Tomodachi no Imouto ga Ore ni Dake Uzai -
Volume 5, Chapter 3: Only I am a Stalker towards my Friend’s Little Sister
Volume 5, Chapter 3: Only I am a Stalker towards my Friend’s Little Sister
Let me tell you what happened a bit more calmly and in greater detail. What greeted me the second I made it home was a loud voice enough to burst my eardrums.
“Ahhhh!! Senpaiiii?! Why did you come home this early in the morning?!”
Only from the voice alone I knew who I was dealing with; Kohinata Iroha. She came to meet me with her familiar school uniform, her cheeks puffed out in a pout. I didn’t even have enough energy to thank her for protecting my home while I wasn’t there.
“You’re so annoying this early in the morning. Stop bothering the neighbours.”
“These neighbours actually are my place, Mashiro-senpai, and Sumire-chansensei, so it’s totally fine~”
“It ain’t fine at all. Bothering other people is a principle that exists even with your friends and family. Especially Mashiro, you do not want to annoy her in any way when she’s sleeping or trying to sleep. I happened to find her asleep during class once, and things were mighty dangerous back then.”
Remembering the gaze Mashiro gave me, as she was in a horrible mood because of a severe lack of sleep, I felt shivers run down my spine. Also, there’s the people living below us, did you forget about them?
“Don’t change the topic! You came home this early in the morning with…a plastic bag…?”
“It’s a souvenir from Otoi-san.”
I pushed the plastic bag right onto Iroha, took off my shoes, and entered the room.
“You met Otoi-san?”
“Eh, huh? You two…are in that kind of relationship? …I mean, she does give off the aura of a lover, but…”
“Don’t get any weird ideas now. I was just talking to her about the day of the recording, and she made me carry her luggage while I was there.”
“Ahh, so you were her errand boy…Ahaha~ Well, knowing Senpai, I knew that it couldn’t have been like that! You’re the eternal 9th rank virgin after all!”
“Stop adding random numbers…Well, just say what you want.”
…I wasn’t lying in any way, so it should be fine, yeah. Also, there was something even more important that was still a mystery for me, so let’s start with that.
“Why are you wearing your uniform anyway?”
“Ahh, that! That’s why I came here anyway, but you weren’t home, making me feel like I was left high and dry on max level!”
Instead of just giving me a straight response, Iroha used her JK language, even though it wasn’t even a school day, and continued.
“I will give you the right to stalk me, Senpai!”
……Mm? Nah, that had to have been my ears playing tricks on me. Yeah, that has to be it.
“Now then, what should I do about breakfast…”
“Hey, can you not just ignore me?! Don’t go back to your daily life!”
“People have this so-called normalcy bias, okay.”
“Ohhh? So that happened to activate when I gave you the permission to stalk me? So you are saying that Iroha-chan’s cuteness is socially, psychologically, and physically visible!”
“How can you have that much energy this early in the morning…Also, that doesn’t explain why you’re wearing a uniform.”
“Oh, that’s right. I actually need to head to school today.”
“It’s not a normal school day, and you’re not part of any club either, right. Judging from your grades, it can’t be supplementary lessons.”
“I have to help prepare for the culture festival! I should have been on duty, but I skipped half of it because of our trip, so I have to go now for the second half. You know, being an honor student and all that~”
“Ahh, right. We have the culture festival right after summer break ends. Depending on the exhibition, you even have to prepare during break, I guess.”
“Do you not have to do anything like that, Senpai?”
“Nope. These idiots spend their time on temporary joy that doesn’t help at all during your future life, working on something that won’t profit anybody in the long term. I on the other hand don’t have any time for that.”
“Aren’t you denying their youth a bit too much?”
“Well, to be completely fair, nobody asked for my opinion, so some other guys already took care of most stuff.”
I wasn’t even telling them that I couldn’t be bothered to participate, they just literally didn’t give me anything to do. If you get on my level, an entity that is forgotten by everyone with no presence whatsoever, something like this is an easy feat…Really, how efficient, huh.
Because of Mashiro’s open announcement that the two of us were dating, I had gathered a bit of short-lived attention, but the problem already got blown away in the wind, as I could revert to my days of having no presence. Now that I think about it, that means that I can’t act properly as a shield, as Mashiro’s fake lover, which earned me the warning from President Tsukinomori in the first place.
“And, what is your class doing, Senpai?”
“A muscle cafe.”
“Eh, what kind of niche cafe is that supposed to be?”
“We’re putting down training machines, and hand out special protein shakes.”
“Wha…isn’t that actually a pretty well thought-out idea…But, how did it end up like that?”
“The bastard that’s the most popular and outgoing in class was getting interested in muscle training as of late. Before I realized it, we got more and more trainees, and things just escalated from there.”
It’s the guy I previously told that Sumire likes muscular men. If my life was a novel, he’d be a classmate where I don’t even remember our relationship all too much, but in order to become more macho, he started going to the gym, and yet immediately forgot about this original goal of winning over Sumire, just devoting his entire life on muscles. I mean, if he’s happy, and living a healthy life, then I guess everything is fine…right?
“Phew, I guess that there’s a lot of different tastes in this world. I thought our class was doing something over the top, but I guess we were pretty naive.”
“Oh right, what is your class doing, Iroha?”
“A maid cafe~ Moe, moe, kyuuun~!”
I feel like that gesture’s outdated…? I mean, I don’t know today’s maid cafes and their rites, so it might just be the same as always.
“The concept is that prim and classic English maids are going to be servicing you! The clothes are the actual real deal, as we will prepare them with fabric resembling the one they used back in the day!”
“The clothes might be real, but the servicing is going to be fake, you alright with that?”
“No problem. Fake it until you make it! In my head, it’s already perfect.”
“Well, you are acting it just fine…so I guess it might just work.”
Just like it had been proven at a certain famous Stanford prison experiment before, depending on the situation and role one is acting, a human’s actions can change entirely. The more you act, the more you might become like the actual thing, and that’s what’s so scary about it.
That being said, is she really going to be able to act like a neat and prim maid? If one were to ask me, I’d have to give a clear NO…So, what will happen once I graduate, and our communication breaks down? In order to leave behind the marriage between Iroha’s annoying attitude and cuteness for the later world, I really have to make it so that she can have a few friends of her own, because that is the work of me, as an annoyingness producer…Well, anyway, enough about that.
“So, how are preparations for a maid cafe connected to giving me the right to stalk you? I don’t see any connection at all.”
“Ah, right!” Iroha pushed her index finger onto the tip of my nose.
—U-Urk, so annoying…
“I was just thinking, isn’t it unfair that I have to go to school, and yet you can stay at home? I’m drenched in sweat from all the hard work, yet you can enjoy the cool air inside your room, reading manga!?”
“Isn’t that just what you do all the time? Every single day…every…single…day…”
“That. Is. Why…I thought I might as well share these hot passionate memories with you, as I’m being locked inside that classroom! I’m not that much of a demon to ask you to help me, so I gave you the special right to stalk me!”
“What kind of logic is that…But, well…”
There’s a reason I could jump onto it. Otoi-san told me to tail her in order to look into Iroha’s friendships. I was pretty doubtful and hesitant about that, but if the person herself gives me permission, it should be fine, right? Perhaps?
“—Yeah, why not?”
“I never really get a chance to check out your class. A-As your producer, it wouldn’t hurt to have a more detailed insight on that, yeah.”
I forced myself to agree with these words I spoke, when Iroha hit me with a rather profound gaze. She grinned, enough to get me agitated, but it equally had a certain beauty to it, like a controversial work of art.
“What a helpless Senpai~ Do you cherish the time together with Iroha-chan that much!?”
“Who can blame you~ We’ve been together almost every day this summer break. Taking a single day break of that must be too tough for you! I understand, I totally get it!”
“Don’t get on a high horse, moron! That’s not it, I’m telling you!”
“How rare of you to be so honest, hehehe~”
“…I-It’s time for breakfast! You help me out, and once we’re done, we’re heading off to school!”
“Understood, Master~” She grabbed the hem of her skirt, giving a slight bow with the tone of a maid, and left the room.
I watched her walk off, as I was at a loss on what you even do when stalking someone. With no answer to that, I just followed her to the kitchen.
The atmosphere at school during a classes-free day is always something special. Normally, the hallways and classrooms are filled with the annoying voices and screams of the countless students present, yet now they are wrapped up in a comforting silence, as only the cicadas chirping could be heard, the sun shining down on the asphalt. It felt like the NPCs didn’t load inside a rural area of a 3D game.
You could rarely pick out students here and there who are at school to prepare for the culture festival, as a giant billboard hung high on the gate, saying ‘Gold Wheel Festival’. It’s the name for our culture festival, even though it’s absolutely not related to our high school’s name, and apparently incorporates the idea of ‘Doing this is such a pain, I don’t wanna do it anymore’ from the first person who did a culture festival…Seriously, who cares.
Also, since I have not much interest at all in this school I’m attending, it took me a second to remember the name, but our Kouzai High is actually quite the high-ranking school in the area. Although that was the case, even people of great difference in social ranking (like me and Iroha) could attend this school all the same, so naturally, we entered the school gate together—Not quite. Even before that, we didn’t even walk here together.
[Iroha] Um, why don’t you just come over here now? There’s really no meaning of walking together!
[AKI] Hey, no turning around. Just walk on ahead, a bit more awkwardly maybe
[Iroha] I’m surprised you can be this arrogant while you’re stalking me!?
That’s right. During this entire time we walked to school, we would certainly keep a safe distance of ten meters between us. Iroha would walk on ahead, with me tailing her. All our conversation happened over LIME. When Iroha retorted my apparently rotten thinking at full force, my answer was simple.
[AKI] A stalker would never walk next to his target
There you go. If I’m going to act like a stalker, I’ll do it thoroughly…Or even more importantly, I have to be careful of President Tsukinomori’s eyes watching over me at any time, so walking to school together with Iroha was far too dangerous.
[Iroha] For crying out loud! Now I can’t even experience a heart-throbbing walk to school event!
[AKI] We don’t need something like that. Hurry up and get inside
[Iroha] Grrrrr! You’re such a teaser, Senpai! Idiot, idiot!
The sight of Iroha walking to the shoebox grew more distant. Did she just…stick out her tongue at me?
[AKI] It’s already 9am. Wouldn’t want an honor student to be late, right?
[Iroha] Ugh! Threatening the pure me with such deviant methods!
[AKI] I’ll continue the stalking in the library while I’m working, so see you later
Although Iroha clearly had a few complaints still, she gave up on resisting, and entered the building. Now then…I waited a moment before following her, and headed inside as well, making my way to the library with my indoor shoes on.
Our school has its library rooms open even during summer break. Sitting down near a seat at the window side, a counter of sorts, I could closely observe what was going on in the classroom building across the one I was sitting in. Just like this library room, the first-year classrooms are located on the third floor, making this place the best possible location to keep stalking Iroha.
From the looks of it, coming to the library to read during summer break wasn’t all too popular, as the place was mostly empty, with only a single library committee member present. The second I entered, she gave me a suspicious look for some reason. For a second I was doubtful if she might just be the spy employed by President Tsukinomori, but I disregarded that possibility right away.
The duty and timetable for the various committee members during summer break is being decided before the actual break, as it should be. I don’t know how long President Tsukinomori has been dubious of the existence of other girls besides Mashiro around me, but since he warned me now, as we are still in the middle of the break, the chances of this supervision increasing after the actual break is much higher.
That’s why, being cautious about a mere library committee member is too much. I can reevaluate this decision in case she starts acting weird after all. I booted up my laptop, and started working. The goal of today was to observe Iroha’s surroundings…However, just that alone would leave too much open space in my schedule. In order to use this time efficiently, I brought some work with me that I can accomplish no matter the work environment. If anything, I can probably get more work done here, since Iroha isn’t bothering me.
So now, I decided to work on the update announcement for the new character we developed at the Kanaria Residence, ‘Kokuryuuinkugetsu’, which is why I booted up my editing software. It was a character with jet-black clothing, screaming ‘Middle-schooler syndrome!’ everywhere. But, that expression of hers had a certain level of smugness and annoying attitude to it…
“Yeah, she really is cute……Ah.”
Looking at Murasaki Shikibu-sensei’s drawing for the announcement, I accidentally blurted out these words. When I realized my mistake, it was already too late, as the library committee member gave me a questionable gaze. Who could blame her. Someone who came into the library room during summer break, not even reading a book, but instead taking out a laptop, gazing at the screen filled with drawings of a beauty of a character, muttering ‘Cute’, could only look like a suspicious fellow.
Y-You’re wrong, okay. I’m just here so that I can stalk Iroha at the same time, and definitely not the type of otaku to grin at 2D drawings…Well, either way I phrase it, it makes me sound like a creep, I guess.
For now, I’ll just quietly focus on my work. That’s what I decided, and faced the laptop screen again, when suddenly Iroha stepped out on the balcony of the classroom she was in. Not wearing her usual headphones, she was currently in her honor student mode, as she waved her hand at me.
In said hand, she had her smartphone. And, as if she wanted to tell me something, she pointed at it. Following this, I felt my own smartphone vibrate in my pocket…An incoming call? Iroha, huh.
「I was thinking that, in order to allow you some secret stalking, I was going to keep the call going while I’m working in here~」
「Just keep your phone connected like this!」
…Hey, are you serious? No, this might actually be the perfect chance. With that timing, two girls arrived on the balcony, and tapped Iroha on the shoulder.
「No slacking off~」
「You got a boyfriend or something?」
I could hear their voices coming from the phone.
「Of course not~ I was just checking things out, wondering if we wouldn’t be able to attract customers here as well.」
「I see! Being up on the third floor, we can’t advertise as good.」
「Yup. But, if we put up a billboard here, the people right below would be able to see it perfectly. There’s a higher chance that we’ll get more customers this way.」
「That’s Kohinata-san for you, so clever!」
Good for you to create such an authentic lie in the blink of the moment…
「Senp…An acquaintance of mine always thinks about stuff like this. I feel like I’ve been starting to think like them. Though we won’t know how it’ll work.」
「That’s plenty already! I would have never been able to come up with that.」
「Yeah yeah. We really aren’t a match for Kohinata-san.」
「Stop it already~ I’m not in any club, so I use all my time to study, that’s all. Those who can go both ways are the real amazing ones~」
“Who the heck are you?! …Ah.”
The gap between the Iroha I was listening to, and the one I knew was far too great, squeezing that retort out of me. Yet again, I realized my mistake far too late, as the library committee member looked at me with scared eyes. Across the window was a group of girls, talking gleefully, with another guy screaming out loud, talking to nobody. This is bad, another one like this, and I’ll get reported for sure.
Also, Iroha is treating me as an ‘acquaintance’ in front of her classmates, huh. Well, I’m just the friend of an older brother, I guess? I would have loved for her to introduce me as a reliable Senpai, but I’m not sad about it at all? Oddly enough, it made me realize how far this building was away from hers. I couldn’t help but become aware that she was part of a different world, an invisible wall existing between the two of us.
“…Guess I’ll do some work.”
This time, I succeeded to say it in a quiet voice, which saved me from the library committee member’s death stare.
Around two hours passed like that. While doing my own work, I listened to Iroha doing preparations for the culture festival, heard their exchanges, which led me to several conclusions.
First, she is being relied on like crazy. A few girls are working on the maid costumes, and another student, probably part of the art club, is working on the billboard, but whenever they were stuck on something, they would come ask Iroha for help. Every time she gives some advice or tip, everybody gives a surprised and admired reaction. Not to mention that Iroha always acts modest towards the excessive praise following that.
Secondly, she’s quite meddlesome. Even without being asked for help, if Iroha spots a student that’s having trouble, she goes out to give advice. Not to mention that she even talks to the people who don’t really fit into the class caste, inviting them into the conversation naturally, not forcefully.
Thirdly, the adults put trust in her. Their homeroom teacher, a woman, is often showing up to check on how things are going, or offers to help, and everytime in doing so, she gets into a quick conversation with Iroha, who always treats her with respect. Just from the expression of the teacher, I could tell that Iroha was receiving quite the trust.
“I knew about this before, but…she really is an honor student.”
As a piece of information, I had known about this long ago. But, observing Iroha as an honor student in the wild like this was a first for me. For some reason, I couldn’t help but admire it. Faintly, it felt like I had a deja vu, but what is this sensation…This environment of hers feels oddly resembling something else…But, I can’t wrap my head around it.
Ah, right, one more thing that caught my mind. After around one hour of me starting my stalking…or rather, working in the library room, basically one hour earlier, another guest appeared sitting close to me at the window side. If I had to guess, it was probably a first-year girl.
With brown hair, and a rather stylish appearance, I figured that she was another of those ‘popular’ people at school. Out of curiosity, I secretly observed her for a while. For almost this entire time, she kept glaring at a single point in her view, muttering to herself.
“Kohinata Iroha…Kohinata Iroha…Kohinata Iroha…Today I’ll definitely expose you…!”
Eh. What is this? What should I do? I mean, I am pretty suspicious myself, so I can’t exactly say much, but, looking at her…isn’t she…
An actual stalker?
“You’re not cute at all…No, maybe you’re about as cute as me…or possibly even more than me…But even if that is the case, I can’t just accept it!”
That is some horrible way of being jealous about someone alright. Is this possibly the [redacted] that was hired by President Tsukinomori…? No, something is off here. When I tried to get a closer look at her, she caught on to my gaze.
“Hm? What are you doing? You some stalker?”
“You of all people shouldn’t say that!” I couldn’t hold back a retort.
“Wha…” The girl’s face lit up beet red, as she furrowed her brows. “Rude much?! Why am I a stalker, huh?!”
“You’ve been watching Iro…That girl over there this entire time, right?”
“Huuuuuuh? What are you on about? Why would I just…I mean, I kinda was watching Kohinata Iorha, but…I’m not a stalk…wait, thinking about it, am I not totally a stalker…?”
Though she fiercely denied my assessment of her being a stalker, the longer she talked, the more she lost her initial confidence. It’d really appreciate it if she could stick with what she’s saying for a minute. Don’t change your feelings several times mid-sentence, not to mention your expressions and attitude, it’s really hard to follow. Well, I couldn’t care less though.
“Also, you. Why’d you suddenly sit down right next to me.”
“I was the one who sat here first, you know?”
“Huuuh? What are you on about? Nobody was here until a while ago.”
“…Oh, right. I forgot because it doesn’t happen much as of late, but I actually don’t have much of a presence that can be picked up, so…”
It felt like a blade was stabbed right into my chest, forcefully reminding of the fact that I’m not a popular guy with lots of presence. Ignoring Iroha, everybody else in the [5th Floor Alliance] is a mob character like me, so they can pick up on my presence much easier.
“Eh? Ah, I’m sorry, I wasn’t planning on hurting you like that…”
“Yeah…You only said that truth, so there’s no way you had any evil intentions…”
“So annoying!” The brown-haired girl held her head as she screamed.
—Oh, not good. This is almost like I’m playing the idiot role here. Even though I wanted to confirm this girl’s crime of stalking a person, her being a cheery normie stops me from even catching on to her momentum.
“…And, why were you stalking this Kohinata Iroha?”
“Don’t just decide that I was stalking her! I’m a classmate of hers, so being a bit conscious of her and paying a bit of attention to her should be fine, right?!”
“If you’re her classmate, then why are you sitting over here? Help your classmates, will you.”
“I. Don’t. Have. To! Because I worked this entiiiiiire time when Kohinata Iroha didn’t!”
“So you came to school to effectively stalk her then? I don’t think this counts as ‘A bit of attention’, you know…”
“Shut up! What about you, you nomad?! Working in the library during summer break! You’re being a good competition in the battle for who’s the most suspicious here!”
Apparently, she realized just how suspicious she was. Even more than that, she admitted that she was stalking her. I guess she’s the type who can’t lie? That would mean that she isn’t actually connected to the assassin sent by President Tsukinomori…
“So you’re a first year then?”
“Hmpf, you’re pulling the Senpai card now?”
“No, not really…Hmmm.” I got a closer look at the girl.
She had big, round eyes, perfectly wore the uniform in casual fashion, trying to look stylish even in the smallest compartments, giving off crazy normie vibes…But, I can feel a certain intellect coming from her. Like she’s an outgoing girl but not a braindead party-goer. It’s like she has the aura of a person who enjoys her life, while still possessing the brain and fighting strength…Right, just like that Wa*eda or Kei* Boy1 or whatever (Biased).
Anyway, if she’s this conscious of Iroha, then she could be a good friend candidate…Maybe?
“Well, I guess a stalker would be taking things too far.”
“Don’t just ignore the flow of the conversation to diss me, okay?!”
Hearing me blurt out my inner thoughts, the (rejected) friend candidate for Iroha fought hard to hold back her tears.
“…Hmpf. A Senpai-Kouhai relationship at school is ridiculous. You get to act all bossy and arrogant just because you got born one year ahead of me. In the world of pro baseball, there’s rookies two years younger, yet making it much further than others.”
“Why did you bring up pro baseball of all the things? Do you like it? Wait, nevermind that. I have to agree that, once you step into society, one year really doesn’t mean much.”
“Exactly. Together with entrance exams, mid-terms and even end-of-term exams, I’ve been 2nd place of the student year. An average Senpai won’t win against my radiating grades.”
“Phew, 2nd place, huh? That is pretty awesome.”
“…! R-Really? F-Fufu. Well, it’s just what I expected.”
She does keep her posture, but doesn’t hide her happiness. Yeah, she really is too honest for her own good. Seems like a character attribute that I haven’t dealt with too much, but I guess I should just look at her expressions to figure things out…Quickly to lose her temper, but honest, hm?
“2nd place…that makes sense.”
“I just remembered, but Iro…Kohinata-san is pretty famous as an honor student, always getting the top place, right?”
“So that’s why you were conscious of her. Though I don’t get why you would stalk her just for that.”
“That…that’s not it!”
Whereas I nodded along in consent and understanding, the hot-tempered honest girl jolted up. Behind her, the chair fell to the ground, as a loud sound filled the otherwise quiet library room.
“She’s just a bother so I was observing the enemy—Only a little bit, though.”
“Not just a little bit. And stop screaming like that. It might be summer break, but we’re still inside—”
“—The library, right?”
“Exactly. See, you properly understand…Eh? Why did your voice suddenly change?”
The voice that finished my sentence oddly enough didn’t belong to the hot-tempered honest girl. It was deeper, like the voice went up in ten years…Also, I know that the age of a voice is not actually a term, but I personally use it often when I give directions to Iroha during her acting. Like, ‘Could you raise the age of your voice a bit’ or ‘Could you go down in age?’. Otoi-san taught me about this method. But, that’s not what’s important right now.
The source of this third voice that interrupted us was fairly close to us. Though the hot-tempered honest girl didn’t budge much in terms of expression, her facial color took a turn for the worse dramatically fast.
“To think I would be greeted by two monkies when I came here after getting a plea for help from a library committee member. Maybe I should train you two before letting you leave.”
Every hot-tempered attribute vanished off the girl’s face, changing her into a scared honest girl—No, enough of that already, I’ll just call her a brown-haired JK from now on. Anyway, standing directly in line of sight of said brown-haired JK was a demonic teacher, emitting force enough to break bones.
“Ka…K-K-Kageishi-sensei?!” Foam came out of the brown-haired JK’s mouth, as she screamed in terror.
Kageishi Sumire, with her nickname ‘Poisonous Queen’ is a teacher feared for her strictness and terrifying pressure. If I say feared, that counts towards around 70% of the students. Roughly 29% admire her, and there’s 1% that just want to get abused by her. However, nobody knows that she is actually the illustrator Murasaki Shikibu-sensei who can’t keep 100% of her deadlines. Can’t blame JK (adding brown-haired everytime is too much of a bother) though for being terrified.
“By the way, what kind of report did you receive?”
I can’t imagine the reason to be us arguing too loudly. After all, my exchange with JK started only a few moments ago. Thinking about the time it must have cost the library committee member to head to the staff office, and come back…it can only be…
“That there was someone suspicious peeking into a certain first-year classroom.”
“I thought so…!”
It was the stalker accusations coming back to bite us.
“Also, Kageishi-sensei, you had work today?”
“Yes. Because there’s always students at school, even during a break such as this. We have to make sure that at least two teachers are present every day. Today it’s my turn.”
I see. That makes sense.
“But, I didn’t expect you two to be the assumed stalkers I heard of. Tomosaka Sasara-san, I expected more from you.”
Glared at by Sumire, JK—Tomosaka Sasara—grew even more timid. An awkward silence passed between us.
“…I-I’m sorry for doing something weird! I have some business to attend to, so if you would excuse me!”
“?! Wah, wait a moment!”
Slipping past Sumire, Sasara dashed out of the library room. Watching her back grow more distant, Sumire sighed.
“I thought she was an honor student, with how she worked during classes, and showed results during the exams, but I guess that she has the side of a weird person all the same, what a disappointment.”
“She just hit her face on the door frame, is she going to be okay?”
“Not to mention that she ran away when things got bad for her, that’s just the worst.”
“I guess if her mask is thick enough, she wouldn’t feel it getting stabbed, huh…”
“So, Akiteru-kun, someone complained about you as well. Just what kind of interesting…Excuse me, what horrendous plans did you have with this act?”
I felt like I saw her eyes shine for a brief moment. She probably got bored to death by just waiting in the staff office, which is why she saw this as a lucky chance to get a break, right?
“There are some circumstances that I can’t disclose here, but the gist is that I’m currently stalking Iroha.”
“I’d love to hear these circumstances, you know?!”
“H-Hey, teacher mode, teacher mode.”
“Woahwaeah?! O-Ooboshi-kun, could you stop trying to evade the question with mysterious reasons like that?”
When I poked my elbow at Sumire’s side to remind her that she was currently a teacher, she hurriedly fixed her crumbling mask. Currently, there’s a library committee member with us, though luckily too far way to pick up on that mistake. Sumire glanced over at said library committee member, approached my face, and spoke up in a quiet tone.
“Seems like you’ve gotten quite close to Iroha-chan, but are you sure about this?”
“What are you talking about?”
“About Mashiro-chan. You are her fake boyfriend, aren’t you. You told me about that promise with President Tsukinomori when she had barely transferred here.”
“Ahh, that. That president actually warned me a bit ago, so I’m trying to be more careful.”
“I feel like these words and the statement of you currently stalking Iroha don’t quite match up, you know.”
“There’s a good reason for this. I actually want Iroha to make some friends of her own.”
I quickly explained to Sumire what I previously discussed with Ozu at the sea. So that she doesn’t lose that annoying yet cute side of hers even after the rest of us graduates. I want to preserve that annoying cuteness, and achieve this by getting her friends. This led to me doing some renaissance about her surroundings when we’re not around. At the same time, I told her about the need to act more like a fake couple with Mashiro because of President Tsukinomori’s doubts, and that stalking her was the best possible approach to keep track of both these goals. Having listened to all of this, Sumire crossed her arms, and nodded in consent.
“You’re definitely clever enough to come up with plans like that, but the output in the very end is always rotten beyond belief.”
“I-I’m aware of that…This is just the most efficient way to approach this…”
“And so, you infected Tomosaka-san as well. What a bad boy you are.”
“No clue about her, really.”
I literally only heard JK’s name the first time when Sumire mentioned it. I barely knew Midori’s name since she is the top spot of the same student year as mine, but how would I know who the second place of the first-years is.
“Eh? So you actually met for the first time? Like, seriously?”
“Stop acting like this is some dating sim. I don’t really get it, but it seems like she was pretty hung up on Iroha for whatever reason.”
“Ahh, that makes sense.”
“You got any clues?”
“I am responsible for teaching math in their class after all. On days where I give back tests, I can see that Tomosaka-san is always battling in terms of grades.”
“I can totally see that…”
“Iroha-chan looks super disinterested though. She just keeps grinning on and on, totally fine if she loses or wins.”
“That is pretty unexpected. I totally thought Iroha would be a sore winner.”
She constantly tries to have a competition with me about every small thing after all.
“Maybe just with you, Aki. Whoever it may be, she’s never trying to one-up anybody, and being the top spot of the student year is just another thing for her I guess.”
“That’s totally different from the Iroha I know…”
“I guess that just shows how special you are, Aki. But, it’s a bit difficult to say which one is the real Iroha-chan, and which one is the fake. Did you pick up on it? When we play mahjong inside the [5th Floor Alliance], she’s the only one to discard my tanki2.”
“Though the impact is kinda lacking with a mahjong episode, I can tell where you’re coming from.”
Ozu and I always carefully observe the current situation and don’t risk anything like that. On the contrary, Iroha is constantly carelessly playing ahead, but what if this wasn’t just a lack of skill, but actually a treating mahjong move of sorts?
“In a game where only one can win, she doesn’t even go for it, you know? It feels like she’s considerate in that regard.”
“Well, she is nice during certain moments.”
But, what are her actual feelings? Exactly because she was considerate, sensitive to other people, she never tried to rebel against her mother. Giving away her victory towards someone who desires it more, not openly flashing her happiness in the event that she is at the top. It’s the same with her being able to act countless personalities perfectly. Maybe there’s many other things like that going on where I don’t even see it.
But, if that is the case, is this really what Iroha’s heart wishes for? Listening to Sumire, hearing Iroha’s act inside the classroom, after seeing all that, I still feel the urge to be meddling, wanting her to make some friends where she can be as annoying as she wants.
As I was thinking that, Sumire cleared her throat. I guess she could tell what I was thinking, after all that time we spent together.
“Aki, going full meddling mode is fine and all, but don’t forget about Mashiro-chan, okay?”
“W-Why would you bring up Mashiro there? I didn’t forget about her, she’s just not the subject right now.”
Me worrying about Iroha is genuine, though different from romantic affection…Probably. Also, I already shared the fact that I got confessed to by Mashiro to Sumire, so why does she have to warn me that way?
“Y-You have to be wary of the small flags, okay…From my position, it’s hurting me no matter the side you might sway to…!”
“Mashiro is just a fake lover, and Iroha isn’t like that either. If you feel like imagining some battlefield of a love triangle inside your head, then you can do that.”
“Ugh…This position where I can’t lay bare everything is too tough…!” Sumire held her head.
She’s got a point. If this really were to end up as a battlefield of love, she, as an adult and our teacher, can’t exactly join in to support anybody. I understand how tough that must be, but she could save herself a lot of trouble if she just stopped fantasizing about it all the time.
「Hm…the misunderstanding sure is delicious here. One day, you’ll realize the truth, Aki. And I am super looking forward to that」
「You really are enjoying this, Ozu…」
1 Reference to Sakurai Sho, a member of the group ARASHI, who is also called Keio Boy, because he graduated from Keio. The other university mentioned above is Waseda
2 Mahjong term: Waiting for one tile to finish one’s pair and one’s hand
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