“Oh, was it the one with the fan? Is it okay to attach that to the school uniform?”
“First, I want to experiment and see if it’s really cooling.”
“But isn’t it noisy?”
“I think it’s better than the heat. By the way, what did you come to buy today?”
I was troubled with heat countermeasures, and I noticed the clothes that workers wear at construction sites and such.
It should be applicable to school uniforms as well. Its name is the “Air-conditioned Uniform.” If it’s only used during the summer, it won’t be used more than fifty times in a year. Lithium-ion batteries can be recharged hundreds of times. So even considering the battery’s lifespan, it should last for three years. It will also contribute to saving electricity costs by using it alongside an air conditioner.
It’s a wonderful idea that benefits everyone. Let’s push it on the principal.
As I board the train and extend my journey to the bustling town, the population density changes drastically. For now, I’ll put the air-conditioned uniform on hold. I accepted my sister’s invitation to go shopping without hesitation, but I want her to let me handle at least carrying the bags. I was asked by my mother and my sister’s friends as well. I’ll do my best to resolve the troubles my sister is facing during this precious opportunity.
Alright, let’s do my best! Ei-ei-oh!
“I told you. Underwear.”
“That’s right, I remembered that I had to push BAD to the distributor of the annoying video, so I’m going home.”
“Do that later. Now, let’s go.”
I don’t want toooooo! Let me go, let me goooooooooooooooo.
“These underwear will suit that woman.”
“Don’t you want to have fun?”
With a thud, I place my wallet on the cash counter, attempting to delegate the task to the saleswoman, but unfortunately failing. This is an uncharted territory, a lingerie shop. It’s a restricted area for boys. Even exploration teams are not allowed.
I can’t stay in a place like this. I’m going home! (Flag of death)
“Full cup, longline… 1/2… Heh, there are so many types.”
“You can choose the one you like.”
The color variations were abundant, and there was a wide range of vibrant options. It was a completely different culture from men’s underwear, where they usually only care about the size.
“Even if you say that… I have no idea what to choose when someone asks me for recommendations without knowing anything about their preferences. It’s difficult to decide what to pick, especially when dealing with insensitive people like that.”
Yeah, there are people like that. And then they might criticize or say the recommended item didn’t suit them. It’s so annoying and the worst. If that’s the case, they should find it themselves.
“…Do you really want to know so much about me?”
“With so many options, I’m too ignorant to make a choice.”
If I end up choosing poorly and getting underwear that doesn’t fit, it would be unbearable.
“Yeah, then let’s go to the fitting room. I’ll tell you every detail, from the underwear I’m currently wearing to every nook and cranny.”
“I don’t really need to know that much—”
“Even the animal encyclopedia or monster encyclopedia you often read has detailed information, right? Then you should also know my details. Make a note in your ‘Yuri Encyclopedia.'”
Indian elephants can be defeated in ten seconds. Special Attack ◎ Excellent against younger brothers, dealing quadruple damage.
“Where does such strength come from in those skinny arms of yours!? Store clerk, help—”
“Take your time.”
I waved my hand at the salesperson with a sales smile, but resistance was futile, and I was dragged into the fitting room.
Five minutes later, the completion rate of the “Yuri Encyclopedia” exceeded 80%.
“Now that you’ve become more knowledgeable, let’s choose right away.”
“For now, how about choosing a size different from the underwear you’re currently wearing?”
That would be the safest choice for now. After that, it’s up to Yuri-san whether she wants to try other options.
“What, you want sexy lingerie that much? Well, I guess there’s no helping it.”
“Wait, is this some kind of conversation with a fictional me?”
I was suddenly unable to communicate, and I looked puzzled, but Yuri-san’s unstoppable rampage erupted.
“Eh? A black babydoll? The lace is lovely, but this string is just too much. Wait, this is a bit too… It’s see-through, and you can almost see my entire butt. It can’t hide anything in the front… Alright, alright, stop making that disappointed face. It’s embarrassing, but I’ll wear it properly. You’re such an incorrigible kid. Look forward to tonight.”
“Um, uh… Oi, Yuri-san?”
“You’d be happy if it had a front clasp, right? I see, you’d be happy. Then let’s buy this too.”
“The conversation finally started even though I didn’t say anything!?”
A new ghost story of midsummer was born. It’s seriously scary.
I continued looking at the underwear with my sister. Different sizes, daring garter lingerie, inexplicable body stockings, longline bras, bustiers, night bras, and more, my sister and the imaginary me kept choosing one after another. This sense of alienation, could it be that the fake one is me…?
However, my sister seems to be enjoying it in some way. Maybe shopping is a way for her to relieve stress. Well, there’s no other choice, I’ll make the imaginary me do its best.
“Phew. We bought a lot, didn’t we? Eh, are you looking forward to it too? Fufu, I’ll make sure you’re satisfied.”
“Maybe we should exorcise it first?”
I feel like the imaginary me is about to say something outrageous, and I’m feeling a sense of crisis.
“What, I don’t mean to seduce you… Mou! Yes, I admit it. I was thinking of seducing you!”
“Whoa! Evil spirits begone, evil spirits begone!”
I desperately try to purify the place at the lingerie shop.
“Why don’t they come closer to me?”
“Maybe it’s because your expression looks scary, and the atmosphere is tense?”
“You have a straight face.”
My sister and I are at a cat cafe. If you want to quickly gain popularity, there’s nothing like some fluffy cuddles.
It’s hugely popular on video-sharing sites, and if you get reincarnated in another world, beastmen and Fenrils are a must.
I was hoping that the healing effect of the cats would comfort my sister, but for some reason, only I’m being swarmed by cats. Feeling a bit lonely, I put one cat on my sister’s lap.
“Nyan (Humans, always trying to please… This is also work…)”
“Nyan (Ora, play with me! Pay more attention to me!)”
“Nyaaaaa~ (I’ll give you the right to pet me).”
Thanks to the cat resting on my head, my head feels pleasantly warm. Can you move a bit?
“It’s really cute when you look at it like this”
My sister gently strokes the cat with a kind look in her eyes. This is where the fluffiness of cats shines.
“Wanna try keeping one as a pet?”
“It’s enough for only you to be doted on.”
“What the heck… Am I just a pet in the Kokonoe household…”
It’s a shocking revelation, but considering the hierarchy in our house, it might be appropriate. Unfortunately, I have no complaints about my current treatment. I’ve been too well-trained.
It’s normal to be a beloved pet animal, but being a beloved pet human is a whole different level of darkness. It’s as black as a human farm.
“By the way, Onee-san, do you have any worries or troubles?”
This is not the time to be falling into darkness. The real target is here.
“…Why are you poking your nose into everything?”
“I felt like you were troubled.”
My sister’s gaze wanders in the empty space. She seems about to say something but quickly withdraws.
Is she hesitating? Or does she not want to show her vulnerability to her younger brother?
“…I’m sorry for worrying you. But I’m okay, really.”
“――Are you sure?”
I peer into her eyes as if trying to see through her true intentions. I, who have kept my distance from my sister until now, cannot fathom the complexity of her inner feelings. I feel like I’m being drawn into those obsidian-like eyes.
“Yukito, you don’t need to worry about anything. Your wishes are my wishes… .”
“My wishes? All I want is for Yuri-san to get better.”
“Of course. You’re such a kind child… even to someone like me.”
Her cool hand touches my cheek. Her expression looks ephemeral, as if it might disappear.
Gently, I hold onto that hand. Thanks to the cat, my hand feels warm.
“I’m looking forward to summer vacation. Let’s play a lot together.”
“I bought this because they were having a local product exhibition from Okayama Prefecture. Let’s eat it together later.”
It’s not my intention to corner my bewildered sister. Even if she doesn’t talk now, I don’t know what the future holds. To aim for that someday, it’s crucial to get along better with my sister first.
Rushing things will only lead to failure. There’s no need to be impatient. I have time. It’s okay to take it slow.
To change the subject, I take a box out of the bag. I was drawn to it and ended up buying it.
“Kibidango?” (sweet dumpling made with mochi flour and (sometimes) millet flour (famous product of Okayama))
“When you mention Okayama Prefecture, you think of Momotaro. And when you think of Momotaro, you think of kibidango, right?”
Speaking of kibidango, it’s a magical item that appears in a fairy tale where Momotaro, on his way to defeat the demons, gives it to the monkey, pheasant, and dog, whom he befriends.
Honestly, defeating demons with just kibidango would be excessive black labor, but there probably wasn’t labor standards back in those times.
Whenever there’s a local product exhibition selling region-specific sweets, you can’t help but buy them, right?
“If it’s kibidango… does that mean… you really want to make me your ally?”
Did she say something that couldn’t be ignored?
“Does that mean I’m the one who’s the pet?… Well, it’s fine, even so.”
“Hey, what are you talking about?”
“I’ll become that for you. Your pet on the bed. A familiar, or perhaps a servant?”
“I still haven’t purified the imaginary me yet!?”
“What do you want me to do? A hand? Or perhaps—-“
“Let’s value yourself a little more!”
“Go ahead and try to train me as you please. I’ll learn any tricks you want.”
“Begone imaginary meeeeee! Begone!”
Crap, this is bad! The exorcism failed miserably, and it has become an irreparable situation.
Yuri-san’s eyes are shining suspiciously and brightly. It seems she’s gained some energy.
“Shall we go out to buy a choker later? Make sure I wear it around my neck. It’s a proof that I’m yours. I’ll brag about it to Mom.”
“I’m begging you, please, please stop that!”
I desperately plead, but she doesn’t care. This is bad. If I give the kibidango to Mother, it might end up the same way. Then, how about Sekka-san? No, that’s even worse!
“If you’re willing to put a leash on me, I won’t go anywhere—–No, it’s nothing.”
My sister shakes her head as if shaking off stray thoughts. It’s such a painfully sad expression.
My heart tightens. I don’t know what those fleeting thoughts that passed through her in that moment are.
However, like the clear skies of Okayama, I vowed to clear away the haze in her heart.
“I never thought I would hear the real sound of the Shishiodo… How elegant.”
A pleasant sound resonates periodically. The Shishiodo, not the name of a monster, but a device that produces sound by the up-and-down movement of a bamboo tube utilizing flowing water. It matches perfectly with the Japanese garden spread out before me. How refined… It feels like my soul is being cleansed.
Even though I’m escaping from reality, this is the main headquarters of the Himiyama family. I was invited again because I couldn’t formally greet them at the wedding.
“I also want to express my gratitude. Thank you for helping my granddaughter.”
“It’s the other way around. I’m the one who received help.”
“These kids are such troublemakers. They should learn their lesson through hardships.”
The one expressing indignation is Rishu Himiyama. He may be a good-natured old man, but his occasional gaze is sharp.
A little research is enough to find numerous achievements of Rishu Himiyama.
Although he has already retired, he was once a politician, not only serving as a minister but also holding key positions in the party’s top three. Among them, the Secretary-General was effectively the number two position, responsible for personnel and finances. Even after retirement, he still holds tremendous influence over the party, according to Papa Tojo. It’s no wonder Papa Tojo’s face turns pale. I apologize for the overkill.
Earlier, Rishu Himiyama was present, but he wanted to talk privately, so we are now facing each other in the guest room. Am I going to be okay? I won’t be killed, right?
“I haven’t seen Misaki with such a smiling face for so many years.”
Rishu-san gazes at the Japanese garden with a distant look. He seems somewhat happy.
I did not know the details of the situation, but it seemed that the reason he was so grateful was that Himiyama-san had been depressed for a long time due to a series of unfortunate events.
She had been so depressed that her family was worried about her. I learned a surprising secret about Himiyama-san.
After many twists and turns, she moved to a new place for a change of environment and met me there.
“When I received a message from Misaki, I was surprised. Her anger, her unreasonable treatment towards you, seemed unforgivable to her. She aspired to be a teacher but faced setbacks, and she couldn’t fulfill her role as a wife either. Once someone’s spirit is broken, it’s difficult to stand back up. I also wanted to do something for her, but I couldn’t make it happen. That’s why no matter how much gratitude I express, it feels insufficient.”
“Himiyama-san… Was Misaki-san in such a terrible state?”
“At one point, she lost a significant amount of weight and couldn’t even eat. There were times when she needed to be hospitalized and receive intravenous drips. Misaki still has a long life ahead of her. She has already experienced enough unhappiness. That’s why I’m asking you to continue looking after her. For some reason, Misaki has taken a great liking to you.”
“I deeply understand that.”
After my plan to lower her favorability failed, I tried an opposite approach with the plan to increase it, but I ended up feeling endangered by how much her favorability rose. It was ridiculously high.
“It doesn’t bother me. Please take care of her. It may be a biased opinion, but Misaki is beautiful.”
“That’s exactly what troubles me…”
It’s precisely because she is charming that she’s difficult to handle. After all, I’m going through adolescence.
“I was also surprised to learn that you know Genzo. It seems you’re training under him. Are you planning to succeed Itsumaru? We have had a long-standing relationship with that place, but there hasn’t been anyone to succeed it.”
“I don’t have such intentions, but the Boss has been very kind to me.”
“It’s a curious thing. It seems you have a connection with the Himiyama family.”
Genzo is the name of the Boss. In my mind, I recognized him as the Boss, so when they mentioned his name, it didn’t click at first. The Himiyama family has had a close relationship with them for decades.
Certainly, even if there were secret discussions, nothing would leak from there. It’s only natural for a prominent politician to have at least one such establishment. Being invited to that place is also considered a status symbol.
“By the way, you seem to be quite famous. I apologize for prying, but I looked into it a little. However, for some reason, everything about you remains ambiguous, and I couldn’t grasp the full picture. But there’s no doubt that you’re the real deal. It’s truly amusing.”
With a smirk, Rishu-san shows me a stack of documents.
“But none of these seem to have any charm, don’t you think?”
“Are these candidates…?”
The documents I was given are essentially detailed resumes. …Wait, isn’t this becoming a list that I shouldn’t be looking at?
“I may have retired, but I still have influence in the local area. People gather seeking my endorsement, but they all seem lacking in some way. Do you know what qualities are necessary for a politician?”
“What would that be? Practical skills, perhaps?”
“That may be necessary, but it’s not an absolute requirement. My son and Misaki’s older brother aren’t that type. However, such types are weak in elections. Unfortunately, popularity matters.”
Himiyama-san’s older brother actually works in a central government agency and seemed sincere and diligent.
“The essential quality for a politician, in my opinion, is the ability to attract people. Leave the detailed work to bureaucrats. It’s about having a broad perspective, a vision for the future, and the ability to execute decisively. You could say it’s about personal charisma. People won’t act without self-interest, but they won’t support someone without virtue. It’s a rare and valuable ability.”
The secret to smooth interpersonal relationships is to avoid discussing politics, religion, and baseball.
Not wanting to delve too deeply into the topic, I casually look for a way to wrap up the conversation and head home. I can’t shake off this unpleasant premonition I’ve had since earlier. It feels ominous.
“By the way, would you be interested in becoming my successor? Inheriting my network would be a good opportunity. There’s no rush, though. You’re still young, and there’s plenty of time. Despite being a high school student, you have the ability to attract people, which makes you suitable for a politician. What do you think?”
“Well, even if you ask me…”
“Hahaha! Don’t worry, leave it to me. I’ll take care of all the arrangements. It’s a discussion for the future, after all. I’ve been troubled by the issue of succession for a long time. Now, I can finally put that burden down. It brings peace to my mind. But still, we must choose someone before the next election. Is there anyone…”
My future employment was decided without my consent. This is taking it to a whole new level. And then I realize.
Could it be that the random person who greeted me at the wedding…? I’ve been getting a lot of formal followers on social media. What do they expect from a high school student like me? It seems like preparations are already underway.
“Fumu, you want to get engaged to Misaki?”
“Wait a minute!”
That would be a chaotic and rushed path. If things continue like this, I’ll become a real relative of Himyama-san.
Wait a minute? Oh, right! Papa Tojo said he would help if I’m in trouble. This is it!
“Rishu-san, I have a perfect candidate in mind.”
I’ll just push all the troublesome matters onto Papa Tojo. He mentioned that his goal was to enter national politics but it got derailed after angering Himiyama-san. He’s the perfect candidate.
I don’t want to be considered as a successor. I also want to focus on raising my precious oranges.
“Oh? So you forgive that foolish man? How generous of you. Your capacity is truly admirable, accepting even those who have been your enemies. In the world of politics where treachery runs rampant, such qualities are necessary. It makes me want to make you my successor even more.”
Could it be that Himyama-san’s lineage has an unconditional rule of increasing my likability?
“Papa Tojo is a wonderful person. He seems to have a good eye for things.”
“I see, very well. In that case, let’s trust your words.”
Rishu-san is contacting someone, but I’m proceeding with the conversation without knowing the details. I hope everything is going fine.
Well, it’s unfortunate, but Papa Tojo brought this upon himself. Become the sacrificial lamb for my sake.
“Ah, good morning, Miki-chan! Are you feeling better from the flu?”
“I missed you, Kana-chan! My fever went down quickly, but I couldn’t go out or meet anyone, so I’ve been bored and lonely. Thanks for keeping in touch every day.”
“It’s okay, it’s okay. We’re not just friends.”
The two of them embraced tightly. Minada, who had been absent from school for a while due to the flu, returned to school and was delighted to reunite with Elizabeth.
Speaking of the flu, it usually spreads during the dry winter season, but it can actually occur throughout the year. Practices like gargling and handwashing are important for infection prevention.
I continued working while keeping an eye on their reunion. It’s almost finished.
“Hey, Kana-chan, I’ve been wondering, is there something off about the atmosphere at school? Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it feels unusually sweet and… strange.”
“Do you think so too, Miki-chan? I had the same feeling. It’s a bit weird, right?”
“What could it be? It gives me goosebumps.”
“Oi oi, aren’t you two forgetting something? Most of the strange things happening at this school are caused by that guy.”
Interrupting the girls’ conversation with utmost social skills was the charismatic and refreshing handsome guy.
“So, what did you do this time, Yukito?”
“That’s rude. What are you talking about?”
“What are you even doing right now? Wait… Why are you doodling on the textbook like a regular student!? That’s not like you at all!”
“It’s a para-para manga (flipbook) where Kuya, who was reincarnated in the modern world, breakdance and spreads Buddhist chants.”
“That was anything but regular! The quality is unnecessarily amazing!?”
Well, it’s not a bad thing for Kongming to become a partygoer. It’s one of those things that can work.
Flipping through the textbook with a swift motion, it indeed looked like a monk was breakdancing. It was an artistic technique that utilized optical illusions.
“What’s going on? Let me see!”
“This person’s movements are creepy!”
“Well, isn’t it nice? Isn’t it nice?”
The textbook left my hands and passed on to my classmates.
Well, isn’t it nice? Isn’t it nice?
“Hey, hey, Mihou-kun, is it really Kokonoe-kun the cause of all this?”
“Well, isn’t it nice?”
The carefree handsome guy casually interjects with his own remark.
“It’s not about the manga. Yukito, why have you been calling your sister ‘onee-sama’ lately?”
“Yuri-san said there was a character in a manga she got hooked on who used that term. She asked me to call her that for a while because she found it enviable.”
“So it was about manga, huh?”
Indeed, in that manga, calling someone ‘Onee-sama’ is usually done by a same-sex underclassman, so it’s unknown whether I, as her younger brother, am truly satisfied with using that term.
“And even Mom started asking me to call her ‘Mama’ because of it. It was quite a situation.”
“Isn’t that a bit embarrassing?”
“She’s been taking care of me all this time, so it’s a small favor in return.”
“That doesn’t seem like the issue here… But anyway.”
“Why are you suddenly saying such things, Mihou?”
“Because of this guy, everyone in the school is catching on to it.”
“Isn’t his influence too strong!?”
“Even the girls in the basketball club started using the term ‘Onee-sama’ and everything feels so sweet. Most likely, that’s the cause of all this strangeness.”
“Isn’t it too much to attribute everything to me!?”
I protest in a small way, but no one pays any attention to me.
It seems that Mineda and the others are also convinced. Why are they so easily convinced!?
—–It all started a week ago.
My sister, who was reading a manga in the living room, closed the book with a snap, stood up, and slowly approached me.
“You can call me ‘Onee-sama’ if you want.”
“Weren’t we taught about subject and predicate in grammar?”
“It’s telepathy, you know.”
“That’s completely different.”
“… If you call me ‘Onee-sama,’ I’ll give you something nice.”
I inadvertently furrow my brows. Her idea of something nice is probably that. The coupon for a shoulder pat (ten tickets) or something like that.
It’s true that it’s a grateful coupon to be able to pat my sister’s shoulder, but it took me two years to use them all. I used the last ticket just five days ago.
“Exclusive ASMR for Little Brothers.”
“I don’t need it.”
“There are special benefits too.”
“I don’t need–“
“You can actually experience it.”
“Track 10 is a must-listen, you know?”
“Ha? You want it, right?”
Actually, I’m secretly curious about its content.
“Ara, Yuri is being unfair. If you don’t mind, could you try calling me ‘Mama’ too?”
Even Mom joined in unexpectedly. Her eyes are filled with anticipation, piercing through me.
It was clear that if I were to refuse, she would be disappointed. I’ve only been causing disappointments so far. It’s my role to live up to my family’s expectations.
“Alright, I got it. I’ll call you ‘Mama,’ okay?”
Suddenly, Mom collapses to her knees and starts screaming while writhing on the floor.
It’s as if a fish washed up on land.
“What, what’s wrong, Mama?! Are you okay?”
“R-Right! We need to call an ambulance quickly!”
“I-It’s alright! It was just a little too much of a shock, that’s all.”
There’s nothing “just” about it! Mom was clutching her lower abdomen and looked like she was in pain.
Could it be that she has some illness!?
“Mama, does it hurt when I poke you?”
“Fufii! I-It’s not like that! This is just… this area is throbbing with joy.”
“Really, I see! Huh, but that’s some kind of disease! What shall I do? Onee-sama, Mama is in trouble!”
When I turn around, Onee-sama is banging her head against the wall. It’s so frightening.
“What happened to Onee-sama too!?”
“I-I’m perfectly calm. I just got a little too excited.”
“Onee-sama, your forehead is turning red. Let me pat it for you.”
As I pat her forehead, Onee-sama bangs her head against the wall again. Like a woodpecker.
While the two of them are writhing in agony, I’m at a loss for what to do, watching them with my back turned.
“–That’s about it. There wasn’t anything particularly different, it was mostly normal.”
“What do you mean it’s normal?”
“It’s rather unusual, no!?”
“It can’t be that it happens all the time in everyday life. This world is not a comic book or a video game. And don’t you dare say that I’m the cause of everything!”
“The boomerang has hit the mark.”
“They say that the one who gets hit by the boomerang doesn’t realize it, but it’s really true.”
There’s no way I could be the cause of everything. It can’t be true!
It can’t be… right?