Kusanagi Takeru's morning started early.
He woke up at five a.m. and until seven a.m. he did milk delivery work three times a week. He ate his breakfast in work, then after work he used his time left until school to train swordsmanship. He went to school at eight a.m.. At eight p.m. he finished school and platoon activities, then headed to a part time job.
Takeru undertook two part time jobs, at a convenience store and an izakaya which he had scheduled to work every day alternately. The work at convenience store was easy but continued until 1 a.m. at night, and the work at izakaya was difficult but he was home before 1 a.m..
Once his work was over he came back home, took a bath and finally went to sleep.
At worst he slept three hours a day, at best five hours. However, when he didn't have milk delivery work he could rest a little longer. This was Takeru's every day schedule.
And on the holidays, he did milk delivery in the morning, in convenience store at until afternoon and at izakaya until night came.
The reason Takeru was working himself hard like that, was to pay off the debts left to him by his father, for his own living expenses, and for his little sister's maintenance costs.
Today was a Sunday, five in the evening.
Takeru had continued his swordsmanship practice in the apartment's courtyard ever since five in the morning. What was unusual today, was that he had off on his milk delivery, convenience store work and izakaya work. And thus, in order to warm up his body he ran twenty kilometers after which he did a thousand swings with a sword, practiced True-Light style's techniques made for fighting people, then practiced Double-Edged style's techniques made for fighting monsters, and also practiced mixing them up along with Soumatou.
This practice continued all day throughout the morning, noon and evening.
This wasn't even enough for someone who has acquired Double-Edged style's techniques. If a swordsman lost a day of practice, it took him three days to recover, that's what Takeru was taught when he was small.
I recovered my feel to an extent...but I should use my entire remaining time today to improve...!
Changing the stance, he activated Soumatou and inside the slow-motion world he swung the sword.
The wooden sword cut through the air and caused gust of air that passed over the grass in the courtyard.
After slashing diagonally from the shoulder twice, he thrust. Then finally, he swung down the sword from above. That moment,
An azure-colored girl stood in front of him.
Takeru stopped his arm right before the wooden sword hit her head from above.
The wind caused by the sword pressure made the girl squint.
He jumped away in panic.
"Lapis...! Don't appear in front of me so suddenly, it's dangerous!"
Takeru turned pale and said so, but Lapis only stared at him with her glass beads-like eyes expressionless as usual.
No, to be correct she didn't stare at him, but at the wooden sword Takeru was holding.
"...Host, what is that sword?"
"? You ask...it's a wooden sword, what of it?"
Lapis looked away from the wooden sword and stared at Takeru.
"Cheating on me?"
"So you're going to cancel the contract with me, and instead contract with that crude wooden-made club-like thing, is that right?"
"N-no, wait a second, I don't get it...it's just a wooden sword, y'know? I'm in the middle of practice and this wooden sword is just——"
Takeru said up as much, and then noticed that Lapis was carrying something on her back.
Was that a karakusa furoshiki? She was carrying a round and green-colored bag.
She looked like a thief.
"What's with that huge package you're carrying?"
"My daily necessities."
"Your daily necessities?"
"Yes. Clothes, brush and my favorite pillow."
"From now on for the time being I shall live together with Host."
"Why on earth?!"
"It's important that I live together with Host so that our fabricated sibling relationship does not feel unnatural."
With "sibling" word mentioned, Takeru twisted his head.
Speaking of which, although it was quite a while ago, they had such a "setting" with Lapis in the school. It was caused by the fact Lapis had a quality where she had to be "near the contractor". At first his classmates asked a lot about whether she was really his little sister, but because most of the students of the academy weren't very interested in anything but their own scores, eventually everyone stopped asking about it.
"Why do such a thing after all this time..."
Although Takeru asked so, Lapis only stared intently at Takeru and did not answer.
"In any case, from today on for the time being I shall be Kusanagi Lapis. First of all, I'm thinking of going around and greeting the neighbors, would you come with me?"
"W-wait, wait...I already thought so when this setting was made, but it's impossible for you to act as my little sister. We ain't similar at all, also there's no need to go as far as——
"Worry not, I have done my practice."
She said, and opened the furoshiki to take out several books from the outside.
They were books with cute illustrations drawn on the covers, the so-called light novels. All of the book titles had included the "little sister" kanji character and the girls drawn on the covers were wearing very suggestive clothing.
"Lapis...y'know, these books are fiction...it has nothing to do with how actual siblings are."
"Since our faces are not similar, I thought we should make the setting that of step-siblings. Among the reference documents, there is more of those regarding step little sisters rather than blood-related little sisters. Therefore, that must be more correct choice for appearances' sake."
"What kind of appearances you're talking about..."
"So you are dissatisfied with step-sibling, you prefer it even more immortal, do you?"
"I'm SURE you're misunderstanding siblings here."
Takeru retorted as the gears of the conversation did interlock properly, but it appeared like Lapis' was bent on doing it.
In the end, unable to go against it Takeru started kind-of living together with Lapis.
Takeru woke up because of a suffocating feeling.
It was normal for him to have a hard time waking up. Because of things that happened in his past, it wasn't strange for him to have nightmares.
Even as he woke up from the dream, he could see an illusion of red flames in front of...
".....................Good morning, Onii-chan."
Although he was called that before many times, he didn't feel too good about being called so.
Takeru returned the morning greeting and looked at Lapis while still sleepy.
She wasn't wearing her usual dress, instead, she naked wearing just a shirt.
And she was sitting on top of Takeru who was lying on his back.
I see. I guess that's the appearance a cliche little sister would wake her brother in.
Convinced, he understood that it was normal for a fictitious little sister to wake up her brother in the morning.
Regarding her clothing, a school uniform would be the best, but there's was no need to complain about this one.
Most likely it was because he was still sleepy and his head didn't work too well, but it was also true that Takeru would no longer be shaken with just this much. He was the 35th platoon's captain and the only boy in the platoon. Also, it's not like Lapis' habit to stick close to him started this day, so he had developed a certain amount of resistance to women.
You can get used to this stuff, honestly.
Cut out with the stupid things and move, is what he was about to say when,
Lapis had slid herself on him back to his lower half of the body and unleashed the doors of society in his tracksuit.
Startled. Takeru saw Lapis try to grasp the thing under his tracksuit with her hand, so he slipped his waist from under her and leaped all the way towards the wall which he clung to.
"Wait...um, Lapis-san, uh...?"
Because Takeru slipped away from under Lapis, she ended up falling with her butt on the sheets and looked at him with puzzlement.
Startled she was.
"Don't go all startled on me, 'kay? W-what the hell were you doing?"
"? Men, especially of age similar to Hos...to Onii-chan often have problems with treatment of the morning physiological phenomenon is what I read in the reference documents. It was said that dealing with it is a little sister's duty——"
"Wait, wait wait waiiit, just in what kind of world does a little sister do that?"
Lapis took out a single tankōbon from under the sheets and opened a page with an illustration then pointed at it.
There, a little sister character had touched her older brother's thing with a mischievous expression——
He ended up staring at it. What the hell is she showing the first thing in the morning, heck, are light novels of late really okay with this?
Seeing Takeru make a cramped expression, Lapis put a finger on her chin and furrowed her eyebrows a little.
"Did I make a mistake somewhere?"
"If I had to decide whether you made a mistake or not, I would say that your mistake is on the same level as trying to tackle a car standing on red lights with just your body."
Takeru did not try to explain the content anyhow worried that she might want to continue this treatment of hers, so he denied it in full.
Lapis sat down in seiza on top of sheets and started flipping pages of the tankōbon, focusing her thoughts.
"...So in this case, rather than do the older brother's treatment, it meant "dealing with older brother?"
He shook his head with all strength.
These days the little sister characters aren't sane and they have abnormal feelings of love or hate towards their brothers, but they are ultimately fictitious little sisters.
At the very least, the little sisters that Takeru knew did not have such feelings for their older brothers.
Takeru explained carefully to Lapis that the reference materials that she had brought were wrong.
Yesterday he was tired because of practice and fell asleep right away, but it appeared like Lapis' battle to become a little sister was continuing.
The way to school.
After changing clothes in his own room, Takeru walked the usual boulevard leading towards the school.
What was different this time, was that beside him there was a young girl, the self-proclaimed azure-colored little sister.
Expressionless, she clung to his arm like some kind of koala.
She wasn't wearing the usual azure dress, but the AntiMagic Academy's uniform.
"Yes. What is it? Onii-chan."
Onii-chan. Although he was used to being called "onii-chan", but Lapis referring to him as such made him feel a weird tickle on his back.
"Y'know, siblings...it's not a relationship where you link arms."
"According to the reference materials, either most of little sisters have romantic feelings towards their older brothers, or act very violently towards them which is also part of their hidden feelings of love. Do you prefer the latter?"
"Please do the former."
He responded immediately.
I'd rather pass on having violent Lapis with me. He thought. Just imagining her hit him without any expression on her face was scary enough.
"Lapis, like I said earlier, these reference materials of yours aren't the type of materials you should actually be referencing..."
"Are they forbidden books?"
"I won't say they are, but...reality and the two-dimensional space shouldn't be mixed together y'know."
Why do I have to explain such a thing to a little girl... Takeru started getting headache.
"But look, Onii-chan. On this book's band it's written "This novel is dedicated to all older brothers in all worlds, all timelines and all parallel worlds"."
"It has a golden band. It's a award-winning work."
Why do publishers always want to put those bands on? Even Takeru himself catches himself ending up taking these in books in his hand when in the bookstore.
However, Lapis shouldn't have such tastes. Maybe she acquired this book and then came to like it? There's no way a Magical Heritage like her would come to like something like that, it would be troublesome if she did.
No matter how much Takeru asked, she wouldn't tell him why did she come up with becoming his little sister. It was very unusual for Lapis to refuse to tell him anything to this extent.
In any case, he confiscated the tankōbon from Lapis because they had a bad effect on her psyche, and the two headed to school. Meanwhile Takeru thought "just as always, she'll go back to normal if I let her be", and didn't think hard about it.
He learned that he his prediction was too naive when he reached the academy.
The first period for the day started.
"Well then, we will announce the results for the mini test. All of you are to take note what level of knowledge you are in the class and dedicate yourselves to improving."
Right after the class started, the teacher in charge said so and displayed the test sheets with results on a large display with a touch panel. The tests that students undertake in Antimagic Academy do not return to students, they are archived in the database and made accessible for all students to check.
Although that's a system made to make students impatient and fuel their desire to improve, he looked at the displayed test sheets without any feelings of exaltation.
With 100 points as the perfect score, he had 20 points. Although he did have problems with the test, the average in this academy was about 60 points. Even Usagi who is said to have poor grades for studies sometimes had 75 points on the tests.
He could hear his classmates in the surroundings laugh. It was an established practice that whenever the results were announced, all other students first looked towards Takeru's test sheet, then started giggling after seeing the strange answers.
Anyone could check the answer sheet of everyone else. Those with good grades looked at those with poor ones to feel superiority, and those with poor grades looked at the sheets of those with better ones and felt envy. Then finally, those who had the worst grades were laughed at and made feel inferior.
They say it's to fuel impatience and desire to improve, but Takeru thought it wasn't a good idea when it came to students' psychical health.
He was used to it and didn't feel pitiful at all. Although he used to curse his lack of talent in studying in the past, he got over it by now.
That's when, he suddenly heard someone clap hands in applause beside him.
When he looked to the side, startled, he saw Lapis look up and clap her hands.
What was startled about wasn't just the clapping. Lapis' usual drill hairstyle had turned straight and was arranged in the so-called hime cut.
And without any expression she continued to clap and said,
"——How wonderful, Onii-sama."
For some reason the way she called me changed.
"There is not the tiniest need for a future inquisitor to seriously learn a subject such as pointless as antimagic history, it is a waste of effort to spend time on such a thing... is what you mean. That's brilliant, Onii-sama."
"Huh?! W-wait, that's not what I was...I'm just..."
Kinda dumb...is what he was about to say, when the teacher had glared at him.
"Is that true, Kusanagi?" the teacher asked him. Other students also looked at him with contempt.
Wait, what's with this atmosphere? If Lapis' words were taken at face value, I would look like a clever and stoic student, but after continuing to get such bad scores and being the captain of the Small Fry Platoon on top of that, no one would consider thinking him like that and it would make him a sore loser.
Even if he was a poor student, he didn't want to get such a label.
"O-of course I don't think so! My scores at everything except for close combat are as you see them...it's not like I'm aiming to get this scores or am a sore loser!"
"As expected of you, Onii-sama. Even now you disregard knowledge as something useless and discarded it, instead focusing on actual combat, further focusing on acquiring close combat techniques which can display the most of your potential. A normal human would not be able to act as boldly as you have."
"N-no...I'm just good for nothing at everything but swordsmanship."
"It is a shame, but this school does not evaluate swordsmanship. But even if no one acknowledges you, I adore you dearly, Onii-sama."
It didn't make him happy at all because of how expressionless she was when she said it.
Just why on earth did she go in such strange directions with her overwhelming praise...and above all, why did she change her hairstyle?
As he thought so, he noticed a single tankōbon under one of her school textbooks and shuddered.
——She had more reference material prepared...?!!
It was then that he noticed that Lapis was referencing many different little sister characters at once.
After that, he experienced an entire show of different little sister types.
Starting with a little sister who lavishly praised him, a tsun little sister who suddenly came to him for a life consultation, a chuuni little sister who used to be a lover with him in their previous life and fought together to save the world, a little sister who tried competed with him by teeth brushing each other, a little sister whose personality changed with the color of her ribbon...and so on, he was able to behold little sister types based on various settings.
Since she was able to change her hairstyle freely her imitation was of high quality, but her expressions did not count to that quality, she was expressionless all the way through.
Takeru was already tired of reacting to each and every change, so during the lunch break he sprawled on top of a table.
"...Kusanagi, you and Mistilteinn have been acting strange..."
Seeing Takeru like that, Ouka and other platoon members approached them.
"She's been all over you before, but today she's even closer to you than usual! Did something happen between you?!"
Mari looked at him with suspicion and stared into his face to inquire.
Following her, Usagi too, had smashed her both hands onto the table and glared at him threateningly.
"I know that she is necessary to you, Kusanagi, which is why I have been bearing it aaaaaalllll this time, but today I have run out of patience!! What is it with your clinging today!"
Takeru shriveled as she smashed on the desk.
"Why do I have to be blamed here...?! I have no idea what's going on myself...!"
"It was my first time seeing this girl speak to you. Speaking of which, you two came to school together, right? Can it be that you're living together?"
Grinning, Ikaruga added something unnecessary, which made the other three's gazes even sharper.
"C-coming to school together?!"
"Living together?! Under one roof?!
"What is the meaning of this, Kusanagiii!"
The three pressed on him and Usagi grasped his collar.
At this rate the conversation would just go in a bad direction and he would come out as the one that's at fault.
Certainly, he did spend a night together with Lapis, but he was tired and quickly fell asleep, so he didn't do anything... No, he was indeed in danger of losing his chastity in the morning, but that was Lapis' acting on her own...
If he said anything here, it would just sound like an excuse and as he was at distress on what to do,
"Oniii-chan, les eat bokshd lunsh together."
Takeru turned around hearing a very monotone voice.
Lapis, with her hairstyle changed from drill hair to twintails was standing here holding a layered lunch box.
Although Takeru wanted to retort, the impact of her hairstyle was too big for him to speak.
A change from drill hairstyle to twintails...and it was quite wild with long bangs, too.
While everyone was at loss for words, Lapis approached and placed the layered lunch box on top of the table, then brought a nearby chair and sat down right next to Takeru.
Then she opened the layered box, grabbed an omelette with chopsticks and carried it to Takeru's mouth.
"...What is it this time?'
Exhausted, Takeru asked Lapis, who answered.. "I wanted to esh bokshd lunsh togesher."
Again, monotone kiddy talk.
"What does a little sister have to do with a boxed lunch...?"
"I have learned from the reference material that there are little sisters who are very dedicated to their brothers. They make a boxed lunch every morning, then eat the boxed lunch together. They are very irritating type of little sister."
"...Irritating little sister."
"Here, say aahn, now."
For some reason her manner of speech turned commanding by the end, and Lapis had pushed an omelette onto him.
He was about to eat it when he noticed the other platoon members' glare at him with furious expression and tried to explain the misunderstanding.
Takeru carefully explained that ever since yesterday, Lapis had for some reason decided to become his little sister and wouldn't listen to him when he tried to stop her.
However, when he finished explaining, Mari puffed up her cheeks.
"Then I'll become Takeru's little sister too, hmph!"
Why "then" and what's up with that "hmph"?
With her cheeks still puffed Mari took off her hat, took out hair ties from her pocket and tied her hair on both sides of her head to make twintails.
"How's it, huh? Oniii-chan!"
She must have thought that she looked strange when she looked into the mirror as she made a teary expression and looked at everyone else.
"Honestly speaking, Mari's twintails...I-I wonder...? W-what do you think, everyone?"
"Her hair is too short and it makes her look like a kid."
"Why...I can see it...I can see a kiddy red school bag on your back."
"Wait a moment. I saw some in stock in our platoon room, I'll go bring it. I wonder which is better, red or black?"
"——Don't give me such honest response after that moment of silence!"
With Mari sunk, this time Usagi had coughed loudly and took out a cute, pink lunch box from her bag.
"A-although I am not sure what is exactly happening, if it's a little sister who is good at cooking then there is no better candidate than me."
She opened the lid, grabbed some of nikujaga with her chopsticks and carried it to Takeru's mouth as not to lose to Lapis.
"Wait. This is weird. Let's think this over. Why did you join in on the whole "become my little sister" thing?"
"C-come on, Kusana...or rather, h-h-Honiichan...a-aan."
Stuck in between Lapis' omelet and Usagi's nikujaga, Takeru made a cramped expression.
"I also had a little sister! I know full well how to be one!"
"Why the hell are you competing, Ootori?!"
"M-my tastes are the same as Kusanagi's! We both love anpan! To say, Kusanagi and I are anpan siblings!"
"Your basis 's totally weird! What does "anpan sibling" even mean?!"
But if that was actually the case, Ouka would probably be the older sister between the anpan siblings. Blushing and breathing roughly, pushed anpan against Takeru's cheek with it still being inside the bag.
"C-c'mon, it's your favorite, anpan...! Be-be grateful as y-you eat, A-anija!"
Caught in between a three-way conflict, Takeru groaned. Meanwhile, Ikaruga, who usually acted as the observer had made a steep expression.
Furrowing her eyebrows in frustration, she took off her lab coat and started unbuttoning the her blouse.
"It would be a silly sight if I tried to pretend being a little sister...it would be real pain to watch...! Not only I'm far from being a little sister character, I also don't know anything about cooking, so what else can I do...?! All that's left to me is——to undress!"
"Don't force yourself! There's no need to force yourself to join in!!"
In this hellish situation where all the members of the platoon (?) wanting to become his little sister, Lapis' omelet managed to win out against the other two and had been put inside Takeru's mouth.
He could hear Ouka and Usagi click their tongue annoyed, but had no choice but to eat the omelet.
"Is it tasty?"
"............Sorry, I can't really tell how's the taste."
It wasn't either sweet or sour, it couldn't be said to be either good or bad.
The taste was very ambiguous. When he said his impression, for some reason Lapis raised her thumb finger.
"This is what you call an aimai boxed lunch."
"The joke's on ambiguous (aimai) and loving little sister (aimai)."
This whole pun has made Takeru wonder what was this tsundere twintailed little sister setting all about.
Most likely, Lapis was running out of gags to use.
Meanwhile, as Lapis had fed him an ambiguously-tasting boxed lunch, Mari had smashed onto his desk with her hands.
"So?! Why is Lapis-chan the little sister?!"
"I said, I wish I knew myself..."
As he was inquired on by Mari, Ouka who had leaned on the wall with her back had stared at Lapis with suspicion.
"Speaking of which, she did try to mingle among students as a little sister before...but that was on the chairman's orders. What's the reason this time?"
Lapis did not answer Ouka's question and put the last octopus-stylized sausage inside Takeru's mouth.
"...You aren't thinking of doing anything bad, are you? Be careful, Kusanagi, Relic Eaters are also Magical Heritage. Don't let your guard down."
She snorted with displeasure.
For some reason, Lapis did not converse with anyone but Takeru. As a result, no matter how much time passed she wouldn't get along with other members of the platoon.
Even Takeru himself had no clue what is she thinking and was puzzled on how to treat her when she suddenly appeared to cling onto him.
As he scratched his cheek and looked at her, she raised her gaze showing her pupils devoid of any emotion.
Their eyes met and they looked in each others' eyes for a few seconds.
But in the end, he didn't see anything in them. Takeru had no idea what did she seek, or what was she trying to do.
Lapis hugged Takeru's arm and brushing her cheek against it she squinted. Then, she raised her gaze to look up at him from above again.
These gestures of her were very cat-like and made Takeru smile wryly.
She's doing her best, but doesn't really feel like a little sister...
All of today Lapis did her best to become a little sister for Takeru, but he wasn't able to see her as one.
With that said, it made Takeru miss his actual little sister.
I should go meet her... for the first time in a while.
Takeru squinted and pat Lapis' head.
On the other hand, Lapis' pupils continued to face towards Takeru. He wasn't able to notice the faint emotion dwelling inside them.
The classes and the platoon activities ended, it was 11 p.m..
Takeru walked towards a familiar place, passed through several gates made of anti-magic material, had his body purified multiple times and passed through inquisitors heavy security to reach the goal.
Along with a heavy, clunky sound the last door was opened.
And ahead of it, there was the relief for his mind.
A single girl on the other side of the glass smiled in his direction.
"——It's been a while, Onii-chan."
Which is why Takeru smiled the same way and answered.
"Yeah, sorry I'm late, Kiseki."
As usual, with the usual smile and usual words his little sister welcomed him.
Which is why, just as usual, Takeru sat down in the chair and faced her.
They repeated this exchange multiple times.
The girl beyond the glass was Takeru's little sister, Kusanagi Kiseki.
Kiseki looked like she was bothered by the length of her fringe as she messed with her hair with her fingers. She faced slightly downwards and looked up at him.
"T-this is a quite sudden visit...I was totally surprised by how sudden it was."
"Sorry, was it a bother?"
"O-oo-of course not! I-I'm happy, very happy!"
Denying in hurry, Kiseki twisted her body, fidgeting, she smiled towards Takeru.
"I suddenly felt like seeing you... There was the topic of little sister among my friends, y'know."
Being told that he wanted to see her, Kiseki blushed.
Takeru explained to Kiseki about what happened this day (while mixing in some lies in between). Because of certain circumstances Kiseki was confined in the innermost prison, which is why he was unable to say anything forbidden.
Although the wall separating them from each other looked like it was made of glass, it was actually a display. Kiseki wasn't actually in front of him, but was in a different room and the video of her was captured by a camera, the thing in front of him was merely a video of her.
But to Takeru, this was the family private time and the only way for him to speak with his little sister.
For his little sister's sake he came to meet her once a month and spoke of the world outside.
Even if it was twisted, this was what a relationship with a little sister was to him.
"And that's what happened. Strange girl, isn't she? Wanting to become my little sister is totally strange. What do you think, my real little sister?"
When Takeru told Kiseki that there was a strange classmate who wanted to become his little sister, Kiseki had scratched her cheek with a smile.
"A little sister, huh〜... When Kiseki was in the box, she didn't know Onii-chan was her onii-chan, right."
"Speaking of which...it took a while until we learned you're my little sister."
Thinking so, he thought it was a wondrous. Because of certain circumstances, Takeru and Kiseki only learned they are actual siblings some time after they met.
The first person with whom Takeru felt bonded with was Kiseki.
He remembered it even now. In the summer heat, inside a shady forest where light of the day didn't reach he met Kiseki.
Takeru held the feelings of that time dear even now.
Once again, he stared at Kiseki from the front.
"...Nn, wh-what is it?"
Kiseki blinked repeatedly and asked, but Takeru just continued to stare at her.
He wanted to burn the sight of her into his eyes as much as possible.
Because Takeru wouldn't look away even as the time passed, Kiseki restlessly repeated crossing her arms, uncrossing them, and peeked at Takeru.
Although she was blushing just slightly earlier, now she was red as an apple.
"O-o-ooonii-chan...p-please don't look like that... it's embarrassinnng..."
When tears started to appear in Kiseki's eyes because of how embarrassed she was, Takeru finally noticed what he's doing and apologized with a bitter smile.
That moment, they heard the sound of a buzzer signaling the end of the visit.
The two had turned their gaze to the ceiling for an instant, then towards each other again.
"Yeah, looks like it."
Takeru was about to stand up, but stopped his movements in the midway.
Takeru paused for a second, then asked with anxiety.
"...Were you happy when you learned that I'm your big brother, and we're siblings?"
He felt a disgust towards himself for asking such a thing.
It's wasn't like he was lacking confidence as the brother.
He was just anxious from time to time.
Were Kiseki's feelings the same as his? The situation back when they learned they were siblings was the worst possible.
Although she called him her big brother now, he had no idea what was she really thinking.
Kiseki erased her expression and fell silent.
Then stared straight back at Takeru without looking away.
The buzzer signaling the last twenty seconds of visit had rang out.
And when Takeru was about to gave up the answer and go outside.
"I was happy, very happy."
The voice saying so had trembled in his ears. When he raised his gaze up he saw Kiseki's unclouded smile.
Takeru once again recalled what kind of existence his little sister was to him.
The reason why he aimed to become an inquisitor, the reason why he works every day without rest despite not being fit for it, all of it——was to protect this smile.
To him, his little sister was an existence he needs to protect and wants to protect.
That's why, he answered with a smile as well.
So that one day, he is able to pat her face with his hand——
Once the visit time was over Takeru walked towards the academy's gate, where he saw a human silhouette leaning on the gate's pillar and raised his gaze.
Lapis stood there beneath the sky dyed by sunset, she held a schoolbag in both of her hands and turned towards him.
She wasn't wearing the AntiMagic Academy's uniform, but the usual azure-colored dress.
"Let's go home, Host."
Lapis referred to him as she usually did.
Takeru was slightly surprised by that, but made a smile and walked right next to her.
The two started walking the way home.
In the sunset, there were two shadows extending on the road on the way home.
"Hey, Lapis. Why did you suddenly come up with becoming my little sister?"
Although he already asked this question multiple times, he decided to ask Lapis once again.
He felt like she would answer now.
The far, setting sun was reflected in her glass marble-like eyes.
"It was to fill the hole in Host's heart."
Although she spoke indifferently, she did reveal her true intentions.
Takeru listened quietly.
"It is my duty as a Magical Heritage contracted with Host to monitor Host's condition."
"...Is my condition so deeply connected to little sisters?"
"Yes. The existence of a little sister is far greater to you than you think, Host."
"Host feels psychological stress due to the fact the little sister is not by Host's side."
It felt like scales fell from his eyes, Takeru didn't think that Lapis would understand him that well.
He was often called a siscon by Ikaruga and was aware of it himself, however, he felt a little embarrassed to learn that Lapis had known how he felt deep inside.
"So, you thought of becoming a little sister and relieve it?"
"No. My becoming of a little sister was merely an attempt to push Host in that direction."
"To push...? ...Ah."
Although he wondered what is she saying for a second, he realized what Lapis meant by that and nodded.
"...So you tried becoming my little sister in order to push me in the direction of going to meet my little sister, huh."
"Yes. By meeting your little sister, Host's psychological stress has been temporarily relieved. The plan has succeeded."
Lapis said and quietly closed her eyes.
"After all, I knew from the start that I cannot become Host's little sister."
Lit up by the sunset light, Lapis' face was dyed in twilight color, she really looked like a doll. Her face didn't show any expression as if to say that she isn't perturbed by any emotions.
However, not even once Takeru thought that she didn't feel emotions.
No matter the method, he was happy that Lapis felt worried about him and acted for his sake.
Which is why he spoke his true feelings to her.
"To me, Kiseki is the only little sister I have. No one can take her place."
"It appears so."
"But similarly——you are the only sword of mine."
Hearing these words Lapis stopped walking.
Takeru took a few steps more and turning his back to the setting sun.
"No matter what sword it is, it cannot take your place. I don't want to hold any sword other than you."
"Well, our first meeting was the worst...but I still like the relationship we have. Which is why I want you to continue being my sword."
Most likely, only he knew about it.
Lapis wasn't emotionless, she was very jealous and very bashful, she also had trust for Kusanagi Takeru.
However, these were her emotions not as a human, but as a sword.
Takeru knew that if he praised her as a sword and spoke of his attachment to her, Lapis would act bashful.
Although it was also a comeback at her for seeing through him completely, he also wanted to see how she looks like when she's exposing her feelings when not in her sword state.
——The change in Lapis' expression was beyond Takeru's expectation, and had firmly grasped his heart.
The sight of Lapis in the evening glow beneath the sky, squinting slightly with a faint smile had stolen Takeru's heart.
It was different from Kiseki's smile and more beautiful than any human.
Takeru was the one who blushed. Although he did trust her and was attached to Lapis as a sword, he only felt her human self to be a wondrous girl.
For the first time now, just for a short moment, he had become aware of her as opposite sex.
However, soon after, while still smiling——of all things to do, Lapis pulled on her own cheeks with both of her hands.
Takeru was astonished.
"How was it, Host? Was I able to smile well? This smile was based on Host's mental image and the reference materials to reproduce a "relieved smile"."
"I have learned that expressions are important for mingling among the human society and am in the middle of training them. How was it?"
Turning emotionless again while still pulling on her cheeks, Lapis had approached him.
Takeru felt embarrassed that his heart skipped a beat at her smile, but the noticed something.
When he looked closely at Lapis, her face was slightly red.
It might have been red because she had pulled on her cheeks, but what if the fuss right now was her hiding her embarrassment?
He smiled wryly, pat Lapis' head and the two started walking the road home again.
Since he didn't spend too much time with Lapis except for when they were in combat, he thought that this kind of thing wasn't too bad.
Even if they didn't speak, just walking through the town together felt fresh.
He thought so, however,
"By the way, Host. You said you don't want to hold any sword except for me, then, how are you going to excuse yourself in regards to the katana you have equipped by your waist?"
"?! T-this is, uh...it's not a Magical Heritage so it doesn't count..."
"It's a sub-weapon! It's just a sub-weapon!"
"A concubine, huh. Host, were you actually royalty?"
"That's one horrible metaphor there! J-just think about it, in this day and age I can't just go around and carry a Magical Heritage on my waist all year long, can I? H-hey, wait! Cheer up, Lapis!"
He chased after Lapis' back, who walked forward in a trot.
It was hard to say that the two's relationship changed with what happened today.
However, although just slight, Takeru was able to find a new side of Lapis.
It would be great if they continued to learn about each other and their relationship continued forever like this, Takeru wished as he looked at the sky colored in sunset.
"Thanks for today."
Still staring at the sky dyed in evening glow, Takeru thanked Lapis.
She too, stared into the evening sky and responded.
"I did what is natural for me to do as your sword."
Takeru and Lapis' relationship wasn't that of lovers, siblings, comrades, or even friends.
They were a sword and her user.
Nothing more and nothing less.
However, it was a one-in-a-kind relationship beyond any other.