TL: sleepy Pop
“Brother, do you know where this is?”(Aira)
Aira came out of nowhere. She appeared on the LCD of my phone, showing me the manga she wanted to buy. With her striking appearance and broken tone, that moment left a lasting effect on me.
“Your product is over there, isn’t it? I’ll show you around.”(Ryoma)
“Oh, you’re the kind of guy who knows where things are?”(Aira)
“Yes, I do. I’ve been working here for about a year.”(Ryoma)
“Oh, ……are you a student?”(Aira)
“Yes, I’m a college student.”(Ryoma)
“Hmm. Is it fun to work here?”(Aira)
“Yes, it’s ……. If you like books, you’ll have a lot of fun.”(Ryoma)
“I see. Oh, so you prefer general literature over manga?”(Aira)
You are supposed to write your name, your favourite book, and your recommendation on the store’s nameplate. Aira looked at Ryoma’s nameplate and judged his preferences.
At this point, Ryoma continued to serve the customers, thinking that Aira was talking to him too much.
“I read manga sometimes,” he said. “The last manga I read was the one with the giants.”(Ryoma)
“What about romantic comedies?”(Aira)
“I used to read a few when I was in high school, but I stopped reading them before I knew it.”(Ryoma)
“Did you stop reading manga because you got busy in college?”(Aira)
“Haha, that might be one of them, plus I’m not very good at managing my time.”(Ryoma)
“Oh, it’s the same with me!”(Aira)
Aira has always been friendly, even when meeting new people.
She was comparable to Ryoma, who preferred to serve clients above any other part-time worker since he loved conversing with them.
“Oh, and where is this manga? Can you point it out to me? I will get it myself.”(Aira)
“Oh, really? I’ll point it out to you then …… it’s over there.”(Ryoma)
“Thank you. What’s this, then?”(Aira)
She must have saved the screenshot to her album. Aira flicked her fingers to show me the following picture in her album.
“It’s on the same shelf.”(Ryoma)
“What’s this last one?”(Aira)
Ryoma pointed again, and Aira flicked again.
“Oh, I’m sorry about that one, but that one is scheduled to arrive next week.”(Ryoma)
“Is it not here yet? I understand. Thank you, brother.”(Aira)
“No, no, no. If you can’t find it, please don’t hesitate to let me know.”(Ryoma)
But the one thing Ryoma didn’t expect was that all the manga’s that Aira was looking for were all romantic comedy manga in the “big brother” genre.
And then it happened. What did you think? Aira began to visit this bookstore, started to play pranks on Ryoma, and started interfering in his work.
Now, Aira goes to this bookshop every day during Ryoma’s part-time workdays, and they’ve grown closer and closer to the point where they could communicate openly with each other.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while, Aira,…… do you want an older brother?”(Ryoma)
I turned my head to face Aira directly as I was assisting the other customers in line.
“I expected you to ask me that since all the mangas I buy are all in that ‘genre’ after all.”(Aira)
As you can tell from our conversation, Aira has a thing for ‘Onii-sans’.
“I’m an only child. But I want to have someone to pamper me a little, and I’m envious of those who have that chance. My mom and dad always come home late from work. I mean, they don’t even come home most of the time, so I’m sure they don’t care about me at all.”(Aira)
“Then how about getting your parents to try harder or ……?”(Ryoma)
“So what, if a boy was born, wouldn’t that be something similar to sexual harassment?”(Aira)
They were able to utter such light remarks to one other since they recognized the distance between them. It was an ideal response to divert Aira’s attention away from her sulking.
“On the contrary, don’t you want an older brother, Senpai? Oh, in your case, it would be an onee chan.”(Aira)
“Didn’t I tell you? I live with my older sister.”(Ryoma)
“Huh?! That’s not fair! Then you should be glad you have an older sister, right?”(Aira)
“Well, I didn’t have a good time in elementary school and junior high school, but since high school, I’ve been happy to have her. I’ve never told my sister this before, though.”(Ryoma)
“All my friends in high school say that too. I’m really jealous of you, Senpai. (Aira)
“Well, I guess I’d like to have a younger sister or brother too…….I’m curious to see what it’s like.”(Ryoma)
If you have an older sister, you will naturally be interested in younger family members. It’s hard to resist this type of curiosity.
“Do you want a younger sister, Senpai?”(Aira)
“A younger brother too.”(Ryoma)
“Hmmm……. If that’s the case, I can be Senpai’s younger sister.”(Aira)
“What..What do you mean by that?”(Ryoma)
While looking through the comics piled underneath her, Aira folds her knees as she said something incomprehensible to Ryoma.
“It’s going to sound weird, but this is a fair trade. I will play the role of Senpai’s younger sister, and Senpai can play the role of my older brother. That way, we can fulfil each other’s desires without a problem.”(Aira)
“It’s like an evolved version of trick-or-treating, isn’t it?”(Ryoma)
“Yeah, sounds pretty interesting, doesn’t it, Senpai?”(Aira)
“It sounds interesting, but I’m not so obsessed with the idea of having a sister to play a role of a character in a manga.”(Ryoma)
“But it’s not like you don’t want a sister.”(Aira)
“Yes, but I don’t even want to have to play the part.”(Ryoma)
“Well, that’s just plain boring and won’t bring this conversation anywhere. Just nod your head, even if it’s a lie.”(Aira)
Aira’s pink lips pouted as she turned her half-lidded eyes toward me, understandably displaying her mood. She is a gal, but she does look like her age in some ways.
“If I nod, I know you will definitely go ahead with it. Acting, on the other hand, is so tiring that it hurts simply to perform it.”(Ryoma)
The experience with the agency reminded me of this. Even though I’m currently having a good time, I still find it challenging to perform the given tasks. If it weren’t for the high hourly wages, I wouldn’t have been able to see any point in doing something so useless.
“Then don’t act. Just be yourself.”(Aira)
“I don’t want to.”(Ryoma)
“So, how can I get you to become my brother?”(Aira)
“No, no matter what you do to me, I’m not going to play the role of a big brother. If the person in question is a child, it would be an ethical issue, would it not?”(Ryoma)
That’s not something you would want to hear from me, who works part-time as a lover’s agent. I wouldn’t be able to express such an opinion if I didn’t have this knowledge beforehand.
“Then…why don’t you ask me to pay you ?”(Aira)
“Alright, that’s enough fooling around. That would make the problem even worse off than it already is.”
“I’m not kidding, though….”(Aira)
“What? Did you say something?”(Ryoma)
Sensing that Ryoma was taking her words too lightly, Aira forcibly broke off the conversation. At the rate both of us are going, this conversation doesn’t seem like it would progress much further. The past exchanges I had with Ryoma already confirmed this.
“Did I…..do something to annoy you?”(Ryoma)
“Of course you did, because you’re a very clueless idiot Senpai.”(Aira)
“Oh, I’m sorry about that?”(Ryoma)
“Sorry’s not going to cut it. There’s only one way you can fix my mood Senpai.”(Aira)
Right there and then. What Aira held out to me with both her hands was the manga book of “The Great Sage Brother and the Withdrawn Sister” that she had mentioned earlier that she was interested in before.
“Do I still have to buy you a drink? (Ryoma)
“I’m not asking you to buy me a drink. I’m just saying it would make me happy if you rewarded me for getting first on a test.”(Aira)
It’s all a matter of taste. After all, Aira’s asking me to buy her a drink just to get her in a good mood.
“You know…Aira. I think you were just pretending to be angry just so that I could reward you for getting first place.”(Ryoma)
“Don’t even try to change the subject. So, what’s my reward?”(Aira)
Guess I can’t keep putting Aira’s reward on hold. Lucky for her that she’s a good friend of mine. Since this is the case, I guess I’m all out of luck.
“All right. So, what’s the price of that manga?”(Ryoma)
“Hmm. Four hundred and forty yen.”(Aira)
“Four hundred and forty yen ……, got it. I’ll get the money when I’m free.”(Ryoma)
“Okay. Thanks for the reward.”(Aira)
A devilish smile showed on Aira’s face as she expresses her gratitude.
It seems like you defeated me, Aira. I can’t blame you if you’re this happy. But I can’t help but wonder…If you’re this happy about it, what life have you been living up till now?
Ryoma turned over to look at Aira, who he had just rewarded, displaying a wry smile on his face.
The only thing about Aira that I can never hate is that she always asks for something inexpensive, like that single manga that she requested.
“Thank you for your hard work, Ryoma.”(Manager)
“Yes, sir. Thanks again!”(Ryoma)
“No, no, no. I’ll leave you to it.”(Manager)
It was already past 22:00. Ryoma and the manager said their farewells as they left the bookstore.
The annoying customer, Aira, left the store as soon as she got her manga. She said,” I want to read the manga as soon as possible,” but I guess it was just that she didn’t want to impede me in my work any further, so she left. She isn’t a very honest person, huh.
“Whew, I’m beat……”(Ryoma)
Ryoma’s home was located on the south side of the bookstore. Since his part-time job was over, it was natural for him to walk in the direction of his home, but Ryoma had one more thing left to do. He turned his feet to the north direction, the complete opposite of where he lived and continued walking.
“It’s cold again today…….”(Ryoma)
It’s the middle of November. The city has already started preparations for the Christmas lights. Today’s temperature is considerably colder than before, and even with a scarf on, the chilly air still manages to pierce my skin. As I walk towards my destination, I placed my hands in my pockets to keep myself warm.
Ten minutes on foot. We arrive at the place.
In front of me, there was a small park equipped with a swing set, a slide, a sandbox, and a wooden bench. All of which was surrounded by a white fence.
There was one lone figure there. As I had expected, a blonde girl was sitting on a wooden bench.
I could only see her silhouette, but I didn’t have to think twice to guess who that was. This was why Ryoma came to check on the park every time he finished his part-time job.
Exhaling a whitening sigh, Ryoma walked around the fence and into the park through the entrance, closing the distance between him and the bench.
“There she is again today,……, the nightlife gal.”(Ryoma)
“It’s not like I was playing with you. Thanks for your hard work, Senpai.”(Aira)
“Don’t worry about me. You’ll catch a cold if you stay here like that. Aren’t you feeling cold?”(Ryoma)
“It’s freezing. Please give me your scarf, Sempai.”(Aira)
Aira was so confident Ryoma would appear that she naturally requested his scarf.
Aira’s clothes hadn’t changed at all from what I’ve seen during my part-time job. She was still in her high school uniform. Despite the cold weather, she wore a skirt that went high above her knees, showing off her beautiful legs.
“Here’s your scarf.”(Ryoma)
“Hmm, this is where Senpai should wrap it around me, okay? Gently, so as not to strangle me.”
“You’re a real pain in the ass…….”(Ryoma)
“Oh, you’re going to listen to me? I thought you’d say no.”(Aira)
“If we keep talking about this and that, your body will get colder. I wouldn’t like it if you caught a cold.”(Ryoma)
“I see…That’s right. Now that might be a high geek point, Senpai.”(Aira)
“I don’t really care about that….”(Ryoma)
Ryoma approached Aira from behind and wrapped a large scarf over her neck. He doesn’t pull any tricks here, as predicted. He adjusts it loosely so that it does not tighten Aira’s neck but fills in the spaces so that cold air does not enter.
“Oh, it feels soooooo warm!”(Aira)
“Don’t start smelling the scarf that I just wrapped around you!”(Ryoma)
“Why not? It smells great. It smells fine. It doesn’t stink.”(Aira)
“No, that’s not the point. Isn’t there supposed to be some form of resistance? I’m a man, your a girl, and I was wearing it just now.”(Ryoma)
“I’m comfortable with a guy like you, Senpai, so it’s not like that. Plus, I don’t want to borrow something from a stranger I’m not familiar with. If I do, he may think that I have feelings for him.”(Aira)
“That seems like something you would say to make yourself look good, Aira.”(Ryoma)
“Of course not. I know you don’t believe me, but I’m still choosing the correct person, am I right, Senpai?”(Aira)
“I guess that means I’ve got a nasty JK on my hands…….”(Ryoma)
“I know you think I’m a bother, but aren’t you twisted, Senpai?
You behave petty most of the time, then all of a sudden, you start acting cool.”(Aira)
“Why do you have to pay me back three times as much? Isn’t just one time enough?”(Ryoma)
“Well, to follow up on that, I don’t hate you for it, Senpai.”(Aira)
“Haha, thanks for that.”(Ryoma)
Ryoma treated Aira as a task during his part-time job, and now she wouldn’t stop saying bad things about him, but if she didn’t like Ryoma, she wouldn’t have kept complaining about him.
“Ah……, Aira. Do you want to wear my jacket too? You’re probably still feeling a little bit cold.”(Ryoma)
“Seriously, what’s wrong with you today? All of a sudden, You’re all nice to me. It’s weird.”(Aira)
“What are you talking about? I’ve always been nice to you, Aira. I even bought you the manga you always wanted. So with that said, do you want my jacket?”(Ryoma)
I can’t help myself if I’m going to feel chilly. Aira’s clothing is too thin for the cold. She would undoubtedly feel chilly. I’d feel terrible if I didn’t hand over my jacket to her. Any decent person in my position would have done the same thing as I did.
“No, I’m fine. It’s warm enough. Besides, I wouldn’t want to wear that jacket of yours because it looks so stinky.”(Aira)
“Then give me back my scarf. It’s probably stinky too.”(Ryoma)
“It doesn’t count as clothes, so it doesn’t stink.”(Aira)
“You’re starting to sound very cryptic.”(Ryoma)
Even though Aira is dismissing Ryoma’s good intentions, there is one thing she profoundly cares about; Senpai has already handed me his scarf to keep me warm. I don’t want him to offer me his jacket as well, because he could become cold…That’s how I feel.
“Oh, Senpai. The manga was interesting. It’s better not to rely on other people’s evaluations after all.”(Aira)
Aira proceeded to rummage through her bag and pulled out a copy of “The Great Sage Brother and the Withdrawn Sister,” which Ryoma had purchased for her as a reward.
“And what was so interesting about it?”(Ryoma)
“The part where the brother was giving the sister a lot of attention.”(Aira)
“Uh, yeah ……? Well, I’m glad it’s a manga that suits your taste, Aira. As a buyer, I’d rather be happy than have someone say it’s boring.”(Ryoma)
“Do you want to see it?”(Aira)
“No, I don’t think I want to.”(Ryoma)
For Ryoma, if he were to pick up a manga, he will feel compelled to read it to the end. However…He didn’t come to this park to relax, so he was not obliged to do so.
“When’s the second volume coming out? (Aira)
“Wasn’t the second volume already out?”(Ryoma)
“What? I didn’t see any volume two on the shelf, though.”(Aira)
“Then it must have been purchased by another customer. I’ll tell the store manager to stock up on the second volume when I get back to my job.”(Ryoma)
“Thank you. That’d be appreciated, Senpai.”(Aira)
“Okay. So, Aira, I’m going to get right down to business…Go home.”(Ryoma)
“I don’t want to…”(Aira)
“Look, Aira, the reason I’m saying this is because you’re a minor. After 23:00, the cops will definitely arrest you for staying out so late at night.”(Ryoma)
“Why don’t you just stay here with me?”(Aira)
“Why should I go through all the trouble to stay here with you when you could just go back home.”(Ryoma)
A few months ago, Ryoma stumbled upon a similar scene.
I was on my way to the meeting place when I received a call from my best friend, Yukiya Yuki, after my part-time job, asking me to have dinner with him.
It was already past 22:00 that day.
Even if they didn’t have a private relationship, they were still regular customers. As long as he found such a scene late at night, he couldn’t just leave it unattended. That’s how it is still going on today.
“Because it’s boring at home, plus my Mom and Dad aren’t home either.”(Aira)
“Didn’t you say your parents were busy?”(Ryoma)
“Well, my dad’s the boss. He’s swamped, especially at this time of the year, so instead of getting ready for me, he just leaves the money on the table. I don’t know if it’s guilt or what, but I don’t want it.”(Aira)
“But you need to get home early to reassure your parents.”(Ryoma)
“If they want reassurance, they should just come back home already.”(Aira)
Aira turns her face to face the window, her mouth agape as she stares at the many stars illuminating the night sky.
Like Ryoma’s complicated family situation, where his parents passed away while he was still a minor, Aira also has a complex family environment.
“You’re the only one, Senpai. You are the only one who treats me like a normal person even though you know that my dad is the president, unlike others, who come with ulterior motives, like trying to get me to buy them drinks.”(Aira)
“It’s a bummer that people approach you with ulterior motives. I’m starting to change how I usually view money when I interact with you, Aira.”(Ryoma)
“Yuck. If you hadn’t said that, my favorability rating of Senpai would have gone up.”(Aira)
“oh, that’s too bad.”(Ryoma)
“You’re not showing any emotion at all. You should be a little disappointed in yourself!”(Aira)
Aira pokes me lightly with her elbow and lightly touches my body, but she appears to realize that I’m joking. She smiles, displaying her shiny white teeth.
“You don’t have any ulterior motives, do you, Senpai? If I do something wrong, you’ll warn me, and if I do my best, you’ll listen to my wishes as well.”(Aira)
“Isn’t that a normal thing?”(Ryoma)
“It doesn’t seem normal to me. So I’ll tell you right now that I’m never going to let such a valuable asset go.”(Aira)
“It’s called a ‘strike girl’ “(Aira)
“All right, give me back the scarf. I have nothing to lend to criminals.”(Ryoma)
“I don’t like that.”(Aira)
Ryoma reached for the muffler and tried to pull it off, but she must have sensed the danger before that. Squeezing the scarf with both her hands, Aira took a fully defensive stance.
“No, no, no, no, no!”(Aira)
After which, Aira narrowed her jade-coloured eyes provocatively as she let out a loud laugh.
“Like I would say that at all.”(Aira)
“But I’m sure you’re happy to have a JK’s attention, aren’t you? I’m still popular in school, and I even got hit on the other day.”(Aira)
“I don’t know how to look at …… the boys who confessed to you. If I went out with you, Aira, you would definitely stalk me.”
“Waaaiit, I’m not done yet! In my defence, I wouldn’t do anything that people don’t like, right? I don’t want to make that many enemies in the first place!”(Aira)
“You do things to me that I don’t like……”(Ryoma)
“I mean, you’re not in that ‘category’ because you’re in a more special place, Senpai.”(Aira)
“It’s just annoying…….”(Ryoma)
“I’m sorry about that.”(Aira)
The atmosphere around both of them was lively and filled with joy. Aira’s face glowed with delight as she wobbled her legs uncontrollably.
“Hmm! I feel a little bit better now. It was nice talking to you, Senpai.”
“Well then, let’s go home. Even though this area seems safe, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get into trouble.”(Ryoma)
“I’ll be back when I’m done.”(Aira)
“Oh, you’re not done yet?”(Ryoma)
Ryoma took out his phone from his pocket and checked the time. His phone screen showed the number 22:31. There were less than thirty minutes left until the time for detention.
“I’ll say this right now because if I don’t, you’ll surely prolong the time, but I’ll leave without question at 23:00, okay?”(Ryoma)
“No, you don’t have to rush me like that!”(Aira)
“Come on, then.”(Ryoma)
“I’m starting to get impatient…….”(Ryoma)
At this moment, a gust of cold wind cut through the festive air that we had been enjoying. Both of us remained silent.
After a few seconds of stopping and taking a big breath, Aira gently moved her mouth as if ready to gather the confidence to talk about a sensitive issue.
“Oh, you know, ……, you know that story I told you today about when you were working, Senpai? I want you to take that story seriously…….”(Aira)
“I’m sorry, what’s that story again?”(Ryoma)
“Well…That is…the one about being my older brother..”(Aira)
“Haha, ……. Enough with the jokes. So what’s your main point?”(Ryoma)
“Here, this is the main point. I’m not joking about this. I’m serious about this.”(Aira)
Aira is holding her scarf with her left hand to hide her embarrassment, completely covering the lower half of her face. Although It was impossible to read her emotions directly from her mouth, her tone and eyes told me she was dead serious. I noticed that the atmosphere felt so heavy that it made my skin tingle more than the cold air.
“Okay, Aira ……, let’s just chill out for now. Otherwise, we won’t be able to proceed.”(Ryoma)
“I’ve already cooled down. You can tell by looking at my face.”(Aira)
Her expression and demeanour were the same as usual, and she hadn’t raised her voice in any way. But, there is absolutely no one who would agree to such an absurd request, especially if one asks you to be her ‘older brother.’
“I’ve already made up my mind. I’m definitely going to make you my big brother, Senpai.”(Aira)
“You can’t be that selfish. ……. I’m not too fond of acting, you know. Plus, there is no such equivalent exchange that you mentioned earlier, for me being your older brother.”(Ryoma)
“…… Meh, I was expecting you to say no. There was no benefit to you in the first place, so…”(Aira)
“So I’ve been thinking about it. How do I get Senpai to nod.”(Aira)
“Get me to nod?”(Ryoma)
Aira responds with a single word and starts fishing through her student bag again. I wonder if there’s any way for her to get me to nod in such an agreement.
“I’m sorry, Aira, but I will never agree to such an absurd request. It just doesn’t make any sense.”(Ryoma)
For Ryoma, who works part-time as a lover’s agent, this is a slingshot comment, as he thinks of the underage Aira. Just as Ryoma was ready to give a flat-out rejection, he witnesses something incredible.
“Okay, how about this?”(Aira)
Ryoma yells out loud in the silent city at night. It was all because of what Aira took out of her bag.
Aira’s thin fingers held a brown envelope, with half of the bills peeking out of the opening. At a glance, there were more than ten bills.
“I put 150,000 in there, including all the inconvenience fees and everything. You can sign a contract for a month with this. That’s not a bad deal, is it?”(Aira)
“Hey, hey, …….”(Ryoma)
Ryoma was speechless at the thought of negotiating with money. The amount of money that Aira offered him was more than he could earn without working for two months. With this money, it would be much easier to pay for school. It would take some of the burdens off of Kaya. Still, it was insane to accept money from a minor such as Aira. Ryoma could hear the whispers of angels and demons from both sides.
“Don’t freeze up like that. Let me hear your answer quickly.”(Aira)
“Wait a minute. First of all, 150,000 is not a lot of money for a high school student to carry around…….”(Ryoma)
“Don’t change the subject. If this isn’t enough, I can go to the convenience store and withdraw more money. I have my credit card with me.”(Aira)
“It’s not that it’s not enough! That’s not what I meant!”(Ryoma)
”The amount I have is 150,000 yen. There are probably only a few people in this world who would think that this isn’t enough. You can live for at least a month with this money, you know?”(Aira)
“So, will you be my big brother, Senpai?”(Aira)
“I know you’re not kidding. I get it, but …… with this money, you can go out and play, buy manga, buy games, do whatever you want. Tell me, why are you so obsessed with having a brother that you have to pay for him. Because that’s what’s bugging me the most.”(Ryoma)
Aira’s smart. I’m sure there’s a reason why she wants to spend such a hefty amount of money just to have a temporary brother.
“What’s the point if I’m going to say it and you proceed to say no? …… You can’t just nod your head, Senpai? What’s wrong?”(Aira)
“I don’t know what the situation is, so I can’t just drink it even if I’m offered money, a huge one at that. It’s funny that you’re even trying to bribe me with money in the first place.” (Ryoma)
Ryoma, who has reached adulthood, is an adult in his thinking phase and does not act solely on immediate matters. Aira closes her mouth tightly in response to the adult response from Ryoma and lowers the envelope containing the large sum of money to her thighs.
The same silence as before. A heavy air enveloped the two of them.
“Look, just take your time and tell me when you can say it, Aira.”(Ryoma)
“…… If you laugh at what I say, I’ll kick you in the nuts. Seriously.”(Aira)
“You can do whatever you want then. I’m unable to laugh at anything in this kind of atmosphere after all.”(Ryoma)
Words that do not lie. Even the most shallow of people would come up with an answer like Ryoma’s. The atmosphere felt so bleak that you couldn’t even crack a joke.
The silence lasted for five minutes, and when she was finally ready, Aira began to tell me why she was so adamant.
“Oh, Aira, it’s …….”(Ryoma)
“Aira, you’ve been holding back for a long time,……. But I’ve reached my limit,…….”(Ryoma)
However, what Ryoma said was not enough to get his point across. “What limit?” Just before Ryoma could say anything else, Aira turned over and spoke in a faint voice.
“When I wake up in the morning, I’m alone. When I get home from school, I’m alone. I’m alone when I go out to buy food and when I eat. …… My parents are too busy even to praise me if I get a good score on a test. Of course, I would feel lonely…….Why is it that I’m the only one in this environment, and everyone else is cheating? How is this fair?……”(Aira)
The always cheerful Aira was not there. Her face was shadowed, but she seemed to have confided in her deepest feelings for Ryoma. It was only then that Ryoma had understood.
Why does Aira come to the store only when I’m there? Why does she ask me to praise her? Why does she still look so happy even when I’m the only one who praises her? Am I interfering with your life in any way? Why is she so happy even when we’re only having a light conversation?
It was an act of loneliness, Ryoma thought. Aira did what she could to put on a facade to drown out the loneliness, but she had reached the limit of what she was able to do.
“I’m too old to tell anyone I’m lonely……. It doesn’t mean anything if my parents just give me money…I’d still have no one….”(Aira)
Aira’s parents are the president and vice president of the company, respectively. Even if Aira had wanted to confide in her parents, she couldn’t as it would have jeopardized their work. And. She most likely didn’t want her friends to feel sorry for her if she told them about her home environment.
Even Ryoma could understand what Aira was going through. He hadn’t even told his best friend Yukiya about his home environment yet, and that his parents had passed away before he came of age. To shoulder all this by yourself…
The crucial difference between Ryoma and Aira was whether or not they had a ‘sibling’ to confide in. Ryoma has an older sister, Kaya. She is the person he talks to, the person he consults with, and the person who takes care of him.
However, Aira doesn’t have any of that. She’s an only child.
She has no one to talk to, no one to care for her. She is alone most of the time, and it was difficult for her to release her frustration. Aira is only still a sophomore in high school and needs the support of her parents. She was desperately looking for a substitute for her parents. What she found at the end of a tunnel was an alternative, a big brother.
“Hey, ……you should have told me sooner if you have such problems.”(Ryoma)
Aira didn’t want a big brother just for the sake of having one. She desired a big brother to fill the void in her heart and to alleviate her loneliness. The former and latter might be viewed in many ways. Ryoma could only come to one conclusion. “I can’t ignore this,” he said.
“Yeah…I changed my mind. I’ll sign that contract.”(Ryoma)
Ryoma nodded, snatching the brown envelop from Aira’s grasp. He demonstrated his commitment not just through his words but also through his actions.
“If you think about it, 150,000 yen a month is unbelievable, and you’d be crazy not to take it.”(Ryoma)
Ryoma placed the fifteen bills back into the envelope without counting them as proof that he trusted Aira.
“Don’t feel sorry for me, ……. That’s what I hate the most…….”(Aira)
“No, I don’t.”(Ryoma)
“You have a sympathetic look on your face. Don’t lie to me……”(Aira)
“I’ve always had a sympathetic look on my face if that’s what you mean.”(Ryoma)
Ryoma didn’t feel sorry for Aira since he knew it wasn’t what she wanted.
However, Ryoma’s facial appearance was undeniably gentler than others. It’s was only natural that Aira had reacted this way.
“Furthermore, I wouldn’t have taken the money if I felt sorry for you, Aira. I only took it because I thought it would benefit me. Don’t make that mistake.”(Ryoma)
However, the main reason as to why I accepted the money was not because I felt sorry for her but to create a contractual situation, one where both parties would benefit.
This is the current situation. I’ve received the contract money, but how we’re going to deal with it is has not been decided.
“I’m offended by the way you stated that…if that’s the case, why did you go through all the trouble to ask me why I’m doing this?”(Aira)
“Because I said that I changed my mind.”(Ryoma)
“You’re full of shit.”(Aira)
“….. Don’t worry, I’ll keep my contract as long as I’m paid. If you’re going to sign a contract, you must have an idea of what you want to do, right?”(Ryoma)
“I have, but ……”(Aira)
“I’m sure you’ll be able to tell me what you’re thinking about the next time we meet, but I think we’re done here. It’s almost time for me to go home.”
After looking at the clock on his phone again, Ryoma stood up from the bench and urged Aira to get up.
“Are you going to send me home …… today?”(Aira)
“Well, considering the time, I’m worried about letting you walk home alone.”(Ryoma)
“In exchange, can you keep everything that happened today a secret? It can’t be good for either of us if people find out.”(Aira)
“Since you asked me to keep it a secret, then that’s what I’ll do. I wouldn’t want to ruin our relationship.”(Ryoma)
Aira reached for the blonde hair, somewhat shyly. Still, her expression was back to normal. That was enough to make me feel relieved.
“Come on. I’m leaving. Hurry up and get up from the bench.”(Ryoma)
“Hmm, I might not be able to unless Senpai grabs my hand and makes me stand up.”(Aira)
The moment Ryoma accepted the money, the contract began. Aira was displaying a part of herself that desired to be pampered, one which he hasn’t shown before.
“Oh, I see,……. But, unlike Aira, I’m not used to holding hands, so please don’t go into it.”(Ryoma)
“I’m the same as you, Senpai.”(Aira)
“Yes, yes, I doubt it.”(Ryoma)
“Oh, maybe you’re jealous? Did you want to monopolize my hands that much?”(Aira)
“Which hand do you demand I hold?”(Ryoma)
Ryoma approached in disgust, grabbed Aira’s proffered hand and made her stand up from the bench.
Aira’s hands were soft and warm as if someone had warmed them. Her fingertips were so delicate that if I applied too much pressure, they would snap.
“You say you’re not used to it, Senpai, but you don’t hesitate to grab it…….what’s the meaning of that?”(Aira)
“What do you mean by I’m grabbing you? You knew this would happen because you asked me to.”(Ryoma)
“But you’re so used to it. You didn’t even get embarrassed, Senpai.”(Aira)
“There’s no reason for me to be embarrassed with an annoying customer.”(Ryoma)
“What!? That’s enough. I’ll definitely make you embarrassed!”(Aira)
“Yes, yes, I’ll be expecting it.”
“Ugh! Don’t you make me do it!”(Aira)
“Ha-ha-ha. Sorry about that.”(Ryoma)
“No laughing! Don’t apologize!”(Aira)
Aira was getting more and more heated by Ryoma’s agitation, but she wasn’t taking any of it seriously. All this was just meant to lighten up the mood and to make both individuals feel at ease.
The air around me was no longer the same as it was during the consultation. It was noisy, similar to the setting I had when I was working in the bookstore.
As we were on our way home, Aira said something.
“……Senpai. If I told you that…that thing you saw earlier, the one that looked like my true intentions, was also a plan to get you down for the contract, would you be …… angry?”(Aira)
“That’s not possible since you were tearing up before.”(Ryoma)
“No, no, no, no, I didn’t do that!”(Aira)
“Yes…I’m a liar.”(Aira)
Perhaps it was because Aira kept interrupting him at his part-time job every time, that Ryoma felt tempted to mess with her as a means of payback for what she did.
“What the…? Wait!”(Aira)
“Huh? No! Don’t you dare touch my head!”(Aira)
“Well, I have to, since your lying to your big brother, who’s such a great person.”(Ryoma)
As he lined up next to Aira, Ryoma placed his hand lightly on her head with a cocky smile and grinned playfully as if to reassure her.
With such an expression, their eyes lock for a brief period, and Aira’s energy fades away at a fast rate.
“It’s not like I’m lying or anything….. Stupid…Stupid brother.”(Aira)
She hurled a barrage of insults at me, but I didn’t fight back, and anyone who saw the way she turned her face down while being patted on the head would understand. This was Aira’s method of hiding her embarrassment. Another thing Ryoma didn’t mind was that Aira had changed the way she addressed him.
There is no doubt that their relationship has changed drastically from this day onward.
The house was empty. Even mom and dad weren’t home. I knew I wouldn’t get a greeting back, but I treat it as a daily routine.
Otherwise, If I didn’t say hello, I’d feel a little down.
Taking off her shoes at the door, Aira heads upstairs to her room. I’ve lived here for more than ten years now. Even without the lights, I could feel it.
She pulls the door handle and presses the light switch, and the light comes on immediately.
Aira places her bag on the floor.
“I had a great harvest today!”(Aira)
I dived straight into the bed.
My face rubbed against the covers, and it hurt a little, but I deserved it since I had been grinning the moment Senpai dropped me off.
“I can’t believe how happy you are, Aira!”(Aira)
I’m so happy that I got to make the brother I’ve always wanted. I said too many embarrassing things today, and I feel like my face is on fire……. I really can’t control the way I feel right now. Even my legs are shaking non-stop.
Aira flips her body over and touches her face. I’m still grinning, but there’s nothing I can do about this.
You’ve caught the one you’ve always wanted. I think I’m using my luck to win the first prize in the lottery, like having Senpai play the role of a big brother. We exchanged contact information on the way home, and I was so happy. This means I can text him whenever I’m feeling lonely or need his attention!
First, Senpai lent me this scarf, which was a big help. If I didn’t have something to hide my face with, Senpai would have made fun of me. I’m so glad you’re here.
“…Thank you. You saved me from getting laughed at by my idiot Senpai.”
It’s going to sound like a fairy tale. As Aira was reminiscing about the good times, she took off the scarf around her neck.
That’s when she noticed. That she had brought back Senpai’s scarf with her. Aira had forgotten to return this muffler to Ryoma.
And when I saw the tag, I was surprised.
“This is a brand new one…….”(Aira)
I finally understood why it was so warm. It’s probably something that costs around 20,000 yen. However, Senpai isn’t the kind who would buy such expensive products, no less branded.
If it was, would someone have given it to him as a gift?
Honestly, it’s a huge possibility. Senpai is a cheapskate and twisted, but he’s strangely mature. His face and personality aren’t so bad either.
Something’s bothering me. This scarf smells like a woman.
Well…Senpai did say that he had an older sister, so that may be the case. But then…why didn’t you ask me to return the muffler?
Surely you must have noticed that I did not return the muffler, Senpai.
It’s not that I’m sure, but that Senpai is the kind of person who would remember what he left behind. He’s a cheapskate, so he never forgets what he’s going to lose, especially since this expensive scarf. Then what?
“Was this scarf meant for me to drown out my sorrows for today……?”(Aira)
I have a feeling that’s true. When I think about it, it seems like the situation is moving how I want it to, plus there’s nothing wrong with having it in the first place.
“I’m going to call you a rice cake on a shelf.”(Aira)
That’s a proverb I came up with.
To have unexpected good luck. To get something good without any effort. It’s perfect for the current situation.
“I’ve been thinking about this the instance I wrapped the scarf around my head, but it smells so good. I wonder what kind of detergent and fabric softener combination they use. Or maybe it’s the air freshener which Senpai keeps in his house?”(Aira)
Aira folded up her scarf and smelled it some more.
I know I said that Senpai’s clothes stunk, but they don’t. In fact, it smells really good. You can even tell that how much he cares about his scent.
I’m starting to feel like I’m a woman, and I’m also popular since I kept involving myself with people. If that’s the case, I have no choice but to take action. The ‘Don’t mess with the big brother kind of stuff.’
Because it sucks to sign a contract and then be turned down like, ‘I have a date with another woman today.’
“But, you gave me this today, so I’ll tolerate it. I’ll just add my scent to this scarf.”(Aira)
“If Senpai lent it to me, that means I can use it freely. Then I’ll use it for all kinds of things. I’m sure the smell will help me sleep soon as well.”(Aira)
I’m looking forward to the time when he realizes this scarf smells like me. I wonder how angry Senpai is going to get.
“Hee hee, big brother.”
The sudden realization hit Aira. She unconsciously took out a certain manga from the bed shelf.
‘I’m a lonely little sister, and I don’t want to be in love with you! So I’m going to spoil my sister’s boyfriend!’
This was the first manga that Aira bought. As you can tell from the title, it’s very tempting. It was also the manga that made her want to have a big brother.
This is a book that Aira was a big fan of, and it was well-liked by manga artist Debiru-chan, who also draws novels and romantic comedy manga. This manga even made it to Aira’s Twitter account.
I bought it right away because I was curious about the rest of the story after reading the four-panel trial.
As the title suggests, it’s about a lonely little sister who gets spoiled by her big sister’s boyfriend. She calls her sisters boyfriend “big brother” and spoils him like a real big brother.
Every time she does, her sister gets jealous or angry.
The reason why the younger sister kept spoiling her sister’s boyfriend was relatively simple. Since her older sister had a ‘boyfriend’, she couldn’t take care of her younger sister as much as before. If this were real life, the sister would have done something terrible instead, but I could read this without feeling uncomfortable or anything since this is a fictional story.
The little sister does whatever she wants.
The little sister does whatever she wants.
She uses any excuse she can to go out with her sister’s boyfriend or ask for a lap pillow. If you were to put yourself in the sister’s shoes, you might feel a little bewildered, but Aira empathized with her. She was rooting for her sister.
I’m one of those people who usually feel lonely. I know exactly how she feels when she wants attention. It was so interesting that I immediately bought volumes two and three, and before I knew it, I was one volume away from catching up with the latest series. I was so addicted that I almost skipped my studies. It may sound creepy, but I even fantasized about it at school.
This manga made me envy having an older brother more and more.
So, I was really surprised.
When I stopped by that bookstore to buy the latest manga, a bookstore employee looked just like my sister’s boyfriend in the manga, not because he was a bookstore employee, but because he looked that much like him.
He had the same hairstyle and was about the same height as well.
That bookstore clerk became my Senpai, and I wanted to get involved with him, which sounds pretty crazy.
Aira thought that maybe he would care for her like how the sister was cared for in the manga.
That’s why I wanted to establish a relationship with Senpai somehow. I wanted to get to know him better.
The only way to get to know him was to talk to him, so I looked up some older brother stuff on the internet and went to ask Senpai some questions. It was a natural way to start a conversation, right? I chose to read only older brothers’ books to leave as much of an impression on my Senpai as possible.
I had never seen that clerk at the bookstore before, so I assumed he was a newcomer.
I thought he was new because I hadn’t seen him at the bookstore before, and I was hoping to hear him say, “Where can I find that manga? I tried to think of a line to make a shared moment, but the Senpai answered in a very fluent voice. The manager told me that he has been working there for a year, but he’s very good at his job, and he treated me politely.
But hey, that was a bit disappointing because the boyfriend in the manga had a totally different personality.
It’s too much of a coincidence that he has the same face and physique, but he’s not the same as he was in the manga.
But then, when ……Senpai showed me his true colours, I understood. He even has the same personality as him.
He’s annoying, but he’ll do anything you ask. He looks like a pain in the ass, but he’s kind to me.
I don’t mean to be like the sister in the manga, but in my mind, he’s the only big brother I would ever have.
At first, I thought it would be nice to be involved, but I felt like this before I knew it.
So I’m thrilled. I was able to catch the Senpai I was aiming for.
I spent 150,000 yen, but it was a reasonable amount for someone like me.
A long time ago, my dad told me that money is there to protect yourself. So save your money.
At that time, I didn’t understand what he meant because I’ve never had anything to spend money on before, but he was right.
If it weren’t for the money, Senpai wouldn’t have become my big brother. But that’s normal. Only a brave man in a manga would have given in to such demands without any compensation. Only in the world of fiction would there be such a convenient story.
Reality is not often so sweet. It’s not sweet, but I feel like I’m getting foolish because Senpai is acting as my big brother.
He praises me when I do my best. If I do something wrong, he’ll scold me and give me something to think about. He’s also a great person to talk to.
Now I won’t be lonely every day. In fact, now I can pamper myself to the fullest with Senpai.
“What should I do … I don’t know what I should do. Maybe a leg pillow? Oh, a piggyback ride would be better.”(Aira)
Even though it’s a fictional story, they say they draw their manga based on real life, so I’m sure this is how their older brothers spoil younger sisters in the world. It’s not a strange request, is it?
But …… piggybacking me would usually hit my chest, so what should I do?
Aira put her hands on her chest. I’m not proud of it, but I’m growing faster than my classmates around me.
Do I have to push them like in the manga? I don’t think you need to push it. As long as he isn’t able to hear the sound of my heartbeat, it should be fine. …… Meh, I guess I’ll just follow the manga.
When it comes to textbooks for siblings, manga is the way to go.
Ah, ……. Aira, you’re going to be pampered a lot by your Senpai. I’m going to be so embarrassed and nervous…
My heart is beating really fast, even though I just fantasized about it.
She proceeded to bury her face in Senpai’s scarf as she lies down on the bed.
I can’t wait to see Senpai. I’ll just wear his scarf for now, but I want him to pamper me so badly.
But when I think about spoiling my Sempai, my face gets really hot…….I think even my ears are turning red now.
I feel like I’ve entered the world of a romantic comedy…
The romantic comedy manga just reminded me. Today is the day that Debiru-chan’s new manga will be posted on Twitter!
I put the manga on the bed and immediately touched my phone. As soon as I placed the manga down on the bed, I touched my phone and saw that Debiru-chan had posted it two hours ago.
I quickly tap it and read through the contents.
“Hmm? What’s the title of this? What is this? You mean it’s based on Debiru-chan’s real life?”
You don’t have to worry about that, though. I don’t care if it’s fiction or non-fiction. Debiru’s manga seems extremely interesting. It’s only been two hours, and the likes are already over 20,000. Aira tapped the screen and read it right away.
“Ugh, this setup is awesome …….”(Aira)
It’s a simple story about a couple on a lovey-dovey date, but it’s not that simple. The heroine buys the guy who plays her boyfriend through the company with money.
It’s something similar to what Aira is doing right now…….
“No way!? This outfit.. it’s…”(Aira)
I’ was alone, and what I’ve just seen surprised me to the point that I yelled out loud. The heroine bought the boyfriend, and when he arrived, he was wearing the same outfit that Sempai was wearing today…
If you read the manga to the end, it ended with the two taking a picture together. It says, “It might be true,” so I’m sure there’s more to it, but it sounds pretty realistic.
For now, I’ll just hit “like” and leave a comment with a smiley face emoji saying, “I’m satisfied!’
“I’ll be back. I’m going to take a bath and go to bed early, now that I’ve enjoyed your manga.”(Aira)
Placing her phone and scarf on the bed, Aira stood up.
“I’ll wear this muffler tomorrow and go to school.”(Aira)
If Senpai finds out, he’ll get angry, but if you tell him you were cold, he’ll be all over you.
Because of this personality, people don’t realize that they can get entangled with people similar to Aira……