「Looks like there’s quite some high level competition this year! The first contestants are of course, the couple everyone’s been talking about, Mister Michel Francois and Miss Kinoshita Yui. Our school’s Prince and Miss K are being called the best pair by everyone already, but let’s not jump to conclusions before we test their bond by various games! Will they truly be able to live up to our expectations and get that glorious crown?」
「Kinoshita’s so cute…」
She was dressed even cuter than usual, sparkling like a beautiful performer.
「There’s only one Belgian waffle left. You can have the ends, I’ll take the middle.」
「Don’t be stupid, there’s no filling in the ends!」
I snatched the waffle from Mizuhara and bit into the middle. The thin waffle was on a skewer so you could eat it without getting your hands dirty, and there was cream and berry sauce inside. It tasted like the bittersweet berry sauce and the cream were having a fight inside the springy waffle.
「What are you doing?! You absolute idiot! It’s not corn!」
「Shut up, I’ll give you some taiyaki. Hey – don’t just eat the middle!」
Mizuhara returned the ends of the taiyaki to me, the parts that had no red bean jam inside.
「Even a cat wouldn’t eat these leftovers… Just take this taiyaki back!」
The contestants’ introductions had ended while I was arguing with Mizuhara, and the three pairs of couples stood onstage.
The second contestants were the Nakamura pair.
The girl wore cutesy clothes with lots of makeup, while the boy looked like a typical bad boy. She was excited just to be there, while the delinquent boy simply murmured things like, 「What a pain…」
The third contestants were the Miyamoto pair.
They had a big age difference – while the girl was a student at K University, her boyfriend was an office worker, probably more than 10 years older than her.
While they were all at a reasonable level in their own way, the Michel pair’s visual appeal was skyrocketing.
「Give me the waffle.」
「There’s no more left!」
As I showed him the waffle, only the bottom bits of it left, he hung his head, heartbroken.
「You have no blood or tears in you. You just have drool.」
[1. TL note: 「You have no blood or tears」 is a Japanese saying meaning ‘You’re heartless’. Mizuhara takes it one step further by saying 「You only have drool.」]
「You’re so stingy! …Sorry, I’ll give you some of these dumpling dogs.」
[2. TL note: Dumpling dogs are basically dumplings shaped like hot dogs.]
Mizuhara ate the middle of the dumpling dog, and returned the leftovers to me. This unspoken Middle Rule was having dangerous results for both of us.
After finishing the tragic dumpling dog, I was just about to start on the frankfurter when suddenly, someone grabbed my arms from behind and lifted me up.
Ketchup dribbled down from my frankfurter.
I turned my head to see who it was.
Casually dressed in a mismatched suit stood Arioka. He had perfume and accessories on, which was so unusual it made me feel weird. With his hair smartly combed back, he looked rather like a host.
「You’re in the perfect spot, as expected from our vice-leader!」
「Hey! What are you doing – let me go!」
Tightly pinning my arms under his armpits, he dragged me away. Taken by surprise, I was in a helpless position and had no choice but to be dragged along.
「What is this – hey, Mizuhara! Help me… Wait, what are you doing?!」
A club member clad in women’s clothing had restrained Mizuhara in the same way.
He wore a strawberry-patterned tube top, a girly colored pleated skirt, and handmade high heels. Under the bulging tube top was a belly band. The skirt blew up in the wind, revealing legs covered in an expanse of leg hair. The high heels fashioned out of tin can lids made strange popping sounds as he walked.
His face, full of makeup, was ugly enough to be a crime. The fake eyelashes especially looked like they were right out of a horror movie.
In the courtyard, everyone’s attention was on us as we were dragged along by a drag queen and a host.
「We have a problem with our strategy to help Michel and Kinoshita win the best couple contest. People are allowed to voluntarily enter as contestants on the spot, so I decided to enter along with the club member that looked the best in women’s clothes. But we were rejected by the program committee.」
「That’s because you’re wreaking havoc on everyone’s eyes!」
「I thought maybe it’d be okay if I entered with you, but they’ll probably remember me.」
「They’d remember you even if they didn’t want to!」 I squealed, struggling to escape and swinging my arms as much as I could, but I was held in place by a karate black belt holder.
Arioka easily dragged me to the stage, and with a plop, flung me onto it. 「Good luck participating!」 He winked at the chairman.
Confused and flustered, I hurried to get off the stage, but I heard large cheers from the grounds. I didn’t even have to look to know it was my club members.
「So this is our second pair of audience contestants! Please step over here, right beside our first audience contestants, the Hashimoto pair.」
「No, this is a mistake!」 I protested as I was led to where the other participants stood.
「What an unusual matching outfit this couple has! Before I ask you to introduce yourselves, I have to say that bringing your own food in the middle of the contest is prohibited. Admittedly, it is our fault for not mentioning this in the rules, but this is the first time we’ve had a couple who came onstage with a frankfurter and rice bean cakes.」
Laughter echoed throughout the crowd.
Even as we told them we weren’t participating, we were forced to the seats onstage and made to sit down, completely dumbfounded. Mizuhara was also frozen, staring into space with his glasses out of place.
With our sleep-deprived states, we just couldn’t take this. If I looked at it from Mizuhara’s point of view, he’d just been taken captive by a strange drag queen and tossed onstage. He was probably even more shocked than I was.
「Well then, what are your names? Ah, please don’t eat that rice cake!」
Mizuhara, eating rice cake even as he couldn’t swallow down the situation at hand, was the very embodiment of doing things as you like without caring what anyone else thought.
I had no idea why the chairman hadn’t brought up the frankfurter I held.
「Noda, here’s a handkerchief if you need one,」 said Kinoshita from beside me, offering me a lace handkerchief. My white shirt had been stained with ketchup from the frankfurter.
Her handkerchief looked expensive. There was no way I could stain it with ketchup. Since I couldn’t throw the frankfurter away, I quickly gulped it down.
「And now, what is the girl’s name— ah, please don’t eat that frankfurter!」
Then what do you want me to do with it?!
Someone from the program committee handed me some wet wipes as I hurriedly ate the frankfurter, and I gratefully used them.
As I tried to get down from the stage, I saw the members waiting below, blocking my exit. Arioka mouthed ‘Great job, keep livening up the contest!’ to me.
「Stop fucking around!」 I threw the frankfurter’s skewer at Arioka.
「Throwing trash from the stage is prohibited,」 the chairman warned me.
The audience’s attention was fully on us, and it seemed like backing out now was impossible. I sensed Mizuhara glancing at me with a look that said, 「This is your fault, isn’t it?」 I made an apologizing gesture towards him and he leaned back in his seat, disappointed.
「We have some unique individuals here this time, don’t we? Well then, let’s start the first game to find our Best Couple!」