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Please listen to my selfishness
Recently, Onii-chan has been acting weird. To be precise, it feels like he’s always spacing out. Of course, that isn’t necessarily something weird. I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t cute, but this isn’t quite like any way he’s behaved before.
Even this morning, while we were walking to school together—
“Onii-chan! Can you hear me? Onii-chan!”
“Don’t ‘Ahh’ me. What’s wrong? You seem to be spacing out…”
“N-No, it’s nothing at all.”
“It certainly doesn’t look that way… Well, if you say so. R-Rather than that, for today’s research—Hey, Onii-chan?!”
“…Yeah, what is it?”
“Listen to me! I wanted to talk about our research for today! Don’t go spacing out again!”
“Ahh, research, huh…? Sorry, I’m not feeling up to it today, so can we skip research for today?”
“Well… Just because. A-Anyway, let’s just hurry to school. We’re going to be late…”
“Ah, w-wait, Onii-chan!”
…As you can tell, this is more than he usually spaces out. He seems like he’s not even there, and when we talk, he always seems to be lost in thought. Of course, being lovey-dovey when he’s acting like this is clearly impossible. Something this severe has never happened to him before. It almost feels like Onii-chan is trying to avoid me—
…Uuuu! J-Just thinking about it makes my heart ache! T-There’s no way that could be the case, right…? S-Something like that…!
I tightly hugged my pillow while rolling around on my bed, trying to calm myself down.
…When I think rationally about it, there’s only one thing I can think of that could have caused something like this to happen.
The person Onii-chan likes.
I don’t want to think about it, but I can’t allow myself to ignore it either…! So is Onii-chan acting strange because of this person? Is he thinking only about her, and thus trying to put distance between him and me…?
T-That wouldn’t be good. The more I think about it, the more it makes me want to cry…! B-But, this isn’t the time to be drowning in tears…! If this keeps up, Onii-chan might be taken away from me…!
Uuu…! F-For now, let’s assume that this is the case. Why did Onii-chan suddenly change to such an extent? To me, it seems like there weren’t any major changes around Onii-chan, and that’s coming from someone who watches everything he does. And there haven’t been any women around him—Well, except for Himuro-san, Double Peace-san, Sakura-san, Akino-san, and Haruna-san… But other than them, there shouldn’t have been any new rivals.
…I really don’t understand at all. Let’s change my way of approach… When exactly did I first notice this change in Onii-chan? I assume that it happened the night of the day we went to Akihabara…? Then, did anything happen that would have caused it? Aside from going to Double Peace-san’s home and cosplaying (which I really don’t want to remember, to be perfectly honest), nothing comes to mind.
“…Ahh, that reminds me. On the way home, I had a conversation with Kaede.”
Suddenly, I recalled that memory. That’s right. Our conversation suddenly veered into the territory of what boys we liked. I remember panicking when Kaede suddenly asked me that.
…No, nothing comes to mind there, either. But then, why did Onii-chan suddenly change to this degree?
“…N-Now that it’s come to this, I have to find out the cause immediately, and try to get rid of it.”
That’s what I decided after careful thought. Getting rid of it—Basically, showing Onii-chan my charm and making him forget completely about the person he likes.
…However, it hasn’t exactly been going as I wanted. Even though we should be being lovey-dovey, Onii-chan just won’t look at me, and he’s turned into such a mess.
“It seems like we need to be even more lovey-dovey than ever before…!”
Thinking about doing this and that, I almost lost myself in fantasies, but I barely managed to hold myself back.
…Is it really fine to do that? Of course, I want to be lovey-dovey with Onii-chan, 24/7. However, that is nothing more than a desire of mine. What is important right now is making Onii-chan forget about the person he likes, and make him look only at me. Just being flirty and lovey-dovey isn’t enough…
If I don’t take more radical measures, Onii-chan might actually be taken away from me for real. For all of eternity.
“…T-That is something I definitely cannot allow! I have to think of something…!”
Though I really wanted to cry, I had to hold the tears back. But no matter how much I rolled around on my bed, dwelling on it, not a single plan came to mind.
“Uuuu… I have no time to waste here, but—Ah.”
In that moment, my eyes fell upon my smartphone, which was lying atop my desk. A while ago, Onii-chan and I had went to buy one, since it was time for me to upgrade. While I looked at it, Onii-chan’s words came back to me: “If you’re having trouble that you can’t solve on your own, it’s always better to ask for help…”
“…Though, I’m still a bit worried about this…”
I wondered if I should ask for help from Himuro-san or Double Peace-san. From what I heard when we were in Akihabara, a certain ‘Towano Chikai LINE’ group exists, and they exchange information there every day. Since I hadn’t had a smartphone before now, I wasn’t able to participate, but maybe now would be fine? If I joined that group, I might be able to get some help. Wouldn’t this be a good idea? I’ve reached a dead end from trying to do this all on my own, after all. Nodding to myself, I tapped on the ‘join’ button.
‘Ohh, Imouto-san, so you finally joined, desu! Welcome! Make yourself at home!’
The moment I joined, I received a message from Double Peace-san. Shortly after, Himuro-san and Sakura-san, even Akino-san and Haruna-san, all welcomed me. So these five are the group members, I see.
…Hmm, this seems to be very useful. That reminds me, Kotomi also mentioned something about making a group, so this must be what she meant.
While thinking about such things, I greeted everyone. After I had gotten used to chatting for a bit, I got to the main topic.
‘Right now, Onii-chan is having a bit of trouble with his novel. To be precise, he doesn’t know how the heroine should act to get the protagonist to pay attention to her. What do you think? I’m trying my best to help him out, but there are certain things that I’m not as good at as everyone else here.’
Of course, this was nothing more than an excuse. There was no way I could just reveal that I was worrying about the person Onii-chan likes, nor could I reveal that I was the real Towano Chikai.
In response to my question, everyone gave their own opinions.
‘I think that there should be some kind of event that would make him be conscious of her,’ said Akino-san.
‘Since the heroine is a little sister, an approach by a real little sister is the best way to go!’ came from Sakura-san.
‘To make the protagonist conscious of her, an ero event is necessary, desu!’ was, of course, Double Peace-san.
‘No, a normal date should be enough, right? And make something special happen during it,’ commented Haruna-san.
‘The crazier the event, the better. Like a confession. Simple, yet effective,’ Himuro-san said with confidence.
…Hmm, even though I understand their ideas, none of them are clicking with me. Just as Akino-san said, an event to make Onii-chan conscious of me is necessary. And of course, the little sister power that I hold is essential… W-Well, if an indecent event is really necessary, then I won’t hesitate, but… And a date isn’t that big of a problem, but make something special happen, huh…? Still, a confession is impossible! I know that it would be the easiest thing to understand, just thinking about it, but…! Auuu…!
Though everyone had their own ideas, it still felt like something was missing.
‘I think that there are limits with just the two of them. How about adding a third person?’ said Akino-san.
‘How about introducing a rival, desu?’ said Double Peace-san.
‘Ah, that might be pretty good, wouldn’t it? If you do that, the protagonist will have no other choice but to take notice of her,’ said Haruna-san.
‘Ehhh, but Yuuka only has eyes for Onii-chan. A rival would be out-of-place there,’ said Sakura-san.
‘You just have to make it clear that a rival exists,’ said Himuro-san.
Seeing their exchange, I felt like I finally understood, and so I commented with the following.
‘Then, what would be a good rival character?’
After my question, everyone thoroughly explained it to me.
Apparently, a rival character is a character, usually male, who holds affection for the heroine of the story and tries to approach her. The point of adding a rival is to force the main protagonist to pay more attention to the heroine. And in order make it more intense, the rival character usually has quite a lot going for him.
“…T-This is it!”
Upon learning about that, I made a fist.
“A rival character would be perfect for the current situation! The sudden appearance of a male character in front of the little sister! With that, Onii-chan will start panicking and look at me more…!”
Of course, there isn’t any need for such a character inside my novel. They would be nothing but a bother.
…But I can use this in reality!
After thanking everyone for their help, I put away my smartphone and started coming up with a plan of attack. For starters, I can’t just make a rival appear out of thin air. After all, my love is only directed towards Onii-chan, and all the confessions I’ve received up until now have been nothing but a bother. Not to mention, I don’t know any other boys around me whom I could ask, nor do I plan on getting to know any.
…That leaves me no other choice but to make one appear in my novel, huh? Onii-chan loves little sisters as much as he loves my novel. What if a rival character suddenly appears…? That shouldn’t be allowed, right?
Sooner or later, surely he’ll project those feelings of jealousy onto me.
“….‘What if such a boy suddenly appeared in front of Suzuka? Ahh, this isn’t the time to be thinking about the person I like!’… Something like that surely will happen! Ehe, ehehehe…!”
I-Isn’t this the best plan ever?!
Of course, I have no intention of actually adding such a character to the novel. I will just have to pretend that I’m adding the character in front of Onii-chan. Then, when Onii-chan starts feeling jealous, I will restart my writing, without the rival.
“Now that it’s been decided, it’s time to work on the story!”
With that, I booted up my laptop. But when I went to start typing, I found my hands unable to do so.
“………How exactly do you write a rival character?”
Apparently, a character like that has to have very high specs. But I don’t really know what ‘having high specs’ means. And it certainly doesn’t help that I only have Onii-chan as my mental image of an ideal man. My father is… well… my father. That only leaves me with Onii-chan, the protagonist, but different.
“…Basically, I’ll be approached by two Onii-chans…!”
The moment I blurted out those words, countless fantasies began floating into my head. I stood up, dove onto my bed, and went ‘Ehehehe’ while hugging my pillow.
Roll roll roll.
“T-This isn’t good… This isn’t the time to be losing myself in my fantasies…! I have to hurry up and work on the manuscript…!”
After a few minutes had passed, I managed to pull myself back to my senses, and I returned to my work.
“…A serious and kind Onii-chan, who is always cool, but sometimes a bit unreliable… and two of them are approaching me…! Ahh, which one should I choose here…? Ehe, ehehe, ehehehehe!”
Of course, it was no surprise that my fingers were tapping away on my keyboard at a very high speed.
…Just you wait, Onii-chan! I will definitely make you pay attention to me! I will definitely win against the person you like!
When I came to my senses, I was in my own room, not doing anything, just spacing out. Right in front of me was my PC monitor, which contained a blank writing document.
…Ahh, that’s right, I was going to work on my entry novel for the contest… right?
“…It seems like I’m still not completely back to normal,” I gently rubbed my temples.
My head still wasn’t working properly, and it felt like my entire body was in a daze. It’s been like this for a few days now. I can’t put any energy into anything at all, whether it be my daily life or my light novel work. If I relax at all, this is what happens.
…I know the reason. It’s because of Suzuka’s ‘Beloved person’. Those words felt like a kick to the gut.
Suzuka—my little sister—has a person she likes. I mean, Suzuka’s a high school student now, and a girl of that age. Falling in love once or twice is completely normal… But,
…But it gives me an ominous feeling for some reason. Though I can’t describe it properly, it feels something is gripping on my chest… Every time I think about Suzuka being in love with someone… My head is perfectly fine with it, but my heart doesn’t want to understand. To sum it up, hearing that Suzuka was in love with someone came as a complete shock to my heart, and I can’t really accept it.
“…Keep it together, me…” I whispered to myself, letting out a sigh.
Even if I know of the fact, it’s not like I can change it, so why does it bother me so much? I shouldn’t be this much of a siscon that I feel like this about my real sister…
Thinking that, I sighed once more. Then a knock came from the door.
“O-Onii-chan, do you have some time right now?”
When Suzuka entered the room, my heart skipped a beat.
…H-Hey, what kind of reaction is that… Was it because I was just thinking of her?
“W-What is it, Suzuka? Do you need something?” I asked as calmly as I could.
When I did, she started fidgeting, and…
“U-Umm… How do I say it…? I would like some advice concerning the next volume…”
For some reason, her cheeks were a faint red colour, and she said this while averting her eyes.
…The next volume… Ahh, her light novel, right. Damn it, my head still isn’t working properly.
“Y-Yeah, what is it? What’s the problem?”
“W-Well, I was a bit troubled about how I should move the story forward.”
“Is that so? …Wait, what are we even talking about?”
“T-That’s… I thought that I would introduce a character who would be a rival to Ryou, and they’d be in love with Yuuka…!”
My whole body froze.
…What… did she just say…? A r-rival character? Basically, a rival to the protagonist’s love…? E-Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh?!?!
W-Why so suddenly?! Your novel is a sibling romance little sister novel, right?! Then, why something like this—
I hurriedly swallowed my breath.
…D-Don’t tell me? Suddenly introducing a rival character with this timing… There can only be one reason for this, right…? Basically, she’s writing this rival character based off of the person she likes…?!
Though I had no basis for it at all, I was certain that was the case. There should be no other reason for this genius of an author Towano Chikai to suddenly introduce another character like this. So this rival character really is Suzuka’s…
“I-I thought of writing something while keeping that in mind…”
Suzuka handed over the manuscript. For some reason, it felt immensely heavy.
“A-And, what kind of developments do you think would be good after introducing this character?”
For whatever reason, Suzuka was restlessly glancing at me with an expectant gaze, but I didn’t have the time to bother with that. With my mind going blank, I could only say a weak “…Could you give me some time?” and dismiss her back to her room. Once she was gone, I started reading the manuscript.
…W-What’s up with him…! Normally he’s indecisive, weak-willed, and unreliable, but now he’s actually a kind and warm-hearted person? As if there would be a person like that out there…!
The more I kept reading, the more this rival character tried to push his way between the little sister heroine Yuuka and her older brother. After finishing a chapter of what she handed to me, I let out a heavy sigh. There was definitely no room to complain about the progression of the story, but…
“…So this is the person who Suzuka likes, huh…?”
There was no use in doubting it anymore. Not after he was so suddenly introduced like that. And suddenly, the image of Suzuka and that person walking next to each other flashed across my mind.
…The person Suzuka likes… Suzuka’s boyfriend…
The moment the word ‘boyfriend’ came up in my thoughts, my mood suddenly became heavy, and I felt my energy leaving my body.
“…T-This isn’t good. Why am I suddenly getting so depressed…?! A little sister getting a boyfriend is something that’s totally normal…! So why am I feeling so sad about it…?!”
Though I tried to cheer myself up with those words, it actually had the opposite effect, making me feel even worse.
“Ahhh for crying out loud! It’s about the novel! She’s writing a light novel here!”
Slapping my cheeks, I once more sat down in front of my PC. Trying to change my mood, I furiously started tapping away on the keyboard, writing whatever came to mind for my own novel.
…I have my light novels… I have my light novels…!
And after close to an hour had passed…
As if I had been running a marathon, I was out of breath, and there was sweat running down my forehead.
…T-This might be the first time I’ve ever written with such focus…
And of course, I immediately went to check the results of my hard work.
“W-Why did it turn into a little sister romcom?! No way! Even though I was planning on writing a psychokinesis battle novel?!” I was completely shocked. Without a doubt, the story right in front of me that I had written was a little sister romcom.
I was at a loss for words after realizing that Suzuka’s situation had this much of an impact on me. Because of that realization, I was so troubled that I couldn’t keep my body up. I collapsed onto my bed, only to start sliding off of it.
“…What am I doing?”
Filled with grief, I sank down onto the floor.
“…………Haah, that’s right.”
Completely exhausted, I finally arrived at a conclusion.
…It was something I should’ve realised from the beginning.
“The fact that an older brother says anything, or even thinks anything, about the male relationships her little sister has is weird in and of itself…”
I had thought that it was perfectly reasonable. I was afraid of actually being influenced by it so much.
To be honest, it wasn’t like the uncomfortable feeling was gone, and my body was still restless, but I forced myself to put up with it, and convinced myself that this was the right conclusion.
“…Here we go, then.”
I finally got up, and left my room with the manuscript in both hands.
“O-Onii-chan, so you read my manuscript?”
My destination was Suzuka’s room, of course. I handed her the manuscript back, and she looked at me with expectant eyes. Though her gaze actually hurt more than anything.
“S-So, what do you think?! What kind of development should I have happen after this?!”
When she asked me this question, I responded with the conclusion I had arrived at. Though I was still resistant to it, I still forced those words out my throat.
“S-Sorry. I couldn’t think of anything, so you should probably just do what you want to do.”
“…Eh? Ehhhhhhh?!” Suzuka’s eyes opened wide. “Wha—! What do you mean by that?!”
“L-Like I said, I can’t give you any advice, so you should write whatever you think is best… I’m sorry that I’m not able to help…”
“N-No way…?! O-Onii-chan is just fine with this kind of development?! You didn’t feel anything about me introducing a rival character?!”
Of course I did. And it certainly wasn’t a positive feeling.
…Honestly, if I could, I would want this character to be removed immediately. I would never want to have to read a scene with him in it. From the bottom of my heart, I wished she would continue to write her lovey-dovey little sister story like always. But do I really have the right to say that? Suzuka used the person she likes as a model for this character, you know? Telling her to get rid of him… Being a fan is one thing, but there’s no way I could say something so selfish to her, especially as her older brother…!
“D-Don’t tell me… Onii-chan doesn’t care at all…? Because he already has a person… he doesn’t want to bother… with me…?!”
With a face as if she had been stabbed in the heart, her whole body started shaking, and her voice also shook. I couldn’t pick up everything she said.
Of course I care…! But…!
“O-Onii-chan… doesn’t want to choose me… but that person…! In places where I can’t see him… They’re being lovey-dovey…! Uuuuuu…!”
I have no right to speak out against your plans. Forcing you to write something you don’t want to, and making both you and the story suffer as a result would be way too frightening…!
I had no other choice but to stay quiet. I didn’t want to hurt her…
“…Uuuuu…! Leave me alone…!!!” Suzuka said without looking me in the eye as she opened the door.
“Sorry…” is all I could mutter as I stepped out of her room. All the while, I was thinking that I really am a failure as an older brother, in a lot of ways.
After that, it felt like the wall between me and Suzuka had been restored. But it felt slightly different than before. Back then, I had thought that Suzuka just hated me, and it’d felt like she had built up a brick wall between us. This time, it felt like like a transparent glass wall.
My eyes could see her, but my hand just couldn’t reach out. In a way, our distance was far greater than before.
Our communication decreased to the barest minimum, and it was always accompanied with an awkward atmosphere. On our route to school, we would merely walk next to each other, not holding hands or anything. No, we had just been doing it for research, and there was no longer any reason for it. That was all.
Those days continued, and we lost the positive attitude we both had before.
…For me, the reason was of course because I was still wracking my brain to figure out the person Suzuka likes. No matter how much and and how hard I thought about it, I couldn’t come to accept it. Even though I knew that I shouldn’t feel like this, it wasn’t a problem of reasoning.
And Suzuka still looked like she was pondering something. Maybe it was because we were two people who formed one Towano Chikai, and she was mad at me for running away from that role—or maybe not. It looked like it might have been something completely different.
…She’s probably thinking about the person she likes. Or maybe she’s thinking about her next volume… Whatever it is, I can’t do anything about it.
“Hey Yuu, you seem to be in a bad mood recently. And so is Suzuka-san… Did something happen?”
Apparently, it wasn’t difficult at all for the people around us to pick up on that change.
‘I heard from Mai, desu. If you’re worrying about something, feel free to consult me.’
‘I don’t really know what happened, but cheer up, Sensei! Sakura will be your ally if anything happens!’
‘As your pupil, I cannot overlook the fact that my teacher is not feeling up to it. I can be your senpai in life.’
‘I don’t really care about you, but Suzuka-san is acting weird, too. What happened?’
And so, I received countless emails and phone calls like this. But of course, consulting with anyone was not an option, and I had no other choice but to send cover-up responses.
Time went on, until—
“Senpai? I would like some advice, so could you accompany me for a bit?”
Nikaido-san called out to me with a serious expression on her face.
It was after classes, in the corner of the school building, and I was following Nikaido-san.
“Of course, I would like to talk about Suzuka. Recently, Suzuka has clearly been under the weather. When I asked her about it, she told me it was nothing… So I thought that maybe Nagami-senpai would know something.”
…I thought as much.
Since I was anticipating this development, I immediately knew how to answer.
“No, I don’t really know myself.”
“So you don’t know what the problem is, even though you live under the same roof?”
“There are some things you don’t know even if you live under the same roof.”
Nikaido-san seemed a bit surprised by my response. After that, Nikaido-san kept questioning me, and I kept giving vague answers in response.
“…I hadn’t planned on telling Senpai about this, but…”
Finally, Nikaido-san looked like she had made up her mind about something, and she continued.
“Are you aware that Suzuka has a person she likes?”
I have to admit that my fake reaction was about as weird as it could have possibly been, but luckily Nikaido-san bought the act.
“I asked her directly about it. And she told me that she has someone she likes… Does Senpai have any idea who this person might be?”
“N-No?! I-I-I have no clue?!”
“…Is that so? To be honest, I’ve been speculating that this might be the reason why she seems so off these past few days. Maybe she’s troubled because of her love,” Nikaido-san said, her face turning slightly red.
…Ahhh, that was dangerous… But now that she mentions it, Nikaido-san was actually the one who asked Suzuka so directly.
“I-Is that so? I had no idea,” I tried to answer as calmly as possible, but…
“Are you really fine with that, Senpai?”
Nikaido-san suddenly asked me that with a straight face.
“F-Fine with what?”
“I’m talking about Suzuka having someone that she likes. She’s just a first-year high school student, you know? I-I personally think that she’s acting a bit too fast here!”
“You think so too?!”
Ah—C-Calm down… Though it seems that Nikaido-san doesn’t think so positively about Suzuka having a crush either… A-Again, I shouldn’t be feeling like this!
“Senpai, do you have any sort of idea who the person she likes is?”
“N-No, I have no idea.”
To be honest, I really want to know—I had to stop myself from blurting that out.
“Is that so…? If we don’t do something, she might be taken away…!”
“C-Calm down. This isn’t something that we should decide for her.”
That’s what I decided, after thinking about it for such a long time.
“W-What are you saying! Are you really fine with Suzuka being taken away by some unknown man?!”
Of course not!—is what I wanted to reply, but I had to force myself to keep my mouth shut.
…I really want to change that! But there isn’t any way an older brother like me should say something like that! I should just watch over her and make sure that she doesn’t get hurt! Those are the limits to our sibling relationship, after all! Suzuka’s happiness is my utmost priority!
“…A-Anyway, whether or not the reason for her current mood is because of said person, I cannot ignore the fact that my friend Suzuka is like this. That’s why I’m asking you, Senpai. Can’t you try to cheer her up from your end?”
“Yes. I think that the effect would be greater if it comes from Senpai. This isn’t the first time that she’s felt down, right?”
N-No no no, there’s no way I could do that. Not when it concerns my little sister’s love life.
“…I’m sorry, but I can’t.”
“Wha—?! W-Why, Senpai!? It’s your little sister we’re talking about, you know?! Since you’re her older brother, there should be something…!”
“I can’t do it. This time, I can’t help her out…”
Nikaido-san’s eyes opened wide, as if she couldn’t believe what I had just said. But finally, she narrowed her eyes, looking at me in disgust.
“I misjudged you, Senpai! I thought that at least you would…!”
“…Whatever you say, I won’t change my mind.”
“…! Suzuka said that Senpai was, if it came down to it, very kind and reliable, you know?! And I felt like you were undeniably similar to the older brother featured in your novel…!”
“Eh? Y-You read that…?”
“Y-Yes, I bought it and read it myself! It really had a great impact on me, in a lot of ways…! But setting that aside for now, didn’t Senpai also save me? I thought you would be a wonderful person like the protagonist of that story…!”
“…I’m nothing like that ideal older brother.”
“…! Yes, that’s right.”
With a “Fine, then,” she cut the conversation. After glaring at me for some time, she turned her back to me.
“…I really thought that you would be a perfect older brother… What a disappointment.”
Leaving only those words behind, she left me alone. After watching her until she disappeared, I let out a sigh and rested my back against the wall behind me.
“I can’t help it, can I…?”
Yes, there is nothing I can do in this situation. I could only stare blankly up at the sky, letting my mind go blank. Even after several minutes went by, Nikaido-san’s final words still rang in my mind.
Of course. An older brother who’s unable to do something while his little sister is suffering is a complete failure. But I knew the reason I couldn’t do anything, and there was nothing to do.
…Even if it doesn’t sit well with me, no matter how much I treasure my little sister, I can do nothing but accept her feelings. If I want to place her happiness as my first priority, I can only remain quiet here.
To be honest, I wish I could have told her my honest opinions on that day when she came to ask me for advice. But now, it’s too late. There’s nothing I can do anymore. While ignoring the painful feeling in my chest, I’ve been drifting further and further away from Suzuka.
“Though she’s probably gone home already, I might as well go check…”
Letting out a sigh, I made my way towards the first-year classrooms. But when I arrived, I couldn’t find either Suzuka or her friends Nikaido-san or Shiina-san.
…Did she go home already?
“Ah, isn’t that Nagami-san’s older brother?”
“Ah, you’re right.”
“Let me see!”
The various female students from her class quickly spotted me and came storming at me.
“What is your business here~?”
“Maybe he’s here because of Nagami-san?”
“Those siblings don’t look alike at all…”
How noisy… And hey, what was that last comment about?
“Umm… Is Suzuka here? Or did she go home already?”
Still, I thought that asking wouldn’t hurt.
“Hey, what should we do about this?”
“Would it be fine to tell him?”
And I received a rather obnoxious-sounding response.
“This just came up a few minutes ago…”
“An boy nobody knew came here, and called Nagami-san to the back of the school building.”
“It’s gotta be a confession, right?”
………A boy suddenly called Suzuka to the back of the school building… A confession?!
In the next instant, I was running at full speed, ignoring the words of those around me. I was running down the hallway that was filled with students on their way home after classes.
I only knew that I was heading towards the back of the school building. I didn’t know what I was going to do when I got there. I didn’t know, but my legs kept moving as fast as they could.
“Haaaa… Haaa…! Dang it…!”
While my body was plagued by rough breathing, the uncomfortable feeling inside my chest grew more intense.
…No, this isn’t just discomfort. It’s… denial. It fills my heart. It fills my head.
Suzuka is being confessed to by a boy. Of course. Given Suzuka’s beauty and her personality, that should come as no surprise. And she’s been confessed to countless times.
…But what if…? What if this boy is actually the person Suzuka likes?!
“…Haaa… Haaa…! Dang it…!”
Inside my head, that image came up. No matter how many times I tried to purge my mind of those thoughts, they came back, again and again. Suzuka and that unknown person, standing face to face. Suzuka looking at him, with flushed cheeks and her usual cute smile, and him returning a good-looking grin. And after the boy says the words Suzuka wants to hear, she starts crying tears of joy. The personification of happiness. Finally, that good-looking boy puts his hands on her shoulders, in response to which she softly nods, closing her eyes and lifting her head upwards. And then… Then…!
“As if I would let you do thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!”
I let out an enraged scream, picking up even more speed.
Ahhh, get out of my way already!—I mentally berated the students walking down the hallway as I brushed past them. Inside my head, I could only think about Suzuka. Suzuka’s appearance, the same one I had been seeing since she was just a small child. I still have memories of her.
Chanting out ‘Onii-chan, Onii-chan’ while clinging to my back, happy as she could be, when she was still an infant.
Suzuka as a kindergartner, after falling and scraping her knee, saying ‘Onii-chan I love you!’ while I embraced her while she was crying.
Suzuka in grade school, with her backpack on her back, stretching herself as tall as she could while saying ‘I’m an adult now.’ I laughed so hard that I cried, while her face turned red from embarrassment.
And finally, Suzuka in middle school when she showed me a smile I hadn’t seen in years, after we’d finally made up…
With all those memories flooding my mind, I finally understood just how much of an important existence Suzuka was to me. That was exactly why—
“Not my Suzuka…! Don’t you dare lay a hand on my most precious little sister! I don’t know who you are, but I will never forgive youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!”
Completely ignoring my sense of public decency and the stares of the other students around me, I screamed from the bottom of my heart.
I’m selfish? I’m egoistic? …Yeah, I know! You got a problem with that?! Ahhhhhh, I want to hit the me from a few minutes ago straight in the face…!
What’s up with that “As an older brother, I won’t say anything about my little sister’s relationships”!?
What’s up with “I have to accept the fact that my little sister has someone she likes”?!
All that lip service can go rot in hell! I’ll throw away all my pride!
I will never allow anyone to take Suzuka away from me!!!
That was what I stated, loud and clear. The ‘As her older brother’ in my brain was erased for the moment. I didn’t want her to be taken away. And it didn’t matter if Suzuka had feelings for him. Even if she hates me… even if she loathes me, until I die! I won’t lie to myself anymore.
“…Dammit! Wait for me…!”
Dashing out of the school building, I made my way to the back of the building, surrounded by trees. And…
“There she is!”
Finally, I spotted Suzuka, who was standing still. And she was alone.
“I made it in tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!”
Letting out a scream, I jumped out in front of Suzuka. Because of my sudden appearance, Suzuka’s body twitched in shock. Her eyes went round, and she seemed lost as to what was happening.
“O-Onii-chan?! W-W-W-Why are you here?!”
Ignoring her outburst, I took deep breaths, looking around us.
“Ufff… Haaah… T-That bastard isn’t here yet, it seems…!”
“E-Ehh…? What do you…?”
Who could blame her? She had been called out here by a boy, only for her older brother to suddenly appear before her… Well, that doesn’t matter right now.
“…Haaaah… haaah… Alright! We’re going home, Suzuka!”
She was completely bewildered. Though she looked a bit hesitant, I grabbed her hand and started walking.
“O-Onii-chan?! W-W-W-Wait a moment!”
“Wha—?! What are you saying?! Why are you here in the first place…!”
Since Suzuka was fighting against my grip, I had no choice but to turn around. When I did, I saw that Suzuka was glaring at me with a flushed face.
“A-Anyways, please let go of my hand for now…! My heart is…!”
“I don’t want to.”
“Because I don’t want to let go.”
Though she was crazily blushing from ear to ear, she still didn’t stop resisting, and she managed to free her hand.
“W-What’s even going on…! You’re always acting weird, but today it’s way more than usual, you know?! Please explain yourself properly!”
“That can wait until later. For now, we’re getting away from here.”
“And why is that!? I am waiting for someone here, so I can’t leave this place! …And why is Onii-chan here in the first place?!” Suzuka started rattling off countless questions at me.
But without responding to any of them, I countered with a question of mine.
“You were called here by a boy, right?”
Confronted by that question, Suzuka’s eyes went wide.
“…That might be true, but why is that important right now? No, why does Onii-chan know of that?!”
“That doesn’t matter right now. Rather than that, getting confessed to by this boy is the main problem here.”
…She didn’t expect it? She really can be oblivious sometimes.
“I can’t allow that to happen. That’s why we’re going home. Now.”
“P-Please wait a moment! What do you mean by that?!”
“I’ll give you the details later, so let’s just get awa—”
“N-No! If you don’t explain it to me properly, right now, I won’t go home!”
I once more reached out with my hand. But Suzuka rejected me, pushing my hand away.
It makes sense that she wouldn’t be satisfied with just this. But even if I have to drag her away by force, I’m not going to let her meet this boy.
But of course, whether or not Suzuka understands my intentions, doing that would surely cause her to get mad.
“W-What do you even mean by that?! A-A boy… A confession… what are you even talking about?!”
Suzuka continued glaring at me.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with Onii-chan, so don’t butt in!”
“Of course it has to do with me! As if I could ignore the fact that you’re getting confessed to! And by the boy you’re interested in, no less!”
Those words brought Suzuka to her senses, and she just stared blankly at me for a few seconds.
“Eh…? O-Onii-chan? Aren’t you having a misunderstanding here…?”
“As if! …You don’t have to hide it. I already know. That’s why I can’t just ignore what’s going on here!”
“Wha—Ehhh?! E-Even if that were the case, what does it matter?! Onii-chan isn’t involved in this in the slightest!”
“Like I said! I do—”
But before I could finish my sentence, Suzuka interrupted me. “Also! Onii-chan doesn’t care about me at all, right?!”
Her words forced my mouth shut in confusion.
In that moment, I couldn’t even comprehend what Suzuka had said.
“…T-That’s right! Onii-chan doesn’t care about me at all! He never discusses anything with me…!”
“Even so, suddenly… suddenly saying things like this! To Onii-chan, I’m nothing more than a plain old little sister, so just leave me alone already!” Suzuka averted her eyes.
I had no idea what Suzuka was saying. It seemed like she had a serious misunderstanding about something. But…
In the next moment, I saw tears forming in Suzuka’s eyes, and something in my head snapped.
“Of course I care about you!”
I was already screaming that aloud before I realized it.
“Thinking that Suzuka was being confessed to by a boy…! And I was sure that you would accept…! My body moved on its own…!”
I couldn’t properly put my feelings into words. Maybe something inside me was stopping me from properly explaining it. And when I realized that, I decided to let out my honest feelings, no matter what people would think about me…
“I…! Just thinking about you getting a boyfriend made me feel horrible! So please, don’t get a boyfriend!”
This was the plain, unpolished truth, and the worst confession possible.
There was a moment of complete silence. A perplexed expression came across Suzuka’s face, and…
Suzuka let out a confused scream, blinking at me violently.
“T-That is… Ehhh?! O-Onii-chan doesn’t want me… a boyfriend?! And he would hate that?! You don’t want me to get one?! Auuuuu…!”
Suzuka’s face went as red as a tomato, and she started flailing her hands violently. I had never seen her like this before, but I hardly even noticed. The dam holding my heart back broke, and the words kept flowing out.
“That’s right! Just imagining you getting a boyfriend made my chest hurt! I know I don’t have the right to say it as your older brother, but I cannot allow that!”
I couldn’t stop myself anymore. All the feelings I had kept bottled up inside me wouldn’t stop coming out.
“Sorry, Suzuka! But I have to tell you this right now!”
I gazed straight into her eyes. In response she took a step back, perplexed.
“Please don’t get a boyfriend! Don’t accept his confession! I know that I’m being selfish, and egoistic… But I can’t stand it! Just thinking that you would be taken away from me… the loneliness is eating away at my heart!!!”
“B-But… Eh… Uhm…! Fuaa… Nya….!”
“Those… are my honest feelings…!”
My head was a mess, my breathing was rough, but it was now or never. Of course, I knew how ridiculous my demands were. I’m being egoistic, completely disregarding Suzuka’s feelings, and quite frankly, my feelings are disgusting. Really, it was the worst confession ever. But I’d made up my mind.
Even if this wall between Suzuka and I keeps growing taller, even if she hates me more than she did before we made up, I want to stay honest to my own feelings.
…I have to be honest…! Sorry. I’m so disgusting that I even made you cry. Suzuka… I’m sorry… for being the worst possible older brother you could have! I really am a worthless, hardcore siscon…! There’s no helping me, I know it…!
But let me say this… Please, put up with my selfishness—!
I took a deep breath, and said the following.
“I…! I don’t want you to be taken away from me by anyone else! So please, don’t leave me alone! Stay my little sister forever!!!”
A quiet voice replied to my screams.
Suzuka was making an unbelievable face, looking up at me with her hands on her chest like she was in trance. Even I didn’t know what I had just said, but it looked like she had just been confessed to by someone she loved. She made this kind of reaction to my selfishness. And…
“…………Yes, I understand…”
Those were her exact words. Maybe Suzuka herself didn’t know what she was saying. Maybe she was lost in this bizarre situation, and was just giving an answer in order to end it. But her gaze, filled with affirmation, was impossible to misunderstand.
…S-Seriously…? Suzuka’s accepting this ridiculous request…?
The moment I realized that…
For some reason, at the back of the school, where it should’ve been only me and Suzuka, deafeningly loud screams suddenly reached our ears.
“Uwa?! W-What is it?!”
Because of the shock, Suzuka and I jumped at each other, tightly hugging each other. Looking around in a panic, we saw countless other students appearing from the trees’ shadows, or sticking their heads out of the windows, and they all were looking at us with eyes of admiration.
…W-What is this?! What just happened?!
“I-I’m really moved!”
“What was that?!”
“Amazing… I don’t know what just happened, but amazing…”
“Uwaa, that really got my heart pumping…!”
“This is bad, really bad!”
“Waaahh… Tears… Tears are coming out…”
…And so on. They were all saying weird things like that.
The excited boys, the girls on the verge of tears… not to mention the people with their smartphones out… What’s happening?!
And I wasn’t the only one confused by the situation. Still in my arms, Suzuka was looking around in shock.
“W-Why are you all here?!”
A boy came walking towards us.
…Ah, so this is the guy who called Suzuka out here!
I glared at him, ready to tell him off, but then I realized it.
“…Don’t tell me; Nikaido-san?”
“Yes, that is indeed Kaede.”
Suzuka answered my question, the personification of calmness.
Ah, I thought so… Wait.
“Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh?! Why is she wearing those clothes?!”
…She’s wearing boys’ clothing! And why is she here?!
Before I could ask for clarification, the people around us started calling Nikaido-san a ‘new rival’ or something.
…Ahhh, for crying out loud, can you please not make this situation any more complicated!
“…Onii-chan, Kaede, let’s run!”
Suzuka grabbed both my and Nikaido-san’s hands, pulling us along. Though I had a hard time keeping up, I really wanted to get away from the crowd of people. Finally, we turned a corner of the school building with no people around us, and Suzuka finally halted.
“Phew… This should be fine for now.”
“Haaah… Haaah… What was that about!” My shoulders were heaving up and down as I gasped for air.
When I checked, Nikaido-san had it just as bad.
…No matter how I look at her, she really looks like a boy. She’s wearing boy’s clothing and concealing her long hair… What’s going on?
“S-Suzuka, what exactly is the meaning of this? Why were there so many students…?”
“Before that, let us ask Kaede about her appearance,” Suzuka calmly stated. In response, Nikaido-san swallowed her breath.
She probably realized that she still looked like a boy.
“And also ask her why she called me to the back of the school building.”
“Wait wait wait?! So that good-looking boy who called Suzuka out here was actually Nikaido-san?! And Suzuka, you knew about that?!”
In response to my confused reaction, Suzuka replied with a calm “Yes.” No, no, no!
“I don’t know why, but Kaede, wearing boy’s clothing, suddenly came to the classroom and told me to come to the back of the school building. She left immediately afterwards, so I didn’t have time to ask for details.”
“…So that’s why the rumour about a confession was going around… I came when I heard about that…”
“Eh, a rumour?!”
Unexpectedly, Nikaido-san was the surprised one.
…Of course you stood out if you dressed like that! Ah, so those other people heard about it and hid in the shadows!
“Since I couldn’t just leave it like that, I had no other choice but to make my way there. I thought I could ask Kaede about her plans…”
Both Suzuka and I looked at Nikaido-san.
“I-I didn’t…! I didn’t mean for it to end up like this…!”
While she was lowering her head, I spotted someone else walking towards us.
“Ah, there she is, Kaede~ Really, where did you go all of a sudden? Was the operation a success?”
Another friend of Suzuka’s, Shiina-san, calmly approached.
“Ah, Suzu-chan and her older brother? Ah? What happened in the end, I wonder…?”
“…Kotomi, what exactly is this operation about?”
“Eh? We had planned to have Kaede confess to Suzu-chan. It was going to be such a lovey-dovey operation.”
Nikaido-san hurriedly covered up Shiina-san’s mouth, but it was too late.
…Confess…? Lovey-dovey operation? I’m getting a really bad feeling about this…
“…Kaede, I would like an explanation,” Suzuka turned towards Nikaido-san and fixed her with a glare.
In response to being called out like that, Nikaido-san twitched and sighed in defeat.
…And so she started her explanation.
“I-I just couldn’t accept the fact that Suzuka was going to be going out with a boy…! I didn’t know what to do, so I came up with this plan to make you go out with me while I was disguised as a boy. I didn’t want you to be taken away from me…”
It was already bad at this point. How do I say it…? It was a horrifically bad idea. Even Suzuka didn’t know how to react.
“A-And that’s why I asked Kotomi to hook me up with a suitable outfit…” Nikaido-san said, taking off her wig.
…That reminds me, Suzuka had told me that Shiina-san was very proficient at making male costumes because she was a member of the theatre club.
“It worked fine at first. I called Suzuka here, but… in a stroke of bad luck, the cloth to hide my chest became loose, so I had to fix it, and when I came back, Nagami-senpai and all the other students were already closing in on Suzuka…”
And so she was unable to do anything.
…So I was the thorn in her operation, huh…
“Haaaah… You really are…”
After hearing all of the circumstances, Suzuka let out an exasperated sigh. Seeing that, Nikaido-san’s body seemed to become smaller, and tears started building up in her eyes.
“Now now, Suzu-chan, don’t be like that. Kaede was worried about you, which was why she did something so idiotic. Really, her thoughts and actions are always so extreme. She always jumps right in without thinking.”
S-Shiina-san really doesn’t hold back, does she?
“You really are an idiot… Haaah…”
In response, Suzuka gently wrapped her arms around Nikaido-san.
“…Thank you very much, Kaede.”
“You felt like you had to do this since you were worried about me, right?”
“B-But in the end, I made everything worse…”
“Yes, you’re right. There’s nothing good I can say about that.”
“I’m… I’m really sorry.”
“But Kaede, your feelings got across. I can’t be mad at you if you just did it for my own wellbeing. And thanks to that…”
Softly stroking Nikaido-san’s head, I saw Suzuka glance over at me for a second. Though it was probably my imagination, her cheeks seemed to be faintly flushed.
“A-Anyways, don’t worry. I wouldn’t go out with some boy who I’ve never seen before.”
Nikaido-san let loose, not holding back her tears any longer. In response, Suzuka continued to gently stroke her head. Shiina-san watched over them with a gentle expression. I hoped that their friendship would continue like this.
“…She really has good friends.”
That was why I happened to speak those words aloud.
When I did, Suzuka turned over to smile at me for a second, only to turn back, and say…
“Kaede… Thank you very much.”
That day on the way home, it was just Suzuka and me. On those streets illuminated by the setting sun, I was walking next to her, still flustered because of what had happened earlier.
…Just remembering it makes my face burn up… But I don’t regret it… I really don’t, but I can’t help but wonder what will happen now that all the other students saw our exchange. And the main problem is Suzuka. I didn’t get a chance to ask earlier, but I wonder how she really feels. Was that ‘Okay’ back then really her honest feelings?
Of course, as if she had known what I was thinking, Suzuka called out to me.
“W-What is it?”
“W-Why did Onii-chan do something like that?”
It seems like Suzuka didn’t plan on brushing it off. But asking now that all the tension is gone is a bit…
However, before I could come up with an answer, Suzuka continued.
“S-Since Onii-chan has a person he likes… should he really care about me…?”
I was totally thrown off-guard by that question.
“A-A person I like…? Me?! How did you reach that conclusion?!”
“D-Don’t try to cover it up!”
…No no no, I really have no idea what you’re talking about!
“I… I actually heard that conversation! On that day, when you were talking to Kaede, you said that you had a person you liked!”
…Ahhh, that’s why! I see, so she heard me back then.
I did say that. Loud and clear. But…
“That was just a lie I said to satisfy Nikaido-san.”
“…A-A lie?! No way! Why would there be a need for Onii-chan to lie like that!?”
“That’s because Nikaido-san thought that the two of us had a suspicious relationship, and she was doubting me. So I thought that she might be satisfied if I told her that I had a person I liked. Someone other than you, of course.”
Suzuka was really shocked.
“Then what about all of my hardships up until now?!” She started saying some incomprehensible things, but I had no idea how to respond.
But, now that we’re on the subject, what about the person Suzuka likes? Although I was lying when I had said it, the fact that she has a person she likes could be the truth. But then why did she give me that ‘Okay’ reply before?
I mustered up all the courage I had and asked her.
“Hey Suzuka, you have a person you like, right…? So why did you put up with that unreasonable request of mine…?”
“A-A person I like?! W-W-W-W-Why do you…?!”
As Suzuka started panicking, her face as red as a ripe apple, I calmly explained.
“Well, it’s something similar to you… When we were in Akiba that time, you were talking with Nikaido-san at the park, right? I overheard you back then… saying that you had someone you liked…”
“Ehhh?! Y-You heard that?!”
Her eyes opened wide, and she followed up with a “Y-You’re wrong about that!”, but a moment later, she stopped walking.
“…W-Wait a second… Isn’t this the perfect chance to tell Onii-chan about my feelings…?!”
She suddenly started talking to herself in a quiet voice. I couldn’t understand her at all.
“Yesh!? Ehhh, umm… Well!”
She took a deep breath, and looked at me with a serious face.
“I-I…! T-The person I like…!”
And, steeling her resolve, she tried her hardest to tell me something.
“T-The person I like is…! I-It’s O-Onii-chan…!”
“—who I have to always look out for, so I have no time for love?!”
“…Eh?! T-Then what about that conversation with Nikaido-san?!”
“T-That was… About Onii-chan—I lied so you wouldn’t bear the brunt of any weird rumours! That’s it!”
“A-A lie…? So that’s what it was?”
“Y-Yes, that’s right! It was just a lie! There will be a scene similar to this in my next volume, so I just thought that I would answer like that!”
When I heard that, I felt all the strength drain from my limbs.
…I-Is that so? So Suzuka doesn’t have anyone she likes…
For some reason, Suzuka looked depressed, and she held her head in her hands, saying “Why am I like this…?”, but the only thing I could do was let out a relieved sigh… Thank God.
“T-Then why did I go and do of all that?”
“That’s my line!”
For some reason, I made her mad.
…A-And I said all those disgusting things for nothing!
“I-I’m sorry, Suzuka!”
“W-What’s wrong all of a sudden?!”
“I was being selfish when I asked you not to get a boyfriend! But those were my real feelings! O-Of course, only in the sense that I treasure you as a little sister, so there wasn’t anything weird behind my words…!”
In the end, I’m never going lay a hand on Suzuka, but I’m still enough of a siscon that I don’t want to be separated from her.
To my surprise, Suzuka didn’t reprimand me or anything.
“I-I know that Onii-chan didn’t mean it in a weird way. But Onii-chan is still a helpless little-sister-lover, right?! Ehehehe…!”
…I know that I totally deserve this, but I want to die…!
“R-Really, Onii-chan is such a troublesome person! Ehe, ehehehe, ehehehehehehe!”
“Uuu… Keep it easy on me, I beg of you…”
“But you don’t have to pay it that much mind.”
When she said that, I lifted up my head and looked directly at Suzuka. And with the brightest smile she could manage, she said the following.
“After all, I would hate it if Onii-chan got a girlfriend.”
The moment she spoke those words, she realized what she had just said, and her face went red in an instant.
“O-Of course, only as a little sister, okay?!”
With those words, she averted her face.
…U-Umm… So basically, Suzuka isn’t mad at me, she’s even forgiven me for my selfishness, and she might actually be quite the broco—
“…W-What are you thinking about?”
“N-Nothing at all!!”
Suzuka’s displeased voice brought me back to reality, and both of us kept walking in silence.
Finally, I remembered the last thing that was on my mind.
Me being a stand-in. That the two of us were Towano Chikai. Thinking about this, I called out to her again.
“…Hey, Suzuka, about the development in the next volume.”
In response, Suzuka said a calm “I know.”
“In our story, we only need Onii-chan and a little sister.”
When I said that, her radiant smile that was focused on me was so heartwarming that I really thought it was the cutest smile she had ever shown me.
…Weirdly enough, that smile made my heart beat the fastest it had ever beaten…