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Missionary activities to build friendship
It was an emergency, in a lot of ways.
“Uuu… I can’t keep living like this…”
I was in the back storage room of the Maruneko bookstore, along with a clearly depressed Nikaido-san. In case you’re wondering exactly why she was feeling depressed, then I should mention that it was due to the incident earlier.
Encountering Nikaido-san at my workplace—was not the problem here. Our school Nanamisaka is pretty close to here after all, and I’ve seen countless other students here from time to time.
…The problem was the book that she was about to buy. Namely, it was a light novel. That was precisely what had surprised me so much. Judging by her reaction and her current mood, it appears that it was an even bigger shock for her to have met me here. Not to mention that she had just ranted to me about how much she hated otaku culture, and now she had found the person who she had ranted to behind the register.
Shortly after, her face turned from a bright red to a pale white, and her face showed an expression of despair as she kept mumbling to herself. She then politely sat down. Glaring at me with tears in her eyes, she demanded, “Forget about this!”.
Esaka-san started teasing us, saying “Ahh, is this a love triangle that I smell, Nagamin~?” In order to escape from her, I pulled Nikaido-san out here.
“………Uuu.” Nikaido-san held her head in her hands, wailing in despair.
But, we couldn’t stay like this forever. I softly called out to her, trying not to shock her too much.
However, her body twitched in response and she lifted her head with a scared expression on her face.
“I-I know… Having that side of me exposed, I cannot keep on living…! Instead, I will cut my belly open in shame! Can I ask Nagami-senpai to help with my beheading…?”
With some strange sort of light glinting in her eyes, she looked at me and blurted out those words.
“C-Calm down, will you?! I don’t know what kind of misunderstanding you’re having here, but I just want to talk to you for now—”
“…Hah?! S-Senpai, you’re planning on embarrassing me even further?!”
“N-No, I’m sure…! You’re the person who even sank his poisonous fangs into Suzuka…! Before I’m finally allowed to die, I’m sure that Senpai will sully me…!”
“No, uhm, can we—?”
“Uuuuu… I don’t have any experience… So, what are you going to do to me…?! You’re definitely going to use my body however you want until you’re satisfied…!”
“Again, what the hell are you talking about?!”
“Every single part of my body will be made into a toy for Senpai to use…! My pride and dignity will be stolen, and I will be kept as a pet for him to use whenever he wants…! Ahhh, what humiliation…!”
“I’m begging you, please listen to me…!?”
“H-However, I won’t give you my soul, even if you ravish my body…!”
“Uwaaaa?! Don’t start crying?!”
“…Kuu, but for how long can I keep up this resistance…?! No, maybe I am nothing more than an appetizer for Senpai…?! And eventually, my soul will be broken, and I will have been conquered as a slave completely…!”
“…Aren’t you getting a bit too excited by this? And that look you were having just now was just my imagination, right?! You groaning with a red face and having drool dripping off your lips was just my imagination, right?!”
“D-Don’t try to cover it up! I am nothing but a swordsman! I have the resolve I need! So, I will resist, as long as there’s the smallest spark of strength remaining within me!”
“Resist against what?! I really don’t understand what you think is going to happen to you, you know?!”
“Y-You’re trying to avoid the topic?! You pulled me here to this place for that, didn’t you?!”
“Uwaaa~, is that so, Nagamin~? Don’t use our shop for any crimes like that, will you? Really~”
“And I thought I told you to watch the register, Esaka-san?!”
When Esaka-san suddenly pushed her head through the open door, I forcefully pushed her back in and once more focused my attention on Nikaido-san.
…W-Why am I always treated like the bad guy… And what is even going on with her? She looked like a dignified girl when she had confronted me, but now she seems like a total super-masochist, you know?!
“…W-Well, whatever. Anyway…!”
“So you’re finally going to start…! My training…!”
“No! ….Ahhh, I can’t get through to her at all… I’m talking about this!” Completely fed up with her inability to listen, I thrust a certain book into her face.
Of course, it was the sixth volume of SukaMaga that she had wanted to buy. The moment she saw it, her strangely expectant attitude (again, I have no idea what she could be expecting here) changed into a more serious expression.
Now, she almost looked to be in pain as she averted her eyes.
…It seems like we can finally have a normal conversation.
“This is indeed the book you brought to the register, right?”
Though Nikaido-san didn’t answer, I continued.
“Just a heads-up, I’m in no position to judge you for the books you buy… But given what you said earlier about otaku culture, I would really like an explanation.”
“This is a light novel. And I think that you can safely say that this series is one of many such novels to be found in otaku culture. So my question is: Why did someone like you, who spoke so poorly of otaku culture, want to buy something like this? Could you tell me the reason?”
I finished my question, awaiting Nikaido-san’s response.
Nikaido-san just continued to wordlessly gaze at the light novel in my hand.
She finally slumped in defeat, and looked at me with an expression as if she had given up on life.
“The reason is simple. It’s because I wanted to read this no matter what. After finishing the fifth volume, I just had to see how it continued…”
“Eh? The fifth volume, you say…”
“Yes. I’ve been reading that series since the first volume… And this is the only one of these so-called ‘light novel’ series that I’ve been reading.”
“S-So basically, you’re saying that you’re a fan of this novel?”
When I asked that, Nikaido-san glared at me with a red face as she nodded.
“B-But wait. You said that you weren’t any good with this stuff, right?”
“Yes, that wasn’t a lie. Those were my true feelings… And that’s exactly why I feel so conflicted…”
“…Are there any circumstances behind that…?”
After a short silence, Nikaido-san started talking about it.
Her family had always focused on the way of the sword. I’d heard about it from someone else before, but they seemed to have a dojo and several disciples. As the oldest daughter born into that family, she was likely to inherit everything. And because of this, she had been raised with traditional ideals in mind.
“My grandfather educated me very strictly. I accepted what he taught me, and listened to what he said without any complaints. I’m not dissatisfied with my upbringing at all. On the contrary, it felt like it actually suited me quite well.” Nikaido-san’s expression was filled with confidence.
It seems she really had no complaints about her upbringing.
“Since we are this kind of household, the values they taught me were also rather strict. Principles such as fortitude and vigor, and not being shallow—basically, to stay away from anything that could evoke any kind of weakness.”
“…Was it just my imagination, or were you sneaking glances at me when you said the word ‘weakness?’”
“T-That must have been your imagination.” Nikaido-san hurriedly averted her gaze.
…Yeah, yeah, I get it…
“Anyways, along with all of that, otakus especially were made out to be the most dangerous ones.”
“Ahhh, well… that makes sense, I guess…” I could only nod in response to her statement.
After hearing her out, I could understand her reservations with otaku culture. After all, society often does look at otaku things that way. Even more so for strict families like Nikaido-san’s.
…But even if that’s one way of looking at things, it’s not the only way.
“I’ve stayed true to those principles that I was raised up with.”
“…Even so, you started reading SukaMaga, right?”
“Uuu… That’s right…”
As her face blushed red once more, she continued.
“I-I was raised in that kind of environment, and I always kept true to those virtues… But for some reason, I was really interested in otaku culture…!” Nikaido-san spoke those words like she was in a chapel confessing her sins.
Apparently, she herself didn’t know why it had come to that. It was just that, even though she had grown up in that kind of household, she couldn’t help but be interested in anime, manga and games, and she had to try it out at least once.
“My classmates were constantly talking about the newest trends, and even though I tried to ignore them, my interest grew and grew… Still, I had no other choice but to live with those feelings, because of my family… until I encountered that one book,” Nikaido-san pointed at the book in my hands, her fingers shaking.
When she went to the bookstore in middle school, she spotted the first volume of SukaMaga in the newcomer’s corner. And, never having seen it before, she was so entranced by it that she picked it up.
“The moment I saw the cover, it felt like a shock ran through my body, even though I didn’t know why at that point. It’s true that I had been interested in those kinds of books before, but it only went as far as me taking furtive glances at them. But I couldn’t tear my gaze away from that book.”
She picked up that book merely from seeing the cover. And before she had realized it, she had already bought it and was standing outside the store, panicking. But, unable to throw it away, she had no choice but to take it home with her.
“In the end, I hurried home and tried my best to hide the book from my family. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if they had found me out.”
“…For some reason, I can totally understand that feeling.”
“…? Is Senpai’s family similar in that regard?”
…Well, it’s not that I feel any need to hide manga or light novels, but rather the fact that I have to hide every new eroge that I bring home with me. But there’s use telling her that. Still, I think that most boys my age must have experienced something similar. At least, I‘d like to think so.
“…And, even though I felt extremely guilty, I lost against my curiosity, and I started reading that book. Under constant fear of my family finding out, I continued to read…!”
“And how was it?”
“It was unbelievably interesting…!”
Her eyes were sparkling, like she couldn’t hold back her excitement.
“I agree! SukaMaga really is a masterpiece!”
“Indeed it is! It was the best! I finished reading it in one sitting, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it even after finishing it!”
This girl isn’t half bad! She saw the beauty of SukaMaga after only the first novel.
“Does Nagami-senpai also read it?”
“Of course I do. As someone who loves light novels, I cannot ignore one of the greatest recent hits! Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to call myself a true light novel fan!”
“I-Is that so?! It makes sense, since the novel was so unbelievably interesting!” Nikaido-san looked happy, as I was praising her own novel.
It was the personification of an otaku who was in love with a novel.
“To think that there was a novel as interesting as this… I was really surprised. But that feeling of happiness didn’t continue for long.”
“Eh? Did someone from your family find out?”
“N-No, that wasn’t it. Luckily, no one found out, and I continued to buy them… Of course I couldn’t just leave them in the open, so I had to hide them below the floor mats, or up in the ceiling while I was reading them.”
…I-It’s like she’s reading porn magazines or something…
“But that wasn’t the problem… It was more of a problem on an emotional level.”
“Yes… to be frank, the opinion I had of otaku culture inside me was greatly altered after reading that novel,” Nikaido-san narrowed her eyes, a painful expression showing on her face.
“The people called otaku were always frivolous weaklings inside my mind. Now that I had laid my hands on this novel and started reading it, I thought that I had become someone as foolish as them. While I was absorbed in reading, I realised that, and I was assaulted by a grave feeling of guilt for betraying my family’s teachings…”
“But shouldn’t you have understood by that point that everything you had heard was just prejudice?”
“In my heart, I realise that too… However, those prejudices are still engraved in the depths of my mind!”
Suddenly, Nikaido-san raised her head and looked straight at me.
“I-I beg you, Nagami-senpai! Please keep this conversation a secret!”
“Eh, o-of course I will—”
“I’m begging you! You can do whatever you want with my body, so please keep this vulgar side of me a secret!”
With teary eyes, she suddenly started unbuttoning the top part of her uniform. As she did, her breasts, hidden only by a sports bra, started attracting my attention.
“Wait! What are you doing?! Don’t strip! Keep your clothes on!”
“B-But, this is the only thing I can offer you in exchange for your confidentiality…! I have prepared myself! Even if you use my body so much that I can’t get married, this is the only method I can use to keep it a secret…!”
“Nagamin really is a deviant~ Am I also going to be assaulted like that sometime~? Kya~”
“If you’re not going to help, then don’t butt in!”
After slamming the door again when Esaka-san peeked in, I turned around to face Nikaido-san once more.
“A-Anyway! I won’t do anything like that! I’ve never once thought about using you like that, okay?!”
“Why do you look so disappointed?!”
“Wha—?! I-I’m not! D-Don’t make me out to be such a perverted woman! I’ll cut you!” Nikaido-san started panicking while her face turned beet red.
…T-This girl, has she really not noticed it yet? Wait, who cares about that!
“Anyways! Don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t plan on telling your family about your secret!”
“N-No, it’s not just my family! I mostly care about Suzuka…!”
“T-That’s right. For me, Suzuka is an indispensable existence. Just thinking of her finding out about my secret hobby is…!”
Her words seemed to be true, since her body was quivering in fear. Even then, tears were streaming down her cheeks, and I immediately understood how much she feared that possibility.
“Of course I won’t tell anyone. Not Suzuka, and not your family.”
“Thank you… very much…!”
“But there isn’t any need for you to be afraid about it, you know? Suzuka isn’t the kind of person who would judge you, as her friend, for your tastes.”
That I can say with complete confidence. My margin of error is at 0.000000001% here. My little sister, who I am very proud of, wouldn’t do something like that to her close friend.
“Suzuka doesn’t have any prejudices like that, so she would definitely accept you if you told her that you read light novels.”
I mean, Suzuka is in fact the light novel author Towano Chikai. Though she isn’t quite on my level when it comes to liking them, she surely wouldn’t have a negative opinion of them. After all, she’s right in the midst of that world.
“I promise you that I will keep it a secret, but I recommend talking to Suzuka about it. Suzuka will definitely be on your side.” With every ounce of persuasiveness I could muster, I tried to convince her.
“N-No, I cannot do that…”
“…So you’re worried? About that one-in-a-million chance…?”
“T-That’s not the reason. Just as Senpai says, Suzuka is a wonderful girl, and she would surely listen to my worries and accept me.”
“However, I still can’t…”
With a difficult expression, Nikaido-san shook her head.
“I also trust Suzuka…! However, the problem lies with me… It’s exactly because I hold prejudices that I can’t muster up the courage…! Yes, I’m afraid…!”
Afraid. That’s exactly how Nikaido-san’s voice sounded. Even her brain understood that nothing would happen if she told Suzuka, but her heart was rebelling against her… Those prejudices she holds are still weighing her down. They change that chance of Suzuka rejecting her from ‘Impossible’ to ‘It might be possible.’ That’s how her fear works.
…This isn’t something I can reason with her about, it seems. It’s a problem of feelings. And now that I understand that, I don’t have to waste my time reasoning with her, since I won’t be able to get rid of her worries.
Lost in my thoughts, I nodded deeply.
…I wonder? This gives me a really weird feeling.
There’s Nikaido-san, who’s close to feeling depressed because of it. Even so, she treasures their friendship so much to the point that she’s suffering like this. As Suzuka’s older brother, I can’t just ignore this.
…But that’s not all.
It won’t sit right with me to know that someone has these feelings about something that I love and hold dear. I want her to understand from the bottom of her heart that otaku culture isn’t like that.
That’s why I want to do something for her. Though there are many reasons for it, those were my honest feelings. After all, I think that currently I am the only one who can hold out a helping hand towards her, and it feels like I really have to. As her Senpai, as Suzuka’s older brother, and as a fellow otaku.
…That being said, what can I do about this…?
“………Yeah there’s no other choice but this.”
I said aloud the only idea that came to my mind.
“Hey, Nikaido-san? What exactly made you think that SukaMaga was interesting?”
“…Eh? What’s with that sudden question?”
Though she looked a bit perplexed because of my question, I continued without waiting.
“Just tell me. I’ve been a fan of the series for a long time, and I’ve always wanted to talk with somebody else about why it’s so great.”
“B-But, even if you ask me that…”
“I personally like the intense battle scenes! It’s crazy how they roar through the sky while still casting magic like that!”
“T-That’s what I also feel! Even though it was only words on a page, it felt like I was watching it live with my eyes, and I could feel how intense it was!”
“I feel ya. The magic really is so cool. Especially the chants. I always find myself repeating them.”
“Ahh, I know what you mean. But, the thing I like the most are the charming characters in the story!”
“Ahh, yeah, that’s also true. There’s a lot of interesting and appealing characters. I really like the protagonist. How about you?”
“For me, it’s Yayoi! She has black hair because she came from the land to the east, and she’s also a sword fighter who flies around the battlefield, shooting magic left and right! She’s just so cool!”
“I know right? Yayoi is really cool!”
“The scene when you find out that she’s a descendant of the dragon god was so moving! I started crying mid-way through the third volume…!”
“Ahh, that amazing scene. Normally, she would hate her existence, but she used her newfound strength to protect everyone in the next battle…”
“And she used up all her power and fell from the skies, only to be saved by her comrades…!”
“In the end, they all become real comrades after opening their hearts to each other! Because of that, her popularity got a massive boost!”
“Right? That’s why she’s my favorite character!”
“Oh? You know that the protagonist’s classmate Archel is still the most popular, right? She really has an interesting background.”
“W-What are you saying!? Yayoi is hands-down the best character in the series! Okay? There are countless reasons why I believe that’s the case—”
And she started explaining every single aspect she liked about her favorite character. She looked like she was having the time of her life, and she seemed to be enjoying herself to the fullest. Seeing that, I also felt happy.
In the end, we got so into it and kept talking for so long that we forgot all about the time. I really had a blast.
…And it looks like Nikaido-san felt the same way.
“Nagami-senpai? Why are you grinning like that?”
“Ahhh, well, I just was thinking how great it was to talk with someone else about something you love.”
“…That’s right. Though this was the first time I was able to hold a conversation like this, I had a lot of fun. I could finally let out all the feelings that I had pent up inside of me…”
“You were really enthusiastic.”
“R-Really, don’t tease me like that. I’ll cut you, you know?”
Though she said that, it didn’t hold much power because she looked so flustered. It was very clear that she wasn’t mad in the slightest.
“I’m glad that Nikaido-san had fun.”
“I-It’s not like that…”
“If you didn’t have any fun, I couldn’t help you understand about the good points of otaku culture.”
“…Eh?” A surprised expression appeared on her face.
The reason for her suffering was because of those prejudices that were so deeply entrenched inside her mind. There was really only one way to get rid of her fears; namely, to eradicate those doubts. That being said, logic clearly wouldn’t work on her. So, I had to eradicate this fear with another feeling. That’s why I tried to overwrite her fear with the fun feeling of having someone else to talk with about your favorite novel.
“You know, otaku, when they have something they like, they want to talk about it with other people. And they even have ideas of their own that they want to share. That’s how countless works are born, and they get changed up by serialisations and adaptations and whatnot. Isn’t that feeling something that every human shares?” I asked Nikaido-san. “Just now, we were talking about SukaMaga, enthusiastically voicing our impressions and thoughts to each other, right? That is one of the good points of otaku culture, at least in my mind. Showing empathy for another person’s feelings, and honestly exchanging your own.”
“You should still remember this feeling, right? This fun, this enthusiasm about the novel, this energy that comes from the bottom of your heart, the energy you can’t really explain. This definitely isn’t something to be embarrassed about. Or did you feel weak during our conversation?”
Hearing that response, I was relieved. If she really thinks this way, then we should be fine.
“Then do you think that you can talk to Suzuka about it now?”
“B-But, even so… I still don’t have the courage…!”
Her fear ran deep, and she seemed to be missing that last push.
“I know that Nagami-senpai is completely right… Ahhh, just how weak can I be…?! Being sullied by Nagami-senpai might be my punishment for being so weak…!”
“No no no! Can you stop suddenly making me the bad person again?!”
This girl… Is she actually hoping for that kind of situation…? Well, that doesn’t really matter right now. It seems like there’s no use but to try my least-favourite measure that I have…
“Ahhh, I get it already! If you’re going this far, then you have to listen to what I have to say too!”
“Eh?! S-So you really plan on raping me?!”
“No, I’m not! Are you sure you’re not actually hoping for that?!”
“H-How rude! Of course I don’t! I-I-I’ll cut you, you know!”
“It’s not that…! I want you to come with me tomorrow. I want to take you to Akihabara.”
“It is the epicentre of otaku culture. If we go and have fun there, your biases will surely disappear. Of course, I’m going to take Suzuka along, but I won’t leave you two alone, so don’t worry.”
“Eh?! S-Suzuka?! Y-You can’t do that!”
“You have no veto power here. You know that you can’t keep going like this, right?”
When I asked Nikaido-san with a serious face, she wordlessly nodded.
Seeing that she had finally made up her resolve, I let out a sigh. With that, our conversation ended, and we exchanged contact information for tomorrow. Just when she was about to leave, though…
Nikaido-san’s voice stopped me as I was about to open the door.
“Why are you going this far, just for me…?”
I thought about what answer I should give her.
Because you’re my kouhai. Because you’re my little sister’s friend—
I had a lot of options for what I could say, but the most obvious one stood out from the rest.
“That’s totally obvious. I’m an otaku, just like Nikaido-san, right?”
When I returned from my part-time job, Suzuka was already home and greeted me.
“Welcome back, Onii-chan. Checking out the theater club was rather interesting. Even Kotomi’s transformation skills with clothes is really something that can’t be underestimated. It seems like we now have an option to do our hidden lovey-dovey research by wearing a disguise.”
Though Suzuka had her usual scheming smile on her face, I decided to let her words slip by me, and I told her about the plans for tomorrow.
“Eh…? A-Akihabara… I-I-I-I-Is this an invitation for a date…?!”
“It’s not, okay?! It’s not that, but…!”
“I-I know!! T-That date that I was talking about was only in the context of research, okay?! D-D-Don’t misunderstand!” She said, but she still had a bright grin on her face.
I was acting dubious just for the sake of it, but she got mad at me and said “I-I-I-I also wanted to do research at Akihabara!”
“Ah?! That’s right, I have to pick out clothes for tomorrow!”
With that, she rushed up the stairs and entered her room.
“……I wasn’t done talking, though.”
I really wanted to tell her about Nikaido-san beforehand… Well, whatever. Since I had told Nikaido-san that I wouldn’t tell Suzuka about her circumstances, I wouldn’t be able to explain why Nikaido-san was coming with us anyway.
“…It might be faster to explain it when we meet up with Nikaido-san tomorrow.” I muttered as I returned to my own room.
All the while, I thought about how convenient it was that Suzuka wanted to do research at Akiba…
“What exactly is the meaning of this………?!”
It was the following day, and we were at the train station in Akihabara.
“Why is Kaede also here?! Onii-chan, you’d better explain this!”
…S-She’s crazy mad…
Until now, Suzuka had been in a great mood, but as soon as we met up with Nikaido-san, a dark aura started building up behind her, and she furiously started questioning me.
…You know, I do feel bad for keeping quiet about this, but is there really any need for you to be this angry…?
“N-Now now, Suzuka, just calm down for a second…”
Nikaido-san tried to help calm Suzuka down. Even so, Suzuka didn’t stop glaring at me with tears in her eyes.
“…J-Just when I thought that I would finally be able to go on a date with Onii-chan after becoming a highschool student…!”
“A-Anyway, would it be alright for me to explain the situation now?”
“Yes! I would really like to hear your reason for this!” Suzuka said, crossing her arms as she stared at me.
It seems like my little sister-sama is enough of a human being to let me finally speak… But being satisfied with it is still a different story.
Now then, I had said that I would explain the situation, but I can’t tell Suzuka about Nikaido-san’s circumstances. Since I had no other choice, I made up a story about meeting her during my work, and we suddenly started talking about Akihabara, and since Suzuka and I were going anyway, I just invited her—something like that.
“E-Even though you already had plans with me, you just invited her along…”
I totally thought that she wouldn’t believe me, but she just averted her gaze with a displeased expression on her face. This was pretty rare for her… and it meant that I was in luck today.
“Y-Yeah, exactly. There’s no harm since she’s your friend, right?”
“R-Right. I’d heard about Akihabara, and I was really excited to go here with Suzuka. I decided to accept Senpai’s invitation,” Nikaido-san said, playing along.
Though Suzuka looked satisfied for a second…
“Even so, aren’t you two unexpectedly close…? Just yesterday, it looked completely different…”
As always, Suzuka’s intuition was on point. And, when Nikaido-san tried to deny it, saying “T-That’s not true…!”
Suddenly, as if she had realized something very important, she started glancing back and forth between both of us… What is it?
“D-Don’t tell me…?! T-The person who Onii-chan likes is…?!”
“Eh? What about me?”
Her voice was so small that I could barely catch anything, and when I raised my voice, she turned her back to us, still lost in thought.
…I don’t really get it, but she’s talking so fast that I can’t hear what she’s saying at all… Suzuka, what’s wrong with you?
“…N-No, the two of them have barely met. Something like that shouldn’t be possible…! That’s right, it should have been their first meeting when they came over, so there’s no way…!”
“…H-However, I cannot deny this weird atmosphere…?! D-Don’t tell me, is this the so-called ‘Love at first sight’…?! Did Onii-chan… with Kaede…?!”
“Senpai, what’s wrong with Suzuka? This is the first time I’ve seen her like this.”
“…T-That’s certainly a possibility…! And also, he told Kaede that he had a crush…! D-Did he possibly mean it in that way?!”
“How do I say it…? There are times when she just gets lost in thought like that…” I tried to explain.
“…S-So Onii-chan only said that since he couldn’t muster up the courage to confess immediately…?! Kaede has to be his crush, right…?!”
“Is that so? But I still prefer it when Suzuka is serious!” Nikaido-san said.
“…I-It makes sense…! This would explain why Onii-chan would suddenly invite Kaede like this…! And it fits my theory that Onii-chan’s crush is going to our school…! That means that I cannot let this go on any longer…! B-But, what exactly should I do…??”
While both of us were having our conversation, Suzuka still didn’t show any signs of returning. Since we couldn’t exactly stand like this forever, I was about to call out to her, but she suddenly said “T-This can’t go any longer!” and turned around.
“Uwa?! D-Don’t scare me like that… Are you finally back to normal now?”
“Y-Yes. L-Let us go—!”
After saying that, she suddenly clung to my arm, which caused me to panic.
…H-Hey, Nikaido-san is right in front of us, you know…!
“S-Suzuka?! Nagami-senpai, what is the meaning of this!”
And she’s already doubting me again! But, this wasn’t school, and we came here for research, so telling her to stop was also a bit…!
“W-Well, Suzuka is really bad with crowds of people! When we come to Akihabara, we always do it like this so she won’t get lost! It’s totally not weird at all!”
I had no other choice but to try to talk my way out of it.
“…Is that so?”
“Yes, that’s it! R-Right, Suzuka?”
Nikaido-san’s face showed complete disbelief, but that was the only thing I could think of on the spot. I was hoping that Suzuka would help me out, but…
“…I-I really have to be lovey-dovey with Onii-chan as much as I can, and make him only look at me because of my charm…! And Kaede has to understand that so she doesn’t have any chance of getting between us…!”
Hey, she’s lost in her own thoughts again! You brought this upon us, so help me out, will you?!
“Eh? Ahhh, that’s right! Onii-chan and I are always like this!”
Though Nikaido-san still didn’t seem satisfied, she had to believe Suzuka, her friend’s words… I-I guess we’ve gotta start moving now while I have the chance.
We left the train station and set foot into Akihabara. Though Nikaido-san continued to sneak dubious gazes at us, her attention was soon drawn towards the city.
…Well, she did say that she was interested in otaku culture, so it makes sense for her to get excited here.
“I-I’d heard rumours about it, but there really is a city like this…”
“I’ll show you around a lot of places, so enjoy yourself to the fullest.”
“I-It’s not like I’m…!”
“So, Onii-chan, where are we going today?”
While Nikaido-san and I were talking, Suzuka looked at us with a displeased expression and tightened her grip on my arm.
“I don’t have anywhere special in mind. Just the normal path I always take. I do want Nikaido-san to see a lot of places, after all.”
“…Though that does indeed sound reasonable… it is for Kaede, huh?”
“Hm? Was there somewhere you wanted to see?”
“N-Not necessarily. If it’s with Onii-chan, I won’t mind anyplace we go…! Just for the research, of course…!” Suzuka said. She looked at Nikaido-san with a troubled expression.
Nikaido-san was already so engrossed in the city that she didn’t even notice Suzuka glaring at her.
“Then let’s go, Nikaido-san.”
“Y-Yes, I’m looking forward to it.”
“Y-Yes, let us go. Just like we always do… as close siblings…!” Suzuka gripped my arm even tighter.
Maybe this was for her research, too. Whatever the reason, we started walking around Akihabara.
…Now then, I’ll make you enjoy today so much that you’ll totally forget about your prejudices, Nikaido-san!
“Are those all light novels?! …Wow, there’s so many…”
“The lineup here is completely different from that of some small-town bookstore, right? Looking at the covers and reading the summary pages is one of the fun parts of shopping for light novels. How about you buy something that piques your interest?”
“N-No, I don’t have a place to hide them, so I can’t buy very many…!”
“Kaede is interested in light novels? Then how about something like this?”
“…Wait, why are you only recommending little sister light novels…?”
Nikaido-san’s eyes sparkled as she looked around the light novel shop. She looked like a small kid who had entered a toy store for the first time.
“…Doujin…? What exactly is that?”
“Something like a secondary work based off of a light novel. The authors fantasized about characters they loved, or scenarios they wanted to see, and made them.”
“So there’s a world like that… Ah?! That’s!”
“Yeah, it’s a doujinshi of SukaMaga. Do you want to buy it?”
“N-No, I can’t! Ahh, but the cover has Yayoi…”
“K-Kaede, they even have doujinshi like this, you know?!”
“It better not be another little sister one—Wait! This is R-18 stuff?!”
“A-Are those all games…? And what should I do with them…?”
“If you see one you like, you can try it out. How about it?”
“U-Uhm… Ahh, how about that one with the two swordsmen fighting?”
In the game center, she was a bit hesitant at first, but…
“Ahhh?! O-One more time! Let me try one more time!”
“…Y-You know, wouldn’t it be better to stop for now…?”
“I cannot sleep until I have cut down everyone who stands in my way!”
Somehow, she got so engrossed in a samurai fighting game that she even ended up arriving at the last boss. She tried to fight him countless times, but always got cut down at the last second. Still, I could clearly see how much fun she had.
“O-Onii-chan, aren’t there any lovey-dovey sibling games?!”
“As if there’d be such a specific game like that! And don’t you have the wrong idea about games in general…?!”
Talking amongst one another, we walked around Akiba, checking out various locations. Nikaido-san had completely given up on hiding her interests, and just had fun wherever we went. Her enthusiasm reached its peak when we arrived at a certain hobby shop.
“T-This is a figurine of Yayoi?!”
In that shop, she spotted a figurine of her favorite SukaMaga character.
“Ohh, you’re right! And they even have all the other heroines as well…!”
Since this was the first time I’d seen them, I was just as excited as Nikaido-san. Though Suzuka gave a calm and collected statement of “They are really well done”, Nikaido-san and I were in a trance, staring at the figurines.
“Look at this… This is from the battle with the angels in volume four…”
“T-That’s right… That scene is one of my favourites…!”
“She has the coat of arms on her, and her clothes are a mess from the battle.”
“It is quite indecent… But this kind of Yayoi is also cool…!”
Like that, both of us kept fangirling over the figurines, but I finally noticed Suzuka’s cold stare.
“…Why are you two suddenly so excited like that? Kaede also seems like a completely different person…”
Hearing these words, both of us froze in place.
“T-That’s not really the case, you know? I always act this intensely.”
“E-Exactly. I was just a bit curious, that’s all…!”
Since we couldn’t tell her about Nikaido-san’s secret, we tried our best to cover it up.
“Uuu… You two are as in-sync as you can get…!” For some reason, Suzuka was glaring at me with tears in her eyes.
Since we had walked around Akihabara for quite a while, we decided to take a break at a nearby maid cafe. When I asked Nikaido-san how she much had enjoyed the tour, she responded with “Haah… that was enjoyable.” Hearing that, I nodded in satisfaction.
However, Suzuka’s bad mood continued on, and it felt like she was getting more displeased the longer this went on.
…That reminds me, it makes sense that she would think something’s off after seeing NIkaido-san acting like this. But I have to hold back a little longer. Once we tell Suzuka our goal for today, she will surely be satisfied. It looks like Nikaido-san is having her fair share of fun, so with a slight push, her prejudices will surely disappear.
“Uhm… it should be about time… Oh, there she is.”
While I was thinking that, I spotted the person I was waiting for coming through the entrance.
“W-What’s up with you suddenly calling me here, Yuu?! Well, since I’m your number one fan, I’m willing to go along your selfishness, okay?!”
“Thanks for coming, Mai.”
“Himuro-san? Onii-chan called you here?”
Exactly. I called her here beforehand.
“Ah, Suzuka-san, hello… Ah? Who is this girl?”
Arriving at our table, Mai looked over at Nikaido-san.
“Ah, my name is…”
Nikaido-san hesitated for a moment after being suddenly greeted by Mai.
“This is Nikaido Kaede-san. She’s a first year at our school, and Suzuka’s classmate… And Nikaido-san, this here is my classmate Himuro Mai.”
When I introduced them to each other…
“N-Nice to meet you…” Nikaido-san slightly lowered her head towards Mai.
“…Onii-chan? What are you planning by having Kaede and Himuro-san meet here?”
Nikaido-san was probably thinking the same thing, since she was wearing such an expression on her face… But this is my trump card to completely eradicate the prejudices she has.
“Now then, let’s get to the main point. You see, my acquaintance here is actually a fan of SukaMaga. So I thought that I could have her meet Enryuu-sensei.”
“A-A fan of mine?”
“…Eh? H-Himuro-senpai is…?”
Seeing Nikaido-san’s flustered reaction, I grinned as I continued.
“Yeah. Enryuu Homura-sensei, who is the author of SukaMaga, is actually this Himuro Mai right here.”
When I revealed that, Nikaido-san couldn’t hold back her surprise.
“U-Umm, so this Kaede girl here is actually a huge fan of mine?”
When I nodded, Mai said “W-Well, of course I have a lot of fans after all, don’t I!?”, unable to hide her happiness… Just be honest when you’re happy. It’s as plain as day.
“…T-To think that Enryuu-sensei would be a Senpai from my school…?! You’re not teasing me, are you?!”
“Of course not. Mai truly is the one and only Enryuu Homura, right Suzuka?”
“…Yes, that is indeed true…?” Suzuka answered, clearly not grasping what I was getting at here.
It’s no wonder. She’s never seen Nikaido-san like this, and neither does she know her circumstances. But we’ll save that for later.
“S-So Himuro-senpai really is Enryuu-sensei…!”
“Exactly! I’m the super popular light novel author Enryuu Homura!”
“U-Uhm! I was really moved when I read Sensei’s novel! This was the first time in my life that something left an impact on me at such a level!”
“H-Hm, I see?! A-And what exactly made you think it was interesting?”
And with that, Nikaido-san started explaining every single detail of what she loved about SukaMaga. If you took a single glance at her face, you could see how happy she felt. As always, Mai tried not to show it, but she seemed to be equally moved to be able to hear a fan’s opinion so directly. She listened intently to Nikaido-san’s fangirling.
…Though this is only one stage of my plan, I’m still glad that she’s having this much fun.
“And what exactly is this about? What’s wrong with Kaede?” Suzuka asked me while Mai and Nikaido-san were talking.
I couldn’t blame her for her confusion, so I decided to lightly tap on Nikaido-san’s shoulder.
“Don’t you think that it’s fine now?”
“Eh? What do you mean…?”
“This fun you had strolling around Akiba, and those feelings you have right now, they certainly aren’t ‘something weak’, right? Then, you should be able to summon the courage you need.”
Having grasped what I was hinting at, Nikaido-san swallowed her breath.
“Suzuka is also here now. It’s fine, I can guarantee it.”
Softly smiling at her with those words, her body twitched once and she took a step forward.
I looked on as she opened her mouth to explain her circumstances.
…What exactly is going on here?
With a soft smile, Onii-chan is talking to Kaede, using words like “Show her your courage” and “It’s going to be fine.”
A-And also, what is that kind smile of his, as if he is watching over her?! Smiling at her like that, is Kaede really…?!
While I was thinking that, I realized that Kaede was looking at me with a serious expression. She took a deep breath, as if she wanted to confess something very important to her.
…Important… confess… D-Don’t tell me?! I-Is Kaede going to confess that she also likes Onii-chan?! Right here, right now?!
…N-No, that shouldn’t be possible. B-But, what if they already confessed, and that they want to tell me that they’re officially going out now?!
Just from imagining that, I was about to cry. If that was really the case, my heart would probably stop working and break into pieces. I cannot allow myself to hear this…!
In that moment, I heard the sound of Kaede swallowing her breath. And, when I was about to cover my ears—
“S-Suzuka, please listen! A-Actually… I’m really interested in otaku culture!”
“………Eh? O-Otaku culture?”
Completely lost as to what was happening, I subconsciously repeated her words, and Kaede gently nodded in response.
…Eh, uhm…? Where’s the confession? About her and Onii-chan? And, she’s interested…? Ehhh…?
I was unable to grasp the meaning behind her words. But she almost seemed desperate, and didn’t give me much time to think because she immediately started talking to me.
The circumstances she grew up with. How she was taught that otakus were something bad. But, in the end, she couldn’t hold back her curiosity, and that’s when she encountered Himuro-san’s novel—
The heavy guilt of going against her family’s teachings. How she still wasn’t able to rid herself of the curiosity, and how Onii-chan came to know about it. She told me everything, with tears welling up in her eyes. And about how those prejudices had kept her from telling me from the very start.
“That’s why I showed Nikaido-san around Akiba, and even invited Mai here. I wanted to help her understand that those prejudices are groundless.”
And, Onii-chan followed it up with “It’s because her friendship with you is so important to her.”
…S-So basically, everything was both for Kaede’s and my sake?
“W-What’s up with that…”
Hearing that, I felt all the my strength leave my body.
…So, thinking that Kaede is Onii-chan’s crush… was just a misunderstanding on my part…? Onii-chan just happened to learn of her circumstances, and he decided to help…?
Having grasped everything I needed to know, I let out a long sigh. Of course, most of that was out of relief.
…I-I’m glad that nothing is going on between Onii-chan and Kaede.
Now, I could focus on my friend standing in front of me. When I called out to her, Kaede twitched.
“There is absolutely no problem with you being curious about otaku culture and whatnot. There’s no way I would hate you just because of something like that? Okay?”
The moment I spoke those words, Kaede’s face lightened up in an instant.
Really, this girl. Normally she’s a prideful, determined swordsman, but she can be so weak-willed inside. She’s a helpless friend indeed.
…Well, I realized that after our first meeting, and that’s why I came to like her.
“And have some more trust in me, please. If you have any worries, consult me or Kotomi first, okay?”
“Y-Yeah, I got it… I’m sorry, Suzuka.” Kaede smiled at me, wiping a tear away.
Still, to think that Kaede had an interest in otaku culture, and even turned out to be a fan of Himuro-san. No wonder she was acting so weird today. But I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t envious that she shared the same hobby as Onii-chan…
As I thought about that, I looked over at him. When I did, our eyes met for a second. W-Well, this time it was my fault for getting the wrong idea, so I’ll forgive him. But if Kaede isn’t the person who Onii-chan likes, then I’m back to square one again. What should I do about this?
No, even if I don’t know the person’s identity, I just have to show Onii-chan my charms, and make him look only at me. That part doesn’t change. I-I have to be even more lovey-dovey…!
And then it happened.
“I’m so moved, desu!”
Somebody stepped out from behind me, and I let out a shriek.
…D-Double Peace-san?! T-That really surprised me…!
“W-Why is that ero illustrator here?!”
Both Onii-chan and Himuro-san seemed to be as shocked as I was.
“Mai announced that she was going to meet Sensei in our line group, right? When I saw that, I thought that you would probably be going to Akiba, desu! And my guess was on point! Really Sensei, if you’re coming to Akiba, then please tell me next time!”
“I-I’m sorry…? Still, what keen intuition you have…”
Though his feelings were written all over his face, it was the same for me. Being together with this person is really bad for my heart…
“Ah, the person I saw at Suzuka’s house…?”
“A-Ahh, uhm… this person is Double Peace-sensei, and, eeehm, she’s an acquaintance of ours, and an illustrator. Yeah…”
“Nice to meet you, desu! I’m Ahegao Double Peace!”
Onii-chan reluctantly introduced her. And, just as her name suggested, she brought her face closer, and made two peace signs with her hands as she smiled. Of course, Kaede didn’t know how to react to that, and just stared blankly at her. I can’t really blame her for that.
“Fu fu fu, setting that aside for now, I allowed myself to listen to your friend’s story!”
“…Uhm, why did you just admit to eavesdropping…?”
Completely ignoring Himuro-san’s remark, Double Peace-san continued.
“This wonderful friendship between Imouto-san and her friend…! It really moved me, desu! It felt like I was playing a yuri game!”
“I know what you want to say, but wasn’t there any better example than that…?”
Though I didn’t understand what she was trying to say, I only had to look at Onii-chan’s expression to see that it was probably something weird again.
“For me, the fact that Imouto-san’s friend wasn’t able to enjoy otaku culture until now is so much of a shame, desu! Please let me help out with that!”
Onii-chan’s and my voices overlapped. We both knew that something bad was probably going to happen.
“Exactly, desu! I know that you were probably walking around several places in Akiba. This is a good opportunity, so let me come with you and show you around!”
“T-That certainly isn’t a bad idea, but why?”
When Onii-chan asked that, Double Peace-san let out an ominous-sounding laugh.
“I will have you look forward to it, desu! That being said, please come to my home right now!” She said.
“…Suzuka, why do I have a bad feeling about this?”
“…It’s better not to think too much about it.”
In response to Kaede’s well-placed doubts, I let out a sigh.
…That being said, she was doing this out of goodwill, and we didn’t have any reason to decline, so we left the maid cafe and walked towards Double Peace-san’s flat.
“…That reminds me, Double Peace-sensei’s room was… quite hideous, wasn’t it?”
While we were walking, Onii-chan muttered that as if he had remembered something.
…N-Now that he mentions it, her room was filled with all those indecent posters, games and whatnot!
“Ah, if you’re worried about that, our scenario writer got mad at me and I was forced to get rid of them, desu. We put everything into another room.”
Hearing that, both Onii-chan and I let out a relieved sigh.
“What are you talking about?”
“D-Don’t mind it.”
Ignoring Kaede’s question, we kept walking until we arrived at Double Peace-san’s room. Though Onii-chan and I were a bit hesitant to enter, it turned out to be as Double Peace-san had said.
…Fuu, I’m glad.
“Ah, might you be interested in seeing the room with all the games, desu?”
“No we’re not! …And, what exactly are we doing here anyways? You said that you would be able to entertain Nikaido-san, right?”
In response to that question, Double Peace-san once again started laughing ominously.
“Of course… I’m talking about cosplay, desu!” She stated, and puffed out her chest.
“Figures…” “I don’t know what I was expecting…” “She totally deserves the name ‘ero illustrator…/”
Onii-chan, Himuro-san, and I let our true feelings show at the same time.
“Tsk tsk tsk, how naive, desu. It isn’t just normal cosplay. Let us have a look first!” Double Peace-sensei said as she brought out some costumes I had never seen before.
“Exactly, Mai! Those are all clothes for characters of Mai’s novel—SukaMaga, desu!”
“Woah, she’s right…!”
Both Onii-chan and Himuro-san were surprised to see those clothes.
…I don’t really understand, but those clothes seem to belong to characters from Himuro-san’s novel.
“A-Amazing… But why exactly do you have those!”
“Fu fu fu, there isn’t any cosplay that I don’t own, desu!”
“I-It’s scary to think that I can actually believe that… No, it’s probably nothing more than a lie, but…”
“That doesn’t matter right now, Sensei! The most important thing is to have Imouto-san’s friend enjoy herself, desu!”
Suddenly having been brought to the forefront of the conversation, Kaede seemed to be confused.
“Exactly, desu! I heard that you were a fan of SukaMaga! That’s why I’m sure that you will have lots of fun acting as those characters!”
…Her argument actually makes sense…! Even though it’s Double Peace-san!
“D-Double Peace-sensei has a normal opinion for once?!” “E-Even though she’s an ero illustrator…!”
Onii-chan and Himuro-san seemed equally surprised.
“H-However… wearing cosplay is…!”
“That’s all the more reason to actually try it, desu! It’s fine! There’s no need to be scared! It will feel good soon enough, desu. Fufufufu…”
“S-Somehow this seems very suspicious, doesn’t it?! …Uwaaa?! S-Suzuka, help me!”
In the midst of her complaints, Kaede was pulled away into the back room by Double Peace-san.
“…Will she really be okay?”
“…Well, she has some good ideas this time around, so let’s leave it to her for now.”
Though I was a bit worried, Onii-chan looked rather relaxed. After waiting for a short while, Kaede returned from the back room.
“Uuuu… This is really embarrassing…!”
When I saw her, I thought the costume really suited her. Granted, I wasn’t sure what character she was portraying.
“O-Ohhhh!!!” “Wha—?! It looks like the real deal!”
But, unlike me, Onii-chan and Himuro-san both let out a scream, which made Kaede twitch.
“Onii-chan, what’s wrong?”
“W-Well, Nikaido-san looks exactly like the original character Yayoi!”
“…P-Please don’t look at me like this…! T-These clothes are…!”
“What are you saying, desu?! Even I am shocked by how wonderful it looks, you know? Here, if you just take a look at yourself, you will understand, desu.”
Double Peace-san, who had followed Kaede out of the room, showed her a picture. Though Kaede asked her to stop, she swallowed her words when she saw herself.
“…! T-This is… me?!”
Her eyes opened wide in shock.
“It really is amazing, Nikaido-san! You’ve completely become Yayoi now!”
“…Really. Even I’m surprised, and I’m the author.”
After being told that by Onii-chan and Himuro-san, Kaede looked really happy.
“See see, try using this prop here, and it will be perfect, desu.”
Kaede took a hold of the katana she received from Double Peace-san. She seemed overwhelmed.
“It really is perfect. I’m gonna take a picture too while we’re at it!” Himuro-san said. She took out her smartphone and started taking pictures as well.
“Very nice, very nice, desu! It really looks perfect! Here, look at your gallant figure, desu!”
“U-Uwaa…! U-Uhm…can I try her signature pose…?!”
Kaede was also starting to get more comfortable…
“…’Claws of the Dragon God, Second style…Kagekuujin!’”
And so on, as she kept taking different poses.
…I-I’m totally the outsider here… Not that I can help it, since I don’t know much about the original work.
“How is it, desu? Cosplaying as a character you love, desu?”
“U-Uhm, it really is fun! To think that cosplaying would feel like this…!”
“Fu fu fu, right right? But I have a lot more, you know? That being said, Sensei! You’re next, desu!”
“…Eh? Ehhh?! M-Me too?!”
“It would be much more fun if we all did it, desu!”
“Ah, no ,wai—?!”
This time it was Onii-chan who was pulled into that dark chamber. Shortly after, Onii-chan stepped out of it, wearing what looked like a military uniform mixed with a school uniform… Ahh, now this is what I like to see! So cool!
“Ahhhh! Isn’t that the protagonist Senan?!”
When she saw Onii-chan, Kaede let out a scream and her face turned red.
“…D-Does it look weird?”
“Absolutely not! It really suits you…!”
“Yeah. The face is totally different, but I get that atmosphere from you, Yuu.”
“I-Is that so? …’Divine Ray!’… just kidding…”
W-Why is Onii-chan also getting into it?! No, I knew that Onii-chan liked Himuro-san’s novel, but still!
“Now now, since you’re cosplaying, we have to take a picture together, desu!”
A-A picture together with Onii-chan?! Ahhh… I’m so jealous…!
“I-I’m so happy! Being able to take a picture together with Senan…!”
“No no no, just standing next to each other is not sufficient, desu! Let us try to react that one scene!”
“Eh? One scene…?”
“Now, Sensei! Please carry her like a princess, desu!”
“Eh? Ah, wait?!”
Double Peace-san pushed them together and forced Onii-chan to pick up Kaede—wait, a princess carry?!
“Ah… you mean that scene…?”
“Exactly, Yuu. It’s the scene from the third novel, when they were fighting against the dragon, and Senan is giving Yayoi some of his magic power.”
“Ah, that scene, I really liked that! In order to reenact that…!”
Wha…! What kind of development is this! Why are you so calm?! This is a princess carry with Onii-chan, you know?! And they’re taking pictures like that…! That’s what I want to do!
“Ahhh, now I’ve also gotten in the mood! I’m also gonna try on some cosplay!”
And now Himuro-san is also getting on board?!
“You have more cosplay, right?”
“Of course, desu! Now that the author herself is participating, this will get interesting for sure!”
With that, Himuro-san and Double Peace-san disappeared. In the meantime, Onii-chan and Kaede were saying things like “N-Next, I would like to try that one scene…!” and “That’s good too, but what about the one from volume 4…” They were clearly enjoying this.
Uuuu… There’s nowhere for me to fit in at all…
“T-Thanks for waiting! How is it? Does it look good on me?”
Just like Onii-chan, Himuro-san was wearing a military school uniform; a girl version. I once more realized that anything she wears looks good on her.
“You, that’s!” “Isn’t that Achel!”
Both Onii-chan and Kaede voiced their surprise… What is it this time?
“A-Amazing. Enryuu-sensei, you’re just like the real deal, both in terms of looks and atmosphere!”
“H-Heeh? Well, I’m the original creator, after all. For me to be able to cosplay the main heroine perfectly is a given.”
“…It almost seems like you wrote her with yourself as the model.”
“T-That’s not the case, okay!? A character being similar to the author is totally normal in a certain sense. R-Rather than that, how about we also reenact a scene?!”
While saying “Please take some pictures”, Himuro-san handed Kaede the smartphone and walked towards Onii-chan’s side with a red face.
…I’m getting a really bad feeling from this…
“C-Come on, we’re going to reenact that united magic scene, so come a bit closer!”
“Ahh, that scene, huh… Wait, aren’t you a bit too close?!”
W-What are you two doing?! Why are you clinging to each other like that and putting your hands on each others’ shoulders?! What kind of united magic scene is this supposed to be?! …Himuro-san is clearly using this to push her unreasonably large breasts onto Onii-chan! I-I won’t be deceived! I have to give my opinion to Onii-chan right now!
“Oh, this time it’s my turn, desu!”
Or so I thought, but Double Peace-san interrupted my train of thought and stepped out of the dark room. When I directed my glare over there with tears in my eyes—
I swallowed my words when I saw Double Peace-san’s clothes. After all, the only part of that costume that could be called ‘clothing’ were the small bat-like wings on her back. Her underwear was totally visible.
…W-What kind of lingerie is this…! Her unreasonably large chest is totally visible…! That’s totally unacceptable, isn’t it?!
“D-Double Peace-sensei?! T-This cosplay is…!” “Isn’t it that devil succubus from volume two?!” “I-It’s so perfect…!”
Why is everyone just admiring it so casually?! Especially Kaede! You would be the first person to scream out “Indecent!”, right?! There isn’t any attire that’s more fitting for you to say that about!
However, while I was busy with my my mental anguish, the scene in front of me was moving forward like it was completely normal.
“Now now, let me reenact a scene with Sensei, too, desu! Sensei, will you lie down face-up for me, please?”
“Eh? W-What are you planning on doing?”
“Fu fu fu, that is of course… this right here, desu!”
Double Peace-san suddenly pushed him down and made him forcefully lie down?!
In response, Onii-chan let out a surprised “Uwaa?!” With him lying on the ground face-up, Double Peace-san sat down on his belly. Wearing a bewitching smile, she extended her tongue towards him—Wait, w-w-w-w-w-what are you doing?!
“Ahh, that scene, don’t tell me!”
“Exactly, desu! The scene where the succubus robs the magic from the protagonist and pushes him down! Fu fu fu, what a wonderful scene you wrote, Mai!”
“T-That scene, huh…! It got my heart pumping when I first read it, but seeing it live like this is even more…!”
Kaede! Normally, you shouldn’t be so relaxed! …And also…
“H-Himuro-san, why did you write a scene like that…!” I asked.
“Eh? It’s a light novel, after all. Fanservice scenes are necessary.”
And she responded like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Is that answer really fine?!
“D-Double Peace-sensei…? Isn’t that scene a bit too embarrassing…?”
“We’ve only started, desu. It will become even more erotic from here on out, desu~”
“No, anything more than this would be pretty bad!” I shouted.
When I saw Double Peace-san leaning her upper body forward to push herself against Onii-chan, I couldn’t keep quiet anymore.
“A-Any more than that is no good! And what exactly are you doing?! Why are you just letting that happen to you, Onii-chan!”
“N-No, it’s not like I…!”
“Now now, Imouto-san, this is just a scene reenacted with cosplay, so please tell that to the original creator Mai, desu!”
“W-Why?! Don’t make me the bad guy here!”
Kuh… using cosplay as an excuse…!
But, in that moment, I remembered. There was absolutely no reason for me to hold back here. All I had to do was show Onii-chan my charm…!
“T-Then, I also want to be part of this cosplay reenacting!”
I made up my mind and resolutely declared that.
“S-Suzuka?! But, you don’t know anything about the contents of SukaMaga…”
D-Don’t suddenly bring logic into this! I won’t back down from this, no matter what!
“Ohhh! So Imouto-san is also going to participate, desu! Please, don’t hold back! I have a lot of cosplay in the room over there. Choose whatever you like!”
After saying “Please wait for a bit!”, I left them behind and made my way towards said room. Upon entering, I found countless costumes scattered about.
“W-Which one should I use…? I have no clue what’s what here…”
If I had known that it would come to this, I would have read Himuro-san’s novel, but I can’t change that right now. I just need something that will grab Onii-chan’s attention…!
In that moment, a certain article of clothing entered my field of view. It was a leotard with pure-white wings on its back.
…T-There’s no other choice but to do that! It should work well enough to get Onii-chan’s attention!
Feeling the blood rush to my head, I changed my clothes.
…I-It really is revealing…! But, this isn’t the time to be hesitating…!
Making up my mind, I hesitantly made my way back to the room with the others.
“H-How is it?”
T-This is so embarrassing…! But Onii-chan is staring at me! It really was the right choice! His gaze is solely focused on me!
“Y-You… Suzuka… that costume is…!”
“To think that Suzuka-san would choose that…! I-I didn’t expect that…!”
“S-Suzuka… Just what I would expect…! A bold choice I would never be able to make…!”
…H-Huh? What’s happened to everyone? They all seem to be acting a bit weird?
“Ohhh, Imouto-san! I didn’t expect that you would be the one to wear that costume, desu!”
“D-Double Peace-san? What’s wrong? What exactly is this costume?”
“Fu fu fu, you will understand as soon as you reenact that scene, desu!”
“W-Wait a second, Double Peace-sensei! You don’t mean that scene, do you…?”
When Onii-chan said this with a conflicted tone of voice, Double Peace-san whispered something into his ear which made his face blush.
“…N-No, that scene is a bit…! And with her…?!”
…W-What is going on? I-Is it something that he can only do with me?!
“What’s wrong, Onii-chan? H-Hurry up and tell me!”
“N-No, you may be curious, but you don’t know…”
“I-I don’t mind. I will accept any challenge!”
That’s right. In order to be lovey-dovey with Onii-chan, I will do anything…!
“What wonderful conviction, desu! Now now, since Imouto-san has agreed to it, shouldn’t Sensei make up his mind as well?!”
After being told that, Onii-chan seemed conflicted once more.
…I will be lovey-dovey with Onii-chan no matter what!
“Now then, in order to reenact the scene, please come over here, Imouto-san.”
Instructed by Double Peace-san, I stood and put my back against the wall. Onii-chan looked like he had given up, and he looked towards me with a red face.
“Alright then, please put up your arms above your head. As high as you can, desu.”
I did as I was told.
…What kind of scene is this?
But suddenly, Onii-chan grabbed both of my arms at my wrists.
“Y-You were the one that told me to do this, so you’d better not complain about it later…!” He said, pushing even harder against the wall.
Feeling like Onii-chan was restricting all of my movements, I felt the blood rushing to my head.
“T-This position is…! I-I’m so jeal—N-No! So indecent!”
K-Kaede?! Did I just hear you say something very weird?! And why are you suddenly back to normal…!
“What… is this…?!”
“Of course, this is the scene where Sensei will be doing perverted things to you, desu?”
…Eh? P-Perverted… Perverted… Ehhhhhhh?!
“W-What kind of scene is that?!”
“Even if you ask that, the cosplay that Imouto-san is wearing is what’s responsible, desu! Come on Sensei, get a little bit closer!”
“H-Hey, don’t push me—?!”
Saying ridiculous things as always, Double Peace-san pushed Onii-chan’s back. Because of that, his face touched my collarbone, and I could feel his hot breath.
“Hyaaaan?! W-What are you doing…!” I happened to let out a weird voice.
“That character is of the angel race, but when she was trying to seduce Senan with magic, it worked against her… A character responsible for the erotic scene. Something like that, desu!”
Even if you calmly explain the circumstances…!
“W-Why is there a character like this?!”
“Because it’s a light novel.”
Do you think that I’m going to be satisfied with that lack of explanation?!
“…O-Onii-chan… your breath… it tickles…!”
When I felt his direct body temperature and breath, my head was unable to process the situation.
“Now Sensei, just like in the original novel, you have to start licking Imouto-san, desu!”
“As if I could!”
“Ehhh? Then instead, how about tickling her, desu? Softly, very softly. Imouto-san should be fine with that, right?”
“Fua…? Y-Yes… pweashe go ahead…!”
“Hey Suuzuka?!” Onii-chan let out a shocked scream, but I couldn’t think straight anymore.
I want Onii-chan to have eyes for only me. This was the only thing I knew for certain.
“Hya…?! Ahh… Fuah…!”
Finally, Onii-chan brought his fingers up to my body and started tickling me.
My neck, armpit, belly… I could feel Onii-chan’s fingers softly moving all over my body. Because of my embarrassment and the tickling, I couldn’t stop myself from letting out weird sounds.
Ahh…? Somehow, it feels my mind went blank… Is Onii-chan looking at me?
When I searched for Onii-chan, I found him, staring at me with a bright red face.
Ehe, ehehehehe…! He’s looking at me…! His attention is directed at me…! Is everyone seeing this…? Onii-chan is lost, and is looking only at me…! Auuu…!
While drowning in this feeling of happiness, I didn’t care what was happening to me, and I blanked out.
“T-Thank you very much for today.”
After everyone changed back into their normal clothes, Nikaido-san deeply bowed down to us.
“Going this far just for me…! I-I am really moved…!”
“I’m happy enough that you feel that way, desu. Right, Sensei?”
“Y-Yes, that’s right…” I answered, devoid of any energy.
…Well, as a fan, I had my fair share of fun too, but being forced to do something like that is just…
And if you were wondering what had happened to the person in question, she was currently standing next to me, going “Ehehehe…!”, so I decided to leave her alone for a while. Still, I’m glad that Nikaido-san enjoyed herself like that. Hopefully that helped her to get rid of her biases.
“And just like that, you’ve become a proper member of the otaku culture. Aren’t you glad?”
“…Enryuu-sensei, thank you so much…! I have finally accepted that otaku culture isn’t as bad as I thought it was. Of course, I will continue to keep reading Sensei’s novels too.”
“W-Well, being a fan of mine is good and all, but how about reading other novels? It’ll help broaden your horizons.”
“Is that so…? But I wouldn’t know what other novel to read.”
“Eh? Then how about Yuu’s novel?”
Twitch! O-Oh no…!
“I’m talking about Yuu—Towano Chikai’s novel… Eh? What? You don’t know that? Yuu, you didn’t tell her?”
T-This girl…! I tried so hard to hide it!
“Ehhh?! N-Nagami-senpai is an author?!”
“That’s right, desu. Look, this is his novel.”
And Double Peace-sensei made it even worse by showing Nikaido-san a copy.
“W-Who loves her big brother way too much to cope…?!”
As expected, Nikaido-san’s facial colour turned a deep red, and she turned around to glare at me.
After that, I tried my best to reassure Nikaido-san that I wasn’t actually putting my hands on Suzuka, and I somehow got Suzuka to help me out. Though at first she said things like “Y-Yes! Onii-chan and I are always lovey-dovey!”, which only added oil to the fire, after understanding the situation, she helped calm Nikaido-san’s anger.
…It was probably just my imagination that she had done so very unwillingly.
After reading the main content of the book, the impact was apparently too much for her, and her nose started bleeding. Soon after, she seemed to have calmed down, though.
…It looks like her biases are gone now… but so is most of her goodwill towards me, huh…
Well, whatever. If we keep our research down at school, this rumour will disappear sooner or later.
“Then I will be going home now, Yuu.”
After returning to the train station in Akiba, we separated from Mai, who had to work on her novel since her deadline was close. Suzuka, Nikaido-san, and I went home as a group.
“Ahhh… Today was really tiring.”
“T-That’s right. I’m also very tired.”
“I’m really thankful for today. Suzuka too, thank you very much…”
“It’s nothing at all. And, as I said before, please keep the fact that I’m a light novel author a secret at school, okay?”
“I understand. I will not tell a soul. A swordsman doesn’t go back on his word, after all.”
…Well, she seems like an earnest person, so I guess I can trust her.
“Ah, before we go home, can we take a break here?”
As we were walking home, Suzuka said that and pointed to a small park. Since we weren’t in a hurry or anything, we all sat down on a bench. But soon after, I got back up in order for a quick bathroom break.
“Fuuu… Maybe I should get something to drink.”
After finishing up my business, I went to buy some drinks at a nearby vending machine for the three of us. And when I was just about to get back…
“Nagami-senpai really is a good person. I’m so envious of Suzuka…”
Hearing that voice, I hid behind a nearby tree out of instinct.
…They’re talking about me? And what am I hiding for, anyway…?
“W-Why are you saying that so suddenly, Kaede?”
“Well, today, I got Suzuka to understand my interests, and that’s all thanks to Nagami-senpai. If he hadn’t saved me, I couldn’t have been as honest with you as I am now.”
Uuu… this is getting a bit embarrassing. To me, a lot of it was just for selfish reasons, after all.
“T-That’s not the case, you know? It’s true that Onii-chan is a kind person, but he’s too lax for his own good, and he isn’t reliable at all! I-I have to tell him everyday to pull himself together!”
…Uuu… Though we had managed to make up, she still thinks this badly of me, huh…? No, I knew it already, but hearing it directly from her is still a bit depressing…
“Haha, that’s not true, you know? Even if that was the case, you shouldn’t ignore that he helped deepen our friendship.”
“T-That might be the case, but still…! Don’t ever think that he’s soothing, cool, and always kind, basically the best man there could ever be, okay?! Because that is certainly not the case!”
Do you want me to start crying right here, right now?! So this is really what she thinks of me…!
Just when I thought that Suzuka would demoralize me even more, she said the following words.
“Kaede, make sure to never fall in love with Onii-chan, okay?!”
E-Ehhhh?! S-Suzuka, what is wrong with you?!
“Wha—?! A-As if something like that would happen?! S-Senpai is nothing more than a benefactor to me! S-Something as weak as falling in love, I would never…!” And Nikaido-san seemed equally shocked. She panicked and tried to deny it.
Though that’s exactly what I expected, I still feel kind of sad.
“…A-Also, I’ve never experienced something like that, so I don’t know anything about it. How exactly one would fall in love with boys…” Nikaido-san replied in an earnest manner.
And after that was a perfectly timed silence. It was my time to step in and pretend I hadn’t heard a thing.
—It happened when I took one step forward.
“A-Also, Suzuka, do you have someone you like?”
Hearing that question, I froze up right then and there.
…W-What did she just say?
For some reason, the words “Someone you like” and “Suzuka” didn’t match up in my mind, and I was thrown into deep confusion. My throat felt dry, and my palms started sweating.
…W-What is this feeling?
“N-No, that’s not possible… It’s Suzuka we’re talking about, after all.”
And Nikaido-san followed herself up with these words, answering her own question. Suzuka for her part just kept quiet, as if she was pondering something.
…Nikaido-san is right… Suzuka shouldn’t have someone like that…! But why am I so desperately trying to convince myself…?
Finally, I heard Suzuka’s shaky voice. Followed by the sound of her taking a deep breath. Before I had even realized it, I held my breath, waiting for her next words. And—
“I-I…! I have someone that I like!!!”
Those words were the most shocking words I had heard in my entire life.