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 said that humanity’s filled with much history, and they were right. I’m just a hard-boiled guy, talking about my past to nobody in particular, the past when I didn’t know 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 had received Yume Ayai’s confession.
I finished reading the love letter she personally handed to me, and accepted on the spot. I guessed that was the more appropriate to describe it, somehow. Anyway, since that day, I officially had a girlfriend.
The first girlfriend in my life.
I felt a little fluffy, a little agitated, and I rolled about on the bed for no reason, until it was dawn. I guessed that could be considered normal though, definitely not because I was lost in the real life fantasy, nor was I in the mood to have a really meaningful dream. It was just an illogical biological phenomenon that robbed me of my precious sleeping time. Ayai should never be forgiven.
Anyway, it’s the first morning since I had a girlfriend; 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 leading to school, the place where I’ll have my first kiss, holding her bag before her knees, waiting for me.
Yume Ayai. My girlfriend.
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 while her cheeks blushed slight 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 hear pounded 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 weren’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.
As lovers, it seemed we could hold hands. But it might have been too fast for us since that just happened yesterday.
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 knew 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 were just a game of imagination. But yes, I would say the following as it it was 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 at this point, I had another big problem.
My little stepsister, Yume Irido, showed up from the washroom. I wordlessly exchanged glares with her. We were frowning at each other, or to be precise, the uniforms we were wearing.
A navy blue blazer. It’s a design that appeared so serious; the red ties showed that we’re in our first years.
Yume and I were wearing the same high school uniform. This was another trap laid by the tragedy-loving God, tied to how Yume and I became siblings.
We were preparing for our entrance exams last year, back then our relationship was already frosty.
Of course, we didn’t discuss the school we wanted to enter. My first choice was a private prep school nobody else from our middle school had gone to. There’s also the issue of school fees for a single parent family, but that was nothing if I passed the entrance exam. I heard she’s also in a single family, with her mother, so I was certain that if I could enter this school, I could definitely break away from her. I studied hard.
And then I got a free scholarship. Together with Yume…Yes.
This woman had exactly the same thoughts as me.
She didn’t want to attend the same school as me, chose a prep school I definitely wouldn’t have chosen, and studied hard.
There were few scholarship places, and the two of us, from the same middle school, managed to get them.
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, many couples studied hard to attend the same school, but there’s probably only one particular couple that studied hard to attend different schools. We ended up entering the same high school despite that. What were the chance?
Damn you God.
…No, actually, we didn’t gather intel on each other, and we’re also idiots at this.
Anyway, the sight of the same uniform has us utterly despising each other.
“…That uniform doesn’t suit you.”
Yume coldly spat with dark eyes.
“…Same to you. The pleated skirt really doesn’t suit you.”
I shot 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 weren’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 pulled us together while we were 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’. There’s a reason for that; our parents were really happy about us getting in.
Yume and me both agreed on something about our family. We both know it was the bottom line we can’t touch, even without saying anything.
“Of course, shall we have a photo!? Come on you two, get closer!”
You got to be kidding.
Or so I wanted to say, but I couldn’t refuse her after seeing Yuni-san happily bring out her smartphone, even thought I was her stepson. It seems her actual daughter Yume too felt the same.
We stood side by side, we tried to plaster smiles on our faces for the photo. I was 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 derailed me completely, and my heart jolted.
…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 said calmly while kicking my calf discreetly. Was 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 referred 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 said, and returned to the living room.
It’s the opening ceremony. Since we were freshmen, Dad and Yuni-san would be visiting our school as our guardians. What did 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 knew about us. It should have be easy for us to act as strangers. But we’re now siblings. We had the same parents, and would taking the same car to school together. We had 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 arrived at school, finished the photo taking before the school gates, and most of the other stuff. Finally, we left our parents for the time being. We had to reach the classroom before the opening ceremony, and meet our classmates and homeroom teacher.
We already knew which class we’ll be in. It seemed they split us according to the grades of our entrance exam; in other words, not because of family reasons. Somehow though, we ended up together in the same class (Class 1-7). The coincidence has me too exasperated to sigh.
Once they disappeared, “Nnn~” Yume stretched her back, and then,
“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 gas, lest we ended up exploding.
We entered school, and went 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 would happen instead. We entered class 7 from the front, as normal.
All the stares in class gathered on us. There’s about 20 or so students, and they were all strangely agitated as they wanted to check out new friends.
According to the paper pasted on the blackboard, my seat’s right at the front.
As ‘Irido’s, we had to sit front and back. I sat in front because my name started with ‘Mi’, and Yume’s behind as her name started with ‘Yu’…I had a bad feeling about Yume sitting behind me, but we sat at our designated seats for the time being.
My chair got kicked in the back. That’s way too expected!
I turned to glare behind, and the culprit’s just staring outside the window as though nothing happened. This woman…
I guess we wouldn’t be changing seats until about a month later, and I had to leave my back exposed to this woman. It’s really disadvantageous. I need to think of a counter quickly…
Given our situation, our classmates were 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?”
Back in the third year of middle school, she was just a plain girl. Gone was that impression as she’s changed inside and outside. Basically, she was completely person from that Yume Ayai who gave me the love letter at the end of that 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 smiled, 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?”
“Not too much, I guess, or so I wish to say, but I really spent much time cramming, even ignoring sleep and food. I feel relieved to be free from that.”
I could hear such chuckles behind me…Yume Irido rose to the top of the class caste on the first day of school.
It happened when we returned to the classroom after the opening ceremony, and finished the simple homeroom session. The students started to approach us like ants gathering around sugar.
Yep, opening ceremony. The weapon Yume spoke of was at work. She represented us freshmen.
Well, that’s proof of her being the top ranked student. This prep school focused entirely on grades, and she had a powerful position. Yume Irido was no lowly peasant going around finding friends.
But it didn’t matter for me, since…damn it all…!
Why were her grades better than me!? DAAAAMMMNNNN IIIIITTTT…!
She had the shiny new label of being the school rep, and it felt like everyone forgot about me, even though we had the same family name. WhateverI 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’d just appear before dad and Yuni-san, and then hurry home. I didn’t need to return home with her, since we’re not lovers.
It felt like Yume was glancing at me, or maybe it was just me overthinking it.
Hmph. Sure is nice to be able to make so many friends.
I kept reading in my room, and before I knew it, it was evening. Feeling thirsty, I went downstairs for a drink, and the entrance door opened.
It’s Yume. She returned alone. Dad and Yuni-san already returned home, and it’s been three hours since the opening ceremony. According to dad, Yume was invited by the classmates to the freshmen party.
I guessed she has a fine debut. Couldn’t imagine her being the person who couldn’t find a partner for gym class back then.
Yume silently walked down the hall, and gave me a gleeful smile as she passed me by.
I frowned. She’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 responded tersely, and went up the stairs….Tch. Why did I have to see such a victorious smirk from her? Was there a reason why I had 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? You should be rather smart yourself, since you’re Irido-san’s brother, right?”
“Passable I guess.”
Why? Why was I the one being surrounded now?
It’s like a supernatural phenomenon. I just went to school in the morning, and out of a sudden, this was the situation. It’s like everyone knew 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 wass probably the first time so many people surrounded me, ever since I was born out of my mom’s womb. There were many more boys gathered around me than back then, many times more the number of doctors and nurses in the delivery room.
I was bombarded by one question after another, completely lost. She managed to deal with such tortuous interrogations yesterday? Was 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.
Bam! She kicked my chair. Why?
I guessed that’s what they meant by when it rains, it pours.
Since it’s a prep school, I guessed everything was at full throttle right out of the gates. We had six periods of lessons, and not just student orientation. It’s still heaven compared to the interrogative barrage of questions. Classes for the win.
I escaped from the classroom during noon break, and fled for my life.
Whenever class was about to start in the morning, those interrogators would be waiting for me, most of them from other classes. It would it’ll take them some time to gather. That’s when I seized the chance to escape.
I lock myself in the cubicle, waiting for things to calm down. The toilet’s pretty, western styled, and it was more comfortable than I imagined. Private schools are amazing.
Goodness, seriously, why was my popularity popping up like that. It’s not like I was trending on the internet news or twitter. Was there anything eye catching about me? If there was…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 could 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…her? They say she’s cute…? Did 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. Those guys are using me as a jumpboard just to approach Yume with evil intentions. Was that it?
I left the cubicle.
“That shocked me…”
I left the toilet, ignoring the shocked guys.
“…Wait? That was…”
A few guys gathered soon after I appeared on the corridor. I guessed it’s more appropriate to say they were just clinging to me.
If they were talking to me because they wanted friends, I would have treated them somewhat seriously. But if that’s not it, there wasn’t any point to running and hiding.
That night, I finished dinner, and washed my utensils at the sink. It seemed Yume too was done when she stood next to me.
For a moment, there’s only the sound of water. Yume mumbled.
“…You don’t feel angry about it?”
I asked, and Yume frowned, looking a little anxious.
“You know, don’t you?”
“You mean the guys surrounding me?’
News sure spread quickly between girls.
“You…were looked down upon.”
“They have no courage to talk to me, so they decide to use you, since you look honest…if it went 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…!”
Yume sounded really agitated for some reason, but she stopped. Her hands stopped washing the utensils.
I too stop washing.
Water continued to flow from the tap.
I quietly asked. Yume stopped moving her mouth and hands, and after a moment, started scrubbing the utensils with the sponge again.
The next day.
It’s my third morning as a high schooler. Yume and I decided to go to school at different times just yesterday, but a day later, the agreement’s broken.
“Shall we go to school together, Mizuto-kun?”
Disgusting. That was my immediately thought when she 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 was just smiling away. It was obvious she’s suggesting this in front of our parents, so that I couldn’t refuse her.
What’s she planning now?
My skeptical look was completely repelled by her flawless smile. And unwillingly, both of us left the house.
I continued to watch Yume with wary eyes as we went to school, but she continued to maintain the poker face. Seriously, what was she thinking…
Filled with much fear and disgust, we ended up about 50 meters away from the school gates. There were more students around us, on their way.
…We used to go our separate ways here back then.
I didn’t know why she said 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 was what I wanted to know.
Why…did this woman just latch onto my arm naturally!?
She muttered as she walked on, holding onto my arm as she dragged me along.
I could feel stares. That’s expected. The talk of the school, the freshmen representative’s was latching onto a man’s upper arm while going to school early in the morning!
W-what’s she thinking here!? I don’t remember us doing such a bold thing when we were out dating!
The scary thing was that Yume continued to latch onto my arm as we passed through the school gates. Naturally, there were more students in there, and I was on tenterhooks. A boy and girl couple going to school while locking arms would attract attention, let alone us!
“Heh. Isn’t that Mizuto-kun~?” “Shall we too…?”
And like yesterday, the boys aiming at Yume gathered…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.
Yume’s arm exerted more strength, and thanks to that, we’re sticking closer. Arggh damn it, my elbow! They’re s soft, you idiot! What’s with the useless growth, you shorty girl!
Yume’s face showed a dazzling smile. The boys were all stunned.
“As you can see, right now, I’m, talking to Mizuto. Can you please not disturb us?”
The boys’ mouths were 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 was 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 delivered the haymaker to the boys who stopped completely, and pulled me along.
We entered the school building. Yume finally let go of my arm; that was when I could finally move
“Y-you…just caused one huge commotion out there, you know!?”
“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 muttered, and averted her eyes slightly.
“I can’t allow my family to be belittled. That’s all. Nothing much.”
…This woman…ahh whatever, shit. Seriously, I couldn’t just laugh it off as a joke when she just said that, you know?
I suppressed the slight hesitation within me, and expressed my thanks as honestly as I could.
“—Thanks, you helped me out there.”
And just because of these words, Yume’s shoulders shivered.
This shouldn’t be the reaction of the one being thanked.
“What? I just thanked you.”
Yume turned away, and prepared to enter the classroom alone…but she suddenly turned 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, and she folded her arms before her chest. Eh? What?
“…You, silent pervert!”
Yume threw this ridiculous insult at me, and fled the scene. What was that…? Wondering that, I start to rub my upper arm.
Didn’t think of that.
Things calmed 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?”
I never thought there would be a steel warrior who overcame the declaration of a brocon. I lifted my head in annoyance.
He looked like a frivolous guy. The bright permed hair seemed to challenge the rules of this really strict prep school. He’s rather tall, and had the physique of a basketball club member, I supposed. I was annoyed by that smile that had some intent, but he didn’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 did have some impression, but he’s probably a classmate. Well, either way, my reply wouldn’t change.
“…Sorry, but I’ll answer only two questions.”
“Let’s hear them.”
“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 was completely rejected by me, but he gave me an annoying smile for some reason…What?
“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 pointed to the side. Yume, who might have just finished her lunch, was standing by the side.
I started 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 was much redder than usual, and I preferred to think of it as a light bulb. I really couldn’t look at her wavering eyes however. She started to act nostalgically suspicious, just flailing her arms meaninglessly, and walked as naturally as a roboto would, sat behind me, and then,
—Bam! Bam! Bam!
She starts kicking at my chair over and over again.
This guy whose name I didn’t know burst out 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 started wiping the tears off his eyes (while laughing), and reached a hand out towards 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 grabbed my hand rather forcibly…looks like I got a somewhat troublesome guy as a friend.
“Now then, friend.”
“Why so passionate all 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 said,
And then, entering my sight was Yume’s pouty face. She pursed her lips, directing her eyes afar.
My outstanding brain immediately thought of what I should say. I blurted.
“You feeling lonely? Brocon?”
BAM! My chair gets kicked. It’s the strongest kick I got thus far.