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“…My head hurts.”
Nanjou Kisa’s morning starts barely in time at 6 o’clock. Stopping the alarm clock in a reproachful manner, she descended from her bed, albeit not very ladylike. Wobbling towards the window on unsteady feet, she used the rising sun as a way to forcefully pull her out of her slumber. For her own health and skin, she tried not to stay awake too long, but as someone from the Nanjou Family, active at night, she couldn’t help but be bad with the mornings.
As she was still sunbathing, memories from the day prior floated up inside her head. Spending time with Mikado inside the library office, receiving a kabe-don from him and the ensuing words that were softly whispered into her ear.
‘Kisa…Stop with the futile resistance, and become mine.’
His voice resounded in her eardrums, as she threw herself on the bed.
“Ahhh, for crying out loud…Kitamikado-san, that’s unfair…” Kisa was writhing in agony as she rolled around on her bed.
The more she remembered that, the more the temperature of her body rose. At this rate, she might as well collapse from a high fever, so she forcefully banned every thought revolving around Mikado from her head. Since she took her time in getting up, she couldn’t relax now and had to rush as well.
Taking off her long, black one piece that acted as her sleeping garment, she slipped into the skirt of her school uniform. Sitting on the side of the bed, she lowered her long, slender legs into her usual black tights. As the rustling sound of the clothes reverberated, she put on her blouse. After that was finished, she headed to the small washing space in her own room, to splash water on her face. Putting on light makeup and body lotion, as well as sunscreen to protect against the burning sun, her body was in top-shape. Whilst tending to her hair with an ivory brush, she painted her lips with some red lip gloss. Last was the ribbon on her uniform, and she fixed it until it sit perfectly.
It might seem as if she was going on a date later that day, but today was a normal weekday. This was her usual morning. If Mikado saw her not in her cutest form, she might as well keel over and die.
“Morning, Onee-chan. So you’re awake already~”
Heaving a long yawn, Mizuki entered Kisa’s room. Unlike Kisa, she had yet to finish preparing her outer appearance, and was still in her lax pyjamas. Although she was still a second year in middle school and her chest wasn’t comparable to Kisa’s, the fact that they were growing immensely as of recently was probably thanks to the Nanjou blood inside her.
“Good morning. Go and finish attending to yourself.”
“It’s fine~ I’ll finish it right before we leave.”
Mizuki laid down on Kisa’s bad as she said that. She was the type of little sister that would visit her older sister purely whim like this.
“Also, Onee-chan, you’re really putting a lot of effort into this. Is there a boy you like at school or something?”
Kisa felt her heart almost leap out of her chest at Mizuki’s nonchalant question. Not turning around towards Mizuki’s direction, Kisa answered, her gaze fixated on the mirror.
“A-As if I have someone like that! You know that bet, right!? About the fact that I’m currently in a love game, fighting with the successor of the Kitamikado Family? I’m preparing for that! Battle preparation!”
She could see herself how much redder her face had grown just by watching in the mirror.
“Is that so~? So the reason you have this many pictures of him is also because of that?”
Frantically turning around, Kisa spotted Mizuki lying on her bed, playing with Kisa’s smartphone.
As Kisa let out a shriek of panic, Mizuki jumped up from the bed, screaming equally loudly. Quickly snatching her smartphone back from Mizuki, Kisa hid it inside her chest.
“W-W-W-W-What are you doing?!”
“Well, I just thought that you sure had a lot of pictures of Mikado-kun. Do you like him, Onee-chan?” Mizuki asked, without any bad intentions whatsoever.
Without knowing how much of a dangerous question that truthfully was. Having her heart stolen by the son of the Kitamikado Family was unforgivable for the daughter of the Nanjou Family. This love game had the goal of making the Kitamikado Family fall into their hands, which naturally put a certain risk on the Nanjou Family as well, but they couldn’t find any other method.
“Hey, hey, tell me. Did you fall in love with Mikado-kun?” The little sister poked her older sister in a teasing manner.
“H-Huh?! I-Impossible! This is just…I have to keep these pictures in case I need to hire an assassin for him!”
“Do you really need hundreds of pictures for that?”
“Of course I do! The face can totally change depending on the weather, timezone, or place! Every single moment is essential!”
“Alright then, I’ll delete all of them besides one!”
“What do you mean by ‘Alright then’?! Should I organize a one-way diving trip down Tokyo Bay?!” Kisa desperately protected her smartphone from the teasing Mizuki.
Although this might totally be her little sister joking, actually pulling off things like that is what made Mizuki so scary.
“Onee-chan, you’re way too frantic. You gotta be in love with Mikado-kun, right~?” Mizuki giggled as she watched Kisa’s reaction.
“I’m telling you, you’re wrong! Kitamikado-san is my enemy, nothing more! The one I will be making into my slave!”
“If you do that, will you do perverted stuff with him every night?”
“Excuse me?!” Kisa let out a scream at Mizuki’s sudden question.
“I mean, Mikado-kun will join the Nanjou Family as your husband then, right? Of course you’d do perverted stuff. Lots, right?” Mizuki’s eyes were sparkling as she pushed her hands into the bed, turning towards Kisa.
So pure, with no ill intentions. No idea that she was exposing all the embarrassing ideas that would plague her older sister.
Seeing the faltering response of Kisa, Mizuki tilted her head in confusion.
“Ehhh, why? It would be truly beneficial if the excellent blood of the Kitamikado Family were to find its way into the Nanjou Family—is what Obaa-chan said!”
The Kitamikado and Nanjou Families moved to the top of Japan on the side of light and dark. That resulted in a relationship between rivals, as well as a high evaluation of each other’s strength and skill. That explains why the current head would want to squash the enemy, and assimilate their blood into their bloodline. As Kisa felt steam rising up from her head, she nervously fidgeted with her fingers.
“W-Well…If Kitamikado-san were to weepingly ask for it, I might think about it…Only out of sympathy of course! Me actively demanding for Kitamikado-san is unthinkable…”
“Then I’ll do it! I’ll do lots of perverted stuff with Mikado-kun!”
Mizuki stole the smartphone yet again, and Kisa chased after her with tears in her eyes. Barely being able to take it back at the expense of a few years of life, Kisa banned Mizuki from her room. Locking the door to her room several times, she finally achieved a bit of peace, and sank down on the corner of her bed. Be it outside, or in her own ranks, she had enemies, she could not let down her guard even once. But, to finally get her beloved Mikado into her hands, that was all worth it.
“…It’s me. It’s time to carry out that project I was talking about.”
—You better prepare yourself, muttered Kisa in her heart.
Naturally, Mikado had no way of knowing what happened behind the scenes at the Nanjou Family. No, rather he was trembling in fear wondering about what kinds of attacks will come raining down on him today, in this love game with Kisa. The previously peaceful classroom is now a battlefield. Even in his own seat, he could not relax for a second. Maybe it was because he was worn out of the daily battles, but he actually happened to fall asleep during his ride home.
“Good morning, Kitamikado-san.”
As Mikado was waiting on his desk for the chime to ring, Kisa came to greet him. As always, her appearance showed perfect tending, not a single weak spot in sight. Her appearance was always ready to be photographed for a fashion magazine.
“…Morning.” Mikado returned a rather stiff greeting.
He was happy that Kisa came to greet him, but ever since the love game started, he had to be aware of her every move. Kisa behind her own desk, readied her work-books and notebook, and put down her bag next to said desk. Pressing down her skirt, she gracefully took a seat, and a slight sigh left her beautiful lips. Her movements were almost a work of art. No wasted energy to be found, like it was all one ongoing action, Mikado couldn’t take his eyes away.
“That reminds me…Nanjou, ever since you transferred here, you were always in the seat next to mine, right?”
“Y-Yes, that’s correct. What a coincidence.” Kisa smiled at Mikado.
“…Is it really?”
“Are you implying that I influenced the lottery to get the seat next to you? Isn’t that a bit too much excessive self-confidence you have there, I wonder!?” Kisa rattled on, as her ears went red.
Hearing Kisa call it excessive self-confidence, Mikado himself grew flustered.
“No, that’s not what I was…”
“D-Don’t accuse me of something weird like that! Really…” Kisa pouted with her lips, as she took out a book from her bag, and started reading it.
Her gaze was glued on the book in front of her, not once glancing over at Mikado.
—She’s not going to attack me yet…?
Mikado didn’t let his guard down just yet, as she was wary of Kisa’s actions. The girl, with her straight posture, as she flipped through the pages was beautiful. Both her thin waist and thighs, as well as the shadow it produced, were akin to a work of art. Her gesture as she slightly pushed back the strands of her hair behind her ear had enough sex appeal to inflict damage on Mikado.
Giving off the same sight every day, there is no way that Mikado’s interest in her wouldn’t grow. Her slight mannerisms when embarrassed and panicked had played with his heart ever since she transferred here.
And now, a boy from his class called out to Mikado as he was inspecting Kisa.
“Hey hey, why are you staring at Nanjou like that? Your eyes are scary, you know?”
“No deeper meaning for that.” Mikado gave a short response.
Receiving continuous mental attacks from Kisa, he would not shake at words like these. His mental endurance had leveled up quite a bit thanks to that, even. In response to his words, the boy slightly tapped Mikado on the shoulder.
“Now now, no need to be shy about it. Nanjou’s crazy cute after all, right?”
There was no need to tell Mikado of all people, not after all that. Mikado knew best about Kisa’s charm. However, saying that out loud was not a wise choice. Instead, he remained silent and prepared for the first period of the day.
“Now then, time for me to give you the answer sheets for the test,” the classical literature teacher announced from the teacher’s desk.
Sousei Academy has a lot of teaching staff that take education very enthusiastically, they develop even smaller tests with the difficulty and length of end-term exams. Not to mention that those could take place without any warning, so today, the classroom was filled with agonizing cries. An atmosphere of despair filled their ranks. Besides for one person, who was smiling at Mikado right now.
“Kitamikado-san, how confident are
you? How about we do a little competition. The winner is allowed to
poke the loser in the eye with their index finger, how about
“That’s way too dangerous!”
“My, it’ll be fine. You just have to win against me. Then, you can push in my eyeball as much as you want.”
“I don’t have any desire like that at all, though?”
“How kind of you. Or are you just not confident enough?” Kisa snickered.
In the meantime, the teacher called over Mikado.
“…99 points. Not bad.” Mikado muttered to himself as he checked his points.
The classroom got even more noisy. Most of the other students were wandering in the 60 points range, and the upper branch reached their limit at around 80. No matter how irregular and without warning the tests may be, someone from the Kitamikado Family could not allow themselves to show any weakness.
And finally, it was Kisa’s turn. Still standing at the teacher’s desk, the teacher calmly handed her the sheet.
“This time, you’re the top of the year…100 points, that’s what I was expecting.”
“There is no way I would be mistaken about something after all.”
Kisa accepted the perfect test as if this result was to be expected, and calmly walked back to her seat between the other ones, like an actor walks through the audience off the stage. She was cool, and she seemed like a different entity.
“Being this cute, and so clever to boot, she really is amazing…” A female student sitting next to Mikado whispered at him.
Gazes of envy were flying at her. However, Kisa didn’t mind that at all, as she just calmly sat down again.
“And, Kitamikado-san? How does defeat taste? It’s frustrating, right? You’re regretting being born right now, aren’t you?” Her eyes were sparkling as she asked that.
“What a poor loser. If it was me, I would be throwing myself out of the window right now! You’re frustrated, right? Come on, say it!”
“I really am not.”
Rather, he enjoyed the cute sight of Kisa as she was rejoicing. Also, betting on their respective knowledge, it would always be the Nanjou Family standing on top, as Japan’s strongest, so losing in a competition with grades was something to be expected. On the other hand, the classmates around them grew noisier.
“The two of them sure are on a different level…”
“Like they’re reigning over us.”
“I feel like I can’t get close to them.”
“They sure fit each other…”
Mikado heard voices like that, as his body relaxed a bit on the chair. This was the first time ever that someone said they fit each other. Even this morning, he was spotted as he gazed at Kisa, making today full of failings and him even more enthusiastic than normal.
“I-I wonder…if we do fit… each other?” Kisa hid her face behind the answer sheet, as she softly asked.
Seeing that flustered gesture, a great amount of damage was inflicted on Mikado’s heart.
“How would…I know…?”
Mikado could barely hold on to his crumbling reason. He tried to banish those worldly desires by writing old conjugated forms on his notebook.
Break arrived, and as Mikado was about to shove the material into his desk, a boy from a seat nearby called out to him.
“Kitamikado, you’re working in the library committee with Nanjou, right?”
“I see…And, did you kiss already?”
“Huh?!” Mikado couldn’t restrain his voice. “I don’t get your intent with this…What do you mean by that?!”
The boy spoke as he scratched his cheek.
“I mean, you know, being in the same committee, you’d normally kiss, right?”
“What do you mean by normally?!”
Mikado wondered when something like that turned into common sense.
“It’s normal, I tell you. I mean, you at least have to have exchanged your contact information, right?”
“Seriously…I can’t believe you…” The boy shook his head.
“Can’t believe it, huh…” Mikado grew more depressed.
He does want to know Kisa’s contact information, but there was no real chance to ask her. Also, asking her was one thing, but it could be interpreted as showing interest in the other person, which could violate the ‘Desiring the other person will bring defeat’ rule.
“You really are weird, Kitamikado. If I were you, I would get down on my knees to ask for her contact information and so on.”
“Hold on, I won’t kneel down to anybody.”
To preserve the honor and pride of the Kitamikado Family, he could not kneel to anyone.
“And I’m saying that there’s value to be found by doing that. She’s crazy cute after all, and all the boys in class got a thing for her. But since she’s a rich lady, everyone’s acting like chickens and don’t dare to go on the attack.”
“Is that so?”
Mikado had a high evaluation of Kisa’s beautiful appearance, but this was the first time he heard of Kisa being this popular with the boys in class. After all, there normally weren’t many students flocking around her in the first place. And most of the time, they weren’t bringing her up around Mikado, unlike today.
—Hm…? Unlike today…?
Like everyone was praising Kisa back and forth. Thinking like that, Mikado felt a certain sense of uncomfort.
“Yeah, seriously. If it’s not someone from a family like yours, they aren’t even worthy of her, I feel like. And come on, you also think that she’s cute, right?” The boy asked in a teasing manner.
As Mikado was busy deciding on his following words, another boy chimed in.
“Come on now. She’s the only girl that can fight on par with you. Isn’t she perfect for you, Kitamikado?”
“Her style is perfect as well! Don’t you think, Kitamikado?”
“She’s got this charming, yet mysterious aura around her, right, Kitamikado-kun!?”
All the other classmates gathered around as well, causing a great ruckus.
—What is going on…? They are dead-set on praising Nanjou today…
Mikado felt a sense of danger, as he looked to his side. Kisa was still focussed on her reading whilst giving Mikado a sidelong glance. Still expressionless, with a gaze as cold as ice. Still like a piece of art, just lending them her ear. She was clearly…waiting for Mikado to praise her.
—So that’s what this is about!
It finally clicked in Mikado’s head. He had wondered why she was so docile this whole morning, but that explained it. Presumably, if he were to praise her here, even a slight bit, she would deduce that as a sign of affection, announcing her win in the love game right then and there. Although he didn’t know how she managed to get all her classmates to pull a stunt like this, he couldn’t allow himself to fall into her trap.
“Even if it kills me…I definitely won’t praise Nanjou…” Mikado announced as he looked around the mass of classmates.
The chime for fourth period rang, and world history class started. During class, no attacks ensued by either his classmates, or Kisa herself. Now, he could relax, if only a tiny bit. Naturally, the successor of the Kitamikado Family would not falter from external pressure, but it would certainly wear down his mental endurance. That’s why class was the perfect time to regain his strength.
The grim teacher currently gave a lecture, with a book in hand.
“Like this, Cleopatra became an existence strong enough to influence history just because of her intellect and beauty. And…the existence you could call a modern Cleopatra would probably be this class’ Nanjou Kisa.”
“………?!” Mikado doubted his ears.
During class, a student was praised as one of the most beautiful people that ever existed. On top of that, his world history teacher would never say things like that. He was a serious, stern man in the later half of his fifties, and never praised the students on anything besides their knowledge.
One theory was that the world history teacher Yamada would sing Homer’s lullabies1, and only converses with his wife using the Code of Hammurabi2. That explains why Mikado couldn’t believe that the same person just started praising Kisa’s beauty out of the blue.
“Alright, Kitamikado. Tell me about the similarities that Nanjou Kisa and Cleopatra share.”
“Me?!” Mikado was shocked that his name appeared now.
“Yeah, you. Is there any other Kitamikado in this class?”
Being told that, Mikado had no choice but to stand up.
“U-Um…I don’t quite grasp the intention of that question…”
The teacher raised his eyebrows.
“You should know that very well. Explain it in 200 hundreds words, with [Beauty] as the topic. If you can’t, your points on the school record will go down to 10%.”
“Aren’t they going down a bit too much?!”
Looking over to his side, Mikado spotted Kisa, as she honored him with an expectant gaze. She had both her hands on her smartphone. And Mikado could clearly make out that she was using a recording app.
—She’s securing proof…!
Mikado yet again realized the situation he was in. This situation was definitely weird.
“Sensei…Are you okay? Are you being threatened by Nanjou by chance…?”
As Mikado tested his assumptions with this question, the teacher grew enraged.
“I’m not being threatened! Nanjou-sama is an angel, I say! A goddess! The greatest existence you can find on this earth, and the most fit to be your partner, Kitamikado! If you don’t agree to marry her, I’ll keep taking away points, okay!?”
“Just make it zero then for all I care! Are you really alright, Sensei?!”
Mikado couldn’t help but feel worried for his teacher. Maybe one of his family members was being held hostage…or some debt was pushed onto him…either way, the teacher was like a different person from yesterday. To think that Kisa wouldn’t stop at just her classmates, and even prepared a teacher for her attack.
Mikado looked over at Kisa.
“Nanjou…What is this about…? You can’t just trouble outstanders like this, you know…?”
“D-Don’t make a scary face like that! I didn’t trouble anyone!”
“Then what is this situation?!”
But, Mikado was interrupted by the teacher.
“Kitamikado! No private talk during class! Stand in the hallway, and repent on your actions!”
“This world is unfair!”
There was Mikado, once again realizing that this rotten Japan needed reformation.
Mikado opened his lunch box in the classroom. Inside the black lacquerware was raw fish and vegetables seasoned with vinegar, boiled dark edible seaweed, grilled fish, and much more. It was a traditional Japanese dish often eaten at the Kitamikado household. At first glance, it might seem plain, but it offers a nutritious balance and perfectly filled your stomach so that it was not too bloated. Getting only a sloppy lunch by buying it at the cafeteria or elsewhere, was not something that the Kitamikado Family, reigning over Japan, endorsed.
“…Thanks for the food.”
As Mikado pressed his hands together, a short prayer came flying over from the seat next to him. Looking over, Kisa had just opened her flower-pattern lunch box, and the second after, the girls from the class came rushing over.
“Wooow! Kisa-chan’s lunch is amazing!” “So cute!”
“There’s even octopus-shaped weiners in there!” “So cute!”
“So girly!” “So cute!”
“The omelette looks so cute!” “The glacé on the carrots is adorable!”
Mikado worried whether they knew any other words of praise besides cute and adorable.
—Was Nanjou this popular before…?
Being the daughter of a rich family, she always has this hard to approach atmosphere, so the classmates were always kind of passing by her. No mistaking it, she made some moves in the background. That being said, Mikado couldn’t deny the fact that Kisa’s lunch looked cute, and definitely delicious. Unlike Mikado’s, which was only based around nutrition, hers was mouth-watering.
And the girls around her grew noisier.
“Did you make this yourself, Kisa-chan~?”
“Really, Nanjou-san is perfect in every way~”
“I’m really envious of the boy that gets to marry you!”
“He must be the luckiest, and happiest person in the world!”
“He’ll get to eat this cute-looking cooking every day after all!”
And so on, as they all gazed over at Mikado. Annoying. Just as annoying as those TV advertisements. Although Mikado truly felt uncomfortable, he couldn’t help but be interested about what all this ruckus over her food was about, and he looked over. Kisa didn’t miss that, as she giggled.
“Kitamikado-san…If you want a bite that badly, I don’t mind giving you a bit.”
“No…I feel like there might be poison in there.”
Mikado truly had this feeling in his guts. After all that’s happened today, I might have to just expect the worst here…Mikado thought to himself, as his wariness was raised.
“How rude. If you were to collapse here, it would be clear as day that I was the culprit. Look, I will take a bite…” Kisa picked up a part of her flashy looking omelette with her chopsticks, and put it into her mouth.
Her facial color didn’t worsen, and she didn’t seem to have any breathing problems, so it seemed safe.
“No poison in there, huh.”
“That’s what I told you. Here, Kitamikado-san, I will feed you. Open wide~”
Kisa picked up a bite of the omelette from a different part, and pushed it towards Mikado with a smile.
Being fed by a girl like this would make them look like lovers.
“My, are you embarrassed? How pure you are, Kitamikado-san.”
A clear provocation. If he were to sternly decline now, it would be taken as a sign of him being conscious of her. It might be a bit far as a sign of affection, but it would definitely put him in a disadvantageous situation during the game.
“…Guess I’ll take one bite.”
Mikado rid himself of any hesitation, and took the omelette into his mouth. It was soft and fluffy, a moderate level of heat was gushing out from the inside. And, sweeter than any sweets Mikado had ever eaten. Though it was a mystery as to why that was the case.
“And? Was it edible…?” Kisa asked, slightly worried.
“So there really is something inedible in there?!”
“There isn’t! I’m asking in the sense of the taste!”
“Oh…Yeah, it’s delicious.”
“Thank god…” Kisa put one hand on her chest as she let out a relieved sigh.
Seeing Kisa like that, Mikado was flustered. She picked up her lunch box, and closed in on Mikado’s desk.
“I-If it’s possible, maybe you could try out the other dishes as well? I want to hear your impressions.”
“I’m not all too familiar with cooking. All I can say is if something is delicious or not.”
“That’s perfectly fine.”
“You’re not going to put some crazy bill on me later, right…?”
“You’re holding me in too high regard, you know?!”
Yes, Mikado had a high evaluation of her, as the successor of the Nanjou Family that is. That being said, there didn’t seem to be any ulterior motive here, and her cooking was truly delicious, so he gladly accepted Kisa’s offer. And then, he heard a voice.
“If you want impressions, then leave that to me! To the tongue that was raised by McDonalds and Joyfull~ Thanks for the food!”
The girl that came rushing in like a storm looked similar to Kisa. In response to the girl’s try to steal away the lunch box, Kisa frantically separated herself. But, the girl didn’t give up just yet. Now she held it above her head, as she screamed.
“Mizuki?! Why are you here?! How did you know?!”
“Ehhh? That’s pretty easy though? Everyone was making a ruckus after all. And why did you hide something interesting like this from me~?”
The girl jumped up and up again to grab the lunch box from Kisa, but she protected it at all costs. Even after pulling an iron claw on her forehead, the girl didn’t give up.
“Nanjou…? Who is that…?” Mikado was perplexed at the sudden arrival of the assailant.
“Ah, Kitamikado-san, she is…” Kisa tried to explain, but was interrupted by the girl flashing a cheerful pose with a peace sign.
“Cheese! I’m Onee-chan’s little sister, Nanjou Mizuki! I’m a second year in middle school that wants to do lewd stuff with Mikado-kun~!”
This must be the 100th time that Mikado doubted his ears today. The girl that called herself Mizuki had a beautiful figure, not losing at all to her older sister Kisa. She had innocent facial features and eyes that were filled with the desire to tease people. But, in the depths of those eyes was not ill will, just a healthy cheekiness. Her thin lips were crooked with glamour, and her eyelashes were as long as a Westerners. Her two-side up hairstyle made her look even cuter, yet not too childish. Her middle school uniform was slightly loose and not as proper as it could be, but that didn’t seem to be because of flirtatious intentions, rather it was just sloppily put on because she couldn’t be bothered.
“Maybe it’s my ears playing tricks on me, but I feel like I just heard some weird vocabulary in there…like lewd or something…?”
“You heard that right! It seems like Onee-chan doesn’t want to do it with Mikado-kun, so I will take her place, and do lots of lewd stuff with you!”
“W-W-W-W-What are you saying?!”
Kisa jumped at Mizuki to shut her up, but the girl dodged without much effort.
“Hey hey, did you know? Onee-chan, see, she has hundreds of pictures of—”
Yet again, Kisa panicked and jumped at Mizuki, succeeding in closing off her mouth.
“Mgh! Mgh mghhh mghhh!!!”
Inaudible groans were leaking out of her sealed-off mouth.
“I-I’m sorry, Kitamikado-san. I’ll make sure she repents on this during a one-way diving trip to the Arctic Ocean…”
“No, no need for that…And maybe stop it right there, she seems to be gasping for air.”
Mizuki’s face was starting to grow pale, as she was trying to resist.
“But, I cannot allow her to talk any more than this, so I will just have to deal with her gently like this…”
“The moment you deal with her it’s not gentle any more! Just hurry up and let her go already!”
Unable to watch a Kouhai he had just met get killed off right in front of him, Mikado rescued Mizuki from Kisa. After being saved, Mizuki dashed over to hide behind Mikado.
“Onee-chan, you’re way too serious! I was just joking!”
“There are things that aren’t fit to be joked about…!”
With a flustered expression, Kisa’s breathing was rough. Even more than Mizuki, who was almost choked to death. But, Mizuki quickly recovered and grabbed Mikado’s arm in a merry manner.
“Woah! Mikado-kun in real life is even cooler than in all the pictures! How nice, how nice! I also want him!”
“Want? I’m not some object, you know…” Mikado gave a bitter smile, but it wasn’t awkward for him in any way.
After all, Mizuki’s looks were younger than Kisa’s, giving off less intellect than Kisa’s. And, the Nanjou Family’s classic suspiciousness was rather weak and drifting in her. Seeing a miniature Kisa like this and receiving honest feelings of affection from her wasn’t a bad feeling at all. It was almost like it was practice for him to receive true affection from Kisa.
“Aha, Mikado-kun is blushing. Cute!”
“I’m not cute.”
“Yes you are! Cute like a french fry!”
“French fries are cute?”
“Of course they are~ Especially with french vinegar, they’re even cuter!”
“So the taste decides if something is cute…?”
It was a domain that Mikado couldn’t not follow along with.
“Ahh, this is bad! I can totally understand Onee-chan’s feelings now!”
“Mizuki! Hurry and go back to your middle school division! Don’t bother me!” Kisa pulled Mizuki away from Mikado.
“Ehhh? But that’s so faaar! Since I
came here all the way, let me join in the fun!”
“There’s no fun here! This is a serious competition!”
“Then, let me watch over the competition instead!”
“You’re not just going to watch, are you?!”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“That was easy!”
The Nanjou sisters had a verbal war in font of Mikado. Although Mikado enjoyed the beauties’ quarrel quite a bit, an ominous thought entered his mind.
—The middle school division is far…? Isn’t it right next to us…?
But, before he could find out the reason for this feeling of discomfort, lunch break came to an end.
As the footsteps of the walking teacher sounded, Mikado focussed on the English grammar questions in front of him. His eyes were fixated on the workbook on his desk, and while splitting the sentence, he broke the components into small factions, solving one problem after the other. Since he had reviewed the topic of last class, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was the way of the Kitamikado Family to always take everything with the utmost seriousness. However, today, there was a noise, an unwanted sound.
“Mikado-kun. Mikado-kun. Hey. Play along with me~”
Sitting right next to him on an extra chair was Mizuki, rubbing her shoulders against him. Past her was Kisa, who sent death glares towards them. Feeling gravely endangered, Mikado called out to Mizuki in a quiet voice.
“What do you mean play along…? I’m in class right now. Go back to your middle school division if you’re that bored.”
“It’s fine~ I’m an idiot after all. Nobody expects anything from me, not even Obaa-chan.” Mizuki laughed rather carefreely, not bothered by that fact.
—With Obaa-chan she means…the current head of the Nanjou Family, huh?
Mikado remembered back to when he first saw that old lady with a stern expression decorating her face. His parents told him ‘This is your enemy’, and he felt like he was looking at something akin to the demon lord in the fantasies he had read.
“Hey, rather than that…” Mizuki whispered in Mikado’s ear. “Mikado-kun, you like Onee-chan, right?”
Mikado’s heart came to a crashing stop for a second. Although it reengaged activities shortly after, he checked in on Kisa’s reaction. She still glared at them like a demon, with bloodshot eyes, but seemingly unable to pick up anything they were saying. And, Mizuki continued.
“Ahaha, it’s totally obvious. I don’t know how Onee-chan doesn’t realize after all that, but I guess that ‘Love makes one blind’, huh?”
“I-I don’t like her…” Mikado’s voice grew raspy out of nervousness. All he could think about was trying to get away from this deadlock that he was in.
“I know that you can’t tell her face to face. Both Obaa-chan and Onee-chan spoke about this game or whatever…But.” Mizuki giggled. “Mikado-kun, you like me as well, right?”
“What are you…?”
“I know it! I felt a connection between us. At the very least, I know that I’m second to Onee-chan. I mean, I look like her after all~”
Bulls-eye. Although it wasn’t about to change into a feeling of love, Mikado’s body reacted greatly towards Mizuki, Kisa’s little sister.
“Tomato soup and ketchup are also the same, but still different…”
“It’s basically the same! It’s fine if we look like each other! Once you put the tomato sauce on pizza, it all amounts to the same!”
“That would make it really soggy.”
Mizuki came closer to Mikado’s ear, her lips were about to touch it.
“Hey… there won’t be much to bother about if it was me, you know?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Since I’m not the successor of the family, I can just leave the family if I feel like it. Unlike Onee-chan, I’m honest too. I’ll let you do everything you want to do, Mikado-kun.”
Mizuki’s body temperature came falling upon him. Her gesture of putting her hand between her legs was oddly charming. Out from between her white thighs, a sweet aroma escaped.
“What do you want to do, Mikado-kun? If you ask for it, I would become your girlfriend right here, and I don’t mind marrying you.”
Those words were like an invitation to take the easy route. Being invited like this by a girl that resembled Kisa this much almost made Mikado glad to be born a man. However, he just shrugged at Mizuki’s words, as he let out a sigh.
“…I’m currently in a game with Nanjou Kisa. I will not back out in the middle of it.”
No matter the circumstances, a man from the Kitamikado Family will not step down from anything. He was not allowed to.
Mizuki’s eyes opened wide.
“Hmmm…Straightforward, I see. Seems like Onee-chan’s got good taste.” Her voice sounded weirdly cheerful.
“Anyway, I want to ask you something.”
“What is it~?”
“Why can you just stay in this classroom…while the teacher doesn’t get mad at you…?” Mikado gave Mizuki a dubious gaze.
Normally, a student from the middle school division would not be allowed to just sit in the classrooms of the high school division, at least not during class. Even if she used the influence of the Nanjou Family, it’s weird that none of the classmates are complaining.
Mizuki laughed, clearly thinking of this as fun.
“Fufu~ I guess I can’t say that. I feel like Onee-chan might actually kill me.”
“So there really is a special reason…? Explains why I had that feeling of discomfort the whole time…”
“Umm, I guess I can give you a hint~”
Mikado took the bait. In this situation where he’s walking around in a maze, he would gladly take any hint.
“Then, I have a condition! I want your phone number, as well as your line ID!”
“I don’t mind…”
“Yay!” Mizuki struck a winning pose, as Mikado fiddled with his phone.
They didn’t just exchange contact information, but following that was also the profile and an icon for when she would call him.
“The hint, you see, is that, in this classroom, there is one person that doesn’t praise Onee-chan. Find that person, and talk to them in a place with nobody around. That should do it, you know?”
It was more than simple to find the person that wasn’t praising Kisa. Kawaraya Kokage, the paparazzi always following Mikado around while being a member of the newspaper club. And Today, she showed no signs of wanting to approach Kisa. Not to mention that, while all the other students were gleefully enjoying their student life, her expression was pale as she staggered around. Naturally, that made her more than suspicious.
Well, to be fair, the other students were ten times more suspicious than her, but she stood out amongst them in her own way. Normally, she was an entity that Mikado would rather not involve himself with, but just this once, it was unavoidable. Planning to gain a trustworthy contact at least for this situation, he made his way towards Kokage’s seat. To not raise any suspicion from his surroundings, he spoke in a quiet voice.
“Kawaraya, I have something to talk about, can you come with me for a second?”
“Eh…? Y-Yeah, but why?”
For some reason, Kokage looked terrified.
“It’s not that big of a deal. You know, about that.”
—Go and read the mood already, Mikado put a bit more force into it as he spoke. But, Kokage didn’t move, and just tilted her head in confusion.
“That…? You mean the native people in the Amazon forest, who live acting like animals?”
What are you talking about?! Mikado screamed out inside his heart. That being said, he couldn’t just waste time here. He only had the later half of lunch break. He decided to make something up, and get Kokage to come with him.
“Yeah yeah, about that.”
“I don’t really want to talk about that…So I’m sorry.”
“I don’t want to either, you know!”
“Eh, but wasn’t it you who brought that up in the first place, Mikado-kun?”
“Yeah, I’d rather talk about French vinegar…”
“Again, what are we talking about here!?”
No matter what he tried, he couldn’t get her to move an inch. It felt like she didn’t want to come with him no matter what.
“Anyway, come with me. There’s something I need to check with you.”
Mikado started walking as he pulled on Kokage’s camera. The belt of said camera was around her neck, and since it was something precious to her, Kokage could only come along with him. Since there was a high chance that the room, and the entire building was wiretapped, he took her out to the courtyard. After they moved to the relatively safe sports ground, Mikado picked up one of the metallic tools to even the ground, and gave Kokage another one.
“Here, Kawaraya, you do it as well.”
“W-What are we doing? I’m not
really that good at making crop circles…”
“Neither am I!”
Kokage shook her head in a saddened manner.
“I tell you, it’s impossible to do that just during break, with two amateurs like us… A circle with a 5 meter radius takes five people one evening…”
“I don’t need that sort of information! It would be suspicious if it was only the two of us here, right? That’s why we’re doing this while we talk.”
“Wouldn’t it be even more suspicious if someone not from the baseball club suddenly started doing that…?”
She was right.
“That is true, but…Can’t help it. Doing anything else here would be even more unnatural.”
“What about sprinting?”
“You up for that? It’s going to be tough.”
“Maybe a tug of war? That way, we won’t be too far away.”
“That probably looks too surreal.”
“Umm.. throwing balls at each other?”
“What are we, father and son?”
In the end, they decided to pull circles as they had their secret conversation. In the event that something came up, they could just make up the excuse that they were asked to do this by a classmate that is part of the baseball club. It seemed to be quite the heavy load on Kokage, because she let out groans as she walked. Although Mikado felt the same, there was something more important right now.
“Kawaraya…don’t you think that something is weird today at school?”
Thus, Kokage’s feet came to a sudden halt.
“I thought so. The thing is, I also—”
“It feels normal like always! I don’t get any weird vibes or anything! It’s a peaceful day in Japan, and I am but a humble normal resident of this country! I don’t know, nor realize anything!”
No matter how you looked at it, she was clearly acting weird. Sweat was running down her head like a waterfall and her eyes were rolling inside her sockets. Seeing that there was someone else who felt the same way, Mikado was relieved.
“No, you must have, right? After all, everyone is just flocking over to praise Kisa left right and center.”
“That’s because Kisa-chan is a wonderful person! An existence deserving all the praise! Yes, I praise her as well, I really do! I’m just a normal person so don’t abduct me! Don’t turn me into cattle! I want to stay on earth no matter what, so please…!”
Kokage fell to the ground in a 大 pose, as she started crying.
“I don’t think that crying right here will help you resisting in any way.”
“So it’s already too late?!”
“Too late or not, I feel like what you think is happening might not actually be the case…Probably.”
“I’m wrong, you say?! About the fact that everyone around me has been exchanged for an alien?!”
“Why would they praise Nanjou after turning into aliens?”
“Why would any normal earthling praise Nanjou-san!?”
“You sure got a rude side to you, huh.”
But, just as what she was pointing out, normally, their classmates would never show this much affection to Kisa. Basically, the one acting suspicious is clearly Kisa. No doubt that she was secretly planning something, but just bluntly asking her to speak won’t work. Rather, she would grow wary, and raise her guard even further.
“For now, I want any information that you have, Kawaraya. Is there nothing else that grabbed your attention?”
Kokage got up from the ground, and brushed off the dirt on her uniform.
“Something else…That reminds me, today when you got dropped off, I snuck into your car, and hid in the trunk…”
“In the trunk?!”
“Ah, don’t pay too much attention to that. It’s what I always do.”
“Of course I’d pay attention to that! What are you doing behind my back?! Trunk?! Eh?!” Mikado felt a chill as questionable information, not even related to the main topic, appeared.
“It’s just one way of gathering
information. But, today, things were a bit different…The trunk was
a bit narrow, and it felt like someone else was in there…”
“A dead body?!”
“Ah, don’t pay any mind to that. There was no problem at all.”
“Well thank you!”
“Rather than that, the problem today was the driving. It was rougher than usual, and my body banged against the interior of the trunk countless times. Really, you have to think about the people hiding in your trunk as well, I say!” Kokage snorted with arms crossed.
“I don’t think you normally do that…”
Mikado was fed-up, and felt like the current conversation wasn’t worth his time in the slightest.
“What else…? Something different from normal…?”
“Hmmm…Oh right. You know, I’m always spying on Mikado-kun as I’m hiding on the other side of the roof of the classroom.”
“And today for some reason, I couldn’t use the hole in the wall I would always use to sneak inside the ceiling, because it was blocked. No, rather, it was almost like that hole never existed in the first place…”
Mikado gazed at the school building. It was a prestigious school, Sousei Academy. With many talented and gifted children of noble and prestigious backgrounds passing through it’s hallways, it had lived through several eras. But, it was the same scenery he was used to, with nothing unusual to be found. Nonetheless, with Kokage’s information, he had the feeling that something big was going on in the background.
“Ah, also…although this might be something minor…” Kokage said, seemingly hesitant.
“The thing is…there is another me going around school right now…Ah, but, it’s not that big of a deal! Don’t mind it!”
“It is a big deal! What’s up with that?! Where is the other Kawaraya at?!” Mikado pushed his body forward.
“U-Um…When I met her on the stairs, she abruptly came at me to grab me, then she suddenly face-planted into the ground, and lost consciousness…Since she’d probably rot there, I put her in the refrigerator in the cooking classroom.”
“Is that really going to be okay…?”
Mikado really wanted to avoid his classmate getting taken away by the police. As always, you couldn’t let your guard down her, the one who leaves chaos wherever she goes. Well, it must have been quite a shock for her to see someone with the same face.
“What about you, Mikado-kun? Did you find something weird besides Kisa-chan today?”
“What is it?”
“The smell of the classroom. Today, it was filled with the smell of tonic.”
“Tonic…That make-up like thing your father puts in his hair?”
“Exactly. A normal high school boy wouldn’t use that. At the very least, there was no smell like that until yesterday. Something is weird…”
Kokage went pale.
“Maybe a boy’s hair loss suddenly sped up…”
“I don’t think that’s the case.”
“It’s not, huh…”
“For now, let’s gather some more information. Kawaraya, can you use your phone?”
“I can, but I can’t get a good signal…Even though I had three bars yesterday…” Kokage gazed at her phone in confusion.
“Same here. Neither does GPS work. Let’s step outside the school for a second.”
“Y-You’ll get scolded by the teachers!”
“Probably. But, it’s worth trying.”
Mikado took the hesitant Kokage with him, and left the sports ground. They found the back gate, which connected to the roadway outside, but they were held back by the fence. Although Mikado tried to open the door, it was properly locked. When he wanted to climb over it…
“Kitamikado! What are you doing! You can’t leave without permission!” His homeroom teacher screamed at him.
Hence, Mikado climbed back down.
“I’m sorry, some printouts flew outside. It’s right there, so could I quickly get it?”
In response, the teacher got angry.
“No! You know very well that we have rules here! Class is about to begin, so go back to your classroom!”
Mikado returned to the school building, with Kokage, who shrunk together, tightly gripping her camera.
—Seems like they desperately don’t want me to get outside, huh…
And, he couldn’t use his smartphone. It was almost like he was stranded on a deserted island. Feeling the sharp gaze of the homeroom teacher on his back, Mikado thought about how to get out of this situation.
As Mikado returned to the classroom, Mizuki whispered at him.
“And? Did you understand anything, Mikado-kun?”
“I feel like I got some valuable hints, but nothing major that could solve this situation.”
“I’m sure that you’ll definitely find out. It’d be troublesome if you lost against Onee-chan because of something like this~”
“Troublesome if I lost? What do you mean?”
“I mean, if you become Onee-chan’s thing, you probably won’t be able to go on a date with me, you know?”
“Do what you want, I don’t care about a date…” Mikado gave a bitter smile.
“Oh I will~ I’ve taken a liking to Mikado-kun after all. And I’ve always wanted to see what this ‘date’ thing is about!” Mizuki gave an innocent laugh.
She might actually turn into a normal girl, unlike Kisa, who was already afflicted with poison. Then again, a Kisa without poison wasn’t Kisa.
“H-Hey…Why are you clinging to each other like that? Can you not seduce my little sister like that?” Kisa approached them in a fretting manner.
“Kyaaa, I’ll be killed by Onee-chan~” Mizuki gave a cute wink as she separated from Mikado.
“I’m not seducing her or anything.”
“You sure are! At this point, you’re just looking for the next best girl. Even during lunch break, you were secretly talking with Kawaraya-san, right?”
A bit further away, Kokage’s shoulders twitched at the sudden arrival of her name.
“W-W-W-We weren’t doing anything of that sort! We were just tending the sports field outside, Kitamikado-san and I! It just bothers me if there’re any footprints!”
“Were you always that fussy about cleanliness?” Kisa raised her eyebrows.
“Y-Yes! I hate when there’s fingerprints sticking to the door knob, and I’m the type that cleans away her own fingerprints when going to someone else’s house!”
“Are you a thief?!”
If he could, Mikado would have wished for Kokage to keep quiet now. The more you talk, the more suspicious you sound. Quickly keeping quiet was the best idea here, he was sure. After all, knowing that she belonged to the Kawaraya Family, known to spread unnecessary information and chaos, he grew more worried.
“But, was there really a need to tend to the ground with two people?” Kisa wondered with a suspicious expression.
Mikado quickly followed up.
“You see, I would have felt bad having a girl do it alone, so I helped. Kawaraya is the only person I do talk to from time to time after all. Right, Kawaraya?”
“Ah, yes! It’s fun talking with Mikado-kun! About NASA and so on!” Kokage panicked as she played along.
“Hmpf…first my little sister, and then Kawaraya-san, approaching them in infidelity…”
“I don’t think this is about infidelity…”
“Kitamikado-san is currently in a game with me after all…Forget about other girls. Only…be on the attack with me…” Kisa’s expression turned sad.
Although he knew that it wasn’t out of jealousy, he could still feel his head become hot.
“Don’t worry. I am only looking at you after all.”
“I-Is that so…” Kisa’s voice slowly faded towards the end.
Returning to her seat, she once again put the book in her hand, and continued reading. Although she didn’t honor him with any gaze anymore, Kisa’s ears were visibly red.
Sixth period ended after the math teacher kept praising Kisa’s beauty mathematically. Mikado knew the most about her appealing features, but using an entire class for that was more scary than admirable. And also, he found it scary that he happened to agree with the teacher. It was a strange feeling, as if he was being influenced by his surroundings, swept along by their praising of Kisa.
Having finished his goodbyes for the day, he did not make his way to the Kitamikado chauffeur waiting at the front gate. Neither did he enjoy some idle talk with his classmates. Rather, he secretly snuck out of the classroom together with Kokage.
“…Mikado-kun? Why aren’t you going home?” Kokage whispered as she walked besides Mikado.
While being aware of the student’s gazes around them, he returned a quiet reply.
“Nothing will change if I just go home here. I have to clear up Nanjou’s conspiracy, or the same thing will happen tomorrow.”
“Conspiracy?! NASA again…!”
“No relation whatsoever to outer space. And I said Nanjou’s conspiracy, right?”
“But, aliens really exist! NASA and the CIA are only hiding that! Actually, in Area 51, there’s lots of—”
“Let’s have this conversation another time.”
Since Mikado felt this would turn into a longer conversation, he quickly cut Kokage off, who gave a saddened grumble. Although she might be the successor of the number one information gathering family, she was still naive enough to just leak crucial information out of the blue.
“…That’s a promise then. I’ll have you listen to me talk about NASA’s conspiracy all day long.” Kokage pouted.
“I’ll be expecting a written description of your thoughts.”
“If it’s within 400 characters…”
Mikado pondered if he had actually just made things worse. But for now, he wanted to focus on Kisa’s conspiracy.
“Is there no other way to get inside the roof where you’re always watching me? If possible, I want to watch over our classroom.”
“Watch over? Why?”
“I want to see what everyone else does while we’re not there. Like Kisa giving out orders or them being bribed, that sort of proof would be great.”
With that, he should be able to fight on equal ground with Kisa.
“I see…Since the hole is gone, we can’t get inside that easily, but we can make our own hole.”
“Alright, then guide me there.”
“Yes!” Kokage nodded.
The place that Kokage took Mikado to was an empty classroom right on top of their own. Stored in there were dug out minerals and fossils from the region, and boxes that were used by the farmers to carry their props, piled everywhere.
—I thought so. The smell is different here.
Normally, it always smelled old and muddy, but today, the scent was fresh, and pure. Slowly but steadily, Mikado started to get a grasp on Kisa’s conspiracy. But, it wasn’t completely clear yet. He had to attain the final piece.
“Normally, this wall here was a bit unstable, so I could push it off and get inside, but…”
At the wall Kokage pointed at, there were no cracks or openings.
“Hmmm, with something like this, we might be able to break through.”
Using the hammer and saw that Mikado gathered, they could probably break through, so Mikado worked on it, while trying to keep the resulting sound to a minimum.
“Thank you very much! With this, I’ll be able to stealthily observe Mikado-kun like always!”
“There’s nothing stealthy about it now that I’m aware of it!”
“…Ah, forget about today
“As if I would!”
The impact of all that happened today would make it impossible to suffer from memory loss.
“It can be a bit complicated to not lose yourself in there, so let me guide you!”
With those words, Kokage slipped past Mikado, entered the hole and Mikado followed. The insides were really thin and narrow and with the sparse light entering through the cracks, he could barely make out the surroundings. Following Kokage, he lowered his body, and moved forward.
Naturally, all that filled his vision was Kokage’s small butt. Unable to take his sight away from that, he could only gaze at the slightly shaking, plump behind of his classmate. Kokage didn’t think about this being a possibility, as her skirt was crumpled up even further. The raw skin of her thighs, as well as the final cloth to protect a girl’s most important place, were both perfectly visible.
Even if he was raised under the strict code of the Kitamikado Family, it wouldn’t stop the chaos that this proximity brought to his consciousness .
“Ah, I took the wrong way!”
Kokage suddenly stopped, and Mikado’s face bumped into her butt. His nose touched the white fabric, and a nice smell ran down his nose.
“Hya?! M-Mikado-kun?! What are you doing…Touching me there counts as molestation, you know!”
“It’s because you suddenly stopped!”
“Just get away from me…it tickles…No…!”
“Then stop going backwards like that!”
“This here is a dead end…!”
It took them quite a bit of time until they got into the right position. Once Mikado made it to a more open space, he let out a sigh.
“Ugh…What a scandal…” He made a fist with his hand as he reflected on just happened.
Colliding with the lower half of a female classmate, not to mention directly with her panties was nothing more than sexual harassment. If that was leaked to the public, the Kitamikado Family would be branded with a dirty reputation.
“Alright then, let’s go. It’s over here!” Kokage moved again.
“Ah, umm, Kawaraya. That right now was just an accident…I couldn’t help it…”
“Huh? What are you talking about?” Kokage’s eyes opened wide.
So that he didn’t directly admit his crime, Mikado chose his words carefully.
“I mean, you know…when we bumped into each other just now…”
Kokage couldn’t hold back her laughter.
“Ahaha, don’t sweat it. With it being this narrow, you couldn’t help it!”
“…Are you a goddess?!”
“Rather, I should apologize for pushing my butt into your face like that. It must have been tough.”
Rather, Mikado found himself thinking that it was pretty enjoyable. But, Mikado felt like if he said that, she would definitely get angry at him this time around, so he just swallowed that thought. Yet again, Mikado and Kokage moved again.
“If it’s not the fault of aliens, then what is happening with this school right now…? Maybe Nanjou-san really did something…”
“She’s presumably aiming for the bandwagon effect.”
“Bandwagon effect…? What’s that?” Kokage slightly turned her head over to look at Mikado and hit her head on the wall.
“Humans easily get swept along by the evaluations of things from the people around them, right? It might not be something delicious, but if everyone keeps saying that it is, it might as well taste that way now.”
“Oh right, that happens.”
“That’s the bandwagon effect. Japanese people especially fall victim to that very easily.”
A food product that is advertised as healthy in TV shows and advertisements immediately vanishes from any stores. Because it’s being stormed by housewives.
“Using that, she is having everyone in this school praise her, to make me think what an amazing person she is. While at it, the best possible outcome would be that I fall for her at the same time.”
“Why would she do something like that…?”
“Well…A lot happened, let’s leave it at that.”
Since he couldn’t tell Kokage about the love game, he kept quiet then and there.
“The problem is how she manages to make everyone act like that.”
“Maybe she’s bribing them after all?”
“It would be great if it was something simple like that…But the enemy is Nanjou.”
Eventually, the two of them arrived right on top of their classroom. Paying attention that not the smallest sound would leak, he carefully worked on a small hole in the roof. Cutting a long and narrow rectangular area free, he quickly grabbed it so it wouldn’t fall. Crouching down as best as they could, they glanced down into their classroom. And what they saw was…Weirdly listless classmates.
“Haaa, finally done…”
“Chief, how about we go drink something on the way home. I found a nice store.”
“It’s still too early to let your guard down. Until we have received a report that the target has stepped into the car, we can’t relax.”
“For those who’s makeup is crumbling, make sure to refresh it now while you can!”
“My child has caught a cold, so would it be fine if I left earlier…?”
“Yeah, one classmate missing isn’t that dramatic, especially now that classes have ended.”
“I still need to work some more overtime, so count me in if you need someone.”
“I’ll keep you in mind if we need someone for club activities after school.”
This certainly didn’t sound like a conversation between high school students whose day just ended.
Kokage was shaking.
“W-W-W-What is going on down there…? Is this some drama recording…? Are we inside some TV drama…?”
“No…that’s not it.” Mikado shook his head.
“Then, what in the world…? What is happening with our school…?”
“This isn’t our school.”
“Eh…?” Kokage’s eyes opened wide.
With all the information that Mikado gathered, he constructed the conclusion.
“Kawaraya…Do you know the word ‘Big Con’?”
“Doesn’t con mean something like fraud or swindle in English? Some big swindle then?”
“Yeah. It’s a trick that a great swindler pulled before. To deceive the target, an entire shop is booked, the staff and guests are exchanged for actors and they act along to deceive the target”
“And what does that have to do with our school…?” Kokage tilted her head in confusion.
Under their eyes, their classmates were taking a ‘break’ right now. This wasn’t a normal sight you would see after class in a normal classroom.
“…I’m thinking that this whole school is a set. Every single person here, the teachers, students, and even your own double, is a cast member that Kisa prepared. It’s all to make me get swept along by the atmosphere.”
“The whole school is a set?! That can’t be!”
“No, the Nanjou Family has both the assets and connections to make that possible. Even this morning, I fell asleep on my ride to the school. She probably used some sleeping gas, and during that time the car probably drove a different way to a different school.”
Just today, Mikado couldn’t get reception for his smartphone. And a homeroom teacher that would pay attention so that he doesn’t leave the school appeared. Finally, the staged students Kisa organized. All of that to lure Mikado into the corner.
“B-But, preparing people that look exactly like our staff is impossible…”
“They don’t need a doppelgänger. Today’s makeup techniques allow for a lot, you know. You also thought that the driver this morning was a bit rougher, right? They probably got some different one just for this.”
Kokage put one hand on her mouth as she gasped. She was clearly shocked.
“We have to escape quickly…But, I wonder if we’re even allowed to leave…”
“I’m sure we can. And then, we’ll be brought here tomorrow yet again.”
If you continued the bandwagon effect for days, weeks, and months if necessary, even Mikado would surely give in at some point. That is Kisa’s speculation. No mistaking it, that she’s using every method at her disposal to make Mikado fall for her.
“T-The police! We can get the police active here!” Kokage started to panic.
“Hold your horses there. No need to rush. There’s a more interesting way to deal with this.”
“What is it…?”
“Right now, Nanjou thinks that she’s holding the advantage, that we’re dancing in the palm of her hand. Basically, her defensiveness is at zero!
“Yeah. I cannot let this chance slip, where she’s letting her guard down.”
As Kokage was lost, Mikado gave a confident smile.
He spotted Kisa in the hallway in front of the student entrance. Although she was probably waiting for Mikado to arrive, she was looking at the blackboard gazing at the displayed grades, which was very likely just an act. She must want to see Mikado off, stepping into the prepared car. Next to her was Mizuki, operating her smartphone.
“My, Kitamikado-san, you’re still at school.” Kisa gave a slight bow as she spotted him.
However, she must have been clearly aware that he hadn’t left yet. Before he arrived at the entrance, he spotted several surveillance cameras, following his steps.
“Perfect timing. I was searching for you, Nanjou.”
“What what? We’re going on a date?!” Mizuki jumped towards Mikado.
“No, not the little sister, but the older one.”
“Ehhh? But I’m a Nanjou as well! Take responsibility for getting my hopes up and treat me to some parfait!”
“Another time. I’m a bit busy right now.”
Mikado’s gaze was asking Mizuki to stay out of the game for now.
“…Hmmm, I see. That’s a promise then!”
Maybe she realized his intentions, as she honestly stepped down. Mikado once again turned towards Kisa, and announced.
“Y-Yes.” Maybe because of Mikado’s serious mood, Kisa was a bit flustered.
“I’m sorry about this, but…could you spare me some time.”
“U-Ummm…what for, if I may ask?”
“There’s something I desperately need to tell you. With just the two of us, if possible.”
“I see…Let’s go to the western building and use an empty classroom…” With a shaky voice, Kisa responded as she turned her back to Mikado and started walking.
However, Mikado didn’t miss the second where her eyes reflected the joy of victory. She must think that Mikado was going to confess to her after this. She was sure that her plan to influence Mikado worked. Even while walking down the hallway, you could see the happiness in her gesturing and movements.
—You’re way too happy, Nanjou! Your back is wide open!
And yet, Mikado couldn’t help but think that this side of her was extremely cute. If she was nothing but a normal classmate and it was just a normal confession, there probably wouldn’t be anything more blissful than the simple life that awaited ahead.” there probably wouldn’t be any more bliss, a simple life waiting ahead.
However, the Nanjou and Kitamikado Family were enemies, with Kisa and Mikado standing opposite sides. Mikado didn’t know what else to do, so all he could do was win Kisa for himself. With his determination reaching higher levels, Mikado stepped into the empty room.
“Yeah, this is perfect.”
“Should I lock the door? It would be better if nobody bothered us…”
With all the teachers and students being casted, they surely wouldn’t dare to bother them, but naturally Mikado couldn’t say that. Hence, he feigned ignorance.
“Yeah, sounds good.”
“I’ll also close the keyhole with some glue, okay?”
“No, no need to go that far.”
Pretty crazy for Kisa to say it like it was nothing out of the ordinary. The floor beneath them was apparently relatively new, as the varnish was still glossy. Chairs and desks were pushed into the corners of the room,and a big space was opened in the middle.
Outside the room, Kokage was peeking inside, as she stood in the hallway. Mikado told her that he would make her come clean and to grab proof for that, he asked her to record it and take pictures. It was all to take a picture of the moment where he would win the love game. However, her way of hiding was too lax. Like this, Kisa might be able to spot her. Hence, Mikado moved in front of the courtyard window-side, so that Kisa had the hallway to her back.
“And…What did you want to talk about, Kitamikado-san?” Kisa asked as she nervously fidgeted.
Her gaze was wavering, and she played with the hem of her skirt.
—Damn it…even like this, I can’t help but think of her as cute…
Mikado desperately sealed off his desire to earnestly confess to her. If he were to lose himself here, he wouldn’t just fall into her hands, but also in the depths of the abyss.
“The thing is…Today, something weird is bothering me…” Mikado announced, as he forcefully mixed a bit of shock into his voice.
“Weird…? Like someone is talking to you inside your head?”
“Not in that way.”
“Don’t tell me…mushrooms growing out of your arms?”
“Not in that way either.”
As Mikado gazed towards the hallway, he saw Kokage walk away.
—Hey, where are you going…?
Though Mikado got a bad feeling from this, he didn’t have the time to pay much attention to it. From here on out, he had to carefully pick his words. Without showing words of affection, he had to make Kisa believe in her victory and guide her to show words of affection for Mikado instead. It certainly was a dangerous battle, but if he succeeded, the return from it was immense. Letting all his brain cells work to their fullest, he continued.
“Um…I just realized that Nanjou is really popular with everyone…”
“T-That’s right! I am very popular! I have the looks and the brains, a superhuman so to speak!”
It was plain as day that she was forcing those words out of her mouth. After all, she wasn’t popular. On the contrary, she didn’t even have any normal friends. Although it is for the sake of victory, it must have hurt her pride quite a lot that she had to get casted people to praise her. But even so, Mikado wouldn’t stop there.
“I realized. That you really are an amazing person. But, at the same time, I’m a bit frustrated. Because I was actually the first one to realize Nanjou’s good points.”
“M-My good points…?” Kisa’s body visibly twitched at that keyword.
She pushed her body forward ever so slightly and her eyes opened wide. She was certainly waiting for Mikado to explain what those points were.
“Yeah, you might look perfect and tough on the outside, but you have that clumsy, sweet side of yourself which is very cute.”
Suddenly, Kisa’s face started to burn up.
“I-I don’t have a clumsy side or anything! I am always perfect! Don’t underestimate the successor of the Nanjou Family! I-I’m not cute either!”
“No, you definitely are. You might
look calm, but you’re flustered right now.”
“I’m not flustered!”
“You are. Your face is bright red.”
“I’m not red! I’m just bleeding! Bleeding from the face!” Kisa hid her face with her hands.
Through the gaps of her fingers, he could see her teary eyes and even her ears were colored a deep red. While gazing at this unbelievably cute reaction of hers, Mikado felt his own heartbeat accelerate. He was calling the girl he had fallen for cute, so naturally he wouldn’t be able to keep calm.
Mikado desperately tried to control his shaky voice, grabbed Kisa by the wrists and carefully pulled her hands away.
“See, you really are red. What a waste to hide such a beautiful face.”
Kisa couldn’t maintain her balance and leaned against the window. She grit her teeth out of embarrassment and averted her gaze outside the window.
“Kitamikado-san is really acting weird today…Maybe the effect was too strong…”
“N-Nothing at all.” Kisa quickly shook her head.
Mikado lowered his voice.
“But, because Nanjou is so cute, almost too cute, I keep thinking that I’m not good enough for you and that really puts me down.”
“I mean, you understand, right? You’re so popular with everyone in class, you’re an untouchable beauty and you’re clever like that…Even if I were to confess, you probably wouldn’t take me seriously.”
“That’s not the case!” Kisa responded at the exact same time.
“Of course you do. I’m sure that you don’t think of me as special at all.”
“T-That’s…Um…Yes, you’re not
special to me at all…”
“See, that’s what I thought.”
“But but…you’re more grown-up than most adults I know and you’re very attractive and cool…”
Hearing such words for the first time from her mouth, Mikado’s thoughts got disrupted.
—Calm down, me…You lose if you take her word for gold…
Mikado told himself, when Kisa stood up straight again.
“But…I don’t think of you as cool or anything, it’s just common knowledge. A girl told me about it! But, what I’m trying to say…is that you are worthy enough for me! And since it’s in the rules, I have to respond here!”
“I don’t want to force you to respond. I want Nanjou to be happy, so I can only pull back here…” Mikado muttered with a painful voice and was about to walk away.
As he did, Kisa panicked and grabbed his arm.
“W-Wait! It’s not impossible! I would be more than happy—”
She bit on. Being this close to victory, Kisa must have panicked to not let it escape. Once your heart and mind falls victim to panic, you become careless with your words. Coming this far, Mikado judged this a cleared game on his end. However, right above him, he heard a crushing sound. A shriek resounded and the person crashed right through the ground. It was Kokage. Being stuck up to her waist in the floor, she was flustered as she looked up.
None of the three people present moved a muscle. An unbearable silence ensued. The first one to move was Kokage, as she frantically shook her head.
“…You’re wrong.” She was trying to make excuses.
No, it wasn’t even an excuses. Still, Mikado didn’t expect her idiocy to be of such a high level that she could mess up a job as simple as that.
“Kawaraya…san…? Your body is… through the ground you know…?” A husky voice escaped Kisa’s lips.
Kokage desperately tried to escape from the hole she made, but to no avail.
“I’m sorry, Mikado-kun! I couldn’t take a proper picture from the hallway and the sound wasn’t the best quality either, so I thought of doing it from the ceiling! I’m really sorry!”
“H-Hey…” Mikado felt cold sweat run down his cheek.
If she were to keep letting her mouth run like that, Kisa might just find out about his intentions. Sending her a stern gaze and hurrying her to leave the room right this instant, Kokage gave a deep nod, probably meaning ‘Leave it to me!’ or the like.
—No, no need to leave it to you! You just have to take a picture, that’s all!
Mikado tried his best to get this thoughts across to Kokage with the brain waves he was emitting, but with underdeveloped existences like Kokage, they couldn’t even catch that. Instead, she was too focussed, while being stuck in that hole. She took out the memory card from her camera, and together with the recording app on her smartphone active, she pointed it towards Kisa.
“Kisa-chan! We know that this school is fake! In here is proof of the fact that you abducted Mikado-kun, and me as well! Accept it!”
You weren’t abducted, you snuck into the trunk of the car and ended up as collateral damage!
“Hmm…Is that so…?”
Mikado carefully observed Mikado and Kisa. Although her face was still a bit flushed, her usual calm attitude was visible in her eyes.
“Not bad, Kitamikado-san. On top of seeing through my plan, you acted like you hadn’t caught on and deceived me…That might have ended really badly, indeed.”
As victory escaped his grasp, Mikado desperately tried to pull it back into his hands.
“You just controlled yourself, right? You were about to say ‘I would be more than happy to go out with Kitamikado-san’, weren’t you? So basically, the game is my win.”
Kisa crossed her arms.
“H-Huh?! I was not planning on saying
that! I was about to say ‘I would be more than happy to kill
Kitamikado-san!”, nothing more!”
“That’s pretty scary! Why would that sentence end up with you killing me?!”
“Isn’t that fine? People are
different, and are free to do what they want.”
“It’s not fine! And Japan isn’t that free of a country!”
Mikado didn’t remember coming to America during the pioneering times. But before he could respond, Kisa pushed her fingers right in front of his nose.
“Kitamikado-san, didn’t you say that you were not a good fit for me?! Isn’t that the same as saying that you have feelings for me?!”
“It’s completely different! I never said ‘I like you’ out loud!”
“Just accept it and give in!”
They glared at each other from a close distance. Their lovebirds atmosphere from before had disappeared and now sparks raced through the air between them. Seeing that, Kokage desperately tried to stop them.
“U-Um, could you stop with the lover’s quarrel…?”
“It’s not a lover’s quarrel!” “It’s not a lover’s quarrel!”
Being glared at by the North and South at the same time, Kokage raised a shriek.
On the way home from the fake school, inside a limousine.
“It was so close…Just one more step, and I would have had Kitamikado-san in the palm of my hand…” Kisa sighed as she looked outside the window.
“So close, right? But, you did your best, Onee-chan! You really did!”
The car was rather spacy, so Mizuki had enough space next to Kisa. She was operating stuff on her smartphone like usual, sometimes raising her head.
“You sure are enjoying yourself…”
“Hmmm? Of course I am! I got a new friend after all!”
“Glad to hear that…”
Although Kisa was slightly intrigued about the identity of said friend, she didn’t have the energy to investigate right now. Although the night scenery was sparkling and twinkling everywhere, the inside of Kisa’s heart was clouded.
“Why did it end up in failure I wonder…? Mizuki, you didn’t tell Kitamikado-san anything weird, right?” Kisa glanced over at her little sister.
“N-No way~ Why would I do that~?”
“Yeah, I’m sure that you must want to keep living for now…”
“Right right! There’s lots of characters in the gacha that I haven’t gotten yet!”
For some reason, Mizuki fixed her posture as she took a seat further away from Kisa.
“Then…What was the reason that it didn’t work out…?”
Kisa was working her head around it.
“F-Forget about that for a second! It’s not like today was a complete waste! I mean, Mikado-kun called you cute, right?”
Being reminded about that particular fact, Kisa’s face went as red as a tomato. She was called cute by Mikado. That Mikado. Several times. She was even praised as beautiful. Even if that was part of his plan, she was happy nonetheless. That gave her enough energy to live another 100 years.
“Ah, Onee-chan! Your face is red!” Mizuki commented in a teasing voice.
“Y-You’re wrong…H-He probably didn’t…didn’t even mean it…”
“Really? I think he might have been pretty serious about that.”
“O-Of course not…It can’t be…”
But, it was her maiden’s heart that made her want to believe those words to be Mikado’s honest feelings.
Mikado and the other two girls were called in by the teachers, forced to apologize for their unannounced absence the day prior, and ordered to clean the reference room.
“Someone from the Kitamikado Family receiving a punishment like this…What a scandal…” Mikado had his head hanging low at the shame that was brought upon him.
“Let’s just hurry up and finish this. This simple labour isn’t normally anything a Nanjou would do, you know?” Kisa commented in arrogance as she crossed her legs on the teacher’s desk.
“Uuuu…Why do even I have to…?” Kokage was close to tears as she complained.
“If you want things to end quickly, then you work as well, Nanjou! You’ve just been sitting there!”
“But, the one with the brains that is
in charge has the job to give out orders right?”
“We don’t need someone like that to clean! Move your hands instead!”
“Can’t help it…” With a pouting expression, Kisa got down from the teacher’s desk, and started moving the brush along the floor.
However, no matter how much she tried to swipe away the dust, it didn’t work at all and it didn’t look clean even after quite some time had passed. All she did was flush up the dust into the air.
“Why won’t this dust move after my will…?!”
“Don’t get angry at the dust. You do it like this, watch.” Mikado took the broom from Kisa and swiftly showed her how to use it.
Kisa went silent and just keenly watched that happening. At the Kitamikado Family, cleaning is part of one’s education, but the daughter of the Nanjou Family was probably not needed to clean the house, since they had enough servants.
“Um…Kitamikado-san, there is something I would like to ask…” Kisa awkwardly raised her voice.
“What is it?”
“Before, when you were trying to counterattack me…Was what you said your real feelings?”
“Eh…?” Mikado’s hands stopped mid-movement and his eyes turned towards Kisa.
Her ears were slightly reddened and her eyes turned watery.
“S-See, what you said back then…Y-You called me cute…Was that just for your plan? Or was it…”
“I won’t tell you.”
Mikado didn’t have enough endurance to continuously tell that straight to Kisa’s face. That day, he was too focussed on winning against Kisa in their game. All the things he remembered he said back then made him want to die out of embarrassment.
“C-Come on! Tell me!”
“I decline. If you don’t focus on the cleaning this will never end.”
“Please! It won’t be related to the game, okay?!”
“No can do. I don’t even remember.” Mikado shook his head to deny.
“Don’t tease me like that! I’ll even pay you! One hundred million!”
“I don’t need that!”
“If you won’t, I’ll test you with some truth serum!”
“Do it, it won’t work.”
“I want to know! Come on, tell me!” Kisa desperately pulled on Mikado’s sleeve as she closed in on him.
The sight of her was as cute as ever and he felt himself wanting her to continue asking him like this. Even so, he kept his mouth shut.
1Greek author, who wrote the Odyssey for example.
2Babylonian code of law, dating back to about 1754 BC. Oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. Check wikipedia for more lul.