“Ya and yer sister ain’t really blood-related, are ya?”
It was the morning after all of the student council members had finally moved in. The fuss was over, and my sister and I had spent the rest of the night in our own rooms.
The words that the student council president, Nikaidou Arashi, had thrown at me caught me completely off-guard. They dealt me a critical blow.
It hit me splendidly, and I fear it pleased her a lot. I was shaking badly.
——How does she know?
Even the Arisugawa Family and Takanomiya Family aren’t aware of it.
My parents covered it up so thoroughly that even my sister doesn’t know about it. Only a handful of people know.
So why, out of all people, does Nikaidou Arashi know too?!
Is she trying to trick me into revealing it? No, it doesn’t feel that way. Judging from her smirk, she knew that I’d tremble awkwardly when she discloses the secret, and it doesn’t feel like she’s just blatantly lying to screw with me.
So, what is she aiming for? And… why now? My story was already full of gaps, so she had many other opportunities to strike. Right now it’s just the two of us. Why did she decide to directly reveal it face-to face? Is this just a lucky shot? If not, how long has she known? Does anyone else know too? If so, is this other person or group linked to her or not——
My judgement was fast in its own way, and these thoughts raced by in the blink of an eye.
And after a short pause, I’ve presented the fruits of my thinking:
I opened my mouth and eyes wide, and grandly bent my back.
I went further, putting my hands on my cheeks in the pose they used on those horror manga covers.
You know, imagine this pose, and then imagine it done with terrible stupidity. You now have my reaction.
The president isn’t reacting to my full-body response at all. She just keeps smirking in that ill-natured way.
No, maybe it’s that? Isn’t her expression the one that people have when they see a totally lame joke? If it’s a simple thing like that, then I have to follow up with something that diverts from the truth of my reaction, huh? Something like…
“…Ah— Let’s see, something like that. In other words, I judged that something like this’d be the best reaction in this situation. You can hardly blame me. It was just too sudden.”
“No, no. Nonono, please don’t misunderstand, alright? If I’d had the time, I could’ve shown a different reaction too. Anyway, it’s because I have an outstanding talent, you see, it’s enough that Nasuhara-san invited me to form a two-man comedy duo, right…?”
“Err— …Yeah, Sorry. I’ll be quiet. If a person that slipped once tries to run in pursuit, it can’t turn well. But let me explain nonetheless. Because I think this was prez’ fault just now, right? Bringing up birthplaces is too unusual. It’s not just me, others wouldn’t keep up with it, either. Furthermore, if you play a pass more gently1, it’s more likely to slide through the opponent’s defense, you know?”
But her smirk still licked me all over while she remained silent.
What a nasty person indeed. Not just with the sexual harassment, but also her personality. She’s like the worst kind of audience, someone who enjoys seeing a performer slip while they hurry onto the stage. Is there anything one could call this conversation other than totally cruel? No, there isn’t. Absolutely nothing.
“That da end ’round there?”
To me, who was now sulking in silent protest, prez opened her mouth at last.
“Well, that was some big deal. Yer almost like a raccoon, aren’t ya? Say, a guy who can ad-lib in a situation like that’s really rare, ya know?”
While tapping her shoulder with the back of her bokutou, she said:
“I gave it mah all to beat a crack into that solid-looking defense of yers. I would’ve never guessed ya’d pull that off so quickly. If I didn’t know any better I wouldn’t have noticed, eh?”
“Luckily, I kept mah eyes open, waiting for the moment where ya’d reveal yer true colors, eh? Where did ya learn to deceive people like that? Huh?”
“Ehm, well, from the TV, I guess? I’ve lived in the Kansai region before. It’s the home of comedy, so…”
“Yeah, nah, it’s fine. Don’t bother tryin’ to think of another way to fool me.”
The prez forced a smile and shook her head.
“So ya could say that ya and yer sister are complete strangers. I ain’t havin’ no intention to do anythin’ with it, ya know? Like threatenin’ you with that ‘n stuff. Ya can rest assured, ya know.”
“Ah, but usin’ that as a bargain chip to approach ya in sexual stuff, wonder if that’d be alright?”
“Why not, eh? As cold as ever, ha?”
In response to my immediate reply, prez laughed a ‘kakaka’.
“But lemme say this too: It’s not like I don’t understand how ya feel, but ya don‘t need to be so guarded.”
“No, well… I just feel that prez’ sexual urges are more than enough to keep me on guard.”
“If I had to say, the secret hasn’t come out yet because from how ya guys act, no one would doubt you were siblings.”
Ignoring how I was still playing dumb, she continued:
“DNA tests could blow da whistle in one go. Actually, there’d already be plenty of hair and whatnot from livin’ under the same roof as ya. Maybe I should give it a try.”
“Your words are as ridiculous as ever, President.”
“Mah evidence of choice, however, would of course be yer pubic hair.”
“I’m sorry, ‘ridiculous’ isn’t the right word. ‘Criminal’ is more like it.”
“Ah, of course only the pubic hair growin’ between yer legs, ya know? Not under yer arm.”
“And now you’ve been demoted to sexual offender in my head.”
“Kakaka. Yer heartless as always, eh? Or rather, yer a guy who doesn’t bend to stubbornness. Yer hard to handle, but… the type of guy ya are, I don’t dislike it.”
Prez shrugged her shoulders and said:
“Aight, gotcha. So, let’s do some hypothetical talkin’.”
“If somehow ya ‘n Himenokouji Akiko happened to not be real siblings, or somethin’ like that. Everythin’ from now on is complete fantasy, just some wild ideas, got it? Well, go along with senpai’s hobby, will ya?”
“Yeah… Well, assuming it was like this…”
My default plan was feign ignorance. However, I wanted to find out why the prez knew about this top-secret matter, or how she came to that conclusion at least. This matter had a big impact on my future, after all.
“Ya might say, ‘how did ya…’ – of course, only hypothetically speakin’ – ‘…learn the truth about somethin’ like this?’ Matter of fact, the answer’s quite simple. Do ya know it?”
“Not a clue. This is just hypothetical talk anyway…”
“Think a bit before ya talk, will ya? Don’t be like, ‘Not a clue’, ‘dunno’, end of story. This conversation’s thrillin’. Let’s enjoy it some more.”
“Yeah, yeah, I got your point… Let’s see… Then, you already mentioned this, but did you actually do a DNA test?”
“That’d really be a simple answer, but I was never that interested in ya and yer sister’s blood relationship to begin with, ya know? Ya wouldn’t do somethin’ like that for no reason, would’cha? Moreover, I had no reason to doubt that you two were siblings either.”
Hmm, I see.
I get what she means. Indeed, my father had relied on this aspect of human psychology to keep this a secret. People simply don’t stick their noses into things they don’t care or don’t want to know about.
“Aight now. Got another answer, chap?”
“Yeah, that’s right… Well then, maybe you stumbled on it by sheer chance?”
“Yer the kinda guy who fills in multiple answers in da answer column at the same time. But are there really coincidences in this world?”
“Aah— Maybe not…”
“But, well, yer guess is close at least. Now about how I learned yer guys’ secret — ah, of course that’s if there was a secret — it was basically somethin’ like a chance encounter.”
“Then I answered right after all?”
“Ya think that sorta answer’s good enough? If I asked, ‘What’s 123 x 456?’ and ya answer, ‘It’s a natural number’ what’cha think I’d say then?”
“That might be true, but…”
“Well, I was givin’ some hints. Think about it a little longer.”
“Err, I don’t really mind, but… you’re holding a question and answer game this early in the morning… Even though I don’t have any free time…”
“That’s why yer look so displeased, eh? But if ya can guess it, I’ll let ya make love to mah body for one whole day, ya know.”
“So you’re winning in any case?”
…And I’m being punished either way.
“Now c’mon, think about it more. Get to it, faster!”
Not listening to my troubles, prez urged me more.
I honestly don’t like it, but I can’t figure it out. I want to put an end to this as soon as possible. Ah, feigning ignorance is a great way to burn calories——
“Because yer actually my little brother. Ye, that’s right, you.”
“I said yer my little brother. The very you sittin’ there.”
Upon hearing those shocking words, my surprise was genuine this time.
“…Now listen. If you’re telling me to figure it out, then why would you give it away while I’m still thinking about it?”
“I do it that way for the extra surprise, ya see— ’cause surprisin’ people is part of mah lovely nature.”
“It’s bothering me, so please stop it. Or perhaps… huh? It was a joke, right?”
“Wanna take a DNA test?”
The president spoke those words with an easygoing attitude. It couldn’t tell whether she was telling the truth or not.
Of course, normally I would’ve laughed it off as absurd. It wasn’t anything worth taking seriously, and even if it was true in the first place, it’d be nothing one would reveal here and now. Since it was her, wouldn’t she have had countless other chances to strike? Wasn’t this the blatant trickster Nikaidou Arashi, who made it a hobby to trick and surprise people?
“Well, yer reaction’s natural. Bluntly put, I reacted the same way. Anyhow, I only just learned the truth the day before I moved here.”
Although she still enjoyed watching me be at a loss for words, prez seemed to be talking in a serious tone.
Until then, I didn’t know who my biological parents were, so it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if I had a blood-related sibling.
“Well, there’s more: you’re just bein’ called honorable little brother.”
“Ah. Is that it? But we’re not related by blood, right…?”
“No, bloodwise, we’re cousins. My Family does adoptin’ ‘n stuff, ya know? It’s complicated.”
“Is it like that? Hee…”
“In other words, even though we’re cousins, havin’ a sexual relationship ain’t no prob. So don’t be depressed, aight?”
“You can be sure that I’m not.”
More like I don’t intend to have a sexual relationship with her to begin with.
Well, but I get it now.
So I’m Nikaidou Arashi’s cousin.
If this is true, it’d soften the shock, but… No, just me being related to prez is already enough of a shock. But is it really true?
“Well, one way or the other, the circumstances are hard to explain, ya know.”
As if she had read my mind, prez shrugged her shoulders.
“Also, mah honorable father and mother seem to hold a grudge ’bout yer involvement with the Takanomiya ‘n Arisugawa Family or somethin’, ya know? Well, I ain’t havin’ the slightest interest in family quarrels and stuff. They can do whatever they wanna as long as it doesn’t affect me, but anyhow, that’s the truth. If ya still won’t believe me, we can do that DNA test.”
“But why would the Nikaidou’s know these things? Again, the answer’s simple. Your biological mother was a member of the Nikaidou house. The Nikaidous even helped your parents to hide this fact.”
“In any case, the Takanomiya Family got the short end of da stick. They thought they’d adopted the Himenokouji family’s eldest son, but you’re really a Nikaidou. Everything’s fine since no one else knows, but things’ll get complicated if it gets leaked .”
“Hm, as expected, yer raccoon-style came to light, eh? But it’s alright, ’cause yer idiotic face is also quite arousing.”
“…Well, these are all daydreams and fantasies prez’ got from idle gossip anyway.”
“Ya bet. That’s exactly right.”
Nikaidou Arashi gave a big nod.
“Because this is just idle gossip, I ain’t gonna spread rumors. Today, this was just for fun… Yer and mah relationship ain’t changed. Some things just don’t, ya know? Now then, I’m a bit cold.”
Then, while walking to the entrance hall, she turned around.
“It’s chilly even though it’s spring, so I’m gonna wipe mah sweat and get changed. Sorry, Himenokouji Akito, for makin’ ya have this idle chat with me.”
“…No. I don’t mind.”
“Don’t ya worry. I’m ya ally, ya know. At least for now. I like people like you, and I don’t care about all this family stuff.”
“Thank you very much. That feeling’s mutual, you know? However, It’d be nice if you stopped dropping sexual hints all the time.”
“Kakaka, that’s impossible alright. Mah sexual desires are just beyond control. ——Aah, that’s right, forgot to ask one more thing.”
Prez looked over her shoulder in my direction.
It was that face again; she was smirking without even trying to hide it.
It was that bad feeling again. I braced myself for what was coming next.