March 28th: Fourth Day Living Together

“Onii-chan, shouldn’t we go shopping?”

Afternoon, the next day.

My sister proposed that while we were both finishing up unpacking.

“Shopping?”

“Yes. I’ve been thinking about various things and—”

My sister said and went looking around in our respective bedrooms, living room, kitchen, and dining room, she then continued:

“As I thought, it seems we’re missing a lot of essential things. Why don’t we go look for a place around here and buy the things we need all at once?”

“Hm.”

We certainly hadn’t been well-prepared for the move. My sister and I had both left in a hurry, almost like a moonlight flit. We only brought the minimum of furniture and necessities with us.

In an emergency, anything we needed for now could easily be picked up at the neighboring supermarket. It’d surely be faster to get everything at once.

“Okay, got it. Well then, should we head out now?”

“Yes. Let’s go, let’s go.”

“But even so, I can’t afford anything too expensive, okay?”

“Yes, I know. We should try to save money wherever possible, right?”

Frankly, we didn’t have much at hand.

The Arisugawa and Takanomiya Families were both well off. They had taken my sister and me under their care. This time, however, as I hinted at earlier, we didn’t really get any financial help whatsoever.

And so the living expenses for my sister and me had been provided by someone else, namely from me and my hard earned savings. This was our fourth day living together and our savings were already… No, rather, the Himenokouji Family’s finances had been critical to begin with.

 

We’ve finally arrived.

We took the subway to a department store in the heart of the city… As if, it was just a somewhat big retail store in our neighborhood.

“That’s a big store, isn’t it?”

A four-story building with a parking garage that could accommodate nearly a thousand cars was in front of us. My sister raised her voice in admiration. She had been raised as a pure-hearted noble lady In those six years and probably wasn’t in all to many stores like this.

By the way, currently my sister’s outfit consisted of a coat that she was wearing over her school uniform. Economical and independence reasons were some of the main reasons for that. However, the most important one was that my sister had left most of her casual clothes at the Arisugawa house.

“…I’m sorry, Akiko.”

“…? What is it?”

“Because I’m so useless, I can’t even give you proper clothes.”

“Ah. Do you mean this?”

She said and then opened her coat slightly to reveal the magnificent design of her uniform which combined both, old and modern elements.

“I really like to wear this coat. When I was with the Arisugawa family I’ve been wearing it all the time. It might not look like it, but it’s very easy to move around in. Plus, I look good in it, don’t I?”

Well, that’s true.

The coat did look so amazingly good on her that it almost seemed as if it had been specifically designed for her.

But, you know… it was still a little…

If she hadn’t left the Arisugawa Family to begin with, she would’ve had a life where she didn’t have to go shopping like we currently were. That she didn’t even have any decent clothes made me feel depressed after all.

“Please don’t make that kind of face, Onii-chan.”

In complete contrast to me, my sister had a bright and sunny smile on her face, she continued with:

“I don’t need money or clothes. The most important thing for me is that I’m together with Onii-chan.”

“That’s some very pleasing thing you’re saying there.”

“Besides, isn’t our current lifestyle truly amazing? For example, I really like the place we’re currently living at, it has its own meaning and warmth to it. This is much better than when I was with the Arisugawa Family. Over there it was too spacious and I’ve always been surrounded by servants. In the first place, didn’t Onii-chan bring up some money so that we could live together? I’m extremely thankful for that, I’ve no reasons to be resentful over anything.”

“I see. Mm. I guess that’s true.”

“And since Onii-chan didn’t receive any financial aid from the Takanomiya Family, how were you able to get that money? That’s a question I’ve been wondering about for awhile. Onii-chan hasn’t told me anything about it yet.”

“Ahaha. Well you know, that’s, uh…”

That was, well, a difficult topic.

It wasn’t something I really wanted to be public, so I was trying to keep it a secret.

Ah, don’t worry though, it wasn’t anything illegal.

“Hmph. You’re hiding something even though we’re siblings. That’s a grave matter. If you won’t tell me no matter what, I fear I must ask the Arisugawa Family Intelligence to help with—”

“Hey, Akiko.”

My sister was pondering over something unpleasant, I smiled at her and continued:

“I want to get along with you as much as possible. While that broken down dormitory is inconvenient at times, I think it’s very modest and comforting… I really think that from the bottom of my heart. Because I love Akiko, you know?”

“It’s obvious that you’re trying to change the topic. Well, it’s fine, though. When I hear those smooth words, it makes me smile easily. To be frank, hearing those words makes my mood lighten up.”

“Is that so? Well, that’s good then.”

“After all these months and years, we’re reunited. Let us two siblings live together in happiness from now on.”

“Mm, mm.”

“….Well, even though… if Onii-chan keeps up not laying his hands on me like he has been, perhaps I might just give up and return to the Arisugawa Family… okay?”

“Mm, mm. Well, if that’s the case, I guess you need to pack your things then… okay?”

“I’m sorry, Onii-chan. Akiko got a little carried away.”

“As long as you understand.”

And like that we’ve arrived inside.

It was spring break and a Sunday on top of it, so needless to say it was also a day off for most people. Consequently, it was completely different from outside the store – crowded and muggy.

“So, what should we buy?”

Looking at the information board, I took out a notepad.

“Onii-chan, what’s that?”

“A shopping list. I already wrote down some of the things we need earlier. I asked a friend for advice.”

“Hm…?”

Her eyes narrowed, she continued to stare at the notepad intently.

From top to bottom, side to side, my sister seemed like a CT-scan while she was looking at the notebook, but then all of a sudden she started sniffing it.

“…Akiko?”

“Suspicious.”

She let out a sigh and continued:

“Onii-chan. What’s the name of your friend? What kind of relationship do you have with that person?”

“Eh?”

“Please answer honestly.”

“Err, there’s nothing for me to be dishonest about… The name’s Sawatari Ginbei Haruomi, my friend has a bit of an unusual name. We were already friends before I came here. My friend’s living alone because of circumstances, so I asked for advice on various things.”

“…Hmm? I see.”

My sister said that but still continued to stare at me intently.

“I guess a woman’s intuition can be off at times.”

She came to some conclusion on her own and said something I couldn’t quite comprehend.

…What in the world is she going on about…

“By the way, Onii-chan, what’s that over there?”

And now she’s quickly changing the subject. Well, whatever, it’s fine.

Um let’s see…, I directed my gaze to what my sister was looking at.

There was a salesperson with a red Happi[1] coat who was shouting ‘Time sale!’ standing over there.

“Ah. Looks like there’s some kind of sale going on.”

“Sale?”

“It’s basically a bargain. A discount sale. They’re selling stuff cheaper than usual to attract more customers…”

“How much cheaper?”

My sister’s eyes started to sparkle.

“How much are they sellings things for?”

“Um, let’s see… they’re selling a ten pack of disposable hand warmers for 90% off.”

“90%?!”

She got even more excited.

“Calm down, Akiko. It may be 90% off, but they’re just disposable hand warmers, you know? It’s going to be spring soon as well, so this isn’t the time to be buying this, you know? To begin with, they’re holding this sale so they can get rid of redundant inventory——”

“By the way, Onii-chan, just what exactly is a hand warmer?”

She got excited without even knowing what it was. As expected from someone raised as a noble lady.

Ah, well. Here I say that, but I’ve also been raised in a wealthy family.

In any case after I gave her an explanation, my sister grew increasingly more interested.

“What an amazing thing. To think something so convenient exists… They didn’t tell me about things like that at all at the Arisugawa Family. ‘That’s used by commoners, it’s not something one of the Arisugawa Family should use’, they were probably thinking something like that. Judging it by appearance, right?”

“Well, probably.”

“Onii-chan, let’s buy that.”

“Wait, wait. We came here to buy necessities, didn’t we?”

“But, it’s selling for 90% below its usual price, isn’t it?”

“Even with that, we’re only saving about 100 yen at the most——”

“Is 100 yen not a big deal? Those who laugh at 100 yen will come crying for 100 yen.”

“That’s true, but still.”

Hm.

She seems to be reacting extremely when it comes to prices being cheap. She probably learned that from the Arisugawa Family. That family always made money off of the stock market by buying low and selling high.

And well, it also seems like she wants to try something out she’s never done before.

“Onii-chan, what’s your decision? If you don’t hurry up they might sell out.”

“I don’t think we have to worry about them selling out right away at this season, but… Well, okay, let’s buy one. Just one set though, okay?”

“Yes! Well then, I’m going!”

“Will you be okay by yourself?”

“I’ll be alright. I know enough to distinguish between a ten and a five yen coin.”

That makes me a bit nervous.

“The one with a ‘ten’ carved on it is a ten yen coin, and even though they look similar, the one with a hole in it is a five yen coin. Having a hole in it means it’s worth half, right?”

“…”

“Please don’t look at me like that. It was just a joke.”

“…Be careful, okay? Until just recently you were a pure-hearted person living a sheltered life, so I’m worried.”

“I know there are ways to pay for things that don’t involve a credit card. And that there’s money that isn’t paper currency. You don’t need to worry about me.”

“I’m a bit nervous.”

“With that, I’m off!”

Ignoring my worries, my sister energetically ran off.

Well, she needs to learn new things for a new lifestyle, and that’s a good chance for her to gain experience. I guess this is what they call ‘letting your child experience the world’s harshness instead of pampering it[2]‘.

But even so.

My sister really stands out.

Long black hair, grey coat, and black tights.

Even though she was simply wearing her normal clothes, she was still giving off a strong impression. All the shoppers slowed down when they passed by my sister and admired her looks, it made me feel very proud as her older brother .

Oh. She’s standing in front of the sale corner now.

I can’t hear the conversation between the shopkeeper and her, but she’s probably saying something like, ‘Give me one of those, please’. My sister was smiling without a worry on her face and the shopkeeper’s face started to blush.

It’s not hard to picture it.

She’s a beautiful girl who’ll never embarrass herself in public, that’s if we ignore her bro-con tendencies.

—Oh. She’s coming back.

“I’ve returned.”

“Mm. Welcome back.”

“Look, I’ve bought them without any problems!”

“Mm, mm. That’s good.”

“Pat my head as a reward, please!”

“Why?”

“Is it okay if I use them right now then?”

“Ah. Hm. That’s fine.”

Though if she uses them in the store right now, she’ll get sweaty.

Well, it’s fine.

My sister took the hand warmer out of the bag and held it to her cheek, showing an expression of great delight. I’ll gladly spend the little I have for something like that if it makes her this happy. Even though I can’t get her nice clothes, I can at least afford her disposable hand warmers.

Now then.

Now that she looks satisfied, time to continue our shopping——

“Onii-chan, Onii-chan!”

She waved both her hands around with ferocious appeal.

“Look at this! It looks like another time sale’s starting! It’s mandarin oranges this time! Mandarin oranges, they have mandarin oranges! Ah, there’s another one on the other side starting! They have detergent at such a price— Ah, there’s more starting over here and over there! Let’s go, Onii-chan!”

“…Uh.”

“Hurry, hurry! If we don’t hurry they’ll sell out, you know?! They only have a limited stock!”

“Ah, whatever. I got it, I got it.”

Well.

I also like mandarin oranges and our stock of detergent’s running low. Might as well queue up for the sale, can’t hurt.

However, there are still other things we need to buy. Plus, we need several of those things right now.

So if my sister and I both stand in line, we’re going to lose time.

Can’t be helped. We’ll have to split up for different lines so that we can get all the stuff we need.

“Hmm…? Onii-chan and I should separate into different lines?”

When my sister heard that, her face instantly changed into that of despair.

“I was finally able to go shopping with Onii-chan and now we have to separate? H-How can such an unreasonable thing be… But even though sales are going to start, there’s still the possibility that it might end in the next ten minutes. Personally, I naturally want to stay together with Onii-chan, although it’d be regretful to ignore the price drop… But I want to be together with Onii-chan… ah, ah, ahh, aughhh, w-what should I do?! Just what in the world should I do?! Is there no way I can do both at once?! T-There has to be something——”

She looked like such a poor thing.

Looks like she really likes sales, huh?.

“Akiko.”

“Y-Yes?”

“I’ve got a task for you. It’s an extremely important one, you can’t decline it.”

“Important task…?”

“From now on, you’re to separate into a different line. Then you’re to get your hands on as many bargain goods as possible to help out the family budget.”

“—!”

“I’m going to give you a budget, and you’re to use that budget to complete this task… You understand, Akiko? That’s not your objective alone, but mine as well. Even though I know it’ll be painful to be separated… With all your knowledge of all sorts of things, I know you’ll carry it out properly.”

I handed her some money in one smooth movement and encouraged her.

“Understand? Let me repeat again, that’s for my sake. You’re not allowed to decline, okay?”

My sister accepted the money with a blank look on her face, and I felt a bit relieved.

“I don’t want to be separated from Onii-chan, but… with this I’ll be able to go to all the sales… And I’ll be doing it for Onii-chan’s sake…”

Before long, her eyes started to shine with understanding.

“I understand, Onii-chan. Akiko will do her best. For Onii-chan’s sake I’ll give it my best shot to take advantage of all the sales, so that the family finances will prosper.”

“That’s the spirit. When you’re finished, let’s meet up in the center of the plaza, okay? Well then, let’s get going.”

“I’m heading off then! Yahoo!”

Why the yahoo?

She looked very happy though, huh?

She did look as if her shoes had sprout wings while she dashed away. I was watching her leave from behind her with a wry smile.

Well, up until now I haven’t really done anything older-brother-like.

It’s fine to spoil her at least that much, right?

 

* 

 

Now then.

It’s about time I get my shopping over with.

Even though I’m not as bad as my sister, I can’t say that I’m that experienced with shopping either. My budget’s limited, so I’ll have to be careful.

I took out the notepad once again and confirmed the contents of the list.

I started off by looking around in front of the information board.

…Hm.

At any rate, this store’s pretty big, isn’t it? Feels like it’s almost as big as the Tokyo Dome. It’s split into a west and east wing, and the central plaza that I’m currently at… The furniture section’s on the third floor in the east wing. I can find the daily necessities on the second floor in the west wing, huh? I know it has to be this big so that all these items can fit in, but it’s bothersome nonetheless.

Well, whatever.

I’ll just go tackle one task at a time.

Um, let’s see, which way was the elevator——

…Huh?

Shortly after I started to walk, I’ve already stopped in my tracks.

It was in the middle of the central plaza where I had planned to meet up with my sister later.

Normally there’d be a lot of people bustling around there, yet for some reason it seemed like there was an area devoid of people.

What’s going on?

It looked like all the passerbies were looking at that empty space with their eyes wide open. Was there some kind of event going on…? No, it couldn’t be that. Then again, it didn’t seem like there was an argument going on either.

As it happened to be in the direction of the elevator, I naturally looked into that direction while walking.

I eventually found a gap in the crowd and was able to have a look at what was going on.

“Wow.”

…Unintentionally slipped out of my mouth.

The person in there was so incredibly pretty that she absolutely stood out.

It was a girl.

Probably about the same age I was.

However, she looked more mature than me.

And she had blonde hair.

She was a beautiful woman with thin, light, and wavy honey-colored hair that was styled in hanging twintails. She was just standing there, doing nothing.

OniAiIllu04

Is it a mannequin…?

I thought that for a moment, but she must certainly have been a human being out of flesh and blood. If something like that were possible to be made, then humans would’ve crossed into God’s domain a long time ago.

She was standing there silently… Or perhaps I should say that she was giving off an icy aura… No, both of those are wrong. How should I put it, she simply had an emotionless expression. However, even that unsociable aura didn’t detract from her beauty at all. This must’ve been a so-called ‘cool beauty’.

People like that actually exists.

But yeah, if she puts herself on display in such a conspicuous place, anyone would be charmed by her. Yet I also understand that no one’s able to get close to her.

Now that I think about it, my sister’s also giving off a similar impression. For today, it seems like this place has a random increase in beauty-appearance-rate.

Well, whatever.

This certainly is an astonishing encounter, but that’s that. I need to finish up my shopping quickly. I still got so much I need to buy——

Wait, hold on, hold on.

It seemed like the atmosphere around me was changing all of a sudden.

The aforementioned mannequin-like beauty came closer.

Seemingly into in my direction even… Eh? Me? Why’s she staring at me fiercely like that… As I thought that, she walk towards me with quick steps.

“You.”

She was now in front of me.

With the same cool and expressionless face she continued:

“Name?”

“Eh?”

“Let’s hear it. Your name.”

Even with her splendid blond hair and blue eyes she doesn’t seem like a pure caucasian. It feels like she has some Japanese features blended in.

Her height’s about the same as my sister’s and mine… Wait, now isn’t the time for analyzing.

“Name? Mine?”

“Yes.”

She said and then stared at me. Directly, with the same facial expression.

…What the heck?

It was a mysterious feeling.

Just from how her expression looked one could think that she’d have a very oppressive and arrogant manner of speaking and the same counted for her behavior. However, that wasn’t the case. It was more like a ‘that’s simply the way this person is’ kind of feeling one got from her.

So my mouth was hanging open from confusion.

“I’m Akito.”

“Akito? That’s your first name, isn’t it? And your last name?”

“Um, Himenokouji.”

“…I understand.”

She said and then started to stare at me again.

“It must be my imagination, then. A woman’s intuition is wrong on occasion, I guess?”

“Woman’s intuition?”

I’ve heard those that before somewhere.

“Um, and? Just what in the world’s your reason for calling me all of a sudden?”

“It’s for no reason in particular. Only that I smelt something unpleasant coming from you.”

“Eh? Me?”

“Yes. You.”

“…”

That’s some crazy reason I just heard.

I mean, do I really smell that bad? I’m taking baths everyday and I’ve never had any strong body odor before… unless?! Could it be yesterday’s dinner?! My sister’s cooking’s delicious, but she tends to use a lot of garlic. ‘Eat a lot and replenish your stamina! Fufufu’, she’d say. Even though I was already careful… Looks like I have to be even more careful…

“The smell’s probably just the garlic I had yesterday.”

However, she just shook her head and said:

“It’s simply a smell that seems to only affect me. Normal people can’t notice it, so it’s not any neglect on your part. Please don’t worry about it.”

“No, saying that makes me worry about it even more…”

Well, who wouldn’t be worried when a complete stranger said, ‘you smell’.

“Ah, well, I’m sorry. It’s only natural that one’d be worried when someone said that. Please let me treat you to something as an apology.”

“Eh? Ah, it’s fine, don’t worry about it.”

Unexpectedly, I was forced to spend some time with this. And I wasn’t someone who had much time to spare in the first place.

I’m a bit worried about leaving my sister by her own, I need to finish up my shopping as fast as possible and get to her——

“It’s a bit difficult for me to be standing here, to be honest.”

The girl said.

“I’m attracting a lot of attention and I don’t particularly have anything to do. Since you aren’t taking me up on my offer for a meal, I’d be thankful if you let me accompany you for a while. Since you already came here to go shopping, there shouldn’t be anything to be concerned about if I joined you.”

“…Um. We haven’t met before, right?”

“That seems to be the case. Although, for some unexplainable reason, I don’t feel that way.”

“…? Well, if it’s difficult for you to be here, wouldn’t it be better if you left the store?”

“That’s a bit rude.”

“…?”

Somehow I didn’t really understand what this blonde beauty was talking about.

Hm. What to do?

I mean, since I’m together with this striking person, it’s starting to make me stand out as well. It really isn’t comfortable at all to stand out like this… But I’d feel a little bad if I just flat out refused her after all…

“I got it. Let’s get away from here for now.”

And so it turned into that.

Both of us started walking towards the second floor of the west wing on which the daily necessities were sold.

I didn’t know whether I should’ve been surprised or what, but since she had been together with me, her bizarre behavior died down a bit. After we left the spot from earlier, the stares from everyone around us started to lessen as well. It was probably just like adding sugar to spicy cooking, it gets mild again.

“How mysterious.”

She said. It seemed she held the same thoughts I did. Then she continued:

“Being together with you has gotten rid of that uncomfortable feeling from before. Perhaps it’s because you’re an extremely ordinary person who manages to not attract any attention at all. You act as a good cushion for my outstandingness. I give you my thanks for that.”

“…”

What the heck?

She was clearly thanking me, but why do I feel like something’s gnawing at my heart?

“By the way…”

I said while browsing the shelf for a power outlet.

“Why did you come here? Aren’t you here to buy something?”

“That’s not why I came.”

“Why then?”

“You’d be surprised if you heard my reason.”

“Eh? Well, you make me wanna know it even more. What is it?”

“I’ve got no particular reason.”

“…”

Instead of surprised, I was more shocked.

She really did come to the middle of nowhere for no reason and then went to be at a loss what to do. Then she looked for help.

With that said, I took a closer look at her clothes.

It was simple red coat with a one-piece turtleneck underneath it. However, it looked as if it had been made of extremely high quality materials.

It probably wasn’t something you could find at a store, but something custom-ordered. I lived with the Takonomiya Family, so I knew a little bit of stuff like that. You had to be from a rich family to even consider wearing clothes like those.

To be honest, it stands out a lot in this store for common folk.

I really wonder why she came here.

“Besides, there’s something that piques my interest.”

“Eh? What?”

“Are you a virgin?”

“…What?”

“The ‘virgin’ I’m talking about is pronounced ‘cherry boy’ in English. I don’t mean the path you would take when going somewhere[3].”

“….Ah, route, huh?”

“So? I wonder, are you a virgin?”

“…Um, you don’t want to know about the ‘route I’d take when going somewhere’, do you?”

“No, I don’t.”

“…Why do you want to know that?”

“Am I not allowed to ask something like that?”

“No, normally you wouldn’t ask something like that. Don’t you have to be much closer to someone in order to ask that?”

“By the way, I’m a virgin.”

“What?! I didn’t want to know that!”

“You know something very personal about me now, don’t you? Since that’s the case, shouldn’t you tell me yours too?”

What’s with her?!

We’ve only just met, and she’s already pushing extremely hard for something private as if she was some crazy salesman.

“…Do you know about the right to remain silent?”

“Yes, of course. Are you perhaps going to use it?”

“If the need arises, then yes, I will.”

“But I don’t think you’ll do something like that.”

“Why?”

“I just have that kind of feeling.”

Woman’s intuition again, huh?

However, that drives me mad.

Why is it that her intuition’s so spot on?

Now that I’m the only who knows something about her sexual experience, I should probably return the favor. I’d feel bad if I didn’t say anything. Even if she’s forcing me to blurt it out here.

Ah, I give up.

It’s useless…

Come to think of it, this girl’s been controlling the pace the entire time.

“….n.”

“Eh? Sorry, I couldn’t hear very well. Could you please say it again?”

“—gin.”

“If you mumble like that, then I won’t be able to understand you. Do you really plan to communicate like that?”

“VIRGIN! I’M A VIRGIN! How many times do you want me to say it?!”

“Eh? Sorry, I couldn’t hear very well. Can you please say it again?”

“No, that’s surely a lie, isn’t it?! I said it totally clear just now, didn’t I?”

“Yes, true. You let out such a loud voice that everyone around us is watching us now. Looking at the guy who just shouted out loud that he was a virgin.”

“Ugh…”

“I see. You seem a little cute, blushing and trembling like that from your confession. Honestly, it arouses me greatly.”

“Wha—”

What’s she blurting?!

Pervert?!

Could she be a pervert?!

“Please don’t make a face like that. It was just a joke.”

“I-I see. A joke. No, well that may be true but that’s still—”

“By the way I’m like an Amanojaku[4]. So when I said that I was joking just now, it was actually a lie.”

“…Can I leave now?”

“Sorry. That was a joke. This time it really was a joke.”

“If that’s the case, then it’s fine…”

Actually.

Amanojaku, doesn’t she rather mean tsundere?

Or rather, tsundere’s the modern version of the Amanojaku.

Well, whatever, it doesn’t really matter what it’s called. I’m a bit shaken up over this.

“Well, the thing about Amanojaku was a lie, in reality I’m a very open and honest person.”

“Which one is it now…”

“Sorry. I don’t know the reason why, but I feel like retorting to everything you say. How very mysterious.”

“That’s what I should be saying…”

“At any rate, you do seem to smell after all.”

“Why are you bringing that up again?! Or rather, do you have something against me for some reason?!”

“No, that’s not the case. Like I said just, for some reason I can’t resist retorting, opposing, and teasing you.”

“…Anyways, can you please give me a break. I mean, you were the one who wanted to accompany me to begin with, right? I don’t think it’d kill you to cut me some slack, would it?”

“That’s right. That makes sense. How mysterious.”

She said and then tilted her head.

Her face was as expressionless as ever.

Since she had said all those things earlier with that very same expression, it was actually frightening.

“To be honest…”

She looked at me while I was checking out the shelf and continued:

“This is actually my first time that I visited a place like this by myself. When I go out I usually have my bodyguard with me, but I went alone this time. That’s why I got startled once I became a lost lamb. Whilst I was lost by myself and shivering— you suddenly appeared. You were just like a savior.”

“…But it didn’t really have to be me, right? There were plenty of people around.”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“If I may, I’m simple and don’t stand out much.”

“Yes, that’s very true.”

“…About that, can’t you make it sound a little nicer? You said some harsh things about that earlier, didn’t you?”

“But you…”

She said, and then looked at me.

Those blue eyes of her seemed clear and with no malicious intent in them.

If anyone was being looked at like this, they naturally wouldn’t know how to react.

“You’re a simple person and you don’t stand out, but I think that’s charming.”

“…”

Ah.

Really, what am I supposed to say here?

When she’s staring at me like this, it’s as if she could see right through me. It’s really creepy. Even though I know she’s just complimenting me.

“Well, though that’s still flattery.”

“Wouldn’t it be better to just say it’s a compliment?!”

“Well, if I deceived you like this, then the nice person that you are definitely wouldn’t desert me, right?”

“…Well, that might true… But even if it is, you should keep it to yourself anyway…”

“I might not look like it, but I’m actually good at judging people.”

And with that, she changed the topic.

“Moreover, I’m extraordinarily good at athletics and academics. My senpai[5]’s trust me and my kouhai[6]’s adore me.”

“Huh.”

“While I’m at it, my nose is fair, my lips are slightly thin, and my eyes are incredibly refreshing. My three sizes are above average and I have a tall height. And my family… some various issues aside… nothing’s wrong with them.”

“Um, what are we talking about again?”

“Just my own appeal.”

“Huh.”

“I’m sorry. I apologize for making you feel uncomfortable. However, I—”

She said and stared at me again.

“—just want to be on good terms with you.”

“…If that’s the case, isn’t there a better way to achieve that?”

“That’s true. Surely there must be some other way.”

She said, averted her eyes, and murmured ‘How mysterious’ under her breath.

I think your existence is much more mysterious.

“It’s about time I left.”

“Eh?”

“Thank you for keeping me company, let us meet again some other day.”

She left me with those words and didn’t even wait for a reply.

She walked off with her coat waving, looking like a swallow which couldn’t wait for spring and flew off over the ocean.

I got the impression that she indeed was a beauty.

But ‘let us meet again’? Now that I think about it, I never got her name.

Though, she was the one who came up to me asking for my name, in the first place.

And then she also said that I had that suspicious smell. From the start all the way up to the end I didn’t get anything that girl was saying. But the most mysterious thing is, even though she did all that, I don’t dislike her.

She said whatever she wanted to and kept teasing me. It’s the strangest thing about that blond haired beauty.

…Wait, this isn’t the time to idle around. I haven’t gotten any shopping done. Like this I won’t make it in time to meet with my sister—

“Onii-chan?”

“Ah!”

I heard a voice calling out all of a sudden and turned around to see that familiar smiling face I was used seeing.

“What is it, Onii-chan? Are you still in the middle of shopping?”

“Y-Yeah. What about you?”

“I’ve finished buying everything I was told to. See? Please take a look.”

With that said, she showed me her spoils of war.

Of course mandarin oranges and detergent were in there, along with sugar, soy sauce, garbage bags, towels, and many more items which piled up like a mountain inside her cart. I’m pretty sure that there had been goods in there that I had been in charge of buying as well.

It seemed like she knew how to use a cart though. Although I didn’t really show her how to. Looks like my sister’s capabilities had surpassed my expectations by far.

“But… didn’t you buy a bit too much? Did I give you that much money?”

“It’s all right. There’s nothing in here that I had to pay for.”

“Eh? Then you’ve got all that for free?”

“Yes. When I was talking with all the salespeople, they’d give me various freebies. Everyone was a really nice person.”

What the…

She’s actually learned how to manipulate people.

Since she grew up in a sheltered life, I always thought that she had turned a little weak.

Anyway—

“Akiko.”

“Yes?”

“How’d you know where I was?”

“Even I can figure out something like that. This store is big, but I remembered all the things Onii-chan had to buy. Since I had finished up my shopping ahead of time, I decided to take a walk along the sales area and happened to stumble upon Onii-chan. That’s why.”

…Yes.

She was really diligently, wasn’t she?

Well, I certainly had come to the thought that ‘She has been raised to be a splendid young lady’ again and again when I had read letters from her, but everything she did just added further to that.

Is it possible that I’m underestimating my sister?

“In any case, Onii-chan, how much’s still left for you to buy?”

“Eh? Ah, um… to be honest, I haven’t bought a single thing yet.”

“Fufu. Onii-chan can’t do anything without me after all, huh? Let’s go, I’ll help you with the selection, so let’s finish up quickly.”

Bah.

What is this?

I’m being treated like a kid.

That said, my sister was giving me a look that hurt.

“No, no, Onii-chan. Please don’t think anything of it.”

She said and smiled.

“Even though it’s me myself who says this, but although I look like this, I’m actually a hard working person. I’m the secretary of the student council, my senpai’s trust me and my kouhai’s adore me, you know?”

“Hm.”

I feel like I’ve heard that before.

“I see. You’ve been a good girl even when we’ve been separated, huh, Akiko?”

“Yes. I want to be a sister that Onii-chan can be proud of.”

Yes.

That point was something I could certainly approve of.

“Good girl, good girl. You’re admirable, Akiko.”

“Ehehe. Praise me more, please.”

“Mm, mm. You’re very, very admirable.”

“Ehehe. Please pet my head more.”

“More? I don’t remember patting you in the first place.”

“Tsk, I was found out. I thought I could use the confusion as an opportunity.”

“Stop saying stupid things, let’s get going. We’re wasting too much time.”

I said, but then my sister made a weird face.

“It’s been on my mind for some time, but…”

“Eh? What?”

“There’s some kind of weird smell.”

“Eh?”

“It’s a kind of smell that makes me very uncomfortable. A weird smell that’s been coming from Onii-chan. What’s this… It kind of irritates me.”

Shocking.

My self-declared bro-con sister tells me that I’ve got a smell that irritates her?

“What’s going on here? It feels like a smell I should know… Yet my brain refuses to remember it…”

“I-Is it that bad? My smell?”

“Yes. It’s incredibly bad. You’ll defile the Himenokouji’s reputation beyond repair like this.”

“T-That much?! It’s that bad?!”

“Yes. That smell is clearly not one you should be spreading in public. It’s an urgent matter. We must do something about it as fast as possible.”

“W-What should I do then?!”

“Yes. There’s only one thing we can do.”

“And just what is that?!”

“Will you be able to do anything – no matter what it is?”

“I will!”

“A man doesn’t go back on his word, right?”

“I won’t!”

“Well then, I shall tell you what to do.”

She cleared her throat with a cough and continued:

“Please hug me right now. If you do it quickly, the unpleasant smell Onii-chan carries will be overwritten with his cute sister’s.”

“Well now, I should round up the shopping quickly and go home to take a bath.”

“Ah?! Please wait, Onii-chan! If you’re going to take a bath then let’s get soaked together——”

My foolish sister was saying something, but my ears didn’t listen.

So. My shopping’s gotten stalled over and over again, I need to hurry and finish it now so I get home and take a rest from all those tiring things that have happened today.

 

Translator notes and references

[1]Coat worn at festivals and by certain store employees. Click here for more info.

[2]Japanese proverb. English equivalent is “Spare the rod and spoil the child”

[3]Wordplay: ‘Doutei’ is virgin in Japanese. The kanji for ‘route’ can also be read ‘Doutei’.

[4]Amanojaku: Amanojaku is a Japanese demon, which provokes a person’s darkest desires. Click here for more info.

[5]Upperclassman/Seniors at school.

[6]Underclassman/Juniors at school.