When the hour struck 12, and it was midday, the sky that had been undecided until now transformed. All of the sudden, gray clouds covered the sky and rain poured down on the world below. It was as if the clouds were releasing everything they had. It was almost like a waterfall in the way that raindrops pelted the asphalt, giving rise to a cacophony of sounds, while the students found refuge in the hotel to pass the time.
“That sure is a lot of rain for what was supposedly a 50% chance, huh, Nee-chan,” Yousuke said.
“I’ve always thought that 50-50 was the most unreliable kind of weather forecast,” Youko said.
From the lounge on the second floor, which had a high ceiling, the twins, Yoko and Yosuke, looked out of the window of the lobby on the first floor and grumbled.
In the morning, the group from Garesto Academy had split into their respective grades to tour historical buildings and museums in Hokkaido. They had just finished lunch at the hotel, where they would be staying for the night, and were now having their break time.
“Thanks to that our schedule this afternoon is a mess… I had a lot of places I wanted to visit too,” Yousuke said.
“I checked online, and apparently, there are also abrupt large-scale road constructions in Hakodate, Kushiro, and Sapporo, causing traffic disruptions, so that might be a factor too,” Youko said.
“Those are exactly the places we want to go to! …Maybe that’s why the teachers and the senpais are discussing.”
As the twins discreetly cast their gaze downward into the lobby, they noticed teachers, students, and Aristel, the representative of the students, huddled together, engaged in some sort of discussion.
They were probably discussing what changes they would make to the day’s schedule. While everyone had checked the weather forecast beforehand, no one had anticipated such heavy rainfall. Their plans to explore Hokkaido’s nature and cityscapes were now dashed, coupled with disruptions in transportation networks in the major cities.
Although this hotel was somewhat secluded from the city centers, they couldn’t avoid being affected by the chaos to some extent. Still, judging by the twins’ expressions, it didn’t seem like they were facing too much trouble, even if they couldn’t hear the specifics of the conversation from where they were.
“I wish we could have seen the lavender fields under the clear sky,” Youko said.
“I think it’s a bit early for that, Nee-chan,” Yousuke said.
The lavender blossoms typically started in late June, even for early-blooming varieties. Considering that today was June 14th, the timing was a bit off.
“Uu… Lately, it’s been like this all the time…”
The brother nodded with a wry smile to his sister, who had dejectedly lowered her shoulders. After all, they had originally planned to be in Hokkaido today and tomorrow.
“I don’t know if we’re lucky or unlucky. We finally get permission to go out, and I got those tickets I’ve been wanting too, but then an incident like that just had to happen, and on top of it, our plans for the school trip were ruined too.”
“Don’t list it out like that! I’ll feel like crying too…”
“It almost feel as though we’re being harrassed or something,” Yoko said with a complicated expression.
However, her brother just chuckled when he saw his sister’s face and added, “Like life is playing a prank on us?”
“We went to Nyazda yet couldn’t hear Monica sing too.”
“At least we got to see her up close!”
Try as he might to deny her speculations, it was evident from his demeanor that his denials were a forced or feigned act of resistance; hence, his sister, Youko, just chuckled in response.
“I see Yo-kun is playing the part of the little brother well.”
“Hyah! W-What is it!?”
“As expected from a certain someone’s little brother,”
Then out of the blue, a girl with fox ears appeared.
She had appeared with a whisper by Youko’s ear, causing the older of the two siblings to jump in surprise.
“Oh, Ruona-san,” Yousuke said.
“Myuhi! Don’t just pop out of nowhere from behind! You really scared me there, you know!” Youko complained with a slightly teary-eyed look as she found herself holding her head, while her roommate, Myuhi, just wore a triumphant expression and showed no signs of remorse.
“I let my guard down because you’ve been so docile lately…” Youko said.
“What’s the matter? Did you need something?” Yousuke said.
Though he momentarily glanced at his sister’s frustrated expression, Yousuke kept his gaze at the roommate with a puzzled expression. His gaze contained a shade of caution, as if he was worried about something.
He knew who Myuhi was in charge of, but he was afraid of bringing it up in front of his sister.
“You’re so cruel, Yo-kun. Are you saying that a friend can’t visit unless she has business!?”
Myuhi could see that. That’s why she made an exaggerated reaction and playfully collapsed, eliciting a momentary cold stare. However, Yousuke quickly stopped that and looked back at his sister.
“…Nee-chan is being toyed with again.”
“—How am I the toy here!?”
“Oh, you found out?”
While the older sister typically held authority in this sibling relationship, from time to time, the younger brother would tease his sister himself like this and thoroughly enjoy her entertaining reactions.
“…Guess you really are the younger brother, huh.”
Be it the way he teased others or how he treated people he had no interest in, he really was his younger brother.
At least, that’s how Myuhi felt seeing him joke around with his sister, but she didn’t say those words out loud and just muttered them to herself.
“Wow, what a familiar sight,” Ryou said.
“…Blood sure is scary,” Tomoe said.
For some reason, when a boy and a girl saw the Senba siblings playing like that among themselves, they made those remarks with a cramp on their face.
“Ah, Tomoe! Shinguuji! Can you believe it? Yousuke—” Youko said.
“—We saw. You’re teasing your sister a lot more than usual today, huh, otouto-kun?” Tomoe said.
“Well, I’m kind of free right now, so…” Yousuke said.
“Hey! You’re messing with me just because of that!?” Youko said.
The older sister complained about how petty of a reason that was, but it seemed that even her younger brother had doubts about the explanation. Really, it sounded more like an excuse he just came up with, perhaps to mask some other concern or anxiety. Or at least, that was the impression Tomoe intuitively gathered.
“More importantly, why are you two dressed in a jersey?” Yousuke said.
Perhaps, to avoid further questioning, Yousuke diverted the conversation and gestured toward the two’s outfits. After all, both of them were wearing the school’s designated tracksuits with towels draped around their necks. It was evident that they had just finished some form of exercise, as they still had slightly labored breath and lingering traces of sweat on their faces.
“Oh, we were just having some exercise after eating. Slacking on training really takes its toll on you, you know. In all sorts of ways…” Ryou said.
“It is necessary, after all… Mentally and for survival,” Tomoe said.
Both childhood friends gazed into the distance with eyes that had lost their light. At that, the twins immediately realized that this was a question they shouldn’t ask and fell quiet themselves. For a short while, an uncomfortable atmosphere lingered, until the two broke it.