.
“The reason is… maybe it’s because I finally figured out my ideal type of girl…?”
It must be that. Before, I could clearly make out why something I wrote was interesting or not, but now it’s different. Am I still not satisfied with the depiction of the heroine? No, that shouldn’t be it… It feels like something that should be there isn’t there, or something. It’s like I can’t put it into words. Though I don’t know the real reason for it, since I have this feeling of discomfort, this manuscript is still no good after all.
“For now, this one’s a failure too… Ahhh, really, what am I doing wrong? Is it the genre? What would be a genre where my perfect heroine shines the most…” I started delving deeper into my thoughts.
Fantasy, science fiction, mystery, romance, isekai, slice of life… But, as soon as the genre ‘rom-com’ entered my mind, my thoughts suddenly stopped, only for me to quickly ban it from my mind.
…It’s not like I can’t write a rom-com or anything, okay? I read them all the time, and it’s a genre I’ve submitted countless times.
“But, my ideal type of girl is Suzuka, after all — wait, no that’s not it! A girl like Suzuka! …I can’t just write a rom-com with a heroine modeled after my little sister, you know.”
There’s nothing to ponder about. It’s impossible. I’d better get rid of that thought right now.
But now my mind went completely blank. It happened that moment, when I was wondering what Suzuka or Mai would do in this situation.
*Ding Dong*—I heard the sound of the doorbell ringing, and I returned to reality.
I hurriedly headed down the stairs to the first floor, and quickly opened the door.
“G-Good day, Onii-chan. I-I came for my Valentine’s day research…!”
And, just as I had expected, Suzuka was standing there. However…
“Y-You, those clothes…?”
“It’s Valentine’s day after all… On a special day, special clothes are a must, don’t you think…! O-Of course, it’s only for my research…!”
Suzuka, whose face was bright red, was wearing a frilly western dress. I’m really not good when it comes to the names of female clothing, but this looked like she was really excited for today.
“Somehow, they’re amazing… I didn’t know you had these kinds of clothes…”
“I-I normally don’t wear such clothing after all…! Today, uhm… I prepared it for our Valentine’s date…”
“T-That’s right. Though when I say date, it’s really just me going to my boyfriend’s house and spending the day with him… S-Since it will be a special time for both of us, I thought that the term ‘date’ would be pretty fitting…!”
I-I see… So that’s today’s research topic, huh? So what exactly do you do on a Valentine’s date?
“O-Of course, the main event of Valentine’s day is to exchange chocolate, but there should be other chances to be lovey-dovey. Everything I had always wanted — no, excuse me! I had always thought about, I want to try for this research,” Suzuka corrected herself for some reason. “Ehe, ehehehe, I thought lots of plans just for today…! Everything will lead me to being lovey-dovey with Onii-chan…! Ehe, ehehe, ehehehe.”
“Y-You’re really excited. Well, come in for now.” I invited Suzuka in as she grinned from ear to ear.
“Ah, before that! I-I didn’t, uhm… hear your impression of my clothes yet…!”
It took me a second to understand what Suzuka was saying.
…I-I see, since it’s a date, not complimenting my girlfriend on her clothes would be very weird. Uhm, what should I say…?
“H-How do I look?”
“U-Uhm… I-I think that it really suits you…”
“I-Is that so…! But, I’d like you to be a little bit more detailed about it. O-Of course, it’s not like I want to hear it or anything, it’s just for my novel!”
E-Even if you ask me that… Ahhh, I have no idea.
“Uhm… I don’t really know much about clothes, but… you look really stunning I think! With those frilly clothes, you look like a princess from a distant country or something…”
…Wait a moment?! C-Calling her a princess is taking it a bit too far, don’t you think, me?! Right now, she’s my girlfriend — but only for the research?! Either way, it’s way too embarrassing!
“Sorry, forget about that! Or rather, I’m sorry, but getting any more impressions from me is impossible!” I lowered my head.
To think that complimenting a girl’s clothes would be this difficult…!
“N-No…! This was really useful…!”
“R-Really…? The protagonist in your novel is the kind of guy who would say stuff like that…?”
“Y-Yes, he’s kind of similar to Onii-chan, but not as much?!”
Hey, is a protagonist with bad clothing sense like me really going to be okay…?
While we were having that exchange, Suzuka finally entered the house.
“Today, I would like to conduct our research in the living room, so would you please show me there?”
Though she obviously knew perfectly well where the living room was located, today she was acting as my girlfriend who had been to visit only once so far, so she was pretending to not know where everything was.
After that, the two of us sat down facing each other on the couch. Even though it was the same house as usual, her clothes and the different atmosphere really made me feel like she really was my girlfriend, and I couldn’t help but get nervous again.
“S-So… I have no idea what you would do on Valentine’s day other than giving out chocolate. What did you think of?”
“Fufufufu… I will gladly explain. All week long, I made preparations just for this day… I cannot allow any blunders during our lovey-dovey Valentine’s date…!”
L-Lovey-dovey again…? Is this some sort of code name for this research…? Her naming sense is just as bad as mine… Maybe because we’re siblings…?
“First would be… yes. Let’s start with a message card.”
“Yes, a message card that you hand over with the chocolate. You put all your feelings onto that card and make the other person read it. You might think that it is unnecessary if the person is right in front of you, but putting your feelings into words can also be a good way to get them across….!”
“I-Is that so…?”
“Yes. That is why I prepared these cards… Ah, but of course, whatever you write on this card is pure fiction for our research, okay?! Those are just the fictional characters’ feelings, and it doesn’t have any relation to the person actually writing it?!”
I know that… You don’t have to spell it out for me…
“T-Then, if you would—”
It happened the moment she was about to hand me the card. The doorbell rang, and Suzuka’s movements froze up.
“W-Who could it be at a time like this?!”
“I wonder…? I’ll go check.”
Leaving behind the displeased Suzuka, I headed towards the entrance. And, when I opened the door, a person from the home delivery service was standing there. The package was addressed to me, and the person on the return address label was—
“Eh, Shinozaki-san? Why is it from her?” I tilted my head because I would have never expected to find her name on the package.
Normally, she would come here or call us whenever she had business regarding Suzuka’s novel.
“Who was that? And what’s in there?”
As I returned back to the living room, Suzuka immediately started questioning me. When I told her that I had received a package from Shinozaki-san, she showed a complicated expression, and started pondering about the contents.
“Just for Onii-chan… And on this day… I have a bad feeling about this…!”
I proceeded to open the package. Inside was another smaller box and a card.
“…This looks like a message card?”
“W-What did you say?! A message card?!”
…Why is she so shocked about that? It’s not because we were just talking about writing some ourselves, right?
Anyways, I decided to leave Suzuka alone for now, and opened up Shinozaki-san’s card.
Happy Valentine’s day, Nagami Yuu-kun. You might already guess what’s in there, but I decided to send you some chocolate. At first, I thought of addressing it to Towano Chikai-sensei, but I always express my feelings for him at every possible time, so I thought of changing my plans. However, my feelings for you do not change in the slightest. I’m really looking forward to how you will grow as a man. Now then, please think of this chocolate as you would think of me, and have a good taste.
“…Ohh, that’s rather serious coming from her. Though she dropped it at the end.”
“Uuu…! To think that Shinozaki-san would send a message card…!”
“Uwa?! S-Since when!”
Before I had even realized it, Suzuka was peeking from behind my back, and her quiet whisper made me turn around. But for some reason, Suzuka didn’t pay any attention to me at all, and just continued to glare at Shinozaki-san’s card.
“N-No, even if she was the one who did it first, I still have the advantage… After all, I can read Onii-chan’s response right here and flirt with him…!” And she continued to mutter under her breath… Scary.
As I was about to ask her what the problem was, my phone started vibrating, letting me know that I was getting a phone call. And, of course, the person on the other end was Shinozaki-san. I had a bad feeling right from the start, but I picked up the call anyway.
“H-Hello, Shinozaki-san? What’s wrong?”
「Hey, Sensei, there was something I wanted to check. Did you receive my Valentine’s present?」
“Ah yes, just now. Thank you very much for that.”
「Ah, well, that’s fine. But did you already open it?」
“Yes, as soon as I received it… Should I not have done that?”
「I see… No, it’s not such a big deal. I just realized too late that I hadn’t put a message card in. That’s why I thought of directly telling you in case you hadn’t opened it yet.」
“Eh? But, you did put in a message card, though? Though I was really surprised that it was so… normal.”
「I actually prepared two cards. And I forgot to put in the second one. I thought that the content of the first was a bit too formal. That’s why I prepared an even more frank, romantic, and erotic one.」
S-So that’s what it was… Just when I thought that the contents of that card were rather docile for Shinozaki-san… But it seems like her forgetting to put in the card actually saved me. I really don’t want to hear about the contents of it…
「Alright, it seems like I’ll just have to tell you verbally what I wrote.」
I swallowed my breath; I had let down my guard too early.
「—By the way, I made this chocolate while thinking about you, and I put a lot of energy into it. I rammed all of my overflowing emotions into it like I was in heat. I hope that you continue to work on your novel from now on, as well. And of course, if you ever feel pent up, don’t hold back on asking me for advice. As your editor, I’m fairly positive that I can satisfy you. Please think of this chocolate as something like that—」
“Okay, stop! Stop! It’s fine now! I get it already!”
「Hey hey, I was going to go on to specify all of the different services I have to offer.」
“I don’t want to know! And just so you know, I will definitely not be eating this chocolate, okay?!”
「Now now, I’m just joking. I bought it from the store, so there’s no way I would be able to put that in.」
“A joke is where both sides laugh in the end, though?!”
「Fufufu, Sensei really is great. No matter what kind of stuff I say, you react so innocently to it. It’s so exciting. Thinking about it, it might’ve been good luck that I forgot to put in the card.」
“Please excuse me then! Thank you very much for the chocolate!”
I only heard a “Fufufufufu…” laugh from the phone in response, and I hurriedly cut the call and let out a sigh.
…Shinozaki-san really is Shinozaki-san!
“…Onii-chan, that just now was Shinozaki-san, right? What in the world were you talking about?”
“W-Well, I don’t really want to say it out loud, and you probably don’t want to hear it, either.”
“Don’t tell me… She had actually prepared another card, and forgot to put it in, so she decided to tell you the contents over the phone and enjoy your reaction?”
“Why do you know that?!” I twitched.
“I deduced it from how you were reacting,” said Suzuka, as if it was the simplest thing in the world.
My little sister can’t possibly be this sharp…
“A-Anyway, let’s forget about Shinozaki-san. Right now, your research is more important. You said that you wanted to write some message cards, right?”
“N-No, let’s not do that!” Suzuka hurriedly averted her eyes. “Uuuu… Why did she get the jump on me…! Even if I did that, Onii-chan wouldn’t feel anything from it, anyway…!”
“I-It’s nothing! Anyway, that research is cancelled! Let’s move on the next plan!”
Why?! Did I make her mad or something?!
“…Fuu, that’s right. When you think about it calmly, message cards aren’t that big of a deal. What’s most important is the chocolate, after all,” Suzuka said, seemingly calming down.
It was probably just my imagination that she was trying to cheer herself up with that monologue.
“That being said, I’ll show you the chocolate that I made! Without this, we couldn’t call this research for Valentine’s day, after all.”
“Y-Yeah, you’re right,” I nodded.
And with that, Suzuka took out a small box, which I imagined held the chocolate she was talking about inside. I didn’t know how many years it had been since I had gotten chocolate from my little sister. Especially since our relationship was always so cold. I knew that this was nothing more than research, but I still looked forward to what kind of chocolate she had made.
“V-Valentine’s chocolate really has to give off a good impression at first glance too…! The form has to transmit your feelings directly…!” With that, Suzuka opened the lid. “K-Keeping that in mind, I chose a heart form of course—”
But in that moment, the doorbell rang once again.
“Again?! Who is it now…!”
Tears started forming in Suzuka’s eyes as she was interrupted once again. While Suzuka was seeing me off with a “Uuu…!”, I checked the door and found…
“Good day, Sensei. Since it’s Valentine’s, we came over.”
“…I didn’t really want to come, but Onee-chan forced me.”
Unexpectedly, this time it was the Kanzaka sisters. As usual, Akino-san had a deadpan expression on her face, while the younger Kanzaka sister had her usual displeased expression as she glared at me.
“H-Hello. B-But, why are you here?”
“LIke I said, it’s Valentine’s, so we came to give you some chocolate.”
“You came all the way here just for that?!”
Akino-san calmly stated her response, while the younger sister just crossed her arms and glared at me with an expression that said something like “You’d better be thankful.”
Uwaa… this is the first time ever someone has gone to such lengths to give me chocolate… I’m kind of moved…
Of course, this was only because they thought I was Towano Chikai, nothing more.
“Ah, sorry. Just making you stand here is pretty rude of me, so please come in.”
“No, our deadline is actually pretty close. It’s a shame, but we can only hand you the chocolate. We have to go back immediately.”
“But still, Onee-chan said that she had to personally give it to you no matter what.”
Akino-san was a light novel author who had just debuted at Ryuusei Publishing, while her little sister was responsible for the novel’s drawings: Her illustrator. Though they weren’t exactly new to the scene, since they led a very famous doujin circle before.
“Is that so? You can’t come in for just a little bit? I would feel really bad just sending you home like this…”
“Then, once we give you the chocolate, we’ll go home. Excuse me.”
“I-It can’t be helped, then… I-It’s not like I’m happy to enter your house or anything…”
“It’s Haruna’s first time entering a boy’s home. That’s why she’s so nervous.”
“O-Onee-chan?! Don’t say unnecessary things!”
I guided the two lively-as-always Kanzaka sisters to the living room.
“A-Akino-san and Haruna-san?!”
And Suzuka’s eyes went wide upon spotting the two of them. Shortly after, she tugged on my sleeve and spoke to me in a quiet voice so that the two of them wouldn’t hear us.
“…W-What is going on here? Why are the two of them in our house…?”
“W-Well, they said that they came here to bring me chocolate, and just sending them home after accepting it would’ve been rude, right?”
Again, why would that make you so surprised?
“Good day, Suzuka-san. As always, I’m envious of your beauty.”
“Those clothes really are something else… And it’s even more amazing that they actually suit you so well.”
For their part, the Kanzaka sisters greeted Suzuka like normal.
“Ah, good day to you two…”
“Don’t worry, Suzuka-san. We will just give Sensei our chocolate and be on our way again, so you can rest assured.”
“N-No, it’s not like I…! Don’t misunderstand…! Uhm…!” For some reason, Suzuka started glaring at me with a red face.
…Why are you mad at me again…? I know that we’re in the middle of our research, but they’ll go home soon enough anyway…
“Don’t tell me; you’ve been enjoying your Valentine’s day together with Suzuka-san like this? No matter how much of a little-sister-lover you are, this is taking it a bit too far, don’t you think?!”
“L-Leave me alone! It’s none of your business!”
Though I’ve grown accustomed to these sorts of accusations, it still hurts a bit.
“If it’s like that, then let’s hurry and finish our business. Here Sensei, my chocolate. Come on, Haruna; you too.”
“I-I know… Here, accept it, will you? But don’t get the wrong idea, because they’re obligatory! Super obligatory!”
The both of them stretched out small boxes towards me.
“Actually, they’re both handmade.”
“Really? I’d really like you to take a look and tell me your impression. And Haruna’s too, of course.”
“I-I don’t need anything like that. Let’s just hurry and go home.”
“Just first impressions are enough. I’ll ask you about the taste later,” said Akino-san as she opened the small box.
Inside said box were countless heart-shaped chocolate pieces.
Both Suzuka and I voiced our surprise… Suzuka’s reaction seemed a bit off, though, or was it just me?
“They’re heart-shaped, right? They represent my feelings towards Sensei. They’re proof of my love for being Sensei’s pupil, and being educated by him.”
“I don’t remember ever educating you, though…”
“I learn everything I need just by looking at Sensei. I’m learning your spirit and essence as much as I can,” Akino-san said with a satisfied sigh.
…Well, if the person in question thinks that way, I won’t bother saying anything.
“The first impression of Valentine’s chocolate is very important. But Haruna’s chocolate is also similarly amazing.”
“I-It’s not like that. And don’t just open it on your own, Onee-chan!”
Akino-san ignored her outburst and showed me the contents of her little sister’s box. Just like Akino-san’s, there were small pieces of chocolate inside, but they looked different. They all were in the shape of various animals, and the quality was amazing.
“Ohhhh, that’s crazy…”
I was honestly moved, while Suzuka kept quiet.
…Is it just my imagination, or is she just staring at it absentmindedly…?
“Haruna’s animal-shaped chocolates. She worked really hard to make them.”
“I-I’m also an illustrator, you know? I just pay attention to design and such.”
“But still, it’s amazing. Your drawings are crazy good, but to think that you’d be this skilled at making sweets too…”
“I-I just did it in my spare time while watching Onee-chan make hers, okay?!”
“She says that, but she stayed in the kitchen even after I was already finished. If even one of them wasn’t perfect, she’d try again. She probably wanted her first chocolates for a boy to be perfect—”
“O-O-O-O-O-Onee-chan?! Y-You’re wrong, okay?! I just take pride in what I create, okay?!”
“O-Okay… But I’m still really happy to get something like this.”
“W-What are you saying?! I told you that this is obligatory chocolate, right?! It’s the kind of chocolate that’s just obligatory, okay?! Just how much were you starving for some Valentine’s chocolate that you got happy from something like this!”
“S-Shut it! What’s wrong with wanting some chocolate?!”
Both of us glared at each other. It seems to always end up like this.
“Haruna, calm down. Anyway, you’ve seen the chocolates, so we’ll be on our way now. Please tell me what you thought of them later.”
“H-Hmph, just go and eat them.”
With these words, the two of them stepped out of the house. As for the boxes with the chocolate, I properly closed them and put them away safely. I really wanted to get a good taste of them later.
“Fuuu… To think that even Akino-san and her little sister would come.”
When I had finished storing the chocolate, Suzuka greeted me with a heavy aura.
…Oh yeah, she was acting really weird the entire time both they were here.
“…H-How lucky you are to get handmade chocolate filled with affection from the two of them…!”
“What are you saying? Affection… that’s only because they think that I’m Towano Chikai, right? They were basically addressed to you.”
Why are you glaring at me like that? It’s the truth, you know…
“W-Why does this keep happening…! And now my idea is once again ruined…! The impact of heart-shaped chocolates is completely gone…! Not to mention, the quality of the animal-shaped chocolate is on completely different level…! Ahh, I can’t show this to him anymore…”
A dark aura started building up behind Suzuka as she was mumbling to herself.
…I-I wonder… Did I do something to ruin her mood again?
“Ahh, that’s right. We were in the middle of your research… S-Sorry. Let’s continue that. You were talking about the first impressions of your chocolate or something—”
“N-No! I wasn’t!”
All of sudden, Suzuka whirled around, and shouted these words at me, which made me take a step back in bewilderment.
“I-I never once said anything like that! And also, the first impression isn’t important at all! After all, once you put it into your mouth, it will just lose its shape anyway!”
“B-But, you said that the form is perfect to convey one’s feelings…”
“That’s right! But heart-shaped chocolate is something that’s just too common! It lacks the power to convey your feelings!”
…She’s not listening at all.
“Fuuu, that being said, I’ve understood that presenting my chocolate won’t turn into good research, so let’s go with a different plan…”
“Aren’t you saying the same thing as before…? And why are you crying—?”
“I-I’m not crying!”
No, I can definitely see the tears in your eyes.
“I-I’m not sad that another plan failed, okay?! R-Rather than that—”
Suzuka took a short pause, drawing deep breaths.
“Though we’ve been interrupted, we have to continue our research. We haven’t done anything yet after all…”
“Yeah, you’re right. But aren’t you going to show me your chocolate?”
“N-No, that’s… uhm, we’ll do that later…! Anyway! I want to research different ways to convey your feelings through chocolate!”
“Through chocolate…? What do you mean?”
“Directly handing it over shouldn’t be the only way. There are other ways to increase the impact of the chocolate, so you are able to convey your feelings even better.”
“Uhm…? So you’re talking about how girls who are really bad at cooking still give it their best when making handmade chocolate? And that means you gratefully accept it even though it may not taste as good?”
“Something like that, yes. Though I’m not bad at making chocolate.”
…I’m well aware of that. But I get what she’s trying to say.
In rom-coms, there’s often a development like that. Even if it doesn’t look nor taste great, you can still see the effort the girl has put into it, and that often has a lot of impact.
“…Fufu, I took a picture while I was making the chocolate that perfectly showed how hard I was working for Onii-chan — no, how I gave it my best just for the research, so once you accept them, the impact will be even greater…!” Suzuka said, and started rummaging around in her bag.
…I had already guessed it by this point, but it seems like I will be getting handmade chocolate from Suzuka. Of course, I know that it’s just for research… but I’m still happy nonetheless.
However, that sound once more rang out inside the house… Naturally, it was the doorbell.
“I-It seems that there’s someone else here.”
“W-Why?! Why is it always when we’re in the middle of our research…?!” Suzuka started pouting.
Trying to escape from her bad mood for now, I dashed towards the entrance.
“Sensei! Sakura finally got to see you…!”
The person who greeted me was the super popular voice actress Minazuki Sakura-san. She was a huge fan of Towano Chikai, who was doing everything she could to get the little sister role in the upcoming anime. I got to know her after she came to Towano Chikai’s signing session, and after that, we’d met a few times, but why is she here today? Not to mention that she’s out of breath, so was she in that much of a hurry?
“Haaah… Haah… Of course, it’s Valentine’s day after all! If Sakura didn’t give you some chocolate, she wouldn’t qualify to be your future little sister!”
“Would that qualify you to be my little sister if you did?!”
“Rather than that, would it be okay for Sakura to come in? She came to bring you some chocolate.”
“Y-Yeah, of course. Come in.”
“Yaaay! Thank you very much!” Sakura showed her happiness as I guided her towards the living room.
“…So this time it’s Sakura-san, I see.”
“Ah, Suzuka-chan, hello! Woah, those clothes! They’re really cute!”
“That’s, uhm, thank you very much…” Suzuka’s face softened as she looked away.
It seems she’s still bad at dealing with Minazuki-san.
“S-So Sakura-san is going to give Onii-chan chocolate, too?”
“Yeah! Ah, is Suzuka-chan spending her Valentine’s Day with Sensei?”
“No, uhm, it’s not like…”
“How nice~ Sakura had work today, but she somehow managed to slip away to come here.”
“Is that going to be okay?” I asked, to what Minazuki-san answered with “It’s for Sensei, after all!”
“Recently, Enryuu-sensei has been constantly approaching Sensei for her research and whatnot. Going to the same school really is unfair! That’s why Sakura at least wanted to directly hand over her chocolate to Sensei on Valentine’s day!”
“So Himuro-san is also bragging to Sakura-san, I see.”
“Any information related to Sensei is being shared in the Towano Chikai LINE group after all!”
“Towano Chikai… LINE?”
“W-Well, that aside, you came here to hand over your chocolate, right?!” I hurriedly tried to change the subject.
I would probably never hear the end of it if Suzuka found out about that group. And Suzuka only has that old flip phone, so she couldn’t join the group even if she wanted to.
“Ah, that’s right! Here, Sensei, happy Valentine’s day!”
While I managed to cover it up, Minazuki-san stretched out her arm, holding out a small box. Before I could even check the contents myself, Minazuki-san opened it. In there were small ball-shaped chocolate bits, but when I looked closer, they were a bit distorted.
“Ehehehe, they’re all homemade.”
“That’s…Thank you very much.”
Again with the handmade chocolates… The power that Towano Chikai holds is crazy.
“And you came all the way just to give them to me… How could I repay you for this…?”
“Sakura is looking forward to it! Ah, but that wasn’t the only thing she prepared for today,” she said, looking a bit conflicted.
…Not just chocolate? — I thought. She suddenly took out her phone and showed me the screen.
“This is it… Though it’s a bit embarrassing, please watch it,” Her cheeks flushed as she pushed the button.
Suzuka and I peered at the screen.
[Hm~ Hm~ Please be delicious~ For Onii-chan~]
The next moment, we heard that voice coming from the phone, and the screen showed Minazuki-san wearing an apron and cooking something. Though she wasn’t necessarily good at it, you could tell that she was giving it her best. The video showed the bowl she was using, and you could see the brown chocolate inside.
“Sakura’s present is this video. She filmed herself making the chocolate.”
Just like she had said, the Minazuki-san in the video was fighting with the chocolate. But her expression looked very happy, and she kept humming.
…Huh? Someone else entered the frame? Wait, isn’t this Director Sakurada? Minazuki-san’s older brother?
[Ah, Sakura-tan?! You’re making chocolate just for me?!]
[Ugh, Nii-san?! You’re wrong! This is for Towano Chikai-sensei! Stop getting on Sakura’s nerves and leave!]
[W-What?! You’ve betrayed me, my comraaaaaaaaaaade!]
“Ah, please act like you didn’t see that part.”
…M-Minazuki-san looked really serious just now. Well, I didn’t want to see that either, so let’s forget about it…
After she pushed Sakurada-san away, Minazuki-san continued to work on the chocolate. Maybe it was because of her humming, but I was entertained watching the video.
But for some reason, Suzuka looked really frustrated….
“But what made you think of filming this video?” I asked in the meantime, to which Minazuki-san showed me an embarrassed smile.
“Sakura isn’t that good at cooking, so she thought that just eating her chocolate might not satisfy Sensei at all.”
Oh yeah, I had also noticed her cooking was bad back when she was staying with us.
“That’s why, at the very least, Sakura wanted Sensei to see all the time and effort she put into it. That’s the only thing she can do, after all.”
“No, uhm… Thank you very much. I’m very happy.”
Being told something like that this outright, I felt my face getting hot. I still managed to return my thanks.
“UUu… Uuuuu… Uuuu~~~…!”
Again, why do you look so bothered by all of this…?
“Ahh, a phone call! It’s from Sakura’s manager!”
A ringtone rang out inside the room, and Minazuki-san hurriedly answered as she turned away from us. And after exchanging two or three words…
“Sorry! Sakura has to go back to her job now!”
“No, it’s okay. Thank you for coming all this way. I’ll properly repay you later.”
“Ah, then Sakura would like you to let her call you ‘Onii-chan’!”
Minazuki-san went on her way, pouting. After seeing her off, I returned to the living room once more.
“…To think that she would actually make a video like that. I was a bit surprised, but I’m really happy. It’s a very Minazuki-san-like thing to do, after all.”
“……………That’s right,” Suzuka said as she sighed.
…For quite a while now, my little sister has been acting strangely. Is it that? Is she frustrated that every time we start doing research, we keep getting interrupted? But if we just restart the research, it should be fine…
“T-Then, let’s return to our research, shall we…? Uhm, you were talking about showing me a picture of when you were making the chocolate or something?”
“W-What are you talking about?!”
As if trying to reject my words, she let out a shriek. And it looked like she was shaking a little, as well.
“Well, you said that you took a picture of yourself when you were—”
“I-I-I-I-I-I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about! I cannot show you that right after seeing a video like that — No, it’s not that! There would be no use showing you that picture after all?! Not like this… I will lose when it comes to impact…”
Though she basically screamed almost everything she said, that last part was too quiet, so I couldn’t quite catch it.
“A-Anyway! That plan before is also cancelled! Let’s try another kind of research!”
“What do you mean by ‘another’… It feels like we haven’t even finished one yet.”
“Whose fault do you think this is?! …N-No, it’s not really Onii-chan’s nor any other person’s fault! Uuu….”
T-This might be the first time I’ve ever seen Suzuka this weak-willed…
“A-Anyway! This isn’t the time to be hesitating! The message cards were a failure, the chocolate also, and even handing it over went poorly, so the only thing left to research is what happens after I’ve handed it over…!”
“After you’ve handed it over?”
“…That’s right, there’s no other way…! After you’ve received the chocolate, you naturally have to eat it…! So I’ll feed you my chocolate, which will let us be flirty…! T-This should be perfect…!”
…Heeeey, she’s back in her own world again… But if the only thing I have to do is help Suzuka out, that should be — Nn?
“I-It seems that someone else has arrived.”
“W-What do you mean? I-I-I-I didn’t hear anything!”
“There’s gotta be a limit to lying like that, right?! You’re even glaring at me again!”
“W-We can just pretend that we’re not home.”
“…I know how you feel like, but we can’t do that… I’ll be right back.”
As I left Suzuka behind, I heard her say “A-Am I cursed or something?!”, but I decided to just ignore her.
…Still, this is the fourth time today, huh? No, counting Suzuka, doesn’t that make it the 5th time? …Anyway, I’ll head to the entrance.
“Good day, Sensei! Your fiendish atmosphere is as wonderful as always, desu!”
“I somehow felt like this was going to happen… Hello.”
When I opened the door, Double Peace-sensei was there to greet me. This western blondie was actually a woman with the pen name ‘Ahegao Double Peace-sensei,’ and she was the illustrator for Suzuka’s novel.
“Mm? Sensei doesn’t seem very energetic… Did something happen, desu?”
“No, I’m just a bit tired since we’ve been bombarded with guests.”
“It seems like the others already came to give you their chocolate.”
“…Don’t tell me… did you arrange this beforehand?”
“Yes! We decided that we all would give Sensei our chocolate separately, desu! At first, we thought of putting you under house arrest in a hotel so that everyone could enjoy their Valentine’s, desu.”
“That’s basically happening anyway as it is!”
“I’m just joking, desu. If we did that, it would turn into a full-fledged war, after all!”
I don’t really get it, but this sounds really dangerous…
“Haaaah. Anyway, Double Peace-sensei also came here to hand over something, right? I’m really happy about the gesture, but…”
With slow feet, I dragged my body to the living room as I was followed by a gleeful Double Peace-sensei. And you can probably guess what Suzuka’s reaction was, so I won’t go into detail.
“H-Hello, Double Peace-san…”
“Good day, Imouto-san! Ohh, those clothes are magnificent, desu! Paired with your beautiful natural looks, all the erotic fantasies that come to mind might make me go crazy, desu!”
“Don’t use my little sister as fuel for your fantasies, please!”
…Ahhh, that’s right. Trying to argue with her like that doesn’t work. Well, it’s not like I actually have any energy left to think of a retort in the first place…
“Ohhh, that aside, we have to move forward with the Valentine’s event. If this was an eroge though, the ero part would follow after this…”
“W-What are you thinking, Double Peace-san?!”
Since Suzuka had no resistance to that sort of thing, her face turned bright red.
“Sadly, Sensei is still an all-ages version, so I cannot do that.”
“Could you not describe me like an eroge, please…?”
“Because of that, I thought that I would present my chocolate to Sensei normally, desu!” With that, she took out a small box and stretched out her hands towards me. “Here, please accept it, desu! As Sensei’s number one partner, this chocolate is filled with love, of course, but it’s also filled with carnal lust and desires!”
“Can you not mix anything weird in there?!”
“I’m expecting something equally lustful on White Day, desu!”
“…Onii-chan? You know what will happen if you prepare something like that, right…?”
S-Suzuka is so scary…! And why are you taking Double Peace-sensei’s words so seriously…?
“…Um, would it be okay if I took a look inside for now? Just to make sure that it’s not actually chocolate shaped into an eroge or something…”
“Ohhh, what a wonderful idea, desu! Sensei really is a genius!”
…I shouldn’t have said anything…
For now, I carefully opened the box. However, contrary to my expectations, the box was filled with normal-looking cookies…
“What’s this tube-like thing?”
“That’s a chocolate pen. If you put chocolate in there, you can draw something with chocolate.”
“That’s pretty normal for Double Peace-san…” Suzuka muttered as she peered into the box beside me.
I also thought the same thing.
“Well~ I don’t have the skill to make handmade chocolate, so I had no other option but to use market-sold chocolate, desu.”
And, with her usual beaming smile, she continued.
“That’s why I thought of something else! If I can’t make Sensei happy with the chocolate itself, I have to make him happy in a different way! And that is the result, desu!”
“Eh? What do you mean by that?”
As I was lost as to what she was planning, she let out an ominous-sounding laugh and picked up the chocolate pen. Just when I thought that she was about to draw something on the cookie, she turned towards me, and…
“Here, open wide, desu~” She said.
“W-W-W-W-What are you saying?!”
Both Suzuka and I froze. But Double Peace-sensei continued without paying attention to either of us.
“Like I said, open wide, desu~ I’ll directly feed you my chocolate. If I don’t do something like this, the others will win against me, you know? Here Sensei. If you don’t eat it, I’ll be the one who is left out, desu. Here, open wide~”
I unconsciously opened my mouth. But in that moment, I spotted exactly what she had drawn on the cookie, and my mouth froze half-open.
“Onii-chan? What’s wrong — Wha?! A-Au…!”
Suzuka did the same, as her face went bright red.
“Oh? What’s wrong, desu? Is my illustration not good enough?”
“N-No, that clearly isn’t the problem here… this… is totally an ero illustration!!!”
And it was totally an R-18 one! Why is the quality so good?! It’s such a waste of her talent!
“…Fu, it doesn’t matter what I draw it on. An eroge illustration can fit anywhere. After all, eroge illustrations are already written on my heart…”
“No no no no, don’t say it like it’s something obvious! What’s up with that?! Why did you draw another ero illustration?!”
“Like I said, desu, just feeding Sensei a cookie normally would have been unsatisfying. So in the end, I thought that an ero illustration would make Sensei the most happy, desu!”
“C-C-C-Calm down, Suzuka! It’s not like I…!”
“Judging from your reaction, you clearly look happy, desu! So please open wide~”
“W-Wait! This really is a bad idea, so can we not—Mguh?!”
I tried to talk my way out of it, but the moment I opened my mouth wide enough, she stuffed the cookie in there, leaving me no other choice but to chew it and swallow.
…Of course, both the cookie and the chocolate tasted perfectly normal. But when I remembered that there was an ero illustration on that cookie, I still felt really embarrassed.
“Fu fu fu, how does it taste, desu?”
“Well, uhm, it’s delicious, but…”
“I’m glad to hear that, desu! That’s all thanks to the ero illustration!”
“It’s thanks to the cookie and the chocolate! And stop reminding me about it!”
…Shit, my face is getting hot. And Suzuka is glaring at me like I’m the one at fault again.
“Now then, since Sensei’s happy, desu, I’ll keep them coming!”
…S-She’s going to continue?!
Double Peace-sensei continued to draw ero illustrations on the cookies.
“This time, it’s Sensei’s favorite big breasted character, desu! Here you go!”
“N-No, I’m already full! Please take it easy on me!”
“There are only a few cookies left, and you have to eat all of them, you know? If this isn’t enough, I could always make an eroge figure out of chocolate, desu.”
“Guh… I’ll gladly eat them…!” I surrendered.
…I can’t help it, right?! Compared to being fed a eroge character figure made out of chocolate, this is a thousand times better! God damn it, the fact that the quality of her drawings is so high pisses me off the most…!
While I was being fed by Double Peace-sensei, I realized that Suzuka’s mood was getting worse by the second as she continued to glare at me.
“W-Why does this happen…! I wanted to do that… so why did someone get the jump on me again…! Not to mention with those indecent drawings…! Even if I were to do it now, the impact would already be gone…!”
Ah, this isn’t good! Her body is shivering… and there are tears in her eyes!
I didn’t know why, but there was one thing that I was sure of. Suzuka was about to explode, and I would be the one held responsible.
“D-Double Peace-sensei!! I’m sorry, but we were just in the middle of our Valentine’s research! And we would really like to focus on that!”
“Research? Is that for the competition with Mai, desu? The one that Sensei is writing a new novel for?”
“T-That’s right. That’s why we were in the middle of some research.”
“Ohhh, now that sounds interesting! Please let me watch, desu!”
…A-Alright, I’ve somehow managed to free myself. Though I don’t know what kind of research Suzuka wanted to do, she should be fine doing it in front of others. If not, we’ll just have to convince Double Peace-sensei to leave.
“Since it’s Sensei we’re talking about, it must be research with Imouto-san, right? That means that this wonderful dress was prepared for the research, right?! What kind of research are we talking about, desu?!”
“Y-You’ll have to ask Suzuka about that… R-Right, Suzuka?”
Averting my eyes from Double Peace-sensei, I turned the conversation over to Suzuka. Since she is the one who’s actually doing the research, I just have to follow her instructions. However—
“…Since it’s come to this… I really have to use that…! There’s no other choice but to put everything together…! Showing Onii-chan how I’m making the chocolate… Feeding him by hand…! If I do that, I surely won’t lose when it comes to impact…!”
For some reason, she was lost in thought, and wasn’t listening at all.
“…Ha?! A-Ah, the research, right…? It’s fine. We can just do it as I told Onii-chan beforehand.”
When I called out to her, she finally returned to her senses. Just what you would expect from a superhuman like her. She had found the perfect response for this situation, and it looked like she had already thought of a plan.
…Thank God. I just have to play along. I don’t know exactly what she’s going to do, but I’ll play along with whatever she demands.
“T-Then, let’s hurry and go to the kitchen—”
However, Suzuka’s words were once more cut off.
…How many times have I heard that bell today…? It’s hasn’t been used this much in years…
Suzuka froze mid-stride.
“What’s wrong? Are you not going to answer, desu?”
Double Peace-sensei was surprised by our reaction, since she obviously didn’t know what had happened before. I resigned myself, left the living room, and moved towards the door. And, once I opened the door…
“…I-I came for Valentine’s day research.”
Mai was standing there, looking up at me. In response, I only sighed.
“…I thought so… What did I do to deserve this…?”
“W-What? Your reaction is a bit weak.”
“…No, it’s nothing. You, uhm… have Valentine’s chocolate for me?”
“O-Of course?! I’m your number one fan after all, so if course you get chocolate from me!” Her face went bright red, and she hurriedly averted her gaze before she continued. “B-But, it’s not only that. I also want to do some research… Of course, I’ll just selfishly do it, so you have no room to complain.”
“Ugh… just research, huh…?”
“I’ll say this upfront, but everything I do today is just for my research, okay?! Don’t get any weird misunderstandings!”
“I won’t… And what kind of research are you thinking about—”
“Y-You’ll understand when it happens. For now, I’m coming in.”
Honestly, I already have a bad feeling about this.
“I got it. Please don’t overdo it.”
“Why does it sound like you’re warning me?”
Oh, how I would’ve loved to respond to that.
“Oh, if it isn’t Mai, desu. So you really came.”
“It’s the ero illustrator, huh? Well, our times overlapped, but it’s not that big of a deal. Ah, Suzuka-san too, hello there.”
“…H-Hello Himuro-san,” said Suzuka, with shock still written all over her face.
It seemed like even Suzuka was a little overwhelmed by this storm of visitors. Truth be told, I myself felt like crying.
“And what kind of lovey-dovey chocolate did you make for Sensei, desu?!”
“What’s with that weird question?! I-It’s not lovey-dovey or anything! I’m just handing it over for research!”
Mai’s face went red as she answered Double Peace-Sensei’s question. After seeing Mai’s reaction, Suzuka was close to tears as she grumbled. “Uuuu…”
“Anyway, Yuu, can I borrow the kitchen?”
“I don’t mind, but… what are you planning on doing?”
“That should be obvious. I’m going to make some chocolate.”
“Eh? Is something wrong, Suzuka-san?”
But even after being asked that, Suzuka didn’t respond.
“…I don’t really get it, but I’ll go ahead and borrow it,” Mai tilted her head in confusion and made her way into the kitchen.
I followed after her. She started boiling some water and cutting up the chocolate she brought with her.
“…Don’t tell me… You’re going to make chocolate right now?”
“Yeah, I am. And once it’s finished, it’ll be my present for you. I’m going out of my way to make you handmade chocolate, so you better be thankful! O-Of course, it’s only for my research!” Mai continued her preparations.
Even though her movements weren’t as skilled as they could be, I still felt happy, since I knew that she was doing it for me.
“W-Why does this keep happening…! N-No, I have to calm myself down…! Even if Himuro-san is trying to do the same thing as me, I have the upper hand because it’s from Onii-chan’s little sister…! I know exactly what kind of tastes Onii-chan has…!”
Suzuka was still standing next to me, also gazing at Mai, while muttering that under her breath. Though I was interested in what she was saying, she was letting off a scary aura, so I thought I’d be better off not asking.
“I see, desu. But you really must have a lot of confidence, for you to make chocolate in front of Sensei.”
“Hehe, that’s because I have this with me!”
In response to Double Peace-sensei’s question, Mai confidently took out a single notebook.
…Wait, that notebook is titled ‘Nagami Yuu research notes?!’
“I’ve written down everything I found out while investigating Yuu in here! Especially his tastes and preferences, of course! Using this, I will create chocolate that suits Yuu’s tastes!”
“…S-So basically, that chocolate is the culmination of all of your stalker activities…”
“Y-You’re wrong! Don’t call me a ‘stalker!’ It’s not like I wrote weird stuff in this notebook! Just stuff like where Yuu starts washing himself when he’s in the bath, his favorite pattern for his boxers… Everything in here is completely normal!”
“How is that normal?! And I don’t even remember telling you about any of that!”
“S-Shut it! Rather than that, stop disturbing me!”
Mai turned her back to us and continued working. It looked like she was warming up the chocolate with the boiling water…
“…Fuu, that’s done.”
Finally, Mai turned around holding a small container, as well as some small biscuit sticks.
“Here Yuu, try putting some chocolate on the sticks!”
Doing as I was told, I put the stick with the chocolate into my mouth. The taste of the sweet chocolate filled my mouth, and it had a very peculiar aroma.
“…H-How is it?”
“Ahh…yeah, it’s pretty delicious…Is this coconut?”
“Y-Yeah. You like it right? I put that flavour into the chocolate.”
“It’s true that I like it, but I don’t remember ever telling you…”
“D-Don’t sweat the small stuff! Here, there’s more! Next is this!” Mai proclaimed, as she put another stick into the chocolate.
This time it was strawberry, the next was almond, followed by caramel. Every single one of them perfectly fit my tastes.
…I really don’t remember telling her about any of that. Scary.
“How is it?! This is the result of my investigation!” Mai puffed out her chest with a confident grin.
Leaving aside her questionable methods, it’s true that her investigation really bore fruit here.
“…B-B-B-B-But I also know Onii-chan’s favorite tastes when it comes to chocolate…! E-Even I could do that…!” Said Suzuka, panicking for some reason.
Really, why are you crying?
“And, and to finish it off! Here, hurry up and try this!”
“This is…the smell of grapefruit…?”
“Exactly. At school, I once gave you some chocolate with grapefruit flavour, right? At that time, you said ‘This is the first time I’ve eaten it, but it’s delicious’, so I went out of my way to buy it. H-How is it? Is it good?”
“Oh yeah…Yup, it really is delicious. I like this taste.”
“I-I did it…!”
As I stated my honest feelings, Mai jumped up and struck a winning pose.
“Ehh?! T-That…Even I didn’t know about that…?!” Suzuka’s eyes opened wide in shock.
…Uhm, of course you wouldn’t. I’ve never had a chocolate with that taste before…
“…S-She’s making the chocolate right in front of him, and even uses her knowledge of Onii-chan’s preferences perfectly…?! T-That’s just…!”
With a quiet voice, Suzuka dropped her shoulders. Meanwhile, she was saying things like ‘N-No, it’s not over yet…!’ and ‘Impact-wise, I should still have the upper hand…!’, but I decided not to answer her.
…At times like these, it’s better to just leave her alone.
“S-Still, I’m glad that her chocolate was still rather normal.”
I was about to let out a sigh of relief, having survived Mai’s turn, but…
“What do you mean! …But, well, I’ll forgive you since you liked it. Then, time to bring out the other chocolate.”
Letting out mysterious words, she brought out a big box with a bang.
“…W-What is this? And what do you mean by ‘other chocolate’…?”
“That just now was Himuro Mai’s chocolate towards Towano Chikai as your number one fan. And, this is from Enryuu Homura, for my fan, Nagami Yuu!” With those words, she opened the box.
And inside was…
It was a huge chocolate cake in the form of a heart, and written on it was [For my number one fan Nagami Yuu. Enryuu Homura] with white chocolate ?!
“W-Why two different chocolate things…”
“I mean, as authors, we have two different faces right? So, I thought that giving you two different ones would be more fitting…A-Anyway! You said that you wanted my autograph, right? You should be happy about this, you know!?”
“But, giving one person chocolate two different times is a bit weird, don’t you think?!”
…But, I still felt happy receiving chocolate for being a fan of hers.
“But, well…thank you.”
“I-I-I-I-I-It’s totally fine! But, I will be looking forward to White Day!”
…But, she really got me with that surprise…At first, I thought that she didn’t have anything else.
“Mu, this is unfair, Mai, desu. To give him two different chocolates. It’s true that you have to do research for your competition with him, but I can’t stay quiet any longer, desu! If that’s the case, then I will also conduct my own research! I will draw an ero illustration with Sensei’s favorite chocolate, and give him another one!”
“Ah, hey! Don’t just use my idea for yourself!”
Double Peace-sensei jumped up and down, waving her hand, while Mai was glaring at her. It looked like they’d completely forgotten about me. But as I could occasionally see a forbidden fabric entering my view, I hurriedly looked away.
…Ah, really. But, if Mai’s satisfied with this, then I’m okay with it. And I even got a signature from Enryuu Homura-sensei.
But, on the other hand, we didn’t get any further with Suzuka’s research.
That reminds me, Suzuka was acting really weird for some reason. Maybe she was mad that her research was obstructed?
Preparing for the worst, I looked over at her to check.
As I did, she was just standing there with a blank expression with no movement whatsoever.
…W-What happened? I know how she feels, but there’s no need to so shocked that they obstructed her research…
While Double Peace-sensei and Mai were talking about something, Suzuka just stared at them in silence. I just looked at her, without getting a chance to try any chocolate at all.
“There shouldn’t be anyone else coming, so now we can focus on your research…”
After Himuro-san and Double Peace-san left, Onii-chan said so with an exhausted expression as we were still in the living room.
However, I could only stay quiet.
“Suzuka…? I know that it’s probably a shock being interrupted so many times, but we can just do your research now, so don’t let it get to you like that.” Onii-chan tried to cheer me up, but I didn’t respond.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s exactly as Onii-chan says. I’m not mad in the slightest because of the research.
…But, that’s not the problem! The reason I was so shocked was because every research opportunity that I wanted to conduct with Onii-chan was stolen away by someone else before I had gotten the chance! I mean, come on! This clearly was weird!
When I thought of writing him a card, filled with all my emotions, Shinozaki-san did the same…! When I thought of presenting Onii-chan with some heart-shaped and animal-shaped chocolate to show him my affection, Akino-san and Haruna-san got the jump on me…! When I thought of showing him the picture from when I was creating the chocolate with all my heart, Sakura-san even showed him a video of that…! I had no other choice but to personally feed Onii-chan the chocolate, but Double Peace-sensei did it first, not to mention with those indecent drawings…! As a last resort, I was prepared to make the chocolate from scratch in front of him, but of course Mai had to obstruct that as well, even perfectly knowing Onii-chan’s tastes and preferences…!
Ahhh, for crying out loud, just remembering it makes my blood boil…! Am I cursed or something?! Are the gods looking down on me?!
Uuu…I won’t give up…! It’s finally the long-awaited Valentine’s day. The important day where I give Onii-chan my chocolate, filled with all my feelings for him. As if I would quietly accept this outcome…!
“…She’s not listening at all…? Suzuka! Hey, Suzuka!”
However…ahh, what should I do?! I can’t think of anything else!
Every chance I had was stolen by someone else. I don’t have any other choice but do the same as the others. Valentine’s is a very important day. I have to leave the largest impression on Onii-chan. I have to be the one he remembers the most on this day. If I’m not Onii-chan’s number one…!
…But, what can I even do at this point? I have to think of something new. But is there anything left that hasn’t been done by anyone else? No, I can’t give up. I have to change my way of thinking. Get rid of my rational thinking, and only think about how to be flirty with Onii-chan. I always fantasize about being lovey-dovey with Onii-chan. In those fantasies, there should be something I can do in this situation—
“…………Ah? S-Suzuka? Are you finally back?”
…T-There it is. I found it! A perfect idea for this situation! It’s perfect for both my research, and Onii-chan definitely won’t forget this!
“H-Huh?! She’s not back at all?!”
N-No matter how I think about it…isn’t this a bit too embarrassing…?! I-It’s very indecent, and I might even look like a pervert…! N-No! That’s not true. It’s just a normal way to be flirty with Onii-chan, and I don’t have any choice now that it’s come to this…!
“A-Are you finally back…? Uhm, what is it, Suzuka?”
“Right now, uhm…W-We’ll start the research…!”
“O-Okay? I mean I’m all up for it, but why are you so energetic all of a sudden…?”
C-Calm down, me…I have to calmly explain it to Onii-chan. This is a research. There isn’t anything weird about this. So that I don’t lose against Himuro-san and her rom-com, what’s about to follow is necessary. I’m not forcing myself so that I can be lovey-dovey with Onii-chan or anything…!
“A-About the research…”
“What should I do? Just tell me?”
“…T-Then…Please change your into your swimsuit, take a bath, and wait for me…!”
“Got it. Change and take a bath. What are we going to—Eh?”
Onii-chan’s eyes opened wide. That expression was so cute that I would’ve loved to keep watching it forever, but there are more important things right now.
“I-I’m sorry, but I think I misheard you? Something about swimsuit and the bath…?”
“Y-You didn’t mishear me at all. That’s what I said.”
“…Seriously…? …Eh?! W-Why do I have to—?!”
“Anyways! I have to prepare something! I will start the water for the bath, so wait there for me! This is essential for my research!”
Saying that, I dashed off towards the bathroom and turned the handle for the hot water. After doing that, I returned to my room, and searched for the essential item in my closet.
…It really is embarrassing, but I have to do this…!
And so, roughly 20 minutes later.
I slowly opened the door to the bath where Onii-chan was already waiting for me.
“S-Suzuka, huh…Wait, those clothes…a school swimsuit again?!
Onii-chan’s face went even more red than it was already from the hot air. I washed his back too when Sakura-san was staying over…But this time it’s different…
“P-Please make some room for me. I will also enter.”
“Eh? E-Enter…together with me?”
“T-That’s right. T-T-T-This shouldn’t be anything weird, right?! W-We’re both wearing simwsuits, so it’s just like we’re both entering the pool!”
Of course that wasn’t the same at all, but I had to say this out loud, or else I might collapse from the embarrassment.
After hesitating for a bit, Onii-chan made some space for me. I slowly entered the bathtub, my heart pounding so crazy that he might as well have heard it.
…Taking a bath together with Onii-chan…! How many years has it been…!
“Uuu, Ah— I-It really is a bit small for two people…!”
As the two of us were facing each other, Onii-chan averted his face. It probably was very awkward for him, but it was the same for me.
…Still, I’ve wanted to do this for such a long time, that I can’t stop myself from grinning…Ehehehehe.
“S-So, it’s not gonna be just this, right? It’s research for Valentine’s day after all…”
Onii-chan only looked at me without turning his head. And, while slowly lifting up the bowl I brought with me, I answered.
“O-Of course. The subject of this research is [Entering the bath together and feeding the boyfriend with chocolate] !”
“I thought so! …But, Suzuka, let me just say one thing…!”
“W-What might it be, Onii-chan.”
“I’m just gonna be honest, I don’t get it at all!”
Y-You don’t have to tell me that! I feel the same way! …B-But, if I don’t do this, I cannot hope to win against anyone else!
“W-Well, this is research necessary for my new novel.”
That wasn’t a lie. I will flirt with Onii-chan like this, and use this experience for my new novel. That is the only way I can hope to win against Himuro-san. After all, I won’t use any little sisters this time in my work. It should be obvious that I would do something as crazy as this so I can win!
“Huh…Well, if you say so, then I have no choice but to help you out, I guess…”
Though Onii-chan still didn’t seem convinced, he gave me his OK. In times like this, he really is kind.
“So, from here on out, you’re going to feed me with the chocolate, right…?”
“Uhm…I don’t know how to say this, but…”
…? What is it?
“That chocolate…is it supposed to be melting like that?”
Hearing his words, I looked inside the bowl. What greeted me was the sight of the chocolate having already lost its former form, its original state unrecognisable.
—What am I doing?! Of course they would melt in here! I was too focussed on my research, and that completely slipped my mind…! Normally, something like that wouldn’t happen…!
W-What should I do?! I tried my best to get them into a heart-shaped and animal-shaped form! No, that’s not that much of a problem since the Kanzaka sisters already did that, but still…!
“H-How about making it one more time? I can’t really it it like this after all.”
N-No! I cannot leave the bath until our research is finished! It would make less of an impression on him, so I have to think of something, right here, right now—
I had an idea.
…B-But, just from imagining it, my body is shivering in embarrassment…! T-This is, what kind of idea did I come up with, really…! It’s too indecent…! Ah, but! I can’t think of anything else, so I have to do it!
“Hm? Suzuka? What’s wrong?”
Maybe Onii-chan realized that I was acting strangely. But I simply gulped, and put my fingers in the bowl with the molten chocolate.
Looking straight at Onii-chan, I steeled my resolve and said the following words.
“H-Here you go…! Please eat it like this…!”
Onii-chan’s eyes went wide. And, after his face went as red as a tomato…
“S-So basically…you’re telling me to lick off the chocolate from your fingers?!”
“A-As if I could do that?! Licking my little sister’s fingers…!”
“W-Why! I always properly wash my hands!”
“That’s not the problem here! And also, it’s my mouth we’re talking about…”
“O-O-O-O-On Onii-chan’s body, there isn’t a single spot that’s dirty!”
“Again, I’m not talking about that! For an older brother to lick his little sister’s—no wait, aren’t we boyfriend and girlfriend right now? A-Anyway! As if I could do something perverted like licking your fingers!”
“P-Perverted?! Uu…E-Even if it is perverted, this is necessary for my research! To win against Himuro-san!”
As I responded with conviction, Onii-chan swallowed his words. And, after a short silence…
“………D-Do we really have to do this…?”
“Y-Yes, we really have to do this…! I-It’s for my research after all!”
Hearing that, Onii-chan had a troubled expression, and he looked like he was about to cry. But, eventually, he opened his mouth with a “…I got it.”
“…You chose to do this because you have to win against Mai, right?”
T-That’s right. Thinking about the rom-com, the impact of Valentine’s day, and most importantly, for my high school life that’s about to come, I have to win against Himuro-san.
“T-Then, here I go…” Onii-chan said, seemingly having made up his mind, as he slowly opened his mouth.
WIth that, he slowly brought his face closer to my fingers. In that moment, I thought my heart was about to stuff since it started beating like crazy.
When Onii-chan sucked on my finger, a shock ran through my entire body, paired with a hot, and somehow sweet feeling as it filled my body.
In that one moment, I completely fell into trance, and just spaced out while Onii-chan continued to softly lick my fingers. Every fibre of my body was screaming in happiness, and I could have sworn that the gates to paradise opened in front of me. Of course, that was just a figure of speech, but that’s how happy I felt. In my head, I could only think of my beloved Onii-chan.
Onii-chan Onii-chan Onii-chan Onii-chan Onii-chan Onii-chan Onii-chan Onii-chan Onii-chan Onii-chan Onii-chan Onii-chan…! I love you, Onii-chan…!
“…Haaa, I-I’m done, Suzuka.”
That blissful feeling disappeared from my fingertips. But as my mind was clouded with thoughts about my love for Onii-chan, so I didn’t pay any attention to that.
Onii-chan…Onii-chan is…! Ehe, ehehe, ehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe Cough Cough Cough Cough…
“Suzuka?! Are you okay?! Suzuka! Hey, Suzuka—”
Onii-chan’s voice was getting more distant, and the whole world started to distort in front of my eyes. However, I still continued to dwell in this blissful feeling.
And with that, the world went dark.
“I-I’m really sorry about that…!”
“No, uhm, what’s done is done. Let’s just forget about it…Yeah,” I reassured Suzuka as she bowed down to me.
After what happened, Suzuka collapsed, and I somehow managed to get her out of the bath. Though she regained her consciousness shortly after, she remembered everything. After somehow managing to calm her down, I got her to change her clothes back in her room, while I did the same, and now the both of us are back in the living room—
“Well, what do you think? Was the research a success…?”
“O-Of course! It was the most wonderful experience ever! I was so happy that my heart kept going doki-doki—N-Nevermind! Anyway, it was the best research ever!”
“I-Is that so. If you say so, then I’m glad.”
To be honest, I felt like I wanted to die the entire time…So embarrassing and immoral…! But, it must’ve been the same for Suzuka…No, I’m sure that, considering Suzuka’s earnest personality, it must have been even harder on her. But she still managed to pull through. Suzuka really is amazing. She really is a genius…
“T-Thank you very much, Onii-chan. Thanks to you…I got some wonderful data. With this, I can surely write a masterpiece.”
…Oh yeah, this isn’t the time to be all depressed about that. If she can win against Mai, then that’s all that matters.
As her older brother, I’m happy to have been able to help her—
“Hm? What’s wrong?”
That moment, I remembered something, and I stood up from the couch. Leaving behind the confused Suzuka, I hurriedly returned to my room. When I found what I was searching for, I made my way back to the living room.
“Well, there’s something I forgot.”
“Something you forgot?”
With that, I handed her a small box. That was the chocolate I had prepared. Yesterday on my way home, I thought of it, so I stopped by a shop.
“…Eh? T-This is?”
“Uhm…It might just be a useless addition for your research, but this is my Valentine’s present for you…”
“P-Present for me?! W-W-W-W-W-What do you mean by that?!”
Since Suzuka seemed to be confused, I hurriedly explained.
“T-This is just something I selfishly thought of, but…I thought this might help you with your research. I mean, this time around, you thought of everything, right? I mean, it makes sense since you’re the real Towano Chikai, but…I also wanted to help you in some sort of way…
Ah, damn it. I can’t put it in words…
“B-Basically, it’s what you always say, right? That we both together are Towano Chikai. Well, I don’t have much say on the novel, but since I’m your stand-in, I thought that this might be helpful in some way, so I bought it…”
“T-That’s why you’re giving me chocolate for Valentine’s day…?”
“Yeah. There’s also White day where I should be giving you a gift as a return, but next month will be too late for your research…That’s why I decided to give it to you now. And it wouldn’t be that weird for a boy to give chocolate to a girl either.” I tried to explain my thoughts. “That’s why, you can get it beforehand…Uhm…Am I just being a bother…?” I asked, since Suzuka was quiet during my monologue.
“W-What are you saying, Onii-chan…! O-Of course I’m happy about this!” Suzuka responded as she glared at me with a red face. “T-Thank you very much…! I completely forgot about collecting data on White day…But thanks to Onii-chan, you greatly helped me with that!”
She once more said her thanks to me.
That smile she showed me was so bright that I was relieved from the bottom of my heart.
“Alright, now it’s perfect! With this, I can write the best rom-com ever! I can make you say that it’s interesting, even without having to add a little sister character!”
Since she said so with words filled with conviction, I had no more reason to worry. It was about a month until the deadline, and just like she said, I was sure that she would write the best novel ever.
And I still hadn’t made any progress on my own novel.