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It’s no good if you’re not a little sister
We made it through the research on Valentine’s day, a few days passed, and Suzuka returned from the dorm.
“I-I’m back, Onii-chan.”
It felt like a rather awkward greeting. Well, she had been gone for about a month, so I guess that much was to expected.
“This kind of feels nostalgic… Anyway, now that I’m home, I have to do some housework…!”
J-Just as you would expect from a perfectionist like Suzuka. My eyes are getting watery.
“But every time you came to visit this past month, you cleaned the house. You said that it was very important for your commuting wife research.”
“T-That’s… Father and Mother have been particularly busy recently, so I was worried since it was just Onii-chan here… A-And also, there were places that I couldn’t get to during that time…! So first up is cleaning!” said Suzuka with high spirits.
Maybe she’s excited to finally be back home.
“That’s good and all, but is it fine not starting on your new novel now?”
“I’ll start on it immediately, of course. But I can’t focus without getting some housework done for now… T-This is our home after all, so I would like to have it the way it usually is.”
…Yeah, that sounds very Suzuka-like. Though I really wanted to be able to read her novel as fast as possible… I can’t help it, I guess.
“Alright, I’ll help you out. The sooner we finish, the sooner you can start on your novel, after all.”
“Y-Yes. Thank you very much, Onii-chan.”
And so the first day she returned home turned into a big cleaning day. On the following day, she quickly began work on her novel. Now, as her stand-in, there was nothing left for me to do.
On the other hand, Mai, our opponent, seemed to have made good progress writing her rom-com.
“Hehe, just you wait, Yuu. I’ll make you excited with my rom-com, and make you say that it’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever read!”
She said things like that every time we ran into each other at school, but her expression looked so lively that it was actually fun. There was no doubt that she had enough confidence to win.
And just like that, the days went by and the situation grew more intense. And, if you were to ask what I was doing in the meantime…
I didn’t want to lose against both of them, so I worked on my own novel.
…But, well, as you could probably guess, I didn’t make much progress.
“Ahhh, this one’s a loser too… I think that it’s fun to read, but… Mmm…”
I tried writing a chapter as a sort of pilot. When I read back over it, I felt like it was interesting, and it did seem like I was making progress in terms of my writing. However—
“I wonder… Something still isn’t right. I don’t know what it is, but I know that this is no good…”
In the end, everything I started was a failure after the first chapter, and I never managed to finish a single novel.
I took a deep breath and stretched my arms while sitting in my chair.
…How should I say it…? This is the first time I’ve ever felt something like this. It’s very different from the feeling of hopelessness and despair that I’ve had before. It feels like I’m still making progress, and I can feel some sort of story building up. Before, I would always scream out ‘This is the best novel ever!’, only for it to drop out in the second or third round of preliminaries. But not anymore. Though it feels like I’m progressing, I definitely won’t be able to win the grand prize like this, and I certainly can’t debut as a light novel author. For some reason, that was the only thing I completely understood. But I didn’t even know why I understood it…
“Ahhh, I don’t get it…”
I had finally managed to figure out my ideal type of girl thanks to Suzuka, and I feel like I was managing to write cute heroines… So what exactly is still missing…? Why do I feel like something’s lacking? …That’s right. Something, something’s lacking. I have all of the essentials, but something is lacking. But, what is this ‘something’? I can’t put it into words. It feels like I’m going in circles. Like I’m trapped in a bottomless swamp.
“And this is the first time I didn’t submit anything for the contest.”
Since I hadn’t managed to finish any novel, I couldn’t send anything to Wing Publishing for their contest. Though this might’ve meant I’d grown, I still felt like I had received a lot of damage from missing a deadline like that.
“…Suzuka and Mai are probably still writing their own novels… Maybe this is just my level as a normal human being…”
After muttering these words, I called it quits for the day and fell asleep.
“My new novel is finished, Onii-chan!”
Just like that, February had ended, and it was now a school-free day. As always, I was thinking about my novel in my room when Suzuka came suddenly bursting in. She had her manuscript in her hands, and her eyes glimmered in expectation.
“Y-You finished it already, huh?”
“I wasn’t that fast, you know. The deadline is pretty close, after all.”
…Well, she’s not wrong about that. Maybe I just said that since I haven’t made any progress on my own novel.
“S-So, Onii-chan, will you read it? I can’t have my first reader be anyone other than Onii-chan, after all… O-Of course, only because we’re both the same author!”
“Y-Yeah, I get it.”
Suzuka got all up in my face, and so I was overwhelmed and could only give my consent. Of course, being given the opportunity to read Suzuka’s new novel has gotten me fired up too…! I mean, it’s written by the person who wrote the best little sister novel ever. It’s the new novel from the genius Towano Chikai, you know? And this time it’s a novel without a little sister as the heroine. I can’t begin to describe how happy I am to be the first person to get a chance to read it!
“Then I’ll read it immediately!”
With Suzuka watching over me, I started turning the pages.
The title was— “Even if we’re not siblings, we’re still connected by destiny”… That title made me grin. I quickly threw myself into reading.
…The story revolved around a normal highschool second-year protagonist, who started realizing that his new Kouhai was actually his female childhood friend. This childhood friend of his had grown up to be quite the beauty, and she was actively pursuing the protagonist. However, said protagonist already had a big-breasted (this part was emphasized for some reason) classmate at his side, so the two of them got into quite the conflict. Of course, the protagonist didn’t seem to realize any of it. In order to get the protagonist’s attention, the childhood friend visited him like a commuting wife, invited him to her room to play, and tried her best to look good. After finally making up her mind, she confessed while handing him some chocolate in the bathtub as they took a bath together. The protagonist finally started to see his childhood friend as a girl, instead of a little sister, and accepted the confession — That was the gist of it.
Since this was only a one-shot, the story was complete just with that. Still, it was quite full of interesting events. The childhood friend was very cute, and I couldn’t stop grinning the whole time. That’s how good it was.
“…H-How is it, Onii-chan?” Suzuka asked nervously when I had finished the last page.
…How is it, you ask? Of course, it’s crazy fun to read! Especially the scene where the heroine confessed to the protagonist. Her feelings could be directly felt by the reader. Her approach was also incredibly cute… Suzuka really had used our research perfectly.
It really is a novel that showcases Towano Chikai’s skill. With this, she’ll surely beat Mai’s rom-com, and there’s no question that this could be turned into series.
I wanted to open my mouth to tell her outright, but…
…H-Huh? Why can’t I say anything? There’s some sort of uneasy feeling inside of me. When I think about her novel, there’s no mistake that it’s incredible… but there’s something that feels off… What is this? This feels familiar…
Thinking that, I realized immediately.
…Of course. This is the same feeling I have with my own novels at the moment. Ahh, so that’s what it was, then — But wait? Why am I getting that feeling from reading Suzuka’s novel? Unlike mine, Suzuka’s novel should be plenty interesting…?
“What’s wrong? …You look a bit pale, Onii-chan…”
No no no no, wait a moment?! …Think about it one more time. Suzuka’s novel was interesting, right?
…Yeah, it really was. There wasn’t anything to complain about, and it was super interesting. But even so, this feeling won’t go away. Even though my brain knows that it’s interesting, my heart is rebelling.
…Really, what’s wrong with me?
“…Hah?! Eh? What’s wrong, Suzuka?”
“That’s my line! I kept trying to ask you, but you were just spacing out the whole time!”
“I-It’s okay… S-So what do you think about my new novel?”
“A-Ahh, your novel… It’s really interesting!”
“…!! Is that so!”
Suzuka looked really delighted to hear that. Seeing her response, I shook my head.
…Really, what am I thinking about? Suzuka’s novel is so interesting, and I was about to be swept along by this small, unimportant feeling of mine. Yeah, that must’ve been just a mistake or something. It was probably just because I was feeling off, and I was unconsciously projecting that onto Suzuka’s novel.
Telling myself that over and over, I tried to rid myself of the feeling.
“Ehehehe, I’m actually pretty confident in his novel. I’m really happy that you think that, Onii-chan!”
“I-Is that so…? I’m glad to hear that.”
Suzuka once more showed me a smile from the bottom of her heart.
…Yeah, this unpleasant feeling must’ve been my imagination. The person in question has so much confidence, after all.
“Ehe, ehehehehehe… I’ll beat Himuro-san with this! Though she’s not familiar with the rom-com genre, I’m not holding back this time!” Suzuka stated as she puffed out her chest.
While I was looking at this gleeful little sister of mine…
Suzuka can write such an interesting novel… and here I am — Is what I thought.
…Of course, a normal person like me cannot possibly hope to catch up to a genius like Suzuka. She’ll surely win against Mai with this novel.
“W-With this, my feelings are stronger than Himuro-san’s… and my perfect highschool student life will start…! Ehehehehehe”
Watching Suzuka, who was twisting her body with a weird laugh, I was equally certain that she would win.
…However… Shortly after, my conviction would be shaken.
“Hey Yuu, do you have a second?”
It was a day after classes had ended, a few days after Suzuka had finished her novel. When I was preparing to go home, Mai came to me with this question.
“I do, but what is it?”
“Do you have some time after this? I want you to come with me.”
For some reason, she had a confident grin on her face, which gave me a really bad feeling about what she wanted to do.
…She’s a good-for-nothing stalker, after all, so it could only be something completely useless… But it’s not like I had any reason to decline.
“I don’t have any work today, and I don’t have to pick up Suzuka either, so I guess I can… But what are you planning on doing?”
“W-Why are you so wary? It’s not anything weird. I just want you to read my new work.”
“Eh? What kind of work?”
“Huuuh? What are you saying? What of work do you think I’d be talking about at this point? I’m talking about my novel for our competition.”
Mai said that like it was something completely normal, but I was taken aback by her words. In that moment of weakness, Mai grabbed my arm, dashed out the classroom, and made me sit down in the lounge where there was nobody around.
“W-Wait a second, are you really saying that? Why would you have your opponent read the novel he has to win against?”
“It’s not that big of a deal, right? It’s not like it’ll change anything, since people will be voting for it online. And also—” Mai took her manuscript out of her bag as she continued, “—I wanted to show you my skill before the actual voting starts.” She showed me a confident grin.
…W-What is she planning on doing…?
“It’s not like I’m asking you to let me read your novel or anything. I just want to see what you thought of my novel.”
“Why would you go out of your way for something like that…?”
“You’ll understand once you start reading,” Mai responded, not with her usual flippant attitude, but rather with the air of the light novel writer Enryuu Homura.
Though I still hadn’t really calmed down, I had no reason to refuse, so I started reading through her manuscript.
The title was… “I really like you after all, so I tried my best”…
Gulping once, I flipped over the page. Momentarily, I forgot all of that tension, and I dived deep into the world of her novel.
…Mai’s rom-com was unbelievably fun to read.
The main characters were a male protagonist and his classmate, the heroine, with the stage as a normal high school. The heroine was a beauty to behold, but she had quite a difficult personality. However, once both of them found out about their respective secrets, they became conscious of each other. The heroine in particular was very attracted to the protagonist, so she tried to approach him in various ways, but they all ended in failure. On his part, the protagonist was surrounded by countless other girls, and was oblivious to their feelings. In the middle of all of them was his little sister. So, in order not to lose against the little sister, the heroine tried her best. Although she was rather clumsy at it, she approached the protagonist in her own way. It worked out for her, and in the end, they both confessed to each other in front of the entire student body. And like that, the story ended with them becoming lovers.
The story perfectly fit into its niche in the rom-com genre, and just as you would expect from a professional author, both the writing and pacing were perfect. But probably the most impressive part of the story was the depiction of the heroine.
It was just like Suzuka’s, Towano Chikai’s, depiction of her characters. The heroine’s feelings for the protagonist were directly transmitted to the reader. Though Mai had never tried something like this in her novels before, it was incredibly accurate…
Before I had even realized it, I had already reached the last page. And I couldn’t stop grinning from the heroine’s cuteness.
…Is it over already? That’s not good, I want to read it again!
“H-How is it? Is it interesting?” Mai asked with an expectant gaze as she brought her face closer.
“Y-Yeah, it’s really fun to read…!”
And after hearing my response, Mai’s face looked like it was sparkling.
“I-I did it…! Yuu thinks that it’s interesting…! ~~~I’m so happy!!!” Mai jumped up and down like a small kid.
…Well, it is really interesting, after all. I wonder why? I felt my heart starting to race.
“And, and?! You can praise it more, you know?! Come on, don’t hold back. Shower me with praise! What are your impressions?! How was the heroine?!”
…Hey, you’re way too excited! And your face is way too close!
“B-But, is this really the first rom-com you’ve ever written?”
That was the most suspicious part of it. The quality was way too amazing for this to be her first time writing a rom-com. She should really only be this much of a professional when it comes to battle novels.
“I’ve told you again and again that this is my first one.”
“Hmmm… considering the fact that this should be way out of your field, you wrote such an interesting novel… Is this some sort of natural talent, I wonder?”
Forgetting to keep up my role as Towano Chikai, I blurted out my true feelings.
I mean, it’s just like Suzuka. Both of them challenged themselves like this, and both of them landed a great hit… There’s no point in comparing myself to them, because the difference is as plain as day.
Thinking that, I actually felt a bit depressed.
“……What are you saying?”
Before I had realized it, Mai’s expression turned into one of displeasure. Her gleeful smile from before was gone, and now she was glaring at me, totally serious.
“I’m not talented or anything. Don’t say stupid stuff like that.”
“Eh? But you managed to write such a great novel on your first try after changing the genre.”
“And I’m telling you that this isn’t talent at all,” Mai said, cleary mad at me.
However, it wasn’t an explosive rage, but rather a level-headed anger.
“…I don’t have any talent at all. I’m the one who knows that the most. I didn’t write this novel thanks to my talent or anything, but rather thanks to my research.”
“Of course. I’m talking about my research on Towano Chikai.” Mai pouted as she let out a sigh.
“…Uhm, so you wrote this novel by using Towano Chikai’s work as a reference?”
Truth be told, I felt certain similarities between this story and Suzuka’s original novel. But it shouldn’t be that easy to write a novel this interesting just by referencing and researching another novel. If it was, anyone could be a professional light novel author.
“Well, some of it was because of that, but… It’s not like I just referenced your novel, you know? I also looked at the words and phrases you often used, so it was a mix of everything.”
…W-Well, since I’m only a ghost writer, her research was more or less wasted.
“…After meeting you, I always kept researching you, and as a result, I realized one important thing. And my current novel was born from that realization.”
“You realized one thing…?”
“Yeah… Though it’s not anything crazy. It’s not some hidden truth or secret or anything.”
“A-And what is it…?”
“I told you, it’s nothing you have to be so nervous about. Put simply, it’s ‘Don’t force out something you don’t have.’ It’s actually pretty obvious, though.”
Mai said it with a relaxed tone, but it felt like a shock ran through my body.
…Don’t force out… something… you don’t have?
While I was about to lose myself in my thoughts, Mai suddenly raised her voice, which brought me back to reality.
“Though it might be a bit weird to say this here… Won’t you listen to my confession?”
“Ah, N-No?! I didn’t mean a real confession! And, and why would I have to confess to you?!”
“You were the one who said it!”
“…Haaaah, it’s not that, there’s just something that I want you to listen to.”
Then say so from the very start!
“You know… I’ve been trying to write little sister novels like you do… secretly.”
“Eh? A little sister novel? You?”
Since Mai had said something so unexpected, I repeated it with a serious face.
“Exactly. Of course, I wanted to write an interesting novel just like yours. I wanted to create something like that, because I look up to you. So I tried writing a little sister novel many times… Many, many times.”
“But—” Mai continued.
“It was impossible. No matter how much I tried to write a good little sister novel, I couldn’t make any progress. Forcing myself to write it didn’t make it any more interesting, so I didn’t have any other choice but to give up. I thought that I couldn’t reach your level of talent… It was so frustrating.”
But, for some reason, her face looked calm, and gleeful.
“I thought that there was a giant wall between my talent and yours, and I was about to stop pursuing you… But, on that certain day, I — Ahh, ignore that part! I didn’t say anything, okay?! A-Anyway… something happened, and my way of thinking changed completely.”
“…How did it change? Ah, and what is that ‘something’ you were talking about—”
“A-A-A-A-A-As if I would tell you that?! The ‘something’ was just ‘something’! Don’t go questioning me about it!”
“A-Anyway! My way of thinking changed! I thought I would try writing a rom-com instead of a little sister novel!”
Mai’s face went bright red and she started panicking.
…I guess she’s not planning on telling me.
“Well, it wasn’t like it was a clear feeling, but I started writing on a whim. And when that incident happened, it became conviction.”
“That incident… You mean the talk about the rom-com festival?”
“Exactly. And also when I heard that Suzuka-san took the entrance exam for our school.”
“…Nnn? Why would that be a trigger for you?”
“Y-Y-You don’t have to read too deeply into it! Anyways, when I heard that you were going to write a novel for the rom-com festival, I understood immediately. ‘Ahh, that’s right, I wanted to write a rom-com,’ — something like that. And, I wanted to win against you with my rom-com. I wanted you to think that it was the best novel ever,” Mai said and let out a small giggle.
“So that’s why you were asking for a competition…?”
“Well, it happened in the spur of the moment. And the result of that is this novel.” She pointed at her manuscript.
Her expression grew heavy.
“You just said that I have talent, but it’s the opposite. I don’t have any talent at all. If I had any talent, I wouldn’t have had any problems writing light novels.”
…Why is a professional light novel author like her thinking the same things as me…?
“But my desire to write a novel kept me writing… Well, I don’t really know how to say it, but this ‘desire to write’ wasn’t like me being hungry to write, or that I had to write or anything, it was just something completely obvious to me… Ahhh, I don’t know how to put it,” Mai showed a troubled smile before continuing, “Well, it doesn’t matter.”
“What I want to say is that this novel came into existence because of this feeling inside of me. That’s why it doesn’t have anything to do with talent. Understand? W-Well, those are my true feelings!” With that, Mai ended her monologue with a red face. “And you thought that it was interesting, right?! You got excited because of the heroine, right?! H-Hmpf! Hehehehe! Ehehehehehehehe!” Mai slapped me on the back over and over as she giggled to herself.
Though it actually started to hurt, and I was starting to get annoyed, I thought that Mai somehow looked really cute when she was happy like this. However, I didn’t have the time to think about it too deeply.
I was lost in thought. Mai’s words floated around in my head. But just as Mai had problems putting her feelings into concrete words, I didn’t know why they were stuck in my head like this.
…Why is my heart beating like this? I, I don’t know. Something inside of me is stirring, but I don’t know how to put it into words… Ahh, shit! It’s this ‘something’ again! Why am I like this?! Why do I have the feeling as I had yesterday…!
However, Mai didn’t notice my confusion. She tapped me on the shoulder and spoke again.
“So what about your novel? Since you’re a genius, there’s no reason to doubt that your new novel will be just as interesting as your previous one, but I won’t lose, okay!”
In that moment, I realized the most important thing I had forgotten until now.
…T-That’s right. This is supposed to be a competition. And after reading both Mai’s and Suzuka’s novels, my impression is…!
“Though it’s written in stone that Towano Chikai wouldn’t lose against anyone, this time will be an exception! M-My feelings are way stronger… no, my effort for this novel is way larger — Kyaa?!”
Ignoring Mai, who was saying something about her efforts and whatnot, I suddenly jumped up from my chair and pushed it back against the table.
“H-Hey, don’t suddenly scare me like that! …Wait, Yuu! Where are you going?!”
“I’m going home! There’s a problem with my novel! So I have to go now! See you!”
Though I heard some kind of response from Mai behind me, I dashed home nonetheless.
…Huff, I should really be doing some more exercise…!
“…N-Not good! Not good not good not good not good not good!”
I didn’t know what I was thinking. I didn’t know what exactly wasn’t good. There was just an uncertain uneasiness filling my chest. When I arrived home, I hurriedly went inside.
“Welcome home, Onii— W-What’s wrong?!”
Suzuka’s eyes opened wide when she came to greet me. My hair was a mess, and even though it was still winter, I was sweating profusely. Not to mention that I was out of breath.
…But that isn’t important right now.
“S-Suzuka! Please let me see your manuscript one more time!”
“…? My manuscript? You mean the one I that I’ll be sending in for the event? But why…?”
“Please! I have to check as fast as possible…!”
Probably since I was acting so strangely, she hurriedly went back to her room. But I didn’t have the time to wait in the entrance, so I took off my shoes and followed Suzuka.
“Here it is… But what exactly happened?” Suzuka asked, seemingly worried. I didn’t pay any attention to her and just focused on reading.
And when I had finished reading through it, the uncertain doubt inside my chest became clear.
“I-I thought so…”
…I-I see… I finally understand.
It was hard to accept. But it was indeed reality. I couldn’t just ignore it.
“As it stands… This won’t win against Mai…”
The next moment, I had already spoken my conclusion.
“Wha—?! W-What do you mean by that?!”
Of course, Suzuka didn’t miss my words. Putting both of her hands on her chest, she stepped closer.
“Just earlier, I saw Mai’s manuscript…”
“Eh? W-Why would you…?”
“She told me to read it… And after reading it, I can say for sure… It’s crazy good.”
“W-W-W-What did you say?! Are you saying that it’s more interesting than mine?!”
As I nodded once, Suzuka once more closed in on me. “And why is that?! In what way is Himuro-san’s novel more interesting than mine? Please tell me!”
But I didn’t have the answer to that question. I only vaguely felt that way. The only thing I knew was that there was a difference between both of them. Mai’s novel didn’t give me the same uncomfortable feeling I got from Suzuka’s. Suzuka’s novel felt like something was missing. Like something that should be there, wasn’t. That’s how I felt about Suzuka’s novel. Even after reading through it a second time, that feeling didn’t vanish.
“Why are you keeping quiet, Onii-chan! This is an emergency situation, you know?!”
Ahhh, for crying out loud! I can’t put it into words! I don’t know what this feeling is, so there’s no way I can describe it…! I know! I know I’m irresponsible for just blurting that out without having any reasoning! This is just how I feel!
I don’t know what it is, but Mai’s novel has something that Suzuka’s doesn’t. There’s no difference in terms of story and progression between the two of them, but there’s this ‘something’ that makes them different… something like that. Of course, that might just be my imagination.
But now that I’ve said it out loud, I can’t take it back anymore. So I explained my feelings to Suzuka.
“…W-What’s up with that…?”
In response, Suzuka looked at me with a serious expression.
“There’s something that my novel doesn’t have… But Himuro-san’s does? W-What exactly is that?”
“Sorry, even I don’t know…”
“But, it’s something that you felt, right, Onii-chan?”
“Y-Yeah… Though it might just be my imagination after all…”
“I don’t care about that. If it’s something that Onii-chan felt, then it’s a huge problem no matter what!”
Just when I thought that i would be blatantly ignored, Suzuka unexpectedly took me very seriously.
“H-Himuro-san’s novel is more interesting than mine…?! I-I might lose against Himuro-san…?! T-To think that my feelings would lose against anyone else’s…! T-That can’t be allowed…! But without knowing the reason…!”
For a short while, Suzuka paced around in circles, lost in thought, only to finally dash out of the room with “Things can’t stay like this!”
As I chased after her, she hurriedly put on her shoes at the entrance.
“W-What’s wrong?! And where are you even going?!”
“I’m going to see Himuro-san, of course! I will also check her manuscript! I have to see with my own eyes if it’s really more interesting than mine…!”
“Ehhh?! B-But wouldn’t it be weird if you suddenly asked her for something like that?!”
“I’ll think of some excuse! Right now, seeing her novel for myself is much more crucial! …I simply cannot afford to lose this competition, so I’ll do whatever is necessary…!
…S-She’s completely serious. Those eyes of hers are filled with determination. No matter what I say, she isn’t going to listen to me.
I decided to give up on trying to stop her, and Suzuka seemed to have understood that. She left me with an “I’ll be going!” and stepped out of the house.
Now that I was alone, I could only stare at the entrance absentmindedly. When I finally came to my senses, I quickly threw on my shoes and dashed out of the house.
It’s not like I had a plan or anything for when I caught up to her. Suzuka would surely come up with an excuse to see Mai’s manuscript, after all, and if Suzuka deemed it necessary, then I don’t have any reason to stop her. But, even if I understood that, my heart was screaming that I had to catch up with her. If I didn’t, I was worried that I’d regret it forever. Of course, I didn’t exactly know why that was.
…Maybe I was feeling responsible. Responsibility — Yes, because I had blurted out those words, I had practically forced Suzuka into a corner. There’s no way I could act like this wasn’t my fault.
“Haah… Haaah…! T-That’s right…!”
A single thought entered my mind. I realized what I should be doing in a situation like this. Of course, it was to find out the true nature of this uncomfortable feeling! Since I was the one who blurted that out, it was my job to tell her exactly what she was lacking. That was my duty as her stand-in… no, as her older brother!
While I was dashing after her, I racked my brain as hard as I possibly could.
What Suzuka’s novel is missing that Mai’s novel has. This weird, uncomfortable feeling. This feeling that something is lacking.
But, as if my efforts were being ridiculed, nothing worthwhile came to mind.
“Shit… What’s up with that?! Why is this…?! Why…?”
But even though it shouldn’t have anything to do with the situation, one question stuck in my mind. I thought that I didn’t have the time to think about it, but the question wouldn’t leave my thoughts.
“Haaah… Haaaah… Now that I think about it, why did Suzuka stop herself from using little sisters in her novel…?”
Although this shouldn’t be of any importance right now, my thoughts continued to drift in that direction.
…I had never really given it any thought, but honestly. It was a new novel. That should have been enough to satisfy me, but there shouldn’t have been any particular reason to prohibit herself from using little sisters. There shouldn’t be any problem with that at all.
—But that’s not important right now. I have to focus on finding out what this ‘something’ is. Even as I tried to collect my thoughts again, this one question wouldn’t disappear. On the contrary, the question only took up more of my mind, and before I had realized it, I had increased my running speed, chasing after Suzuka with all my might. But she never entered my view.
“S-She’s way too fast…! I know that she’s good at this athletic stuff, but— Ah!”
Just then, a familiar back entered my sight.
—It was Suzuka.
She was stuck waiting at a traffic light.
It’s now or never! This is my chance—! I thought as I increased my speed even more.
But next, the traffic light turned green, and Suzuka started running again. She ran through a park near Mai’s mansion, and her back became smaller and smaller. My mind was a complete mess as I ran out of the air that I needed to support bodily functions. But, in a last attempt, I mustered the rest of the energy that I had and screamed after her.
“…Suzuka! Please! Wait!!!”
Thanks to my loud scream that even I was surprised about, I caught up to her in an alley with trees on both sides. Suzuka turned around, and her eyes opened wide when she saw me. And, not wanting to let her escape me again, I grabbed her hand with all of my might.
“O-O-O-O-O-Onii-chan?! S-Suddenly grabbing my hand like that…! N-No, rather than that, what are you doing here?! Did you chase after me?!” Suzuka looked like she really didn’t expect me to catch up to her like that.
But, instead of actually taking a moment to catch my breath, I could only think about one thing.
“Haaah… Haaaaah…! S-Suzuka… why… isn’t your new novel… a little sister one…?”
“E-Ehhh? You chased after me just to ask me something like that?”
“Ehhhh, ahhhhhh, Cough I-It’s very important… Why did you prohibit yourself from using little sisters in your novel…? Haaah… Haaah… There shouldn’t have been any reason for that, right…?” I was gasping for air.
Suzuka was a bit surprised at first, but she soon realized that I was being earnest, and she looked at me with a serious expression.
“There’s no deeper meaning to it.”
But something felt off.
“Haah… If there’s no deeper meaning to it, then writing a little sister novel would’ve been fine, right…? If you did that, you might’ve been possessed and you might’ve written another amazing novel…”
“…I cannot do that.”
“…And I’m asking you why… Do you have some reason for it…?”
Suzuka’s body shrank and she let out an “Uuu…” when I asked her.
…There’s one thing I know for sure. Suzuka is hiding something from me… But what in the world is it…?
But she only responded with silence. A cold breeze blew past us, which made the trees rustle. In the middle of that, I silently waited for Suzuka’s response.
Finally, in the midst of that silence, Suzuka opened her mouth.
“I can’t win against Himuro-san with a little sister novel.”
However, the response that I got was something that I hadn’t imagined.
“Like I said, I can’t win against Himuro-san with a little sister novel! That’s why I decided to not use little sisters in my new novel!”
“W-Wait a second! Why would you—”
“Because I know! I have to win against Himuro-san no matter what! That’s why!” Suzuka was clearly vexed. “Before, didn’t Onii-chan say that I should only write what I really want to write? I want to write a novel that can beat Himuro-san. That’s why I want to write a novel without a little sister. There’s nothing weird about that.”
Truth be told, I was the one who had told her that. It was back when she was trying to force herself to add a new heroine to her novel, and I still think that what I said wasn’t wrong.
But… those words shouldn’t have caused her to make such a troubled expression.
…If you really wanted to write it, then why do you look so hurt now…? You look just like that time when you forced yourself… Why did you have to do it again…? Why did you have to go this far—?
Suddenly, someone’s voice echoed inside my head. At the same time, this unpleasant feeling, this ‘something’, started taking a clear form, and it felt like all the pieces were coming together.
—And I clearly remembered that voice.
—Don’t force out something that you don’t have.
“Eh?! W-What’s wrong, Onii-chan?!”
In that moment, I understood everything. The reason for this unpleasant feeling. The missing ‘something’, and why Suzuka was suffering like this.
…Ahhh, I see. So that’s what it was!
“O-Onii-chan? Are you okay…?”
Thanks to Suzuka’s voice, I came back to my senses. She looked at me, worried, and waited for my response.
—T-That’s right, now that I’ve found out what exactly is off, I have to tell her as fast as possible! If I don’t, things will turn out really badly. If I don’t, she’ll lose against Mai.
That’s what I thought, so I opened my mouth. But, my tongue wouldn’t move. I knew exactly what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t say it. There’s absolutely no reason behind this, is there?!
Cursed with my inability to speak in my mother tongue, I shook my head.
—I know. Rather than logic, I have to give her proof!
“…Suzuka! We’re going home immediately!”
“Eh? W-Wait, Onii-chan?!”
While still holding Suzuka’s hand, I dragged her along with all of my strength. Of course, Suzuka was protesting behind me, but we didn’t have time for that.
After we returned home, we went up the stairs and into my room. And after opening the drawer, I found what I was looking for, and brought it out in front of Suzuka.
“…Haah… Haaah, look at this…!”
“W-What’s up with you! …And what exactly is that?”
What I pulled out was a small box. And inside of it was—
“…Haah, those are all of the novels that I’ve written up until this point. I submitted all of them to light novel contests, and all of them ended in failure.”
“Ehh?! Why are you showing me something like that right now?”
When Suzuka asked that, I took a deep breath and thought of the right words before I continued.
“Every single one of these stories were ones that I wanted to write. …I say that, but these were only ones that I wrote back when I was very productive, or ones that were influenced by novels I had read recently. Of course, they all spectacularly failed.”
“I-I don’t see the reason behind it. Why are you telling me all of this?”
In response to Suzuka’s confused question, I calmly answered.
“I just understood the reason.”
“Yeah. Why I lost the preliminaries, and why they were all no good. Until now, I just thought that it was because of my lack of skill — Well, there’s also that, but — it’s not just that, and I just now understood that there was a reason for that… Or rather, I just realized it.”
“…And what exactly is that reason?”
“It’s true that I wrote exactly what I wanted to read, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to write. It’s as simple as that.”
“It wasn’t what you really wanted to write…?” Suzuka tilted her head in confusion.
“Yeah, the wish to write something isn’t born from a light novel contest, nor is it because you want to win against someone. A real desire to write is born when ‘something’ inside you is gushing forth.”
—Exactly like the feeling that Suzuka had described as ‘being possessed’.
When I told her that, she gulped.
“And the reason that I’m telling you all of this is because I think that this ‘something’ for you is a novel with a little sister character.”
“W-W-W-W-W-W-Why would that…!”
Suzuka’s face turned bright red, and her body started shaking. Explaining my reasoning behind it would of course make me look like a good-for-nothing older brother. But of course, I already was a good-for-nothing older brother, so I didn’t pay that any heed. So I opened my mouth after taking a deep breath.
“…You know, I always thought that you were a genius.”
“But I’ve now realized that that isn’t the case. Of course, I think that you’re a genius when it comes to your own novel. However, you aren’t a genius when it comes to light novels in general.”
“W-What do you mean by that?”
“…Actually, I’ve been feeling awkward around you for a while now. After all, I found out my perfect type of girl thanks to you.”
“A-Ahh, that’s me, right!”
“Just if I’m objectively looking at you without thinking of you as my little sister, okay?! …Anyway, after that, I managed to improve the my portrayal of the heroine in my novels. And just when I thought that I would be able to win the grand prize, I was completely unsure what to actually write.”
“S-Something like that happened?”
“Yeah. But you and Mai changed your novels completely and managed to write interesting novels regardless, you know? So I thought that this might be a wall, a wall that separates you geniuses from normal people like me. That made me feel really unmotivated.”
“So the reason Onii-chan was in a slump was actually me…! W-Why did you never ask me for advice?!”
“Because I was feeling awkward around you! I had this sense of inferiority around you!”
…Ahhh, for crying out loud! What kind of lame confession am I making in front of my little sister…!
“…But, I realized that this wasn’t the case. Of course there’s a wall of skill between us, but I realized that we’re still worrying about the same things.”
“I-I’m not worrying about anything…”
“You were forcing yourself to write something other than a little sister novel, weren’t you?”
When I made that statement, Suzuka opened her mouth like she wanted to respond, but no words came out. She probably wanted to voice a rebuttal with something like “You’re wrong!”, but she couldn’t.
“No, you’re forcing yourself, okay? It’s exactly because you’re forcing yourself to write something that you don’t actually want to write. That’s why it isn’t working out as well as you’d hoped. It’s the same reason why I felt like something was lacking. Since Mai was actually writing something that she wanted to, I didn’t get that feeling from her novel.”
This unpleasant feeling that I’d had the whole time. This ‘something’ that was missing. That wish, the desire to actually write the novel. Without having to think about sales, without having to think about a competition, or anything else. This didn’t have anything to do with talent. It was just the difference in how great your desire was to write a novel.
And since Suzuka didn’t do that, I felt like something was missing. For me, I didn’t know all that time what I actually wanted to write, which was why I was unable to write anything at all. The source of the problem was the same. That was why this uncomfortable feeling was the same for both Suzuka’s novel and for mine.
“That’s why… You just have to write a little sister novel,” I said as I finished my monologue.
Since Suzuka is more clever than me, she surely will understand immediately.
…Or so I thought, but…
“N-No, I can’t do that…”
Instead, Suzuka confidently shook her head.
“W-Why? Was there something wrong about what I just said?”
“T-That’s not it… I can perfectly understand what Onii-chan has been trying to tell me, but… I still can’t…!”
…W-Weird. I didn’t expect Suzuka to act so thick-headedly. Normally, she’s more of the logical type.
Still, at that moment, I remembered. That there was still something else that I hadn’t understood until now.
“…That reminds me. Why are you so sure that you can’t beat Mai with a little sister novel?”
Exactly. She shouldn’t have any reason for that, so why?
“Please tell me, Suzuka. Why is it?”
Because I didn’t give up there, Suzula’s face turned bright red. But she finally raised up her head with a serious expression, probably realizing that she couldn’t keep it hidden any longer.
“B-Because there a limits to how far you can go with a little sister attribute!” She announced that with a lot of force behind her words.
However, I was taken aback by her choice of wording.
“T-That’s right…! A little sister can only stay a little sister, after all…! If there was another girl who appeared on the same place — for example a beautiful classmate or something—! If that happened, the little sister would just be forgotten sooner or later!”
“A-And even if we go to the same school, we’ll be in different years! A little sister can’t become your girlfriend, and we can’t marry! N-No, even if we could, the people around us wouldn’t accept that! Just by hearing that I was your little sister, they would immediately understand that I have no chance whatsoever of becoming more than just siblings with you!”
Suzuka’s shoulders shook as she kept her monologue going. With a red face, and tears in her eyes, she looked at me with a straight gaze.
…I see, so that’s what it was.
—A little sister is the limit — I finally understand her words. I see, that’s why she thought that she couldn’t win against Mai with a little sister novel… Okay…
That’s — totally simple. I understand her problem. And I understand that this isn’t a problem at all. So I flatly rejected her viewpoint.
“W-What is it? Onii-chan has to agree with me, right?”
“No, not in the slightest.”
“It figures! I thought so! Of course it would be—Ehhh?!”
Though Suzuka was nodding at first, she froze up towards the end.
“Alright, I’ll tell you. You have the wrong idea.”
“Exactly. You think that little sister attributes have a limit? Don’t make fun of light novels. There aren’t any limits here! In light novels, you have the freedom to do anything!”
“She would lose her impact when she’s pitted against girls with other attributes? Then you just have to write her even cuter than everybody else! They can’t become lovers or can’t become married? Then just have them marry! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! The people around them won’t accept it? Who cares! Write a persuasive plot, so that even the readers accept it!” I ranted without giving Suzuka any chance to interrupt.
After all, there was nothing wrong with what I just said. It doesn’t matter who you ask, they would say the exact same thing.
“It doesn’t matter if the people around her don’t see the little sister as girlfriend potential! In the end, everything will turn out alright! It’s totally possible! So please don’t say stuff like that!”
Having finished my monologue, I stared straight at Suzuka, whose lips were quivering. And I continued as I lowered my voice.
“…That’s why you just have to write a little sister novel. You just have to write what you really want. In that regard, you are a genius, and there’s no way that you can lose against anyone.”
“There’s no law about how you write light novels. This is a world of unlimited possibilities, after all. Isn’t it the job of a light novel author to open up new possibilities? That’s why you just have to follow your own path — and write whatever you want.”
With that, I stopped my explanation. Suzuka didn’t respond, but only sat frozen on the spot.
After a moment of hesitation, she finally started talking.
“…Maybe I was feeling inferior because of the little sister attribute…”
“There’s no reason for you to feel that way at all.”
“Maybe I thought that being a little sister wasn’t enough.”
“That was just something you assumed on your own.”
“Then can I just keep the little sister in the novel like always?”
“Of course,” I replied with a smile, “After all, little sisters are the best thing ever, you know?”
Of course, there was a difference between little sisters being the best thing ‘For me’ and ‘In light novels’, but that doesn’t change that fact that little sisters are the best!
“Ah, uu…. Auuuu………!!!”
Upon hearing my words, Suzuka’s face went as red as a ripe apple and her body started shaking.
Maybe she’s happy because that burden has been lifted from her heart? …No, maybe she’s just embarrassed because her older brother said something that crazy right in front of her. But she should already know that I love little sisters, so she shouldn’t be so surprised, you know?
“I-Is that so…! That’s right…!” While still slightly shivering, she made fists with her hands.
Since I was still kneeling down, I couldn’t see her expression very clearly, but I wondered if she was really okay. She was red all the way to her neck.
“Being a little sister isn’t a disadvantage at all…! It’s actually an advantage, so I just have to move forward!”
“That’s right. Please continue to write your novels the same as always!”
“…T-That’s right! After all, Onii-chan is a little-sister-lover, so there was no need to feel inferior in the first place…!”
“Ah, no, you don’t really have to say it like that or anything…”
“There was no need to care about the reactions from people around us! I just have to go my own way, and keep moving forward instead of hesitating!”
“W-Well, writing it how you want to is one thing, but as an author, you really should take the advice of your readers to heart, too.”
…Somehow this feels like both of us are talking past each other? Suzuka is talking about light novels, right? …Hahaha, of course she is.
While I was thinking that, Suzuka suddenly raised her head. Her expression was gleeful and her eyes were sparkling, which made me instinctively shrink back in response.
…I’m happy that the heavy atmosphere from before is gone and all, but… somehow this feels very ominous?
“I can finally see it clearly! How idiotic it was for me to not use little sisters in my new novel!”
“I-I see, I’m glad to hear that.”
“I won’t lose my way anymore! Little sisters are perfectly fine! I finally understand!”
“So with that being said, I will immediately start rewriting my new novel! I’ll write it like I always have been! And I will make it lovey-dovey without any restrictions!”
“Restrictions…? What are you talking about?”
“The new novel will be… I know! The theme will be a flirty high school life between siblings! With this, I will surely beat Himuro-san! Ehehehehehe!”
…She beeth not listening, degozaru.
“Thank you very much, Onii-chan! Thanks to you, I’ve finally realized it! It’s perfectly fine to be lovey-dovey as a little sister!”
“Y-Yeah… Inside a light novel, you mean…”
Though I tried to quantify her statement, I wasn’t sure if my words actually reached her. She was too busy saying “Ehehehehehe” over and over.
“Now then, no more lazing around! I’ll start rewriting it immediately! I’m sorry, but could you wait for about an hour?”
Just when I thought that I knew what she was doing, she sat down in front of her laptop and started tapping on the keyboard at lightning speed.
…Uhm, there’s still some time before the deadline, so you don’t have to hurry like that. And you’re going to do it in an hour? You’re going to write something completely new? From scratch? I-I can’t believe it… But, well, seeing as how she finished a volume in an evening, it certainly wasn’t impossible. As always, my little sister is too much of a superhuman…
As I watched that scene unfold, I could only let out a sigh.
“Ehehe, ehehehehe…! Ah, that reminds me.”
In that moment, I was about to leave the room, but Suzuka suddenly stopped me.
“There is something that I want to know, Onii-chan. You said that you were having trouble with your own novel, right?”
“Eh? Ahh, yeah…”
“It’s like you said before… What exactly do you want to write, Onii-chan? Just like my ‘something’ is ‘a little sister character’, what exactly is it for you?”
“Ahh, about that. Though it might make me sound a bit arrogant after all that I’ve said, I actually have no clue whatsoever…”
Actually saying it out loud made me feel like scum, and I lowered my head in shame.
But for some reason, Suzuka’s cheeks slightly flushed, and she said a quiet “I-Is that so,” before she continued.
“I-It’s fine. I’m sure that Onii-chan will surely be able to write something as well… U-Uhm, a story that can perfectly bring out the best in your perfect type of girl.”
She was probably trying to cheer me up with that. But having the person in question bring up my perfect type of girl caused the blood to rush to my head, and I was sure that I must’ve looked as red as a tomato. But that was the same for Suzuka when she realized what she had just said.
I left her room, as flustered as could be.
…But I was really happy that she had tried to cheer me up. And in order to make sure that her words wouldn’t go to waste, I had to find something that I really wanted to write.
“…Alright, let’s give it a shot,” I muttered as I returned to my own room.
A thought popped into my mind. How about I just write my own little sister rom-com? The moment I thought that, however…
“…A-As if I could do something like that…!”
I purged the thought from my mind. And, about an hour later, just like she said she would, Suzuka finished her new novel.
“Onii-chan! Please read it! Hurry, hurry!”
And I could say with confidence that she had written the best novel ever.
I was waiting at the gate of Hakuou while watching the falling sakura blossoms. The sky was bright blue without a single cloud in it, and a soothing breeze was blowing past me.
“This is perfect weather for her graduation, huh…?”
…Right now, Suzuka should be saying her goodbyes to her classmates while giving a speech as the representative of the graduating class, I suppose.
While imagining the figure of my little sister like that, I took out my smartphone and checked a website.
The spring rom-com festival of Sumeragi Publishing:
—According to a reader poll, the winner of the festival was decided to be Towano Chikai-sensei with their novel titled “It’s a given that the little sister and her big brother will marry!” And the first rom-com novel from Enryuu Homura-sensei, titled “I really do like you so I’m giving it my all” came in at a close second! In the end, it was a very difficult battle, but Towano Chikai-sensei emerged victorious! However, it’s amazing to think about that this was actually Enryuu Homura-sensei’s first rom-com—
After reading through the result one more time, I let out a relieved sigh. Although Suzuka’s new novel truly was special, Mai’s wasn’t any less interesting. The poll was neck and neck until the very end.
“…Phew, I’m so glad we won.”
…However, even more than my feeling of happiness, the relief I felt was much stronger. Really, I would’ve believed it if either of them had won.
“Oh, a phone call.”
While I was spacing out, my phone started vibrating, informing me of an incoming call. And the person calling was Shinozaki-san, probably because of the result.
「Hello, Towano-sensei. Though I think that you might’ve already seen the result, I wanted to congratulate you on taking first place at the rom-com festival. Sensei’s novel really was marvelous. Not to mention that Enryuu-sensei’s novel was also wonderful, so you really had a good fight. It really was great publicity.」
“That’s right. It wouldn’t have been weird if I actually lost, either.”
「Fufufu, how modest, Sensei… By the way, do you remember what I said about a new novel series?」
“Of course. I actually wanted to talk to you about that.”
「Oh? Then I’m all ears.」
“As of now, I would like to refuse your offer. I’m a little-sister-novel author, after all. Even if I tried to write a new type of novel, it would only end up as another little-sister novel. So for now I want to focus everything on my current series… I’m sorry.”
That was the conclusion that Suzuka had arrived at. We had expected that Shinozaki-san would call and ask about this, so we had talked about it already.
「I see… Well, if Sensei says so, then I sadly can’t do anything about it. But I kind of knew that you would arrive at this answer for now.」
“Is that so?”
「Yes. Since your entry novel for the festival was also a little-sister one, I just felt like that would be your answer. But it doesn’t matter now. I’ll remind you of this offer at a later point in time. In that case, please focus on your current series with all of your might. I want to make sure that your novel will turn into an object worthy of being a world heritage.」
“Your dreams are going too far…”
It’s really scary that she can say those sorts of things without joking…
「Ohh, that reminds me. From this spring onwards, your little sister will be attending the same school as you, right? I’m assuming that this was all your plan, right? Pulling your little sister there and gathering as much data as possible! Just what you would expect from Towano-sensei!」
“I didn’t force her or anything, you know?! My little sister decided to come to my school on her own!”
「Fu fu fu. Now that she’s a high school girl, there are so many new possibilities!」
“What do you mean by that?!”
「Oh, excuse me. In Towano-sensei’s case it doesn’t really matter, since you’ve been doing all sorts of stuff with her already!」
“Again, what do you mean by ‘all sorts of stuff’?!”
As always, Shinzaki-san let out a merry laugh. But since I couldn’t keep up with her train of thought anymore, I cut the call right there. Really.
Somebody tapped me on the shoulder, and when I turned around, a familiar face greeted me. A face that I didn’t at all expect to meet here.
“……Mai? What are you doing here?”
“Isn’t it obvious? I came to meet you, of course… O-Only because of the rom-com festival, though?!”
“I know, but how did you know that I was here?”
“Today is Suzuka-san’s graduation, right? It’s not hard to deduce that you would also be present.”
“Ahhh, your stalking skills aren’t just for show…”
“D-Don’t call me a stalker! Anyone would be able to figure out something so simple!”
Though she glared at me for a second with red cheeks, she quickly regained her composure and continued.
“…I saw the result.”
“Your novel was amazing. Towano Chikai’s novels really are the best. I almost voted for your novel, you know.”
“Wouldn’t that be a pretty bad thing to do during a competition…?”
“W-What about it?! Since I’m your number one fan, something like that should be expected! Anyway, the result wouldn’t have changed because of one vote!”
She seemed to realize that she was overreacting, and she took a deep breath to calm down.
“…It’s my loss. I admit it. My rom-com really couldn’t win against yours.”
“Your novel was also really amazing, you know. Even though I won, it really was a close match.”
“R-Really? …But in the end, my rom-com lost against your little sister novel…” Mai muttered to herself.
Just when I was about to say that this kind of glum mood didn’t suit her…
“Ahh, for crying out loud! Yuu! You really are a helpless little-sister-lover! You really are lost beyond all chances of rehabilitation!”
Why am I suddenly being dissed like this?! But, well, this is more like Mai… but this isn’t the time to say that!
“And this time around, Suzuka-san is even entering our high school! Are little sisters the only thing you can think about?!”
“Again, she was the one who decided on it!”
“H-Hmph! But, I won’t lose heart just because of that! Someday I’ll write a novel that will make you more excited than any little sister could, and that novel will set you back on the right path!”
While completely ignoring what I was saying, Mai made this bold declaration and pointed at me.
“N-Now listen here… There’s no need to fuss over me like that… you are a super popular light novel author, and you showed plenty of your skill during this festival, so you can stop trying to chase after me now…”
“Huuh?! What are you saying!? You are of the utmost priority!”
“Why is that?!”
She was about to say something, but in the next moment, her face turned red all the way to her ears, and she stopped herself.
“T-That’s because I’m your fan… I’m basically worshipping you… and that’s why I want to write a novel that can make you excited the most… Just get it already, Idiot…” Mai muttered as she looked up at me.
…I wonder; the content of what she’s saying is the same as always, but I felt really embarrassed all of a sudden… And making those eyes at me should be a crime…
Flustered by Mai’s actions, I could only avert my gaze with an “I-I see” as an answer. When I did, Mai responded with a nervous “T-That’s right.”
S-Somehow, I can’t calm down… this mood feels weird.
“A-Anyway! Someday, I’ll cure you of being a siscon, so I hope you’re prepared.”
Just when I thought that she was done, she once more opened her mouth.
“Eh? What do you mean?”
Mai crossed her arms suddenly, as if she were expecting something.
“Like I said… Hurry up and tell me.”
“Tell you what, exactly?”
“The loser has to do anything the winner asks of them, right?! That was our agreement!” Mai suddenly brought up our competition with flushed cheeks.
…Now that she mentions it, there was something like that…
Though I’d never given it much thought anyway, so I didn’t know what to say here.
“J-Just tell me to do anything… Since I was the one who requested it, I’ll do anything you order of me… I-I’ll let you fondle my breasts, a-a-a-and I will show you my panties…! B-B-But anything more than that, and even I won’t…!”
“Wai—?! Wait a second?! What kind of things are you expecting me to say here?!”
What’s with that face?! Why do you look so disappointed?!
“T-Then, what else are you going to order me to do…! Don’t tell me; something even more erotic…?!”
“Where did you get the idea that I would ask you for something erotic?!”
I never once thought about it! Though I fantasized about it for just a small fraction of a second!
“…It’s fine. You don’t have to do anything. Your novel was plenty interesting, and our battle was a close one.”
In the end, I decided to say this. However…
“W-What are you saying! As if I would be satisfied with that! I lost, so give me a proper order!”
“Why is the person receiving the order giving one to me?!”
Ahhh, what a pain! I didn’t think that she’d be this thick-headed! I know that light novels are her life, but does she really have to go this far? What should I do about this? She won’t be satisfied if I ask for something boring. I just have to change the topic!
“T-That aside, your novel was really crazy! Especially — uhm… ah! That kiss scene! That last-ditch surprise attack really had a lot of impact—”
I hurriedly tried to talk my way out of the situation, but that was exactly when it happened.
Suddenly, I felt a soft sensation on my cheek. When I turned that direction, I realized that Mai was suddenly standing next to me. Her face was so red that it looked like it was about to explode.
Ehh…? What just happened? D-Don’t tell me?! T-T-That sensation just now was…!
“Y-You were the one that gave me the order…!” Mai said with a shaky voice.
S-So really, just now… she k-k-k-k-k-kissed me—?!
“Y-You?? W-What are you doing all of sudden…!”
I completely froze, and I could only put my hand on the cheek she had just kissed. A soft feeling still lingered there.
“Like I said! Y-You were the one who gave me the order, so I couldn’t help it…!”
“I-I never said anything about an order…!”
“Y-You said something about a kiss scene, right…?! S-So, you basically ordered me to kiss you…! That’s why I did it…!” Mai glared at me, flustered.
And, hearing that, I could only scream out inside my chest.
…A-As iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiifffffff! What are you thinkiiiiiiiiiiiiiing! I was trying to change the topic, not ask for a kiss! And how would you even begin to have such a crazy misunderstanding!
Mai for her part looked at me in confusion, but…
Apparently, she realized her mistake. It was written all over her face that she was embarrassed enough to die. And, as tears started forming in her eyes…
“T-T-T-That just now was an accident…! Yuu, you idiot——!!!”
Leaving only these words behind, she dashed away at high speed.
“W-What was that, really…?”
I could only watch her as she ran off, until…
When I heard that familiar voice behind my back, a shiver ran down my spine.
“S-S-S-S-Suzuka?! Y-Your ceremony is over already?!”
“C-Could you please explain to me what you just did with Himuro-san…?”
Resistance was futile. Was followed was a harsh questioning.
“N-No that just now was… nothing at all?!”
“W-Why did Himuro-san suddenly k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-ki—!?!”
S-She’s mad at me, there’s no doubt about it. It even seemed like she was close to exploding. The fact that she couldn’t even properly get out the word ‘kiss’ meant that her anger level was maxed… Wait, this isn’t the time to be calmly analyzing that! Of course she’d get mad from seeing her older brother do something like that on the day of her graduation! But it’s not like I’m the one at fault here, though?!
“Y-You’re wrong, Suzuka! That was just…!”
I tried my utmost to explain the situation, but to no avail. At least so I thought.
“Uuu… Just because of that….! Using the situation…! I understand…!”
“Ohhh, so you understand…!”
Suzuka finally stopped to take a deep breath, and it seemed like her anger had disappeared. I let out a relieved sigh. However…
“B-But…! Uhm… Uh…”
For some reason, Suzuka’s face went red, and she started fidgeting.
“T-There is a certain kind of research I would like to do now…”
“…Research? Right here? Why so suddenly?”
“I-I just thought of a good idea… You see, I was so hung up on the new novel that I didn’t have much time to think about my next volume… So that’s why I would like to do some research now…”
“Well, I don’t mind.”
Though I was a bit perplexed as to why we couldn’t just do it on the way home, it was my duty as her stand-in to help her whenever she wanted to do research. And being able to switch the topic away from Mai’s kiss was something that I was very thankful for.
“So, what kind of research do you have in mind?” I asked Suzuka. However,
“T-That’s…! I-It’s the kind of research where Onii-chan has to kiss me…!”
As she suddenly dropped that bombshell, I unconsciously let out a scream.
…Wait, kiss?! Me?! Suzuka?!
“W-W-W-W-Why something like that…!”
“P-P-P-Please calm down! I-I told you, didn’t I?! This is research for my next volume! A-And that isn’t the only reason!” Suzuka said, panicking just as much as I was. “T-This isn’t meant as a competition with Himuro-san or anything…! It’s just… A memory for my graduation!”
“No no no no! A kiss is taking it way too far…!”
“A-Also, Onii-chan was the one who said that it was fine for siblings like us to be lovey-dovey!”
“I was only talking about light novels!”
“A-And also, you just gave that order to Himuro-san out of selfishness, didn’t you?! Without asking me first! That’s why you have to give me a reward!”
What kind of reasoning is that?!
But without listening to me at all, Suzuka just closed her eyes and mouth. With flushed cheeks, she put her face upwards.
…Ahh, for crying out loud! Don’t just make such an obvious kiss-expecting face here! Anyone who saw this would immediately fall for it!
“P-Please hurry up and kiss me! T-This is for my research…!” Suzuka continued to pressure me.
D-Damnit, there’s no other option but to do it…! B-But, where do I even kiss her…? On the lips is definitely impossible. Even just imagining it is the absolute worst. Then how about on the cheek? N-No, that’s also no good for siblings! …S-So the only thing left is…!
“H-Here I go, Suzuka…!”
After making my decision, I slowly approached Suzuka’s face. And, softly brushing away her bangs…
—I softly pressed my lips against her forehead.
“O-On my forehead…?! Funya…”
Suzuka suddenly lost all the strength in her legs, and I hurriedly supported her. The person in question could only let out her usual laugh, and I wondered why she had forced herself so much if she knew that she would end up like that. But no matter what I said, my voice wouldn’t reach her anyway.
“Ehehehehe… D-Did you see that…! I-I won’t lose to anyone… Not even against Himuro-san! Ehehehehehe…”
While holding her back in my arms, I looked up the sky.
…Ahh, to hell with it! It seems like the only thing I could possibly write is a little-sister rom-com! Yeah!