“Over here. Our parents are both on night shift today.”
The time was near midnight. Thanks to Ozu’s guidance, I was able to infiltrate the Kohinata household. Well, it’s not that big of a deal, really. I just messaged my trusty friend that I needed his help, and that I didn’t want Iroha to get wind of this.
“Over here, this is Iroha’s room.”
“Yeah, thank you… But is this really fine? Allowing me in at this time to see your little sister?”
“‘I’ve told you countless times, I’m not a siscon. With Aki and Iroha getting closer, I can dream of getting to see your children one day, and it’s the one thing I look forward to the most.”
“Great hobby you have there. How about you find something more decent to indulge yourself in?”
“I’m working day in and day out so I can. Anyways, I’ll be going. I pray for your luck in battle.”
Ozu locked the door to his room as he went in.
Knock knock, I gave a calm knock at Iroha’s door.
“Heey, Iroha. You’re still awake, right? I have something to talk about. Come out, will you.”
Knock knock knock knock knock knock knock, I called out to her while knocking on the door.
“There’s no way you’d already be asleep at this hour, right. I know that you’re awake, so respond to me already!”
“Ahh, you’re so annoying! What do you want at a time like this!?”
Oh, there we go.
“It’s about the recording today. Won’t you hear me out?”
“What, you’re planning on lecturing me while my parents aren’t home?”
“That’s not it. I want to apologize to you.”
“Apologize? I’m not really mad or anything. Rather, Senpai should be mad at me for what I did earlier.”
“I’m not mad eith—No, it’s true that I was mad back then. I was up there, looking down at you, and letting out my frustrations on you. That’s why I came to apologize.”
“I keep telling you, I don’t need an apology. I just don’t feel like seeing your face right now, so go home already!”
“I don’t care what you feel like. Just listen to what I have to say!”
“Don’t wanna! You’re just trying to lull me in with some crazy talk again! I know how Senpai does things, after all! I’m definitely not opening this door!”
“How many times do I have to tell you to open this door?! If you won’t, I’ll just kick it down, right here!”
“Bleh! As if you could do that! Aren’t you reading too many manga?! As if you could break down a door this easily! Are you a kickboxer or something?!”
“So you’re saying you can do it? Then how about you try it? I know you can’t do it!”
“…You just said it, right?”
Just now… you gave me permission, right?
With Iroha’s permission, I took a few steps from the door. With my body to the door, I lowered my hands on my hips, and took a deep breath—
Full mental concentration. The only place I focused on was the metallic door knob and the lock.
“Japanese corporations grant wonderful hospitality. Really, I can’t help but feel thankful for that right now.”
“…What are you talking about?”
“What building materials to use in a building, how the structure is designed, where to put more strength into, where not to. As long as you protect the bare minimum needed to uphold structural integrity, every company has their own policies they specifically work with—”
“W-What’s with that so suddenly? Is this some sort of lecture on miscellaneous knowledge?!”
“There are many buildings, along with the products inside, that have the protection of human life as their utmost priority. As long as it’s about the safety, some other things are deprioritised. That’s why—”
I opened my eyes widely, took a basic Japanese boxing stance, and gave a kick towards the door. With the sole of my foot hitting the door knob, the door flew open with a loud bang. While Iroha was blankly staring at the open door, I said the following.
“—When it comes to the doors inside a house, with some tricks or a good kick, you can open them pretty easy like this. It’s not exclusive to manga, you see?”
Seemingly about to go to bed, Iroha was wearing pyjamas, holding some weird mascot’s hugging pillow as she sat on her bed. In return, I went down on my knees slapped some banknotes onto the ground for the probably destroyed door, and lowered my head, prostrating.
“I won’t let you get away anymore. You’ll be listening to me now, Iroha.”
And apologized to her.
“—Kicking down my door like that, there’s gotta be limits to how crazy you are.”
“I don’t want to be criticised by someone who constantly sneaks into my room.”
“What kind of attitude are you taking while prostrating?! Your actions and words don’t match up at all!”
“I do want to apologize, but I won’t back down if I’m irrationally blamed like that. That’s my style.”
“…That’s way too ridiculous…”
Letting out a sigh with an exasperated expression, Iroha sat down on her bed. A beautiful JK resting on a bed, and a normal, plain man prostrating himself before her. From an outsider’s point of view, one would probably call this S&M play. But I didn’t come here to submit to her. This is negotiation. For the [5th Floor Alliance], for the path that I believe in, I came to pursue her.
“First is a report—I just turned down Mashiro’s confession.”
“……! H-Hmpf, is that so~? It might’ve been your last chance to let go of your virginity, you know?”
“I had planned to turn her down from the get-go. I never honestly thought about experiencing a love like that, and I never saw Mashiro that way. But I was still happy about the confession. Though it might’ve been unconsciously, I was probably very delighted that someone confessed to me like that.”
“…Hmmm, so you were happy. Well, Mashiro-senpai is cute, after all.”
“Yeah. That’s probably why I never actively looked for a chance to turn her down, and just enjoyed it… Really, such an ordinary, good-for-nothing guy like me, getting swept along my real feelings. Even though I should’ve sworn to give my everything to the [5th Floor Alliance], I was still happy. That’s why you must’ve been mad, Iroha.”
Iroha kept completely silent, not letting out any sound.
I didn’t know how much she believed my words, or how much impact they had on her, but that didn’t matter. I just had to press my ideas on her like always.
“I threw away my own adolescence and love. That’s why, give me one more chance. To be a producer for Kohinata Iroha… No, for the [5th Floor Alliance], I’ll bet my everything! So please—”
I lifted up my head. Standing up, I walked towards Iroha.
While Iroha was frozen in place, I put my hands around her neck, as if I wanted to hug her, and put her headphones around it.
“That’s why—If there’s something that doesn’t sit right with you, don’t lie about it in front of me.”
They’re the symbol of Iroha’s voice actress activities. With the headphones around her neck, her long hair was pushed upwards. The symbol that marks her annoying mode, when she’s entering my room without permission again. Not bothering with any consideration or a proper stance, just acting as if she was the only one in the room, simply and innocently, that very appearance.
And with that appearance, Iroha let out a deep, deep sigh, only to give a short ‘Ahaha’ giggle.
“Half is correct, while the other half is a miss, you know.”
“Of course, I agree with protecting the [5th Floor Alliance], and I want to help out with all my strength. But, unlike Senpai, I’m just a normal JK. I can’t be as stoic as you.”
Sitting on her bed as if she wanted to run away, she grasped her knees.
“I do…get jealous.”
Not making eye contact with me, she muttered.
…Jealous? That Iroha does? What in the world could make someone like her, who’s as straightforward as it can get, jealous?
“Senpai only had the people from the [5th Floor Alliance] around you, and no other people besides Onii-chan that you’d call your friends. The only times you’d be serious with us is if the job was involved.”
“That’s…the very first promise I made. That I—”
“Make the [5th Floor Alliance] a success by doing everything as efficiently as possible. And that we shouldn’t expect anything less—That’s what Senpai said that day.”
Yes, that was the promise I made during the founding of the [5th Floor Alliance]… No, a guarantee. The guarantee that I gave, because I feared hurting anyone. The more affection one expects, the more kindness one receives, I would hurt them that much more with my methods. In the name of efficiency. Like benching a bad player in a sports tournament to ensure a better chance at winning, I end up hurting people with these methods. The more one’s expectations and hopes grow, the greater the disappointment and despair they feel when betrayed.
That’s why, as long as I stand at the top of this organization, I can’t get any closer to those beneath me.
If I can’t act neutrally anymore, the [5th Floor Alliance] will crumble. If I hurt someone with my judgement, the [5th Floor Alliance] will break down.
Trying to run in circles while biting on one’s tail, a consequence akin to ouroboros. Your head would stop functioning, your tail would get crushed, the collapse of an unstable loop. You’d need drastic measures to uphold an unbalanced loop for all eternity. Born from that is this annoying, unpleasant feeling of being at a distance, not even being friends.
“You became close with Mashiro-senpai, who isn’t even a member of the [5th Floor Alliance]. Even though it’s not related to your job, you seriously considered her confession. Where did your convenient distancing go!, I thought. I was seriously wondering what you were doing.”
“Mashiro has…certain circumstances. She’s not a member of the [5th Floor Alliance], but she’s an existence that I have to treat equally with care. If I can’t continue to be her fake boyfriend, then…”
“But that wasn’t everything, right?”
Iroha pointed out.
It’s exactly because I awakened to the sweetness of it, that I had to settle with Mashiro’s confession. To once again remember the origin of everything.
“…I’m sorry. Senpai is not the one to blame here. Being confronted so straightforwardly, nobody would’ve been able to get away. Even I know that.”
As Iroha muttered with pursed lips, she seemed to have arrived at the limits of her irritation, and she shook her head vigorously.
“That’s why, it was jealousy!! I was jealous of Mashiro-senpai, because you were facing her head-on, even though it didn’t have anything to do with your job, and so I messed up at my job like that! Midway through the recording, I started thinking that you might actually accept her! That’s why… I’m sorry!”
Getting up on the bed, Iroha prostrated before me. An apology, letting everything out in her chest, everything that had been holed up until now.
“Jealousy, huh… How do I say it, I didn’t expect to hear that word come out of your mouth.”
The words of a panicked girl, afraid that the boy she likes would be taken away by another girl. But that girl only shows her true self in front of me… And since that true self always acts in an annoying manner towards me, I was sure that she didn’t have any feelings at all towards me. But after Mashiro’s case, I realized that I might’ve been a bit too dense.
—Does she like me?
That question came, floating in my mind as a real possibility. If that’s the case, then I have to give her an answer right now. Just like I did with Mashiro.
I don’t have the time for that right now. I don’t plan on experiencing a love like that. But, please let me be your producer. That’s what I want to do from the bottom of my heart.
“Just, let me check. This jealousy…is that in the romantic feeling, kinda sense?”
My cheeks growing hot, I didn’t dare meet her eyes. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to ask so calmly. Really a virgin, through and through.
Her head lifted up, she stared at me.
What kind of things is she thinking about right now? Her big, round eyes resemble those of a cat, like she could see everything going on inside of me. But time passed. She didn’t utter a word.
Normally I wouldn’t have any time to pay attention to that, since I was only aware of her annoyingness, but when she’s looking at me like this without saying a single word, unnecessary thoughts keep coming into my head like wow look at her long eyelashes and her face looks really lovable and wait what am I even thinking about what kind of bastard am I her face doesn’t matter in the slightest this isn’t the time to be thinking about outrageous things like that I just decided that I don’t need to experience any adolescent events like that a second time so why am I—
Countless thoughts and feelings were drifting around inside my brain, only to be disrupted by a sound originating from Iroha.
“Pfftt… Ahahahahahahaha!!! Thanks for that cute phrase, Senpai!”
Iroha was clutching her stomach while rolling around on her bed, roaring with laughter. What she held in her hand was a smartphone.
“Wha… Wha… You, don’t tell me…you—”
‘Just, let me check this. This jealousy…is that in the romantic feeling, kinda sense?’
When Iroha tapped on the screen, my voice came out.
“What is this, what is this~ Did you realize something because of my jealousy? Are you so intrigued that you won’t be able to sleep tonight? Isn’t that totally LOVE already?!”
“Idi—I didn’t mean it that way! I just wanted to make sure—”
‘Just, let me check this. This jealousy…is that in the romantic feeling, kinda sense?’
Hearing my serious voice like that gave me goosebumps, making me writhe in agony.
“Just because there’s jealousy doesn’t mean that there’s love involved, you know? People can also get jealous when their friends are suddenly all buddy-buddy with someone else, you know? Not just friends, but because the teacher at school, or because of your parents, humans feel jealous because of various things, right? Ah, Senpai doesn’t have any friends, right!? That explains it, soz about that!”
Hammering at my back with her fist, Iroha kept spouting damned annoying exclamations at me.
Aren’t you a bit too high-spirited? You’re just letting out everything from inside?
“You damned… That was way too quick a turn.”
“Senpai looks like he’s reflecting, right? So I thought that I might as well go full throttle~!”
“Stop joking with me. At least delete the recording!”
“You can’t make me~ Such a tasty weakness~ I can’t let that go to waste~”
“You better know what’ll happen if you show this to anyone else, okay?!”
“Ehhh, what will happen? A perverted doujin development?”
“Of course not, idiot. Who in their right mind would do that with you—”
‘Just, let me check this. This jealousy…is that in the romantic feeling, kinda sense?’
“Guhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! S-Stop, please… Don’t make me live it out all over again…!”
“Hee he he he, seems like I can have my fun with this for a month or so~”
“Well, I’ll forgive you for recent events~ Still, this is quite a nice reward, I have to say~ I should do this more often~”
Poking at my cheek with her finger, Iroha was bubbling with glee.
Haa… And I thought she’d be dejected. I was an idiot for actually thinking seriously about her romantic feelings. Well, it might’ve ended in a similar way as Mashiro’s confession…so I would’ve had to turn her down as well. It’s a saving grace that I managed to return smoothly to the environment of only having to think about the [5th Floor Alliance].
—Might she actually have such feelings…? No, that’s not possible. It’s Iroha we’re talking about.
“Aha~ And, Senpai. I’ve finally returned to being the annoying Iroha-chan again. But, this isn’t the only reason you came here, right?”
Still grinning, Iroha asked, seeming like she already knew the answer to it.
“…Good intuition you got there, for crying out loud.”
“I mean, it’s Senpai we’re talking about. You entered my room this late at night, even breaking down my door. Not just me, there’s gotta be something related to everyone in the [5th Floor Alliance], right? Thinking efficiently.”
“Yeah, that’s exactly it.”
I didn’t come here just to resolve things with Iroha. I decided to always move at full strength, only for the [5th Floor Alliance]. I once again reassured myself that this is my duty. That’s why I started moving. Makigai Namako’s sparkly, disgusting script, Sumire’s club disbandment problem, and to close the rift between us again.
Giving Mashiro a response to her confession, and clearing up Iroha’s foul mood—that was merely the prelude. Killing two birds with one stone, solving both of my problems at once. To ask for help with that, I came here.
“Iroha. I have something important to talk about with you—with everyone from the [5th Floor Alliance].”
5th Floor Alliance (4)
Sorry, I have a favour to ask of everyone
If it's something I can do, then gladly
There's some trouble and I'd like to borrow everyone's strength
I'd like to help as much as I can, but I don't have that much time...
It's to save our school's theatre club
I suddenly got some time
That was fast~
Rather, I have all the time in the world
But the theatre club, huh~ I'm not really acquainted with them
First, I have a request for Makigai Namako-sensei
I'm referring to the scenario you wrote for the game a while ago
Ahh, the one that was overflowing with love, right?
Exactly. I'd like to use that as a script For the theatre club
And, if it's possible, I'd like you to write a completely different Story for the game as well
I know that I'm being unreasonable! But I definitely want to use Sensei's script!
I'm asking you as well!
I'll help where I can
Please! I'll do anything, so lend me your strength! Anything! I'll even strip!
Murasaki Shikibu-sensei, can you keep quiet for a second?
...So it's no good if it's not my scenario?
You want my scenario that much?
You have no idea how much I need it in my life
Do you love me?
I love you more that anything in the universe
BL?! There's BL? AkixNAMA?! Woaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
Yes I'm sorry for getting loud I'll keep quiet again
Well, if AKI's being that adamant, I guess I have no choice but to help out
Thank you very much!
Love is justice!
Yay! We won!
You're still loing, you know
But you're not only asking me for help, right?
I have a favour to ask of everyone in the [5th Floor Alliance]
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