Chapter 5 Thanks for the trou, Presnt Kuroka-san
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"You're going back already? And I just got to know you, such a pity..."

"C'mon... just relax and stay for another one week— even two weeks is fine, right? Then we can go out and play — there's just not enough lovey-dovey time between us nyaa~ ...

Le Fay and Kuroka said reluctantly. Reino continued to pack up some of his things while answering the two with completely different answers.

"I feel the same way. Kuroka, stop spouting irresponsible suggestions. I have to report to my new school, Rindo-nee will kill me for missing for a few days. By the way, Kuroka, haven't you been sneaking around there a lot lately. Some The barrier won't stop you. So don't talk like I'm going to another dimension!"

It's been a few days since he came back from the meeting with Koroka. To be exact, half a week, and on a Thursday afternoon, currently Reino was enjoying his free time after school. After passing through the school gates, he decided to make a round trip home. Finally, he made it through the jet lag, and his mood had brightened ——

As he once again cursed at the ridiculous reality that now surrounded him, his feet continued toward his house. In Japan, Reino lives at the Kobayashi residence, his mother's girl's house, on the edge of the Bunkyo area, a suburb of Tokyo. Among the many shops located near the subway station; Located on the corner, is a food stall with erratic opening hours. This is the residence of Kobayashi. After the death of the shop owner, Reino's grandmother, four years ago, his older cousin Rindō slowly started to take over the business, and finally closed it temporarily as she was studying as a chef at the most prestigious culinary school in the entire world Tōtsuki Culinary Academy.

And since we're on this topic, the street where this shop is located, Sanchoume Street, Nazu station, still retains an older Tokyo atmosphere. Even though Reino didn't think of it that way, having always lived in that area, many other people put it that way. Indeed, ancient architecture like this — office residences, which feel like they radiate from the Showa period — fills the streets.

It was completely different from Bali and Yogyakarta which was fresh in his memory. There are only has a few modern high-rise buildings and convenience stores; preserving its original appearance, and the overall view, with all the surrounding buildings, is one of the splendors of the fusion of many cultures. That's why the residents are almost like visitors from other cities, filled with a forced spirit.

"Reino-chan, welcome back..."

A voice came from behind, Without looking at the source, he knew who it was; After all, he had lived with the speaker for over ten years.

"Rindō-nee, isn't that unfair? I've been coming home very early these past few days, but you made it sound as if I was on purpose..."

"That's true, but only for these last few days. Last Saturday, you left early and didn't come home until Sunday evening. You even skipped school on Monday. Where did you go? And more importantly, you left me running this shop alone. Didn't we agree that you would help me!?"

His sister glared at him heartlessly. Kobayashi Reino, eighteen years old, a third-year high school student, is two years older than Reino. Unlike Reino, she wasn't wearing a school uniform. Her hands were holding a recycled shopping bag, and it was filled with vegetables, milk, fish, and other groceries. She might have come home early and changed, then went to buy groceries for dinner and happened to catch up with him.

"I told you, I only went to a friend's house last night... How many times do I have to repeat that?"

Since he returned on Sunday, Reino had repeated the same answer. Starting to feel a little bound by his response, he answered anyway with the same lame excuse.

...Though, it might not be appropriate to praise his sister, it must be said that Rindō does have a very cute face. But even though she was his older sister, she always used ways that incriminate her younger brother; It felt more like a Mother-Son relationship, constantly nagging; Surely, the most problematic existence for him.

"Fried? A friend... I see... oh..."

"If you have something to say, just say it. I don't like twisting and turning."

Reino spoke while taking the shopping bag from Rindō-nee. He didn't think about it but acted almost subconsciously as he stretched out his hand. He was probably too well conditioned by his own grandfather's habits. Habits are really scary. But Rindō-nee was still glaring at him with suspicious eyes.

"So let me ask you, this is your so-called friend, is it a boy or a girl?"

"...Of course it's a boy."

And now, does this count as a lie? If calculated correctly the people he met were Kuroka, Le Fay, Arthur, Bikou, and Vali. According to mathematics rules, the average number he had met is a boy. While walking down the hall beside Rindō-nee, Reino desperately tried to maintain a relaxed attitude, but it was his brother who glanced at him — coincidentally praying to any god he could think of right now — and dropped the next bomb.

"I see. And on another topic, what is Kuroka-san like?"

"——————!?"

Reino gaped. 'How did Rindō-nee know that name!?'

"O, oh, you mean Kuroka... yep, well, how should I put it——"

"I never mentioned it, but, after Reino-chan disappeared on Saturday, this girl called our house."

Her words were cold as ice, and Her eyes looked like a hunter about to shoot her prey.

————————————

Last week, the phone rang at the Kobayashi residence. After Rindō-nee picked it up, the caller told her name was Kuroka, and formally introduced herself. She said that because there was some urgent business that needed her brother's help. She also said that it might take a few days, and not to worry about anything...

————————————

"Her voice is so pleasant, I'm sure the person herself is very Attractive? Don't you agree, Reino-chan? And how old is she? And please don't try to fool me by saying that Kuroka is a boy—that's so stupid."

Rindō-nee spoke coldly, cutting off His only escape route at the same time.

"That's why these girls are so...!"

Reino couldn't help cursing Kuroka. Kuroka decided to call his house must be for some evil reason. Most likely, she thought that causing an uproar in the Kobayashi residence was a very funny thing to do. But Reino would never know that Rindō-nee was also a fan of this kind of thing...

'Forget about Kuroka, her sister is scary too...'

So during these few days, she had known the truth. But she didn't face it right away, and even made him think that he'll survive by waiting a few days!

"It's because you did something you can't tell anyone? — That's what forced you to lie, wasn't it? I can't believe that Grandpa managed to guess what you did. I'm so disappointed… I never thought Reino-chan would dare do such a thing."

"What, what 'thing' Grandpa was talking about!?"

"Something along the lines of 'If a man runs to meet a woman without telling anyone, there must be something sneaky and awkward going on. And besides, I also had that period of life...' and so on. I couldn't believe it. Reino-chan! I thought you were a better person than this! Why? A forbidden love affair? A one-sided romance? Or could it be an illicit relationship with a sexy school teacher... whatever it is, it must be like that, right!?"

Rindō-nee interrogated poor Reino with victory in her eyes. Reino shook his head to reject it.

"I'm not Grandpa! I would never do such a thing!"

"Hmph! You're his only grandson? Even your face looks very identical; maybe you just realized a new part of your genetic makeup and unlocked Grandpa's female interaction ability. Something like that could happen!"

"How did that work? Grandpa's affinity with the opposite sex doesn't even have anything to do with DNA. It's all about a person's personality, just because I'm the grandson doesn't mean you can equate us!"

"Why do I have to do this stupid brotherly argument right in the middle of a street lined with shops?"

All those gazes pierced Reino's entire body. Rindō-nee also became embarrassed by the silence, and quickly lowered her voice.

"...So why did you lie to me? If there's no immoral reason behind it, wouldn't it be better, to tell the truth?"

"It's precise because I was afraid things would get complicated like this that I did it. You could say that I became friends with Kuroka because of my bad luck— and I went to visit her, but there are other friends too. We don't have a relationship. romance at all... Do you trust me now?"

Rindō-nee had a very troubled expression on her face, but she finally sighed and accepted it.

"It's not that I don't believe you… but you're not allowed to lie to me anymore okay? Even though you tried to trick me, I can tell that you're lying just with your normal attitude and actions around the house, got it?"

"Alright, so let's just leave it as it is, shall we?"

After the matter was settled, Rindō-nee smiled somewhat embarrassedly. If she often made such an expression, Reino felt that he could boast that he had a cute older sister. Pondering this, Reino smiled wryly.

  "It's all because Reino-chan used to be part of the Silat team,— even on Saturdays, you'd train more from morning tonight. Don't you want to join the sports club in high school?"

"...I don't feel like it right now, I thought I'd relax and play around for a bit."

As the conversation suddenly shifted to a completely new topic, Reino was at a loss on how to come up with a convincing answer. To be honest, he wasn't sure how he should answer that question. He just wasn't sure if he could hide the truth well enough. That's not good enough. With concern, Rindō-nee looked at her cousin.

"Your knee...does it still hurt? Umm, although someone who isn't athletic like me might not be able to say this, maybe you can still become a champion even with an injured knee —— Oh, I said something hurtful... I'm sorry, Reino- chan." Rindō-nee stopped mid-sentence.

'…No matter how I look at it, this girl s My sister' — thought Reino shamelessly.

Even though she seem like a very thoughtful person when something touching came up, she would say something insensitive — did she have to be like her brother even in small things like this?

"Well, I can't deny, you're a little too nosy. It's just, I don't feel right in the high- and low-class relationship that develops in the sports team, so I don't want to join them." Reino gently ruffled his hair.

Even though Rindō-nee wasn't sure how much she heard was the truth, she just nodded her head sadly. Maybe she knows when not to say something unnecessary.

—— However, there was something else that even Rindō-nee was not aware of. That is, after becoming a Campione, his knees, which could not withstand the heavy pressure, had already healed and recovered their strength. Of course, it was all because of the incredible healing power he had. When Reino entered high school, he resigned for this reason. Reino and Rindō-nee reached the house around six in the afternoon. Since it used to be a food stall, the front door is a sliding glass door. The house — a relic from before the Second World War — is a two-story wooden building.

Even though it was old, it had been renovated and expanded three times and could be considered a comfortable home. The two entered the house together, and their excited grandfather greeted them.

"Oh? How rarely do you two go home together?"

Their grandfather said, currently reading an old book from the shelf — Kobayashi Ichirou. Their grandfather, standing in what was once an old shop, looked exactly as he had always been. He was always well-dressed, both in speech and in actions full of confidence and steadfastness. Even though he was over seventy years old, he still exuded a strong sense of charisma; He was so gentleman that it felt scary. Reino's grandfather had taken care of him in place of his busy and working parents before he moved to his father's homeland in Indonesia.

If he only thought about it in terms of that, there was no problem, but…

"Rindō, have you pulled your net, and made Reino tell the truth? So what is it?"

"Looks like this is more complicated than we thought. Reino-chan still insists that they are 'just friends, so from today onwards, I will pay close attention to whether he is lying or not. We will know the truth."

"You two, please stop talking like that in front of me."

Someone who could understand the whole conversation just by glancing at his grandchildren's expressions—that person was his dangerous grandfather. Someone who could say openly in conversation that he didn't trust his brother —  was his aggressive older sister. And that includes his mother and father who now live far away — who make up the eight members of the Reino family.

"But Rindō, you better not do that either. I used to be like him — a boy of Reino's age living away from home for a few days isn't that weird, so don't worry too much."

"Rindō-nee, don't listen to Grandpa — I'm not like him! Remember when he was a student? He dared to build a relationship with a widow and a geisha, and even slept at their place — he didn't even go to school for two weeks. I would never do such a thing!"

Reino shouted while holding back his grandfather's sympathetic and understanding gaze. Unfortunately, what he said was almost unbelievable.

"Where did you hear those rumors from? Let me tell you when I was a student, I was very serious about my studies"

His grandfather smirked while dismissing Reino's accusation with a nod of his head. Kobayashi Ichirou — in his youth, apparently he was a great and shrewd playboy. And even at this age, he can still display the same attitude. It must be an ingrained habit. When Reino heard about his grandfather's 'exploitation, something immediately crossed his mind — 'I see, He lived an immoral life in his youth, no wonder that he's an uncontrollable old man now.'

When it comes to relationships between people, you can't deny that her grandfather is almost psychic. And because Rindō also knew this, she didn't bother nagging her grandfather — she knew the level of ability between them was too great — and as an outlet, she was very harsh on her brother.

'I wish I had half of the grandpa's attitude. Then I won't lose to nee-san and Kuroka...'

Sometimes, Reino envied the things he didn't have. The table in the dining room was full of dinner that night. Grilled cod, boiled octopus and radishes, a fresh salad with homemade dressing, rice, and miso soup. An accurate representation of Japanese food. You could say that the chef who prepares their food is something of a foodie, so the dishes are all well made. Sampled some radish and celery miso soup — up to his usual standards. a perfectly smooth and tangy taste.

"Eh? Grandpa, did Grandpa cook these pickled vegetables yourself?"

"How nostalgic — Grandma always makes her own too."

Stacked onto a small plate are pickled salted carrots and rice bran. Reino and Rindō picked up their chopsticks and tried a little. It was, as they say, delicious. As previously mentioned, these are not pickles from the store and certainly look homemade. But they knew their grandfather was never good at preserving.

"Ah, it was given to me by Mrs. Sakuraba, the woman who owns the liquor store. It's delicious, isn't it?" The old man didn't even hide it.

But after hearing his words, Reino and Rindō-nee looked at each other anxiously. It was inevitable now; From tomorrow onwards there will be a series of battles between jealous women. It had been quite a while since their grandmother had died. They weren't sure when it started, but for the ladies in the shopping district who wanted to be more intimate with the single grandpa, it was all competing to send him all kinds of things. All of them were housewives with their own families or old grandmothers.

If they — namely Mrs. Murakawa who owns the pancake shop, Mrs. Endou who sells toys on the street, Mrs. Yamanoi who owned the hardware store, and the others — found out that Mrs. Sakuraba had given them pickles, they would all send competitively homemade dishes. If one views it as feeling good neighbor, it doesn't get any better than this. But all the women always looked at their grandfather with emotional eyes. For the sake of peace in this shopping alley, both Reino and Rindō-nee pray that their grandfather can control himself a little better...

But, there was no use worrying about it now. The two shook their heads and turned their eyes to the delicious food in front of them, with lightning speed, every dish on the table was finished quickly.

The telephone placed in the living room suddenly rang.

"I'll pick it up~~ Hello, this is Kobayashi residence, may I ask who are looking for?"

Rindō looked at Reino and his grandfather, whose hands were full of soap and his utensils, then turned to answer the phone.

"Ma, Erina-chi? Is there anything you need? Why did you take the time to contact us specifically..."

It seemed to be someone Rindō-nee knew.  They were still on the phone when Reino finished washing and entered the dining room.

"Yeah, yeah, he's at home… but why are you looking for Reino-chan? I don't think you two have a chance to get to know each other? Ah, no, please don't say that! I understand. I'll make sure to tell him. .-Have a nice evening..."

'Have a nice night?!' Reino was starting to feel very uncomfortable.

Ever since he mentioned 'Reino-chan' earlier, they must have been talking about it. It was odd enough, but what was even more worrying was the formal goodbye towards the end. Who is Rindō-nee talking to?

"...Reino-chan, please sit over there."

"But I'm already seated. Rindō-nee, what are you talking about?"

Reino asked his Sister, who pointed at the tatami mat in front of him. Since she was already sitting cross-legged, it was only natural for him to ask this.

"I want you to sit and kneel right! I'm going to ask you a question, and you should answer honestly - Reino-chan, when did your relationship with Erina be very close? Not even how you can get to know? Did the last three years you Don't live in Japan?"

"Hah?"

Rindō – who forced her Cousin to knees – threw a completely random question at her.

"Who? I mean, who is she? I don't think I know anyone by that name."

"Are you telling the truth? ...Well, I'll just carry on, we can continue with the interrogation part later."

Dear sister... the way you talk about 'interrogation' casually is too scary.

"Reino-chan, do you know who is the prettiest person in my school?"

"I don't...know? Things like that don't matter. Beauty isn't something to be ranked."

"You're right, but in our campus, there's someone so great that there's no need to be compared to anyone else, as well as someone who is on the same board as me even though she's still in 1st grade… and that's Nakiri Erina."

Reino studied in a normal junior high school in Bali. Since his parents had to travel once again for work, it was decided that Reino would return to live in his mother's homeland. This is because Rindō who is currently in third grade can return home and take care of and watch over Reino. On his high school entrance exam, he was lucky to get into Teitan High school and started studying there earlier this spring. On the other hand, her older sister Rindō has studied and been accepted into the most prestigious culinary school in the world.

"She's my junior from the elite ten council. Also a first-year student like you in high school. She's been known as a pretty girl since she started middle school, and is also very smart, The most blessed person among chefs, the one who inherited the god's tongue"

As she said that, Reino vaguely remembered that his older sister was a member of this elite council. The group that takes care of most of the affairs at her school, in short, the student council member with a little unreasonable authority. Actually, at Tōtsuki Academy, it was very common for middle and high school students to join and participate in the same club.

So, if this 'Nakiri Erina' is a junior of the same group and an acquaintance since middle school, So why did Reino have to kneel?!

"So? What is this Erina-san saying?"

Reino asked in a worried tone. He didn't know how this situation related to his current state.

He vaguely remembered hearing the girl's name earlier. More often than not, it came from the mouths of boys in his class, but the topic seemed to be popular even among girls; saying that she's cute and stuff like that.

"Alright, I'll get to the main issue. Erina-chi, even though she thinks it's too presumptuous, wants to meet and chat with you, Reino-chan... And Erina-chi is not only beautiful but very intelligent, as well as an ojou-sama. "

"...Does it have anything to do with the invitation?"

"Of course! Reino-chan, can you take advantage of the fact that she is an innocent and cheerful girl, and speak so softly, lie and then play with her?!"

Hearing Rindō-nee accusing him of doing so many strange things, Reino immediately replied:

"How could I do something like that to someone whose name I just met?!"

"So why did he call our house, and ask to see you, Reino-chan? That's too suspicious!"

Even Reino could not deny the truth of what he had just shown.

"But there's something odd about that. If he wanted to find me, wouldn't it be weird for him to ask you to deliver the message? Since she called, wouldn't she just talk to me straight away?"

"Perhaps that didn't happen to her? After all, she's a complete ojou-sama. Although very intelligent, she usually doesn't think about efficiency — very clumsy in general matters other than cooking, and besides, maybe she gets nervous when talking to men." -the guy on the phone she's just amazing — when she says goodbye, she can even say 'I hope you guys are okay' is completely natural."

"...This Erina-san, does she live in the twelfth century?"

Among the girls that Reino knew personally, no one would greet someone like that. But, the girls around Kuroka have a high possibility.

"She's not outdated, just a descendant of an ancient and noble family. Comparing our name Kobayashi to theirs, we're just ordinary people. There's no connection between us at all..."

"And now I'm even more confused—why does she want to find me? Maybe she's met the wrong person?"

The more Reino heard it, the more he began to believe that he was from the 'other side.

Apart from the sorcerers who befriended him, Kuroka's group, Reino's relationship was completely normal and even boring. He couldn't remember what he could do to attract the attention of a majestic princess-like Erina. But, Rindō-nee coldly glared at Reino and said,

"…Is that so? Lately, all your actions are suspicious. For example about Kuroka-san."

"...I told you, She's just an ordinary friend."

"Yeah, that's true. Erina-chi also said…she wants to see and confirm something. What is she talking about?"

After hearing it, all thought questions were answered.

Apart from Athena, Reino couldn't think of anything else.

—— So there you have it. If she has anything to do with the supernatural world, it's not strange how mature you [kono] sound; In fact, you might say that it was a natural journey. Finally, Reino realized. Even though he had just returned home, he had already been thrown into another complicated situation. He became depressed again.

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