==April 26th, 9:00 A.M. (St. Liliana Academy ・ Class 2-A’s Classroom)==
Alright, I haven’t had many chances to talk about my academy life, so now’s the time for a brief description.
The private St. Liliana Academy:
As I mentioned many times already, the school offered consistent high-quality education from kindergarten to graduation. Its reputation traversed the whole country. Our high school division inside the area of the Yamanote Line was no different. It had an outstanding school building, equipment, and teaching staff. Everything here lived up to its reputation.
Right now the school was massive, with about 2000 students total. Of those 2000, 700 were first-years, and those 700 were split into 20 classes averaging 35 people each.
I was in class 2-A.
It was the first class in alphabetical order, but grade-wise I was nowhere near that ‘first’ rank. The academy didn’t assign classes based on gender, academics, or career ambitions; it was perfectly random. Lineage and nationality didn’t matter either, nor did having an influential parent give a student any advantage. This thorough fairness was supposed to be one of St. Liliana Academy’s strong points.
I sat in the window seat at the back. I had secured, so to say, the perfect seat. I could observe the sports grounds where they held PE classes all I wanted, and it was in a quiet, blind spot most suitable for dozing off. I didn’t concentrate much on academics, as I was always busy with novel and student council related work. Hence, this was the perfect seat for me.
Not to mention now was the first period.
And to make matters worse, it was modern Japanese.
For someone like me, who earned their meals as a somewhat professional writer, my modern language skills were pretty decent, so you can’t really blame me for dozing off in class.
Anyway, I was having a hard time fighting my drowsiness while I basked in the gentle spring sun which was shining through the window.
“——From what we’ve read, we can see that the protagonist’s mindstate is extremely complicated and difficult to describe at this point. After spending the whole day escaping the sealed room, he finally learned that somehow this woman, someone he knew well enough to call a comrade, was related to his mother. It’s not hard to imagine how shocking this was for our protagonist.”
The Japanese teacher who was instructing plainly from the front desk was Saeki Shizuka Jiyoshi. She was also the vice homeroom teacher.
She was an awe-inspiring female teacher who had slit eyes behind her glasses and wore a good and smart looking suit. I recall she was around the same age as my editor, Jinno Kaoruko-san. Although still inexperienced, she held a graceful pose while teaching, and she also had the charms of being both naturally airheaded and unathletic. Because of this she was very popular among students.
Despite being unathletic, Saeki-sensei very skilled in chalk-throw technique. She’d mercilessly display that skill every time someone dozed off, so I couldn’t let myself lose focus for even a second. I was a student of a famous elite school, so even though I had the lowest seat in the student council, I wanted to avoid a chalk blow on the forehead at least.
“…And now, as we head into the conclusion, we can see that the events foreshadowed in the first half of the book are being resolved one at a time. The moment our protagonist finally realizes the relationship between his departed mother and this woman he has shared this day with is in the final scene where he utters, ‘You can do it, you can do it.’ Now then, why would our protagonist, who originally despised this saying with passion, go as far as to say these words? …Yoshioka, your thoughts?”
While ignoring Saeki-sensei’s lesson with half my brain, my other half was fighting full-throttle to stay awake. Meanwhile, I pretended to take notes, but I was really working on an idea for a novel.
My behavior was risky and unbecoming in this elite school, but I had little time left, so I decided to take this gamble.
I did this for ten odd minutes.
Finally, the first period ended without incident and I was safe.
“——Okay. That’s it for today’s lesson.”
Saeki-sensei, who had rushed through the lesson and reached a good point just before the bell rang, tidied up her textbook and materials, and continued:
“Does anyone have any questions?”
On hearing the teacher’s question, a number of students headed towards the front desk. It was almost like they were dying to get there, and I marveled in admiration every time I saw it. Of course, I didn’t admire them for something like excellent grades. It was the opposite. I admired them for putting their backbone into it and redoubling their efforts so they didn’t fall behind.
On the other hand were those who didn’t go to the front desk. Most of them either went to the bathroom or lightheartedly talked with their friends. Hardly any of them used the time to study and prepare for lessons. For students who could keep up with their classes, break time meant break time – it was something like this school’s style. While it was a high class institution proud to be the nationwide leader in academic ability, people didn’t cram-study to vy for first rank in entrance exams. I guess you could call this one of St. Liliana Academy’s unique traits.
Speaking of which, I was doing something along those lines…
After I finished preparing for second period, international history, I just sat at my own desk being bored and doing nothing. The novel work had to be done in secrecy since I couldn’t pick up the notebook with plot memos in public.
It’s not that. I don’t want to be misunderstood.
It’s not that I was bullied or shut out. It’s nothing like that.
I was just a bit, just a tiny little bit, unable to fit in with the class. It wasn’t that I wanted to avoid being treated coldly or that I was unwilling to talk to others, and I wasn’t hated so much that no one would talk to me.
But it couldn’t be helped, right? Most students in class 2-A had been together since freshman year, but I only just transferred here. It’s only natural that I hadn’t blended in yet.
To make things worse, I usually ate lunch with the student council members, so I couldn’t eat with my classmates.
It was an exception among exceptions for a new transfer student to join the student council in the first place.
Plus, I had caused a commotion on the very first day, and recently there had been rumors that I was living in the same dorm as the student council.
It’s only natural I was standing out, right?
But I had no intention to accept that I couldn’t interact with my classmates, so I tried talking to them whenever I had the chance. Sadly, so far my efforts were fruitless.
But honestly speaking, I knew very clearly why I had trouble fitting in. The reason was——
I was deep in thought, and before I knew it Saeki-sensei was standing in front of me. Seemed like her question and answer session had ended.
“How is it? Are you getting used to the academy?”
“Ah, yes. I’m fine, thank you.”
“Is that so?”
With a nod, Saeki-sensei turned and glanced around the classroom.
Well, although I had said I was fine, it seemed my current unfavorable circumstances were exposed. My classmates had an ‘I have nothing to do with him’ expression on their faces, and they watched me and the teacher from the corner of their eyes. I was obviously left out.
“It’s fine if you’re climatizing, but please tell me if anything worries you. I don’t know if I can help, but I can at least give you advice.”
“Yes. Thank you very much.”
“Personally, I can understand your situation.”
Sensei said indifferently and gave me a sharp look.
“I heard that you didn’t just transfer schools, but also support the household financially and are doing student council work. You’re even the superintendent of the student dorm. I can easily imagine that you’d have a tough time.”
“No— You know that?”
“I do. Today, you looked sleep deprived again. On a closer look, there are shadows under your eyes too, and you look pale.”
“Eh? Is that really true?”
I didn’t notice anything when I looked in the mirror this morning. This was probably because of the previous incident with the president.
“Yeah… I didn’t notice it myself. Maybe I really am tired.”
“Well, I think it’s better than dozing off, of course, but it’s unreasonable nonetheless. I’m worried about my students collapsing.”
“Thank you for your concern.”
“I’ll take your situation into account and accommodate you in my own way, but no matter how much I help, health is a personal issue in the end. You should make sure to keep that in mind.”
“Thank you. Your words are a great help.”
“Nonetheless, do your side job in moderation, alright? If it’s you, I doubt your skills for modern Japanese are lower than for your other subjects… so at the very least stand out a little in your exam.”
Ah, seems I’ve been exposed. How terribly impolite of me to have hidden it from her.
“No, I’m really sorry. It’s because my job’s deadline is coming up… I always cause trouble for the person in charge, so this time I wanted to…”
“I know. After all, your editor keeps complaining to me in tears.”
Jinno Kaoruko, 25 years old.
My editor’s trademarks were a warm smile, drooping yet sharp eyes, and a childlike face that didn’t match her age. However—— I didn’t think she’d actually complain to Saeki-sensei. That was bad. Even though I only just debuted as an author, I already had a reputation as ‘an author who can’t deliver a manuscript’. I must follow my deadlines this time…
“Thank you, I’m sincerely sorry. How should I put it? I’m ashamed, really.”
“It won’t get better even if you bow your head… Well, as I said before, I’ll keep your situation in mind. If you exercise moderation, then endeavoring in your side job’s probably alright, and I’ll pretty much pretend to not know about it. Biting off more than you can chew is a respectable aspect of youth in a way, but keep it reasonable.”
“…I feel like you’re telling me to do contradictory things. Like running while walking.”
“But you’ve chosen this path, right?”
“That’s true, huh—”
It was as she had said. I couldn’t rebuke her.
However, I felt I didn’t sow all the troubles I reaped…There was no point whining about it though.
“If it’s the path you’ve chosen for yourself, you should see it through to the end. Also, you didn’t take the entrance exam and got here thanks to one talent. You must continue proving that you have this one value until the day you graduate. Do you understand?”
“Yes. I’ll engrave this in my heart.”
“There is one more thing…”
“Uh-huh. That’s, well, it’s probably none of my business, but——”
At that time——
A familiar voice came from the corridor.
“I’m sorry for bothering all of you again, please excuse my intrusion.”
Akiko entered the classroom while giving a well-mannered and proper greeting to class A.
“Onii-chan, Onii-chan! It’s me! Onii-chan’s cute little sister that he loves most in the whole world! I’ve come to visit you again today.”
“…Yeah. There you are again, huh, Akiko?”
“Yes, here I am ——Ah, good morning, Saeki-sensei.”
Towards the innocently greeting Akiko, Saeki-sensei’s expression grew a bit grim.
“Himenokouji, you’re in class B, right?”
“Yes, I’m in class B.”
“Then why are you coming to class A instead?”
“Yes, I’ve come to meet Onii-chan.”
“…Himenokouji. It’d be different if you had some reason to be here…”
“Ah, my mistake. I came to be loved by Onii-chan.”
Haa… After letting out a sigh, she continued:
“Listen, Himenokouji. Don’t appear in other classrooms without good reason. You might be twins and all, but is there some law that you have to cling to each other all the time?”
“But Onii-chan’s my onii-chan.”
“…You’re a student council member, so you’re expected to be a model for the other students, right? Be more sensitive to decorum and have more common sense.”
“Wouldn’t it be better to say that to the student council president and vice-president instead of me?”
“Well, that’s certainly true, but…”
“Furthermore, Onii-chan and I are mutual lovers. It’s natural for lovers to always be together, and all the more reason since we’re twins. That’s why my visits to this classroom every break are the most natural thing in the world. Actually, the graver matter here is that Onii-chan and I are in different classes. I will bring this problem to the board of directors for deliberation at once. I will, without fail, secure the self-evident right for me and Onii-chan to spend our school lives together.”
Saeki-sensei could only sigh softly in response to Akiko’s excited declaration.
“You were the only one in the student council who was close to having a conscience. Well, even so, it’s true student council’s self-administration doesn’t have many problems…”
“Excuse me? Are you trying to say something, sensei?”
“No, it’s nothing. Anyway, a good relationship is wonderful and all, but exercise moderation, okay?”
“Yes! I’ll give it my best!”
“It’s that enthusiasm that worries me… No, nevermind.”
Saeki-sensei shook her head and left the classroom.
“Onii-chan, with that, the person hindering our quality time is gone. Let’s flirt freely until the end of break.”
“…You know, Akiko…”
While I sighed at my sister, whose expression was like a dog demanding food from its master, I said:
“Can’t you stop finding me every break? Or at least do it less frequently?”
“Because… You saw it earlier, right? Saeki-sensei was troubled, and it’s not just her. Other teachers feel the same way.”
Incidentally, that also included the class A students eavesdropping on our conversation—— I even feared Himenokouji Akiko’s transformation worried almost everyone in St. Liliana.
Before moving, my sister had been a model student. She had it all: wit, beauty, and a cheerful smile. The students longed for her, or so I had heard.
But these days, like right now, she shamelessly displayed her unethical fetish: being an extreme bro-con. As things are right now, she looked like someone showing off their pervertedness.
Akiko’s behavior was the biggest reason I felt out of place in the class.
“It’s alright, Onii-chan. That’s no problem.”
“What do you mean, ‘No problem’? Then what is?”
“The people around us just aren’t used to our relationship yet. They’ll surely get used to it after a month.”
“No, you’re missing the point. They shouldn’t have to get used to it in the first place.”
“If you ask me, I think they’re already halfway there.”
“Putting it another way, it’s widely known that I love Onii-chan, but up until this very day Onii-chan hasn’t shown similar feelings. This definitely is the problem.”
“Don’t worry, I’m properly showing it. That my sister can not be my love interest, that is.”
“C’mon, Onii-chan, always gettin’ so embarrassed ‘n all. Did you know? Nowadays, dishonest people like that are called ‘tsundere’.”
“No, I know what a tsundere is, but you’re misjudging an important point. I’ve never been ‘dere’ to start with.”
“Hahaha. Onii-chan, your jokes are as funny as ever.”
Akiko glossed over what I said with a laugh while waving her hand.
Whether it’s better to call it being tough as usual or thickheaded, she really didn’t know how to be discouraged.
“Now then, Onii-chan. Let’s put this laughable acting aside and quickly get honest.”
“No, I’ve been plain honest the whole time.”
“If Onii-chan said, ‘I love you, Akiko. Let’s get married’, right now, then people might realize their misunderstanding too.”
“What misunderstanding are you talking about?!”
“The idea that Onii-chan and I aren’t lovey-dovey with each other: that kind of huge misunderstanding.”
“But that’s 100% true, right?”
“Fufu, it’s fine, Onii-chan. Stare at me with those scornful eyes. You really are just like a tsundere. I’m getting thrills.”
“Please stop talking like that. The class will really start to misunderstand.”
“Onii-chan, why don’t you just become an easier to understand tsundere?”
“Easier to understand? What does that even mean?”
“Just leave it all to me. If I, a worthy tsundere meister, deal with this matter, then making Onii-chan into a true tsundere shouldn’t be a problem at all.”
“Well then, please repeat after me. ‘Hmph. I definitely do not like Akiko at all!’ …Okay, now together.”
“Now, now. Don’t be shy. ‘Hmph. I definitely do not like Akiko at all!’ …Okay, now Onii-chan. Ripiito afutaa mii.”
“I definitely do not see Akiko as a love interest at all!”
“Buhaa?! It doesn’t feel tsundere at all when you say it so coldly! You’ve even changed the words towards the end!”
I eyed my writhing sister scornfully:
“Look, aren’t you satisfied already? The next lesson will start soon, so please hurry back to your classroom.”
“Muuuuuuu—! Onii-chan’s acting cold as always! You’ve hurt me terribly! I demand an apology and compensation!”
“Then leave the apology aside, just compensation is enough!”
“You won’t get a kiss, a hug, or a pat on the head.”
“Muu—?! Go ahead and crush everything I truly desire! Onii-chan’s too cruel!”
“Aaah, enough, it’s fine already. Come on now, please hurry and go.”
“Hmph, if that’s your attitude I’ll leave without hesitation. Next break I’ll make Onii-chan say even more tsundere-like words for sure.”
“Yeah, yeah, got it – I got it.”
“Ah, but please don’t get me wrong, okay?! I definitely don’t like Onii-chan at all!”
With that sharp parting remark, my sister left the classroom in a hurry.
After letting out a sigh, I was now alone with my classmates. Their gazes were hard to describe.
…Yare, yare. The same as always…
Whether I like it or not, I guess I’ve been playing along too much, huh? It’s only natural to feel out of place here when I’m part of an on-going sibling comedy act every break. And I keep getting those strange glares.
Yeah, from now on I should be more careful about various things. Yeah…
Translator notes and references