One night has passed since that offline meeting, and it's after school of the following day.
As usual, I was walking home side by side with Manami.
"And so, these days I sleep while squeezing a teddy bear. It feels so nice!"
I make half-hearted responses to the slow-pace granny talk that my childhood friend makes. That was when she asked in a worried tone, "Hey Kyou-chan... Should we call off studying for today?"
"Oh? I was thinking of going to the library with you like usual. Why do you ask that?"
Did she find out I wasn't really listening? Although that's normal...
Even if that were the case, she would probably express her anger more directly.
Then, was it wrong that I held her up to study three or four times a week even though exams are still far off? Well... That doesn't seem to be the case either.
As I was thinking with a stare, Manami looked worriedly, "Kyou-chan, it’s because you looked really tired since morning..."
Of course I am. Since yesterday was one of those very rare days in life which were rough for me.
I'm worn down psychologically. Even after the events, Kirino was hissing at me during the entire train ride back home.
“What an idiot. What was that for?” “Terrible! It was a complete failure today! Damn! Who was it that recommended to me to go to an offline meeting?” Sure, she was avoided in the offline meeting, and continued fighting the whole time with Kuroneko, though...
She did look like she was having fun. How dishonest can she be?
Being a bit naughty might be cute. But if you have her clicking her tongue for 90 minutes in the seat next to you, you’d only hate her.
I made another one of the many deep sighs I made today. With my shoulders down, I say, "Well, a lot of things happened. Surely, I don't feel like studying today... I'm just so tired..."
"Oh really... What a pity... I guess that can't be helped then."
Manami shows disappointment with a gesture exactly like mine. She always smiles with me when I'm happy, and gets gloomy with me when I'm depressed too.
So troublesome for her, since she feels empathy for others. She's too nice to others.
Well, I am thankful for that, in a way, but I won't take the time to thank her now.
"So yeah. Why don't we go out somewhere, today?"
Manami looks straight at me like something unexpected happened. Behind her glasses, her little eyes were blinking.
"I was suggesting going out and enjoying ourselves now to raise our spirits, but you don't want to?"
"Oh no, I do want to, absolutely!" Manami shook her head quickly. Calm down... You're like a puppy greeting your master.
"All right. Do you have anywhere you'd like to go? If you prefer, we can even go to the adjacent city. Are there any movies you want to see?"
Manami thinks while continuously changing the position of her glasses. Well, think deeply.
While I was recalling how much I had in my wallet, I was already thinking, "Emptying it this time is fine." It's not wrong to treat my childhood friend occasionally since she's done so much for me.
Don't get me wrong. This is for my own good. If I keep talking with this carefree girl, some of my stress will be relieved. That's my intention.
"A-Anywhere is fine?"
"Yeah, just name the place."
"Then, I won't hold back," Manami proposed with a very loose smile. "I want to go to the central park."
"Without holding back, you chose the most boring choice of all choices. You chose that, after asking 'Anywhere is fine'?"
Jeez. I feel like treating you, so make some bigger requests.
"Oh, huh? Why are you mad? You said anywhere was fine."
Manami makes a duck face. Yeah I did tell her that, but she's just way too different from those three otaku from yesterday. If I brought up the same topic, I would have had everything squeezed out of me.
"Well, fine. I'll treat you something to drink at least."
"Wow, thank you! In that case, I'd like some tea. The warm one!"
"Yeah, sure. The usual one, right? Would they still have the warm ones? Spring's over already..."
She's so cheap.
How could you make such a happy smile with only 120 yen?
And so, after 15 minutes or so of walking, we came to the central park of the adjacent city. This park is quite famous and large. It shows up in tourist maps of this region. It's a relaxing place with fountains, seats, ponds, bridges and a rose garden. The fancy western-style building, which acts as a museum, is considered a place of interest. There's a tree-lined street around the whole area, where the elderly and families with small children take a stroll. In the spring, the cherry blossoms bloom and this park becomes a great flower viewing spot.
It's a little chilly today, so the hot green tea, which is out of season, isn’t so out of season.
"Here's your usual."
"Oh thank you. Itadakimasu!"
From a plastic bag, I took out and opened the hot green tea I bought at the convenience store before passing it to Manami. Manami wrapped it neatly in her handkerchief as she receives the hot tea and carries it carefully. I drink half of my tea and look beside me. Hers is still untouched.
"What's wrong? It's not hot enough to burn you."
"Oh haha... It's nothing..."
Manami is somehow smiling while carrying the tea. I don't understand at all. I take another sip from my tea and breathe out. The tea is great. I'm being warmed from the core of my body.
"Ah... It's great... Being like this... I'd like to stay like this for a millennia..."
"Hey... that's a bit too long. What were you in your past life? A bonsai tree, for sure."
"That's fine, as long as you take care of me, Kyou-chan."
We continued meaningless talk like that and enjoyed the sun on the bench. With Manami beside me, I always feel like relaxing on the porch of a home outside the city.
"Ah, I'm getting sleepy..."
It'd probably feel great if I took a nap here... if only I had a pillow... As I was wondering, I felt my shoulder being grabbed.
I look back with sleepy eyes. There was Manami, with her hands opened up wide...
Blushing and all nervous, she whispered, "P-Please..."
...uhh, what is she talking about?
I don't understand what she means by "please," so I shake my head in puzzlement.
That was when I caught sight of something behind her shoulders.
Oh? Could that possibly be...? I move to the side a bit, and looked more carefully.
"Oh, sorry. What were you saying?"
I go back to looking at Manami. She rolled her eyes.
Uhh... I feel some silent pressure coming from Manami. It's like she raging with anger, since her face is red all up to her ears.
"Your glasses are clouded..."
She quickly looks away. Surprised, I blink my eyes.
"Hey, what are you mad about? It's rare that you are mad."
"Hmph, it's Kyou-chan being insensitive!"
Manami wipes her glasses, still steaming with anger. After putting her glasses on, she asks, "That aside, what were you looking at?"
"Oh yeah, look over there."
Manami looks in the direction I pointed. It was an open space where children often play soccer and baseball. Right now, two vans are parked there.
"What are they doing there? Something like... shooting something for a TV Drama show?"
"Probably, but not a drama show. Look. Those aren't TV cameras. They're using flash. They're taking photographs."
With needless interest, we approach the vans. From the pathway, we look at the grassy space. Some of the staff were at work, like adjusting the lamps and talking with the model girls.
"I guess they are taking pictures for... a fashion magazine...?"
"By the way, do you read that kind of stuff?"
"Haha... Not really. Whenever I buy clothes, I choose according to the opinion of the store clerk..."
As I thought. Well, I also think they're taking photographs for a fashion magazine.
It looks like they are taking photos with the sunset as the background. Some fancily dressed girls are making many poses and the camera was flashing. Orders from the staff came one after the other, the girls skillfully changed their expression and poses. It's not something simple like just smiling and choosing one pose. Strictness fills the air.
It's obvious, but modeling isn’t an easy job.
Two girls are being photographed now, but I can see a few more girls who are most likely models standing by.
"Wow, look Kyou-chan! That girl is so cute!"
"Yeah really... She is cute."
"Oh? That's a plain reaction."
Umm you see... even though we aren't dating or anything, when I'm talking with a girl I won't say stuff like "Damn, that girl over there is so cute!"
Wouldn't you find it unpleasant? I guess you don't. You are lacking in the realization that you are also a young woman. Heh... What a difficult feeling I have.
"Look, that brown-haired girl! She's so cute and cool!"
She's so excited. It's not like they are famous actors or anything...
What a commoner, she is.
Heh. I even thought of saying something like "You're cuter than them".
I wonder what kind of face she would make. I make a wicked smile. That was when my sight was naturally locked onto the girl Manami was praising like crazy.
Hmm... the brown-haired girl does look quite nice.
Her legs are long, she's tall, and her face is...
"Isn't that Kirino?!"
Both of us were astonished. It appears Manami, who had no clue about it, was even more surprised than me. She's blinking non-stop, looking at Kirino and then me in turns.
"Err... umm... Kirino-chan... Is your sister, right?"
"Uhm... Well... I guess so."
"Erm... what do you mean by ‘you guess so?’"
Well, I'm surprised too...
Oh yeah, she said before that she was modeling or something...
It's not that I didn't believe her, but I didn't comprehend it completely, until I saw it with my own eyes like this.
...So it was the truth.
I looked at the brown-haired model once again. She's sitting in a chair and seems to be talking with staff.
She's doing her job properly along with adults...
I guess I need to re-evaluate what I know about my sister. I was underestimating her too much. I didn't consider her seriously. I thought her modeling thing was just child’s play. Like how they get a few praises and get all happy then they have their photograph taken or something...
Kirino was watching the model being photographed with a serious look I have never seen as she talked with staff. At the same time, the makeup artists are quickly fixing her clothes and hair...
The air around the models that were being shot now was glorious. But around Kirino, who was probably waiting for her turn, the air was tense.
"Phew... It's somehow... great..."
I thought they do the shots in a more unserious way, but it sure wasn't. Though I only took a glance at it, so I can't say much, they're getting quite a lot to get their photo taken, so I guess it means it has to be serious.
"...wow, it's great. It's like they live in some different world..."
You don't need to tell me so many times for me to realize. She's a great person, and lives in a different world from commoners like us. I just happened to forget after going out together recently.
Damn it. I don't know why, but I feel annoyed.
"Yeah, sure, I don't look like her. She always has looked good at least, so..."
"Oh, no need to be humble. I hear it’s not only the looks but she's very smart too"
"Huh? What are you talking about?"
So lame. I'm speaking as if I envy my sister. I regret doing so, but... Manami smiled as if she accepted it. I feel like she's telling me not to mind it.
"My brother's in the same grade as your sister. Though they're in different schools, they had a universal exam. I hear she was on the rankings for the highest scorers in this prefecture."
"Who do you mean?"
"Like I said, your sister. Kirino-chan."
At first, I didn't understand what she was talking about. Then, after thinking about it for a few seconds...
"What? Are you serious? Not only the class, but the prefecture you said?"
"Yes. I hear she's fourth or fifth in the grade. I don't really know the specific rank though... Anyhow, that's what I hear."
She had such great grades? I didn't know at all. Well, I had no interest in my sister up until now and didn't even talk to her so...
I guess it's natural I didn't know, but still it was surprising. She plays around with kids her age, then she does modeling so seriously like that, and is so into children's anime she can talk for hours about it, not to mention erotic games too...
And she studies a lot?
Heh... That scared me. Really.
My sister might be someone much more outrageous than I imagined. I mean in many ways...
A few days have passed. After I returned from school, I met my mother in the living room, as she seemed to have come back from shopping. My mother is humming happily, as she is shoving the goods into the fridge.
I wonder if anything good happened. I ask her with barley tea in hand, "What's the matter, Mom? You seem quite happy. You need to go get some medical help soon?"
"Oh, Kyousuke, Mother hasn't gone insane or anything. Don't worry; it's just that my neighbor praised me, how my child is great."
"Oh my, I'm blushing. So, what part of me was being praised in the neighborhood talks?"
"Of course, it wasn't about you."
Yeah, obviously! I did know! Since she added of course to it, I now have a dark feeling of distrust towards my parents! Ha! Look forward to your retirement days!
"Oh huh, then it has to be about Kirino..."
I mutter as I twitch my face. Mother makes a smile like she was waiting for me to ask about it. Well, I didn't ask her anything at all though.
Yeah yeah, sorry for being a good for nothing son. Please continue with your talk about your prized daughter.
"That girl got a great record during her club activities, so she's going to compete in a big competition. It seems my neighbor heard that from her daughter."
"Oh? She does club activities?"
"What? You're her brother and didn't know that? She's on the track and field team. Jeez, you two don't get along at all."
"Leave me alone."
Give me a break will you? Not only does she look great and have good grades, but she also does well in sports? This is absurd. That's enough. I feel like I'm hearing one of those character settings in manga where they only have good points.
The problem is, this is the truth. They do exist in reality. These mutant-like beings...
"But does she even have time for club activities? She has to study and play too... She must have many other things to do."
"That's obvious, being good at studies and also martial arts. She maintains both, otherwise Father wouldn't let her. You might not know, but she's modeling for a magazine too!"
That's true. That old-fashioned grump wouldn’t allow something like modeling so easily. Now that I think about it, how she is allowed to dye her hair and put on makeup too...
"That girl made a promise with Father. As long as she does what she should, she's allowed to act freely."
"What she should, eh?"
I make half-hearted responses.
My mother is chuckling. "Thanks to that, her reception among the neighborhood is so great! She acts nice outside and greets people well. And she looks cute like me, right?"
I scrunch my eyebrows in disagreement, but my mother ignored me completely and continued talking. This parent and child surely are alike in the aspect about not listening to people.
"She's so popular among the elderly too! Oh, I'm so proud! They envy me so much too!"
"But that's all from the conditions of the agreement she made with Father, right? It's so morally wrong."
"Morally wrong? Who cares about that? As long as we don’t say anything, it's the same. It doesn't change how great Kirino is!"
This is absurd... Is this mother sane or what? Well, this is logical in one sense. Kirino is trying hard and achieving results to get her demands through. That has to be recognized. Since it's not something easily done. At least, it's impossible for me.
But really, every time Kirino comes up as a topic of conversation, she seems to be called great. Don't people need more vocabulary? When I say it, it makes it seem like I'm envious or something though...
But yeah... I never had any interest at all in my sister, so I knew little of my sister. Still, it's outrageous. What the heck is she? As a commoner brother, it's not fun having your sister only praised as great. It feels like your needlessness is being insisted. Sad, but true...
As I continued thinking with a complicated face, my mother said something unexpected. "By the way, that girl seems lively these days. Well, it's a difference only I would notice so maybe no one else would notice though..."
My eyebrows become even closer, and then she blurted out something completely strange.
"Ah, I got it! It's a boy! Kyousuke, don't you know anything?"
"Yeah, she must have a boyfriend now! That's why she's brimming with happiness!"
That's impossible. There's no way a boy who could go out with her exists. If there were such a man, I would admire him as god!
But my mother doesn't see it so, and with even greater excitement, she asks further, "So, don't you know? Even a bit of speculation?"
"Like I'd know. You know me and Kirino are on bad terms."
I answer like it's obvious, and my mother stares at me with a disappointed face. "You really are such a useless boy! Be more of a man! Your sister is doing great, so your bloodline should be good enough."
"Heh, since I'm like my mother, being a commoner, I will just study normally," I say as I leave. Turning the doorknob, I open the door.
...Kirino looks lively, eh?
...I know something that might have to do with it. Though it's a small possibility, but just possibly...
After being shown the surprising hobby, being dissed like crazy, being forced to play erotic games, being dragged to an offline meeting, and then dragged around Akiba... Maybe the life consultation that seemed so meaningless had some effect.
Haha, it's so not like me. What am I saying? I feel so stupid.
On the night a few days later, I finally completed 'Let's Make Love to Your Sister'.
Honestly, it was a tough, gruesome task...
Well, it's not at the degree of being boring or anything. I can't count how many times this game almost destroyed my mind. I was suffering from the pressure of having to play a little sister game while having a real little sister, and it's amazing I was able to get this far. I am impressed with myself. I really am, so happy! I can't express my happiness! Disregarding my thoughts about the game, I really have a great feeling of achievement.
What is this? This feeling of high...
From the bottom of my heart, this hot passion is rising.
Because! It means, now, from tomorrow on, I won't be forced to play erotic games anymore... Oh, I'm just so incredibly happy! Banzai! I want to shout aloud!
AHAHA AHAHA AHAHAHAHA, I don't need to see the face of this little demon anymore!
"Onii-chan... It’s ok..." she whispers, and shed tears of blood... No more of that!
I'm showing some crazy excitement I haven't showed in years. I can't stop my feelings anymore!
The end credits were displayed on the laptop I borrowed from Kirino.
"Phew..." I breathe out as I was sitting at my desk. "Phew..."
And then, this feeling of achievement was slowly changing into an empty feeling, and now my heart was hurting. My elevated feelings are now falling rapidly.
I understood for my first time, the empty feeling after fully completing a dating sim is crazy.
Shit, I can't do anything about this... How do you put it... it's like some enlightened philosopher.
...why was I so happy a few seconds ago?
"All right, I should go give the game back."
With a silent, calm heart, I stand up. I leave my room and then knock on the door to my sister's room.
The door opens slightly, and my sister peeks out. And as usual, she stares at me like she's looking at trash. "What do you want?”
"Oh, nothing... Just the game... I came to give it back..."
And she's like this again. Heh... reality sure isn't like a game. Even after I've gone through Event Scenes, her affection points toward me haven't increased at all. What is this? Is this game too hard or just broken?
As soon as Kirino takes the laptop from me, she asks me with distrust, "Did you complete it?"
Dear sister, why are you looking at me like a mad sergeant? I can imagine myself being shot if I make the wrong answer. Afraid of her, I answered very carefully.
"Well... I guess... it was so-so. I mean, it was quite interesting."
"Oh? Like what parts? Be clear." Kirino continues her emotionless questioning.
Heh, so I'm right in the middle of a 'route selection choice' scene in those games...
But the sister in front of me has negative infinity affection points. That means, if I make the wrong choice, I would lose my life... The problem with the game called life is that there's no saving and reloading... You got only one shot at it. Dead or alive...
Very well. I smiled meaningfully (in my heart).
"Well umm... Shiori’s scenario... Uhh, the latter half of it was... quite a good story... Like you see... How the parents oppose their relationship... and then Shiori runs away from the house... and then the main character chases her... and then that scene where they look at each other in the setting sun..."
Hearing my answer, Kirino closed her eyes and went silent. So, did I make the right choice or not? My heart is pounding. I only summarized the part I was playing just now. How the heck am I supposed to remember all those scenes that screw my psychological state every click? At least spare my life!
Then, Kirino slowly opened her eyes. With cute eyes seemingly looking down on me...
"W-Well... It seems like you’re starting to understand it."
Oh, wow. It looks like I made the right choice. Phew... As I miraculously survived, I let out a deep breath, and then again, I feel...
How god damn stupid! No kidding! Why do I have to talk to my real sister about little sister games? I tried so hard to get myself out of this! I demand to hear what progress you had on your side!
"But still, you have a long way to go. That wasn't the only good scene. For example..."
"W-Wait a minute!"
I stop Kirino with my hand as she was starting to speak. I try hard to change the topic.
"I'll spend plenty of time listening that later, so let me hear first... how are things going with those people you met at the off line meeting last time?"
"Oh? Yeah... those people..." Kirino suddenly made a frown and blankly let me into her room. "Come in."
It seems she figured out it was bad to continue with this talk in the hall.
I obey her requests obediently. Kirino puts her laptop on her table and sits on the bed. She stretches around and makes cracking sounds from her neck, then continued talking as if it didn't matter for her.
"I do talk with both of them still. Like using email and instant messengers."
"Oh, so you've become friends after all."
"I'd rather call them people I can talk to, rather than friends. Since you know... they know the common topics, and sometimes teach me stuff I don't know so... well, I guess they're of some use."
Hey, that's what you call friends. It seems she seriously doesn't want to use that word. Though she would call the friends she has when she's pretending to be nice as real friends, why can't she be honest about the friends she has when she's being herself? Well, it does suit her personality though...
"So you haven't seen them in person?"
"Nope. Looks like that black one lives somewhere close, but the jumbo one seems to live somewhere far so... It's kind of arranged that we meet up again at the next offline meeting so... well, since there's no better option, I guess I can go."
"Oh I see..."
So she's managing things well. Since I completed the game, and Kirino has friends who she can talk with her real self.
According to my mother, she seems to show happy expressions so... Oh yeah, ever since that time, she stopped relying on me. It looks like she's going to the next offline meeting alone too.
That means, everything is going fine, and there's no need to consult me.
Now my job is finished for sure. Feeling refreshed, I said, "Hey Kirino, don't leave your DVDs around again."
"Shut up idiot! I won't repeat such a stupid mistake!"
Who says that? That time, only a little inspection got you freaked out, and a simple trap was all that was needed to catch you. You were too worried so you couldn't act logically at all.
As I'm recalling my memories with a smile, Kirino blushes, and throws a tissue box.
"Oops." I tilt my neck and avoid. I then just leave the room through the door.
I hear a thud as something hits the closed door.
I guess she will stay like this from now on. Jeez, what a scary sister...
Well, anyhow, today marks the end of Kousaka Kyousuke’s Life Consultation Services Inc.
Yeah, I'll never do it again.
Sunday evening, as I came home from the library, the whole house was silent. I didn't hear any sounds of cooking, or anything on TV, or anyone talking. Not a single sound was heard. This isn't normal. As I take my shoes off, I feel an intense sensation, and place my hand behind my neck. There's this strange tense air. I feel this shock go through my skin.
It's strange. Something's not right.
With a serious look, I quietly walk down the hall heading for the living room. I stop at the door. I feel something horrible coming as I touch the doorknob, and hesitate to turn it.
I gulp down some saliva as I open the door.
Coming in through the door, I see Kirino on the sofa facing my father across a table.
Both of them say nothing. My father is normally silent, and Kirino doesn't talk too much with the family either. So, a quick glance at this won't reveal what's strange.
But still, it's weird they don't react at all when I entered the living room.
That's not the only something strange. A father and a daughter are sitting right across each other, saying nothing. It's not like they're watching TV, or reading a magazine or anything...
Since my father isn't expressive, I don't know what he's thinking now, but Kirino is all frozen, and looks very disappointed.
I saw what was on the table, and figured everything out.
On the table was two pieces of evidence, as my father would say in his job.
One, was a brand name purse Kirino would often carry along.
And the other thing, there's no way I would forget. 'Star Dust Witch Meruru' DVD case containing, 'Let's Make Love with Your Sister (R-18 edition)'.
It's opened up properly. The evidence is clear. No excuses possible. She's guilty.
I blinked a couple of times, and understood the situation during that time. I would say what I thought.
ZOMG WTF IS SHE INSANE????????
IDIOT! HOW FUCKING STUPID IS SHE??? I'm pitying her so much I'm going to cry!
I told her so many times not to let Father find out. I told her not to leave behind DVDs again! And look what happens!
You repeat dumb mistakes again! GAH! You made the same mistake you made when you let me find out! Why do you still make these silly mistakes when you're good at everything else! You can't be more careless than this! Oh man... What are you going to do now? I'm not getting involved with this...
I was trying hard enough not to show a surprised look.
"Kyousuke, hey Kyousuke..."
Mother was whispering to me from the hall as I was frozen at the half-open doorway.
"You stay in your room."
As my mother pulled me into the hallway, she closed the door to the living room quietly.
"Well... Uhm... What happened?"
I wasn't a great actor.
"Well you see..."
The answer I got from my mother was right about what I expected. Kirino dropped the DVD case right in front of Father and let him see the contents.
I tried to ask how things happened exactly, but it seems my mother wasn't there when it happened, so she doesn't know. The most probable case I think is like the time I found out too, when we bumped into each other here. If the DVD case opened when it hit the floor, then what kind of coincidence is that?
It might have been that Father opened it when he saw the anime DVD case.
Hmm, I can't imagine what kind of expression my father would have had when he saw the R-18 markings. I guess even my father would have been surprised. Since I was so surprised that I burst out.
Why is Kirino bringing something like that around in the first place? A few questions arose, but still it's a miraculous situation. It's not some issue we can easily call misfortune. Maybe this was fated. I'm starting to think so.
"Kyousuke, you don't seem to be too surprised."
"Well yeah. Since I don't care a bit about her."
I was honest. I didn't lie. But my mother asked me the question straight.
"Did you possibly know...?"
"Huh? About what?"
"That... you know... that... that Kirino had that stuff..."
I glance indirectly at my mother who doesn't seem to want to talk of this, and I think. How should I answer? If I think of my own good, then surely I should lie and fake it.
I couldn't decide, and became silent.
Jeez. How difficult this is? I find I'm sneering at myself.
I don't care a bit about her. This idea hasn't changed a bit. What I desire is a normal life. A common, talentless character in a slow, daily life...
I don’t need rapid unexpected events or unique, special characters in my life.
Kirino is a prime example of that. So, honestly, I don't care. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
But... The memory of being consulted by her, and going through all the hardships for her was giving me a strange sense of association. And I saw a glimpse of my sister's 'important things' in Akihabara...
Damn, I guess I've gone too deeply into my sister's issue that I can’t just pretend to know nothing.
"Well yeah... I knew."
"As I thought... It wasn't because of you... was it?"
I knew you'd get to that. Look at how much trust I have. Isn't it sad?
"No, it wasn't. Think before you say something, Mother. I have no computer in the first place. You should know I have no place to hide stuff in my room."
"That's true... Anyhow, no matter how you look at it, that stuff is Kirino's...”
My mother sighs with great disappointment. I guess she makes such a reaction because she found out her brilliant daughter had that stuff in her possession. If it was me who got caught by Father with an erotic game in hand, Mother would have been bursting out laughing.
"I haven't seen Father mad like that in a while. At this rate, he won't calm down for quite a while..."
My mother seemed to be thinking for a while, but seems like she thought up of something.
"Kyousuke, I'm going out for a while, so you head for your room."
"What? You're going out?"
"There's no use in staying here. I'll go buy Father’s favorite sake. He won't get drunk at all, but if we make him drink loads, he'll become calmer."
My mother was speaking like she was trying to calm an angry spirit or a protecting god of the land. But I understand what you mean. There's nothing scarier in this house than my father throwing thunderbolts.
After my mother went out, I was at the living room door, all afraid for around ten minutes. I would go back and forth in the hall, bite my nails, try to hear what they're talking about, but they seem to be talking with their tones down, so I hear nothing.
What kind of excuse is Kirino making, with her secret hobby revealed?
I can't even imagine, but it's all no use against that father. Father will never change his ideas over things he believes he is right.
And he's abnormally sharp. You should consider that all lies fail to work on him. When I was very small, I played a prank on a girl and put duct tape on her hair. That girl had to cut some of her long hair to get it off.
I didn't think it was anything serious at that time, but when my father found out, he scolded me severely, and shaved both his hair and mine. Then we went to her house to apologize together.
That time, I did admit my wrongdoing, but still I cried and resisted. However, Father didn't listen to me no matter what excuse I made or how much I apologized. He didn't go easy at all on me.
In both the good and bad sense, you can take his word for it, and he will do anything he decided to do.
"... what's going to happen...?”
Behind this door, what kind of conversation is going on...?
I'm a courage-less wimp, so there's no way I would know.
It was at least ten minutes after that, when the living room door opened, and Kirino popped out. Kirino looked like a devil, all red and kicking through the door.
Her face was red from rage, and her eyes bloodshot and puffy.
"Get out of my way! Go away!"
As she stomped on towards me, she looks at me with eyes of hatred, and shoved me away. It's like she has feelings she has nowhere else to release. I wasn't expecting the hit, and lost balance.
Kirino was breathing hard and headed for the entrance hall. She puts on her boots roughly and...
"H-Hey, Kirino, where are you going?!"
"Shut up! It's none of your business!"
I try to catch up with my sister but...
Slam! Kirino tried to hit me, and closed the door violently.
"Aagh!" My face was caught by the door. "Ugh... Noo..."
As I limped outside, there was no little sister to be found.
... shit I have to be the most uncool guy ever.
I can't help but sob. GRRRRR My face hurts!
I look ahead where Kirino ran off while realizing the pain from caught by the door and the misery.
I shake my head off and try to clear myself. One of the few good points about me is how I recover quickly.
...Should I go after her or not... Wait... before I do that...
I go back inside. Honestly, I had no confidence on doing so; I thought I should ask my father about why and how things turned out this way. Without doing so, I'd have no idea why Kirino is all nuts like this.
Of course, I can guess most of it.
Besides, she told me she was having an offline meeting with her friends today.
She would meet her friends alone, even without me, and must have spent some nice time together. Like fighting with Kuroneko, making nasty remarks to Saori but her not reacting to it... I can imagine everything... somehow. I was watching right beside her the other day.
Kirino is acting lively these days. My mother's words came to mind at this moment. I guess that's because she made friends who she can share the hobby she had been hiding with, right? I guess she never expected this trap to be there when everything seemed to be going all so well.
I sneak into the living room. My father was cleaning the room with a vacuum cleaner. On the floor there was an upturned crystal ashtray. I guess he's the one who did it. I hope he didn't rage and throw this at her.
What kind of battle happened here? I gulp.
My father is cleaning the room. In the silent room, only the sound of the vacuum cleaner helplessly resounds. This bad silence after a domestic issue happens is dampening the room.
As my father finishes cleaning, he speaks out in a low, heavy voice. "Kyousuke, you need to sit here."
I do as he says, and go towards the table and sit on the sofa.
I guess I'm going to be interrogated about Kirino's issue too. Maybe he's going to scold me.
Kirino has her stubborn side so I assume she hadn't revealed anything about me, but my father can suspect that even without questioning her. It's useless to fake innocence.
That said, I have no intention to reveal Kirino had consulted me about this issue. That's the right attitude one should take as being consulted.
I look up at the table. The proof material, the open DVD case is inside. Right next to it, I find a single piece of paper.
It seemed to be some ad from an anime/manga speciality store. It had a big illustration of Stardust Witch Meruru on it and next to it said this:
"Stardust Witch Meruru" Volume 2 (limited first issue edition) finally in-store! Those who bring the package for the previous volume will be given an autographed postcard by Hoshino Kurara, the popular voice actor!”
...I get it. This will answer many of the questions I had.
The reason why Kirino was trying to bring out the package of Stardust Witch Meruru when she was supposed to go play with her non-otaku friends.
The reason why she brought this package out today, it must have been that she wanted to get this Hoshino Kurara autographed postcard. It's not that much effort, so she could have just gone already. But out of all the times she could have chosen, she had to do it today... What bad timing.
Now I figured how Father found the thing, and that it was in the evening after Kirino came back from the event. I'm quite sure it was like this. Kirino came back home once, returned to her room, and now she went off trying to get the post card, but crashed into Father... I can imagine how things turned out easily. Although I can't imagine how things turned out after that, but anyhow he found the contents, and then a family meeting was held... I can only describe this as miserable...
As Father finishes putting away the vacuum cleaner, he sits in front of me. I get nervous, an instinctual reaction, and straighten up. The first words Father spoke were like this: "Kyousuke, you knew about it?"
I had no other choice but to answer honestly. My father's eyes have been sharpened through the years to get those criminals to talk. Don't use them on your son... What if I pee my pants?
"All right. I won't ask how you found out. I assume you aren't supposed to say."
Not only are my father's eyes scary, he seems to see right through into my heart. How much does he see into the accomplice relationship between Kirino and me? I feel shivers down my spine.
"I will not buy this kind of stuff for you two. Do you know why not?"
My father picks up the DVD case by one hand and speaks of the contents with prejudice. Only the DVD inside is R-18 stuff, but I don't think he would be able to differentiate between them. Unable to talk back, I stay silent. I look down, trying not to see my father eye to eye.
When Father scolds us, we both become like this.
"It's because this kind of stuff has negative effects on you. You see in the news too, right? Playing video games makes you stupid. They report how they find perverted comics and games in the houses of criminals... Of course, I don't take what the media says word for word but still..."
...It's just harmful stuff anyways. My father's expression says so.
My father's understanding of sub-culture is unbelievably low, and looks at Kirino's hobby with the 'responsible respectful adult figure' lens filter.
My understanding of otaku weren't much different from that of my father until recently.
Since my parents would never have bought stuff like games, which were unaffordable with our allowances, unlike CDs and comic books.
I just had stronger prejudice to sub-culture than ordinary high school students.
Games are useless, and only idiots play them. Therefore, I'm not envious at all even if I don't have them... That's the kind of logic I had. The kids with parents who don't buy them games arrive at that logic.
And I guess that's exactly why Kirino had deep inner conflict with herself.
"Regardless of whether it is a fact or not, what do you think of people who play that stuff, even if it's said to have negative effects? And those otaku who only play that stuff... Of course, they would be looked down on. If so, then there has to be no good effect. Thus, we would never buy that stuff for you."
"...But you know, that was..."
I barely try to talk back to Father, but he overlaps and continues speaking. "You're going to say she bought it with her own money, right? Well, that's true. So I do not say much against what she buys on her own money. Like cosmetics, flashy clothes, bags... Honestly, I think that stuff that isn’t fit for her age should be off limits for her too. But if she gets her mother on her side and claims she needs that stuff to have relationships with friends, then I can't say anything more. I have to give up and let her do as she wishes."
"So you're saying cosmetics and bags are fine, but games and anime are not?"
"Of course not. I can't let Kirino have that kind of stuff that's considered bad by society. And while it's strange for me to say so, she's quite a good girl. If she's going astray following strange hobbies, I have to correct her before she becomes completely ruined."
So otaku hobbies will ruin Kirino, and thus he must stop her... That summarizes his intentions.
Truth is, with Kirino becoming completely obsessed with little sister genre erotic games, she sure is becoming spoiled as a junior high school girl, so I had to keep quiet about that for now.
As soon as he finished scolding me, he stands up and tries to leave the living room.
I felt a chill go down my spine.
"F-Father, where are you going?"
I hurry to catch my father and try to stop him, as he tried to go up the stairs.
Above the stairs, there are only two rooms: Kirino’s and mine. No way, he can't be...
My father's lines spoke exactly what I feared.
"I'm going to check Kirino's room. She might be hiding something else."
"W-Wait, could you please wait?"
Shit! Kirino's collection is in there...
I look up at my father from down the stairs and shout out to stop him.
"If there really is that stuff, than mother would have found them. She does clean the room everyday after all... She found all the porn books I hid too. Of course, she has nothing else to hide. I'm sure she put everything she had in her hand bag."
Kirino must have claimed so too. Why? Because if Father finds other stuff like erotic games and the sort, no doubt my father will throw them all out. Even if it were going to be a one-on-one death match between Father and her, she would surely defend her collection.
"And that's why I'm going to check. If I do a search and still find nothing, then that's good."
Uhh you will surely find stuff... That's officially your job...
If I let Father into her room, then her entire collection will be found. And I can be sure, take my word for it, he is underestimating the extent of Kirino's hobbies.
I'm not trying to be evil or anything... just call off the search! You're better off not seeing it! It's not only two or three erotic games that she has!
Since I saw at least 20 or 30 the last time she let me see!
And there are ones she said she was still embarrassed to show me stuffed in the depths of that closet... If my father sees that stuff, he might go insane...
Th-This is bad. Seriously bad. Reality still looks lukewarm compared to the situation that awaits...
"W-Wait a second, Father!"
Father is continuing up the steps with thumping sounds. I hurry up behind him, and go in front of him and spread my arms, blocking him.
"Out of my way, Kyousuke!"
"I-I won't move!"
What am I saying?! Am I insane?! If I go against my father now...
My father easily twists my wrist and repeats what he said.
"Out of my way!"
My father still tries to let me give way of my own will. He can easily throw me away and get through with force. With the pain in my wrist causing tears, I tell him, "I won't move!"
The pain in my wrist just got stronger. He's a professional at efficiently giving pain.
It hurts so much! Seriously, what the hell am I pulling?!
I don't understand myself at all!
"Whatever the reason is, it's still wrong to do a house search without the resident’s permission. Even if you are the parent, there are things you can do and things that are still wrong. And so, I won't move," I insist, withstanding the pain.
It seems like I was trying to defend my sister's collection.
Even though I don't give a damn about what happens to her...
Even more, it's the father's job to scold a daughter if she has inappropriate things. Father is only trying to do his obvious duty, and if Kirino is going to cry as a result, it's her own fault.
Then why am I doing such a futile, fruitless deed, going through all this pain?
Well, of course... I did give the consultation, while it went strangely... and her face as she was proudly showing off the collection to me just came back to my mind. That's why.
I just remembered myself trying to want to do something for her, as she forced me to play erotic games and kept asking my thoughts about it.
And then that huge fight at first sight they had in the McDonald’s at Akiba, the fun-looking otaku, I witnessed myself, and they made me realize, they aren't anything to look down on at all.
That's why I'm doing something so off from my style...
"Father, just leave this to me... I'll have a talk with her. So please, give her time until then. Isn't it pitiful to have all your precious stuff thrown out while you were away by someone without any acknowledgement? I'm begging you, please."
As I plead as hard as I can, Father looks at me with suspicion.
Sure, I know what you feel like saying, Father. Why would someone like me be going through all this trouble to defend my sister who I'm on bad terms in, right? Well, it does seem strange, I admit it.
However, I'm the one who understands the fact the most!
We stared at each other silently for a while. He seemed to have been thinking of something with a stern face but...
He let go of my wrist eventually.
"Fine. I'll wait. I won't go into Kirino's room."
My father will never break his promises, no matter what.
"But the deal is that you are responsible in throwing it out. All of them! Okay?"
"Got it... I'll talk with Kirino, and surely make it happen."
I had no choice but to answer so. From what he said right before, you could see he is confident there are 'things that mustn't be there' in Kirino's room.
Though there was no better option to choose, it was like I was shouting aloud that she had stuff in there, by resisting the search so hard.
If I break this promise, Father will surely not forgive me. It's no exaggeration to say that he could kill me. It's a man-to-man promise after all.
Throw out every piece of that collection... I must give that sentence to my sister...
Not only is it a huge responsibility, it's extremely difficult, and a reward-less mission!
This is surely not my style. Like I'd continue with this...
Jeez, hey Kirino... I did buy you some time...
So appreciate it... You probably won’t, will you...?
After managing to halt my father, I left the situation to my mother as she came back from shopping, and went out to go search for Kirino. However, I’ve not a clue about where she might have gone, after dashing out of the house.
At sunset, I run off without direction.
 Said before a meal. Literally, "I humbly receive.” It’s like bon appétit.