Ore Ga Suki Nano Wa Imouto Dakedo Imouto Janai Volume 9 Chapter 3

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Investigation, and Then the Culture Festival

“…So basically, this is just a misunderstanding on Himuro-san’s part, and you don’t actually have anyone you’re interested in. Right, Onii-chan?”

“Y-Yes, that’s correct…”

Confronted with Suzuka’s overwhelmingly intimidating aura, I could only hang my head meekly as I responded. The setting was the entrance of our home, and for some reason, I was being forced to kneel on the ground in front of Suzuka. Not to mention that she was looking down at me with a glare. With a feeling of oppression rumbling behind her, I could only wait and hope that this would be over soon. As to why things had ended up like this… well, I believe that there’s no need for any further explanation here, since it was obviously because of Mai’s message. I had only heard about this a while ago, but it seems that after Suzuka got a smartphone, she joined the same LINE group with Mai and the others (called “Towano Chikai LINE” or whatever), and is now exchanging messages there.

Mai had sent this extremely dangerous message there, which Suzuka saw of course, and she questioned me immediately when I got home. Ugh… I never thought that Mai would go this far! She probably didn’t mean to, but she sure is driving me into a corner here!

But anyway, because of this message, a harsh interrogation from Suzuka’s side followed. And all I could do was give her the same explanation I had given Mai before. Everything is just a total misunderstanding. It’s true that I had hesitated for a second, but that wasn’t related to our conversation in any way whatsoever, and I don’t have any girls I’m interested in. Sadly, I feel like this won’t be enough to satisfy Suzuka. Knowing her, the more I try to reason with her, the more severe her interrogation and questioning will become. Indeed, from all of my experiences so far, I’m almost certain that it would end like that. I swallowed my breath as I dreaded Suzuka’s response once I finished my explanation.

…She’ll probably just say “Did you think that this would satisfy me?” and glare at me again! Or so I thought, but…

“…Is that really the case?”

Suzuka’s words surprised me to the extent that I stared blankly back at her in shock. Although she still seems to doubt me a bit, I don’t feel like she has any intentions of pressing this any further.

“Y-Yeah.”

“…………I see. Then it really was Himuro-san’s misunderstanding.”

“Eh?!”

U-Unbelievable, she is satisfied with that?! W-What is going on? Normally, I’d receive a one-hour lecture course, free of charge…?

“…What is it, Onii-chan? You look perplexed.”

“W-Well, I kinda am… Most of the time, you’d say something like ‘I don’t believe you,’ and you’d keep pressing me on it.”

“W-What’s that supposed to mean? That makes me seem like the doubtful type, doesn’t it?”

“………”

…Well, I can’t exactly deny that.

“Don’t just keep quiet there! It seems that I have to correct this rude idea of yours!”

Wait, hold on, am I going to be lectured on something else now?!

“C-Calm down! I’m sorry, okay?! I-I was just… going from previous experiences. I wasn’t trying to say that you have a personality like that!”

“…………Haah.”

As I desperately tried to make excuses, Suzuka responded with a fed-up sigh.

“W-Well, I do agree that I might have to reflect on that. After all, there have been occasions when I might have gotten a bit too fierce with my questioning in the past.”

…It wasn’t just random occasions. That happened every time… But this time, I didn’t say that aloud. I’m learning from my past mistakes.

“But that was only because there was dubious behaviour involved. Basically, I couldn’t help it. Do you understand?”

Yet another thing I’ve learned is that when Suzuka says ‘Do you understand?’, she actually means ‘That’s how it is.’ Because of that, I just nodded along. An older brother’s dignity? What’s that? Can I eat it?

“In that sense, it means that there was nothing there for me to doubt.”

“Eh? What do you mean by that?” Unable to grasp what she was trying to tell me, I just stared back at her.

When I did, Suzuka’s face started to turn a flaming red color, and she started fidgeting. “T-That’s…!” She glanced at me here and there.

“Look, I am… Onii-chan’s ideal type of girl… right?”

“Wha—?!”

The words that Suzuka brought down on me almost made me choke.

“A-And Onii-chan is a little sister lover who just started writing his own little sister novel, am I right?!”

“H-Hold on a second…! Why would you suddenly bring that up now?!”

“T-Think about it. Knowing that, I can ascertain that there can’t be a girl that Onii-chan is interested in.”

…Eh? ………A-Ahh, that’s what she meant. I finally understood what Suzuka was saying. Basically, going from her knowledge that I’m a crazy siscon, there can’t be any girl I’m interested in. It’s truly a Suzuka-like way of thinking. I was glad that she didn’t doubt me anymore.

“…Why are you crying, Onii-chan?”

…But what is this sadness that’s biting away at my poor soul…?! My own little sister is looking at me in such a light. This might be even worse than her doubting me… Hahahaha…

“Of course, the slim chance still exists. That being said, it doesn’t seem like it’s the case right now. I can tell, since I’ve been watching Onii-chan all day, every day.” Suzuka nodded to herself, brimming with confidence.

I’m happy that she trusts me, but I somehow feel like I’m being treated as nothing more than a pet at this point…

“…W-Well, I’m glad that you aren’t having any weird doubts.”

When I let out a relieved sigh, Suzuka puffed out her chest and spoke confidently. “I am your little sister after all, so I know everything about you!” Fair enough, I guess.

“But the problem isn’t completely resolved.”

“What problem?”

“Since Himuro-san still has doubts about this, she shared this information with everyone in the Towano Chikai LINE group.”

The members of said group besides Suzuka and Mai are Double Peace-sensei, Minazuki-san, and the Kanzaka sisters. Basically everyone who knows that I’m Towano Chikai. Though I don’t know exactly what they talk about in there (and even if I ask, they never tell me), it seems like everyone has already seen Mai’s message.

“That sure is troublesome. I’m getting really bad vibes from that.”

“That being said, this time they aren’t doubting that you’re Towano Chikai like before, and Himuro-san just has the wrong idea about this, so we probably won’t have to think too deeply on it.”

Apparently, Suzuka didn’t feel that this was as grim as I did.

“After all, Onii-chan loves little sisters… Ehehehehe…”

“W-Well, it’s fine unless it starts getting too complicated.”

Though Suzuka started to bug out again for some reason, if she says it’s fine, then she’s probably right. Suzuka sent me off with the words “Don’t think too much about it. Just work on your little sister novel.” I went to my own room. Thus, I forgot about the incident with Mai, and I started writing on my novel.

…However, I soon learned that this incident was actually very serious.

“We should do a thorough search!”

“Agreed, desu! This is an emergency situation!”

“But we don’t even know if she’s going to the same school as him!”

“Giving up is not an option.”

“Um, I don’t really care all that much…”

“…………What is even happening here?”

It was early in the morning, on a weekend. Barely awake, I stepped into the living room, only to walk into a weird cult-like meeting. For reasons unknown to me, Mai, Double Peace-sensei, Minazuki-san, Akino-san, and the younger Kanzaka sister were all gathered, having a heated discussion. The scene was so out of this world that I was starting to question whether I was dreaming.

“Ah, Sensei! Good morning! Sorry to intrude like this!” Minazuki-san noticed my appearance and jumped up as she greeted me.

She was as gleeful as ever. If she had a tail, it surely would have been wagging back and forth like crazy. Yeah, this must be a dream… Still, it’s pretty realistic…

“Ah, you finally woke up! Having a free day doesn’t mean you can just sleep all day!”

“Seeing Sensei barely awake sure is stimulating, desu! He looks so fresh.”

“…Sensei in his pyjamas… Slurp…”

“Haaah… At least go wash your face, will you?”

The others didn’t wait long in greeting me. Is this some lucid dream? This is the first time I’ve experienced something like this—

“Onii-chan, you’re not dreaming. Just go wash your face like Haruna-san said.”

Suzuka appeared, which made me realize that this might not be a dream at all. Also, how do you know what’s happening inside my head?

“U-Um… What exactly is happening here…?”

While I was standing there, I couldn’t help but ask that question.

“Apparently, this is an investigation meeting about the girl you’re interested in, Onii-chan.” Suzuka’s response took me a second to understand.

But, before I could instigate any further, Suzuka continued speaking as she let out a defeated sigh.

“…It seems like you won’t be able to enjoy a peaceful breakfast this morning, Onii-chan.”

*

“Alright, let me once again announce the start of the investigation meeting about the girl Yuu’s interested in.”

After I finished washing my face and changing my clothes, Mai gave her announcement to enthusiastic applause. And all I could do was watch the scene in front of me unfold. The same was true for Suzuka, who shook her head in disbelief.

“…So what exactly is going on here?” I asked.

“Huh? Didn’t you hear me just now? We’re holding a meeting to figure out who it is that you’re interested in.”

“Wow. Thanks for the explanation, I guess?!”

How crazy can you get?! Also, it’s pretty amazing that you can say that without any ill intentions whatsoever!

“No, that’s not important. I want to know why such a meeting is happening in the first place!”

“Now now, calm down, Sensei. This was the start of everything, desu,” Double Peace-sensei said, as she showed me her smartphone.

Shown there was the same message that Suzuka had questioned me about yesterday, where Mai wrote ‘Emergency! Yuu is apparently interested in a girl! Requesting information!’ in the group chat. Well, I guess that makes sense. I had a feeling that this wouldn’t be the end of it. But, the question is why it turned into such a big deal.

“Sensei having a girl he’s interested in is an immense problem for us.”

“Right! Who is it? What is she like? As Sensei’s future younger sister, Sakura definitely has to know!”

Both Akino-san and Minazuki-san contributed to the ‘conversation’. Although it didn’t really explain anything, they both sure acted like it did.

“Well, everyone here is your fan, so this time, we can’t help but want to know.” Even the younger Kanzaka sister seemed to understand this whole situation.

“Even you’re joining in…? Can’t you help me stop them…?”

“I-I couldn’t do anything. It’s just how girls work. But it’s not like I care who you have feelings for or anything…”

“Lies. The one who saw this message first was Haruna. She was really panicking when she told me about it.”

“T-That’s just… because I thought Onee-chan would want to know as quickly as possible!” The younger Kanzaka sister blushed furiously at Akino-san’s side comment.

To think that the love gossip would even ruin the logical thinking of the one person I had full trust in…

“This isn’t just normal love gossip, desu. Since this is about Sensei, everyone is very motivated.”

“Of course we want to know who you’re interested in, Yuu.”

Mai spoke with a sulking manner, and everyone nodded along with a serious expression… Everyone is serious here, aren’t they? This is on a completely different level than anything I’ve ever seen. To be precise, this doesn’t even compare to when they’ve been serious about anything Towano Chikai before. When I realized that, a cold shiver ran down my spine. On one hand, I was actually a bit happy that they were that invested in myself, but at the same time, I was getting very bad vibes from this.

“H-Hold on a second, I told you yesterday that there isn’t anyone like that!”

I tried to put an end to it all immediately, yet again saying the same thing I had yesterday. After all, this was just a misunderstanding on Mai’s part. If I can manage to clear that up, I can avoid the worst-case scenario here…!

“That’s a lie. You can’t deceive these eyes with that flimsy kind of excuse,” Mai immediately destroyed my wishful thinking.

Not to mention that she had such a stern expression on her face that even I was a bit surprised. Also, you might want to get your eyes checked out!

“I’m not trying to deceive you or anything! And what are you basing that on, anyway?!”

“My intuition!”

All of this because of your intuition?!

“Right right, desu. If Mai says so, then I have to believe her.”

“Double Peace-sensei?!”

To my surprise, someone else actually supported Mai’s incredibly weak evidence. Not to mention that it wasn’t just Double Peace-sensei. Minazuki-san and the Kanzaka sisters all nodded along.

“W-Wait a second! It’s Mai’s intuition, you know? From that Mai!”

“W-What do you mean by that?!”

“Yes, it is from that Mai, but I believe her this time, desu.”

“Hey, dirty illustrator?! Why are you joining in on the ‘That Mai’ trope?! Also, tell me what you mean by that?!”

In the sense that you’re a clumsy good-for-nothing! How about you grow a bit more self-awareness for once?! Apparently, everyone else was also aware of that, and nodded along yet again. In response, Mai grew teary-eyed, and although I felt a little bad for her, I decided to ignore her and get back to the main topic.

“What do you mean by ‘this time,’ Double Peace-sensei…?” I asked.

I heard a desperate “D-Don’t ignore me like that!” behind me, but I ignored her.

“Mai is a huge fan of Sensei’s, desu. And she sees Sensei all the time at school. This is why we can’t ignore her intuition this time, desu.”

That still doesn’t explain anything! Or so I wanted to say, but Minazuki-san got the jump on me.

“Sakura feels the same way. And if it is true, then it would be a huge problem.”

Immediately after, Akino-san and the younger Kanzaka sister chimed in. “Yes, this isn’t something we can ignore.”

“A-Also, the odds of it are well above zero. A-After all, you’re an adolescent boy.”

Everyone looked towards me with serious expressions on their faces. For some reason, I felt like I could see flames burning in the depths of their eyes, and that sent a shiver down my spine. T-This is bad. Very bad. I can’t explain exactly what’s bad about it, but the way this conversation is going definitely won’t leave me happy.

“I keep telling you, there’s nobody like that! All I have room to think about is light novels, so I don’t have the time to worry about that sort of thing.”

“That’s exactly why it’d be so problematic if you found a girl you’re interested in.”

“M-Minazuki-san… But there’s no proof whatsoever here…”

“You’re right, there’s no proof. But, we have Enryuu-sensei’s conviction. Judge Ahi?”

“…Suspicious, desu.”

“Where did the laws of society go?!”

“Calm down. We’re not blaming you here or anything. We’re just investigating.”

“That’s ridiculous! Also, younger Kanzaka sister, why do you seem angry at me?!”

“H-Huh?! I-I’m not! I-I couldn’t care less if there’s a girl you’re interested in!”

This isn’t good. Of all people, even she’s getting swept along with the situation…! I have to clear up this misunderstanding at all costs…! But how?!

“Suzuka, tell them! Tell them that they all just have the wrong idea!”

It should be fine as long Suzuka clears it up! She told me yesterday that she believes in me, that Mai just has the wrong idea!

“Eh? Ah, that’s right. I was just a bit wary at how serious everyone was—And a bit overwhelmed.”

…Please don’t be overwhelmed when I need your help…

“…Cough! Everyone, you have the wrong idea here. Onii-chan isn’t interested in any girls right now. It’s just Himuro-san’s misunderstanding.” Everyone went quiet and started listening to Suzuka with serious looks on their faces. “Onii-chan doesn’t have anyone like that. Since she’s in the same class, Himuro-san should know that already. The same goes for me. He’s never brought any girls home.”

…Yeah yeah, that’s it. That’s what I wanted to hear. Suzuka’s persuasiveness and poise are doing a good job here.

“A-And also, as you all know, Onii-chan is a huge little sister fanatic, right? There’s no way that someone like him would be interested in anyone other than little sisters! A-Although I don’t really like that!”

…Ugh, this explanation sucks! But, in this situation, it’s fine! Everyone knows that I like little sisters, and they’re all okay with it, so she can emphasize that for all I care! Gahhhh!

After that, she continued to speak using reasoning like that (although I don’t think she needed to emphasize me liking little sisters that much…), trying to clear up their misunderstanding.

“That’s all. Do you understand now that it was just a misunderstanding?” She looked at the others.

““““…………””””

“H-Huh? What happened?”

To Suzuka’s shock and to mine, nobody seemed to agree.

“L-Look, Suzuka believes me, so you must understand now, right?”

Even when I tried to help out, they all just stayed quiet… What’s going on?

“It really is weird.”

As Mai muttered these words, everyone else nodded slightly.

“W-Why?! Wasn’t that convincing enough—?”

“But Suzuka-san’s explanation is weird.”

Akino-san ignored what I said, much to the confusion of Suzuka and I.

“Yeah, yeah. Even though in times like these, Suzuka-chan would always be the one grilling Sensei the most.”

“M-Minazuki-san, again, that’s just because I already know that it’s a misunderstanding…”

“That might be the case, but there’s still one possibility, right?”

“Even Haruna-san?!”

Suzuka panicked more and more as nobody was showing the reaction that we were hoping for. It’s pretty rare to see her react like this… But this isn’t the time to be saying that, I guess.

“Yes, there’s also the possibility that Imouto-san is covering for Sensei, desu!”

“…E-Ehhh?! W-What are you saying, Double Peace-san?! Why would I do something like that?! If Onii-chan really has someone he likes, I would question him all night, you know?!”

“………”

She sometimes says crazy stuff like that out of the blue, but knowing her, she’d actually do it, so I kept my mouth shut. Anyway, Suzuka tried her hardest to explain. However, Double Peace-sensei cut her off. “However, desu. Normally, you would probably do that. But there might be some cases where you would do the opposite, right?”

“A-And what cases are we talking about here?”

“The case where Imouto-san actually loves Sensei, desu.”

“W-What are you—?! I-It’s true that Onii-chan and I have always been close siblings, b-but I don’t love him or anything! I-It’s just… my duty as a little sister…!”

“However, you don’t just love him, but you also treasure him, right?”

“…Eh? T-That’s…”

“Yes, Imouto-san is a little sister who treasures her older brother more than anything. That’s why this might be a plausible scenario. You’re covering for him precisely because Sensei has a girl he’s interested in, desu.”

“………Eh? Ehhhhhhhhh?!” I couldn’t hold back my voice any longer.

…W-What is she talking about…?! And why is everyone nodding along as if this is a reasonable explanation?! T-That’s just crazy…! S-Suzuka-san, please say something…!

“Uuu… Th-That’s not the case…!”

“Why are you stuttering now?!”

Look! Because you’re hesitating, everyone has that “I knew it” look on their faces!

“…I-I’m sorry. I was a bit flustered because of that precise deduction! To think that she would even misunderstand something like that!”

“What do you mean?!”

But I quickly realized that this wasn’t the time to be talking to each other like that.

“I-I thought so! Yuu, you really have someone you’re interested in!”

“To think he could silence Suzuka-chan that much… Doesn’t that mean that Sensei is really serious…?!”

“…This might be a bigger problem than we thought.”

“H-Hmph… This time, I’m actually kind of interested.”

Everyone went crazy just from that brief stutter on Suzuka’s part. Inside their minds, it’s become an established fact that I have a girl I’m interested in. And this is even after Suzuka’s explanation, so there’s probably no stopping them anymore.

“Now, Sensei. Spit it out. But don’t worry. It’s not like we’ll do anything once we learn of that girl’s identity, desu.”

“Right right, we’re not going to assassinate her or anything.”

“Neither will we be paying her to break off contact with you.”

“You’re just making me more worried by talking about those things!”

Also, you really do have the wrong idea! This girl really doesn’t exist! But they won’t believe me no matter how much I try to explain it. Mai is totally excited right now, and while Minazuki-san and Double Peace-sensei are smiling as usual, it’s sending shivers down my spine. Akino-san is pouting, and the younger Kanzaka sister is moving closer to me… Really, what do you want me to do?!

Suzuka is mumbling to herself, so she’s clearly not going to be of any help. There’s really nothing she can do but try to take my side in this argument. At this point, I wish I could just confess who that girl is—if she even existed!

“Ahaha… You’re acting pretty tough right now.”

“I never thought that Sensei would be able to evade our investigation like this! He’s usually so easy to read.”

“Now this is definitely suspicious. It seems that we’ll have to get aggressive.”

Akino-san?! Can you not say that with such a scary expression on your face?!

“Hm? What’s wrong, Ahi? You’ve been quiet for a while now.” The younger Kanzaka sister said, and everyone turned around towards her.

“Hmm…” Double Peace-sensei had a serious expression, as if she was lost in thought.

“Maybe we really did make a misunderstanding here, desu.”

Umm… I’ve told you countless times already? H-Have you finally decided to believe me?

“W-What do you mean? Don’t tell me you’ve actually started to believe Yuu’s excuses?”

“No Mai, that’s not it, desu.”

H-Huh? It’s not?

“Then, what kind of misunderstanding do you mean?”

Double Peace-sensei’s glasses glinted. When I saw the blame burning in her eyes behind them, I knew that something bad was about to happen. And that bad feeling turned into reality seconds later when she continued speaking.

“This person that Sensei is interested in definitely exists… But what if that person is actually one of the people here right now, desu?!”

“…Huh?”

“““““E-Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh?!”””””

Myself aside, everyone else let out a scream at her words.

For some reason, even Suzuka’s voice was mixed in there, but leaving that aside… W-What kind of crazy thing has she come up with now…?!

“T-The girl Yuu is interested in might be one of us?! S-So there’s a chance that it might be me…!”

“M-Maybe it’s Sakura?! Sensei! Sakura is always ready to become your little sister!”

“From pupil to just a normal girl… Ah, this isn’t good. My nose started bleeding from excitement.”

“W-W-W-What are you thinking?!! A-Also, don’t mix me in this, okay?! I-I’m not thinking about you at all, so don’t start thinking you have a chance with me!”

“W-What is this about, Onii-chan?! I-Is that true?!”

Now even Suzuka was joining in on the chaos, closing in on me.

“C-Calm down, Suzuka…!” I wasn’t even allowed to breathe.

“D-Do you really think I could calm down here?! W-W-Who is it?!”

“Nobody, just as I told you! You of all people should know that!”

And you were on my side just a second ago! Have you forgotten about that already?!

“Ah, th-that’s right… Excuse me…”

Suzuka finally returned back to reality and grew flustered as she apologized. Good grief, why did the blood rush to your head like that? And Suzuka calming down was just one of many hurdles, because…

“No matter how I think about it, it can only be one of us, desu!”

“It’s just as the perverted illustrator says… I don’t ever see Yuu talking to other girls at school…”

“So basically, the girl that Sensei is interested in can’t be someone that we don’t know!”

“…That is what it would boil down to.”

“Y-You! Leaving myself aside, I won’t forgive you if you try to lay a hand on Onee-chan, you know!”

…Woah, they’re just saying whatever they feel like at this point. They’re all getting even more excited than before, and I can almost feel the tension. Please let this be just a dream…!

“““““So! Who is this girl that you’re interested in?!”””””

“Woah?!”

Alas, my wish wasn’t to be granted. Everyone relentlessly closed in on me, and I was backed against a corner. There was a weird fire burning in their eyes, and they all had rough breathing. I felt like a small animal cornered by predators. I cursed my luck that caused a normal day like this to turn into hell.

“M-Me? Is it me?! I-I’m not happy about that at all, though! No, it’s nothing but a bother actually! B-But I am your number one fan, after all?! So accepting your feelings is my duty, kind of?!”

“I know that Sensei is a fiend, desu! So there’s no need to hide your desire for me. As your number one partner, I will accept whatever perverted orders you give me, desu!”

“Is it Sakura?! You wanted her to call you ‘Onii-chan’ that badly?! Then just tell her and she’ll become your little sister immediately!”

“No, both my heart and body already belong to Master. If you were to order me to, I would obey any embarrassing request you have for me… But I’d be happy if you were kind to me…”

“I-It’s not me, right?! E-E-Even if you suddenly tell me it is, I haven’t mentally prepared myself, so we should consider the steps that would lead up to it…!”

“Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Don’t talk at the same time!!!”

Everyone is just saying whatever comes to mind, and because they aren’t giving each other any time to talk, I can barely understand what they’re saying! Not to mention that I feel like there’s some really suspicious comments mixed in there!

“Like! I! Said! I really don’t have anyone I’m interested in! So I’m not interested in any of you! It’s still a misunderstanding, so can you finally stop getting the wrong idea here?!” I desperately pleaded.

I’ve told them this countless times already, but no matter how much I try to reason, they won’t listen. Even so, all I can do is say it again and again.

“It seems like Yuu isn’t planning on spilling the beans anytime soon…”

Sadly, all my effort was for nothing. Why? Why won’t they listen? Are my words not getting through to them? Is my everyday Japanese not good enough? Can I start crying now?

“If he’s not willing to talk after all this, it must be a really important secret, desu.”

“Can you not make things up that very clearly aren’t true?!”

“T-That just means that his feelings for her are really strong, right?! Awawa…”

“This might actually be more than just him being interested in a girl. It’s potential love interest for him. A lover, even.”

“L-L-L-Lover?! J-Just how much do you like that girl?!”

…Nobody’s listening. Is this bullying? Is that what this is? I can cry now, right? Bullying isn’t good, okay?

“It seems we definitely can’t leave this alone.”

“That’s right, desu. This is bigger than we anticipated. But what should we do?”

“Maybe if we…!”

“No, we have to use harsher methods to reveal the truth…”

“O-Onee-chan, what are you saying…?!”

As I was wondering how my life had taken such a turn for the worse, everyone gathered in a small circle, whispering to each other. I couldn’t grasp what they were saying, but I knew it couldn’t be anything good, that’s for sure.

“Suzuka, what is going on here…? Please help me. I can’t deal with this on my own anymore…” I sought help from Suzuka.

The only person who could stop them now was her. No, even if she does try, it might turn out to be difficult.

“………Umm.”

But instead of showing a strong opinion, she seemed unsure as she gazed at me.

“J-Just to make sure… You really aren’t interested in any of them, right? R-Really really…?”

“Why are you doubting me again?!”

That’s totally not a reaction showing trust in me, you know?!

“N-No, Onii-chan likes little sisters… B-But what about the ever-so-slim chance…?! N-No no, that shouldn’t be possible…” Suzuka started talking to herself. She seemed fairly conflicted.

After all that big talk, Suzuka had finally been dragged into the others’ craziness. What should I do about this? Maybe I should just run away? Run away and start a new life in a rural area… Yeah, that doesn’t sound too bad…

I decided to stop thinking about this chaos, and thought that I might as well go to Akiba for some shopping, but just when I was about to try to sneak away…

“Y-Yuu!”

“Huh?”

Before I realized it, Mai was standing in front of me. Her face was flushed red, and she was glaring at me like she was trying to pick a fight. But I could also tell that her eyes were getting a bit watery, and I felt no vigor coming from her in the slightest. W-What’s with her? Oh wait, they’ve all stopped their secret planning or whatever. Then again, why are they all looking over here with sharp gazes?

“W-What’s—”

—wrong, I was about to ask, when Mai suddenly took a step forward and covered my mouth with her hand. Although we had been pretty close before, our bodies were almost touching now… Um, isn’t she a bit too close?! I feel like something is tickling me. It’s her breath?! And she smells really nice! What’s happening here?!

“M-Mai…?!”

I somehow managed to force my voice out from behind her hand, but Mai was staring at me so hard that I couldn’t say anything else. She’s keeping her lips tightly shut and she’s shaking. But she was gazing deeply into my eyes, more serious than ever. I felt no emotion but embarrassment. Soon, I turned as red as her, and she started blushing even more. No, seriously. I have no idea what’s happening right now!

“H-Here I go…!”

“Uwah?!”

Before I realized what she was doing, Mai had already jumped into my arms. She then started rubbing her head against my chest. Because of how suddenly it happened, I couldn’t even react to the tickling feeling and embarrassment. I was barely able to take in her softness and the sweet aroma attacking my brain cells.

“Wha… Wh-Wh-Wh-What…?!”

And just when I was about to lose my mind…

“L-Look! Yuu’s heart is beating like crazy!”

Mai separated from me in an instant and looked over at the others with a joyful expression on her face… Wh-What is this about?

“I-I-I-Isn’t this already decided?! There’s no mistaking it, right?!”

“M-Mai, what are you…?”

“I mean, since your heart is beating like this, it’s already decided that I have to be the girl you’re inter—Ah.”

Mai turned around to explain, but as soon as she realized what she was saying, her face started to burn up. Steam started rising from her head, and she stopped mid-sentence.

…H-Hold on, don’t just stop talking like that! What kind of reaction should I have here?! This is really awkward, you know?! Also, my head isn’t working properly because of all this chaos, so what did Mai even say just now? Something about the girl I’m interested in, or something…!

“Now now, Sensei and Mai. Let’s calm down a bit, desu. We’re still in the middle of verifying it,” Double Peace-sensei joined in.

…V-Verifying…?

“It’s just to check who the girl you’re interested in is out of all the people gathered here. If you’re overly conscious of her, naturally your heart will beat faster, and you’ll also have other reactions. We just thought we’d test that, desu.”

“E-Exactly! A-And since your heart was beating crazy just now, it must mean that I am…!”

Seemingly unable to say anything more out of embarrassment, Mai quickly went quiet and her face started burning red. H-Hold on! No no no! I don’t even know what to respond to here! I can see where you’re coming from, but there’s a lot of problems with that line of reasoning, you know?! This doesn’t have to do with being conscious of her or anything. I feel like any normal boy would react this way if a beauty like Mai suddenly clung to them like that.

“I-It really is just a bother, okay?! I-I’m not about to cry out of happiness or anything, okay?! But, as Yuu’s number one fan, I have to respond to your feelings…!”

However, Mai was already lost in the land of her own misunderstandings… Wait, this isn’t the time to be calmly analyzing things! Things will be bad if I don’t correct her! I feel like this might be the most dangerous misunderstanding thus yet…!

“Wait a second, Mai. It’s far too early to come to a conclusion, desu.”

“Dirty illustrator?! W-What do you mean?!”

Before I could protest, Double Peace-sensei got a jump on me, and Minazuki-san and Akino-san nodded along.

“Even if Sensei’s heart was beating faster because of Mai, that doesn’t mean that you’re the girl he is conscious about, desu.”

“Yeah, yeah! His heartbeat might be even faster if Sakura does it!”

“We’ll have everyone do it and the one who gets his heart beating the most must be the girl.”

“I-I have to do it too…?”

As everyone joined in, Mai grit her teeth. But I was thinking about something else during that time.

…Everyone is going to do it…? S-So that means…!

“So then, next is my turn, desu!”

“So you’re all really going to do it, huh?!”

Ughhhh… I hate myself for having anticipated this! But Double Peace-sensei gave my self-loathing no heed. She just traded positions with Mai and stood in front of me.

“It’s fine, Sensei. Calm down and let your heart beat even faster with me, desu!” Double Peace-sensei grinned as she closed in on me.

Her smile was beautiful yet also childish, and her scent was different from Mai’s. Together, they made my heart beat faster yet again.

“Ahh, having Sensei stare at me from this distance is kind of exciting! I’d love to stay like this, but I have to check your heartbeat, desu~”

“U-Um, being hugged like before is a bit… you know…!”

If she did that, certain things would press against my body, and the stimulus would be a bit too much to handle…!

“Ohh, is that so, desu? Then I’ll go from behind.”

With these words, Double Peace-sensei walked around my back and wrapped her arms around me so that her hands touched my chest. When I felt her hands, my body writhed from the tickling feeling. But it’s better than being hugged from the front like before—or so I thought.

“Wha—?!”

“What’s wrong, Sensei? It’s a bit difficult to check if you move like that, desu.”

I felt something incredibly soft press against my back, making me arch my back in response. T-These two humps of softness are…!

“D-Double Peace-sensei…! T-They’re hitting me…!”

“Ehhh? What’s hitting you, desuuuu? I won’t know if you don’t clearly tell me~ Hehe…”

She definitely knows! No, she’s doing this on purpose, right?! Ah, she’s hugging me even tighter…?!

“Fufufu, Sensei, I can feel how fast your heart is beating, desu. This means that I’m the girl you’re conscious about, right?!”

After getting touchy with my chest and pressing herself against my back, Double Peace-sensei finally separated from me, satisfied. Behind me, I could hear heated arguments between Mai and Double Peace-sensei, but I was too busy trying to calm myself down.

“Next is Sakura’s turn, then!”

Naturally, I wasn’t even given the time to calm down. Minazuki-san energetically stepped in front of me.

“…Ah, but, Sakura doesn’t have big boobs like the two of them… What should she do now…?”

“You don’t have to do anything! Doing it normally would be fine! Or rather, I would be totally happy if we just skipped all of this…”

“Ah! Then, Sakura will feel your pulse!”

Minazuki-san actually listened to my request. Thanks to this, I might actually be able to calm down a bit—

“Hya?!”

Or so I thought, but as soon as Minazuki-san’s fingers touched my neck, I let out a shriek.

“Ah, Sensei, don’t move, please. Sakura can’t take the pulse if you squirm like that.”

“Y-You meant to take my pulse there…?! Don’t you normally do it at the wrist…?!”

“Isn’t this way a lot cooler? Sakura has always wanted to try this!”

…I-It’s not like I don’t get where she’s coming from, but that surprise attack really worked, you know. Also, in this position, we can look each other in the eye.

“…Mmm. There it is! Sakura can feel your pulse! Then let’s start!”

“Eh? Start what?”

The very next second, Minazuki-san brought her body forward and put her face right to the side of my head…

“…Don’t move, Onii-chan…”

“Wha—?!”

She suddenly started whispering into my ear?!

“Ah, your pulse went up! It’s beating like crazy!”

“N-No, um…! W-What was that just now?!”

“To make Sensei become conscious of Sakura, she has to act like a little sister!”

Minazuki-san was saying that with a sparkle in her eyes like it was the most natural thing in the world, but I had no idea what she was saying. However, Minazuki-san wasn’t quite done yet. “Fufu, you’re embarrassed, aren’t you, Onii-chan? Onii-chan sure is warm…” They were all lines befitting her title as a professional voice actress. I could almost sense a bit of flirtatiousness mixed with the sweetness of her words, which made my head spin. Not to mention that she was right in front of me, pressing something soft against me…! She did say that hers weren’t as big, but she really shouldn’t be ashamed with those—Ahhh, what am I thinking?!

“Ehehe, your heart is beating so fast! This means that Sakura is in the lead now!”

Minazuki-san finally seemed satisfied, and she separated from me with a joyful expression on her face. Mai and Double Peace-sensei wore expressions of defeat as they grit their teeth.

“Ugh, that’s a voice actress for you…”

“How clever, desu!”

But I wasn’t given the time to pay too much attention to that.

“Next, it’s our turn then.”

“Uuu… I really don’t want to do this, though…”

I quickly realized that this was, unfortunately, far from over. This time it was the oddly motivated Akino-san and the unmotivated younger Kanzaka sister who stepped forward… Hm? Both of them?

“Since Haruna is so shy, we’ll be doing it together. But don’t worry, you can get a two-in-one deal in the future if you want to.”

“As if?! O-Onee-chan, don’t say weird stuff like that! And you! Don’t get the wrong idea! I’m just feeling your pulse, that’s all!” The younger sister screamed with a red face. She moved forward to grab my arm and put her fingers on my wrist.

Akino-san approached me rather directly.

“Eh, um… Ehhhh?!”

“No moving. There, there…”

She suddenly hugged my head and started patting me…?

“U-Um, Akino-san…? What is this about…?”

“I don’t have any big breasts, and can’t make a cute voice like that, so I decided to put faith in my Onee-san attribute. Now, I’m spoiling you.”

Onee-san attribute… I see… Yeah, I can see this being very relaxing. No matter what I do or say, Akino-san seems the type of person who would forgive it all. Although she might not look completely like an Onee-san, I can tell that she’s older. She gives off this soothing atmosphere, after all…

“Fufufu, I will make Sensei fall head over heels for me with my grown-up charm. Your heart must be about to explode, right? Haruna, how’s it looking?”

“………For some reason, pretty normal. It’s almost like he’s relaxing.”

“Eh?!”

Apparently, the younger Kanzaka sister’s words inflicted quite the shock on Akino-san (although her expression remained the same) and she stared at me… Um, could you not? This is making me feel rather uncomfortable.

“T-That’s not good. We have to make his heart beat faster… Ummm, ummm… I know. Haruna, strip.”

““Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh?!””

Naturally, the younger Kanzaka sister let out a perplexed scream. As did I.

“W-W-W-What are you saying, Onee-chan?! T-Telling me to strip…!”

“It’s to get him excited. Look, I’ll be stripping as well, so it’s fine,” said Akino-san with a sparkle in her eyes. She started to take off her clothes with a serious expression on her face.

“Hold on! Stop stop stop! Why are you doing that out of the blue?!”

“Don’t stop me, Sensei. This is all for your sake. I don’t care what I have to do.”

“Ah, O-Onee-chan, hold on! His pulse is getting faster! Y-You little! Getting excited the moment Onee-chan starts to strip! Just how much of a pervert are you?!”

“Those are false accusations! I’m just panicking, that’s what it is! Also, Akino-san, don’t actually start stripping here!”

While I panicked, the younger Kanzaka sister glared at me with a red face. Next to us was Akino-san, still trying to take off her clothes, as chaos ensued. Thankfully, I somehow managed to stop her at the last second, and succeeded in calming down the younger Kanzaka sister. With that, I thought that I would be released from this hell of weird events, but…

“““““So who got your heart beating the most?!”””””

Alas, that wasn’t going to happen… This isn’t good. Everyone’s dead serious. But I don’t even remember who it was, and I don’t think I would be safe if I just blurted out a name here!

“……Onii-chan.”

But right then and there, I heard Suzuka’s voice behind my back, and I saw a glimmer of hope in this pitch-black darkness. I know! If I ask her for help, she might be able to calm them all down! Thinking that, I turned around to face her, but…

“W-What have you been doing with everyone while I was thinking about things…?!”

“Ugh?!”

What greeted me was the sight of Suzuka, shaking furiously as she glared at me. When I saw that, despair finally closed in on me.

“H-Hurry up and say it! It was me, right?!”

“No, it has to be me, desu! Now, Sensei! Don’t hold back!”

“O-Onii-chan, you have a proper explanation for this, right?!”

“N-No, um…!”

I was being attacked from the front, and the pressure behind me was driving me into a corner. Now that it’s come to this, I knew best of all that this would be the end of me. Hence, I just resigned myself to my fate and closed my eyes. I was ready to accept whatever happened, and tears started running down my cheek.

“W-What are you doing, Onii-chan?! You can’t run away from this! Hurry up and explain yourself!”

Well, it’s not like that would actually lessen the hell that’s about to rain down on me!

Thus, after around 30 minutes had passed, the storm of questions and accusations passed, and peace sort of returned. If I can, I’d really rather not go into detail about what happened… it still pains my heart even now. All I can say is that nothing was resolved in the end, and nobody was willing to believe me.

“Hmph… In the end, we still didn’t find out anything about the girl he cares about…”

“It should be one of us, desu, so we definitely have to figure it out no matter what! Well, let’s take a temporary break here and gather again tomorrow!”

In the meantime, everything was moving forward, and I was hoping to deny their plans before it was too late. Really, nothing good comes from being with them…

“I keep telling you countless times that you have the wrong idea. Also, tomorrow won’t work. After school we’ll have culture festival preparations.” I explained while letting out a sigh.

The time I have for working on my novel has lessened, I’m being investigated on false charges, I’m not making any progress with my little sister novel… Is there even anything good that’s happened to me recently?

“Hm…? What’s wrong?”

But then I saw that Double Peace-sensei suddenly went quiet in front of me and was just staring at me. She almost seemed like she was panicking, ever so slightly.

“Sensei. What did you just say, desu?”

“Eh? I was saying that it’s all a misunderstanding…”

“No, after that. I feel like I heard the words ‘culture festival’ in there. Are you talking about the one at your school?”

“Y-Yes, we have one a week from now. What of it?”

“Why didn’t you say so sooner, desu! Also, Mai, how cruel of you to keep quiet about that!”


“Ehhh?! I-I mean, the culture festival isn’t that fun anyway, and our class does this boring exhibit…” Mai was slightly flustered by Double Peace-sensei’s sharp gaze.

But Double Peace-sensei wasn’t quite done. “How naïve, desu. Even if that were the case, it’s the culture festival, you know? Even outsiders like us can get in there, right? If so, isn’t this the perfect opportunity to make it the setting for our current situation, desu?!” As for me, I couldn’t make sense of her outburst.

“Ahi, what do you mean by ‘current situation’?”

“Right now, we’re trying to figure out which of us is the girl that Sensei is conscious about. But we haven’t uncovered any clues, so further investigation is necessary, desu. I was wondering how we’d proceed with that, but the culture festival is perfect!”

Perfect…? Ah, I have a really bad feeling about this…

“If everyone were to go on a date with Sensei during the culture festival, we would be able to understand clearly who he’s conscious of, desu! It’s a nice idea, if I do say so myself!”

“I thought so!!!”

Why are my bad feelings always on point as of recently?!

“Ah, that really is a good idea! Sakura also wants to go to Sensei’s culture festival!”

“Sensei’s school. Sensei’s daily life… Slurp.”

“Onee-chan, you’re drooling…”

Everyone gave enthusiastic responses to Double Peace-sensei’s idea. But Mai, who would normally be the first one to jump in and agree, suddenly became quiet as if she were lost in thought, a serious expression on her face.

“…A-A culture festival date with Yuu…”

“Oh? What’s wrong, Mai? Is there a problem with that plan, desu?”

“…Eh? N-No, it’s nothing! It’s about going on a date with Yuu, right?! S-Sounds good to me!”

However, her expected reaction followed soon after… What was that about just now?

“P-Please wait a second! Why are you deciding that by yourself like this?!”

Suzuka finally rejoined the conversation, panicking quite a bit.

“A-A culture festival date…! Y-You can’t! I won’t allow that!”

Ohhh, Suzuka is trying her hardest to stop that ridiculous idea! …Which is great and all, but why is she glaring at me while she’s doing it?

“But Imouto-san, if we don’t do this then we won’t find out who Sensei is interested in, desu. Or do you have an even better—hopefully perverted–way of tickling it out of Sensei?”

“W-Why would you think that’s a good idea?!”

“U-Um, Sakura is prepared for anything, Sensei!”

“Same here.”

“I-I’m not joining in on this, okay?!”

…I thought that we’d gone through enough chaos already today! Suzuka is really bad with people with unreasonable personalities like Double Peace-sensei and Minazuki-san.

“Onii-chan! This is about you, so don’t just space out!”

Don’t be ridiculous! If I were able to change anything here, things wouldn’t have even come this far! You should know that already!

Even as she tried to fight against them, in the end, Suzuka was overwhelmed by Double Peace-sensei and the others.

“…Uuuu, we can’t help it then… But I’ll be participating in this as well, and I’ll have to get my own date!” Suzuka blurted out with tears in her eyes.

Wait, hold on?!

“Didn’t you say that you were busy helping out Shiina-san with her play for the culture festival?”

“A-Ahhh?!”

That expression tells me that you’d forgotten about it until now.

“Uugghhh… T-That’s right… Kotomi was really desperate, so she asked me to help! I never thought that it would come back to haunt me like this…!”

“It seems like Imouto-san sadly can’t join in this time, desu.”

“Don’t worry, Suzuka-chan. Sakura and the others will take good care of Sensei!”

When Double Peace-sensei and Minazuki-san told Suzuka that, she turned to glare at me, tears in her eyes.

“Uuuuu, why did things turn out like this…?! O-Onii-chan, you definitely can’t fall for their temptations! Instead, just get a cold on that day!”

You sure can ask for ridiculous things at times!

Anyway, as you can see, Suzuka was unable to stop them. If that was the case, I had no chance of achieving anything better. Thus it was decided that I would be going on a culture festival date with everyone. Needless to say, I was getting bad vibes already.

“How did things end up like this?!”

Suzuka held her head in her hands, and I mentally agreed. And just when I had started to despair, I realized that Mai was standing a little ways off from everyone else. The serious mood she’d hinted at before was back, so I couldn’t help but stare at her in confusion.

“…Eh? Ahyahu?!”

The moment our eyes met, Mai’s face lit up, and she let out an embarrassed shriek.

“W-What’s wrong with you? You’ve been acting weird for a while now.”

“I-I-I-I-It’s nothing! Ummm… we were talking about the culture festival date, right?! That’s perfect timing, since it’ll turn into good data for me! Y-You’d better prepare yourself, Yuu!” Mai pointed at me and turned away.

…That’s the usual Mai, alright. Maybe that just earlier was my imagination? Well that’s fine, then… I decided to forget about it. My opinion was completely disregarded like usual, and it was decided that there would be culture festival dates. Having learned from past experiences, I knew that I wouldn’t be given the right to disagree since we’d reached this point, so the only thing I could do was play along. Just as Mai said…

“…Y-You’d really better prepare yourself, Yuu…”

I heard her muttering to herself. I cursed this cruel reality, where the boring culture festival had downgraded to an even worse event.

*

“Ohh, the culture festival atmosphere sure feels good, desu!”

“So this is Sensei’s school! Sakura feels moved!”

“Sniff. Sniff. So this is the smell of Sensei’s private school life.”

“…H-Hmpf, so this is what co-ed schools are like.”

And thus, the day of reckoning arrived. Sadly, I wasn’t sick and still had to come to school.

“…Um, would it be possible if you all relaxed a bit…?”

Naturally, now that I’m here, I can’t help it. I don’t have any choice of quitting now. All I can do is pray that things will go smoothly—but alas, not even that was to be granted.

“H-Hey, look at that!”

“Woah, there’s so many beauties at once.”

“It’s Nagami again!”

“Even a foreigner?”

“What relationship do they have with him?”

“A-Amazing…”

As expected, we were immediately at the center of attention, and both normal students and outsiders were gazing at us in interest and confusion. When you consider the jealous and resentful glares of the boys, I couldn’t really feel at home at all. Ughhh…

“O-Onii-chan, I have to be on my way now, but please, please… Don’t get lured in by their tricks, okay! Did you get that?!”

Suzuka walked with us as far as she could before her duties, and even after she left those words behind, she continuously looked back at me with a worried expression on her face. Really, why can’t I just go home? For now, in order to avoid the intense gazes of the people around us, I took everyone with me to the back side of the school building. Naturally, Double Peace-sensei didn’t miss the chance to blurt out “What are you going to do to us after dragging us out to this deserted place? Heheh, desu…” but I chose to just ignore her.

“…S-So are we really doing this? You know, a culture festival date…”

Even though things had barely started, I already felt extremely tired and grumbled about it, but everyone just energetically nodded along. Give me a break.

“This all to find out the identity of the girl who Sensei is interested in, desu! So of course!”

“And we get to walk around the culture festival with Sensei, after all!” Minazuki-san was clearly in high spirits.

“I-I’m not really looking forward to it, nor am I necessarily nervous.”

Yep, everyone was going to do this. At this point in time, Suzuka would probably try to hold the reins but… I guess I can’t hope for her help this time around.

“………”

In the middle of them, Mai was the only one who, yet again, was keeping quiet. Normally, she would be the first one to drag me along.

“What’s wrong with you? You’re acting really out of it today.”

“…Eh? I-It’s nothing! T-The date, right? Yeah!”

Yeah, something is definitely weird about her. Although I have no clue what it is. She’s been acting like this since a while ago—or rather, since pretty recently. It even seems like she’s more motivated for the date than everyone else, but she’s being quiet about it. It’s really weird. But, setting that aside…

“U-Um, what exactly are we doing on said date…?” I gingerly asked.

To be completely honest, I’d rather not hear how it was going to go, but not hearing about it at all would put even more stress on my nerves.

“Of course every one of us is going to walk around the culture festival with Sensei, one at a time, desu. We’ll use that to find out who makes your heart beat the fastest!”

With a smile, Double Peace-sensei told me the answer that I didn’t want to hear, although I had expected it. Really, can I cry now? I’ll get inundated with all those piercing gazes again, but now they’ll just be spread out more…

“Now then, let’s enjoy this culture festival date battle with Sensei, desu!”

““““Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!””””

Double Peace-sensei put one fist up and made her proclamation, and our supposedly enjoyable culture festival dates began…

“…T-The girl who Yuu is interested in… Someone among us… M-Maybe me…?!”

Mai was the only one acting weird, which left a certain level of discomfort in my mind.

“Fu fu fu, I’ll be number one then, desu!”

Thus, it was time for the real deal. After a rigorously fair lottery, Double Peace-sensei emerged victorious, and thus it was decided that she would be the first person who I’d be forced to go on a date with.

“I see. So this is what a culture festival is like.”

Double Peace-sensei lined up next to me and looked around as we walked. Exhibitions, events, and even normal stores for food and drinks filled the classrooms, with countless students and non-students passing through the halls past us. It was just like any other culture festival, but for Double Peace-sensei, it might have been more like a special event.

“This certainly will be a great reference when I will work on my next school-related eroge, desu!”

…Or so I thought, but her head was full of eroge as per usual. Why am I so relieved about that? Well, I kind of know why…

“Um, can we not talk about eroge in a place like this…?”

“Ah, that’s right, desu. I’m sorry.”

When I gave a small warning to her, Double Peace-sensei stuck out her tongue at me and apologized. If someone actually recognized her here, though the chance was slim, they would probably find out about our relationship (that we were light novel author and illustrator), so I had to be aware of that. As of right now, she was nothing but an acquaintance to anyone else. Double Peace-sensei already stood out enough because of her blonde hair and glamorous body, so I had to be careful about that.

“Calling you ‘Sensei’ is also no good, right, desu?”

“Yeah, people will probably ask why you call me that, and I probably wouldn’t be able to come up with a good answer.”

“Is that so, desu? You should be fine saying something like “I’m her teacher at night, if you know what I mean. Heh heh heh.”

“There’s absolutely nothing good about that, so let’s not!”

“I’m joking, desu. Calling you ‘Sensei’ is no good. And, I also want a better nickname for our precious date, desu… That being said, let’s go, ‘Yuu-kun’!”

“…Eh?!”

When she suddenly called me that, I felt heat rushing to my face. It wasn’t like Double Peace-sensei was acting all that different, but having her call me that felt crazy embarrassing.

“Fu fu fu. You’re flustered, aren’t you, Yuu-kun?”

“W-Why are you calling me that?”

“This is a date, after all. Yuu-kun~”

…Ugh, you sure are enjoying yourself. And she showed that she wasn’t quite done by suddenly clinging to my arm. When I felt the overwhelming softness and volume closing in my arm, I reflexively arched my back.

“This is a natural position for a date, right? Now, now. There’s no need to be nervous. Let’s enjoy ourselves, desu~”

E-Even if you say that, my thoughts can’t keep up right now! Not to mention that I could already hear people from our surroundings cursing us, saying things like “Even though he already has Himuro-san…!” and “He even keeps his little sister all to himself…!” All I could do was let them talk, though.

“Hmmm… But where should we go, desu? What did Sensei’s class do again?”

“It’s just a boring exhibition about this local place, so it’s not interesting at all. Nor is it really worth checking out.”

We really only gathered some materials and documents, that’s all. The reason I can walk around like this at all is because we really only needed a few people to man the booth. While I was thinking that, Double Peace-sensei mumbled a quiet “Where should we go, then?” She once again looked around. The concrete details of the date were all to be decided by the person themselves, so I can’t speak for myself. Although I’d really like to spend time in a place with nobody around…

“Hm?”

Double Peace-sensei suddenly made a sound like she had spotted something. When I followed her gaze, I found a big billboard that said ‘Photography club – Commemoration Photoshoot’, and beneath that a small paper that added ‘Couples are free! Immediately good to go!’—Wait, hold on…!

“A commemoration picture with Yuu-kun, huh?! And for free? That sounds nice, desu!”

“But, it’s only free for couples, right?”

“Since we’re in the middle of our date, we basically count as a couple, you know! And we’ve never taken a picture together before, desu, so this will be a nice memory! We might as well take some lewd pictures while we’re at it!” Double Peace-sensei started pulling on my arm.

Although I was a bit hesitant about the couple part of it, taking a picture together was something normal for a date, so I kept quiet and obeyed. I thought that she was going to ask for some perverted photoshoot in the changing room or whatever, but something of this level is doable. Probably.

“Welcome! Ah, you’re a couple, right?”

When we entered inside, a girl from the photography club greeted us.

“We want to take a commemorative photo! Make it as lewd as possible!”

“L-Lewd…?”

“D-Don’t mind her. We’d like a normal picture.”

When I quickly followed up, the girl stared at the two of us as we stood there with our arms linked, but she finally guided us inside.

“Come on, I wanted to try a lewd photoshoot to make your heart beat faster for me, desu. But it’s fine. I will just do that by flirting normally, desu!” said Double Peace-sensei. She stood in front of the white panel, laughing to herself. “Fufufu.” Naturally, that didn’t exactly make me feel comfortable, so I gingerly asked her, “What are you planning?” Suddenly, though, I heard a weird sound like something had snapped. I looked around for the source, but when I was unable to find it, I just stepped next to her.


The girl from the club said “Now, decide on your favorite pose please~”, and the photoshoot started…

Squeeze.

“……?!”

I suddenly felt two soft bulges pressing against my back, making me stiffen up. T-This feeling is…! Is she doing that again…?! She’s probably trying to surprise me again. Hence, I tried to turn around to tell her to stop, but…

“…T-This sure is troublesome, desu.”

Her smile was the same as always, but her expression looked more troubled than ever, and her eyebrows were knitted. Her face was slightly flushed, as well.

“W-What is it? S-Step away from me for a second, so I can—”

“No, if I don’t press myself against you, Yuu-kun, it will slip off.”

“Slip off…? What, exactly?”

“My bra, desu. My bra’s hook seems to have snapped…”

It took me a second to understand the meaning behind her words. Snapped? The hook? Of her bra…?! So if she doesn’t press against me like this, they will…!

“It seems like they’ve been growing recently, desu. But I didn’t expect the hook to just snap like that. Then again, this is quite the lucky pervert’s event, isn’t it…?”

Although it was quite rare to see Double Peace-sensei acting flustered like this, I didn’t have the time to admire it. The exact moment I understood our current situation, my mind went blank. W-Wait, they’re still growing…?!

“U-Um, is that pose fine with you?”

Thankfully, the photography club girl’s voice brought me back to my senses. I-I have to endure it for now…!

“W-We can’t help it. We’ll take the photoshoot like this and quickly get away from this place afterwards…! All the while making sure that nobody notices…!”

“Um, I don’t particularly mind. Sure, it’ll be a bit embarrassing, desu…”

“Ehhh?! Aren’t you taking this a bit too lightly?!”

“I was a bit surprised, but this isn’t too bad, desu. I have Yuu-kun with me, after all, and thanks to this happening, I can make your heart beat faster for me, desu~ Fufufu…” Double Peace-sensei laughed as she pressed her body against mine even harder.

Not to mention that she was using her hands to wrap around my body, hugging me from behind.

“We are fine with this pose, desu. You can start anytime~”

While I was being careless for a moment, she gave the girl an OK sign. Feeling her soft bulges on my back, her hands on my chest, and her warm breath next to my head, I could only tense up.

“Fufu, you can’t move. Okay, Yuu-kun? If you do, my bra will fall down, desu~”

…W-Why are you threatening me now?! It should be the other way around! But there’s no way that my internal screams will reach her, and she just continued to enjoy the situation. All the while, the photoshoot continued…

“I-I’m already tired…”

The date with Double Peace-sensei had finished, and I felt like I was already done with everything. I drooped my shoulders and sighed.

After that happened, Double Peace-sensei asked “How was that, desu? Your heart was beating so fast that there’s no mistaking that it was my win, right, Yuu-kun?” She grinned at me. To be honest, my heart was beating like crazy, but that was more from the thrill of possibly being found out, so it really wasn’t all that enjoyable.

“Come on! You’re on a date with Sakura now, so focus please!”

I heard Minazuki-san speak to me with a sulking voice as she walked next to me, puffing out her cheeks. Th-That’s right. The second one was Minazuki-san, and my culture festival dates were far from being done.

By the way, Minazuki-san and I were holding hands as we walked down the hallway. The students around us were all ogling us, but I was already done with everything, so I wasn’t paying very much attention anymore.

“I-I’m sorry. So what do you want to do, Minazuki-san?”

“You mean ‘Sakura’, right, Onii-chan?”

“Ah, yeah, that’s right, Sakura.”

After I corrected myself, Minazuki-san gave a happy laugh. “Ehehe.” From this exchange, you can probably already guess, but Minazuki-san is currently pretending to be my little sister. The reason for this is because I asked for a fake relationship so that the others wouldn’t get any weird ideas, and she immediately said “Then we can be siblings!” I agreed. But, thinking about it now, this might end up being even more complicated than it normally would have been…

“What are you spacing out for, Onii-chan? You know, Sakura didn’t think of any date plans or anything. She’s just happy to be able to spend time with Onii-chan and walk around with him like this.”

Unexpectedly, Sakura said something that I was very grateful for.

“Also, Onii-chan is getting flustered just by going on a date with his little sister! It seems like this battle is already decided as Sakura’s victory!”

Well, leaving out the second half of what she said. What do you mean by even mean by ‘victory’? That being said, she really didn’t seem like she was planning anything weird, which really made me feel relieved.

“I-I see. It seems like I might be able to enjoy myself as well.”

“Yeah! Sakura will be lovey-dovey with Onii-chan, look at the various stores, eat something, and we’ll just enjoy ourselves doing things like that!” She said, grasping my hand even tighter.

Just as she said, we just walked around the culture festival, looking at things that piqued our interest. While I really enjoyed the time together, I still felt a bit flustered having Sakura with me, since she normally wouldn’t be here at our school.

…Though she can be a bit extreme at times, Sakura—No, Minazuki-san—is really cute. I should be happy that I’m able to go on a date with her, to be honest. But while we were just walking along normally…

“Oh, it’s Nagami-kun.”

“Huh? Who’s that girl?”

“Woah, she’s so cute…”

A group of three girls from my class spotted us, and in response I reflexively let out an “Ugh.” …N-No, running into someone I know while we’re walking around school grounds is perfectly normal. At times like these, it’s best to just walk along and give a short “She’s just an acquaintance~” to cover it up. Although I was slightly taken aback by it, I quickly decided how to act, but…

“Are you all classmates of Onii-chan? Nice to meet you! I’m Onii-chan’s little sister, Sakura!”

D-Damn it, I completely forgot we were pretending to be brother and sister! I didn’t give it much thought while we were walking around, so it completely slipped my mind!

In response to Sakura’s words, the three girls all had dumbfounded expressions on their faces as they muttered a confused “L-Little sister…?” That much is to be expected. But I still have to cover it up somehow…!

“D-Don’t pay it any mind. This girl is just a relative. A second cousin. Our relationship has been just like real siblings ever since we were little…!” I quickly followed up.

Sakura might complain about that. But just for now, please play along…!

“Ehehe. He said ‘relative’…! Ehehe…”

But for some reason, Sakura seemed very happy, and her cheeks grew slightly flushed… I-Is that really the right reaction for what I just said…? I mean, as long as she doesn’t complain, then that should be fine…

“Is that so?”

“But you sure don’t look anything alike.”

“Also, she doesn’t really look any younger than you?”

The three of them were still dubious. And their doubts were so on the mark that I couldn’t argue back.

“That’s not the case. Sakura is Onii-chan’s little sister!”

But, Sakura completely ignored them and repeated herself. Her little sister act was normally nothing but trouble, but this time it was actually pretty reliable. Hence, I cheered her on inside my heart to keep going, but…

Squeeze.

“…? ……?!?!?!”

My head was suddenly moved by a strong force, and my face was pressed inside a really soft valley… Eh? W-What happened? Wait, is this…?!

“Since Sakura is his little sister, doing something like this isn’t embarrassing at all. This much skinship is normal for siblings like us.”

I heard a voice from above my head, and I finally realized what kind of position I was in… I-I’m being wrapped between Sakura’s breasts…?!

“Mghuh?!”

Once that realization set in, I panicked and quickly tried to escape. Sakura for her part just flashed her usual innocent smile. “Right?” She looked towards the three girls.

“Ah, y-yes…”

“I’m satisfied now…”

“P-Pretty amazing…”

In response, they were flustered beyond belief, and they quickly separated from us, but not without some final remarks.

“S-Sorry for bothering you two like this…”

“Even though Nagami already has Himuro-san…”

“You also have a little sister who’s one year younger than you, right? You’ll probably be stabbed sooner or later. Just saying.”

Their words struck home, and I could only watch them until they went out of our sight.

“Good. It seems like they understood that Sakura is your little sister. Not to mention that they didn’t find out about our date, a-and we even got to flirt a bit…” Sakura said with a slightly flustered smile, her cheeks red.

Normally I’d gush on and on about how cute that smile makes her look, but I was too busy thinking about something else… My student life might actually come to an end today…!

“Hey, Onii-chan…? Is your heart beating fast from this date with Sakura?”

While she happily stared at me, I was left unable to argue, and just nodded along frantically. When I did, Sakura happily jumped into the air. “Sakura did it! This means that it’s her win!”

As for me, I just thought to myself.

…Yeah, my heart is beating fast… And at this point, I don’t even know the reason that it’s doing it anymore…

“It’s finally our turn.”

“…And why do you look like you’re about to die?”

The third ‘contestant’ was the pair of Kanzaka sisters. The younger Kanzaka sister already looked fed-up as she complained, but I didn’t even have the energy left to reply. That being said, the dates were far from over, so I couldn’t stay half-dead like this forever.

“Well… Anyway, it’s you guys together again, huh?” I commented as I tried to motivate myself.

In response, Akino-san spoke up. “This is something we have to do.” She continued, “Haruna said that she’s too embarrassed to go on the date alone, so I have to come with her.”

“I-I never said that. I just complained and said that I wasn’t going to do this… A d-date, I mean…”

“I really wanted to go on a date alone with Sensei. We’d storm the broadcasting room, barricade ourselves inside, and announce our engagement to the whole school. That’d make Sensei’s heart beat faster.”

“That’d do the trick! Although maybe not in the way you’re hoping!”

“But for this date, I’ll give Haruna the main role. While she’s making Sensei’s heart beat faster, she should also use this as a chance to learn. Haruna doesn’t have any experience in this, after all.”

“B-But Onee-chan, you’ve never gone on a date with a boy before either!”

“I’ve already gone on a date with Sensei at least a hundred times. In my fantasies, that is. Hmph.”

For whatever reason, the Kanzaka siblings were busy fighting each other.

“Anyway, Haruna will be the focus on this date. So you’ll be holding hands with him.”

“Ughhh…! I-I get it already….!”

Although hesitant, the younger Kanzaka sister grabbed my hand grumpily. Following that was Akino-san. She grabbed my free hand saying “I’ll take this one~”. Thus, we started walking through the school. But boy is this embarrassing, having a flower in each hand…

“S-So where are we going?”

I stopped thinking about it all and decided to try to finish this date as quickly as possible.

“H-How would I know that? I’ve never gone on a date before. We just have to walk around and enjoy ourselves, right?” The younger Kanzaka sister responded with a red face.

Well, that’s an orthodox solution, and I’ll be thankful if things come to a nice end without getting too crazy.

“That’s not good enough. You should aim for things where you can be more aggressive. For example, you could go into that haunted house over there and pretend to be scared as you push Sensei down.”

“A-A-A-A-As if I could do that?!”

“Then you could take a lovey-dovey picture over there at the photoshoot.”

“Again! Doing something lovey-dovey with this guy is…!”

The Kanzaka sisters started fighting yet again… Also, I’ve already taken pictures there with Double Peace-sensei… It’s not like I can say that, though. In the end, we couldn’t settle on anything, and the three of us just continued to walk around the culture festival.

As we went, we bought some crepes, and Akino-san tried to force us to feed each other. The younger Kanzaka sister was too embarrassed, though, so she shot that down. Although there were some hurdles along the way, I was relieved that it was mostly a normal date. Though Akino-san kept on complaining that the romantic part was missing, and that her sister should focus on making my heart beat faster, I was more than happy with things going like this. Not to mention that I was already plenty flustered just from walking around with the two of them like this.

…I mean, they’re two beautiful sisters. No wonder the boys around us are shooting us more and more hate-filled gazes.

“Hmm… At this rate, it’ll just end without anything happening. I know, we’ll go over there to finish it out.” Akino-san pointed at a certain location with her finger.

It was the handicraft club’s clubroom. For the festival, it had been converted into an accessory shop of sorts.

“Sensei will buy a present for Haruna from there. Naturally, in the sense that she’s your girlfriend. And, Haruna will have to beg for the one she wants.”

“B-Beg? I have to? Him?”

“Of course. This is a date, after all. You have to act like a girlfriend all the way to the very end and make his heart flutter for you.”

When Akino-san emphasized this harshly, the younger Kanzaka sister swallowed her words, and agreed, albeit reluctantly. Shortly after we entered the clubroom, and gazed at the assortment of accessories they offered. There were some made out of silver, and even I could tell that they were quite high-quality. It seems like our handicraft club isn’t half bad.

“U-Um… Which one do I want…?”

The younger Kanzaka sister’s gaze nervously wandered between me and the accessories, until it froze on a certain item.

“…You want that ring?”

“Fueh?! G-Getting a ring from you… Something special like that… It’s not like I want it…!”

When I asked her about it, she suddenly exploded on me, her face bright red. At the same time, a member of the handicraft club, or rather an employee, came over towards us.

“Your girlfriend? If you want, we have a matching set of rings that you might be interested in.”

When she heard these words, the younger Kanzaka sister’s face burned up even more, and I was expecting the usual “Y-You’re wrong!” from her. However…

“…Y-Yes… If he’s… fine with it…”

She actually stayed calm and gave a flustered, yet confident nod. Not to mention that she’s tugging on my sleeve and looking up at me with teary eyes, clearly asking for help. Seeing that reaction from her was so out of place that it made my heart skip a beat… T-This is the first time I’ve ever seen her make a face like that…!

“Is that so? We have several designs that you can choose from—”

As the employee continued to explain and showed us the goods, a rather comforting atmosphere filled the room between me and the younger Kanzaka sister.

It really feels like we’re on a date right now… I thought, as my heart started beating faster.

“…Not a pair. We’d like accessories for three people.”

“O-Onee-chan?”

Akino-san suddenly appeared behind us, and both of us were so surprised that we twitched.

“F-For three people? We do have matching designs, but…”

Naturally, the employee was a bit taken aback by her sudden appearance. She seemed slightly hesitant, but asked “Um, who are you…?”, as she looked over at us.

“My relationship? If Haruna is the girlfriend… then I’m the mistress.”

With her usual deadpan expression on her face, she said something as crazy as usual.

“M-M-Mistress?!” “O-O-O-O-Onee-chan, what are you—?!”

Both the younger Kanzaka sister and I couldn’t hold back our confusion. W-What is she trying to pull now…?! Look, everyone around is staring at us. They’re clearly getting the wrong idea! However, Akino-san completely disregarded her surroundings. It was almost like she disrespected them.

“I did give Haruna the role of girlfriend for now, but I’m still lonely. Therefore, I’ll also participate. I’ll make your heart flutter with the charm of an adult. Hmph.”

Rather than stopping, she just continued rambling on, almost like she wanted to make things worse.

“Y-You! What are you thinking, making Onee-chan your mistress?!”

“Why are you getting angry at me even though I wasn’t even the one who said it?!”

“So with that out of the way, we’d like accessories for a boyfriend, girlfriend, and mistress, please.”

The younger Kanzaka sister and I were completely lost as to what was happening. Akino-san for her part just calmly continued her shopping tour, accompanied by the employee, who was cleary forcing a smile. Even though everything had been moving along smoothly just a second ago, it had all fallen apart into chaos. Then again, based on all my experiences so far, I should have expected that things wouldn’t go smoothly…

On a side note, I somehow managed to cool down the situation by getting matching keychains for everyone, but that didn’t prevent all kinds of weird rumours spreading through the school… Uuu…

“Just ignore all those rumours. I’ll tell them off if they overdo it.”

And Mai was the last of them. I was close to breaking out in tears, but she listened to me, unexpectedly trying to cheer me up… Ahh, she’s so dependable now… Or so I’d like to say, but I’m still the most worried about her. With all the others, I could cover it all up somehow, since the guys from our school don’t know them, but Mai is different. Heck, she’s practically a celebrity at our school. What will happen if people see me and her together on a date? And what if it’s more extreme than normal? Just thinking about the hell that could await me after that is…!

“I-Is that so…? Thanks for that… But to make sure that no more rumours are born, how about we keep this at a normal level?”

Naturally, I’m not expecting Mai to just stay calm like that. Knowing her, she’ll just say ‘It’s a date, so we have to be lovey-dovey!’ or whatever, and it’ll make the remaining days of my student life hell, so much so that I don’t even want to imagine it. When you consider that incident involving Suzuka, and all the dates before, it’s already at a dangerous level, but if they get the wrong idea about my relationship with Mai, it’ll all be over.

“W-What’s up with that? I won’t do anything weird. I-I’m not here to collect data or anything of that sort.”

…Really? I’d really appreciate it if that were the case.

“…Also, everyone else might just be having fun with this, but I definitely have to make sure…”

“Eh? Make sure what?”

“N-Nothing! A-Anyway, I’ve already decided what we’ll do, so you just stay quiet and tag along!” Mai announced. She had already stomped ahead on her own, so I quickly followed after her.

Mai slipped past the masses of people just as always, ignoring the gazes of the people around her. It makes me once again realize how amazing people like her are…

“Right here.”

While I was thinking that, Mai’s feet had come to a stop.

“This is… A maid cafe?”

It was written on a sign out front, and maids (wearing normal skirts, not the otaku-type ones) were standing at the entrance. Well, this is pretty much standard fare for a culture festival, I guess.

“What are we going to do here?”

“N-Nothing special. We’re just going to take a short rest here… H-Hey, what’s with that dubious expression?!”

“I-I mean, there’s no way you’d be happy with something like this.”

“What do you mean by that?! …I just chose this place because it’s pretty convenient. Anyway, just get in!”

Mai just grabbed my hand, not allowing any complaints, and we entered the store. Although I was still a bit wary of her true intentions, that thought was immediately blown away because…

“W-Welcome back… M-Master…!”

“………Eh? N-Nikado-san?”

Yes, it was because Nikado-san, wearing a maid uniform, suddenly appeared in front of me.

“N-N-N-Nagami-senpai?! And Himuro-senpai?!”

Nikado-san even one-upped me in shock. Her eyes opened wide, and her face flushed bright red.

“W-W-W-Why are the two of you here?!” Nikado-san panicked as she asked.

“N-Nikado-san as well. These clothes are…”

“I-I was forced to help out my class…! Uuu… to be seen by the two of you, wearing something like this…!”

“Class… So this is Suzuka’s class?!”

“Exactly. Did you not realize?”

Mai said that like I was supposed to know it beforehand, but I had no idea… I didn’t even know that Suzuka’s class was doing a maid cafe…!

“H-Hold on. So Suzuka is also wearing one…?”

“N-No, Suzuka and Kotomi are busy preparing for their theatre play later, so she doesn’t participate in our class’s cafe. Also, I couldn’t allow Suzuka to wear embarrassing clothes like this…!”

While trying to bear her own embarrassment, Nikado-san made a fist with her hand as if it were for Suzuka’s sake… Well, I’ve already seen Suzuka in maid clothes during our data collecting. But still, I completely forgot that Suzuka was busy with the theatre club… When I found out about that, I let out a relieved sigh… But why am I relieved? I’m not sure, myself…

“…Hmph. Anyway, we came here as customers. Can you show us to a free table?”

“Th-That’s right. Although I’d rather commit seppuku right here on the spot out of embarrassment, this is my duty as a maid…! Well, if you would follow me…” Nikado-san grit her teeth at the humiliation and urged us to follow her.

To be completely honest, it really suited her, and the boys around us seemed to agree, since their gazes were all glued on her. I think she could be a bit more confident about it.

“W-What would you like to order? Umm… Master, Mistress…!” She tried her best to stay in character as a maid.

Feeling that I needed to free her as quickly as possible, I tried to order some simple coffee, but…

“W-We’ll take this one.”

For some reason, Mai ordered for both of us.

“Wha—?! A-Are you sure about this, Himuro-senpai-ojousama?!”

While panicking, Nikado-san messed how she addressed Mai as she blurted that out… Hold on, what did she just order?! While Nikado-san walked away with a burning red face, I quickly questioned Mai about it.

“T-This is necessary for our date. Just keep quiet and play along…” She muttered as she averted her eyes.

Before I could check the menu to try to guess what she had ordered, it had already arrived at our table.

“H-Here you go, the couples’ drink…! Really, how indecent can you be, Nagami-senpai, to drink this with Himuro-senpai…?!”

One glass, with two straws. The two straws joined together and made the shape of a heart. There was also some magnificent verbal abuse coming from the maid—Wait, this isn’t the time to be saying that! What’s going on here?! Why is something like this on the menu?!

“S-S-Since this is a date, doing something like this is completely normal, right?!” Mai was flustered, even though she had ordered it herself.

I really was an idiot for trusting you, damn it!

“N-No, this is a bit…!”

“J-Just shut up! It’s just to check, so hurry up and drink it!”

My attempts at resisting were completely ignored, and while Mai’s face was so red that it looked close to exploding, she quickly put the straw in her mouth. Wait, what are you checking?! Although I really didn’t like where it was going, I knew better than anyone that resistance was futile, so I went ahead and did the same as Mai. I forced my eyes shut throughout the ordeal, and obviously I couldn’t enjoy the taste at all.

Uuu… I can hear cheers of joy coming from our surroundings. Some of them were even filled with killing intent, like “So the two of them really are…!” and “I’m so jealous…!”, but I decided to ignore those for now. Mai, you’d better clear up all the rumours after this!

“…Y-Yuu, open your eyes.”

I heard Mai’s flustered voice, and opened my eyes. When I did, I was greeted by her face right in front of mine. She was gazing directly at me.

“I-Is your heart beating faster right now?” And she asked that question.

…Yeah, of course it is! So hard that it almost hurts! Thinking that, I nodded. But…

“………I guess it really is different,” Mai puffed out her cheeks as she said this, clearly sounding dissatisfied.

“W-What do you mean? What’s different about what?”

“L-Like your atmosphere from before… A-Anyway, I’m observing you right now, so look at me! No averting your eyes!”

Or so she says, but she’s staring at me so hard that it feels more like a glare than anything. I was about to complain about her confusing choice of words, but her gaze was so serious, and the sparkle so deep within her eyes, that I was stopped from doing so. W-Why is she so serious about this? At the same time, I realized that her expression was similar to the one she had at my house before. She really is acting different from usual.

“…Hey Mai, are you having a problem with something?”

Hence, I had already asked her without thinking twice about it.

“Eh? W-What do you mean? There’s nothing, really… Why? Does it look like it?”

“W-Well, I just thought that something was off, and I didn’t know why you were going this far.”

“It’s just to figure out the identity of the girl you’re interested in.”

“I keep telling you that there’s nobody like that…”

“…A-And also, the girl might be one of us, right? Then I definitely have to be serious about this… A-As your… fan, that is.”

When I heard these words, I felt the sense of discomfort inside of me growing even stronger. Whenever she says that she’s doing things because she’s a fan of Towano Chikai, she’s always brimming with confidence and energy. This time, though, she almost sounds lackluster. Something really weird is going on with her.

“A-Anyway, since it’s like that, you’d better focus on the date. Come on, drink some more. While looking at me…!”

While I was busy being confused, Mai urged me, and she took a sip herself. Seeing no other choice, I once again put the straw in my mouth, with my eyes directly looking at Mai’s. It was as embarrassing as always, the gazes of the people around us really hurt, I couldn’t even taste it, and everything was really just awful… But that feeling of discomfort didn’t disappear.

“…Ah, i-it’s almost completely gone!”

Mai’s words snapped me out of my thoughts, and I realized that the drink was almost completely empty. I was thankful that the embarrassing event was finally over, but…

“I’ll go order a new one!”

“Hey?!”

But Mai didn’t seem to agree with me. She was about to storm off before I stopped her.

“Why would you order a second one?! Wasn’t that enough just now?!”

“W-We still have some time left, and I haven’t fully checked yet, so what’s wrong with continuing like this?!”

And what do you so desperately need to check?! I can’t keep up with this much longer, you know?!

“D-Do you want a refill…?! Nagami-senpai, just much are you planning on embarrassing Himuro-senpai like this?!”

“You should know that I wasn’t the one who ordered it, so why are you making me out to be the bad guy?!”

“Ahh, we don’t need the drink anymore… Next, we’ll have this couples’ omelette.”

“Couples’ omelette?!?!”

What is this bizarre menu here?! And why are you just ordering it like it’s the normal thing to do?! Is this really Suzuka’s class?!

“N-Nagami-senpai really is a beast…! And I’ll end up as his prey eventually…!” Nikado-san cursed me as she walked away with the order.

At the same time, Mai glared at me and said “We’re still far from done…!” Apparently she wasn’t content with how much she’s made me suffer… R-Really, what is going on with this situation?! I have no clue what to even complain about. Nor do I understand what’s going on with Mai.

However, there was one thing I was certain of.

“I definitely won’t give up, okay…!”

For some reason, Mai looked even more motivated than everyone else. Almost desperate. I got a strange feeling that I might soon find out the reason for it.

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