April 3rd: 10th Day Living Together

Now then.

Even though it might be a bit late, but let me tell you myself that from this spring on I’d be going to attend the same high school as my sister.

St. Liliana Academy.

I wasn’t too familiar with it as I had lived in Kyoto for a long time, but here – in Tokyo – it apparently was a somewhat famous school.

A christian school, just as its name suggested. Sons and daughters from all kinds of famous families gathered at this place, that in itself wasn’t very unusual though. The interesting thing was that unlike many prestigious schools, there weren’t any spoiled, rich kids you’d usually see.

First off, there was no so-called ‘Escalator System[1]’ in this academy.

Even though it was an institution that incorporated students from kindergarten all the way to graduate school, there was no semi-automatic system for getting into the next grade once they had entered the academy. To get to the next grade, everyone had to pass a rigid test. The test for those who already were enrolled was even worse compared to the one for the students who transferred in, or so I had heard.

Speaking of those who were forced to drop out for ‘lacking ability’, they were in great numbers every year. Since the academy had the tradition to not care about what kind of connections or how much money one had, they wouldn’t be able to carry on through using that kind of underhanded trick.

But for exactly that reason all the students were thoroughly trained.

Those who came because of it being a prestigious school would be weeded out quickly and only those with true talent would survive. Furthermore, there were enough children from families with lots of political power or money.

In short, St. Liliana Academy was a super elite school with a system to constantly filter out those who were lacking ability to then thoroughly polish the surviving talented ones.

And soon I’d be attending that super elite school.

“Please don’t make such a stiff face, Onii-chan.”

My sister stopped in front of St. Liliana Academy’s magnificent main gate and smiled.

“It’s neither a prison nor a juvenile detention center. It’s simply a school normal teenagers go to.”

“Even if you say that…”

I grumbled as I looked up at the gate that looked like something you’d see in front of a castle.

“Well, when I was in Kyoto, the school I went to was notable too, but it can’t compare to this school’s level.”

“Please get a hold of yourself. School’s going to begin in a week and you’re already say those things, what will you do by then?”

“I’m not as capable as Akiko.”

“But Onii-chan, you were able to pass this academy’s admission test after all. You shouldn’t be anxious anymore, right?”

Certainly, that was the case.

Just like I said earlier, in this academy it didn’t matter if you had connections or money. One’s pure ability was the only key that could open its doors.

Well, even though my grades hadn’t been that great, I had somehow managed to pass the entrance test – Well, it had been a test for those who excelled in a certain skill though. For now, I’ll just leave it at that.

The important thing was that attending this academy would be quite a burden on me.

If I may speak my mind, it was due to my laziness.

I had put in a great amount of effort to live together with my sister.

If it had been possible, I’d have liked to live the rest of my life without all that trouble.

“Ugh. I don’t like this. I guess there’s no choice but to study lots, huh?”

“If it’s Onii-chan, there shouldn’t be any problems that could trouble you. If you can’t do it for some reason, then I’ll shift my full attention to being your teacher.”

“So I’ll be an older brother who’s relying on his younger sister to teach him, huh? That’d be unpleasant. I said younger sister, but we’re twins. We’re the same age. That’d feel somewhat vexing.”

“Oh, come on. Please don’t act like a child throwing a tantrum. Certainly, I was the one who asked Onii-chan to attend the same school as I. However, didn’t Onii-chan agree to it? It’s not very manly to be so hesitant at times like these, is it?”

That certainly was the truth.

I couldn’t argue with that.

In the first place, the reason I had purposely come to this academy during spring was so that I could get familiar with the place. I had asked my sister, who had been busy with work, to come here as well on top of that. So for me wanting to bail’s too much, huh?

“It’ll be alright, Onii-chan. Don’t be scared.”

My sister passed through the gate with one step while she beckoned me over.

…Damn.

She’s treating me like a child.

I had handled our move and thought that I had at least been able to hold up my honor as an older brother.

Like that it seemed all for naught.

Oh my, it’s a bit of a problem to have such a capable little sister.

My sister had accepted my words, ‘Become a good girl’, and cherished them as if they were the words of god since the time we had been seperated. She had grown up to be a splendid young lady and an honor student.

Even though neither my appearance nor my grades are that impressive, I’d still like to not be that much behind my sister.

At least not to a degree where I’d drag her down.

“It’ll be fine, Onii-chan. Everyone had to enroll into this academy, they’re all human – just like us. Though the rumours surrounding this place could cause some weird misunderstandings.”

“Ah. No, I’m not really worried about things like that.”

“But there are some rare cases. Their existence itself could be described as dangerous, one wouldn’t want to get close to them all their lives. They might as well be unworldly beings.”

“…I wasn’t really worried in the beginning, but after hearing that kind of thing now of which I haven’t even thought about, I do get kind of anxious.”

What’s that all about?

In this academy are people who even someone like my sister tries to avoid as much as possible? And they’re supposed to be human?

“It’s okay. You won’t be snatched away and eaten. Well, it happens occasionally, though.”

“…So you’re trying to say that every now and then someone’s being snatched away and eaten… You’re making it sound as if that has actually happened before.”

“It’s alright. I’ve already decided in my heart that I’m the only one to snatch Onii-chan away and eat him. If something happens, I’ll make sure to protect Onii-chan. I won’t forgive anyone who tries to steal my Onii-chan from me.”

“That’s really comforting to hear – that’s what I’d like to say, but unfortunately I’m feeling a very different kind of anxiety now.”

“You keep saying this and that. Onii-chan, the point is that you just don’t want to go into this academy, right?”

“Yup.”

“Jeez. You’re really a troubling person, aren’t you?”

My sister said and started giggling.

“However, it’s something new that Onii-chan throws a tantrum in that way, isn’t it? It’s very cute and I love it.”

“——?! H-How humiliating…! Not once in my entire life have you insulted me that much! No, never! Ah, damn it, I’m being treated here as someone useless…”

I was exaggerating a bit with that.

In any case, I finally made up my mind and walked onto the academy grounds.

But it was nothing out of the ordinary, it was just an institutional academy after all.

Neither would one get shot at out of the blue, nor would they be told, ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here![2]’, by some majestic voice.

However, this was a prestigious school overflowing with donations. There were ‘Taisho Romance’[3]-like facilities which seemed to cost an absurd amount of money wherever one looked. Despite that, the design seemed to avoid being too gaudy or pompous. They weren’t flaunting their wealth, it was a place that lived up to its reputation.

“Now then, I’ll show you all the academy’s facilities. This academy’s quite big, so I’ll limit it to the places I’m actually able to show right now.”

“Mhm. I’ll be counting on you then.”

During spring break when there was little bustle, I inspected the academy being guided by my little sister.

A gymnasium with all the latest equipment.

A majestic and honourable looking martial arts stadium.

An auditorium that looked like an arena.

A cafeteria with a kitchen that looked as if it was from a famous hotel.

…Oh boy.

This made the school I had attended in Kyoto look like a joke. I was witnessing the grandioseness of this academy.

In addition to their over a hundred years old tradition, there was still a great number of old buildings that had been designated to be cultural assets. They adopted modern technologies while preserving their culture, it gave off a ‘we can do anything’ kind of atmosphere.

How to put it?

To be honest, it was really uncomfortable for someone from the lower middle class.

“For now that’s a rough tour of the facilities. What do you think of it?”

“Mhm. To tell the truth, it makes me nervous.”

“It’ll be okay. You’ll get used to it soon enough.”

“Is that so?”

“One year ago I’ve felt the same way Onii-chan’s feeling right now. At the time I had been admitted to this academy, I certainly was greatly surprised by what I’ve seen. There was a strange and peculiar atmosphere to this place, right? It’s a bit rude to say it, but… it felt like there was an intimidating air or something oppressive here.”

“Hmm. So you felt this way too, huh?”

“Yes. But I got used to it soon enough. That’s why everything will be fine. Onii-chan will surely get used to it soon, too.”

…My sister said to me.

I had heard that there were plenty of students who ended up dropping out because they hadn’t gotten used to this academy’s uniqueness. And on top of that, I had heard a rumor that the number of students who got kicked out due to failing the grade promotion exam was even higher.

Oh dear.

Can I really do that? Keeping up with this entire school?

The work I have to do to keep up with this school – it’s a bunch more than I imagined. Ah, shit. I really did make a mistake here, huh?

Well.

I’m still Himenokouji Akiko’s older brother. No matter how scared I am, there’s no way I could give up without trying. After I’ve forced my way through to move and live with her it’s the only thing that makes sense. Above all else, I mustn’t do anything that’d damage my sister’s reputation.

“With that, Onii-chan…”

“Hmm?”

“Regarding an extended tour around here—”

My sister said and apologetically continued with:

“Sorry, but it’s about time that I headed off to the student council.”

“Ah, I see. It’s already that time, huh?”

Well, I knew from the beginning that this would happen.

I unreasonably asked her to show me around the academy instead of placing my sister’s work first, which I knew of beforehand.

“It’s fine, go on ahead. You don’t have to worry about me. I’ll take my time and walk around by myself later.”

“Will you be okay? Will you be okay by yourself?”

“Hey, hey. I’m still you’re elder brother, aren’t I? I’m not a kid, I’ll be able to handle that much by myself.”

“If not, I wouldn’t mind you waiting for me outside the academy. Or wouldn’t it be better if you just returned home for now?”

“I deliberately took the time to come here. I might as well take my time to look around now. It’ll make me feel less uneasy once school’s starting, right?”

“But, Onii-chan, didn’t you just feel uneasy about entering this academy on your own?”

“Dummy. That was just in the beginning. Just like you’ve said, I’ve already gotten used to it. There are no more problems now.”

“Ah. Well, if that’s the case then it’s fine, but…”

“Okay, hurry up and get going. If you’re taking this long, it’d cause things like, ‘You’re slowing your sister down’ and that’d really trouble me, okay?”

My sister still displayed a bit of hesitation. But she showed an expression of acceptance before long and said:

“I understand. Well then, I’ll be heading off. I’ll try to finish as fast as possible and then meet up with you later. Will the cafeteria be okay? If it’s fine with you, then you could also have some tea while you wait.”

“Mhm, sounds good. Alright, let’s do that then.”

“And one more thing.”

My sister said and suddenly put on a serious expression. She then continued:

“I’ll give Onii-chan a piece of advice, please follow it at all costs.”

“Advice?”

“Yes. You must under no circumstances get close to the student council room – That’s the one most important thing that I’d like you to do. Okay?”

“…Is it because the student council president’d be there?”

“That’s true. However, there’s another reason as well. In any case, please don’t come near it.”

“But why? You’re also a member of the student council, right?”

“Anyway, things that are no good are no good, okay? If you want to see it no matter what, then I’ll find a chance later. So please obey for today at least, understood?”

Hmm.

She doesn’t hesitate to declare to the world that she’s a bro-con, plus she thinks that peeping at someone in the bath’s something mandatory, and yet she’s saying that. She doesn’t want me to get near the student council as if it was a stronghold.

Well, the student council’s Nikaido Arashi – that dangerous predator would be there too. It’s not like I don’t understand why my sister wants me to stay as far away from that place as possible…

“…Okay, I’ll follow your advice. For today I won’t come close to the student council, I promise.”

“Thank you very much. Hearing that makes me feel relieved.”

“What are you saying? Something like that’s nothing.”

“While I’m at it, if you gave me a goodbye kiss, it’d make me feel even less anxious.”

“This conversating has just made quite the leap.”

“Or if you said, ‘You’re the cutest woman in the world. I love you.’, that’d let me be even less anxious.”

“You don’t have any plans on fixing up this conversation, do you?”

“…You’re not going to say it?”

“I’ll have to decline.”

“If you don’t hurry and say it, I’ll be late for the student council, you know?!”

“Oh. Here comes your strong point – getting mad even though you’re at fault.”

“Or is it that… Onii-chan, you don’t think I’m cute at all?!”

“Eh? No way. You’re cute. You’re so cute.”

“Hey, there’s no feeling in that at all! Onii-chan, you meanie! You better be careful when the moon’s not out at night! I’ll appear out of the darkness and steal away your lips!”

Leaving me with that threat, my sister hurriedly ran off.

It’s probably that she really does run late for the student council because she was wasting time with this silly chit-chat.

She’s easy to get along despite being my little sister.

 

*

 

…However, I’ve something to confess.

Looking around the school all by myself, to be honest, it was disheartening.

Well.

In this academy there really was a peculiar atmosphere.

It gave off some kind of earth-shattering sense.

Plus, having a football match in a rival’s stadium can’t even compare to this kind of level here. If I had to elaborate, it was like mishearing that party clothes’d be okay and then showing up at a funeral thinking it was a party, something like that.

The academy was by no means an exclusive one. But it felt like to enter it, one had to be above a certain level.

It pissed someone like me off a bit, who didn’t have good grades to begin with.

…Ah, whatever.

One way or another, it was too late to get rid of the whole matter. I just had to accept my fate and get used to this atmosphere. Though the question whether I could keep up my grades or not was somewhat problematic.

“Now then. Which place to check out?”

Without having anything particular in mind, I wandered around. All the while trying to breath in this academy’s atmosphere as much as possible.

It was in the middle of spring break. And there weren’t many people, as expected. However, the premises were in no way devoid of people. I saw all kinds of students making efforts in different clubs here and there.

It wasn’t an elite school just for show. The students were also expected to have excellent results in sports, not just in academics. There weren’t many students who holed themselves up in their rooms and goggled textbooks all day.

Accomplished in both, literary and military arts.

Saying that is easy, and yet the thought of actually doing it was making me increasingly nervous.

“Oh?”

While I had been thinking stuff like that, I had walked onto the sports field.

Huge. You could have baseball and football games at the same time here.

To think something this big just sits inside the Yamanote Line[4] like that… Whoa, just thinking about it makes me feel absurdly nervous. That added even more to the intense pressure. I should probably think of things which are more helpful with my mentality.

For now, let’s do that. The girl’s track and field club was practicing nearby.

I think I’ll check that out for now—

“So you’re staring at girls in broad daylight, how very gentlemanly.”

“Eh?”

“But that’s unfortunate for you. The track and field club members will only be wearing the exposing uniforms during competitions. Or are you the kind of man who thinks that unfashionable tracksuits have more sex appeal anyway?”

I turned around to see from who this almost strangely quiet voice was coming from.

“Ah! It’s you!”

It was the girl I had experienced those various things at the large shopping mall with a few days ago.

The beauty with blond hair and blue eyes whose personality I didn’t really get.

And today she was wearing this academy’s uniform.

“By the way, the board of directors has issued a strict order that everything besides navy blue bloomers isn’t acceptable as the gym uniform for the girls of this academy. Good for you, your perverted hobby fits perfectly.”

“Neither did I want to hear about this academy’s philosophy on uniforms nor about the girl’s athletic uniform in specific. And even though it’s a bit late, I’m neither here to stare at girls, nor do I think tracksuits have sex appeal.”

“Ah, I see. That’s unfortunate. If you desired it, I planned to exclusively show myself off to you in a tracksuit.”

“…”

It so hard to talk to her.

“You really helped me out the other day.”

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

“Yes, exactly that. I was just saying that out of courtesy, there’s no need to reply so seriously.”

“…”

Ah, if I had to pinpoint it, it’d probably be like this:

Could this girl be at the peak of her rebellious age…?

“I’m sorry. But it’s like I said before, every single thing you do makes me want to flare up.”

“Well, that’s troubling…”

“And to be honest, I think my personality makes it very difficult for you to communicate with me.”

“If you know it then why don’t you do something about it?”

“However, there’s something that I want you to understand. I was very nervous that day.”

“Nervous?”

The everlasting pokerface just said that?

“it’s difficult to understand if you’re not I, you see. I was so nervous that day that I couldn’t remember anything I had told you.”

“Oh? I don’t know what I should rather be, surprised or shocked.”

Well.

If I think about it a bit, that shopping mall was probably a place she wasn’t too familiar with. Truth is, she only wandered around recklessly, like someone who didn’t even know what to do. One can’t really tell from her appearance, but she probably wasn’t her usual self. Somewhat like how I felt when I was walking around this academy – as if I was playing in an away match.

But I mean… Her behavior was really strange nonetheless, huh? She was saying stuff to someone she had just met that no one normal would, she didn’t even bother to hold back. I see, if she just said those things out of nervousness, then I can understand.

“I understand. Don’t take it to heart, but I was really thrown off by you that day. If you were nervous like you said, then it can’t be helped, I guess. And today I’ll try to get a new impression of you.”

“Saying that really helps. Since that day I’ve felt like I had left a bad impression on you and been anxious because of that. I don’t know what you think, but – the true me is someone bashful and shy. There have been incidents in the past where I’ve said things without thinking because of my nervousness.”

“Ah, I see. Well, I can kind of understand it. That’s just human.”

“So the misunderstanding has been cleared then?”

“Yup. Everything’s clear, no problem.”

“I see. That’s good. Well then, once again, please take care of me from now on.”

“Mhm. Same here.”

“By the way, there’s something I’d like to know.”

“Eh? What is it?”

“Are you a virgin?”

I had made a fool out of myself.

“—Didn’t we already get this topic over with?! Just how forgetful can you be to forget something that ridiculous?!”

I mean, a shy girl wouldn’t just bring up a topic like that!

“Sorry. That time I was extremely nervous, so I’ve forgotten everything about it.”

“Really, please gimme a break… I’ve suffered quite the trauma from what has happened then. If at all possible, I’d like to not let it happen again—”

“So are you a virgin after all? Or are you not?”

“How can you say something like right after what I’ve said?!”

“By the way I’m a maiden.”

“We already been there last time!”

“But now you know something personal about me, don’t you? Since that’s the case, shouldn’t you return the favor?”

“And your forceful way’s still fresh in my mind too!”

“…”

With that, she started to contemplate about something for a short while.

She had her usual flat expression and was staring off to somewhere else. Then she finally started to slowly return her gaze to me.

“Sorry. What was I just talking about?”

“…Do you possibly have youth alzheimers?”

“By the way, virgin-kun. What are you doing here?”

“Stop derailing the conversation with such nonsense!”

Could it be that this girl’s really funny in the head?

She’s treating me like a virgin. I didn’t answer her question and she shouldn’t be able to remember it from last time.

Oh well.

It’s a pain in the ass to correct her. And it’s the truth anyway.

“…Um, you know. I’m going to attend this academy starting in spring. So I came here to prepare myself beforehand. Even though, well, it’s really just me taking a look around, you know?”

“I see. And so you decided to watch the girl’s track and field club then, huh? You were concentrating intensely on them to burn the image of their young, lustrous bodies into your mind.”

“I’m a transfer student who wanted to get familiar with this school, so did I hope to achieve that by pinpointing the girl’s track and field club in order to check them out? Wrong, I didn’t. It’s more like I thought I could breathe in a lot of this academy’s atmosphere if I visited it. Nothing more. I wondered what the academy would be like that I’d be attending until graduation? Just so that I could prepare myself for the atmosphere, okay?”

“I see. So you want to suck in the breath of the track and field club girls. I admire your tenacity.”

“…Could it be that you just want to look down on me, no matter what?”

“Sorry. Whenever I see you, I can’t help but picking a fight.”

Which reminds me, she’s said something like that before.

Strange.

I wonder if I emit some kind of aura that makes people want to bully me.

Well, my height and weight are really average, so are my looks. But that alone shouldn’t be enough to make people pick a fight with me.

“Please don’t worry. I’m not so boorish as to blame you for each and every single one of your perverted tendencies. I think I’ll just pretend I didn’t see your behavior.”

“…Somehow it feels like you’ve decided to see me in quite the negative light already.”

“If you insist on being innocent, then I would like you to proof it with some evidence.”

“I’d rather like you to present some evidence that I’m not. If you’re going to treat me as guilty, then I want you to proof me so.”

“Oh well, if you want my acknowledgement then——”

She carried on while ignoring me.

“If you can desire me sexually while neither wearing a tracksuit nor being a member of the club, then I guess I could consider recognizing your sexual tendencies as normal.”

“…So that totally obscene logic again, huh?”

“Simply put, we’re talking about whether you can use me to masturbate or not.”

“STOOOOOOOOP!”

As expected, I had to put an end to it.

“I’m totally against girls using that kind of word!”

“Simply put, we’re talking about whether you can use me to do yourself or not.”

“Changing it into a softer expression doesn’t change anything!”

“I think that violates the freedom of speech. ‘Masturbarting’ and ‘doing yourself’ are both splendid phrases for describing the act of pleasuring oneself. And they aren’t words that need to be censored on television either. I think you don’t need to judge me so much with that terrible expression of yours.”

“Anyway, it’s no good! I forbid it! I won’t forgive it either! Absolutely not!”

“You’re unexpectedly stubborn.”

She said without a change in expression and continued:

“Well, it’s fine. I don’t really want to see you pleasure yourself in front of me, so for now I shall acknowledge that your taste is normal.”

“Well, thanks… Actually, I noticed something now. You don’t really deserve thanks, do you?”

And on top of that, she was only acknowledging it for now.

“That’s not true. I’ve said obscene words like ‘masturbation’ and ‘do yourself’ in front of you. If anyone else had heard that, they’d probably wet themselves from pleasure, what an extremely lucky day you’re having. It’s alright to thank me for something like that.”

“Sorry, they didn’t get me flustered, though.”

Wait, doesn’t it look like I’ve approved of those indecent words like that?

“By the way, that was the first time I’ve ever said either of those.”

“Ehhh?!”

“My face was burning up from embarrassment, to be honest. Though, you probably couldn’t see it.”

“That so… I thought you’d surely use those words daily.”

“How rude. I might look like this, but I’m still someone of a certain status. Don’t take me for someone who’d quickly do something so thoughtless.”

“…Going by that, is it okay for you to do something that thoughtless in front of a stranger like me?”

“It can’t be helped.”

She said and sighed.

“No matter what you do or how, I just can’t stop myself from picking a fight with you.”

“Well that’s… how to say… problematic.”

Very problematic for me as well as for her.

“If that’s the case, then it’s probably that you and me have bad compatibility. Don’t you think it’d be better to avoid each other? For both of us.”

“I mustn’t do that. You’re someone who needs to be observed. You pretended to inspect the girl’s track and field club while you actually schemed something behind the scenes like an evil genius— If I leave you alone and something happens, I’d also be to blame partly.”

“Like I said, you misunderstood that.”

“So, if you want to continue looking around, then I’ll accompany you.”

“Eh? You will?”

I was confused by the sudden proposal.

“You mean you’ll show me around?”

“Generally speaking, yes.”

“But is that really okay? You came here on a holiday, don’t you have work to do?”

“I wouldn’t say that I’ve got nothing to do. However, given the circumstances, I believe this has to be my priority.”

“Hm.”

I feel bad if I cut into her time, but that’d make everything work out much smoother. If a student from here’s guiding me around, it’d probably help to ease the severity of this ‘away game’ feeling. I feel like I’d rather have to bow my head and beg her of that.

“Well, that’d really help me out. Sorry, but can I take you up on that?”

“You don’t need to thank me. I’m simply fulfilling a duty every student of this academy has. With that——”

She said and her pokerface showed a bit of meekness (how shocking!).

“I’m still reflecting upon things.”

“Reflecting?”

On what?

That I really am innocent and not a pervert?

“Upon whether I’m really hard to deal with.”

“…”

Really obsessed over that, huh?

“I really regret being like that. I’m honestly, seriously sorry for everything from the bottom of my heart. If I could, I’d like to go back to the day when we first met and do everything over again.”

“Er… Isn’t that a bit exaggerated?”

“Not at all. If my wish would be fulfilled, then I think I wouldn’t even mind if you sexually assaulted me.”

“Wait, hold on a second. Can you please stop making it sound like I’m someone who’d actually want to do that?”

“If my wish would be fulfilled, then I think I’d accept my fate and be impregnated with your illegitimate child.”

“No, like I was saying, I’d like you to not continue as if you and I were like that, alright?”

“Well, when I keep saying these things, it makes dealing with me increasingly difficult, I’m well aware of that.”

“…You’re at least self-aware, huh?”

Well, rather than difficult to deal with, it’d be more fitting to say that I had no idea how to deal with her at all.

“Anyway, let’s put that aside. I look forward to be shown around.”

“So you accept me as your guide?”

“Mhm.”

“…Even though I’m the one who proposed it?”

Using that as a preface, she continued with:

“Do you think that’s okay? If you’ll be going with me like this, you’ll become more and more fascinated. If you want to refuse, now’s the time.”

“I’m already aware of something like that… but it’s fine. I wouldn’t say that I already understand what you’re like – but I have a rough idea. I won’t really mind it, so please, I’d love to have you show me around.”

“I see.”

She said and then stared off into the distance.

This day was also blessed with sunny weather, and even though one wouldn’t think it to be possible since we were inside the city, you could see all the vastness of the clear blue sky.

A calm and warm wind blew through from time to time, carrying the scent of the cherry blossoms.

It was as if she had blended into such a painting.

“I understand. Then I shall guide you around.”

For just a moment.

Her lips looked like a flower that had just begun to blossom.

…Ooh.

Until now, I haven’t seen anything on her face that’s close to something like an expression…

And yet, her smile was quite lovely.

Even expressionless she was still an amazing beauty, of course. However, it was a beauty that made people keep their distance. To be honest, it was a bit astonishing. Just a little she had turned into a more charming woman.

Well, this was probably how she usually was, but still… it shocked me a bit nonetheless. If that was how she looks when she smiled, then I thought it’d be lovely to always see her smiling—

“What?”

She asked, seemingly noticed that I had a different look in my eyes and continued:

“Since earlier you’ve had this awfully happy grin on your face. Are you picturing how you sexually assault me, this and that happening, and burn with satisfaction over it?”

“…You’re still going on about that?”

“And after that you plan on remembering that scene and secretly use it to indulge yourself in self-pleasure. Your perverted nature makes me feel extremely uneasy.”

“Again, you’ve gotten it all wrong.”

“Well, it’s fine. I owe you that much at least. No matter what you do to me, I’ll pardon the most of it.”

“Could your ‘debt’ possible be about that? About how dealing with you’s difficult because of how you are?”

“That’s right.”

She’s totally obsessed with that.

I mean, if she’s aware of it, why doesn’t she try to do something about it?

“Hey, you know, I don’t really know what you’re thinking, but if it’s about that then I don’t think you owe me anything really.”

“Hearing that makes me feel better, but I think it’s not something that I can just forget about.”

“It’s fine, okay? You’re showing me around the academy for instance, right? We can just say we’re even with that.”

“No. Doing something that minor, it’s not enough to make us even. Even if I have to endure that unpleasant smell from you, the remaining debt wouldn’t be zero nonetheless.”

“You’re bringing that up again?!”

And it even caused me a major emotional trauma!

“Hold on a second! I want to provide proof of my innocence right here! For the sake of my honor!”

“Let’s hear it then.”

“First off, I properly bathed today before I headed out.”

“How admirable.”

“Plus, the store’s interior was quite heated up the other day, but today, as you can see, the weather’s clear. So sweat as a pretext for smelling weird’s out of question.”

“Certainly, the weather’s nice. Neither too hot, nor too cold, and there isn’t much humidity either. The surroundings are open too, so the air isn’t stuffy.”

“And on top of that, a good friend of mine guaranteed it. Even though we’ve known each other for a long time, my friend never noticed my body odour being anything major.”

“Your friend said that? It must’ve taken a considerable amount of courage for someone who’s neither your parents nor significant other to say something like that. You have a really good friend, you know? It’d be wise to treasure someone like that.”

“And finally there’s one more thing. Last night I didn’t eat any garlic.”

“Even though garlic has a high nutritional value, it does certainly leave a bit of a smell. I think that was a wise decision.”

“So, with all that, I must ask you once again.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“…Do I really smell that bad?”

“Yes. You stink.”

“WHY?!”

I felt like fainting.

“Isn’t that strange?! Even though I’ve gotten rid of all possible causes, just where am I supposed to smell from?!”

“Asking me something like that troubles me a bit. This is only our second meeting, so how should I know how to tell you something so private.”

“Unacceptable! Please tell me just where this smell is coming from, I beg you!”

“That’s a troubling question. How should I describe something like a ‘hard to describe but unpleasant odor’ accurately, I wonder.”

“Is my body odor so special that you have to say something like that?!”

“If I had to, then… I know, if I had to say, ‘rotten food that has been sitting under the blazing sun for an entire summer week’, it’s something like that.”

“Shit… If you’re that harsh, then I’m too deprived of energy to even retort back!”

I had raised my voice just to gloss over her words, so this is a secret between you and me.

“Do you want to know the origin of the smell?”

“What? You happen to know something?”

“Yes. As expected, I’ve already figured it out. Do you want to know?”

“I want to know! Of course I do!”

“Really?”

“There’s nothing I’d rather know!”

“Do you swear not to go back on that?”

“There’s no need to even ask that!”

“I see. Then I’ll respect your resolution.”

And so, with her customary quiet expression, she continued:

“But sorry. I can’t say it after all.”

“Eh? Why?”

“Because I want to keep this topic going.”

“Are you by chance mad at me?”

“…No. I wouldn’t know whether I’m angry or something…”

I don’t know whether I was just stunned or plain exhausted.

“Um. You won’t tell me? Even though you were leading me on up until now?”

“Sorry. I understand what you’re trying to say, but I wish to keep this topic going on, no matter what. Please understand.”

“No matter what?”

“No matter what. For that reason, I’d kneel in front of you or do anything you’d like me to.”

“No, there’s no need for that.”

“If not, then I could strip down and give you my underwear as an apology.”

“Okay, let’s stop here.”

I quickly cut in and continued with…

“I got it. I don’t really understand, but I got it. If you don’t want to talk about it, then I won’t force you. But as expected I don’t know what to think of how you said all that earlier and then don’t give me an answer.”

“Sorry. Please go along with my selfishness.”

“Ah, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”

Those were my true feelings.

Honestly, it’d be normal for me to have gotten angry by then, but even though she had said such harsh stuff, strangely, I didn’t feel any anger.

The reason was probably because I couldn’t really feel any ill intent from her. That probably explains it.

What an extremely strange person. I guess you could call this her talent, huh?

“In exchange, I’d like to ask something else.”

“I wonder what.”

“Why do you wish to keep that topic going? Could you tell me that? I think it’d be fine to tell me that much.”

“There are three reasons.”, she said, “First, if I keep this topic up as long as possible, I think I’ll be enjoying to tease you a lot.”

“…Well, I don’t know what I was expecting. But still, that’s probably the main reason, huh?”

“Sorry. As an apology, I could strip down and give you my under—”

“No, it’s fine already; …And? The other reasons are?”

“Second, I’ve got one topic to talk to you about at least.”

“…If it’s about topics, then I think there’s as much as you’d want to, right? There’s no need to hold back. You could talk about how I’m not familiar with this academy for example. And from there several other topics connect.”

“That sounds about right in theory, but it wouldn’t be that easy. I get randomly nervous when I meet you, which causes me to blurt out strange things.”

“Nervous? You?”

“That’s right.”

“That’s a lie. You’re not nervous at all.”

“Yes, I am.”

“Your expression hasn’t changed at all and your voice’s been normal all along, too.”

“I’m nervous in places you can’t see.”

“Mhm, so sticking to something like that, huh? I don’t really believe you.”

“If you won’t believe me, then I guess I’ll have to strip down and give you my underwear for you to take along.”

“Neither do I understand how it has gotten to that, nor do I get why you’re so stubborn on that topic, but for now I’ll humbly decline your offer.”

“How mysterious. There are a lot of people who’d risk their lives for my underwear, and yet you’d abandon your right to them even though they’re right under your nose?”

“Please don’t just go and lump peoples’ interests together like that; …And? The third?”

“I think I want to wait with that one until a more dramatic chance to reveal it arrives.”

“No, there’s no need for such a thing…”

“It’s necessary to sort out my feelings a bit longer. I’ve only just noticed it myself moments ago. The true identity of your smell, that is.”

“Huh?”

“With that, do you understand? The reason I want to keep this topic going.”

“Well, I can’t say I do, but at least I understand that you’ve got your reason. Which is that you don’t need a reason, a whim will already do.”

“How rude. If you plan to continue this completely untrue slander, then I’ll have to make you wear my underwear. Right here, right now.”

She’s really obsessed with that.

Could it be that she’s having fun with that joke?

“So that’s that. We seem to have strayed way off topic and as if we’re forgetting something…”

“I wonder what.”

“Isn’t it about time you showed me around?”

“Now that I think of it, that was our original motive, wasn’t it?”

“That’s right. It’d trouble me if you forgot.”

“Well then, I have something unfortunate to tell you.”, she said, suddenly changed the tone of her voice, and then continued, “It seems quite a bit of time has passed during this silly chit-chat. I think it’s about time I headed back.”

“…Ugh.”

“Please don’t look at me like that. In my frenzy, I might take off my underwear and cover your face with it.”

“No, it’s okay. Well, I’m the one who asked you to show me around. There’s no reason for me to force you to. But how should I put it, that you’re saying that everything now was just ‘silly chit-chat’ makes me feel kind of…”

“Sorry. Talking with you was so interesting that it made me lose track of time.”

“Ah… Well, if you put it like that then I can hardly complain too much—”

“So, what you’re saying is that you understand?”

“Ah, damn it! I regret that I’ve answered honestly without thinking! Even though I knew that you’re that kind of person!”

“It’s Nasuhara Anastasia.”

She said.

Abruptly as usual.

“Eh?”

“My name. It’s Nasuhara Anastasia.”

She put out her right hand and I grasped it out of habit.

“Pleased to meet you.”

“Ah, yeah, nice to meet you.”

“Please call me Ana.”

“Ah, okay. Ana then. Understood.”

“Hmph. To think you called a woman ‘hole’[5]. As befitting of a man like you.”

“…Would you mind to not set up a trap like that?”

“Well, I’ll be leaving then.”

She said and turned her back to me.

“Farewell. I’ll pray that your academy life will be fortunate.”

“Ah, mhm. Thanks.”

“Also, make sure to prepare yourself for our next encounter.”

“Prepare myself for what?”

“With that, see you.”

With those parting words, Nasuhara Anastasia walked off in a dashing, energetic pace.

After each step she took, her swaying, golden hair looked like a field of wheat dandling in the wind. She only walked away, and yet it looked like a scene from a painting.

Well.

She’s a gorgeous girl, huh? Though it’d be better if she was a bit easier to deal with nonetheless.

Anyway, I’ll just have to deal with it.

Nasuhara Anastasia had become an acquaintance with the parting words she had given me. This comforted me in the awkward situation which was me being a mediocre person in an elitist academy. When playing an away game, the more acquaintances, the better.

So let’s think about it more carefully.

Nasuhara Anastasia from just now.

The student council president Nikaido Arashi.

And my little sister.

With these three faces, it’s already an away game no longer.

It’s not a situation, where I can be as nervous as I want to anymore.

I’m Himenokouji Akiko’s older brother after all.

I can’t afford to embarrass my little sister. She has turned into a magnificent woman in the little time we’ve been separated. I must do all within my power to get my feet on the ground here.

Okay.

I’m fine now.

In this academy where I felt a bit out of place I needed to give it my definite all. Studying, my job, housework, and it goes without saying that it had to work without lamenting. I’ve had to try and do it all. If I couldn’t, then it’d be as if all the efforts, that had been taken to let the two of us live together, had been for naught—

“Onii-chan. What are you doing?”

“…Oh?”

My sister had returned.

“Akiko? Why are you here already? Are you done with the student council work?”

“Jeez. I’ve finished a long time ago.”

She puffed her cheeks out and continued,

“I was waiting in the cafeteria, but no matter how long I did, Onii-chan wouldn’t come. Thus, I went to look for you. You’ve already explored the academy enough, haven’t you?”

“Ah, that’s right. It’s already that time, huh?”

“Making your little sister wait… Onii-chan, you’re a terrible person.”

“Sorry, sorry. That’s certainly my fault.”

“If you really feel bad, then please say, ‘I’m sorry for making the beautiful and cute Akiko wait on me’.”

“I’m sorry for making the beautiful and cute Akiko wait on me. I’m really sorry.”

“…Hmph. Onii-chan’s really obedient right now, isn’t he? Agh, if that was the case then I should’ve requested something even—”

“Hey. You’re already getting started on that?”

“Ehehe… But, you know, Onii-chan…”

“What is it?”

“You’ve got a different mood to you than before. Earlier, your expression was more stiff and rigid. Now I get the feeling that you’re a bit more composed. Have you gotten used to this academy already?”

“Ah, yeah. That’s true, isn’t it? Now that you mention it, that seems to be the case.”

Certainly.

The feeling I had when I first set foot upon this academy was completely different.

Now I was no longer as nervous as I had been. In reality I was somewhat anxious, but I thought I’d be able to deal with it like that.

This was probably because of that. It was all thanks to her, probably.

Nasuhara Anastasia.

It had just felt like a pointless pastime any yet that girl forced my nervousness to disappear. If I had to say it, then it was probably because a conversation with her forced me to go through a lot of hardships. I didn’t have the time to think about anything else, I was focusing on trying to keep up with her pace desperately.

“That’s how it is, Akiko. While I’ve checked this academy out, I became acquainted with a student. We talked about various things and before I knew it, I had relaxed.”

“…Hmph. That makes it sound as if it was a female student. Am I right?”

“That’s right, but…”

“Grrr.”

My sister pouted her lips and put on a peevish-looking face.

“Well, it can’t be helped. A little bit of infidelity is part of me being a cute little sister.”

“Infidelity? What infidelity?”

“Anyway, everything else aside, it’s apparent that coming to the academy on a holiday had an effect.”

“Mhm, that’s right, huh? Thank you for going out with me even though you were busy, Akiko.”

“No, no. If Onii-chan desires it, then it doesn’t matter if it’s either through hell or deep water, I’ll fulfill it. By the way…”

“Hm? What?”

“Onii-chan. Did something happen while we were separated?”

“Eh? Something? What do you mean by something?”

“Nothing. I can’t really say what it is for sure, but… this usual unpleasant smell is coming from Onii-chan again.”

“Geh.”

What the hell?

Did my sister just say the same thing as that golden haired beauty…?

And on top of that, she used the same pattern like when were at the shopping mall.

“…Onii-chan. I’ve a really ominous feeling about this, but…”

Wrinkling up her eyebrows my sister continued with:

“The female student Onii-chan became acquainted with. What kind of person was she?”

“Eh? Umm. How to put it?”

That was a pretty difficult question.

‘That Nasuhara Anastasia, just how on earth could I describe her’, I wondered.

She was lacking a facial expression and her voice had been quiet as well. In general, whenever I had said anything, she’d find a reason to pick on me – something like that, I didn’t think I could find words to describe her in a satisfactory way.

But for the moment, I shouldn’t say anything bad about the person who saved me just now. Also, I don’t find her detestable at all.

“Her smile.”

That’s how it was.

As far as I could tell, that had been her strongest point.

“She was a girl with a lovely smile. Incredibly lovely.”

“…Hmph. Her smile was lovely, you say. Then I must’ve been over thinking. That person doesn’t smile easily… But that aside, Onii-chan, just now another serious problem has emerged.”

“Hm? What is it?”

“I’ve never heard Onii-chan say anything like, ‘Such a lovely smile’, to me.”

“Hm. That so?”

“That’s right. You’ve never said it.”

My sister seemed to be unable to clear the anger off her face.

“You’ve never said it to your cute little sister and yet you said something like that about an unfamiliar female student. That’s a serious crime. If this was a better world, it’d be a crime you’d get in jail for.”

“You’re exaggerating a bit.”

“Well then, ‘Akiko’s smile’s also lovely’, I’d like you to properly say that.”

“…? What are you talking about?”

I tilted my head and said:

“That’s obvious, isn’t it? Akiko’s smile is lovely. It’s not necessary to go out of my way to state the obvious. After all, your smile’s the one I love the most in this world.”

“……Guha.”

My sister collapsed all of a sudden.

“Hey, Akiko?! What’s wrong?!”

“S-Such destructive power…”

“What’s going on with you?! And why’s your nose bleeding?!”

“I-It is okay… I’m alright.”

My sister stopped me from helping her up and instead stood up by herself while pinching her nose.

“Is it anemia? Or perhaps a heatstroke? This early in spring?”

“No, it’s nothing. I’m fine, it’ll be okay in a bit. Seriously… Onii-chan’s doing stuff like that now and then, I really can’t let my guard down, can I…?”

“Eh? What was that?”

“Nothing at all. Anyway, my wish has been fulfilled. I’m greatly satisfied.”

After she cleaned up her nose, my sister’s face blushed red (Not the color of blood. Just making that clear.) and said:

“With that, my spirit’s on the highest peak. Today I’ll cook anything Onii-chan wants me to.”

“Um, well, thanks for that. Are you really okay with that nose bleed though?”

“There’s nothing to worry about. It was just a spurt of super-happiness and it stopped before long. My hemoglobin just went full throttle. More importantly, what do you want to eat? I’ll really make anything you want, okay?”

“Um, okay, then…”

She bled quite a bit from her nose so…

“How about stir fried liver?”

“Stir fried liver? That’ll be no problem!”

My sister repeatedly nodded her head and showed a smile that would’ve been a perfect score.

Yup.

There’s absolutely no mistaking it.

My sister’s smile is the most beautiful in the world. No matter what other people might say, for me it’s something even more obvious than 1 + 1 = 2… an undeniable truth. I wonder why she’s so delighted after I’ve confirmed something like that.

Oh well.

As long as my sister’s in high spirits, nothing else matters.

“Well then, it’s about time we headed off, don’t you think?”

“Yes! Let’s stop by at the supermarket while we’re returning home!”

 

With this and that happening.

My day of checking out St. Liliana Academy ended without bigger incidents.

 

Translator notes and references

[1]‘Escalator System’: Schoolsystem in which students usually rise to the next grade without having to pass exams.

[2]Reference to “Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri.

[3]‘Taisho Romance’: Artistic culture nearing the end of the Taisho Era (1912 – 1926) in Japan. Similar to the Romantic Period that originated in Europe near the end of the 18th century.

[4]‘Yamanote Line’: The Yamanote line is one of the major railway loops in Tokyo. It connects Tokyo’s busiest areas, so it’s very expensive to have land inside the area.

[5]‘Hole‘: Play on words. “Ana” also means “hole” in Japanese.