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“You’d better watch me, Suzuka! I’ll do it!”
After we reunited, this was the first thing that Onii-chan said to me.
After we departed from the office, I made my way home together with Onii-chan. He was acting like that the whole way back, and was barely able to hold a decent conversation. Even on the train home, he kept that motivated expression on his face—w-which looked cool in its own way, sure—but all he said were things like “What kind of story should I write?” or “I have to write the best novel ever, huh?”, so I felt a bit embarrassed to be sitting next to him. He only started to calm down a bit once we got home.
“…That being said, I have to write the greatest romcom ever!” Onii-chan said, still energetic.
I had heard most of the conversation through his microphone, but upon hearing the details from Onii-chan directly, I let out a small sigh.
“Really… I told you to keep calm about it, so why did you agree to it immediately?”
“W-What’s your problem? There was no reason for me to say no, right? Sakaki-san told me that I had talent. With her help, I can write a novel that’s a huge hit!”
“She never said anything like that, though! She only said that she saw something good in your novel. That’s all!”
“Well, that’s basically the same in the grand scheme of things, yeah.”
“…W-Well, you’re really optimistic there…”
“W-What is it? Have you calmed down a bit?”
“Maybe I should think about how I should sign my autograph now.”
“Hold your horses, would you?!”
…I-It’s no use. Onii-chan is completely lost in the world of his fantasies…!
While I was at a loss as to what to do, Onii-chan kept mumbling things to himself like “Maybe I should think of a pen name… I was always applying with my real name before now,” and so on.
…Good grief, this is the first time I’ve seen Onii-chan act so giddy. Watching him act like this makes me feel embarrassed to be his little sister. But there’s actually something more troublesome than feeling embarrassed… It’s that Onii-chan looks so cute right now! Ahhh, really, how cute can you be, just by being happy like this?! This is different from his usual unreliability! My desire to protect him is going so crazy that I could cry! To think that Onii-chan had such a side to him! This is the best! Although I’d like to say a lot more about the situation, I guess I should be a bit thankful to Sakaki-san from Crescent Publishing!
…Oh, this isn’t the time for this.
I have to burn this image of Onii-chan into my eyes, and save it to my ‘Beloved Onii-chan memories’ box inside my heart. I’ll also have to write everything down in my Onii-chan notes—But I have to think rationally right now. For all the ways that Onii-chan is acting innocent, I have to be reasonable. It’s his little sister’s duty to look after him, after all.
“Cough. By the way, Onii-chan.”
“Hm? What is it? I was thinking of using ‘Great Galaxy Dragon God, the second coming’, but what do you think, Suzuka?”
“Do you have any naming sense at all?! No, it’s not that. Will you give it a rest already? Calm down for just a second!”
When I voiced this complaint, Onii-chan asked “W-What’s your problem?” and went quiet.
“…For crying out loud. Listen. I told you not to, so why did you immediately agree to her terms like that? I agree that it sounds great, but there’s no doubt that this Crescent Publishing company is suspicious.”
“In what way are they suspicious?”
“I investigated them a bit, and like many minor publishing companies, all the novels they publicize are lesser-known releases like Fifty Ways to Become Friends with an Octopus and Isekai Trip ~ Truck-kun Arc ~,” I said, showing Onii-chan the results of my investigation on my smartphone screen. “And it looks like they haven’t ever released any light novels. That alone is pretty weird, don’t you think?”
“That’s what Sakaki-san said, right? They want to broaden their horizons by expanding into light novels, so they started looking at light novel contest results. And I have the reputation of reaching the final round of a contest!”
“…But you were rejected in the end, right?”
When I said that, Onii-chan was brought close to tears. “Don’t remind me!” he complained.
…Uh oh, this is bad. Onii-chan looks so cute that I can’t help but want to grant his wishes. I have to calm down.
“Sigh… If that’s the case, then where are the contest winners? I didn’t hear anything about them.”
“Maybe the novels didn’t live up to their expectations after all? And I ended up being the only one who could convince them in the end! Even though I was rejected!”
…So now you’re even saying things that damage your own pride.
Anyway, maybe nobody actually applied for this light novel contest? Somehow I feel like that might be closer to the truth…
“…Hey, Suzuka, I know that you’re just worried about me. It’s true that this publisher is really small compared to Sumeragi, for example. But there’s something there. I can feel it.”
“Can you really say that, or are you just focused on the possibility?”
“Ugh…! T-Then, what is it? Are you trying to tell me that Sakaki-san is deceiving me?”
“I-I wouldn’t go that far…”
It’s true that I had been considering that possibility, but there shouldn’t be any real reason for them to deceive Onii-chan, so I can’t imagine that being actually true… But that’s exactly why I can’t relax just yet.
“I’m telling you, there’s no need to worry. I think that we can trust Sakaki-san!”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s true that she… Well, she has a rather nonchalant personality, but I could tell how serious she is about light novels,” Onii-chan declared with a serious expression.
“Her desire to create an interesting novel together is real. I could feel it. As long as she has that, the company as a whole doesn’t matter. I don’t really lose anything from this either, so there’s no need to be hung up on it, right?”
…Humm, there is logic behind Onii-chan’s words, but…
I was lost in thought and was unable to come up with a response.
“…Well, if Onii-chan says so.”
“Yeah. Thanks for worrying about me, Suzuka. I’ll try my best,” he said. He flashed me a really grateful smile.
Seeing that, I could feel the deepest parts of my heart growing warm. If I see Onii-chan happy, then I get happy as well.
…That’s right. As his little sister, I have to support Onii-chan. After all, he’s just trying to achieve his dream that he’s been working towards for so long—
But, in that moment, I realized something. If Onii-chan’s dream were granted, and he moved on to write his own novel, that would mean that he would stop being Towano Chikai, and would stop being my stand-in.
“Ah……” I muttered. I tightly grabbed my chest with one hand.
So that’s what I was worried about… I had always been prepared for this day to come. But I didn’t realize that it would approach this quickly. Because I’m unable to be honest, we were always in a cold relationship as siblings. However, when he became my stand-in, we found common ground, I became closer to him, a-and we got to be lovey-dovey really often… Although I didn’t expect to get so many rivals as a result of it… we finally managed to make up. And now I’m going to see that miracle end in front of me.
Naturally, it would be a lie if I said that I didn’t feel lonely. But at the same time, I have to accept this. I cannot act out of selfishness and get in the way of Onii-chan’s dream.
…It’ll be fine. I’m different than I was a year ago! A year ago, I wasn’t even able to directly approach Onii-chan without the pretense of him being my stand-in. But now, we’ve made up, and we’re even attending the same high school. That’s why I have to work just as hard as before, even if we’ve lost our common ground!
Granted, I will have to stop being a light novel author. I’ll have to stop showing the whole world just how great my feelings for Onii-chan are. And in order to not let them stay as mere fantasies, but to actually become connected to him like that, I have to work even harder. I’ve laid the groundwork for it!
Thinking that, I came to one simple conclusion.
…To make sure that Onii-chan’s dream is granted, I will support him with everything I have! And, in order to be connected to Onii-chan, I have to approach him even more fiercely! F-For our happy future together… For our happy married life…! Ehe, ehehe, ehehehehehehehe…!
“…U-Umm, Suzuka? Is everything okay? Your face looks a bit tense…?”
…Ah?! I-I was lost in my fantasies, and I made a disgraceful face around Onii-chan?!
I hurriedly changed the topic.
“Y-You said that you’ll have an editor that you’ll be working with on a novel, but what exactly are you going to do from now on?”
Yes, in order to help out Onii-chan as much as I can, I have to understand everything related to what he’ll be doing.
“I guess the first thing is to come up with a few potential plots for different stories. I’ll probably figure out the general outlines and have Sakaki-san look over them. After her feedback, I’ll flesh out and work on the good ones.”
I see, so first is the general plot… That makes sense. So that means that there’s not much that I can help with. It’s Onii-chan’s story, so I can’t exactly tell him what to do and what not to do.
…Also, I’m really interested in the kind of story that Onii-chan is going to write! It’s a romcom, you know?! I’ll definitely have to lay low and watch how things unfold!
“Fufufu… It’s time to come up with about 100-200 potential plot outlines and have Sakaki-san look over them!”
Oooh, Onii-chan is fired up. Naturally, I’m very happy to see that, and I’ll definitely support him, but since I have the duty of watching over him, there is one thing that I definitely have to tell him.
“It’s good that you’re working hard, but you’re not forgetting that our end-of-term exams are right around the corner, are you, Onii-chan?”
“Since it’s Onii-chan, I’m sure that you won’t get any failing grades, but you still have your promise with our parents that you have to keep your grades high to keep writing light novels. And I won’t forget about it either.”
“N-No, but I’m finally getting closer to my dream…aren’t I?”
“You can’t just ignore your studies for that dream…alright?”
Onii-chan sighed and nodded in a defeated manner. Watching over Onii-chan’s daily life is also the duty of his little—No, of his wife! I have to make him realize just how well-suited I am for this role!
…But, anyway, like this, the situation will surely change. Though I don’t know in what way, there is definitely one thing that will not change. That’s the fact that I love Onii-chan, and that I want him to be happy… So please work hard for your dream!
——–All this happened around two weeks ago.
And now back to the present.
I stopped in front of a bench in the courtyard, where Onii-chan was sitting as he let out a big sigh.
Our end-term exams had ended safely, and summer break was about to start. Although I had planned to make my way home with Onii-chan as always…
For some reason, Onii-chan remained dejected, and he just randomly sat down on a nearby bench, completely devoid of any strength.
“W-What happened, Onii-chan…? Did you do badly on your end-term exams or something?”
When I called out to him, Onii-chan just casually lifted up his head, and…
“…No, I think I did the same as always on the exams… That’s not what this is about…” He said, letting out yet another big sigh.
If his exams didn’t go poorly, then there can only be one other reason for his mood.
“I had Sakaki-san look at my plot outlines that I came up with while I was studying, but every single one of them was no good. She rejected all of them.”
“Rejected, rejected…” Onii-chan muttered to himself in a quiet voice, as I followed him. After that, Onii-chan gave me a rough gist of his conversations with Sakaki-san.
“—Welp, I read all the plot outlines you sent me, and to be frank, I’d like to reject all of them.”
“—Ehh?! W-Why?! What was wrong with them?!”
“—Each and every one has their own reasons. Umm, for example… Well, a lot of stuff, basically.”
“—No, can’t you give me more concrete details?!”
“—There’s so many that I actually can’t be bothered by telling you~ Like, one, two, three, a mountain of problems, see?”
“—In what generation were you born, again?! No, anyway. If you don’t tell me what I did wrong, I can’t improve, you know…”
“—No seriously, it was a looot, and even the most important parts were bad. You’ll have to do something about that.”
“—A-And what’s the most important part?”
“—The essential point of a romcom. The meeting with the heroine. The boy meets girl stuff, or whatever it’s called? It’s the part that determines the mood of the novel, and you have to deliver a never-before-seen punch in there, or else you’ll drown in the sea of romcoms.”
“—T-That’s true… But what should I do then?”
“—Hmmm~ That’s actually the job of the author to think about, but I’ll give it some thought as well~ Nagami-kun, you also give it some thought and rewrite your stuff, alright? See ya.”
…And that’s the gist of it.
I see, the first meeting between the heroine and the protagonist. Setting the details of the conversation aside, I can understand Sakaki-san’s complaints. It seems like she really is serious about light novels, so that’s a relief.
“Ahhh, dang it… What should I do…?! What’s the best way to make a boy-meets-girl scene…?!”
That aside, Onii-chan really seems to be in a tough spot. But the sight of Onii-chan gazing up at the empty sky pondering like this is so cool… I just can’t stop myself from staring at him!
…No, I have to contain myself. Onii-chan is having a hard time right now, so he needs my help.
“Onii-chan. In times like these, it’s best to collect some data. It’s great to try and think with your head, but experiencing it yourself might give you some new ideas.”
Taking all the experience I had into account, I said this out loud.
O-Of course, I’m just trying to help Onii-chan with the purest of intentions, so it’s definitely, not in a million years, not just that I want to be lovey-dovey with him, okay?! D-D-Don’t get the wrong idea!
“I-I see…! Yeah, that makes sense!”
“T-That’s right. Naturally, I will help you with all my might. I’ve had you help me all this time, after all, so don’t hold back on asking me for help in any way!”
“……Thank you, Suzuka. Having the real Towano Chikai help me out and collect data with me is really reassuring…”
Ugh… being thanked like this makes me feel really bad… But Onii-chan is also really cute when he acts like this. That thought completely blew away all of my guilty feelings.
“So when we collect data for the romcom, we have to be lovey-dovey, right?!”
I said this while sitting down next to Onii-chan and tightly gripped his arm. My heart was beating so fast that it started to hurt, and I hoped that Onii-chan didn’t notice…! Uuuuu…!
It happened that moment.
I realized that something weird was going on with Onii-chan. Normally, he’d reluctantly play along with the data collecting, but right now there was no response from him whatsoever.
Thinking that this was unusual for him, I looked up at his face, and he was just staring at me with a bright red face, which made me feel even more flustered. This is really weird.
“Onii-chan? What happened—?”
—to you, I tried to ask, but then…
Onii-chan’s face suddenly turned even redder, and he quickly separated from me like I was the devil asking for his soul.
“W-What is it, Onii-chan?”
Seeing that reaction, even I was taken aback. I’d never seen Onii-chan act like that before.
“N-No, it’s nothing!”
Onii-chan hurriedly shook his head, his face still as red as a tomato. He even had his hand on his chest, and was taking deep breaths as if he was trying to calm himself down.
…It really didn’t look like nothing to me.
His face was red, so I was worried that he might be fretting too much about the light novel.
“Onii-chan, are you not feeling well? Do you have a fever or something—?”
“No, nothing! It’s just, you know, I was a bit surprised when you did that…!”
As I was about to put my hand on his forehead to check for a fever, Onii-chan crawled away even further. “It’s fine, okay!?” he said and waved his hand at me. Naturally, I was happy that he wasn’t sick or anything, but it makes me feel sick myself if he separates from me like that.
“A-Anyway, about us collecting data. The thing is, umm, I don’t really feel like we need to do that yet, or rather, I’m not that motivated for it yet. I’m thankful for your offer, but I’ll try thinking more about it myself, yeah!”
Not to mention that Onii-chan’s words shocked me, leaving me unable to say anything back besides a confused “Ehhhh?!”
…W-Why would he…? It’s plenty obvious that he just doesn’t want to collect data with me. And it feels like he’s running away from me…!
Then, a sudden realization ran through my body.
…I-Is this in some way related to the reason that Onii-chan has been acting so weird recently…? Back then, I didn’t think too deeply into it, and I figured that it would just solve itself in time, so I had almost completely forgotten about it.
…However, looking at Onii-chan right now, it seems like everything is connected now. O-Onii-chan is acting weird. And look at his attitude right now. He’s never acted like this until now, so that means…
…I-I don’t know. I don’t know what’s happening with him. However, there is one thing I can say for certain. That this weird behaviour of Onii-chan is taking a turn for the worse!
As for the reason… I don’t know that either. But it’s very apparent that he’s basically running away from me! Isn’t this an emergency situation?! I feel a weird sense of danger…!
I was about to ask him about it, but—
“Ah, Yuu, you were still here! Nice timing! I have something to talk about with you!”
With the worst timing ever, Himuro-san suddenly came walking towards us!
Uuuu… This certainly isn’t something I can talk about in front of Himuro-san of all people. After all, he isn’t gathering data for Towano Chikai, but rather for his own novel…
I would’ve loved to make up an excuse and ask Onii-chan in a place without her, but…
“A-Ah yeah. Then let’s go home together.”
But Onii-chan had no idea about the plans I was making, and he immediately focused on Himuro-san. Not to mention that I heard him mutter a quiet “I’m saved” with a relieved expression on his face…?!
“S-Suzuka, come on. Let’s go home,” Onii-chan called to me, leaving me unable to say anything else…
On the way home.
“Hey hey, Yuu, listen! I actually managed to avoid supplementary lessons during summer break! Hee hee hee! Well, that’s just expected if it’s me!”
“You were crying about not wanting to get any failing grades, and now you’ve got an arrogant attitude about it?!”
“W-What about it? It’s fine. I’m happy, you know… and I haven’t forgotten that it’s all thanks to you, Yuu… U-Umm… thank you.”
“…W-Well, whatever. You said that you were busy writing your manuscript during your studying time, so I can see that you were really stressed while trying to balance all that. I’m also your fan, so I’m glad that I was able to help you out.”
“E-Ehehe… B-But isn’t that the same for you, Yuu? Balancing learning and your job, and you get such good grades! I really can’t compete with Towano Chikai…!”
W-What is this rather awkward feeling to their conversation…! Himuro-san was leaning forward, looking up at Onii-chan. Is she doing that on purpose? I don’t know, but recently, Himuro-san’s actions have been looking more and more cute in my eyes… And although he looks a bit flustered, Onii-chan shows no intention of distancing himself from her…!
That being said, I was unable to do anything but watch the two of them until Himuro-san suddenly grabbed Onii-chan’s arm.
“S-So, Yuu. Since I’ve been in your care this time around, and as your rival as well, I’d feel bad not repaying you in any way… S-So, is there like, anything you want me to do?!”
What’s with that embarrassed, yet determined expression!?
“T-There’s no need for any of that, you know?! And this totally isn’t like you, who’d never care about what other people think or about how you behave…”
…Just this once, I might be thankful for Onii-chan’s denseness…!
“W-Who never cares about that?! Though you might be right that I can be a bit self-centered at times!”
However, Himuro-san sure didn’t look like she gave up just yet.
…Still, you were aware of that personality trait, Himuro-san…
“I-It’s not that. As I just said, I’m your rival, so I don’t want to have any lingering debts or anything. That’s why you have no right to decline my thanks, Yuu!”
“I get what you want to say, but that’s not how any of this works, you know?!”
“W-Who cares about the details? Anyway, Yuu, what do you want? There’s no need to hold back. Just tell me!”
“I know that it’s nothing special, but you’re being a bit too pushy right now, don’t you think?! But even if you ask me… I’m busy thinking about the romcom—Ah, no nevermind! I-I have some things that I have to think about, so I don’t have the time for this…”
It seems like Onii-chan is busy thinking about how he’ll write the romcom. It’d be great if Himuro-san realizes that, but…
“H-Hmph? Is that so? T-Then, how about this? We’ll go to a shopping mall together and search for something that you want. If we do that, I’ll be able to get you something good, and we can even eat something during that time… It’s a nice idea, don’t you think?!” Himuro-san peered even closer into Onii-chan’s face, her cheeks brightly flushed.
…T-This is! This pattern! T-There’s no mistaking it. She’s using this as an excuse to invite Onii-chan on a date! Since I’ve used this technique countless times already, I can immediately see through her plans!
“H-Hold on a second, please…!”
Even I can’t stay quiet here anymore. I can’t allow Onii-chan to go on a date with Himuro-san like this, so I raised my voice, and stepped between them, but…
“Ah, a call… Umm, it’s from Double Peace-sensei… I wonder what she wants.”
At that moment, Onii-chan’s phone started ringing, and our conversation was put on hold. Though it was nice timing, since the call was from Double Peace-san, I felt like this could only take a turn for the worse…
“Eh? …Yes. I’m currently with Suzuka and Mai, though?”
Holding his phone to his ear, Onii-chan looked over at us. In response, Himuro-san muttered “What’s this ero illustrator want now?” Onii-chan pulled the phone away from his ear.
“Well, Double Peace-sensei has something to tell everyone, so she wants me to put her on speaker—”
And in the very next moment, we heard “Hellooooo, Ahegao Double Peace-sensei here! Can you hear me?”
“Uwah?! W-We can hear you, so stop screaming like that…! The people around us are staring already…!”
“Ah, is that so, desu? I’m sorry about that. But if I called Sensei with the heavy breathing I normally use, that would probably cause a misunderstanding!”
“Yuu, are you really having that ero illustrator do stuff like that?!”
“I don’t have her do it, and she doesn’t do it either! Double Peace-sensei, can we get to the main point already?!”
Onii-chan panicked slightly when both Himuro-san and I glared at him. From that attitude, it was plain as day that Double Peace-sensei was just joking, but knowing her, I still couldn’t be completely certain of that…
“A-Anyway, what did you want to talk about? You wanted even Suzuka and Mai to listen…”
In response to Onii-chan’s fed-up-sounding statement, an energetic “Oh, that’s right, desu!” came back from the phone.
And when she said the following words, everyone present could only respond with a confused “Eh?”
“Let’s all gather up for a party!”
“………I’m glad that you’re able to sing that song without feeling embarrassed…”
“Haruna, we’re in the middle of our party, so let go of your embarrassment and enjoy yourself. You should sing a heart-throbbing song as well.”
“I-I don’t wanna! And don’t just put on a new song, Onee-chan!”
The Kanzaka sisters were fighting with each other while Minazuki-san was singing.
“Let’s enjoy ourselves today, desu! Sensei as well! Let yourself go! You can even strip your clothes off! I sure as hell wouldn’t mind!”
“W-What are you saying, you ero illustrator?! Y-Yuu’s naked body… don’t make me think about something as…stimulating…as…that…! Anyway, why are you sitting next to Yuu like that?! That’s where I, as his number one fan, should be sitting!”
“No no no, since I’m his number one partner, this seat is reserved for me and me alone, desu!”
“O-Ohh? Then how about we fight for it?”
“That’s what I wanted to hear, desu!”
Mai and Double Peace-sensei started loudly arguing with each other.
“S-So this is a karaoke bar… It’s my first time coming here, but it sure has quite a unique atmosphere to it… But it might not be bad coming here now that I’m a high school student… Not to mention with Onii-chan…! O-Only to collect data, though!”
Suzuka was sitting next to me, looking around the karaoke box with an intrigued expression on her face. I could only gaze at her, wondering how things even ended up like this.
As you might have guessed, we were inside a karaoke box. It was a karaoke bar located in Akihabara, and apparently Double Peace-sensei and her colleagues came here often. The reason for us being here right now was none other than what Double Peace-sensei had told us yesterday over the phone.
“—Let’s all get together for a party!!!”
Considering that it was Double Peace-sensei we were talking about, I expected it to be eroge-related or something similar. Fortunately it turned out to be nothing like that, and she was simply inviting us to a normal party instead. Naturally, when I asked for the cause of our celebration, she replied as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
“The thing is, I was really busy these past few weeks with my job, desu. I had to stay over at the company to work on an eroge for practically days on end. Because of that, I wasn’t even able to send Sensei any erotic illustrations anymore! But now it’s finally over, desu! I realized that Sensei’s exams should be over soon as well, so I decided to call you to gather everyone together so we could let loose for once!”
Before telling us, Double Peace-sensei had already contacted Minazuki-san and the Kanzaka sisters, and they had already agreed to come. Minazuki-san seemed to have a break from her job right now, Akino-san had just finished her manuscript, and the younger Kanzaka sister had just gotten through her exams like we did, so they all gladly accepted the invitation to relive some stress.
“It sounds good to me! That’s a nice idea for once, you ero illustrator! It’s a perfect time to celebrate me escaping from any supplementary lessons!”
Mai seemed to really like the idea, and she even pumped her fist. Although her reason for celebration sounded pretty selfish to me.
“A-A party, huh? I see, that might not be too bad. It’s a very high-school-like event, and I want to experience that with Onii-chan as well… Ehe, ehehe… I agree.”
Not to mention that even Suzuka agreed, leaving me unable to turn her down. Well, it’s not like I was going to say no or anything, because it was a good idea. But…
I couldn’t immediately agree, and the reason was very simple. Although exams were over for now, I still had to worry about the plot of my romcom, and I hadn’t been making any progress on that recently, either…
“Onii-chan? What’s wrong?”
“Eh? Ah, it’s nothing…”
That being said, I couldn’t just ignore the cheerful atmosphere and decline the offer.
Since Suzuka was participating, I didn’t have any other option but to join in as well, since I’m her stand-in and all. I also doubt that they’d just let me off the hook, either, seeing as I’m technically Towano Chikai.
…In the worst case, they might even all come gang up on me while I’m working in my room. If that happens, then I definitely won’t be able to work on my novel, anyway.
…It seems like my opinion will be disregarded no matter what I say here…
When I arrived at that conclusion, I agreed to their idea. The day right before summer break started, Double Peace-sensei made us all gather in this karaoke bar, and the party started. The mic was given to the professional voice actress Minazuki-san, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
Seeing that, I decided to forget about my plot for now, and enjoy this myself, but…
“…Eh? W-What is it, Suzuka?”
“Well, it looked like you were spacing out.”
“N-No, that’s not the case. I was enjoying Minazuki-san’s singing.”
“Indeed, Sakura-san can sing really well, but… The song she chose to sing is a bit much…”
Suzuka once again directed her attention towards Minazuki-san, and I let out a relieved sigh, seeing that Suzuka hadn’t caught on.
Ahh, damn it… I can’t forget about my novel after all. I really wanted to try a change of pace and just enjoy this party, but before I would realize it, my thoughts were already drifting in that direction again…
“…Onii-chan. You’re thinking about your novel again, right?”
Suzuka suddenly asked me that, which made me panic a bit.
“Onii-chan really is easy to see through… I can understand your dedication, but try to forget about your novel for now. A-Also, this party is very useful for me because I can collect some data for my own novel, so I’ll be troubled if you don’t play along.”
“Eh? Collect data?”
“N-Now that I’ve become a high school student, I want to go on grown-up dates with Onii-chan, and experience all sorts of situations…! We’re sadly not alone today, but it still is a valuable experience. So please stay focused and flirt with me—I mean, help me collect data!”
“S-Seriously? This is the first I’ve heard of it, though…”
“I-I just came up with it!”
Ehhh?! S-So suddenly is just…!
But since I can’t say no when she asks me for assistance, I have to help out whether I want to or not…
“Ehe, ehehe… Singing a love song together might be a good idea, don’t you think…?”
When I gazed at Suzuka, whose cheeks were slightly red as she was humming to herself, I realized that I really had been thinking about the plot the entire time. Normally, I would be able to force myself to focus on collecting data for Suzuka’s sake, but this time I couldn’t. Now that my dream was in sight, I just couldn’t stop thinking about my novel.
“Sensei! How was Sakura’s singing?! She tried to fill it with as much emotion for Onii-chan as possible!”
After she finished her song, Sakura-san suddenly brought her face close to me… Too close!
“W-Well, umm, you were really good. Just what I expected from a professional voice actress!”
I took some distance, and answered her with a shaky voice. I hadn’t even realized that Minazuki-san had stopped singing, and now it was the Kanzaka sisters’ turn. Their song was an energetic, happy-go-lucky one. Akino-san was as expressionless as ever, and the younger Kanzaka sister’s face was flushed red. She looked close to tears… She had probably been forced to do this again…
In contrast, Double Peace-sensei was taking pictures of her. What a demon.
“Thank you very much, Sensei! Oh yeah, Sakura wants to hear Sensei’s singing as well! Please show her!”
I had originally planned to enjoy this from the sidelines, but the moment I heard those words, I froze up.
“Ahh, good idea. Let me join! What should we sing, Yuu?”
Not to mention that Mai, who had sat down next to me while I wasn’t paying attention, started acting like it had already been decided that I was going to sing. Not to mention a duet with her.
“N-No, I’m really bad at singing… That isn’t something that you guys should be forced to listen to…”
Since I’m unbelievably terrible at everything music-related, I tried to decline, but…
“Who cares about that? This isn’t a competition or anything! A-Also, I want to hear you sing! I don’t care if you’re good or bad!”
“It’s exactly as Enryuu-sensei says! If Sensei were to sing in his Onii-chan voice, that alone would be enough for Sakura to…!”
“What’s an Onii-chan voice?!”
As you can see, these two girls were closing in on me. On top of that, Minazuki-san suddenly took my hand and pulled me up from my seat.
“It’s fine, Sensei! If your singing isn’t good, then you can just sing together with Sakura! She’ll teach you from scratch, so there’s no need to worry about anything. To say it in the words of Suzuka-chan, ‘it’s the duty of a little sister!’”
“…Huh?! Hold on, Sakura-san! Don’t just use my words like that! And I’ve told you countless times that you aren’t his real little sister…!”
“Ah, Suzuka-chan, let’s sing together after that! Since we’re the Onii-chan sisters, let’s get Sensei excited with the two of us!”
“Don’t just act like you’re my sister! Also, Onii-chan was planning on singing a love song with me to collect data!”
“Collect data?! I-If that’s the case, then I have to join in as well, Yuu!”
What’s up with this chaos?! Mai, Minazuki-san, and Sakura are all pulling on me?! And the Kanzaka sisters, who just finished singing, as well as Double Peace-sensei, all started looking over here! This can only end badly, right?!
And, it happened that the place was about to turn into hell for me.
Suddenly, all the tumult grew distant, and I could feel my brain working on something. Something was stuck in my head… Suzuka’s words just now… ‘Collect data’, as well as what Minazuki-san had said: ‘teach’.
Currently, I’m having trouble with my plot—to be precise, the boy-meets-girl part. Suzuka said that it’d be good to experience that for myself, but I thought that in this situation where I was lost on where to even begin, there’d be no meaning nor merit to it.
…But hold on. Is collecting data really only something that you have to experience yourself? No, that shouldn’t be the case. There’s also the normal advice to consider. That should also be called ‘Collecting data’. If that’s the case—
…If that’s the case, then doesn’t that mean that you’d be able to gather data when you’re being taught by someone, as well…?
“Eh, Onii-chan? What is it?”
…Yeah, that makes sense! I still have that option left! If I don’t know my way around something, then I can just ask other people for help! Other people who know it can teach me, and I can use their methods as my own! That is, without a doubt, another way to collect data!
…I see. It’s because we’ve always been collecting data the Towano Chikai way, I didn’t realize something as simple as that. Suzuka could be considered a genius, and she had her own way of doing things. If she wanted to find out about something, there was no need for her to be taught by someone else. There was no need to use other people’s techniques.
…But I’m different.
I’m just an average person, and I don’t have my own way of doing things. If that’s the case, I can ask other people for references. Blindly following their advice won’t work out, of course, but even the slightest tips or tricks might come in handy. After all, this isn’t the time to be collecting data for Suzuka’s novel, but for my own!
“Eh? W-What, Yuu?”
“Ohh, I can feel Sensei’s passionate gaze!”
“Sensei? Are you finally motivated to do a duet with Sakura?!”
“What’s wrong with you? Don’t stare at me like that!”
“Sensei’s passionate gaze… No doubt it’s filled with romantic feelings.”
Right in front of me are several people who should have at least some level of knowledge about romcoms!
…Kukuku. Sorry about this, everyone. Right now, I’m not Towano Chikai’s stand-in, Nagami Yuu. I’m nothing more than a soon-to-be (hopefully) professional light novel author, and I’ll be taking all your opinions and techniques! I’ll definitely repay the debt when I manage to debut, so put up with me until then!
“Well, the thing is…”
Arriving at this conclusion, I steeled myself, and slowly opened my mouth.
“Right now, I’m having trouble with a romcom. Because my head’s basically occupied worrying about that, I can’t really concentrate on the party…”
Suzuka’s shock and the look on her face were clearly questioning me what I was even talking about.
…Well, this reaction might be natural for someone like Suzuka, since she knows the circumstances. But I don’t have the time to explain everything in detail. I’ll help out with collecting data for you as much as you want later, so let me do something for myself right now!
“What romcom are you talking about, Yuu? Aren’t you writing the best romcom right now, frustrating me with every single minute?”
Ugh… I’m still Towano Chikai to the others, so I can’t come up with any good excuses.
…Forgive me, Suzuka. I’ll definitely apologize as many times as it takes later.
“W-Well, I’m always thinking about how to write a better romcom. I’m always aiming higher, see.”
“Ohh, that’s Sensei for you, desu! You’re someone who is always conscious of how he appears, I see!”
“Ah, I think that’s something different…”
It’s vexing that I can never say it in my own words, but rather I have to formulate it with the words of Towano Chikai But, since I can’t see anything that would sound fishy in my words right now, I continued.
“I’m thinking about the most important part of a romcom, the boy-meets-girl part. Naturally, there’s many ways to approach it, but I’m pondering how to make it as interesting as possible. Hence, I was hoping that, umm… you all could maybe share your thoughts with me…”
Maybe that last bit didn’t sound like Towano Chikai—I worried, but I managed to say it without arousing suspicion. When they heard what I had to say, everyone at first had a rather surprised and perplexed expression on their face, but…
“…Hah, you really are Towano Chikai. Your focus of attention is all over the place.”
Mai finally said this with a faint smile.
“Since he’s my teacher, it’s only natural. For a romcom, it’s the most basic of basics.”
Akino-san also nodded in agreement. “…Hmpf, even though you’re normally all over your little sisters.”
“Sensei really is thinking about a lot!”
The younger Kanzaka sister and Minazuki-san followed up.
“Sensei sure is amazing, desu! Your desire to improve in both ero and light novels is something I can only admire!”
The ero part isn’t exactly true, but there was a strong sparkle in Double Peace-sensei’s eyes.
The only person left was Suzuka. Just judging by her glare and the fact that she knew very well about my plans here, she must’ve been very exasperated with me. I did apologize with my eyes just in case, and maybe because she realized that, her sharp gaze softened.
“So, Yuu, you want us to teach you our opinions on the boy-meets-girl scenario? That sounds good to me! Since I’ve started writing the greatest romcom as well, I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I’ve got mountains of advice to give!” Mai was puffing out her chest, brimming with confidence.
Though she probably wanted to get a step ahead of her rival Towano Chikai, it was also clear that she was just speaking her mind, showing her enthusiasm for light novels. She really is amazing in her own way…
“That’s the same for me. The boy-meets-girl part is a crucial element of a romcom. Naturally, you’d be forced to encounter that a lot while pondering about your novel as the author. I’d be delighted to give you my thoughts.” Akino-san also had a confident atmosphere to her, though she was as expressionless as always. She continued. “And speaking of romcoms, Haruna is always constantly thinking about that. Since she also wants to debut as a mangaka, on top of being an illustrator, she has to eventually come up with her own plot, and she’s busy thinking of ways to do just that.”
“H-Hey, Onee-chan! Don’t just reveal everything! But, well, that’s true… Although I’m nothing but an amateur when it comes to writing a story.”
The younger Kanzaka sister averted her gaze as she crossed her arms. She certainly didn’t look demotivated.
“Here! Here here here! Sakura knows a lot about romcoms as well! She watched a lot of romcom anime to get into her character, and she also read a lot of light novels and comics that revolve around them. She’s seen a lot of boy-meets-girl scenarios!” said Minazuki-san with a bright smile.
“Fu fu fu, a meeting between a boy and a girl is standard fare in the eroge industry, desu! I’m sure that my knowledge will be of help!” Double Peace-sensei jumped in, leaving me slightly concerned.
…Just what you’d expect from the people I decided on. They’re all motivated about what they’re doing, which greatly helps. And more than anything, I was happy.
“M-Me too…! Umm…!”
But since she had nothing to do with authors and illustrators, at least officially, Suzuka was unable to add to the conversation, and couldn’t really say anything.
She glared at me with a pout. I know, you’re mad at me for suddenly changing the subject like this, right? I’ve already prepared myself for whatever you’re going to do to me once we get home, so please put up with it for now! But at least still make me dinner, please! That’s all I’m asking for!
“…Hmm… I see…”
Just when I was thinking that Double Peace-sensei was lost in thought about something, she suddenly flashed me a daring smile.
“So basically, this is a contest to see who can make Sensei think that their boy-meets-girl scenario is the most interesting, right?!”
She came out with some utter nonsense. I could only answer with a confused “Ehhh?”
No, it’s not a competition or anything. I just want to hear everyone’s opinion, that’s all…!”
But before I could even formulate a rebuttal, I felt the atmosphere change, stirring a grave sense of danger within me.
“…Hmph, that sounds good to me! I’m his number one fan, as well as his rival! I’ll show you that there’s only one author able to stand on the same ground as him!”
My bad premonition was immediately justified when Mai replied. But, instead of anything mischievous, it looked more like she was just enjoying herself.
…W-What? I was a bit worried after Double Peace-sensei said something that weird, but I’m actually getting excited as well? The mood feels… passionate, or something like that.
Before we even realized it, we had all forgotten that we were inside a karaoke box, and we sat down around the table. Why did we come here? A party? Whatever. We were all creators and otakus who enjoyed what we were doing, and that’s all that mattered.
“Alright… Here we go!”
With Mai’s words as a starting signal, the romcom dispute started, and sparks filled the room.
The first one to start the debate was Mai.
“When you consider the boy-meets-girl principle, the most important part of it is the way they meet. Said meeting decides the flow of the story and gives reason to why the protagonist and the heroine even stay in contact with each other. You could even go so far as to call this the essence of a romcom.”
…Hmmm, she does have an argument with that. I was aware that it was a tool to decide how the story starts, but it seems that it’s also an instrument to not make the reader question why the two of them are still talking with each other. Just what you’d expect from the light novel author Enryuu Homura. Even for a genre like romcom that’s clearly out of her field, she still knows her way around it… This will be really helpful!
“So Mai, what kind of meeting are you thinking about, desu?”
“Whatever you’re deciding to go for in the end, the impact is the most important, I think. You have to deliver something monumental that helps the readers become invested. When you consider that, it should probably be some sort of lucky accident. Like the protagonist fondling the heroine’s chest, or seeing her p-panties? But in my opinion, having the two of them kiss first thing has the most impact.”
“Kiss?!”—everyone raised their voices.
“Yes, since it’s something like the end goal in a romcom, bringing that in first thing will leave everyone wanting more! The protagonist and heroine that shared a kiss. Then you can have the heroine, who otherwise is hostile towards the protagonist, find out that she’s supposed to marry the person who stole her first kiss. Following that, you can add in other standard developments, and boom!” Mai declared with a snort, clearly confident in her idea.
…H-How bold and forceful… But I can see where she’s coming from. Until now, I’d only taken small steps in working with plot developments, so something abrupt and intense like that might not be a bad idea…!
“It’s true that impact is important. But the development after that is way too tough.”
“W-What did you say?!”
But right then, Akino-san spoke her opinion.
“I agree that the first impact is a selling point. But that doesn’t mean that the crazier it is, the better. You should have a better grasp of the developments that should come after that.”
“Hmph… Then what kind of boy-meets-girl scenario would you recommend?!”
“Getting into physical contact is one thing… But I’d rather see something like… let’s see… touching each other’s foreheads. The protagonist and hero suddenly end up in that position. The heroine just pulls back without becoming flustered. After that, however, she can’t help but be conscious of the protagonist. The thing is, she’s actually a mind-reader who activates her skill by touching other people, and she can read their hearts. But she’s unable to hear the protagonists voice, so she feels herself being drawn towards him.”
…Ohhh, so the story would have a mysterious aspect to it! So this fanservice scene suddenly turns into a crucial element for future parts of the story. I see! That’s also a way to do it.
“Hmm? But that would feel kinda gloomy. If it’s a romcom, Sakura would prefer something more bright and pleasant!”
After Minazuki-san gave her opinion, Akino-san calmly turned towards her. Her expression was as deadpan as ever, but I felt like I could hear a slight bit of irritation in her voice…?
“Sakura thinks that it’d be better if it was more simple! For example… The protagonist comes home, and the heroine is there to greet him, saying ‘Onii-chan!’ or something!”
“That’s just a little-sister novel.”
“Nope. The protagonist’s little sister is still young, and he’s never seen that girl before. The protagonist thinks that he’s going crazy, but then the girl says ‘I’m your little sister from the future!’”
“M-Minazuki-san changed the genre to science fiction?!”
“Her Onii-chan has a lot of trouble in the future, so she came back to the past to help him, to spoil him, and so on! The protagonist is a bit taken aback by at first, but he immediately gets used to it and enjoys it… Ehehehe…”
…I-I feel like there’s a lot that doesn’t make sense there, but it still sounds interesting enough. It might just look like she’s dwelling in her own dream world, and it fits the theme.
“Hold on! If you add these completely absurd elements now, you’ll ruin the romcom later on when it’s time to explain every single part of it!”
“Ehhh? Who needs an explanation? And are you one to talk, with your crazy developments? Where’s the lovey-dovey elements?”
“Agreed. But it’s incorrect to say that explanations are unnecessary. Also, it’s the author’s job to strengthen the bonds between protagonist and heroine.”
As I was appreciating their tips, the three of them started explaining their own opinions. They all believed that their own romcom idea was the best, and none of them were showing any signs of backing down.
“…Hmm. What do you think, Haruna? I’d like to hear your opinion as well,” Akino-san said to the younger Kanzaka sister.
“If you want to become a mangaka, you should have your own aspirations for how a story should go. So you should be participating in this conversation, too.”
“I-I understand. For me, I understand that their first meeting is very important, but I think that showing off the heroine’s cuteness first thing is the most crucial aspect.”
Everyone’s gaze focused on her, mine included.
“Everyone seems to be thinking about how to have the protagonist meet the heroine, but that’s not all that the boy meeting a girl is about, right? A real boy-meets-girl is when the relationship with a girl that he’s known for a while drastically changes, right? That’s why there should be a heroine whom the protagonist has been acquaintances with up until now, and he suddenly sees a different side of her, which acts as the trigger for their relationship. That way, you have to make sure that both the reader themselves and the protagonist think that the heroine is cute.”
…W-Woah, amazing! That makes total sense! I see, so for the protagonist, she’s not a completely new character, but rather a character whom he hadn’t had much contact with until now, and he’s now seeing her in a new light, which basically amounts to her being a new character.
Now that she mentions it, I remember there being a lot of novels that do that. Still, to think that the younger Kanzaka sister of all people would come up with that…
“Haruna, more details please.”
“U-Umm… For example, the protagonist and heroine always fighting with each other, and the protagonist suddenly is confessed to by a different girl, which makes the heroine panic, and she confesses to him all maiden-like—”
“Oh, so it’s basically using Sensei and Runa-chan as models, desu?”
“H-Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh?! W-Wha—?! W-W-What are you talking about, Ahi! Why would I imagine doing something like that with a guy like him?!”
“Haruna, you’re panicking too much.”
“Man, Runa-chan is really pure, desu.”
For some reason, the younger Kanzaka sister was glaring at Double Peace-sensei with a red face, but I was too busy reflecting on her words to pay any attention to it.
…I see. So a sudden change in their relationship as a way to start of the story, huh? Hence, the trigger for that sudden change dictates the direction that the story will unfold in. That definitely sounds like a safe way to approach things. That’s quite different from how I’ve done it up until now…
“R-Rather than that, what about you, Ahi?! You haven’t told us your opinion yet!”
“Me, desu? Well, I have to agree with Runa-chan’s opinion! I particularly would like to see a sudden change in relationship, and have the trigger for that help flesh out the characters. Not having to depict a character from ground zero is also easier, desu!”
“That’s quite the meta opinion you have there… but yeah, I can see where you’re coming from,” Mai said.
“Right!” Double Peace-sensei said in return.
“In eroge, it’s always about how you can get to the sex scenes the fastest, desu! Forcing yourself to flesh out a character can make it harder in the end, and it can bore the reader! That’s what our scenario writer said!”
“So it wasn’t your opinion in the first place, and you were just talking about eroge?!”
“No no no, Mai, I agree with his opinion, and the same can be said for light novels, right? On top of that, from an illustrator’s point of view, the change should be easy to grasp, and I’d like it to be visual as well, desu.”
When I questioned her about it, Double Peace-sensei continued. “For example, desu. Let’s say that there’s a heroine who wears glasses. Normally she’s a cheerful girl, but the moment she takes off her glasses, she immediately becomes timid and shy. A true maiden, desu! And then the protagonist sees her like that, and she becomes dependent on him!”
“Umm, why does her personality change when she takes off her glasses?” Minazuki-san asked.
“I don’t know, desu!” Double Peace-sensei bluntly replied. “You just have to think about that later, desu! The only thing I know is that adding such things to induce new development is standard fare in light novels! Well, if I could ask for it, I’d like the character to become totally perverted once she takes her glasses off!”
“…I guess you’re not the model for that character. You’re like that all the time, even with glasses on.”
The younger Kanzaka sister said this in a slightly exasperated tone, but I could see where Double Peace-sensei was coming from, and nodded in understanding.
…That kind of development does sound fun, yeah, and it’s perfect for the comedy part…
“You! As if it’d be fine to just
omit that part for whenever you feel like adding it! This sort of
weird occurrence has to have a proper explanation in the story,
because that’s basically the point that sells the entire thing! You
can’t just write whatever you want, you know?!”
“But it’s one way to keep the reader entertained, so I have to agree with Ahi to a certain degree.”
“Sakura also prefers something fun to read. Ah, but, having a little sister in the story is important!”
“That’s just your personal preference. As a pro, you have to try your best to be aware of the readers.”
“But, Runa-chan, your idea has a lot of your personal preferences mixed in as well, desu.”
“S-Shut it! You’re just too lax about everything! And why are you fixated on the glasses?! That’s not romcom! It’d fit better in a gag manga!”
It quickly became a wild uproar.
Before I had even noticed it, everyone was leaning forward around the table, hurling insults at each other. Everyone thought that their own idea was the best, and they all were refusing to step down. As for me, I wasn’t really bothered with any of it, as I was plenty excited on my own.
…I’m glad that I took the time to hear everyone out. I’ve heard so many different approaches for a boy-meets-girl scene in such a short time…!
I wanted to immediately take out my notebook and write down all the information that I had just obtained, but since Towano Chikai would never do that, I could only think about and engrave all that they had said into my brain. Since there probably won’t be another chance like this, I can’t miss anything—
At that moment, Suzuka, who hadn’t been participating in the discussion up until now, suddenly tugged on my sleeve.
“What? I’m sorry, but I have to focus…”
“I-I know that, but, Umm… I also thought of a boy-meets-girl idea…”
I could see Suzuka’s mouth moving like she was trying to say something, but because of the fight going on in the background, I couldn’t really understand anything she said. In the meantime, the conversation between the other girls was moving forward, with exclamations like “Gap moe is important!” and “A secret relationship is standard fare!” and so on, which made me focus back on the conversation again.
“…S-Sorry, Suzuka! I’ll hear you out later, so please let me listen to them for now! It’s for the sake of my romcom!”
“A-Again, I also…!” Suzuka tried to say.
“…I know that I’m being selfish here! I’ll apologize later! You can lecture me however long you want once we get home! I’ve even prepared myself!”
“It’s really not like that. Don’t be like that! I was a bit mad earlier, but I also have my own opinion on the matter!”
It happened while we were holding that conversation.
“Alrighto! Now that it’s come to this, it might be better to just show it off in reality!”
We heard Mai’s voice, and the room was enveloped in a different atmosphere than before. I turned away from Suzuka, who was panicking slightly, and turned over towards everyone else, when—
“Come on, you! Step in front!”
Mai suddenly grabbed my arm and pulled me in front of the karaoke screen, basically the stage of the karaoke booth.
“…Eh? Eh? What’s going on?”
Naturally, I was lost. But both Mai, who was standing next to me, and the others watching us acted like nothing was wrong with the current situation. The only person who wasn’t like that was Suzuka, who had a confused expression on her face similar to mine. That quickly turned into a glare shortly after.
No, I have no idea what’s even happening, so don’t glare at me, please!
“Alright, then let’s start immediately, Yuu!”
“H-Hold on, what are we starting?”
“Weren’t you listening? We’re testing out whose boy-meets-girl idea is the best.”
I didn’t hear anything about that, though?! What kind of crazy things were you plotting in the short time I wasn’t listening?!
“Well, no matter how much we tried to talk it out, nobody would back down, desu. So we decided to act out each scenario to test the impact it would have.”
Double Peace-sensei said this with a smile, but what she was saying had crazy written all over it, like usual.
“Still, acting it out just because of that is just…!”
“Isn’t it the Towano Chikai way to collect data by experiencing it directly? As your student, I have to follow your techniques,” said Akino-san.
…N-Not good. What she’s saying is true, so I can’t argue!
“B-But why do I have to be part of it?!” I asked, trying to resist at least a bit, but…
“You were the one who brought all of this up, right? Do you see any other boys around here?”
I was hammered down with flawless logic, and I couldn’t even reply.
Ugh. Up until now, the only person who I was collecting data with was Suzuka, but to think that the day would come where Mai and the others would join in… It’s true that I basically put myself in this situation, but I still can’t help panicking.
Though, after a bit of thinking, I realized that this might be a good chance. I’ll be able to experience everyone’s ideas up close, like I’m really collecting data, so there’s a whole lot of benefits to be had here!
“…Alright! So what should I be doing?”
“Ohh, Sensei is motivated now!”
“Well, you’ve been doing things like this all the time, so I guess you must be used to it…”
I could hear Minazuki-san’s excited voice, and an indirect complaint from the younger Kanzaka sister.
“You just have to play along. We’re the ones who will be doing the acting.”
I see. Then I’ll just collect all the data I want while playing along with what you all come up with!
“T-Then, I’ll start!”
As I was pumping myself up, Mai looked at me with a red face and leaned forward a bit. And then—
Just when I was wondering what she was going to do, Mai suddenly pushed me down. There wasn’t much impact on my back when I hit the floor. But immediately following that, I could feel something soft and warm touching my chest, which sent shivers throughout my entire body. The reason for that was Mai, her face almost touching mine, right in front of me.
I didn’t even need to see myself now to understand that my face must’ve been incredibly flushed. Mai was the same. Her face was so red that she looked close to exploding. But her gaze was directly focused on me beneath her as she muttered a shaky “H-How is this…?!”
“H-How is what?! What are you doing?!”
“I-I told you, didn’t I?! Start off with a kiss! We ended up like this because of an accident, and we happen to kiss each other… It’s the boy-meets-girl situation that I was talking about!”
“Ki—?! Y-You’re going to do that right now?!”
“D-D-D-D-Don’t be ridiculous! Doing it right now is—No, not that’s not the point! I can’t just act it out like that! We’re just in this pose right now to demonstrate the impact!”
I was actually a bit relieved that she wasn’t going to do anything like that, but with the distance that we were at right now, with our lips literally about to overlap, there was no way I could just calm down.
“S-So, Yuu, how do you feel?! Following this would be a kiss, and the romcom would start there! It would have tremendous impact, don’t you think?!”
Mai let out an ominous sounding laugh, maybe because she was trying to build up some weird tension or something.
…I-It’s true that this is quite impactful, but I still have no idea how to even handle this situation!
Every time Mai spoke out loud, her body would vibrate slightly, pressing her soft body against mine. Because her face was so close, I could feel her breath, and she smelled really good!
Mai even said things like “I-It seems like my idea is the best, after all!” but I didn’t exactly have the willpower to concentrate on gathering any data.
“H-How long are you planning on staying like that?!”
Then, as I was slowly going crazy, I could hear Suzuka’s sharp voice pulling me back to reality. The same seemed to be true for Mai, because her body twitched as she jumped up.
“A-Anyway, this is what I was thinking about! How was it?! Isn’t that the greatest encounter scene ever?!”
Her face was still red, and she stood there trying to hide her embarrassment.
“W-Well, the impact was there for sure…!”
If something like that happened, the protagonist and the heroine would definitely grow conscious of one another. That’s plenty of reason for a romcom to unfold.
Saying “Of course!”, Mai returned to her seat. Suzuka was glaring daggers at her the entire time, but she probably was too embarrassed to even notice.
“Then, next is my turn.”
As if they had switched places, now it was Akino-san’s turn to step in front. She stared at me with her usual expressionless gaze.
“W-What is it?” I asked her.
“Crouch down until our eyes are at the same height.”
I did as I was told, and we were now at eye level.
“U-Umm… What are we doing now?”
Immediately after I asked that, Akino-san brought her forehead forward and touched it against mine. Her face was suddenly way too close!
“A-Akino-san?! W-W-W-What is this about…?!”
“I told you just now. The mind-reading heroine whose powers activate with touch. She would normally run away from any human contact, but she coincidentally touches the protagonist, and is taken aback because she can’t read his thoughts. This is the scene that we’re acting out right now.”
While I was busy panicking, while Akino-san’s expression didn’t change in the slightest, and she simply calmly explained the situation.
“She tries her hardest to read your mind… Hmm… Hmmmm… Yeah, I feel like I can hear something. It sounds like…your love for me. There’s no mistaking it.”
“Hold on! What kind of telepathic messages are you sending to my Onee-chan?!”
“I’m not sending anything! And Akino-san, don’t just make stuff up like that!”
“I’m trying my hardest, but I can’t register the slightest of thoughts from you. And then, I realize it. Puff… our faces are too close…”
And then, her face actually got red… S-She’s acting, right?!
I once again heard Suzuka’s partly-confused and partly-panicked voice, which sent a shiver down my spine. At the same time, Akino-san quickly separated from me, letting out a deep breath for some reason.
“Something like that. Bodily contact. A story element. And the gap moe. Everything together makes it the perfect boy-meets-girl. I think that Sensei will be pleased by this. And I’m satisfied as well.”
With that, Akino-san unsteadily returned back to her seat.
…I-I see. At first I was a bit surprised, but you can use this type of contact as a fanservice scene as well as a story element.
“Then next is Sakura’s turn!”
As I was thinking that, Minazuki-san suddenly jumped up on the stage.
And she called me Onii-chan right off the bat.
…Oh right, she was saying something about a little sister that came from the future—
“Here, Onii-chan is a good boy~”
In the next second, Minazuki-san’s suddenly pressed me into her chest, and she started patting me on the head. That alone made my thoughts come to a screeching halt.
“W-What are you…?!”
“Like she said before, Sakura is Onii-chan’s little sister from the future who came to spoil him! She wants to save Onii-chan from a future of being too serious, and she wants him to remember how good it feels to let go as well!” Minazuki-san said as she continued to pat me on the head.
Since I was pressed against her chest, I could even faintly hear her heartbeat.
“H-Hold on, this is going a bit too far…!”
“No can do~! Sakura might be your little sister, but since she came from the future, she’s still older than you. That’s why you have to listen to your Onee-chan little sister!”
That doesn’t make any sense at all! But this does indeed have a lot of impact. Using this kind of neither-good-nor-bad-development, you can build up energy for the story that follows.
“W-What are you doing, Sakura-san?! I might not be older than him, but as his real little sister, it’s my job to…!”
“It’s fine, Suzuka-chan! If you work a bit harder, you’ll definitely understand the broad-mindedness of the situation!”
“So you’re saying that I’m narrow-minded now?! A-Anyway, let go of him please! Just how long are you planning on doing this?!”
When Suzuka scolded her, Minazuki-san let go of me with an “Okaaaaay~”,
“Ehehehe, how was it, Sensei?” She asked me before she returned to her seat.
I gave a vague “I-It’s a nice idea I think…?” in response. All the while, Suzuka glared at me. Th-This is only in the romcom sense okay?!
“I think it’s time for Haruna’s turn.”
“Eh?! H-Hey, Onee-chan?! I’m fine, really!”
The younger Kanzaka sister was pushed onto the stage by Akino-san.
“The situation was that the heroine and the protagonist were always fighting, but once the protagonist gets confessed to, the heroine awakens to her true feelings, and confesses as well, right? Then, if you would.”
“A-Again, I’m not really…!”
“No can do. Haruna has to do it as well. If you want to become a pro, you can’t feel embarrassed here.”
When she was told that, the younger Kanzaka sister swallowed her words with an “Ugh.” She seemed to be hesitating for a bit, but it seemed like she gave up. She approached me with reluctant steps.
Her face was deep red as she muttered to herself. But in the next moment, her eyes opened wide and she spoke.
“I-I love you, okay?! All this time, I’ve loved you! Since we were in a comfortable friendship where I didn’t have to hold back from saying anything, I wasn’t able to say it before now! But I don’t want you to be taken away! So please… so please… go out with me!”
The moment her confession came to an end, the room was wrapped in silence. The only thing that was audible was the younger Kanzaka sister’s rough breathing. For me, the only thing I could do was just stare at her as well, in complete silence.
It seemed as if she herself noticed the awkward situation she was in, and she looked around the room stiffly.
“…Well, umm… that was just acting, right…?” I asked.
“T-That sounded like a genuine confession to me, though…” Suzuka said.
When she heard us speak, the younger Kanazaka sister let out a confused “Eh?”, seeming at a loss as to what what we were talking about, but…
“…Wha—?! W-W-W-W—?! O-Of course that was just acting! W-What kind of misunderstanding is this?! I-Impossible…! Are you an idiot?!”
It seemed that she finally understood what we were saying, because her face flushed even more, and she started stomping with her feet, as if her whole body was trying to deny our accusations.
“I-I was also really surprised for a second…”
“It’s difficult for even a voice actress to get into character that much! That was amazing!”
After Mai and Minazuki-san also joined in giving their impressions, the young Kanzaka sister seemed to be unable to stand it any more, and just ran back to her seat with a “Y-You’re wrong, okay?!” When she did, Akino-san tapped her on the shoulder and gave her a solemn “You did well.”
W-What was that about? Is this the gap moe they were talking about…?
It was amazing seeing the normal younger Kanzaka sister confessing like that. In a certain sense, it had the greatest impact out of what anyone had done so far. While I was still busy admiring her acting…
“Fu fu fu, it seems like it’s finally my turn, desu.”
Before I had even realized it, Double Peace-sensei had already come to the front. She started hugging my arm like it was the most natural thing in the world.
“H-Hold on, Double Peace-sensei, what are you…?!”
“It’s my boy-meets-girl, desu? …Umm, Sensei, could you take off my glasses for me…?”
Though I was flying by the seat of my pants here, I decided to do as I was told.
“…Eh? Ehhh?! Kyaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
When I did, Double Peace-sensei’s face flushed, and she let out a shriek with tears in her eyes. Say what?!
“…I can’t! If I don’t have my glasses…! Uuuuuuuuuuuu…!”
She really looked embarrassed, and her whole body started shaking.
W-What’s happening?! I’ve never seen Double Peace-sensei like this?!
“I-I actually am a coward! I can just barely manage if I’m wearing my glasses, but if I don’t have them, then I’m good for nothing! P-Please! Just listen to me for now! I’ll become your slave, so don’t tell anybody!”
While hugging me tightly, Double Peace-sensei started rubbing her face against my chest.
“H-Hold on… But this is… Ehhhh!?”
Even Suzuka was unable to process the situation unfolding in front of her, which was pretty rare.
And Double Peace-sensei is still crying… What is this situation? What should I do here?!
I was trying to figure out how to solve the situation when—
“Uuuuuu… Ueheheh, uehehehehe…!”
“Eh? Double Peace-sensei?!”
In a second, her behaviour slightly changed.
“Uehehehe… Sensei really is warm… snuggle snuggle…”
“W-What are you doing now?!”
Double Peace-sensei suddenly returned to normal, and I decided to push her away from me.
“Ahn~ Sensei is so rough, desu! But I like it when he’s like that!”
“What are we talking about?! A-Also, what was that just now?!”
“The character change once the glasses are taken off. I brought that up before, didn’t I, desu? How was it? Were you surprised?”
When I saw her flashing her usual smile, I slowly started to realize what just happened.
“T-Then… That just now was nothing but acting…?”
“That’s right, desu. The gap moe, and the relationship changing. It’s impactful in multiple ways! Was it to your liking?”
No, umm, I was just really surprised in general. I never thought that Double Peace-sensei could act like that. Still…yeah, it had quite an impact on me. Causing a character change with small tools like that is pretty easy to achieve, and you can think of various scenarios that can induce all of it, so it’d be pretty plausible…
“…I thought for a second that your personality really changed…”
“Sadly, I’m me even without the glasses!”
Double Peace-sensei flashed me a smile, still not wearing glasses.
“You really caught me by surprise there… anyway, here’s your glasses.”
“Thank you very much! Now then, next is… the passionate perverted acting that ensues after I’ve become your slave!”
“G-Give it a rest already! I won’t be deceived anymore!”
Suzuka seemed to have regained her composure, and she raised her voice. In response, Double Peace-sensei looked a bit disappointed. She returned to her seat with a “Can’t help it then, desu. Next time!”, which earned her an agitated “There won’t be a next time!” from Suzuka.
But, nevermind that now, everyone’s acting has ended—
“Mine has to be number one after all! In light novels, the fan service element is the most important!”
“Filling it with just that is no good. You should value the story element like I did.”
“Sakura thinks that moe is the crucial part!”
“A-After going through these embarrassing memories, I should win by default…! Uuu…!”
“I am the number one for using ero, desu!”
In the end, the situation didn’t change in the slightest. Everyone was still convinced that their scenario was the best. In my case, I think that just listening to everyone’s opinions turned into some valuable idea-gathering.
But how can I peacefully resolve this argument? Since I was the one who triggered this situation, I have to take responsibility, but…
Suddenly, Suzuka shot up from her seat as she slapped her hands on the table. When everyone heard that loud sound, they stopped talking and focused their attention on Suzuka. The place was suddenly wrapped in complete silence, until Suzuka slowly began speaking with a bright red face.
…W-What? What’s gotten into her?
“A-Actually… The thing is… I’ve always loved Onii-chan!”
The next words that came out of her mouth sounded more determined than I had ever heard her.
Naturally, I was at a loss for words, but Suzuka didn’t pay it any mind.
“I-I’ve always loved Onii-chan, but because of my dishonest personality, I’ve always been unable to tell you, and I’ve just stayed as your little sister like this!”
Her words felt like a bomb that was destroying my ability to think.
“Y-Y-Y-You?! W-W-W-W-What are you… suddenly… ehhh?!”
“C-C-C-Calm down, Onii-chan! This is the boy-meets-girl scenario that I thought of!”
…H-Huuuuuh?! I’m even more lost than before!
“B-Basically, the story starts with the little sister suddenly confessing her love to her older brother one day! H-How is it?! It has great impact, and it has the little sister gap moe! You can imagine the wonderful story that can enfold from there on out, right?!”
Suzuka was furiously trying to explain herself. I finally started understanding what she was aiming at.
…So basically, Suzuka saw this fight happening, and she’s presenting her own ideal boy-meets-girl scenario. But that just now was…
“Suzuka-san, isn’t he already doing that?”
Mai suddenly brought up exactly what I was thinking about.
“Eh? D-Doing what?”
“Like, isn’t this basically the same as the current novel he’s writing as Towano Chikai?”
“T-That’s true, but I want to help Onii-chan collect data…”
“I don’t think that writing basically the same thing in a different series is a good idea.”
“Yeah. Sakura agrees with the little sister part of it, but it’s basically the same thing.”
“Well, if you don’t put any changes in there, you’ll be made fun of, I think.”
“Well, it all depends on Sensei’s decision I guess, desu.”
When she heard Double Peace-sensei’s words, Suzuka’s gaze turned towards me. I found myself unconsciously averting my eyes.
Suzuka glared at me with a disgruntled expression. Shortly afterwards, the war about whose idea was better restarted. While I listened to their debate from the outside, I apologized to Suzuka countless times inside my head. But she seemed unable to read my feelings, and she continued to glare at me after that for quite some time.
“Onii-chan, why didn’t you agree with me back then?!”
Naturally, Suzuka questioned me fiercely on the way home.
In the end, the girls didn’t arrive at a conclusion about who won, and they agreed to continue the battle at a later date.
To be fair, I think it’s a good thing if a creator is adamant about their ideas, and it did help me out quite a lot as well, so it’s not all bad. But there’s still one problem left.
And as you might have guessed, said problem was Suzuka. Even though she was the real Towano Chikai, she had been unable to participate in any way today, and was even forced into that embarrassing situation before.
“Sorry, but I didn’t have any other choice. As the stand-in for Towano Chikai, I could only come up with something like that…”
“That might be true, but… Since it’s Onii-chan’s novel, it should be fine if I help out, right?!”
You’re not wrong about that, but you should know very well that this isn’t something you can just admit in front of the others. Hence, her words were less persuasive than usual.
“For crying out loud! Every story in the world should just start with the little sister confessing!”
“T-That’s quite the opinion you have there…”
Maybe that showed just how much confidence she had in the structure of her novel, but I could only reply with a bitter smile.
“So how is it?” She suddenly asked.
“How is what?”
“The boy-meets-girl part of Onii-chan’s novel. Do you think you can write something good with what you’ve learned today?”
“A-Ah, that… Well, thanks to everyone, I feel like I’ll be able to write something.”
“I’m glad to hear that. But I hope you’re prepared for the ensuing lecture about not telling me beforehand once we get home.”
“T-That’s… Yes, I’ve steeled my heart for that already.”
When I responded, Suzuka still looked disgruntled for a second, but that facial expression soon changed, and her cheeks soon turned a faint red.
“B-By the way, Onii-chan. Once you decide on the boy-meets-girl scene that you’re going to write, you’ll need to collect data on that, right?”
“Eh? Ah… I guess…?”
“I-I think that you should. And when that time comes… although I don’t really feel happy about it, I’ll lend you my help. You’ve been helping me for a while, so it’s only natural, right?!”
—So she said, and I didn’t know how to respond. The moment she brought that up, I pictured myself being lovey-dovey with Suzuka while gathering data, and I hurriedly shook my head to rid myself of those thoughts.
“…Eh? Onii-chan, what happened? Your face is a bit red.”
“N-No, it’s nothing. Let’s just hurry home.”
“Y-You’re that eager to have me lecture you? Onii-chan, don’t tell me… Do you like that sort of thing?”
“No! It’s not that… Anyway, let’s just go home!”
“Ah, wait up!”
In the end, I wasn’t able to give Suzuka a response to her wish to collect data with me, and I myself didn’t know the reason for that. Even though we had gathered data together countless times already…
Before I noticed, I was already walking faster. It was like I was trying to run away from this uncomfortable feeling inside me. I was also wondering why I was so adamant to not use references from Towano Chikai’s—Suzuka’s—novel for my own story.