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A lovey-dovey bondage session?!
“…I won’t give up because of this! Even if countless hardships stand in my way, someday, I will make Onii-chan look only at me! A-After all, I love Onii-chan the most in the entire world!!!”
I watched the climax of the story unfold with excitement and tension. Unconsciously, I even made a fist with my hand, leaning forward.
“Onii-chan! Let’s go take a bath together!”
It was the very first important scene, where after being enveloped by jealousy induced because of a misunderstanding, the little sister barges in while her older brother is taking a bath. It was perfectly represented, with both stellar animation and a great job done by voice actors.
“T-This is amazing, Suzuka. Every single aspect of it is of such high quality! There’s no way that this won’t be a godly adaption!”
I shook the shoulders of Suzuka, who was sitting next to me. She didn’t show any interest in responding. But as her number one fan, I was too focused on the anime to pay any attention to her. In the booth across from us, behind a wall of soundproof glass, Minazuki-san had finished the recording. She noticed our gazes upon her as she turned around. And with a bright smile, she made a V sign with her fingers.
It was a few days after Suzuka had brought her friends over. We were on the way to a certain indoor studio in order to watch the recording for Suzuka’s anime. Of course, this anime was none other than the adaption of “The story about a little sister who loves her big brother way too much to cope.” In the fall of last year, planning for the anime had started, and it was decided that the voice recording would start this year in spring.
“Sensei Sensei! How was Sakura’s acting?!”
We were inside the breakroom, and Minazuki-san came running towards us as soon as her job had finished for the day. Just a short while ago, she had won the role for the little sister heroine Yuuka. The happiness she had showed at that time couldn’t be expressed in words, and even now, she looked like she was having the time of her life during recording.
“It was very well done. I’m really glad that I came here to watch.”
“Yaaay! Sakura couldn’t be happier to hear that from Sensei!”
When I responded with my honest feelings, Minazuki-san jumped up and down in joy.
…Minazuki-san really is amazing. Her acting for Yuuka was on point, and I could clearly see why she was such a massively popular voice actress. As for the anime itself, the art style was wonderful, the acting of the other voice actors was also amazing, and when I once more realized just how high the quality of this adaption was…
“Fufufu, like this, Sakura can call Sensei ‘Onii-chan’ as much as she wants!” With a teasing smile, Minazuki-san shoved her face into mine.
“Uuu… Well, that was the promise…” I replied with a bitter smile.
Minazuki-san loves the fictional Yuuka so much that she started seeing herself as her, thinking of me as the older brother, and even started calling me ‘Onii-chan’.
…Well, although I would really like her to not do that so much, she begged me for the right to call me that if she got the role of Yuuka—
…And of course, she got the role.
It feels really weird to be called ‘Onii-chan’ by her, not to mention that Suzuka’s mood seems to get worse every time she does it, but a promise is a promise.
I knew just how hard Minazuki-san worked to arrive at where she was now, and I couldn’t exactly refuse her after seeing her splendid acting. So I had mentally prepared myself ahead of time. However…
“Fufu, Sakura was just joking. She will call Sensei ‘Sensei’ just like always.”
“…Eh? W-Why? You were so adamant about it.”
Minazuki-san startled me when she said that, and I couldn’t hide my surprise.
“Hmm… Sakura still doesn’t believe that she has become Sensei’s little sister. That’s why she will take Yuuka-chan’s role and study even more about what it means to be a little sister. And as for that, she will call Sensei ‘Onii-chan’ when the time comes.”
Hearing her response, I could only let out an uncertain “O-Okay…?” in response.
…I don’t really know what she means by that, but it sounds like something she’d say, anyway…
That being said, her motivation was so strong that I once more felt great respect for what she was doing.
While I was in the middle of being emotionally moved, Minazuki-san suddenly clung to my arm. Her well-endowed breasts were pressing directly against it, and I started panicking from the sudden assault of softness.
“W-What are you doing?!”
“In order to become a real little sister, Sakura wants some direct acting guidance!”
…A-Acting guidance?! What’s that supposed to mean?!
“Since Sensei is the original creator, you have to tell Sakura where her acting is still lacking! For example, in that one hugging scene, Sakura still feels like she’s lacking something. What else should Sakura do at times like these?”
While saying that, she was pressing her weapons of mass destruction against my arm, throwing my mind off-kilter.
“E-E-E-E-E-Even if you ask me that! M-Minazuki-san’s acting was spot-on, so there was nothing I could complain about…!”
“That’s not true! There must be countless things that Sakura was lacking in. Don’t hold back! Please colour Sakura however you see fit! …Ah, but if it’s something perverted, then Sakura doesn’t have any experience either….”
Why would she suddenly arrive at that conclusion?! Uuu… since it’s Minazuki-san, I don’t know if she’s serious of if she’s just teasing me. Whatever it is, I have to do something, fast. If not, I’ll have to face Suzuka’s wrath—
Or at least, that’s what I thought, but…
“…For some reason, Suzuka-chan doesn’t really seem to be into it today.”
With Minazuki-san still clinging to me, I glanced at Suzuka. When I did, I found her just staring up at the sky, spacing out. Normally, she would scold me and say something like “W-What are you doing Onii-chan!” whenever something like this happened.
“Sensei, Sensei, what happened with Suzuka-chan?”
To be honest, that’s what I wanted to know.
…For some reason, Suzuka has been acting really weird these past few days. It’s like she’s constantly spacing out, or she’s always lost in thought… Or I think that she is, but out of the blue, she suddenly glares at me with tears in her eyes. I’m always wondering if I’ve done something, but nothing comes to mind. At first I thought that she was mad because of the incident when her friends came over to play, but she doesn’t look mad at all… Rather, she looks depressed, but when I ask her about it, I get shot down immediately with an “It’s nothing.”
“I even don’t know myself. This is the first time I’ve seen her like this…”
“Hmmm, is she worried about something? Suzuka-chan, Suzuka-chan, what happened?”
Even when Minazuki-san called out to her, there was no response. At first, Minazuki-san stared at Suzuka, confused, but she suddenly started grinning as she turned to look at me.
“Sakura doesn’t know what’s wrong, but this is definitely a chance!”
“…What do you mean by that?”
“Whatever Sakura does to Sensei, Suzuka won’t get mad! So with that being said, Sakura is asking for Sensei’s guidance on love acting!”
“You suddenly became this calculating?!”
“Sakura will do anything in order to become Sensei’s real little sister!”
Saying that with a grin, she hugged me with her entire body.
This is pretty bad, isn’t it?! No matter how much I struggled and complained, she just ignored it with and said “This is for Sakura’s acting after all~”. On the contrary, maybe because she was still tense from the recording session, she was even more energetic and only clung to me even more tightly.
That moment, as if she had finally noticed the rukus that Minazuki-san and I were making, Suzuka looked at us in realization. She followed this up with a sigh and returned to her senses.
“P-P-P-P-P-Please let go of Onii-chan already!”
She suddenly jumped between me and Minazuki-san.
“Kya!” Minazuki-san let out a shriek.
But, judging from her face, you could clearly tell that she was just acting. Suzuka for her part didn’t look like she was acting at all, and spread her arms out while standing in front of me, as if she wanted to protect me.
“W-W-What… are you doing…?!”
Though her actions were the same as always, she seemed different.
…How do I say it? It’s like she’s overreacting, or she’s being oversensitive.
“H-Hey, what’s wrong with you today, Suzuka?” I asked
When I called out to her, Suzuka seemed to have snapped out of it.
“I-I’m sorry. I took it a bit too far…” She said, taking a deep breath.
…But she immediately turned around to glare at me.
“O-Onii-chan, why are you letting her do this to you?” She suddenly asked.
That just now was Minazuki-san acting on her own volition as usual, and even though she should’ve understood that, she still directed her anger at me.
“You know, I tried my best to resist…”
“I-It wasn’t nearly enough! You should at least dislocate your shoulder to escape from her grasp!”
“Do you think I’m a ninja?! As if I could do that!”
“…Ah? D-Don’t tell me, did you enjoy what Minazuki-san did?”
“Wha! Is that so, Sensei!?”
“No, it’s not!!!”
You’ve got the wrong idea! That’s 90% not true! And the other 10% is because I’m a boy, so forgive me for that much!
“W-Wait a moment…? If that’s the case, then does that mean that Sakura-san is Onii-chan’s?!”
…Mhm? W-What? Why are you suddenly glaring at me?
“That’s right! Sakura is Sensei’s future little sister!”
“Again, don’t just bring up more unnecessary information!”
“…I-It seems like I was wrong… Haaaaah~”
And Suzuka for her part was weirdly satisfied… What is this, really…?
“S-Sakura-san, don’t just cling to Onii-chan like that.”
“Ehhh? But Sensei will be Sakura’s future Onii-chan, so isn’t it fine?”
“D-Don’t just say that so lightly! And there won’t be any future like that!”
“Ah, but who will be the older sister then?”
“You’re still talking about that?! And don’t just move the conversation in weird directions! And Sakura is older, so we don’t even have to think about that!”
“Anyways, in order to improve Sakura’s acting, she has to cling to Sensei like that!”
“Are you not listening to me?! And if you really need it, I will give you whatever acting guidance you need! After all, I am Onii-chan’s little sister!”
Somehow, they had started fighting within a matter of seconds…
Trying to avoid becoming a casualty, I escaped their grasp and headed towards the back of the break room, leaving them alone.
“Really…” I gazed at the two of them as I left.
…All this excitement that I had for the anime is completely gone now…
To be honest, there’s something that I’m wondering about. Though Suzuka’s weird attitude is also a concern of mine right now, there’s something even more concerning that I’m constantly wracking my brain about. This was of course the ‘rumour’ that I had heard about from Nikaido-san. The rumour that Suzuka and I had a weird relationship—she said that such a rumour was going around the school. Of course, I knew very well why that rumour had come into existence, but I couldn’t just let it sit like that. As for how to get rid of it, that was what I was trying to figure out this past while.
…But, ahhh for crying out loud, why didn’t I realize it sooner…? I should’ve known that it would come to this. If siblings started acting lovey-dovey at school, it would be natural for other people to get the wrong idea. But we can’t tell them about the research… and they might not believe us even if we did tell them… Ahhh, what should I do?!
I don’t care what people think about me. They can go ahead and bully me or whatever they want. But I don’t want Suzuka to suffer. As her older brother, I would never forgive myself if anything like that happened.
“But… you know.”
I wasn’t able to come up with a strategy, and could only sigh in defeat.
“Oh, what might be wrong, my comrade? Are you not satisfied with the adaptation so far?”
In that moment, someone sat down in the seat in front of me. When I looked up to see who it was, I saw the executive director of the anime, and the older brother of Minazuki-san: Sakurada Itsuki-san.
“Ah, no, that’s not it. On the contrary, the anime has been wonderful so far. I can’t wait to see the finished product.”
When I responded with that, Sakurada-san pushed up his glasses and said “I’m happy to hear that. I’m giving it my best for my comrade’s novel, after all.” He seemed satisfied. “Sakura-tan’s acting was on point, and she was completely engrossed in it. When she said ‘Onii-chan’, I was just…! I have to get a recording of that for myself!”
“What is this executive director even doing?!” I retorted, while Sakurada-san continued speaking like he was in a trance.
“No no, as a fellow older brother, you should understand, right? This feeling of wanting to record everything your cute little sister does or says…! So how about we closely watch our respective little sisters while they’re talking over there!” Sakurada-san said as he took out his smartphone. He began to film Minazuki-san.
…T-This is person is the same as ever. Minazuki-san really has it rough… Really, he’s such a bother. As a totally normal older brother, I cannot understand his feelings at all. Not one bit. Yeah.
“…What’s with that difficult expression on your face?”
Before I had realized it, Sakurada-san was suddenly looking at me with a serious expression.
“Don’t just ‘Eh?’ me. You showed me that expression, so of course I’d ask you about it. If it’s not about the anime, then maybe you’re worried about something else?”
After he said that with such a serious face, I swallowed my words. It’s true that this problem might be too big for me, but I can’t just tell somebody else—
…Wait a second? Asking someone else for advice… I had never thought of doing that. If you can’t come up with an answer on your own, it’s completely rational to ask someone else. But, the people around me who I could ask for advice—Mai, Double Peace-sensei, and Shinozaki-san’s faces suddenly came to mind. But no matter how much I try to reconcile it, I shouldn’t ask them… At least not for this problem.
…But what about Sakurada-san? He also has a little sister, and he’s in the same position as me. Not to mention that he’s fairly close to me age-wise, so he might actually be able to help me…
“Hm? What’s wrong?”
“Ah, well, actually…”
Having thought that far, my mouth just opened on its own and I told him about the problem. After all, I was sick of having to think about everything on my own.
“Hmm… a rumour about you and your little sister at your school…”
“W-Well, we are also to blame for it… But there’s absolutely no truth to this rumour. I don’t really care about myself, but I have to do something for Suzuka…”
After I explained the situation, Sakurada-san was lost in thought with a serious expression on his face.
“I see, I’ve grasped the basic problem behind your worries.”
“Ohh, so you understand!”
Hearing him say this, I really felt relieved.
…H-He might really be able to help me! Though he has his weird points, he still is a grown-up man, after all!
—Or that’s what I thought.
“…W-What’s up with that? I’m so envious!!!”
W-What did he just say?
“You’re going to the same school as your little sister, and a rumour is going around about your relationship with your little sister?! Of course I would be envious about that! …Shit, just what I would expect from the greatest little-sister-lover Towano Chikai…!”
“Ahhh, I also want rumours to spread about me and Sakura-tan…! My respect for you has grown tenfold!”
“N-No, that’s not the problem here…”
“Ohh, right! The part about it that you’re worried about? …Um, you want to know how to make the rumour even more intense?!”
“No! The complete opposite! Did you even listen to me?!”
“There’s absolutely no need for you to ask me for advice! You just have to do it like in your own novel, that’s all! I don’t see any reason to be worried at all!”
“Ah, I see, you didn’t listen at all! For Christ’s sake!”
…What have I been thinking? Asking this person for advice about anything little-sister-related is a total waste of time…!
What a sad reality. I have basically no one who I can ask for advice.
“Oh? Why do you suddenly look so down? Ahh, you don’t have to hold back. As someone who also idolizes his little sister, let’s go down the forbidden path together!”
I didn’t have any energy left to respond to the heated-up Sakurada-san. But, while he was busy patting me on the shoulder with a grin…
“…What are you announcing in such a loud voice?”
Luckily, Sakura-san appeared behind his back, with a dark aura around her. Of course, her expression was that of a forced smile. She was as scary as always.
“Going full idiot-mode in a place like this…!”
“Y-Y-Y-You’re wrong, Sakura-tan! I-I was just saying that for the sake of my comrade here…!”
“Don’t sully Sensei’s name! He actually is a worthy older brother! Will you stop pestering him already?!”
“…What are you doing here with Director-san?”
In the meantime, Suzuka also arrived with an exhausted expression on her face. In response, I could only wordlessly shake my head. I couldn’t tell her, and I didn’t want to tell her either.
In the end, I still didn’t know what to do, and the only thing left to cheer me up was the thought that the anime adaptation was going well so far.
“There’s a lot to consider, I see… T-There’s no deeper meaning to it, but I would like the same phone as Onii-chan. H-He can just teach me if I don’t understand anything that way…”
After leaving the recording studio behind us, we didn’t head home immediately, but took a detour to a smartphone shop. The reason: Suzuka wanted to get a new phone.
Saying that it would be a waste to get rid of a working phone, Suzuka has been using the same old flip phone for years. Lately, though, the battery has been running out too quickly, so I used that opportunity to convince her to get a new one.
That’s why we had taken this detour on the way home, but…
“Onii-chan, are you listening?”
“Eh? Ah, yeah, sorry. What was that?”
While Suzuka was busy looking around the store, all I could think about was the rumour that had been going around the school.
“Really, pull yourself together a bit more, Onii-chan. I just said that I wanted the same model of phone as Onii-chan…!”
“Ahh, that’s right… Let’s see, since mine is already pretty old too, getting the exact same model would be kind of a waste. How about this one? It’s the same make, but it’s got the latest upgrades.”
“I-I see… But that’s pretty expensive. Aside from making calls and writing emails, there’s aren’t many other uses for them, so this older model that’s on sale should suffice.”
“…With your royalties, shouldn’t you be able to afford the latest model without a problem…?”
“I won’t waste any of it.”
Suzuka spat out these words like they were a knife at my neck, and I could only muster a scared “Y-Yes!” in response.
As always, my little sister, who’s responsible for all of our household finances, really pays attention to this sort of thing. While Suzuka went back to checking out the many phones on display, I once more focused my mind on the rumour.
…It doesn’t matter how much I wrack my head about it, I won’t just come up with an ingenious idea out of the blue…
If only I could use that lie that I’d told Nikaido-san about having a girl that I like—or even better, a girlfriend, then I could blow away those rumours with ease. But I don’t have a girlfriend like that, and I don’t think that I could keep up the act, even if I asked someone else for help. I do have Mai as a potential candidate… but considering how air-headed she is, she would probably be found out immediately. And now that I think about it, even if I had a girlfriend, people might call me out and say that I’m cheating on my girlfriend with my little sister. I guess that I have no way of getting rid of this rumour by myself.
While I was starting to fall into despair, I realized something.
…If I can’t make it disappear completely right now, then I can just try to tone down the rumour as best as I can. After all, a rumour only stays active for as long as it’s interesting. If I stop the flow of information and stop adding fuel to the fire, then people will forget about it faster.
“…That’s right, that’s what I have to do.” I nodded to myself when I found my solution.
I just have to get rid of the reason behind the rumour immediately. And speaking of that—
I heard a metallic click in front of me, in response to which I hurriedly glanced up.
“…S-Suzuka? What are you doing?”
What greeted me was the sight of Suzuka holding a smartphone with a flushed face.
“W-What, you ask…? I just took a picture. It’s practice in order to get used to this smartphone.”
A-Ahh, I see… So that’s what it was.
It seems that while I was lost in thought, Suzuka had decided on a phone.
“Don’t scare me like that… And if you’re really going to practice taking photos, wouldn’t there be more photogenic things to take photos of?”
“N-No, I wanted to take a photo of Onii-chan anyway… F-Firstly, to make it my wallpaper..”
“Wallpaper? A picture of me?”
“Ah…! N-No, this is…! That’s right! It’s just for research! The heroine in the novel also wants to get a new smartphone, so that’s why this is perfect!”
…That’s right, she had depicted the heroine as having a similar phone as hers…
“A-Anyways, we’ve finished our business, so let’s go home, Onii-chan!”
Suzuka grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the shop towards our home. As we made our way there, Suzuka continued to make me pose in various locations, making sure to take perfect photos every time. And it wasn’t just that…
“H-Hey, isn’t it fine already?”
“I-I still need more! This is all for my research! Ehehehe…!” Suzuka said as we huddled together for a selfie. She seemed nervous for some reason.
Even when I told her that it should have been more than enough pictures already…
“T-That’s not true. On the contrary, this is far from enough!”
“Far from enough…? You…”
“That’s right…! I’ve been thinking this for a while, but our research has been lacking in general! We have to do even more lovey-dovey research than before!”
“Ehh?! W-Why?! You said that you were making good progress with your next volume, right?”
“That’s… a difference in opinion!”
No no no?! I won’t be satisfied if you just dismiss it like that, you know?!
“U-Uhm, I was thinking a lot… And I realized that I can’t keep going on like this. At this rate, Onii-chan will be taken away from—n-no forget about that! I think that I’m still lacking, and I don’t want to disappoint the readers like this!”
The normally relaxed and cool Suzuka was currently panicking, trying her hardest to force out her words while furiously gesticulating with her hands.
“But, I don’t think that the readers have lost any interest in your novel at all…”
“T-That’s not right! I can feel the impending danger!” screamed Suzuka with flushed cheeks and tears in her eyes.
U-Uh… I don’t really get it, but Suzuka seems to be confident that she’s right. I mean, she is the real Towano Chikai, so she should know it better than anyone. I understand that much, and I can see why she wants to increase the quality of her novel, so I want to help her as much as I can.
…But, you know…
I can’t forget about that rumour. And speaking of said rumour, this is the perfect opportunity for me to bring it up.
“I understand. If that’s the case, then I will help you out as much as I can.”
“Really?!” …T-Thank you very much…! W-We’ve been flirting for so long, but I’m looking forward to it! Ehehehe…!”
“Well, I really wish you’d keep it easy on me in that regard… But, since it’s for your novel, I can’t help it. I’ll prepare myself.”
“I-Is that so! Ehe… Ehehe, ehehehehehe.”
“Concerning the lovey-dovey research at school, I think that we should stop it!”
Onii-chan looked like he had made up his mind, as he made a fist with his hand as he continued.
“The reason why this rumour has been going around school is because we’ve been doing that lovey-dovey researching. If we were to stop that, then that rumour would disappear sooner or later. This is the only choice we have, don’t you think?!”
Though Onii-chan said that with an upbeat tone, I could only stare at him blankly, with all the colour draining from my face.
“…………………………………………………………………Eh?” Unable to process the situation, I could only let out a dumbfounded sound. “Eh… Ehh…? Ehhhhh? S-Stop our research… at school…?”
“It should be fine, right? If it’s outside school, I’ll help you out with whatever research you want.”
N-No, wait… but that’s… He wants us to stop being lovey-dovey at school…? D-Don’t tell me, the person Onii-chan likes is at our school…? And he doesn’t want to be seen being lovey-dovey with me…?!
“W-W-W-W-W-W-What is the meaning of this, Onii-chan?!”
When I finally understood the meaning of Onii-chan’s words, I found myself fiercely hemming him in.
W-What are you saying, Onii-chan?! This research is exactly for the purpose of showing the person that Onii-chan li—is interested in how close we are! At the same time, I can show Onii-chan my charm! Flirting at school is an essential part of the plan, you know! I-I swore to myself that I wouldn’t give up, I swore that I would become even more lovey-dovey with Onii-chan, and now he’s going to deny me that…! As if I could remain calm about this!
“I-I mean, doing this at school would be bad in a lot of ways, right…?”
“How exactly?! It’s a necessary location for our research! Being seen by someone else is exactly what it makes it so special and valuable…!”
“P-Please enact those situations in your imagination. Whatever you say, I cannot allow this rumour to gain any more traction, and I will try my best to stop it from spreading.”
Weirdly enough, even when I brought up my research, Onii-chan remained unmoved, and stayed grounded in his stance.
S-So he really is being influenced by the girl he li—he is interested in…!?! N-No, at times like these, I have to think about this rationally. This is the one time in my life where I have to use every brain cell at my disposal. In order to not lose Onii-chan to another girl, in order to definitively marry Onii-chan in the future, this is my most important battle…!
But in that moment, a certain word that Onii-chan had said struck a nerve.
“…Rumour? What do you mean?”
That’s right, those words felt weirdly out of place for me, and I asked Onii-chan about them.
“Ahh, you might not have realized it yet—well, it’s not like I realized it, either. There’s a weird rumour going around the school. Uhm, it’s about us siblings, you know… having an abnormal relationship…” Onii-chan grimaced with slightly flushed cheeks.
When I heard that, my body started shaking. From happiness, of course.
W-What’s with this rumour…? This is… the best thing ever!!! B-Basically, it looks like Onii-chan and I are going out! We are lovers! A married couple! Soulmates! So that’s how we look to everyone else at school?! I-I had no idea…! Something… Something wonderful like this was happening behind my back…?! Just what I would expect from Onii-chan’s high school! All of the students are excellent!
…Ehehehe, ehehehehehehehehe. What is this? Just because of one rumour, it feels like my plan has suddenly become a great success. If we were to become even more lovey-dovey, we might as well turn this into an established fact…! Ehe, ehehehe, ehehehehehe…!
“We can’t just ignore that rumour, right?”
Though I had entered the world of my fantasies because of my happiness, Onii-chan’s voice called me back to reality.
…T-This isn’t good! This flow of events…!
“Is that so~? I-I don’t really mind it at all~?”
‘Or rather, I’m actually really thankful for it~?’—is something I really would have liked to add, but that would have been too much.
“I mean, your heart’s pretty strong after all, and you might not care about this rumour very much, but…”
“T-That’s exactly right. That’s why there should be no problem at all…!”
“No, I can’t ignore it. I don’t care if I turn out to be wrong about it, but I won’t ignore the fact that you might suffer from this rumour. I cannot allow other students to look at you with weird eyes…!”
‘N-No, that is actually exactly what I am hoping for’—is what I wanted to say in order to convince him, but I can’t. After all, I can clearly see how worried Onii-chan is.
…Ahhh, those serious eyes… I can even see myself reflected in them… I could feel those kind feelings from Onii-chan radiating towards me, and I could feel tears starting to build up in my eyes. Onii-chan was looking straight at me. He looked so unbelievably cool that I felt like falling down to my knees and proposing with “Please marry me!”
…W-What should I do about this? Onii-chan is worried about me, and he wants to stop our research at school just for my sake. However, I cannot allow that to happen. Why did I even transfer schools if not for this? Not to mention that stopping now would give the girl that Onii-chan li—is interested in basically a free pass to get him.
“P-Please understand this, Suzuka. It’s fine. We can do that research outside of school.”
T-This is very bad…! I-I have to find a way to not hurt Onii-chan’s goodwill without stopping that rumour from spreading…! But, is there really any way to do that? No, I just have to figure it out no matter what. Onii-chan’s and my lovey-dovey colored highschool life is on the line here! And even more than that, our glorious future is on the line!
I concentrated like I never had before, and my brain started working at lightning speed. I don’t get this serious even when I’m fantasizing.
And finally, I found it. The perfect plan to achieve the most effective result! Am I a genius or something?!
“I understand, Onii-chan…”
“I-Is that so, you understand… I’m glad.”
After hearing my words, Onii-chan looked relieved from the bottom of his heart. But I wasn’t quite done yet. I confidently continued.
“…Basically, it’s fine as long as people don’t get the wrong idea, right?”
While I was walking towards school the following day, I felt a bit awkward. That reason was of course Suzuka, who was walking next to me. Yesterday when we were talking about the rumour going around school, Suzuka said that the research would no longer come across as suspicious to the other students. Even when I asked what she meant, she just shrugged it off with “You’ll understand tomorrow!” and such, so even when it was the day in question, I had no clue what she was going to do. And, probably because of that, Suzuka was also acting weird. Although she seemed rather excited, she kept her distance from me.
…I don’t think that she’s in a bad mood, but I can’t just ask her outright… Maybe she decided to completely give up on doing research at school?
Now that I think about it, she would always start clinging to my arm by this point, but…
“What’s wrong, Onii-chan?”
Today, she doesn’t look like she’s planning on doing that at all. She was just walking normally next to me.
…This feels a bit lonely… —Wait, what am I thinking?! She’s just doing what I asked her to do! Yeah!
Trying to force those weird thoughts out of my head, I once again directed my thoughts to the rumour. Suzuka’s words from yesterday had left me curious, but I’m glad that I managed to satisfy her at the least.
“Ah, good morning, Suzuka. You’re a bit late today.”
We were now relatively close to the school, and coincidentally, we happened across Nikaido-san. Though she glanced at me for a second, we weren’t doing anything dubious, so she greeted me with a normal “Nagami-senpai too, good morning.”
“Good morning Kaede. Yes, you are right, it took me a bit longer to get out of the house.”
She’s telling the truth. For whatever reason, Suzuka’s preparations this morning had taken more time than usual. This is really weird, since Suzuka isn’t the type to be late.
“Ahh, good morning Kaede and Suzu-chan.”
When the three of us started walking next to each other, we also met up with one more friend of Suzuka’s, Shiina-san.
…Now that I think about it, she calls Suzuka “Suzu-chan.”
She has this grown-up attitude, and you might even think that they’re siblings—is what I was thinking when it happened.
I suddenly felt a soft sensation on my arm, and I turned around to identify the source.
When I did, Suzuka had slightly flushed cheeks with a teasing smile as he clung to my arm, trying to wrap herself around it.
Probably having heard my sudden outburst, Nikaido-san turned around in surprise, while Shiina-san reacted with a calm “What’s wrong?”
In that moment, Suzuka let go of my arm before the other two saw her, and acted like nothing had happened.
“What’s wrong, Nagami-senpai?”
…T-That’s what I want to know?!
When I glanced over at Suzuka, she had a face like nothing had happened. In the meantime, Nikaido-san and Shiina-san only looked at me in confusion before they turned around and resumed walking.
Of course, the very next moment, Suzuka once more clung to my arm.
“…Y-You, what are doing?!” I asked Suzuka in a quiet voice so that the other two couldn’t hear us.
“…O-Of course it’s research. The normal lovey-dovey events… However, we will do it in such a way that nobody will realise it…!”
W-What did you say…?! I thought we were going to stop doing the research at school…?!
While I was lost in confusion, Suzuka suddenly brought her face closer to mine and softly blew into my ear.
I couldn’t hold back that shriek, and in response the other two turned around again. Of course, in the meantime Suzuka had already returned her normal position.
“…What’s wrong with you, Senpai? Why did you suddenly scream like that?”
“Ufufufu, Suzu-chan’s older brother is such a jokester.”
Nikaido-san was making fun of me, and Shiina-san only smiled at me.
…S-Suzuka, you…! Blowing into my ears… what are you thinking?!
After making sure that the other two had turned around once more, Suzuka talked to me in a quiet voice.
“…I-I told you, this is for research. Yesterday, I said that it’s fine if they don’t see us after all…!”
Apparently that action just now was embarrassing even for her, because she averted her eyes and looked down with a red face.
“…So this is…?”
“…T-That’s right. If you’re worried about the rumour, then we just have to do our research when no one can see us…! The name for this research is ‘Hidden lovey-dovey operation’…!”
H-Hidden lovey-dovey operation?!
“…W-With this, we can be lovey-dovey while still being at school, and it feels like a forbidden relationship, so it makes my heart pound faster—no, excuse me…! This is all to achieve a higher quality in my writing…!”
With those words, she wore a triumphant look on her face, her cheeks still red.
…No, but… that’s… Ehh?
I was so troubled by that plan that I didn’t know how to respond at all. But it was even more troublesome since I understood exactly where she was coming from.
…But, is this really possible?!
“W-What are you acting all shocked for? Like this, we can dispel Onii-chan’s worries. And also, I will be able to direct Onii-chan’s attention towards me so that he will eventually forget about the person he li—is interested in…!”
“My attention… to what?”
“Ah?! I-It’s nothing…! A-Anyways, we will do our research like this, so there shouldn’t be any reason for Onii-chan to complain, right?!”
After finishing her statement, Suzuka once more clung to me. Though it might not be much, I could feel her softness on my arm as evidence that she’s grown, making me straighten my back in surprise. I almost let out another shriek, but I barely managed to hold myself back.
…T-That was close…! The other two would have turned around again…! But wait, doesn’t this mean…?
From what I understand, Suzuka plans to do this lovey-dovey stuff whenever nobody is looking at us. And that will surely happen out of the blue like right now. Fair enough. After all, you never know when you will get a chance, and she wouldn’t have the time to tell me “Here we go!” upfront.
…So basically, I will be the victim of spontaneous research, and I have to make sure that I don’t let out a shriek like just now…?!
When I realized that, I hurriedly turned over to look at Suzuka.
However, Suzuka was now completely in research mode, and she just let out a weird laugh, completely ignoring my stare.
Hey! You’re the crucial part of this plan! What are we going to do if you space out?! And, isn’t the hurdle for this research a bit too high?! This research is even more extreme than before, and you think that we would be able to hide this from being seen?!
“I see. Suzuka, what do you think about Kotomi’s story?”
In that moment, Nikaido-san, who was in the middle of talking with Shiina-san, suddenly turned around. In the same second, Suzuka hurriedly separated from me, and I took a step away.
“…You seem to be excited for some reason, Nagami-senpai,” Nikaido-san said, to which I responded with a bitter smile.
…Damn it, that was way too close…!
“Oh? Suzu-chan, your face is a bit red. Are you okay?”
“Y-Yes, everything is okay. Thanks for worrying about me, Kotomi.”
Apparently she couldn’t erase her expression fully in time either.
Are we really going to continue this all the time during school?—I thought, but I realized that Suzuka was glancing at me, letting out a small giggle.
…Uuu… she’s totally going to continue this… Ahh, for crying out loud! I’ll do it, okay?! I’m your stand-in, so I’ll help you as best as I can! And I can achieve that by making sure that no one sees us!
While I was gazing up at the sky in resignation, Nikaido-san glared at me with a suspicious gaze.
…And here we are.
A lot of things happened after that, and I’ll spare you the details, but there’s one thing that I want to make clear.
………I-I’m so tired…!
My only saving grace, and I never thought that I would say this, was class. After all, Suzuka couldn’t do anything during that time. But she more than made up for it during breaks. She would occasionally come over to our classroom, call out for me, and be lovey-dovey…
The contents of said acting were escalating by the second, and instead of hugging my arm, she started hugging me from behind, putting her hands around my neck, or telling me to hug her myself… Trying to hide all of that really was hard. There was one time that I had to hide us hugging by turning my back to the other students.
“…Suzuka having such a small stature is really a saving grace,” I said then, only to be glared at by the person in question. Really, having to be on guard for the stalking Mai and Suzuka’s clingy friends was quite a lot of trouble. Especially since one of them was Nikaido-san…
That’s why I was close to collapsing when it was finally time for lunch break.
…Even if it’s Suzuka-sama we’re talking about, she’ll surely be satisfied with this, right?
“N-Now then, I think we can move on to the next stage.”
Like always, I went to eat lunch together with Suzuka, so I made my way towards the lounge. And the moment I arrived, Suzuka blurted out those words.
“T-The next stage…?”
It sounded really bad already, but I had no other option than to ask her about it.
“I think that we are hiding our lovey-dovey actions—I-I mean, our research pretty skillfully, but there’s another situation I really want to try out.”
“It’s not all that different. It’s more like we’ll act the same, but with an extra condition…!” She said that and started rummaging around inside of her bag.
“T-This is it,” She finally said and stopped rummaging.
While I looked on, she pulled out the object, and it finally entered my line of sight.
“Bfuuuu?!” Upon seeing it, I almost choked.
“W-Why do you have handcuffs with you…?!”
This is the most random item in such a random place! Why… did she bring those to school…?!
“C-Calm down, Onii-chan. This is just a prop for our research.”
What kind of research requires these?!
Seeing my shocked reaction, Suzuka’s face turned red.
“If we put these on, we cannot separate even by force. This means that we can be as close as we want, and we won’t have to hide it in an emergency. So that’s why we’re going to continue our hidden lovey-dovey operation with these.”
“…You’re intentionally raising the bar, you know?”
“T-That’s right. That’s exactly what I’m aiming for. On top of trying not to be seen by anyone else, we have this additional hurdle, which should result in even more lovey-dovey events.”
“You’re not really wrong about that, but why handcuffs…?”
“T-To write an even better novel, I need to get even better data from my research. And in order to achieve that, I will need more realism.”
Hmm… I’m not completely satisfied, but if the real Towano Chikai says so, I can’t argue with her about it. After all, Suzuka continues to make every volume more interesting than the last, so there’s not much I can say…
“…A-Also, since you’ll be at a distance where you want to get away but can’t, Onii-chan will have no other option but to be aware of me…! Just like my head is always full of Onii-chan, Onii-chan’s brain will only be full of me…!”
“Hyaaa?! W-W-W-What is it?!”
“What if, in a one-in-a-million chance, someone were to see us using these handcuffs…?”
“W-We just have to be even more careful! A-And also, we will only be using them during this lunch break, so something this simple shouldn’t be too hard! A-Any more than that, and I wouldn’t be able to bear it either!” Suzuka said. In response, I crossed my arms and started thinking.
…Hm… If it’s just during lunch break, it might work out…?
It won’t be any longer than an hour, and it’ll be over as soon as we’re done eating. And since Suzuka is so serious about this, she probably wouldn’t be satisfied if I simply said no. She’d demand some kind of explanation.
…I guess it can’t be helped. As a fan of her novel, as her stand-in, and as her older brother, I can’t decline my little sister’s wish.
“T-Thank you very much! T-T-T-Then, let’s hurry…!”
When I accepted, Suzuka’s face turned a vivid red, and her hands were shaking furiously as she put the handcuffs around her wrist and mine. With a metallic clack, we were now connected. Having become aware of that fact, embarrassment filled my body, and I could feel my own cheeks getting hotter.
“T-This…! This really feels like we’re doing something that we shouldn’t…!”
“D-D-D-D-Doing something like this with Onii-chan at school…!”
“C-C-C-C-Calm down Suzuka…! We have to hide this..!”
“I—I belong to Onii-chan…! Our destinies are intertwined…!”
“S-Suzuka-san?! Return to your senses! This isn’t the time to space out!”
While I called out to Suzuka, I tried to calm myself down, too.
…This is even worse than I had imagined. We’re siblings, and we’re tying each other up with handcuffs during lunch break. There’s no way we could talk our way out of this if we got caught. At all costs, we definitely have to keep this a secret…!
In order to hide the handcuffs, we brought our bodies as close to each other as possible and put a handkerchief on top of them in case someone suddenly approached.
“…T-This is even more exciting than I thought it would be. W-Well, that’s exactly what makes it so good for research, though… Ehehehehehe…”
Suzuka’s emotional strength really is on a different level than mine. To think that she would be able to keep the research in mind at a time like this…
That being said, I also started to calm down, bit by bit. Hiding it like this should be fine after all.
“But why you even have these handcuffs…?”
“D-Double Peace-san left them at our house. They aren’t mine.”
Well, that’s what I had expected. That girl really loves to bring cosplay costumes and other eroge-related things to our house, after all. Though she always says that she’s just careless, she probably leaves them there on purpose. Though I don’t know why.
“…Haah, well, whatever. Let’s just eat our bento then. It would seem weird if we just sat here.”
Taking out our bentos (which were made by Suzuka, of course), we put them on the table. If we were to just spend our lunch break like this, surely nothing bad would happen. And if I took my time eating, Suzuka wouldn’t think of doing anything bad.
—And just when I went to open the lid of my bento.
“Ahh, it’s Yuu and Suzuka-san. This seat seems to be open, so I’ll be taking it.”
Suddenly, Mai came walking towards us, planted her butt on the seat opposite from mine, and put down a plastic bottle filled with milk tea and a sandwich wrapped in plastic paper from the convenience store on the table. This is how she sometimes eats lunch with me. Normally, like a proper stalker, she would just sit a few seats away from me, constantly staring at me while I was eating lunch. She’s been doing that since our first year, even after Suzuka transferred here, and she hasn’t changed her ways at all.
…No, sometimes I feel like she’s been eating with us more often? Whatever her reason is, I didn’t really have the time to think about it right now.
“…H-Himuro-san, and with timing like this…!” Suzuka muttered.
Yes, just as Suzuka said, Mai couldn’t have had worse timing. If she finds out about the handcuffs, she would without a doubt cause enough trouble to forcefully get us in the worst kind of trouble. We have to keep this a secret from her no matter what…!
“What’s wrong with you two? Are you not going to eat?” Mai asked while unwrapping her sandwich. Both Suzuka and I twitched in shock.
…T-This isn’t good. W-We can’t allow ourselves to act weirdly right now or she’ll get suspicious of us!
“N-No, we were about to start eating,” said Suzuka as she picked up her chopsticks with her right hand.
Seeing that, I also opened the lid of my bento box, and was about to pick up my chopsticks with my free left… hand…?
“Huh? Why do you have the chopsticks in your left hand, Yuu? Your right hand is your dominant one, right?”
Listening to Mai’s statement that only a true stalker could make, I froze up.
…That’s riiiiiiiiight! I totally forgot about thaaaaaaaaaat!!!
Now that my right hand is connected to Suzuka’s left one, I have no other option but to use my left hand!
Suzuka’s expression showed that she had also realized it.
—W-What should we do?! H-How can we cover this up…?!
“Ah, well, that’s… I know! I-I wrote too much on my manuscript, so my hand hurts today…!”
“Ehhh?! I-Isn’t that pretty bad?! Wait, don’t you type your novels up on your PC? Why does only your right hand hurt if you were using a keyboard?”
“T-That’s… I just felt like writing it by hand yesterday! Well~ I was so focused that I finished writing 10.000 pages~! I got pretty bad Tenosynovitis because of it!”
Uuuu… what a bad excuse…!
“I-Is that so? I see, so Towano Chikai writes by hand at times…! Alright, I’ll try that method when I get home today! Though my deadline is pretty close, I’ll consider it part of the challenge!”
But to my surprise, Mai actually believed me like an idiot?! T-There’ve gotta be limits to how air-headed you can be…! But just this once, I’m thankful for it!
“Ah, then, since you’re having trouble eating with your left hand—” Saying that, Mai stole the chopsticks from my hand, and…
“I-I-I-I-I can’t help it, so I’ll be so kind as to feed you myself! H-Here, open wide!”
Picking up a side dish from my lunch, she held out her hand towards me.
“H-H-H-Himuro-san?! W-What are you—?!”
“L-Like I said, I will feed Yuu since he’s having problems with his left hand! Now, open wide!” She urged me again.
Of course, I opened my mouth to decline her offer, but Mai used that opportunity to stuff the food into my mouth.
“Ehehehe~ How is it? Is it delicious?”
Mai looked awfully cute while holding a hand to her slightly flushed cheeks, so I could only nod in silence… I think that my face also turned a bit red.
In that moment, I felt a sharp pain on my thigh, and when I looked over at the most likely source, Suzuka was glaring at me.
“Y-You seem to be quite happy, even though this is supposed to be research, Onii-chan…!”
“N-No, it’s not like that, but…!”
“Himuro-san, I’m sorry, but as his little sister, I will be the one to take up that duty!”
Suzuka used her own chopsticks to pick up some food, and pushed it towards my mouth, but…
“…W-Wait! If you do that, it really will look like we’re lovey-dovey! Wouldn’t that completely defeat the purpose of this…?!”
“Ah?! B-But, allowing Himuro-san to be lovey-dovey instead is also…!”
“…I-I know! Ahh, Mai, uhm, I’m happy that you want to help me, but I don’t want to bother you, so I’ll try to eat with my left hand.”
“Eh? I-It’s not like you have to hold back or anything, you know? I-I’m your number one fan after all, right?! S-Something like this should be totally normal, right?!”
“N-No, this is just the result of me overdoing it. It’s also important data for me to do experience this for myself.”
I really had no idea what sort of nonsense I was saying, but Mai seemed to be satisfied. She replied with “If that’s Towano Chikai’s way of doing it, then I can’t help it,” and returned my chopsticks.
…She really is a good girl. If only she weren’t a stalker…
“O-Onii-chan, is it really fine for you to eat without any help?”
While Suzuka said that with an apologetic tone, I started eating my lunch. And, just when I thought that we had averted the crisis…
Mai had just opened her bottle, but she lost grip on the lid, and it fell to the ground. It rolled across the ground away from Mai and stopped behind my back.
“Sorry Yuu, but can you pick that up for me?”
Having no other choice, I stretched out my hand towards the lid, but…
That moment that sound rang out, my body stopped moving.
“Hm? What was that sound? It looked like Suzuka-san’s body moved for a second?”
…N-Now I’ve done it… I moved without thinking…!
Still with my hand stretched out, I froze up. But it was already too late. If I were to return back to my original position now, Mai would definitely think that something’s up.
“What’s wrong, Yuu? You froze up in a weird position.”
…I-I don’t have the time to space out like this…!
At a loss for what I should do, I helplessly looked at Suzuka. When I did, Suzuka seemed to understand my nonverbal communication, and she returned a slight nod.
“Huh? Why is Suzuka-san suddenly sitting on Yuu’s seat?”
“T-There’s no deeper meaning to it! I just wanted to change seats that’s all…! Isn’t that right, Onii-chan?!”
“Y-Yeah. I also felt that way!”
In order to give me more space to work with, Suzuka took a seat on the chair that I had been occupying a second ago.
But even so, I couldn’t quite reach it. Even though it was just a bit…! Come on, sudden growth spurt of my arms, don’t fail me now…!
“…Suzuka-san, why is your body leaning sideways like that?”
“I-I just felt like stretching for a bit!”
Apparently Suzuka was trying to give me those few extra centimeters I need in order to reach the lid.
But, because I suddenly straightened my posture back to normal—
Losing her balance while also being pulled by my arm, I could see Suzuka falling towards me.
Though I tried my best to support her body, we both fell into the floor. Thankfully I managed to catch Suzuka with my arms, so she didn’t hit the floor as hard as I did.
“H-Hey, are you two okay?!”
Mai jumped up in surprise and came towards us.
Yeah, we’re okay—is what I was about to answer when I realized.
…T-This isn’t good! She’ll be able to see the handcuffs…!
Though I tried to move my right hand, it wouldn’t move at all. I glanced down to look, and my right hand and Suzuka’s left hand were both hidden between our bodies, luckily hidden from view from everyone around us.
…T-Thank God. Suzuka probably took that position in the heat of the moment.
Realizing that we had narrowly averted such grave danger, I let out a sigh of relief. And finally, I realized that my right hand was holding onto something soft and spongy.
…Hmm? What’s this? My right hand should be between our bodies—
In the next moment, I heard Suzuka’s teary voice, which sent a shiver down my spine. When I looked down, I saw Suzuka glaring at me with tears in her eyes and with her face as red a cherry.
…Wait? Don’t tell me, this soft feeling is… her breast?
Suzuka tried her best to hold back a scream, and I was assaulted with feelings of both guilt and embarrassment.
“Kyaa?! W-What are you doing, Yuu?!”
Trying to hide my shame, I quickly helped Suzuka get up and hurriedly grabbed the bento boxes.
“W-W-W-We’ll be excusing ourselves!”
Saying that, we ran away from that place, leaving Mai behind.
“…Haaah… Haaah… that was horrible…”
After reaching a place inside the school building without any people around, I put my hands on my thighs, taking deep breaths.
“M-My breast… was touched… by Onii-chan…! Uuuu…!”
Suzuka slid down to the floor while resting her back on the wall. Of course, those accursed handcuffs were still connecting both of our hands.
“Sorry Suzuka… I-I didn’t do that on purpose…!”
“I-I know! That was an accident we couldn’t avoid, and I know, but…!”
Yes, logical thinking doesn’t matter here. The fact that I groped my little sister’s chest doesn’t change.
Ahhh, shit… I want to die right now…!
“Anyway, I’m sorry!”
“P-Please don’t apologize any more…! It makes me remember what just happened…!”
Because of my words, a wave of red washed over Suzuka’s face.
“L-Let’s just forget about it…! That was just an accident, so we both should forget about it…!”
“You’re right!” “Yes, I’m right!” The both of us exchanged these words with red faces.
And, after taking some deep breaths, I finally felt myself calming down.
“Haaah… even if this is research, handcuffs are a bit over-the-top, you know?”
When I lifted my right hand a little, the handcuffs made a metallic sound.
“T-That’s right… Though it certainly isn’t bad as far as research is concerned, the impact is stronger than I had anticipated. It would probably be best to halt this research.”
Weirdly enough, Suzuka also agreed with me.
…Well, I can’t blame her after what just happened… But let’s not think about that anymore. “We’ll do this research at home then,” she whispered at the end of that.
“A-And also… Um… there is another big problem right now…”
While I was thinking that, Suzuka started fidgeting.
“What big problem?”
“U-Um… like I said…! T-The bathroom…!”
…………Ah. I-I see, so she was fidgeting because of that… T-That really is a big problem!
“T-Then, hurry up and go. I’ll take off the handcuffs, so give me the keys.”
“Y-Yes, they are right—”
Suzuka put a hand into her bag.
“Oh, Suzuka and Nagami-senpai? What are you doing in a place like this?”
A voice suddenly called out to us, and we both twitched in surprise. Because of this, Suzuka’s hand hit my own—
And just like that, the key to the handcuffs gracefully flew out of the window and down into the flowerbed below.
“Ah! What’s wrong?”
Of course, both of us were leaning out the window, watching this unfortunate event happen, but those words called us back to reality. Of course, we quickly hid the handcuffs behind our backs.
“Kaede and Kotomi?! W-What are you doing in a place like this?!”
Standing there were Nikaido-san and Shiina-san. Both of them looked surprised and were staring at Suzuka.
“We were just heading to the clubroom building.”
…Oh, right, I totally forgot about that.
“So what about Suzu-chan and Onii-san? You look like you’re panicking about something.”
“N-No?! T-T-T-T-That certainly isn’t the case?! R-Right, Onii-chan?!”
“Y-Yeah, you’re right. W-We were just strolling around a bit?!”
“…You’re spending lunch break together and not doing anything special at all?” Nikaido-san looked at me with eyes full of disbelief.
“W-We were talking about what we should make for dinner today. S-Since there are a lot of things that Onii-chan likes and dislikes, I have to ask him beforehand if he is okay with it! Right, Onii-chan?”
“Y-Yeah. I know~ I’m really sorry for bothering you this much~”
Though my acting was awful, I had no other choice but to play along with Suzuka. By the way, I’m not really that picky about food, since Suzuka had always told me that I should eat everything on my plate.
“Fufufufu, you two really are close.”
Though Shiina-san giggled with one hand on her cheek, Nikaido-san only continued to glare at me.
“R-Rather than that,” I said, “don’t you two have a meeting or something like that? Shouldn’t you hurry to that? Lunch break is going to end pretty soon.”
“Ah, that’s right. Come on, let’s go, Kaede.”
Like that, we had managed to get ourselves out of yet another predicament. Somehow. Though Nikaido-san continued to glare at me with a suspicious gaze, I didn’t have the leisure to care about that. When both of them rounded a corner and disappeared completely, both Suzuka and I let out a sigh of relief.
“…Wait, this isn’t the time to be relaxing like this!”
“T-That’s right! We have to hurry up and get the key to the handcuffs…!”
Both of us quickly got up and started running towards the flower bed. We ran down the stairs, through a hallway with no one around, and after making sure that nobody was looking, we started searching through the flowerbed for the key.
“Ahhh! Where did it go?!”
“Uuuu… W-We have to hurry…!”
However, we couldn’t find it. The only things that we could find were flowers of various colours.
And in the meantime, Suzuka’s fidgeting grew more intense. She seemed to be close to her limit, and tears were starting to form in the corners of her eyes.
“I-If it’s come to this, it might be better to… uhm… finish your toilet business first…”
“B-But my hands are still connected to Onii-chan’s…!”
Yes, that’s exactly the problem right now. Now that we’re connected by these handcuffs, we can’t separate far enough for her to be able to calmly finish her business. Not to mention that I can’t force Suzuka into the men’s toilet. If, in a one-in-a-million chance, a boy came by and saw Suzuka, I don’t even know what would happen. The only thing I knew for sure was that I couldn’t allow Suzuka’s image to be sullied in any way.
Then… what about somewhere in the shadows, in the grass where no one can see her…?
“I-I would rather bite my tongue and die…!”
—Suzuka replied after I made such a suggestion, glaring at me with tears in her eyes.
…Well, that makes sense, I guess. And there’s no way that I could actually force Suzka to do something like that… So, the only option left is…!
We were wrapped in an awkward silence. Of course, we both knew the only option left.
That being said, we couldn’t keep quiet forever, so I decided to take one for team.
However, maybe sensing what I was about to say, Suzuka opened her mouth.
“I-I have the request of a lifetime…!”
“Well, I knew that it would come to this…!”
“No matter what, don’t ever look inside, okay…?! A-And, until I say that it’s okay, you have to completely cover your ears…!”
That must have been the fifth time she had said that as her bright red face peeked through the opened door. I only gave a half-assed “I know…”, as I pushed some paper into my ears, cutting off the sound as best as I could.
—And I don’t think that there’s any need to explain where our current location was.
…It was the girl’s toilet… And I was crouching in front of it. Ahhh, I want to die…! What was I doing here…? No, you don’t need to yell at me. I know. We couldn’t get the handcuffs off, and since that she couldn’t hold it in anymore, we only had this option left… But this is way too harsh!
The chain on the handcuffs was way too short, so I basically had to push my arm into the stall. There was no chance of hiding quickly enough if anyone were to enter. I really felt like a total pervert.
…Well, we really didn’t have any other way, so there’s no use grumbling about it.
So, as her older brother, I swallowed my almost nonexistent pride, all for Suzuka’s sake.
And I don’t regret that decision.
…But things still are tough…
Since I couldn’t do anything in this situation, I decided to keep wary and watch the entrance of the toilet, standing by in case anyone were to enter. Luckily, we were pretty far from the classrooms, and only the chemistry preparation room and materials room were close to here, so the chance that anyone besides Suzuka would use this toilet was rather slim.
…Still, whatever the odds of it happening, in the worst case scenario my life would be over the instant anyone were to come in here.
That’s why I had no other chance but to pray that Suzuka finishes her business as fast as she could.
Then, I heard a certain sound.
…I have earplugs in, but this sounds like… water? Wait wait wait wait?! D-D-D-D-Don’t tell me that’s…?! …Yeah, it could only be one thing in this situation. There’s no mistake, this is—
I somehow managed to hold back my voice from leaking out.
…W-What the hell am I imagining?! I thought that you wanted to protect Suzuka’s dignity, so what the hell was that abouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutttttt?!
I tightly shut my eyes, and tried my hardest to focus my thoughts on something else.
Isn’t there something?! Anything?! …I know! Let’s think about the chants from SukaMaga! Remember them!
“ …… ‘Purple lighting that pierces the darkness… Punish those who have stained the heavens! [Judgement Thunder]!’ … ‘You, who shall not walk on the heathens, return to nothingness! [Banish Death]!’ … ‘The one who banishes logic and reason, fall into the sky! [Gravity Lapse]!’……”
Trying my best to focus on my own thoughts, I recited quotes that I liked from SukaMaga. While trying to drown out that water sound, I also muttered them out loud. And just when I had finally run out of material to quote…
I raised my head and looked towards the sink. Drops of water were falling from the faucet…
“So that’s what it was!”
Having found the source of the sound, I subconsciously spoke out loud.
And suddenly, I felt something tap my shoulder. I felt my heart stop.
“…O-Onii-chan, calm down. It’s me, Suzuka.”
However, when I turned around, I saw Suzuka. Apparently she had finished her business, and had left the stall without me realizing it.
“…It’s you…! Thank God…! In a lot of ways…!”
“…I-I troubled you so much with this…! I’m so sorry…!”
“Ahhh, it’s fine, it’s fine… Let’s just hurry up and leave, and search for the keys again… Lunch break will be over soon,” I said, as I pulled the makeshift tissue earplugs out of my ears.
Suzuka nodded in response, and we were about to step out of the bathroom when it happened.
“…You’re right~” “I know, right?”
Both of us froze.
…D-Did I just hear voices? Two girls… and it sounds like they’re coming closer…?!
It seemed that my ears hadn’t failed me, because Suzuka was also starting to panic. She suddenly grabbed my hand tightly, and I felt the sweat on her hand.
“…Having to clean up the materials room, huh?” “Right~? What bad luck.”
This time I heard them clearly! And they’re definitely coming this way! …T-This is bad! Their destination surely is the girls toilet! They’re about to come in, aren’t they?! I-I have to hide somewhere!
Well, in this situation, there’s actually only one place to hide, but since this was a rather unimaginable predicament for a boy like me, I hesitated.
But Suzuka reacted faster than me. She pushed me into the stall and locked the door. At the same time, the girls entered.
“Pssst… Stay quiet, please!”
Inside the small stall, Suzuka and I were looking at each other, with our bodies as close as they could get. With a red face, Suzuka put her hand over my mouth, and I could only nod in response.
…Uwaaaa! I’m being forcefully kept quiet like this in a girl’s bathroom stall by my little sister. What kind of pervert am I…?!
T-This is where Suzuka just—I forcefully stopped my thoughts mid-way. And this shouldn’t be anything weird, since Suzuka and I live under the same roof, but I still couldn’t help but be conscious of it.
“Huh? What was that sound?” “It seems like someone was in here already.”
From across the door, I could hear the girls holding a conversation about toilet ghosts or whatever, but I didn’t bother paying any attention.
…Ahhh, will you hurry up and leave already…! T-This is bad in a lot of ways…! I-In a whole lot of ways! I won’t be able to stand this situation for much longer…!
Apparently, it wasn’t just me who felt that way, since Suzuka’s face right in front of me was so red that it was close to exploding. Tears were starting to form in her eyes… P-Please put up with it for just a little longer, Suzuka…!
Finally, after a few minutes—which felt like a whole hour—the girls finally left, and we safely managed to escape.
“P-P-P-P-Please forget about that…! Or rather, erase it from your memories…! I-I will have to remember it though for my research…!” Suzuka said with a shaking voice while hurrying down the hallway. Just as she had said, I decided to lock those memories away in a folder labelled ‘Dark past’, and vowed to never look through them again.
…Really, I don’t want to remember that again.
By the way, immediately after that, we found the keys to the handcuffs. They were sitting out in a really obvious open patch of the flower bed. Humans really fail at the most basic of things when they’re under pressure.
“…I-I’m so tired…”
All of the classes for the day had ended, and I had just gotten out of the last period, homeroom. I rested my head on my desk.
…What a horrible day, really…
“Why are you so tired? Is it because you didn’t eat anything during lunch?” While saying this, Mai came over to me, but I didn’t feel like responding to her in the slightest. “W-Well, you have to take care of your body, okay? I’m gonna go ahead, since my deadline is right around the corner. I’ll have you help me with my research next time, okay?”
After making her selfish demands, Mai left the classroom. I sighed, lifted up my tired body, and stepped out of the classroom as well.
When I did, I encountered Suzuka. It seems she came here to meet me.
“I’m sorry, but can you go home alone for today?” She asked.
“You came all the way here just to tell me that? An email would’ve been enough… Well, I have work today, so I don’t mind. Are you taking a detour somewhere?”
“No, that’s not it. I’m going to watch the theater club.”
“Yes, actually, Kotomi is a member of the theater club, so she asked me if I wanted to come watch her.”
“Ohh, I see. Do you have any interest in that?”
“No, not necessarily—rather I’m interested in the costumes. Especially the ones made for men.”
“…F-For men…? D-Don’t tell me; you have that kind of hobby…?”
“Wha—?! Y-You’re wrong! It’s not that! It’s just for my research!”
“Research?” I asked, and Suzuka continued.
“Since we’re not allowed to openly flirt with each other, I thought that I could wear male clothes! That way, even if we were spotted, they wouldn’t realize that it’s me! It’s perfect!”
“You really don’t care what other people think about me, do you?!”
You’re saying that it would be fine if other students saw me being lovey-dovey with another dude?! Are you a demon?! I would take a lot of mental damage from that!
“A-Anyway, I might come up with a new idea for my research, so I’m going to go check out the theater club! I’ll be back before curfew!” Leaving those words behind, she turned on her heels and walked away.
…A new idea for her research, huh…? She’s still going even after all that happened during lunch break…? My little sister really is a tough one.
“Well, whatever. It’s fine for her to spend the afternoon with her friends.”
Saying that like I actually had friends of my own, I went on my way alone, which hadn’t been the case for quite a long time. But the moment I stepped out of the school building, someone called out to me.
“Nagami-senpai! Can I spare a bit of your time?”
It was Nikaido-san. As always, she had a rather dignified posture, and she looked straight at me.
…W-What is it?
Since I didn’t have any reason to decline, I nodded in response and followed her to the back side of the school building.
…W-Why is she leading me to a place where no one can see us…?
“If I may be blunt, I have something that I want to talk about.”
“W-What might that be?”
When I unconsciously responded in formal language…
“…Nagami-senpai, there really isn’t anything impure going on between you and Suzuka, is there?”
She asked me the same question as before.
“I told you that it’s not like that. I said that I had a person I like, which was why I would never lay a finger on my little sister. You were satisfied with that the other day.”
“…It’s true that I was satisfied at first, but my doubts haven’t disappeared.”
“W-What kind of basis do you have for accusing me?”
…That’s like completely subjective, though!
“Though I have no proof for it, I grew up by following the way of the sword, so I have a sort of sense for those sorts of presences. But it’s not just that. You two were definitely acting suspicious on the way to school this morning and during lunch break.”
Ugh… I can’t deny that… We were definitely acting weird.
“And also, when Suzuka is close to Nagami-senpai, she seems almost like a different person. Normally, she looks like a prideful knight to me, but when she’s around you, it looks like she can’t calm down for some reason.”
“Uhm… well, how do I put it… We’re family, so she lets down her guard around me? Isn’t that something normal? And why are you even doubting me this much without any proof?”
“…That’s right. What piqued my interest the most was that I heard that Nagami-senpai was an otaku.”
Otaku…? Didn’t she bring that up before as well…?
“Uhm, I don’t really understand every single detail, but is there something wrong with being an otaku?”
“Otakus have the tendency to get lost in their indecent desires… A-And I’ve heard that they often fantasize about their little sisters. That’s why I think that my doubt is reasonable.”
“E-Eh? No…? What in the world do you think otaku culture is about?”
“……Wicked things. Suspicious, indecent things. Harmful… things…”
Though I was a bit irritated by her speaking ill about something that I had devoted my life to, namely writing light novels, this wasn’t the time to get angry at her.
…So because she has the wrong image of otakus, she projected that image onto me?
“Now listen, otakus aren’t the monsters that you make them out to be. That’s nothing more than personal bias.”
“…However, that is my cognition. And that will not sway,” Nikaido-san said. She showed me a bitter expression for some reason.
But, when I was about to respond and try to convince her otherwise…
“I will take my leave here for today. Just know that I am worried about Suzuka because I am her friend. And I would like Nagami-senpai to help alleviate those fears.”
Without showing any signs of stopping, Nikaido-san just left me behind, saying “If you would excuse me,” as she walked away.
“…What’s up with that?”
After she left me alone, I wracked my brain on what to do. Seeing Nikaido-san worry for Suzuka’s sake makes me really happy, of course, but I want her doubts to be cleared up as soon as possible. However, her doubts are apparently connected to me being an otaku, so I have no idea how to achieve that. Maybe I should get even closer to Suzuka? Or maybe I should show Nikaido-san that I’m not actually an otaku at all?
“No, that’s probably impossible. It’s true after all.”
…I mean, I could just ignore her. She’s just doubting us due to silly reasons.
“But I don’t want her friendship with Suzuka to suffer as a result of it…”
…And also, that rumour still remains a problem. Even if we keep up our hidden flirting research, it’s of no use if Nikaido-san, a person close to Suzuka, still doubts us. As long as there’s anything still smouldering, this fire will never go out.
“Still… how can I clear up this misunderstanding?”
No matter how hard I pondered this question, I couldn’t come up with an answer. I decided to leave and head to my part-time job.
“Nnn~? Nagamin doesn’t seem so energetic today~”
Esaka-san greeted me with her usual lax attitude, but since I was still distracted by the incident with Nikaido-san, I didn’t pay much attention to her.
“…What can be done to clear up a bias against otaku culture…?”
Even while sitting at the register, I had my arms crossed, and was deep in thought.
It happened while I was spacing out.
“U-Um, this please…”
A book suddenly appeared in front of me, and I realized that a customer was standing in front of me.
…Oh, oops. I shouldn’t trouble the shop with my attitude…!
Thinking that, I raised my head.
But in that moment, my eyes opened wide.
“Eh? Ah, Nagami-senpai?!”
After all, the person standing there was Nikaido-san, and when she realized that it was me, she dropped the book on the table out of shock.
And when I saw the cover of that book, all the words that I wanted to say were immediately taken from me.
T-This is— the sixth volume of Enryuu Homura-sensei’s “Sky Magicka Guardian?!”
“Ah, t-t-t-t-t-this is not what you think…!”
Though Nikaido-san hurriedly tried to hide the book, it was already too late. When I looked up at her, she had tears in her eyes, and all her prior dignity had vanished from her bright-red face.