If you like our work, please follow us on our social media, join our discord and support us on Patreon:
Life’s Hardest Data Collecting
“I-I’m always ready, so please…!”
“Um, even if you say that…”
On a certain day on our way to school, I was walking next to Suzuka like always. However, the circumstances this time were a bit different.
“W-What are you acting so nervous for? This is important data in order for you to write your light novel. And this time, it isn’t for my own novel, but for yours, okay?”
Yes, just as Suzuka stated, we were collecting data this early in the morning. Well, I do have some experience with this. Especially right after Suzuka had just enrolled in the same school as I. But, since we (or more accurately, I) determined that flirting in front of the other students was a bad idea, we had given up on the idea of collecting data at school. And even though we decided on that, this time it was even different from before, and the hurdle for me was even higher. After all…
“I-I’ve finished my mental preparations, Onii-chan. No matter how you want to collect data, I’m ready!”
Uuu… This is what I mean…! Of all the things, Suzuka is telling me to be lovey-dovey and flirty out of my own initiative! Normally, if it’s for Suzuka’s novel, she’s the one who’s aggressive, and she tells me what to do. That’s what I’m used to. Basically, collecting data for me was something that just happened naturally, without me having to think too deeply about it.
This time it’s different, though. I have to create lovey-dovey flirty events by myself. And on top of that, I have to come up with ways of doing them from scratch, also all by myself.
“Hold on a second. I’m still not sure what to do now…”
“T-There’s no need to think too deeply about it, right? You just have to act out all the things you’ve thought of. E-Even now, just while talking, I’ve come up with several ideas.”
Could you not lump me into the same group as you?! I’m not a genius like you! And what do you mean by ‘several’?!
“H-Hurry up, please. If you keep wasting your time like this, we’ll arrive at school before you can do anything.”
However, Suzuka didn’t pay attention to my circumstances and just pressured me even further. I really wish I could tell her not to be so demanding here, but as her stand-in, I don’t have the right to do that. Not to mention that this time around, it’s actually for my own novel.
Ugh… This is tough. In a lot of ways. The only thing I can do is man up and pull through, though. Steeling my resolve, I once again tried to focus on the data-gathering. That being said, I couldn’t come up with anything amazing, so I took the safe route for now.
“U-Um… how about we hold hands for now?”
I felt pathetic, but that was all I could think of.
“Hold… hands…? I think that’s more like something you do before acting lovey-dovey.”
As expected, Suzuka wasn’t all that impressed.
“T-That being said, it isn’t bad to start with. I do love holding hands with Onii-chan, after all—O-Only during data collecting, of course!”
Luckily, she accepted my idea. Feeling slightly flustered nonetheless, I muttered a quiet “T-Thank you” and held my hand closer to hers. However…
The moment I touched her hand, it felt like a mysterious electric current ran through my body, and I instinctively pulled my hand back again.
…W-What was that just now?!
“Hmm? What’s wrong?”
Suzuka simply tilted her head in confusion at me. Well, I don’t really know myself. Seriously, what is happening with me? Also, why am I suddenly so flustered? My heart is beating like crazy for some reason, and I can feel my head burning up. I can’t even look Suzuka in the eye. W-Weird, I’ve never felt like this during all the times I held her hands before, so why am I suddenly being so overly conscious of her?
Suzuka calmly watched me, and her voice sounded more and more suspicious. Every time she brought her face closer to mine, I unconsciously looked away.
“W-What is that reaction—Ah?! D-Don’t tell me…!” Suzuka’s eyes opened wide as if she realized something. On top of that, her face flushed like crazy, and she started fidgeting.
“I-I see. So that’s what this is about, Onii-chan.”
“Eh? What do you mean?”
“That reaction just now was that, right? You’re trying to hold your little sister’s hand, but you started to feel embarrassed, so you pulled it away, right?”
I started panicking, she was right on the mark. When I realized that Suzuka had seen straight through me, I felt like hiding in a hole and staying there until the day I’d die. This is bad! Suzuka is going to stay clear of me because of my reaction…! Not to mention that this time, she was completely correct, which left me no room to even try to make excuses! My face went pale, my head went blank, and I couldn’t find any words to say.
I was about to emphasize that she was actually wrong about that, but both of my hands started to shake uncontrollably, and I could only stutter. Suzuka watched my confusion with a slight giggle. She opened her mouth. I mentally prepared for her to say things like “Onii-chan is a helpless pervert, isn’t he?” or “You make me sick, so could you not get any closer?” or other harsh words, and I was about to drop to my knees and cry, when—
“T-That’s quite the impressive data-collecting you’ve come up with, Onii-chan…”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m—Eh?”
When I didn’t receive the response I had anticipated, I was left in shock.
“I was a bit surprised, yes, but now I understand what we’re acting out here. I-It felt very natural, so I really can only praise you for becoming such a character.”
“You came up with a character that would match this data collecting, and you’re acting them out right now, right? T-That’s what I was hoping for. I’m glad to see how much you’ve grown.”
Suzuka nodded to herself with a very satisfied look on her face, but I was at a loss for words… Ah, she probably has the wrong idea about something… I didn’t think about acting or a character or anything at all, but Suzuka seems to have interpreted my reaction as such. I feel like I was saved… but also not really.
“During our data collecting right now, your reaction was very natural. I learned something new today. That’s Onii-chan for you. Working so hard for his little sister novel, ehehe…”
Suzuka started to get all excited by herself, muttering to herself in a super pleased mood.
“With this, our data collecting later will be just as much of a success. That’s a relief. N-Now, Onii-chan, let’s continue just like that.”
When I saw Suzuka’s beaming smile, I was unable to put anything else into words. I mean, I understand the fact that she’s having a misunderstanding right now, but I myself still can’t really grasp what’s happening. Maybe I’m better off not saying anything here.
Not grasping my internal confusion in the slightest, Suzuka just asked “W-What’s next?” and stretched out her hand towards me. After a short moment of hesitation, I firmly grasped it. This time, the weird shock from before didn’t occur, and while I probably blushed ever so slightly, I managed to hold her hand tight. At first it was a bit cold, but her warmth immediately radiated to my own hand after that. Her hand felt really soft, as well. Before now, we’ve held hands countless times during our data collecting, but right now, I feel weirdly conscious of her.
….W-Wait a second! Why am I thinking about disgusting things like that?! I furiously shook my head to try to shake off these weird thoughts. I reminded myself countless times that I shouldn’t become too conscious of Suzuka.
“Ehehehe… W-What is he going to do next…?”
Not to mention that Suzuka was already anticipating my next move, even though I had bigger concerns. In the end, all I could do was think back and ask myself why this happened, as a last-ditch effort to escape this reality.
“P-Please help me collect some data!!”
The previous evening, right after Shinozaki-san’s phone call, Suzuka rushed into my room to say those words, leaving me shocked.
“W-Why are you asking that all of a sudden?!”
Well, I had a general idea as to why Suzuka suddenly charged in here like that. I mean, considering the timing, there can only be one reason.
“I just saw the email that Shinozaki-san sent me!”
When Suzuka said that with rough breathing, I muttered a fed-up “I thought so…” to myself.
“In the email, she said that it was about what she had just called about, so you already know, right?! That makes things easy! Let’s collect data right this instant—”
“H-Hold on a damn second!”
Suzuka was shoving her face towards mine, so I quickly stopped her. I know what she wants from me, but why is she so motivated about it?
“Um… She wants the story to have a big development next volume. It’s about that, right?”
“T-That’s right. I need to work on the turning point of the story. The course of events that will eventually lead to the ending. That’s what makes Shinozaki-san a professional editor, alright. A logical manner of thinking indeed.”
I totally agree with that. Well, I’d like to argue that she isn’t as professional as Suzuka thinks she is, but this time around, she actually gave us some valuable advice. But this didn’t seem to be the only reason Suzuka was so energetic. She continued.
“Not to mention, that isn’t even the best part of it! As for the idea behind this turning point, she thought that the older brother could start to grow conscious of the little sister! Isn’t that wonderful?! …Ahh, I’m so thankful for Shinozaki-san’s guidance! This will let me write exactly what I want to. She’s the perfect editor!”
Aren’t you praising her a bit too much, Suzuka? This might be the first time I’ve ever seen you praise someone else like that. Well, she’s not wrong to say that Shinozaki-san is a hard worker when it comes to to light novels, but I still feel like there’s a weird bias in there…
“Hmph, you don’t look all too
satisfied. You can’t do that, Onii-chan. Don’t go doubting
Shinozaki-san’s skill. A novel is something born from the hard work
of both author and editor combined. In that sense, I was very lucky
to meet someone who deeply adores little sister novels like
“You’re going that far?!” I asked.
When I did, Suzuka scolded me. “What are you saying, Onii-chan? If you also want to be a professional light novel author, you can’t doubt your editor, right?” This inflicted an even greater shock on me. I’m kind of scared now, if getting an editor like that would mean I’m in good hands…
“But, that isn’t important right now, Onii-chan! It’s time to collect data! This time for my novel!”
Suzuka’s words brought me back to reality, but very reluctantly.
“B-By that, do you mean to tell me…?”
“O-O-O-O-Of course I’m talking about scenes where the older brother starts to become conscious of the little sister! What else?!”
Although Suzuka’s face went bright red, I could see the fire burning in her eyes. I-I thought that’s what this would be about!
“Unlike most other flirty events, in order to depict this important story development, our data collecting has to be even more detailed and thorough than ever before!”
It wasn’t just her eyes. Even her aura is heating up the room. It feels like she’s more motivated than ever to collect data. Though that’s to be expected, since we’re talking about an important part of her story, after all.
“T-That’s why I need Onii-chan to help me out even more than ever before!”
Naturally, she’s asking me for assistance yet again. That’s to be expected. It’s been that way the entire time, and since I’m her stand-in, I have to respond to that request. However…
A fleeting groan escaped my mouth. Naturally, one part of it was that I couldn’t motivate myself for Suzuka’s data collecting (especially considering how tiring it always was). But I still tagged along every time, and I’ve gotten used to that by now. Also, Suzuka helped me out with my own novel recently, so I do feel like I need to repay her somehow, so all I had to do was agree here and everything would be fine. But, just this once, I couldn’t.
The reason for that was the theme for the data collecting. “The older brother starts to grow conscious of his little sister”…?! As if I could tag along with some dangerous data collecting like that?! Just recently, I’ve been feeling precisely that way, you know! I-I don’t mean that in a weird way, though…
But anyway, since I’m in such a conflicted state of mind, I can’t go along with such critical data collecting! Since I’m becoming even more conscious of Suzuka, it would have the opposite effect! …Yeah, I can’t. Just thinking about it makes me shiver. This sounds dangerous. Even more dangerous than ever!
“Hmph. What’s with that indecisive attitude, Onii-chan?”
However, Suzuka had no way of knowing about my miserable situation, and just gave me her usual displeased expression. But just this one time, I can’t step down. Even if I am her older brother, even if I am her stand-in, this is something I can’t allow myself to accept. But alas, my little sister (naturally) wouldn’t just utter an “Ah, is that so?” and let me off the hook, so…
“W-Well, the thing is…”
I have to somehow explain this and talk my way out of it without revealing the truth. I’ll probably lose in a battle of words against her, but that’s just how bad the situation right now is.
“Um… I’m busy with my own novel right now.” I tried to use the first excuse that came to mind. “I do still have time before the deadline of the light novel contest I’m applying for, but I’m worried if I can make it in time…”
“Eh, is that so?” Suzuka’s eyes opened wide.
“Y-Yeah. That’s why I have to focus on my own novel now… It seems like your deadline is still a ways off, so…”
“It’s true that I can still take my time, yes.”
…A-Alright, I might actually be able to do this! I’m not lying, after all, and at this rate, Suzuka might even agree.
“R-Right? While I’m working on my own novel, you’ll have enough time to think of a story yourself. If we do that, there might not be any need to collect data.”
“Ah, that’s not happening. Collecting data is necessary no matter what.” Suzuka’s response was immediate.
Ugh… Why are you so adamant about this damned data collecting all the time…! N-No, calm down. Even if the data collecting isn’t completely cancelled here, I might get permission to at least postpone it, I think. I might be able to calm down a bit if I’m given some precious time.
“I-I see. But as I just said, I have my hands full with my own novel. So can we take a break from collecting data for a bit?”
Hence, I tried to push the topic towards that conclusion. At the same time, I pleaded a bit. This is Suzuka, after all. Since she’s so kind, she might actually be satisfied with this.
“…Is that so? So you are too busy with your own novel.”
As I suspected, Suzuka’s eyes started to calm, and she began thinking. But just when I started thinking I’m saved!—
“Then we need to collect even more
“Why is that your conclusion?!”
I was reminded yet again that my little sister might not be as kind and understanding as I was making her out to be. I mean, come on! Do I have to get down on my knees and beg her or something?! Considering how the conversation has gone so far, this definitely isn’t a conclusion you would end up drawing, right?! However, Suzuka ignored my panicking and just continued.
“Listen, Onii-chan,” She looked at me with a serious expression on her face, “I don’t know what kinds of problems you’re having right now, but if you can’t work on your novel, you’re probably missing a certain image or scene.”
“Y-You think so…?”
“There’s no mistaking it. If you have the right image for it, I’m sure that you’ll be able to write it more easily. At the very least, that’s the case for me.”
“Well, it’s true that it worked out like that for me, as well…”
“Right? If you can’t progress with writing your little sister novel, it means that the image that you want to write about hasn’t solidified in your head yet, Onii-chan. How did that happen?! What is this about, Onii-chan?!”
“There’s no need to suddenly get angry at me!”
“…E-Excuse me. I got a bit excited… Anyway, the reason that Onii-chan is having trouble right now is because of this. That’s why you need to collect data. It’s now or never.”
“H-Hold on, I-I feel like I understand what you’re saying…!”
“Hence, if you were to tag along with
my data collecting, you’d help me out and you might be able to get
over your problem! It’d be two birds with one stone!”
“I thought so?!”
“Not to mention, this time it’s an older brother growing conscious of his little sister! This is important for every little sister novel, so I’m sure that Onii-chan will be able to use this as well! Don’t you think so?! You do, right?!”
Suzuka’s eyes were brighter than ever as she closed in on me. Seeing her this desperate to gain my assent, I was left unable to say anything. What spelled my defeat was my brief thought “M-Maybe she’s right…”, but I also knew more than anyone that winning against Suzuka is, in fact, impossible.
Once she’s decided on collecting data, she won’t back down. That is just Suzuka’s—Towano Chikai’s—style, and I was yet again painfully reminded of that.
“That being said, we have to collect data. For both of our sakes! I’d love to start today, but it’s already pretty late. I’ll definitely have you go along with lots of my data collecting from now on, so you’d best be prepared, Onii-chan!”
Suzuka declared this as if it were fact, and I didn’t have any energy left in me to go against her. Ugh… This time it’s really bad to collect data on that… What should I do…? While I was busy being as depressed as could be, Suzuka was more than pleased, and she continued talking.
“T-This might be the most important data-collecting ever…! Also, since this is about the older brother growing conscious of the little sister, Onii-chan has to be the one who initiates the flirty events. You’d better prepare yourself! We’ll start immediately tomorrow!”
She finished with that outrageous statement… A-All of this alone is pretty bad, and now she’s telling me to be the one who goes on the offensive? But before I could try to object, Suzuka had already made another declaration:
“W-Well then, the theme for our data
collecting will be… The moment the older brother falls in love with
the little sister! Please treat me well, Onii-chan!!!”
“Onii-chan? What’s wrong? You’re spacing out.”
“…Well, I just didn’t want to face reality for a second. Don’t mind me…”
While thinking back to the incident the night before, my head started to ache yet again at the ridiculousness of this situation. The moment the older brother falls in love with the little sister. That is the theme we’re supposed to be researching right now. This is even worse than anything I could have imagined, to be honest. I mean, I know that it’s just data for both of our series, but I really can’t do this…
That being said, it’s already started. Now that Suzuka is in the mindset of doing it, and since I was unable to reject it yesterday, I have to follow up on it now. Up until now, we’ve had some ridiculous times and events while we were gathering data. No matter how much I tried to steel myself for this, though, there’s no way I can just calmly pull this off! This is so hard to do that I can’t even put it into words!
Still, now that I’m in, I can’t help it. Trying my best to not grow more conscious of Suzuka than necessary, I still have to satisfy Suzuka’s demands!
“Calm down… Calm down… Inner peace…”
“W-What are you mumbling to yourself about, Onii-chan? That dead look in your eyes isn’t exactly comfortable to look at.”
…Leave me alone! Whose fault do you think it is that I ended up like this?!
“Really, focus on this
data-gathering. Or you’re going to ruin the mood.”
Before I could finish my sentence, I could feel Suzuka gripping my hand even tighter. Thanks to that, I was reminded yet again what kind of position we were in… A-Ah, right, I’m holding hands with Suzuka! N-No, don’t get too conscious about it! Siblings holding hands is something normal, right? Well, not as high school students, maybe… But still, it’s nothing to be nervous about!
“So what kind of reaction will you have next? I won’t be able to write everything if you don’t act it out, so keep them coming! Um… S-Show me the moment where you fall in love with me…!”
“U-Ugh…! N-Not you and me, but the brother and sister, right…?! At least keep that in mind!”
“O-Onii-chan and I are siblings as well, and since we’re acting this kind of thing, I can’t help it, can I?”
No no no, the two of us have absolutely no connection whatsoever to the siblings in the novel, so could you not say something that would cause a misunderstanding like that?!
“Th-That aside, h-hurry and fall in love with me even more…!”
But Suzuka didn’t listen to my desperate appeals in the slightest, and only gripped my hand even tighter. Her cheeks went red, and while she seemed to be pouting, she looked at me with an expression of expectation, leaving me no choice but to avert my gaze, flustered.
…Ahh, for crying out loud, what should I do?!
Then, while I was slowly starting to go crazy, it happened.
“W-What are you doing, Nagami-senpai?!”
“Oh my, you siblings are as close as ever, I see.”
Someone behind us suddenly called out to me, and I turned around to find…
“Ah, Kaede and Kotomi? Good morning.”
Suzuka’s friends Nikaido-san and Shiina-san were standing there. Nikaido-san just threw me a sharp glare, while Shiina-san was nonchalantly smiling as usual.
“G-Good morning, you two.”
Although I panicked a bit, I still greeted the two of them myself. When I did, Nikaido-san bowed deeply for a second, but that didn’t last long. She suddenly snapped at me with a blushing face.
“Good morning, Senpai—Wait, this isn’t the time for a normal greeting! W-Why are you holding hands with Suzuka like that?! H-Holding hands in the middle of the street like this, almost as if you’re trying to be seen! What are you going to do if Suzuka got unwanted attention because of that?! What are you thinking!?”
“Ah, well, I’m… sorry?!”
Overwhelmed by her outburst, I let go of Suzuka’s hand as I apologized. But even when I did, Nikaido-san’s glare didn’t soften. In the meantime, Shiina-san was just watching Nikaido-san with a soothing smile on her face.
“Calm down, Kaede. Suzu-chan’s Onii-san is just getting along with her, that’s all.”
“G-Getting along with her is fine and all, but holding hands is going too far. Such indecent behaviour! I’m always worried that one day Nagami-senpai will assault Suzuka!”
Hey hey, why is this girl having these kinds of unnecessary worries? That being said, considering all the data collecting and whatnot that we’ve done around Nikaido-san, I really can’t blame her. Nikaido-san is already quite serious herself, and she sees Suzuka as her precious friend. As Suzuka’s older brother, I’m very happy about that, of course.
“…Ugh, I have to do something about Nagami-senpai’s desires before it’s too late! So, is sacrificing myself really the only thing I can do?! But if it’s for Suzuka, I wouldn’t mind having my body sullied!”
W-Well, she might be a bit over the top, but at least they’re good friends, I guess.
“I’m sorry, Suzu-chan’s Onii-san. Kaede is a bit old-fashioned and stubborn.”
Shiina-san spoke to me with her usual calming smile.
“It’s fine. That’s just how she is.”
“I’m relieved to see the two of you as close as ever, you know. I wouldn’t mind at all if you held hands or crossed arms, ufufu.”
“Well, thanks for that… Hm?”
…I feel like I heard something really bad in there. And that confident smile… Why do I feel like there’s some kind of pressure behind that smile? Is it just my imagination?
Just then, Suzuka pulled on my sleeve. Not to mention that she was glaring up at me.
“…W-What do you desire, my dearest sister?” I asked in a voice too quiet for the other two to hear us.
The reason I suddenly changed to a formal tone was because the pressure from Suzuka’s glare was so intense that it left me shaking in my boots.
“…Why did you let go of my hand? It was such a nice atmosphere—U-Um, I mean we were in the middle of collecting data!”
“I-I mean, doing it in front of the other two would be pretty bad for you, right? They’ll get the wrong idea.”
“T-That might be the case, yes. B-But, even so, you can’t just stop in the middle of it.”
“…Eh? H-Hold on, we’re going to continue right here?”
I asked for confirmation, hoping that I had misheard her, but Suzuka just nodded in response.
“……No, wait, hold on. There’s no way that we can keep going with the two of them standing there! And it’s not just them, but other people as well!”
“…I-I still don’t mind at all. I-It’s important data-collecting!”
…S-Seriously? I don’t think I’ll be able to do this.
“…That being said, I know what
you’re trying to say, Onii-chan. It’s embarrassing, and we have
to keep the time, place, and occasion in mind. However, there isn’t
any problem with that right now.”
“…What do you mean by that?”
“…Think about it. Our theme is the moment where the older brother falls in love with the little sister. Our current data-collecting is focusing on the start of that very scene, so nothing coming from your side has to be all that impressive right now. Of course, I wouldn’t mind if you suddenly became extremely flirty… Just in the sense of my data-gathering though! A-Anyway, I’m saying that you don’t have to force yourself too much this time.”
…Oh wow. I never thought that I would hear those words from the data-collecting freak Suzuka. Still, she wasn’t quite done yet with her explanation, it seemed.
“…It’s true that the flirting this time can be reserved, because your love for your little sister has just started to blossom. However, in return, you have to show your love in various ways.”
“…Isn’t it your job to come up with that, Onii-chan?”
…I know we’ve talked about it in the past, but don’t you think you’re asking a bit too much of me? I was really relieved when she told me that we didn’t have to try too hard this time, but now I’m not in the kind of situation anymore where I can feel relieved. I mean, the theme is about an older brother falling in love with his little sister. And since I’ll be pretending to be that older brother, I have to come up with everything myself!
“…What are you hesitating for? I’ve already mentally prepared myself, so show me an older brother who’s in love with me!”
“…H-Hold on,b I don’t know what to do…”
“You have to become the character. The same as you always do. Up until now, you’ve been pretending to be the little-sister-loving Towano Chikai, haven’t you? Thanks to that, you really have become a little sister lover… Ehehe…”
What do you mean ‘Thanks to that’?! I really wanted to tell her that she was wrong, but considering how much I’ve been acting like a siscon lately, I really couldn’t deny it.
“…Ah?! A-Anyway, Onii-chan, you just have to act in character like always. Act like an older brother who loves his little sister.”
“…You say it like it’s so simple.”
“…You can do it, Onii-chan. This is also for your sake. If you manage to act in-character here, it’ll definitely help you with your own little sister novel… Maybe? Probably!”
Suzuka’s face went bright-red and she averted her gaze in an awkward manner. But I was too busy thinking at that point to notice. I found myself thinking that her argument might actually be right. The reason I’m having trouble with the little sister novel might actually be because I have a little sister, and that’s been driving a wedge between me and my work. In that case, if I could act in character here and overcome that wall, I might be able to write it.
…Also, this isn’t just data collecting for my sake, but it’s also for Suzuka’s sake. So no matter how ridiculous the content of it may be, I have to follow along as her stand-in. For now, I’ll trust Suzuka’s words. However, there is one thing I definitely have to be careful about. And that is to never become too conscious of her. I’m just pretending to be a character who’s in love with her. This is just us collecting data, so there’s no weird meaning behind it whatsoever.
I repeated these words mentally, over and over, and I somehow managed to clear my mind again. Well, to a certain degree. But who can blame me in this situation? I don’t even know what to do now.
“…What’s wrong? I-I’m ready anytime.”
“…E-Even if you say that, I can’t think of anything…”
“…You don’t have to think about anything special. Right now, I just want to have a taste of what it feels to have an older brother who loves me—O-Only because I want to use it as a reference for writing, of course! All you have to do is act in character and do whatever you think of. I-I’m excited to see what you’ll do. Ehehehe…”
There Suzuka goes again, bugging out like always. Act in character, huh? That’s not all too different from all the times before, but the character this time around is pretty tough to act out… Well, I’ve decided on it now, so there’s no turning back…
I am an older brother who loves his little sister. Normally, this would totally be unthinkable, but right now, I have no other choice but to do it!
“By the way, Suzuka.”
“Ah, yes, what is it, Kaede?”
As I was thinking that, Nikaido-san called out to Suzuka. She broke in between us as we whispered to each other and stepped to Suzuka’s left side, while Shiina-san walked up to Suzuka’s right. Although I enjoyed the sight of them being friendly like this, Suzuka kept sending me glares. She was clearly urging me to do something. But no matter how much I thought about it, I couldn’t come up with anything.
…Ahhh, to hell with it! I just can’t…! As I hung my head in resignation, I realized that the number of fellow students around us grew by the minute. The school was close, so everyone was probably starting to meet up around here. Not to mention that more and more of Suzuka’s fellow first-year students came swarming towards her to greet her. She’s as popular as always, I see.
And it wasn’t just fellow girl friends. Both male and female students came to greet her. She returned all their greetings like it was nothing. Since this had become an everyday occurrence as of late, I was already getting used to it, but at the same time, a certain idea came to mind.
Before I realized it, I had already wrapped my arm around Suzuka’s shoulder and pulled her closer to me. At first, Suzuka was confused by that, but she finally looked up at me and started to panic.
“Ehhhhhh?! W-W-W-What are you doing…?!”
I started panicking, as well. I-I was just acting in character, okay?! Before I realized it, I had already… S-So basically, this is the result of me focusing on the data collecting! Yes!
“S-Suddenly taking my shoulder like that…! A-And so forcefully…!”
“N-Nagami-senpai! What are you doing to Suzuka?!”
From next to the wobbling Suzuka, Nikaido-san gave me an angry glare as she stepped forward.
“Th-That’s not how it is! This just now was… I-I realized that a car was coming up from behind us, so my body just moved on its own!”
“There’s no car coming, though! There’s not even a bicycle!”
“I-I did feel some danger approaching her from behind, though! Um… it was like someone was gazing at us with killing intent!”
“What?! I didn’t realize it at all, but Nagami-senpai did…? N-No, do you really think I would believe an excuse like that?! You were thinking about doing something indecent to Suzuka, right?!”
I tried to come up with a lame excuse, but she saw through me immediately. I’m not thinking about anything like that, okay?! The indecent thing here is the whole theme in itself, so complain to Suzuka, will you?!
“I’d anticipated that Nagami-senpai would sink to that level one day, but I never imagined that he’d actually do it in public like that! Now that it’s come to this, I have to offer myself as the victim! I will accept all your desires, N-Nagami-senpai, so please refrain from sullying Suzuka any more than you already have!”
“I’m not going to sully her in anyway. I don’t need your sacrifice, either, and there aren’t any desires of mine that you would have to accept anyway, so calm down there for a second, alright?!”
Nikaido-san just continued to glare at me. Her body was shaking furiously, and tears were dripping down her cheeks. Is it just me, or is there a slight glimmer of happiness hidden inside there?!
“O-Onii-chan, what are you planning on doing to Kaede?!”
“Nothing?! Just as I said mere seconds ago?!”
Don’t glare at me like that! This is your fault to begin with!
“…Can you help me calm Nikaido-san here…?!” I whispered to Suzuka. In response, she came to her senses. Finally.
“…T-That’s right. That just now really was only data collecting… B-But even so, it was a wonderful idea! The older brother, after falling in love with his little sister, felt jealous of all the people around him and went on the offensive, right?!”
Stop! Don’t state that so calmly! I’ll bite my tongue and kill myself right here, I swear! I didn’t have any intentions like that at all! It’s just that I was thinking that I had to act in character, and I just moved on impulse. In that sense, Suzuka’s opinion might not necessarily be wrong, but the way the character thought isn’t related in any way whatsoever to my own feelings, okay? Please believe me.
“That was the most natural acting I’ve seen so far, Onii-chan. It felt very real and genuine, yes. Keep going, just like that!”
Weirdly enough, Suzuka responded with only words of praise, but I’m not happy at all.
“It feels like a new world has opened
up in front of me… It was so soft, and yet so impactful… And
there was a hidden ulterior motive, as well…!”
“N-No, there wasn’t any ulterior motive or anything… But if it ended up being some good reference material, then that’s fine… That aside, about the other two…”
“A-Ah, that’s right. Um… it’s fine, Kaede. This is just how close we are as siblings, so you don’t have to worry about anything.”
“…Don’t worry, Suzuka. If it’s for your sake, I’ll give my own body to Nagami-senpai, even if it results in me getting defiled…!”
“Are you listening to other people when they speak?!”
While I watched the two of them, I reflected on my actions just a minute ago. Just as Suzuka had said, I was only acting in character. I could clearly tell, since it was a familiar feeling I had experienced before… However, this time around, my response was complete reflex. It was like my body really just moved on its own. Does this mean that I’ve grown better at acting in character, or is there a completely different reason?
No, there shouldn’t be. Instead of overthinking it, I should accept the fact that I’ve succeeded at acting more naturally. This will be of great help for my future endeavours. I fiercely shook my head to rid myself of any weird ideas. I had to focus on our current data collecting, both for Suzuka’s novel and for mine. I need to be able to write my little sister novel as if it’s second nature. If I don’t focus, there’s no way that I’ll be able to act like an older brother who has romantic feelings for his little sister.
While I was thinking that, I realized that Shiina-san had suddenly appeared next to me, letting out a joyful giggle as she watched Nikaido-san and Suzuka talk with each other.
“The two of them are in a good mood as always.”
“Well, they might be taking it a bit too far…”
“But Suzu-chan is the happiest whenever she’s with Onii-san, you know?”
“Suzu-chan really loves Onii-san. And on top of that, you seem to really treasure her as well.” She flashed me her usual smile as she continued. “I’m a bit jealous. Just as Suzu-chan says, you two really are close siblings.”
Leaving those words behind, Shiina-san trotted to catch up with the other two. Left alone, I pondered her words.
…Close siblings, huh? Suzuka liking me or anything is just a misunderstanding on her part, and we might look close, but this is all just because we’re currently collecting data. Well, our relationship has improved compared to the past, though. However, she is right about the fact that I treasure Suzuka. Naturally, because she’s my little sister. There’s no other reason behind it. But even so, her words kept floating around in my head for some reason.
…Ahh, damn it all… I’m having weird thoughts again.
Letting out a deep sigh, I tried to clear my mind of these thoughts. Instead, I decided to focus on data collecting while trying not to grow more conscious of her. Even if this data-collecting lasts the entire day.
………Ah?! Th-This isn’t good. As soon as I relax, I can feel my face loosening up. Every time I scold myself, it only lasts mere seconds before I start laughing again. That being said, I feel like I can’t help it in such a situation. There are some special circumstances behind this. This is like a greater force that I can’t control! After all, the reason for my laughing is…
That our data collecting this time around has been wonderful! I mean, it’s the moment when the older brother falls in love with the little sister, you know?! From the moment that this theme was decided, I knew that I would be able to use this to my advantage, but this is going even more smoothly than I ever dreamed. I was a bit worried in the beginning. Even if the theme is so amazing, I was worried that our flirting this time would decrease.
However, that worry was just wasted energy on my part. It’s true that the flirting itself decreased. But that’s just because of the theme. This isn’t at all the place to do things like sit on Onii-chan’s lap, take a bath together with him, have him lick chocolate off my fingers, or have him softly embrace me as we sleep together (Uuuu… My face is starting to burn up just from remembering it…) After all, I couldn’t help but feel a bit concerned at the start, but now that we’ve started, that concern has completely dissipated.
After all, considering that the setting is that Onii-chan is falling in love with his little sister, every single action and move of his will end up being some kind of flirting! I believe that this might be humanity’s greatest discovery to date! If there existed a nobel prize in the Onii-chan category, I would without a doubt be the winner of it! That’s just how great of a revelation this is!
…Cough, excuse me. Anyway, I hope that you can understand why I’m going crazy like this. This time, I’ve learned that the data collecting doesn’t always have to be jam-packed full of nothing but flirting.
For example, back when we were walking to school, Onii-chan tried to hold my hand, but panicked, and pulled back immediately, right? And there was a really awkward atmosphere after that. At first glance, that might look like a failure of data gathering, but in reality, it wasn’t. Remember the prerequisite.
At that time, Onii-chan was acting like an older brother who was falling in love with his little sister. When you add that to what he did, there is something else there that has never happened before. Basically, he was yearning for me and wanted to hold my hand, but the second we touched, his love awakened and he pulled his hand back from embarrassment. After that, he realized it himself and went silent, which caused that awkward atmosphere. He was worried that his beloved sister would start to think badly of him, but he was also unable to completely ignore his desire to hold hands with me, so he kept shooting glances at me! While admiring his acting, there was but one word that came to my mind.
For the longest time, I had been unable to comprehend exactly what that word meant. Since I became a light novel author, Onii-chan has taught me lots and lots about otaku culture, and he had given me a long lecture on this ‘moe’. However, I was unable to grasp the meaning of it, no matter how much I thought about it. He called it another form of liking something, but intense in a different way. At first, I thought that it was similar to my feelings for him, but that turned out to be wrong. I went on with my life, still unable to understand what he meant.
However, I finally understood it for the first time today. Liking something is one part of it, but it’s an emotion that expresses itself differently inside your body, which almost makes you writhe in agony…! That moment I saw Onii-chan’s reaction, I unconsciously thought ‘Cute…!’ to myself! Yes, that must be the true meaning of the word ‘moe!’
…Ahh, what a wonderful discovery. I love Onii-chan more than anything in the entire world, so much so that I can’t even put it into words. So intensely that I want to be his wife in the future—Even so, I had never felt this moe before.
That being said, it finally changed. I’ve finally awoken to Onii-chan moe! He’s trying to hide his love for his little sister, and is still unable to hold it back. This wonderful acting has awoken this ‘moe’ inside of me! Until now, Onii-chan often used the terms ‘little-sister-loving’ or ‘little sister moe’ before, but he always meant that his heart was skipping a beat because of little sisters, right? How wonderful! Onii-chan moe… it indeed is a wonderful-sounding phrase! I had found another way of appreciating Onii-chan, and I was feeling delighted as a result.
That being said, this wasn’t the time to feel all joyful, either.
“Suzuka-san, you seem to be in a really good mood today.”
“…Eh? T-That’s not true!”
That voice called me back from my thoughts. When I looked over, Himuro-san was eating her sandwich as she gave me a dubious look. Trying not to seem suspicious, I cautiously reached out my chopsticks for a bite of my lunch.
It was during lunch break. Onii-chan and I were eating together, as well as Himuro-san, Kaede, and Kotomi.
“Don’t you agree, Himuro-senpai? There’s no way that Suzuka could be in a good mood after being forced to play along with Nagami-senpai’s ridiculous data-collecting.”
“Fufu, but she doesn’t hate it, so that’s why she’s helping Onii-san.”
Kaede responded to Himuro-san’s words, while Kotomi watched over them with her gentle smile. Naturally, the two of them were talking about the data collecting from before. We had already explained to them that Onii-chan is a light novel author, and that I’m helping him come up with ideas for his novel. That was why they didn’t say much about the flirting this morning. Although Kaede won’t stop glaring at Onii-chan as a result of it… Well, it’s because she’s worried about me. She’s pretty understanding of our data collecting, I think…
“Y-You had Suzuka-san go along with your data collecting again? Not to mention at school? What were you thinking?! Do you not have any common sense!?”
“Can a stalker really talk about
“Ugh…! So you’re saying that you can’t write a good light novel without doing away with rational thought?! You really aren’t Towano Chikai just for show!”
“Why don’t you accept it from the very beginning instead of making me out to be the bad guy?!”
“T-This and that are completely different!”
Onii-chan and Himuro-san were having a fierce verbal battle. Naturally, Himuro-san had known about this whole data-collecting thing before, so there’s no problem with talking about it here. However, Himuro-san has been asking Onii-chan to help her gather data recently, so I can’t let my guard down…
But, putting that aside, the reason I can’t truly be happy is because of the data collecting. Of course, not in the sense that the results were poor. On the contrary, it went far too well. As I said before, the theme about the older brother falling in love with the little sister is a wonderful idea. I’ve managed to awaken to Onii-chan moe, and just remembering the sight of Onii-chan this morning makes my heart almost jump out of my chest. The expression on my face is growing looser by the second, and it’s even becoming visible to Himuro-san.
And therein lies the problem.
The impact and stimulation was almost too great, spelling great trouble for my reasoning! Up until now, there have been countless times during our data collecting when I was about to overheat from all the stimulus, but this time, this state has continued even until now! This is the first time I’ve experienced something like this! Just looking at it objectively, that event this morning wasn’t all too lovey-dovey or flirty. And it technically was a failure. I should be more dissatisfied with this result, really.
But this still is too much for me! Even if we take all the aforementioned problems into consideration, on the flip side if I imagine that all of his actions originated out of his tender love for me, I feel like I’d start saying ‘Ehehehehehe’ any second. I would have never anticipated that a situation like this would have had such a great impact on me. One part of me wants to experience this forever and ever, but the more sane angel on my shoulder keeps telling me that my rational thinking won’t last at this rate. Nevertheless, I have to decide now.
Should I cancel this data collecting?
…No no no… No no no no no no! I can’t allow myself to do that! No matter how much my will bends, my body won’t allow it! However, continuing with brute force is impossible. My heart is beating so quickly that I fear I might collapse at any minute. Although that in and of itself isn’t that bad of a thought, I don’t want Onii-chan to see me in such a depraved state.
Then what should I do? Yes, my answer is a simple, logical one. I have to ration this data collecting to only a few times a day until I get completely used to it. I can’t panic here. Also, the longer this continues, the happier I will be—No, not that! I can’t think too selfishly about this. This is all necessary for both my novel and Onii-chan’s dream. I want to help him, too.
A-Anyway, now that it’s decided, any more data collecting for this will be impossible for today. It’s a shame, but I’ll just use what we’ve gathered already today and play it back in my head over and and until I can write it down in my Onii-chan notes. Then we can keep going with our normal data collecting.
What? Did you think that I’d stop data collecting for today? No, no, no. What I’ll do for today is just normal data collecting that we’ve done up until now, without the theme of an older brother falling in love with his little sister. After all, I can’t let any chances of being lovey-dovey with Onii-chan slip through my hands.
Naturally, I’ve already told Onii-chan about this. At first, he had his usual surprised expression on his face, but that soon changed into a disheartened gaze, though I don’t really understand why.
“…Onii-chan, we’ll be starting now.”
“Uuu… We’re really doing this?”
I called out to Onii-chan, as he looked like he was about to cry. What we’re about to start now is data collecting titled ‘Being lovey-dovey during lunch break at school.’ Originally, we had decided not to do this at school, but almost the entire student body knows that he’s a siscon by now, and Kaede and Kotomi are already well aware of it as well, so there’s no problem at all. It’s important for writing the next volume, after all. I’ve gotten Onii-chan’s consent, so there’s no need to hide it any longer!
“What are you whispering about with Suzuka-san, Yuu?”
In that moment, Himuro-san interrupted us.
“Ah, w-well, we were just talking about some data collecting.”
“Data collecting?! Y-You’re going to do it right now?!”
“Absolutely, Himuro-san. We have to collect data for a scene that’ll be in the next volume, or so Onii-chan told me. Right?”
I looked over at Onii-chan to receive confirmation, and received a weak “Y-Yeah…” in response as his shoulders dropped in resignation for some reason. Hmph, I really wish that he’d be more enthusiastic about it.
“Hmm! So what are you going to do?”
“T-That’s… I’ll be feeding Onii-chan the lunch that I made. Naturally, I really don’t enjoy this at all, but this is all for his novel, so I have to help him. It’s my duty as his little sister, after all.”
When I responded with that, Himuro-san lashed out at Onii-chan.
“You! Just what are you making your little sister do for your own desires?!”
It wasn’t just Himuro-san. Kaede joined in as well, her face bright red.
“F-Feeding…?! S-S-Something indecent like that…!”
Kotomi for her part just smiled and giggled. “You two are as lovey-dovey as always. Fufu.”
“I-I can’t help it, it’s important data I need for my novel!” Onii-chan said. He seemed slightly fed up, and he shot me a spiteful gaze. I quickly averted my eyes.
F-For now, starting our data collecting is more important, ehehe… Himuro-san responded with a “Hmph…” Kaede also didn’t look too happy about it, and she glared at Onii-chan. I ignored her, though, and opened Onii-chan’s lunch box. The idea is that I’ll pick up different side dishes from inside his lunchbox and flirt with him by saying ‘Open wide~’ and feeding them to him. Naturally, this won’t at all be to show off to the people around us or anything. This is all for both of our novels!
But just when I was about to reach out my chopsticks towards Onii-chan…
Himuro-san suddenly interrupted me with a serious expression on her face. This was the first time I had ever seen her like this, and I was taken aback.
“W-What is it?”
I froze, my chopsticks in the air. I waited for a while, and her face kept getting redder and redder.
“I-I’ll do the data collecting.”
Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh?! W-What are you talking about?!
“Y-You’re going to… W-W-What do you mean?!”
“A-Again, I’ll take your place. I’ll feed Yuu his lunch.”
…Wha—?! W-Why?! I wasn’t the only one surprised. Onii-chan and the other two also suddenly went silent.
“W-What are you saying? This is for the sake of Onii-chan’s novel, so, as his little sister, I must be the one to do this!”
“T-That’s true, but it should be fine if I do it, right? He can understand the feeling either way, anyhow… A-And I also wanted to try this out for my own novel, as well. This… ’Open wide~’ thing?”
“W-What did you say?!” I was shocked.
I never thought that she would be this willing to openly show her feelings for Onii-chan!
“D-Don’t get the wrong idea, okay?!” Himuro-san’s face went even more red, and she frantically waved her hands. “A-Actually, I’m writing a romcom novel right now. I thought that I should write a scene like that, so I might as well practice it with Yuu, right? That way we’ll take two birds with one stone, and Suzuka-san won’t be forced to help Yuu.”
Himuro-san stated her reasons. It was fairly logical, and it was easy to agree with, so my response was delayed. Naturally, I couldn’t allow her to actually do that, but…
“S-Sorry, Suzuka-san. I’ll be borrowing this.”
Because of said delay, Himuro-san snatched the chopsticks I was holding. While I was still too confused to stop her, Himuro-san picked up some omelette from the lunch box and pushed it towards Onii-chan’s mouth.
“H-here, Yuu… Open wide…!”
“H-Hey, calm dow—Mguh?!”
Onii-chan actually immediately bit down on it?!
“H-How is it? Is it good?”
“Eh, ah yeah, it was… d-delicious…”
Both of them went red immediately. Himuro-san mumbled a flustered “I-I see…” In response, Onii-chan said “Y-Yeah…” Both of them were clearly unable to hold a decent conversation.
…W-Why is there such a good atmosphere between them?! Nevermind that, I was the one who made that lunch! Why is Himuro-san acting like she’s the one who made it?! Isn’t this a bit weird?!
“T-This is my first time feeding someone else. It’s pretty embarrassing, isn’t it?”
“Y-You wanted to do it, didn’t you?!”
“B-But I feel like this will be some good reference material. W-What about you?”
“Eh? W-Well, I think that I also learned something… maybe?”
No no no, you haven’t! Because I wasn’t the one doing it! Or at least that’s what I was thinking, but the scene in front of me was too peaceful, and I couldn’t bring myself to do so. However, when I realized that Himuro-san was going to continue, I snapped back to reality. I can’t allow any more than this to happen! This is supposed to be my data collecting!
“W-Wait a second!”
But someone else got the jump on me. And it was… Kaede?!
“H-Himuro-senpai, I will take that duty upon myself!”
“What? What do you mean?”
I wasn’t the only one confused. Himuro-san and Onii-chan were also taken aback. However, Kaede ignored them, and, with a face as red as ever, she continued.
“I can’t keep watching like this! A-Although I can’t stop this whole data collecting thing, I can at least bear the shame that would befall Himuro-senpai or Suzuka instead. S-So I will take upon myself the role of bearing Senpai’s lust…!”
“““Ehhhhhh?!””” “Oh my.”
Everyone was surprised by her words. A-Are you really saying that, Kaede…?
“Uuu… I have to offer my own body… For Suzuka and Himuro-senpai’s sakes… But this might be the thing that will cause my body to be unable to bear living without Nagami-senpai! N-No, not just my body, but eventually my heart as well!”
“I feel like I’m being indirectly insulted here?!”
“T-This is all because of your insatiable desires, Senpai! A-Anyway, here I go!”
“Can you not glare at me like I’m your nemesis—Mguh?!”
Before Onii-chan could finish his sentence, Kaede stole the chopsticks from Himuro-san and stuffed something else from the lunch box into Onii-chan’s mouth.
“I-I did it! Something as indecent as that! I can’t become a bride anymore! S-Senpai, please take responsibility!”
“On top of being the one who did it, you’re treating me like the bad guy?!”
“Y-You have no room to complain! Now what do you want to eat next?!”
“W-Wait, we’re continuing?!”
She seemed like she had calmed down a bit, because now, she actually said “O-Open wide…!”, as she picked up a meatball. I could only stare blankly at the scene in front of me, but…
“Fufufu, Kaede is so happy.”
Kotomi’s voice brought me back to reality.
“T-This isn’t the time to be saying that, Kotomi. We have to hurry and stop her!”
“Hmmm, you’re right. Leave it to me. Hey, Kaede.”
“W-What is it, Kotomi… Ah.”
Kotomi put one hand on Kaede’s shoulder with a smile and stole the chopsticks from her. Wonderfully done. Now I can relax—
“Then next is my turn.”
……Excuse me? Eh? What did she just say? Flashing her usual smile, Kotomi calmly picked up another item from the lunch box with her chopsticks. With calm and collected moves, while everyone else was left speechless, she held it out towards Onii-chan.
“Here, Onii-san. Open wide.”
“Eh? Ah, eh?”
And, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, she started to feed Onii-chan. After being a bit surprised…
“Here you go.”
Onii-chan seemed unable to withstand Kaede’s beaming smile anymore as she held the food out, so he opened his mouth.
“Fufu, so this is what it feels like to feed a man.”
As Kotomi commented on this new experience she had gained, Onii-chan was too flustered to say anything, just blushing.
“K-Kotomi?! W-W-W-What are you doing?!” I exclaimed.
“R-Right! Why would you do that? I already sacrificed myself!”
Both Kaede and I returned to reality at the same time and started questioning Kotomi.
“Fufu, I just thought it might be good if I did it as well.”
However, Kotomi responded as calmly as ever, with the same smile on her face.
W-What kind of reason is that?! I’ve always felt like she lives above the clouds, but I can’t follow this at all?!
“Y-You! What are you making your Kouhai do?! A-Are you not satisfied with me or something?!”
“I didn’t make her do anything, though!”
“A-Anyway, I’ll do it one more time, okay? Unlike her, I actually have my own data to collect, so I should be the one doing it!”
“And you’re just saying that because you want to, right?!”
This isn’t good. Himuro-san is going to try to feed Onii-chan again…!
“Y-You can’t! This is to collect data for a little sister novel, so there’s no meaning to it if I don’t do it!” I rushed to take back the chopsticks from Kotomi, and when Onii-chan realized what I was trying to do…
“Eh, so you’re going to do it as well? H-How about we just take a quick break…?”
“W-What are you saying? We can’t stop here when I haven’t even done it yet…”
“I-I mean, by now we’ve already gathered the attention of the people around us…”
When Onii-chan told me that, I looked around. We weren’t eating inside. Instead, we were out in the courtyard, and although there weren’t too many people around us, several people were staring at our group. Even so…
“T-That doesn’t matter. Collecting data is more important.”
“No no no, I’m already getting a lot of jealous gazes here, so if this continues any more, I feel like I’ll get stabbed at some point. You have to understand that…”
“T-This isn’t the time to be hesitating because of other people. Your novel will be seen by even more people, right?”
“That comparison really doesn’t work here, though!”
I agree, but that doesn’t mean that I can just back down here! I picked up yet another side dish from the lunch box and held it out towards Onii-chan. Ahh, for crying out loud, my emotions are all over the place today!
“H-Here, Onii-chan. O-Open wide…!”
With my face flushed to the limit, I prepared myself.
In that exact moment, Onii-chan’s face went as red as a tomato. Looking like he was about to explode, he quickly jumped backwards.
…E-Eh? W-W-W-What was that reaction?! Isn’t this a similar response to the one he had this morning? I-It looked like he had grown conscious of me and subconsciously tried to evade me, right…?!
I was taken aback by this sudden change in attitude. W-Why? We decided to stop that kind of data collecting for the day… Auuu… If he shows me that side of him, my heart will go crazy again…!
“O-Onii-chan…?” I carefully asked.
With his face as red as before, a brief word tumbled out of Onii-chan’s lips. “S-Sorry.” A-Again, can you not make my heart leap out of my chest by having reactions like that?! I mean, I don’t mind it, but it’s a bit troublesome right now!
“…I-I thought we decided that we were going to take a break from that kind of data collecting for today?”
“…Y-Yeah. Sorry, it seems like I was too focused on getting into character this morning, and I’m just falling back into it without realizing… Yeah, that must be it…”
For some reason, it sounded like he was making excuses to himself. So he managed to get into character this much? I see. That explains his reaction just now. I had panicked for a second there. Yes, that is the only logical conclusion to draw here. After all, Onii-chan would never act like this. It’s not possible for him to actually be in love with me right now… But that’s fine. It’s fine because my feelings for Onii-chan will never change. I have to keep becoming more lovey-dovey with him so that I’ll be the only girl for him in the future!
“What are you doing, Yuu? …Ah, don’t tell me. Do you want to collect data with me and not Suzuka-san?!”
“Why did you arrive at that conclusion?!”
“Nagami-senpai, I’ll offer you my everything, so please don’t sink your teeth into Suzuka’s innocent body…!”
“Why can’t you ever listen to a word I say, Nikaido-san?!”
“Fufu, you sure are enjoying yourself, Onii-san.”
“And how can you just laugh in a situation like this?!”
Ignoring everyone’s complaints, I once again tried to feed Onii-chan. Since I’m the true Towano Chikai, this is my data collecting here, and that’s not the only reason. The only person in this world who is allowed to collect data with Onii-chan is me!
“N-Now Onii-chan this time for sure… O-Open wide…!”
“We’re actually going to continue?!”
Of course we are. Do you think I would let a chance like this slip away? It’s time to be lovey-dovey with my beloved Onii-chan!
But, while I was thinking that mentally, I had but one daydream… I just said that it was definitely impossible, but… if Onii-chan were actually in love with me… Naturally, something like that was impossible, so I quickly cleared my mind of those thoughts and continued with the data collecting right in front of me.
“Ughhh… That was tough…”
On a certain day, after classes had ended, I gazed up at the orange-colored sky as that sigh escaped my lips. It sure has been tough recently, in a lot of ways. The first thing that came to mind was the constant data collecting with Suzuka. Normal data collecting would already strain my mind and body, but thanks to the current theme, it’s been so much worse than before.
…What’s up with that idea? “The moment the older brother falls in love with his little sister?” Why does that theme have to pop up now of all times? Still, collecting data is something I can’t run away from, since I’m Suzuka’s stand-in, and also for my own sake. I’ve been trying to not grow more conscious of her, but that’s been all for nothing, at least on my end. I try not to be conscious of her, but end up more conscious than usual and stiffen up. Because of that, I can’t make anything out of all the things we’ve done.
…Still, Suzuka always seems satisfied, even if it ends in failure. Even this morning, when I thought that I had done a bad job, she just told me “T-The data collecting was a success. T-T-T-T-Thank you very much.” It was really weird. At first I thought she was just being considerate, but it sure didn’t seem like a lie. As proof of that, she went to her room to write at the end of the day, like always.
Hmm, it really is a mystery. But at least it’s better than having her say “It was all for nothing! We have to redo it!”, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. If something like that were to happen, I’d probably collapse at some point. That’s just how stressful the current data-collecting is. That’s one of the reasons why my life is so tough right now. But it isn’t the only.
The main reason I’m so depressed right now is because of my own novel. As always, I’m having trouble with the novel I’m planning on sending in for the light novel contest. Even now, I’m still not sure what kind of little sister novel I want to write. I was thinking that I could get some sort of idea for it thanks to my data-collecting, but reality hasn’t been that gentle on me.
This type of slump, where I have to write something, but I don’t know what, is something I’ve never experienced before, so I don’t know how to fix it, either… Thinking about the situation again like this, I always get even more depressed…
On top of that, there’s a third reason. Although I’m in such a dire situation, I’m forced to waste my time away. In a certain sense, this might be the toughest reason of them all.
“Ahhh, what a pain it is to gather material like this…!”
In that moment, Mai, who was sitting next to me, voiced aloud the feelings I had. She must have been thinking about something similar.
“We can’t help it, you know. It’s way better than the exhibition hall being in the classroom, right?”
“Well, that’s true… Ahh, culture festivals are only fun if they happen in light novels. In reality, they’re nothing but a lot of work and pain.”
Although I didn’t like the way she was grumbling about things, I did agree with her about that, so I decided to keep my mouth shut. Anyway, as you probably understood from our conversation, Mai and I were in the library office, gathering material for the exhibition we’ll be doing for the culture festival. Yes, our school’s culture festival was right around the corner.
But, just as Mai had said a second ago, it isn’t a very fun event at all. Every single class is planning an event or show, but not many of them are showing any great enthusiasm about it. As a result, our class decided to do something that took relatively little effort: An exhibition.
…Well, the focus of the cultural festival is on the culture-related clubs, so it makes sense that individual classes would make attractions like that. Since I have absolutely no interest in the cultural festival anyway, I’m fine with something boring like this that’s easy to do. In that sense, I’m actually thankful to be able to work on the exhibition. There’s not much to prepare, after all. But doing nothing at all isn’t a viable option, so we offered to work on the boring material-gathering part of it all. Naturally, our motivation to do it was extremely low, so our efficiency while working wasn’t too high, either.
“I really don’t have the time to do something like this at all. I have the noble duty of writing on my new manuscript to fulfill.”
“…Yeah. I also want to get home and write on my own novel.”
Though I don’t feel like I’ll make any progress even if I do go home and work on it…
“This culture festival is clearly bad! It’s robbing precious writing time from Towano Chikai! It can burn in a fire for all I care!”
“Don’t you dare go arsonist as well as stalker, okay? That’s a serious crime.”
“W-Why are you looking at me with that serious face?! I was joking, of course!”
I knew that already, but there was always that slim chance… Especially considering that she’s a stalker and so on…
“It’s just that if your new release were to be delayed, I’d have to march into the editorial department and file a formal complaint.”
“You really don’t have to do that, alright?! Well, there’s no need to worry. The deadline is still a ways away, so it’ll be fine.”
Also, Suzuka is already working on it. Knowing her, it might actually be done tomorrow. It’s scary how I actually believe that.
As a side note, Suzuka isn’t participating in this culture festival with her class. Instead, she’s helping out with the theatre club at the request of Shiina-san. Though I haven’t heard much about what they’re doing.
“Really? That’s good, then.”
“And what about you? How’s your new volume coming along?”
“I already finished the newest SukaMaga volume. Right now I’m working on the new romcom.”
Oh right, the one she’s writing but not planning on releasing. That reminds me, I wanted to ask her about it before, but I couldn’t find the right timing.
“Hey, Mai, can I ask you something?”
“What? You want to know how much I love Towano Chikai’s novel? Well then let me start with—”
“I didn’t ask about that. Don’t just start with your rant!”
Also, you’ve told me that a million times already!
“I wanted to ask why you started to write a romcom all of a sudden.”
Mai’s eyes opened wide in response to my question, as a delayed “…Eh?” escaped her mouth.
“Why are you so confused? There’s gotta be a reason why you started writing a romcom now of all times.”
“T-T-T-T-That’s… um… I just felt like writing one, so I couldn’t help it.”
“But, that’s way outside the scope of your SukaMaga series you’re writing right now, isn’t it? I just wondered if there was something that made you choose a romcom, of all things.”
My question left Mai in silence, and she tightly shut her lips. What a weird reaction. She’s just blushing and staying quiet about something she’s writing? D-Did I say something wrong? No, I shouldn’t have… While I was wondering about that, Mai remained quiet. She even started fidgeting.
“U-Um… the reason is… because you’re… sort of an influence…” She finally mustered up her strength and responded.
“Me…? Ahh, because of my novel.”
“A-Ah, that’s not it, um… You yourself were the influence… or something like that… Ahh forget it! Yes, I was influenced by your novel, Towano Chikai!”
“Why are you getting angry at me?!”
Mai suddenly glared at me with tears in her eyes, and I took a step back. Still, I guess that makes sense. Suzuka’s novel is a romcom, after all, so I guess that a diehard fan like Mai would want to try writing one as well.
“But isn’t it pretty tough to write a genre you’ve never tried before?” I voiced the next question that came to mind.
One of the reasons for that was that I myself had already experienced that after suddenly deciding to work on a little sister novel.
“…W-Well, yeah. This is the first time I’m writing a light novel with this sort of feeling. It’s fun, but there are things I’m uncertain about.”
…Ohh, I never thought that a straightforward person like Mai could actually worry about something in her life. Well, that’s to be expected, I guess, when trying to write a new, unfamiliar genre.
“Since it’s a romcom, I have to write about love and so on, right? B-But I don’t really have much experience with that…”
When I saw Mai like this, acting completely different from usual, I couldn’t help but think that she looked a bit cute. She’s already a beauty, so I’d really appreciate it if she didn’t show me that side of hers. It makes my heart race.
Weirdly enough, the two of us dared not speak. T-This feels really awkward… Finally, though, Mai’s words broke the silence.
“H-Hey, Yuu… Do you, um… have s-someone you… like?”
“Wha—?! W-W-W-Why are you asking that all of a sudden?!”
“T-There’s no deeper meaning behind it! I-I just felt like asking that! I-I mean, you’re a romcom author, so I thought that you might have someone you like!”
“What does that have to do with me being a romcom author?!”
Both of us were panicking equally much, and we were furiously waving our hands all over the place. I never expected that a question like that would me throw off guard that much… R-Really, why is she asking me that all of a sudden…?!
“…I-I just felt like that would be a normal question given the flow of conversation…”
Although Mai had calmed down ever so slightly, her face was still quite a bit red. She pressured me to answer. “S-So hurry up and answer me!” It almost seemed like she was at her wit’s end. Maybe she was panicking so much because even though it should be a simple question to answer, I was hesitating. But there’s only one way to answer this, right?
“I-I don’t have anyone like that…” I gave an honest answer.
That was the truth. I don’t have anyone I like. I don’t understand much about love either, and I’m pursuing the dream of becoming a light novel author, so I don’t have the time for it.
But Mai clearly didn’t believe my words. She was giving me a very dubious gaze. I couldn’t help it, though, since it was the truth. Also, why do you look like you doubt me so much?
“…Then…” Mai spoke again, though she still seemed just as nervous as before. “Then… even if you don’t have feelings for her, is there no girl you’re interested in?”
“Like, um… you’re being overly conscious of her…?”
The moment Mai’s words reached my ears, I felt like my heart was about to leap out of my chest. Around the same time, an image came to mind. It was unmistakably an image of Suzuka, so I quickly shook my head to clear it.
…W-What am I thinking about…?! No, seriously, what is wrong with me?! Why did her face suddenly appear in my mind?! It’s all because of our data collecting, isn’t it?! D-Don’t get the wrong idea, alright?! It’s not what you think!
Making excuses to myself, I tried to regain my composure. Still, what kind of timing was that? Unbelievable! I took a deep breath, calming down. Or so I wanted to, but Mai didn’t allow me to.
“…Y-You… Don’t tell me…!”
Mai herself started shaking, and she stared at me with wide eyes. I’m getting a really bad feeling from this reaction!
“S-So there’s a girl like that?! That’s what this means, right?!”
“N-No! That’s not it!”
“Then explain why you hesitated!”
Mai’s words made me even more flustered. I didn’t hesitate because I have someone like that. I was just a bit perplexed as to why Suzuka’s face appeared inside my head, that’s all! But of course, actually saying that was something I couldn’t do. Otherwise, Mai would double down with a series of even more dangerous questions. And while I was still panicking as to what I should say next, Mai took a step towards me.
“W-Who?! Who is it?! Who’s the person you’re always thinking about?!”
“Aren’t you exaggerating a bit?! I don’t have anyone like that!”
“L-Lies! Your reaction just now clearly says otherwise! There’s no need to hide it! Just tell me!”
“I’m not hiding anything! And even if I had someone like that, why would I have to tell you!?”
“T-That’s… B-Because I’m your
number one fan! And as a fan, I need to know!”
“That’s ridiculous! That doesn’t explain anything!”
But alas, reason never worked on Mai. No matter how many times I tried to pacify her, she just countered with “Don’t hide it!” or “Tell me!” which left me thinking that I was talking to a brick wall.
What’s wrong with her? She’s being even more obstinate here than when she was doubting that I was Towano Chikai, for some reason. She almost seems… desperate. But, even so, I really don’t have any other answer. I don’t have anyone I’m interested in or conscious of. Suzuka’s face appeared in my head just now for no real reason, so I can’t change anything. Still, some excuse like that wouldn’t satisfy Mai. Instead, she grew more and more assertive. Until finally…
“…! It’s the bell! Our work for today is over, so I’ll be going home now!”
With perfect timing, the school bell rang, so I quickly got up from my seat.
“Ah! H-Hold on a second, Yuu!”
As if I would! I dashed out of the library office and somehow managed to lose Mai as I ran home. Although this might seem like a bit of an overreaction, having a normal conversation with Mai when she’s like this never works, so all I can do is wait until she’s calmed down.
“Haaah… Why did Mai suddenly ask something like that…?” I took some deep breaths as I made my way home.
I had no clue as to why that topic came up out of the blue like that, but it’s probably better to forget about it for now. I really have to just get home and work on my novel. When I arrived, I opened the front door and stepped inside, but…
Before I could finish my sentence, the words caught in my throat. As for why, it was because Suzuka was already standing there at the entrance, looking at me with a displeased expression. She suddenly held out her smartphone towards me.
“Look at this, Onii-chan.”
She urged me to take a look at the smartphone screen. When I did, I was baffled. Shown there were several messages from an all-too-familiar LINE group. The sentence that started it all was the following:
Emergency! Apparently, Yuu has a girl that he’s interested in! Requesting information!
When I read that, I felt all the blood drain from my head, and a shiver ran down my spine. At the same time, Suzuka’s hand, holding the smartphone, started to shake in fury. Immediately afterwards, her voice echoed across the neighborhood.
“WHAT IS THIS ABOUT?!”