Tomodachi no Imouto ga Ore ni Dake Uzai -
Volume 5, Chapter 2: Only I Receive a Gift from the Business Partner
Volume 5, Chapter 2: Only I Receive a Gift from the Business Partner
[AKI] About the schedule for the next recording, how does next week Sunday sound?
[Otoi] Right at the end of the month, huh. Fine by me~
[AKI] We have a summer festival happening that day. You know, the one near the shrine. They even have fireworks
[Otoi] Ah, I think I remember that~
[AKI] That’s why I thought we might as well get the recording done that day
[Otoi] So a festival date once you’re done? You two sure are close, huh~
[AKI] Ah, no, I actually had something I wanted to talk with you regarding that
[AKI] Say, are you going to be back soon?
[Otoi] I’m taking the bus home tonight
[AKI] Ah, is that so. Then I’ll contact you later once you’ve relaxed a bit
[Otoi] Hm…I guess we can meet up tomorrow?
[AKI] Tomorrow? Aren’t you going to be tired from your trip?
[Otoi] I can sleep during the bus ride, so it’s fine. If anything, you should help me carry my stuff back to my place~
[AKI] I see…Well, I don’t mind, I’m in your care after all
[Otoi] Very well~
[AKI] By the way, when should I be there?
[AKI] What are you, a devil?
This LIME exchange happened yesterday, the evening after the president’s sudden attack. Calming down a bit after that, I swiftly slipped into bed, and got a good amount of sleep. Early next morning, when the stars were still shining bright, even earlier than any morning radio show, I woke up. Naturally, at this time of the day, not even Iroha was up yet, so no ‘I’m here to annoy Senpai when he wakes up!’ development awaited me. Hence, I could calmly put on my jersey, and do some light stretches. Those acted as my preparation for an early jog.
I’m about to meet someone, so why am I out jogging? That’s because I can get my daily training in, and even meet Otoi-san at the same time. It’s the most efficient method to combine those two activities. During this summer break, I’ve been doing a morning jog around three times a week. Calculating the time it will take me to talk with Otoi-san, if I don’t add my jogging here, I can’t push it elsewhere.
Also, there might be those of you who question my decision to meet a girl while wearing a jersey, drenched in sweat, but you don’t need to worry. She really couldn’t care less about any of that. Back in middle school, when I had to meet her in cosplay attire, she fully ignored that as well. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t mind even if I turned up naked…No, that’s probably taking it too far.
When I left my flat, the sky was colored in a mixture between ultramarine and yellow. A faint warmth was paired with the cool breeze that hit me, making this jog feel quite comfortable. Feeling that this is the perfect time for some light exercise, I got into a steady rhythm, as I started running.
Never would I have imagined to ever pick up a girl upon her return in such a situation. I didn’t give it much thought before, but this kind of relationship can easily be misunderstood, right? Well, knowing both myself and Otoi-san, no way could anything weird like that happen. For now, I’ll just move carefully under the assumption that President Tsukinomori has some way of keeping eyes on me and Mashiro.
After around ten minutes, I made it to the train station. This town is comparable to your average town of this area, but with no trains running yet, the place was absolutely empty. That’s why, just like you’d easily find the oasis inside the desert, after she sent me her ‘I’m here~’ message, I could spot Otoi-san right away.
“Mmm? Ohhh, morning~”
Otoi-san had been sitting on her travel-sized suitcase, staring into the air, when she caught notice of my arrival ,and waved her hand at me.
“It’s been a while…And, what are these clothes?”
“Something weird about it~?”
“Weird, well…it doesn’t feel like summer at all.”
“Ahh, that~?” Otoi-san spoke as she puffed out her chest.
She wore a short-sleeved shirt, together with a scarf. With the temperature being more than comfortable, even during this early summer morning, the scarf felt heavily out of place. Not to mention that she had the upper button of her shirt opened wide, revealing her bold chest right beneath that scarf. I wish she’d just decide if she’s hot or cold, really. No matter how many times I meet her, that unbalance, that couldn’t-be-bothered attitude, still amazes me.
“The place I was staying at was fairly cold after all~”
“In this summer heat? Just where did you go?”
“I feel like there’s too much horror stuff going on around me lately, what’s up with that?”
It’s been the same with that show back at Village Kageishi. I know that summer is the time of horror, but come on. Speaking about Mount Osore, over there in Aomori, they have a lot of spiritual stuff. I wonder if this Sanzu River2 actually exists…She told me that she was doing a summer retreat to polish her own skill with songs…And, I mean, I think she did, wearing a scarf and all, but Mount Osore isn’t exactly a famous spot for that sort of retreat…and what else could she have polished there besides her sense for the supernatural…
As I was lost in thought, Otoi-san took out a stick-shaped candy—one of her beloved chupadrops, took off the wrapping paper, and stuffed it into her mouth. Following that, she gazed at me with an angle of about 70 degrees.
“…Because ‘Black Goat’ is horror?”
She created an awfully random yet equally believable hypothesis.
“They say that S*and Users attract each other, right. I heard that the team that creates horror games suffers from horror incidents~”
“Don’t give me nightmare fuel, okay…”
Well, I know it’s just superstitious belief, so I’m not scared at all. But, just to make sure, I reminded myself to buy around ten spiritual talismans from the nearest shrine.
“But, even if Mount Osore was fairly cold, did you really need to come back with the scarf on and all that?”
“Once I put it on, it’s such a waste to take it off again~”
“That’s what I thought. You’re like a sloth with zero fashion sense.”
“That comparison is interesting~ I have to remember that~”
Indifferent, calm, and the usual conversation with Otoi-san, it was all right there. Just as I suspected, Otoi-san didn’t mind my jersey attire. I did mention that she doesn’t care whatever I could be wearing, but let me add another piece of information to that statement: She actually doesn’t care about her own clothes either.
“Well, luckily there’s no people around, so we won’t stand out in a bad way.”
“Alright, then let’s head inside an gyudon restaurant~”
“…Not something like a family restaurant or a karaoke box?”
I phrased it in the way to include other candidates that are open 24/7, but Otoi-san gave a bitter expression in response. Ah, I can only assume that she’s having a bitter expression. For most people, she probably looks expressionless, with barely any change in that, but because we’ve been acquainted for a long time, I started to get better at guessing.
“The noise around in the karaoke is not the best~ Especially that midnight drunkyard singing, I don’t wanna hear that~”
“Ahh, guys like that tend to even barge into other people’s rooms, right.”
“That happened back in middle school, didn’t it~”
“Yeah…I guess that’s sort of a dark past for us…”
“We were delinquents after all~”
“I don’t think that…Well, actually, midnight karaoke is something a proper student wouldn’t do, I guess.”
“Well, we gotta take the circumstances into consideration~ No use talking about the past.”
Couldn’t have said it any better. Dwelling in the past is awfully inefficient. Also, there’s the promise of us two to respect, and protect the past, which is why Otoi-san cut in there.
“I get that you don’t like the idea of karaoke, but what about a family restaurant? They have sweets as well.”
“I ate at most of the family restaurants around here. I’m tired of it now~”
“What a luxurious tongue…”
“Also, I checked all the sweets out in Aomori, so I’ll eat some once I get back home~ For now, I’m craving some gyudon~”
“No new store opened in the meantime either…But, I understand. Let’s head to one then. I’ll carry your luggage.”
“Thanks a bunch~”
“…Woah, so this is everything, huh. My bones are about to break…”
She gave me a loose thanks, and now pointed at the direction we headed.
“Sorry about this. But, I have some compensation, so put up with it~”
A souvenir by chance? Clueless as I was, I carelessly returned the ball of the conversation, only to hear the impact of said ball heighten dramatically.
“I’ll give you a share of my ‘Tawawa3’.”
Exactly as I stated, her words came shooting back at me. I feel like there was quite the impactful word mixed up in there…Tawawa? Tawawa…Of course, with this limited information, my eyes automatically moved to a certain place. Naturally, you know exactly what place I’m talking about, right? Additionally, I once again confirmed Otoi-san’s light clothing, especially her almost bare chest, barely allowing me to get a glimpse at the color of her underwear…To be honest, that is quite the size…so much that I want to sigh in disbelief.
“What exactly do you mean by that…?”
“Exactly what I said~ Not more, not less. Want a taste right now~?”
“Ah, you got your hands bound, right. Well, whatevs~ You can have a taste at my place~”
“You’re more aggressive than I thought?!”
Slowly, defensively, our distance disappeared, you say? Otoi-san approached me. Not to mention that my gaze drifted towards that assumed ‘Tawawa’, which left me careless for a second. In that small opening, she could attack me directly with a shield break skill and a smash to fully render me defenseless. As the battle system of Tenchidou’s super famous fighting game appeared in the back of my head, I at least tried to keep a mind of steel, and closed my eyes, desperately taking a bit of distance. I need control, that’s all I yearn for.
“Don’t just try to escape like that~ If you move too much, you can’t bite on it.”
“W-Wait. Bite? On what? Otoi-san, what are you, you’re acting wei—”
Weird, is what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t finish my words. Something was forcefully pushed into my mouth. Something soft, but also solid in certain parts. It had a comfortable sensation on my tongue, giving off a sweet taste, but also sour. It tasted almost like a fruit—
“Yup, I got some sweets for you. Though they’re Japanese ones.”
It wasn’t just like a fruit, it was an actual fruit. When I opened my eyes, Otoi-san looked at me with a usual lack of expression, her white slender fingers holding half of the food she just gave me. Consisting of butter with some apple glacé in between, it was Japanese apple pie.
“Right? Apparently, this is pretty famous as a souvenir in Aomori~”
“Ohhh…Wait, so this is the ‘Tawawa’ you were talking about?”
“Yup? It says right here~”
She showed me the vinyl. With simple yet stylish writing, it really said ‘Tawawa’.
“So it was a brand…”
“What did you think it was~?”
“N-Nothing at all.”
As if I could give her an honest answer…that I was thinking of Otoi-san pushing her soft and spongy fruit right into my mouth…Well, knowing her, she’d probably just give a nonchalant ‘Huh, you say some funny stuff Aki~’ and forget about it. That being said, even if our sense of distance can be over the place at times, there’s no way she’d give me a takeout of her breasts. What am I thinking, seriously.
“You really save some weird stuff at times, Aki~ …Nom.”
With not a single change in expression, a relaxation as if we were talking about the weather, Otoi-san’s actions left me speechless. She moved closer in an instant, or rather moved in on the ‘Tawawa’ I was munching on, and threw it onto her own mouth…!?
—Let me retract my previous statement. This vague distance that we have is absolutely terrifying. The whole takeout Tawawa had my guard down just enough to almost give me a heart attack with that action of hers, and I decided to solidify my guard for the rest of our conversation.
Having moved to the gyudon restaurant, Otoi-san and I took the opportunity to sit down at a table for four. With barely any other guests around this early in the morning, we could do as we pleased. I ordered a gyudon menu, and brought up the main topic I wanted to discuss.
“—I really want Iroha to get some friends in the same year as her.”
My tone had changed drastically now. I wasn’t talking to the outsider staff that always helps me out with the [5th Floor Alliance] anymore, but a friend I had known since middle school, who worked for the same goal, to protect Iroha.
“I think she’s got a lot of friends though~”
“That’s just because of her honor student mode. I want her to make some friends where she can be as annoying as she is with me.”
“Finally got fed-up with it, trying to push it away from you?”
“No, if anything, it’s the opposite.”
Otoi-san listened to my words, let out a disinterested ‘Huh’ and blinked slowly like she really couldn’t be bothered…She might look like she’s disagreeing with me, but that’s just how Otoi-san is.
I let my body move accordingly to the uprising passion I felt during the trip at the sea, and formed a first in determination like the president of the USA during speeches you’d often see in their movies.
“That annoying attitude of hers…No, exactly because of this annoying attitude, she possesses a certain charm…!”
“This gyudon is delish~”
“Listen to me, please…”
“I am. But, this is delish.”
She started working on her gyudon menu that had been brought to us a second ago.
“…Also, I’m surprised you can eat something else except sweets and still call it delicious.”
“I gotta take care of my health, see~”
“Gyudon is healthy…?”
“Protein or whatever~ Also, it makes me feel like I’m taking in a lot of other nutrients.”
That’s 100% just placebo. Around the time she ate about half of it, she seemingly got tired of it, put away her chopsticks, and took a sip of her drink.
“So, why are you going on about your love affairs and whatever?”
“It’s not anything like that, I’m speaking from a producer’s POV.”
Until now, I always thought that Iroha’s annoying attitude and behaviour was a flaw, a weak point. As long as she kept quiet, she was the prim and proper, cute celebrity at school. I thought that, if Iroha showed her real self, all the boys aiming at her would sober up. That’s why I just went with this as Iroha’s way of spending her life, and didn’t try to deny that. Instead, I left her with this prim and proper face that she had, but…
“—Now that I realized that charm of it, I want to spread it. Of course, not in the sense of making everybody accept and love it, but I was hoping to give her at least one other person where she doesn’t have to wear that mask…”
“I see~ So that’s why you wanted to talk with me~”
“Exactly. As a fellow friend and producer of Iroha, won’t you help me come up with a plan?”
“I don’t remember ever taking up such a weird role, but sure, I’ll help you~”
“Ohh, that’s great!”
“I was actually thinking about my own future myself, and what happens after I graduate. You know the proverb, ‘The probably always present Otoi-san’.”
Of course, such a proverb doesn’t exist.
“So you were thinking about that as well? Why out of the blue?”
“When I saw the Sanzu River, I imagined the end of my life~”
“So an effect of Mount Osore, huh.”
I thought she was the most grown-up, rational girl in the entire school year, but as it turns out, she was an old woman on the inside. Well, if her goal was to heighten her senses and sensation for her songwriting, then I guess getting more sensitive means it was a success…?
“Make Kohinata get some friends, huh. The problem is that she herself doesn’t seem like she wants any~”
“She’s pretty much just like me…”
“But, isn’t that just because she has a comfortable place, the [5th Floor Alliance], with me, Tsukinomori, and others around? Once all of them are gone, she’s probably going to be left all alone, so if we can prevent this from happening, that would allow me to be relieved. Then I can safely return to the future.”
“Don’t create a weird science-fiction setting out of the blue like that, Otoemon4.”
“I like how you can pick up on stuff like that immediately. High points for that. Not like it matters though.”
Very much like Otoi-san to not care if it’s 0 points or 100. In terms of constructing human relationships the most efficient way, there’s nobody who can beat Otoi-san.
“Anyway, why not check Kohinata’s relationships in her class?”
“Yup. Not us, but at school.”
“Ahhh…Yeah, now that you say it, I only know that she’s popular, but that’s about it.”
With what kinds of people is she on good terms, is the question. What kinds of girls is she talking to, what kinds of guys are confessing to her, what classmates are inviting her out to do something after school. Thinking about it, I really don’t know anything about Iroha in her own classroom. I mean, I’m merely the friend of her older brother who just so happens to live next to her in the same flat, so I don’t have the right to really pry into her private life like that.
“There’s also the proverb ‘Shooting at just the general is a pain, so aim for the horse as well’.”
Yet again, that didn’t exist. Though I won’t bother to tell her about that.
“The relationships in her class…Oh right, there’s this class group LIME chat, and Iroha got invited to the summer festival.”
“……” I just silently gazed at Otoi-san, who used her chopsticks to stir around the gyudon with a deadpan face.
I used this moment to ask her directly.
“Otoi-san…are you…in one…of these class group LIME chats…by any chance…?”
“Nah. Just sounds like a bother. My classmates think I don’t have a smartphone~”
“That’s Otoi-san for you! A fellow kindred soul!”
“What are you talking about~”
After having been ridiculed by Iroha for not being part of this existence called ‘class group LIME chats’, I finally found someone who was the same as me. See that, Iroha? I’m not the only one! …I guess trying to search for an excuse for every little thing is a weakness of the human race. But, leaving that aside.
“This is the main reason I wanted to talk with you. I want to convince Iroha so that she goes to the festival with her classmates, right after the recording.”
“That is pretty difficult if you ask me~ And knowing Kohinata, she probably wants to go with you, right?”
“Actually, she wants to go as the three of us.”
“Yeah, that’s probably her honest wish. Don’t you think it would be bad to forcefully have her go with her classmates?”
“Of course…Just, I happened to find a reason why I can’t go together with her.”
“Hmmm?” With her chopsticks still in her mouth, Otoi-san tilted her head as she asked for clarification.
I explained the situation. About President Tsukinomori warning us, and the entire pact that I had with him which forced me to act as a fake boyfriend of Mashiro in order to get the [5th Floor Alliance] employed as a reward. If I were to start dating Mashiro for real, if I were to date another girl, or even just if people got the idea that I was, the promise would be nullified.
After she heard my explanation to the very end, Otoi-san let out a nonchalant ‘I see~’, and spoke as if she had realized something.
“But, is this very situation right now not a problem?”
“I am a girl, you know. We’re on a date eating gyudon together.”
“I really doubt he has an eye on me even this early in the morning.”
“Well, I guess I’m not that much of a beauty to get this president jealous in the first place.”
“…That’s not true though?”
“You know I’m right. My hair is all ruffled up, and my clothes are a mess.”
I guess that, just judging from her being the exact opposite of stylish, she doesn’t look like one of those ‘Popular’ people. But, going at it from the other direction, this noncommittal and lazy look might be a reason why she stands out in her own way.
“Even though she acts like a fellow mob character, she’s pretty stylish, that Tsukinomori.”
“Yeah…I thought so myself. Even compared to you.”
“Well yeah. She’s a good sport just alone for wearing earrings in high school.”
“I know right!”
Though I can feel the same old Mashiro still in there, knowing that she didn’t have the courage to actually pierce her ears.
“The way she styles her hair, the way she does her makeup, everything makes her probably the most fashion-conscious girl out of everyone around you, Aki.”
“Yet she never talks to anyone at school besides us, and on school-free days, she just sits at home…makes me wonder why go that far in the first place.”
“Maybe exactly because of that?”
“Like a weapon? If she’s that shy to even step out of the house, she probably needs a weapon to keep her calm, some routine and defense against others?”
“I see, that does make sense.”
Girls as living beings sure are difficult, acting all different from how they usually would because of such an ideology, a simple imagination. Makes sense that teaching Ozu human communication was that difficult, it’s because I don’t excel at it either.
“Anyway, I don’t think anybody will get the wrong idea even if you hang out with such an unstylish girl like me.”
“I really don’t want to agree on that, but for the sake of things, I’ll let that slip for now.” I couldn’t hold back a sigh.
“…To get back on topic. If I were to head on this summer festival with Iroha, and the president were to have his eyes on us, everything would have been for nothing. At the same time, I want Iroha to make friends that can appreciate her even with that annoying attitude of hers. In order to deal with both of these problems at the same time…”
“You want Kohinata to go to the summer festival together with her classmates, huh~ But, you don’t know how to get her to do so.”
“Exactly. There’s also her feelings that we gotta consider. I want to properly explain to her that we’re not leaving her out, or pushing her away. But, how can I satisfy her even…I can’t come up with an answer myself, so I needed someone else’s opinion.”
Scratching her chopsticks on the bottom of the empty bowl, Otoi-san gave a reaction like she was thinking about it. And, after a few seconds that felt like ten minutes, she spoke up again.
“Maybe you should tail her?”
“The direction got weird really quick.”
“I mean, if you don’t know the situation in Iroha’s actual class, there’s nothing you can do, right? Maybe she doesn’t like her classmates all that much? You wouldn’t want to push her into something she doesn’t truly desire, hm?”
The great premise of it all is that Iroha finds a comfortable environment where she can be herself. I can’t make matters worse while trying to help her. That being said…
“I really don’t like the idea of stalking her.”
“You just gotta watch over her like a father. Also, she’s constantly barging into your place, so wouldn’t it be fair for you to do something similar once a while?”
“Now that you say it…Wait, no no no.” I shook my head with my iron will.
There’s things not to do, even when we’re this close.
“What an upright guy you are~ Well, that’s about all I can tell you, so rest is up to you.”
“Understood…And, thanks for hearing me out.”
“It’s all good, you’re going to help me carry my luggage after all.”
“Tch, so you remembered.”
Even if she looked like she is spacing out all the time, she can be oddly sharp at the weirdest times.
After this, I carried Otoi-san’s luggage to her place as promised, and got some ‘Tawawa’ before making my way home. Around the time I made it back to the flat, the sun started to rise, and the clock told me it was 7am. Thinking that this was around the time Iroha would come attack me if we had school, I went up the elevator. Around 100 seconds after I opened the door to my apartment…
“I will give you the right to stalk me, Senpai!”
Those words raised the flag of me dying socially in 100 minutes5.
「There’s too much context missing here it’s a bit hard to follow though?」
「Don’t worry, I’ll properly explain things from here on out. The impact just caused my brain to freeze up, and it stopped functioning」
1 It’s written with the kanji for fear and angst
2 Sanzu River is believed to be inside Mount Osore, a mythological river
3 Means soft, heavy load, and is often used to describe breasts
4 Reference to Doraemon, who came back from the future
5 Got mostly lost in translation, but this is actually a reference to This Croc Will Die In 100 Days
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