I can say now that I was young and foolish, but I had an existence called a girlfriend between my second and third years of middle school.
They say that humanity is filled with much history, and they’re right. Right now, I’m a hard-boiled guy now, just talking about my past, to nobody in particular, the days of not knowing left from right.
Like for example, the first day of the second semester, during my second year of middle school.
That day, I opened my eyes, rarely sleepy to begin with, and slowly got out of bed—it hurts me now to explain the reason why I was sleep deprived, and it’s really embarrassing to me back then, but if I have to explain while enduring all kinds of emotions. It’s because of something that happened the previous day.
I received Yume Ayai’s confession.
I finished reading the love letter she personally handed to me, and accepted on the spot—though it’s more appropriate for me to say, somehow. Anyway, since that day, I officially had a girlfriend.
The first girlfriend in my life.
I was feeling a little fluffy, a little agitated, and I rolled about on the bed for no reason until it was dawn, though that can be considered normal—definitely not because I was lost in the real life fantasy, nor was I in the mood to have a really meaningful dream. It’s just an illogical biological phenomenon that robbed me of my precious sleeping time. Ayai can’t be forgiven.
Anyway, it’s the first morning since I had a girlfriend.
And, the only first morning of the second year, second semester.
I got ready, and hurried out of the house.
It’s not good to be late for opening day, but that’s not what I thought. I was in a hurry because I had an appointment.
There’s a girl with braids standing at the crossway on the road to school, the place where I’ll have my first kiss, holding her bag before her knees, waiting for me.
—So-sorry! I overslept…!
—N-no…there’s still time…
Ayai back then wasn’t one to really talk, and even when talking to me, she was stammering. I’m infuriated thinking about what she experienced to end up with her mouth being only capable of foul language, but that’s for another time.
Ayai peeked at my face, and her mouth opened slightly.
—Did you…not sleep, last night?
—Ahh, yeah…well, just a little…I guess.
She continued to fiddle with the long bangs, averting her eyes, her cheeks blushing a little, and said with a voice soft enough to be gone with the wind.
—I-I too…couldn’t sleep at all, last night…
I was too stupid back then, and a simple conversation like this overwhelmed me completely. My heart’s pounding wildly, and my tongue was about five times slower than Ayai; I was acting like a robot that had forgotten to add grease.
We just continued our conversation with stuff like ahhh, uuuhhh, stuff that really aren’t a conversation, walking alongside each other to school. We’re only half a step away from each other. Every step we took, the back of our hands would shake, and we’re at the point of wondering whether we should hold hands.
Since we’re lovers, it seemed we could hold hands.
But since that just happened yesterday, it might have been too fast for us.
I was thinking about such stuff back then, but holding hands or such was very hard for me to do, considering I’m a virgin bastard who treasured the memory of our fingers touching just the day before.
And before we know it, the school’s 50 meters away.
I started to spot the other students headed towards school, so I thought, ahh, is it ending—hahaha, go end your life already—unfortunately for me, Ayai started looking around, looking suspicious.
—It is, e-embarrassing…to go to the classroom….together..
I guess my luck ran out back then, when I found myself determining that the whispering Ayai was really cute—at that moment, it was fated that the relationship between Ayai and me would be known only to us.
If we showed back at the classroom together back then, and act like we’re dating, I might not have this strange possessive urge, and Ayai wouldn’t have tried to find fault with me—and we probably wouldn’t have broken up.
It’s all hindsight though.
We’re not Kazuko Yoshiyama or Natsuki Subaru. All the what-ifs are just a game of imagination—but, yes, what I say next, I’ll say it as if it’s an imagination.
If, what if.
If, on that day, Ayai and I could go to school together until the very end?
…But even this hard-boiled me never expected a day when such a what-if route pops up.
The most hated period of my life, the spring break before the new school admission, finally ended.
I was really happy about that, but right now, I have another big problem.
My little stepsister, Yume Irido, shows up from the washroom, and I wordlessly exchange glares with her.
We’re frowning at each other, or to be correct, the uniforms the other person’s wearing.
A navy blue blazer. It’s a design that gives the impression of much seriousness, and the red ties show that we’re in our first years.
Yume and I are wearing the same high school uniform.
And this is another trap laid by the tragedy-loving God, linking back to how Yume and I became siblings.
Last year, we’re preparing for our entrance exams—the relationship between Yume and I was already frosty.
Of course, we didn’t discuss anything about the school we wanted to go to. Instead, I chose a private prep school nobody else from our middle school has gone to as my first choice.
There’s also the issue of school fees for a single parent family, but I could deal with this if I passed the entrance exam—I heard this woman’s also in a single family, ith her mother, so I was sure that if I could enter this school, I could definitely break away from her, so I studied hard.
And then I got a free scholarship.
Together with Yume.
This woman’s thinking was exactly the same as mine.
She didn’t want to go to the same school as me, chose a prep school I definitely wouldn’t have chosen as her choice, and studied hard.
There were few scholarship places, and the two of us, from the same middle school, managed to get these limited slots.
Is there anyone who can understand our despair when we were called to the staff room together, and praised for “being the pride of our school!”—to be honest, it was more shocking than failing, so shocking that we could only smile blankly until the very end.
In this world, there are many couples who study hard to get into the same school, but there’s probably only one particular couple that studied hard so that they could go to different schools—and even then, we ended up entering the same high school. What are the chances of that?
Damn you God.
…No, actually, we didn’t gather intel on each other, and we’re also idiots at this.
Anyway for us, the sight of the same uniform has us utterly despising each other.
“…That uniform doesn’t suit you.”
Yume coldly spits with dark eyes.
“…Same to you. The pleated skirt really doesn’t suit you.”
I shoot back with a really frigid voice and dark black eyes.
“Most uniforms have pleated skirts.”
“Sorry I misspoke. Being a high school student doesn’t suit you.”
“Ahh, yes. Now that you mention it, being human doesn’t suit you.”
“Then you’re not suited for Earth.”
“Then you’re not suited for the solar galaxy.”
“Then you’re not suited for the Milky Way—!”
And then we start to use concepts like space, three dimensions, even though they aren’t appropriate for arguing. A female pokes her face out from the living room.
“Oh my~! They really suit you!”
“That’s my stepmom Yuni-san.”
With unprecedented vigor, she pulls us together while we’re about to slaughter each other, and nods away with a childish look.
“I guess the uniform of a prep school’s different after all~! You two look really cool! You managed to enter such a high school that’s difficult to get into! As to be expected of our kids!”
…Even though we’re berating each other about the uniforms, we never once said anything about ‘attending another high school’, and there’s a reason for that.
Our parents are really happy about us passing.
Yume and me both have a common understanding about our family—even without saying anything, we both know this is the bottom line we can’t touch.
“Of course, shall we have a photo!? Come on you two, get closer!”
You got to be kidding.
Or I wanted to see, but after seeing Yuni-san happily bringing out her smartphone, I can’t bring myself to refuse her, even as her stepson. It seems the same goes for her actual daughter Yume.
Side by side, we try to plaster smiles on our faces as we enter the camera.
I’m really starting to get the hang of faking smiles. Humans really are used to habits.
“—Fufu. Now that I look at it, you two resemble a couple, you know?”
So I thought, but a sudden ambush smacks me completely unaware, and my heart jolts.
…Am I in the clear? Did I show a look on my face?
“What are you saying, mom? We have not met for long, right?”
Yume says calmly as she kicks my calf discreetly. Is my face showing anything?
“But you see, you resemble me, and Mizuto-kun resembles Mine-kun, right? I guess this is how it looks like if we’re in high school~.”
“…Don’t flaunt your love using your kids. And I’m not like you, mom.”
This Mine-san refers to my dad. Full name’s Mineaki Irido.
“Then you two, shall you get in the car first? We’ll be there once we’re done.”
Yuni-san says, and returns to the living room.
It’s the opening ceremony. We’re freshmen, dad and Yuni-san will be visiting our school as our guardians—so what does this mean?
“Don’t sigh away. That’ll infect me.”
“Can’t I not? It’s one thing that we’re in the same high school; we can pretend not to know each other…”
Nobody in this high school knows about us.
So it should be easy for us to act as strangers.
But we’re now siblings. We have the same parents, and will be taking the same car to school together. We have to act familiar.
It’s way too difficult to act unfamiliar with each other considering all these factors.
“See you later then!”
“Mizuto~ Do make some friends!”
We arrive at school, finish the photo taking before the school gates and most of the process, and finally leave our parents for the time being. We need to go to the classroom before the opening ceremony, and meet our classmates and homeroom teacher.
We already know which class we’ll be in. It seems they split us according to the grades of our entrance exam—in other words, not because of family reasons, and somehow we end up together in the same class (Class 1-7). Right now, the coincidence has me unable to sigh.
Once they disappear, “Nnn~” Yume stretches her back.
“You shitty otaku.”
“You shitty maniac.”
“I’m not short now!?”
“You still look like one to me.”
We continue our barrage of insults. It’s a necessary measure to let out some of the gas, lest we end up exploding.
We enter school, and hear towards classroom 1-7.
“So, now what?’
“Are we seriously entering the classroom together?”
“We have the same family name now, and that’s enough attention. Let’s just go in.”
“…Can’t imagine you being the same person as the one so embarrassed back then.”
“What did you say?”
It’s true that if we worry about it too much, the opposite effect will happen instead.
We enter class 7, and enter the classroom from the front, as normal.
All the stares in class are gathered on us. There’s about 20 or so students in that, and they’re all strangely agitated because they want to check out new friends.
According to the paper pasted on the blackboard, my seat’s right at the front.
Yume and I are ‘Irido’, so we have to sit front and back—I’m in front as I’m ‘Mi’, and Yume’s behind as she’s ‘Yu’…I have a bad feeling about having Yume sit behind me, but for the time being, we sit at our designated seats.
My chair got kicked in the back.
That’s way too expected!
I turn to glare behind, and the culprit’s just staring outside the window as though nothing happened. This woman…
I guess we’ll be changing seats until about a month later, and I’ll have to leave my back to this woman. It’s really disadvantageous. I need to think of a counter quickly…
Given our situation now, our classmates are just watching us from the outside.
“…You’re kicking my chair now?”
“I don’t know what you’re saying.”
“You’re fine with not trying to make friends? You high school rookie.”
“Who’s this high school rookie?”
She’s still a plain girl back in the third year of middle school, and now there’s none of that impression—she’s changed inside and outside. Basically, she’s a completely different person from that Yume Ayai who gave me the love letter at the end of summer vacation.
Our situation now is that we’re entering this high school without knowing anyone else here. If that’s not a high school rookie, I don’t know what is.
“You don’t have to worry about that, Mizuto-kun?”
Yume smiles, taking me for an idiot.
“I do have a critical weapon.”
“Irido-san, which middle school are you from?”
“Just an ordinary middle school. Nothing particularly noteworthy about that.”
“Do you have any hobbies!?”
“Reading, I guess. Though it’s rather boring to talk about.”
“You’re the top ranked in the exams, right? How much did you study?”
“Nothing much, I guess—or I want to say, but I really spent much time cramming, even ignoring sleep and food. I feel relieved to be free from that.”
I can hear such chuckles behind me.
…On the first day of school, Yume Irido rises to the top of the class caste.
It happens when we return to the classroom after the opening ceremony, and finish the simple homeroom session. The students who were just gathered around us start to approach, like ants gathering around sugar.
Yep, opening ceremony. The weapon Yume spoke of is working here.
This woman’s—the representative of us freshmen.
Well, that’s proof of her being the top ranked student. In this prep school that focuses entirely on grades, the fact becomes a powerful position. Yume Irido isn’t a lowly peasant who has to go about finding friends now.
But for me, it doesn’t matter.
Damn it all…!
Why’s her grades better than mine!? DAAAAMMMNNNN IIIIITTTT…!
Now that she has the shiny new label of being the school rep, it feels like everyone has forgotten about me, even though we have the same family name. Good enough. I leave my seat, as though squeezed out by the people surrounding Yume.
The opening ceremony and homeroom ended, so there’s no need to be at school. I’ll just show up to dad and Yuni-san, and then hurry up.
There’s no need to return with this woman—since we’re not lovers.
It feels like Yume’s glancing at me, or maybe it’s just me.
Sure is nice to be able to make so many friends.
I continue reading in my room, and before I know it, it’s evening.
Feeling thirsty, I proceed downstairs, wanting a drink, and the entrance door opens.
It’s Yume. She returned alone. Dad and Yuni-san have already returned home—since it’s been three hours since the opening ceremony. According to dad, Yume was invited by the classmates out to the freshmen party.
Guess she has a fine debut. I can’t imagine her being the person who couldn’t find a partner for gym class back then.
Yume silently walks down the hall, and gives me a gleeful smile as she passes me by.
I frown. This woman’s just giggling away.
“Sorry that I can’t take care of you while you’re alone, you know?”
“…It’s nothing. Don’t worry about that. You can spend the entire day responding to LINE messages then.”
“I’ll do so then.”
Yume responds tersely, and walks up the stairs.
…Tch. Why do I have to see such a victorious smirk from her.
Is there a reason why I’m forced to feel lonely here?
And after these inexplicable thoughts, the next morning,
“Irido, which middle school are you from?”
“…Well, just an ordinary middle school.”
“Do you have any hobbies? Like gaming?”
“Not many games….”
“How’s your entrance exam? As Irido-san’s brother, you should be rather smart yourself, right?”
“Passable I guess.”
Why am I the one being surrounded now?
It’s like a supernatural phenomenon. I just go to school in the morning, and it’s suddenly like this—it’s like everyone knows that Yume and I are stepsiblings. Did she blurt it out during the freshmen party? Even though it’s only a matter of time…
It’s probably the first time I got surrounded by so many people ever since I was born out of my mom’s womb. Right now, there’s way more boys gathered around me than back then, a few times the number of doctors and nurses in the delivery room.
I’m bombarded by one question after another, and I’m completely lost. That woman managed to deal with such tortuous interrogations yesterday? Is she a spy in training?
Forced to the brink of death, Yume barely makes it in time as she enters the classroom—greeting the girls as she watches me get surrounded, and just frowning away.
And then, after she puts her bag down behind me.
She kicks my chair.
Guess that’s what they mean by when it rains, it pours.
I guess it’s because it’s a prep school, there’s no slacking right from the first day. We have six periods full of lessons, not just about student orientation. It’s still heaven compared to the interrogative barrage of questions. Classes for the win.
During noon break, I escape from the classroom. Fleeing for my life here.
Whenever class is about to start in the morning, I’ll find those interrogators waiting for me, more than half of them from other classes—it’ll take them some time to gather. That’s when I take the chance to escape.
I lock myself in the cubicle, waiting for things to calm down. The toilet’s pretty, western styled, and it feels more comfortable than I can imagine. Private schools are amazing.
Goodness, seriously, why’s my popularity popping up like that—it’s not like I’m trending on the internet news or twitter. Is there anything eyecatching about me?
If there is…I guess it’s about me being Yume Irido’s stepbrother—
“You going in the afternoon?”
“Of course. Got to get close to him.”
I can hear voices outside the cubicle.
So it’s not just a woman’s right to gossip in the toilet? That’s surprising.
“That girl’s—really cute, isn’t she? And she’s first in our year. She’s a perfect superhuman right?”
“But seriously, I see her photo on LINE and I’m in love.”
First in our year…That woman?
They say that woman’s cute…do they need the optometrist?
“So why are you sticking to the little stepbrother? Can’t you go to her instead?”
“She’ll find me annoying. Isn’t it better to go through the little brother instead?”
“I think there’s a lot with such thoughts.”
“But that little brother looks a little gloomy. Doesn’t feel like it’s easy getting along with me.”
“That’s just you being annoying right?”
“Ahh, how cruel. Hahahaha—”
…Ahh. Mystery solved.
So in other words, those guys are using me as a jumpboard just to approach Yume with evil intentions.
Is that it?
I leave the cubicle.
“That shocked me…”
I leave the toilet, ignoring the shocked guys.
“…Wait? That was…”
Soon after I appear on the corridor, a few guys gather.
Or rather, I guess it’s more appropriate to say they’re just clinging to me.
—If they’re talking to me because they want friends, I’ll treat them somewhat seriously.
But if that’s not it—there’s no point running and hiding.
That night—I finish dinner, and am washing my utensils at the sink. Yume then seems to be done too as she stands next to me.
For a moment, there’s only the sound of water—and Yume seemingly mumbles.
“…You don’t feel angry about it?”
I ask, and Yume frowns, looking a little anxious.
“You know, don’t you know?”
“You mean the guys surrounding me?’
The girls really can spread news quickly.
“You…were looked down upon.”
“They have no courage to talk to me, so they decide to use you, since you look honest…and if it goes as planned, they’ll start giving excuses…I really can’t deal with such people.”
“I don’t care what you think. Just ignore those guys. Squashing water, beating your head against the wall, you do know these kinds of idioms as a prep school student, right?”
“But then you’ll…!”
For some reason, Yume sounds really agitated. However, she stops.
Her hands washing the utensils have stopped some time ago.
I too stop washing.
Water continues to flow from the tap.
I quietly ask.
Yume stops moving her mouth and hands, and after a moment, starts scrubbing the utensils with the sponge again.
The next day.
It’s my third morning as a high schooler—yesterday, Yume and I decided to go to school at different times, but just one day later, the agreement’s broken.
“Shall we go to school together, Mizuto-kun?”
That’s what I immediately think of once she asks me with such a kind voice. I can’t refuse her at the breakfast table though.
“Looks like you’re on good terms.”
“Hahahaha, Mizuto. Let her teach you how to deal with girls.”
That Yume’s just smiling away. It’s obvious she’s suggesting this before our parents, when I can’t even refuse.
What’s she planning now?
My skeptical look’s completely repelled by her flawless smile.
And unwillingly, both of us leave the house.
On our way to school, I continue to watch Yume warily, but she continues to maintain the poker face. Seriously, what’s she thinking…
Filled with much fear and disgust, we end up about 50 meters away from the school gates. There’s more students around us who’re on their way.
…We used to go our separate ways here back then.
I don’t know why this woman says she wants to go to school with me, but there’s no way she’s going to happily go to the classroom with
That’s when I stop thinking.
Why, you ask?
That’s what I want to know.
Why—did this woman just latch onto my arm naturally!?
She mutters as she walks on while holding onto my arm. I’m dragged along with her.
I can feel stares. That’s expected. The talk of the school, the freshmen representative’s latching onto a man’s upper arm while going to school early in the morning!
W-what is this woman thinking here!? I don’t remember us doing such a bold thing when we were out dating!
The scary thing is, while Yume’s latching onto my arm and passing through the school gates—there are naturally more students in there, and I’m on tenterhooks. A boy and girl couple going to school while locking arms will attract attention, let alone us!
“Heh. Isn’t that Mizuto-kun~?” “Shall we too…?”
And like yesterday, the boys aiming at Yume gather—only to stop.
Well, it’s no wonder.
The one they’re trying to get close to has gotten so close with me, the stepping stone.
There’s more strength from Yume’s arm, and thanks to that, we’re sticking closer—arggh damn it, my elbow! It’s soft, you idiot! What’s with the useless growth, you shorty girl!
Yume’s face is showing a dazzling smile. The boys are all stunned.
“As you can see, right now, I’m, talking to Mizuto—can you please don’t disturb us?”
The boys’ mouths are wide open, startled as they point back and forth between Yume and me.
“Irido, san…?” “Th-this is…” “You two…are siblings, right!?”
At that moment, the smile on Yume’s face is terrifying.
“—Sorry, I’m a brocon.”
The frozen me.
The boys who were shot down.
The crowd gawking at the fiery scene.
“And, that’s how it is.”
Yume delivers the finishing blow to the boys who stopped completely, and pulls me along.
We enter the school building, and Yume finally lets go of my arm; that’s when I’m finally unfrozen.
“Y-you…just caused one huge commotion out there!?”
“What? That group won’t be approaching you now, right?”
“Well that’s right, but!!”
You’re their target, and they just acknowledged that they have no interest other than you!
“It’s fine. I’ll explain this well to the friends I’m on better terms with.”
“You okay with that!? The impressions they have of you…!”
“…After all, you’re still family.”
Yume mutters as she averts her eyes slightly.
“I can’t allow my family to be belittled. That’s all. Nothing much.”
Ahh whatever, shit—seriously, I can’t just laugh it off as a joke when you’re saying it now?
I suppress the slight hesitation within me—and express my thanks as honestly as I can.
“—Thanks, you helped me out there.”
And just because of these words, Yume’s shoulders shiver.
This shouldn’t be the reaction of the one being thanked.
“What? I just thanked you.”
Yume turns away, and prepares to enter the classroom alone…but then she suddenly turns towards me, staring at my upper arm.
“Just now…your elbow…erase that feeling from your memories!”
I instinctively touch the upper arm that was once crushed by this woman’s breasts.
Immediately, Yume’s face turns red like a siren as she folds her arms before her chest. Eh? What?
“…You, silent pervert!”
Yume leaves this ridiculous insult, and flees the scene.
What was that…wondering that, I start to rub my upper arm.
Didn’t think of that.
Things calm down after the crazy morning, and it’s noon break when a guy approaches me.
“Yo, hello there, Mizuto Irido-kun. Can I have lunch with you?”
Never thought there would be a steel warrior who overcame the declaration of a brocon. I lift my head in annoyance.
He looks like a frivolous guy. The bright permed hair seems to challenge the rules of this really strict prep school. He’s rather tall, and has the physique of a basketball club member, I guess. I’m annoyed that he’s giving a somewhat meaningful smile, but he doesn’t look too flirty or too honest, a little more to the former. Guess he’s popular.
…Was this guy part of the gang harassing me? I do have some impression, but he’s probably a classmate.
Well, either way, my reply won’t change.
“…Sorry, but I’ll answer only two questions.”
“Let’s hear it.”
“One. I had lunch.”
“That’s a pity.”
“Two—I’m not going to let a frivolous guy like you approach Yume.”
The frivolous guy is completely rejected by me, but he’s giving me an annoying smile for some reason.
“Then I’ll tell you two good things as responses.”
“One. I’m not approaching you just to get close to Irido-chan.”
“Two—she just heard what you said, you know?”
The boy points to the side.
Yume, who might have finished her lunch, is standing by the side.
I start to digest what I had just said.
—I’m not going to let a frivolous guy like you approach Yume.
………………………….Am I her boyfriend!?
Yume’s face is much redder than usual, and I want to think of that as a light bulb, but I really can’t look at her wavering eyes.
She starts to act nostalgically suspicious, just flailing her arms meaningless as she walks naturally like a robot, sits behind me. Then,
—Bam! Bam! Bam!
She starts kicking at my chair over and over again.
This guy whose name I don’t know starts laughing. It’s domestic violence, what’s funny about that?
“No, well! Hahaha! I guess so! My nose’s correct here!”
“No no, just an issue of mine.”
The boy starts wiping the tears of his eyes (while laughing), and reaches a hand out to me.
“I’m Kogure Kawanami. Just a guy who wants to be your friend, that’s all.”
“…It’s really suspicious hearing someone say his honest intentions.”
“Don’t say that bro.”
“I don’t remember being your bro.”
“Eh? Aren’t you very good at being bros with other ordinary guys?”
“I might say, not at all.”
“I see. Well, let’s just be friends then. Please take care of me!”
The guy called Kogure Kawanami grabs my hand rather forcibly…looks like I’m friend with a somewhat troublesome guy.
“Now then, friend.”
“Why so passionate out of a sudden?”
“To celebrate us being friends, I’ll tell you something really interesting.”
Kawanami’s still showing that annoying grin.
“There’s something reaaaalllllyyy interesting to be seen if you look back now.”
Behind? I turn back, as he says,
And then, entering my sight is Yume’s face, looking a little pouty.
She purses her lips, directing her eyes afar.
My outstanding brain immediately thinks of what I shall say, and blurt out.
“You feeling lonely? Brocon?”
BAM! My chair gets kicked.
It’s the strongest kick I got thus far.