Homework. Helping out. What Is a family...
Friday, after the morning homeroom was over Mariko came to my desk and suddenly asked me about little sisters.
My heart skipped a beat from surprise but it turned out that it was about her little sister Chitose-chan who was two years younger than we are; I've met her many times back when I was in elementary school. She really loved her Onee-chan and escaped whenever I called out to her.
When I asked Mariko whether their relationship is still so good, she responded with "Of course, she's my precious little sister." and smiled happily.
After school I returned to the Taishido residence and immediately headed to Room 201.
When the front door opened, I found Mika waiting while holding Maple, she bowed politely.
"Hello Mika. Maple too, are you in good health?"
"Yup! Maple says he's feeling a bit blue."
"Did something happen to make him depressed?"
"Umm... ehh, he's worried about Nee-chama's quarrelling."
So Mika was worrying about Tomomi and Sayuri's fight from last weekend all this time.
"I-I see. Yeah... um, can I enter?"
We moved from the front door to the living room and sat down on the sofa.
"Does Nii-chama remember the promise?"
"The promise... what was it?"
"Muu! Only a bad person forgets his promise with a lady. Mii-chan won the first place prize in the game didn't she?"
"Ahh〜〜〜. I remember. Did you decide on what you want?"
A happy smile bloomed on Mika's face and she nodded.
"Yup! For all of today, I want you to listen to what Mii-chan says."
"As long as I'm able to do it."
"Then umm, let's play first. Maple together with us too?"
Mika sat Maple on the stool and went to the room in the back, she returned shortly afterwards. In her hands she had a large sketchbook as well as a set of crayons.
"Draw together with Mii-chan!"
She began to draw a girl with a crayon. She was quite good.
"Nii-chama, please draw on that half."
"What do I draw?"
"The theme is up to you."
"Let's see... how about I try drawing Maple."
After a few minutes, a mysterious hairy object and Orange-chan from Pretty Rangers Fruity were lined up.
Character's eyes on Mika's drawing were large like those from a shoujo manga, but she definitely had more talent for drawing than I did.
"Mika's very good at painting."
"Yupp! Mii-chan's friends from class praise her too. Ahh! Time!"
After she looked at her watch, she stood up and went to bring the tablet from her bedroom.
"I left the timer so that we can gather when Nii-chama comes."
Mika launched an application for growing mushrooms. We harvested them together by touching and dragging our fingers. The light sound effects when they were plucked were quite comfortable.
"Nii-chama pulled a lot of mushrooms today."
"Not pulled but took... I wonder if that was fair."
After completing the harvest, Mika set the timer for the next time.
There was no changes from last week. I was relieved that she didn't ask anything outrageous of me.
"Um, Nii-chama. Mii-chan... wants to take a bath."
"A bath? Want me to wash the bathtub?"
"Not that, Mii-chan wants to take bath together with Nii-chama!"
"Yes. It's an order."
Since Mika had a solid determination, I had to obediently follow the order. I operated the water heater and prepared the bath. In less than thirty minutes, the bathtub was filled with water.
"Is it okay to enter the bath before dinner?"
"Yup! That's plan for today."
Mika decisively asserted with a confident expression, she took my hand and pulled me into the dressing room. She placed Maple on a towel stand and raised her arms in banzai pose.
"Take it off Nii-chama! Today Nii-chama will do everything I tell him to right?"
"H-hey... you're in sixth grade, so you can take a bath alone right?"
"Just today! Just today please!"
Sometimes Mika switches to polite speech. I think that at a time like this she thinks of herself as 'elder sister'. She pretends to be elder sister and yet behaves like spoiled child at the same times, how strange.
Reluctantly, I took off Mika's clothes. Her shoulders appeared from beneath.
"Are you not wearing a bra?"
"'You have no boobs so you don't need it' I was told."
"Is that so."
I was relieved that Mika had a flat chest and the body of a child. I didn't feel anything at all from it. If it was Tomomi or Yuuki I might've been excited and my heart would pound like mad but... hey, we're siblings so I shouldn't get excited at all. I turned away and took off my shirt and pants. I entered the bathroom with Mika and washed her hat-covered head with a shampoo.
"Does it itch anywhere my lady?"
"There Nii-chama, scrub there more... aa, afuaa."
My finger directly massaged the place Mika was feeling itchy at.
I rinsed her head with a shower and had her enter the bathtub after her body was washed.
"Count to hundred before you leave it."
"Yup! One, two, ten, hundred!"
"We're still on four though."
"Uuu... so mean. Four, five, six, seven... hundred!"
"Without cheating please."
Mika let out a small sigh and nodded.
"Haa... I wanted to enter the bath together with Nii-chama."
"If I enter as well the hot water will spill out."
"Ah... I see. This is only enough for Mii-chan to enjoy."
That's quite difficult wording, where did she... Ah! It must be Murasaki-san's influence.
She properly counted to a hundred in the bathtub warming up before she got out. I wiped her body with a towel, dried her hair with a drier and combed it with a comb.
I was reminded of how I accompanied Mariko when she was playing with dolls.
The dinner was the same as last week, a pizza delivery. Mika ordered it through the phone "the one from before please", she muttered anxiously.
The pizza that arrived was not the same as the last one, this one has clearly way too much vegetables on it. Moreover, peppers accounted for one quarter of the whole pizza, it was a 'three colour paprika pizza' children were bad at. The amount of peppers was enough to have an adult be taken aback.
It was a colourful pizza with red, green and yellow on the pieces. Mika closed her eyes and spoke.
"Mii-chan's an adult so she can eat green peppers. Let's eat!"
"Are you really going to eat it?"
Mika nodded and bit into the green pepper pizza. Her expression clouded over for a moment.
"If it's bad then there's no need to overdo it."
"I'm not! If Mii-chan eats it, Nii-chama will compliment her."
She pushed the pizza into her mouth with tears in her eyes and swallowed it without chewing.
"Eh, you're amazing Mika."
"Praise Mii-chan more like the Onee-san she is."
"Ohh, Mika can eat so many green peppers. You're really grown up."
"Yup! Mii-chan is more grown up than she looks!"
Just how powerful was her force of will, I also tried to eat the green pepper pizza but... it's awful. It was a taste only someone who loves green peppers would like. Why would Mika ask for this kind of pizza?
In the end, since she would be pitiful if I left it like that I decided to eat the rest of the three-coloured paprika pizza. When we moved on to the remaining pizza I suddenly thought.
"By the way Mika, when did you eat the pizza that was left in the refrigerator last time?"
"When, umm... every day until it disappears. When I store for longer, I put in a plastic bag with a zipper and freeze it again."
"I see. Tomorrow Mika's coming to my room so let's freeze this one already."
I've frozen the pizza according to Mika's instructions.
"Nii-chama, I'll make cocoa! Today's a special one with marshmallow. Maple was told by the doctor he can't eat sweets so he'll pass."
The age Maple had according to her setting was a mystery. Mika placed cups with instant cocoa powder, added hot milk and stirred it with a spoon after which she dropped the marshmallows as a finishing touch. I took two cups with cocoa, and after leaving the pizza in the freezer I went back to the living room.
"You're really diligent today."
"It's helping out. Oh right! I'll massage Nii-chama's shoulders! Nii-chama is always doing things, cheers for hard work!"
Mika tried to go around the sofa.
"My shoulders aren't stiff but..."
"No good! That's not in the schedule so please stiffen your shoulders Nii-chama."
I can't stiffen my shoulders on purpose. Also, schedule...
Before I could even say something, Mika started lightly hitting my shoulders. With Mika's small and thin hands massage was unlikely to have any effect but... it made me somehow relieved. She continued to tap my shoulders for a while and then moved in front of me again.
"Nii-chama, was Mii-chan able to properly help out?"
"Yeah. My shoulders feel so light now it feels like I grew wings. Thank you."
She laughed happily. I hope she won't tell me "That'll be 10000 yen" while maintaining that expression.
"What's wrong Nii-chama? Your face is scary."
She has work ethics. But would spending pocket money for that be a good idea? It's weird I helped out and didn't get paid for it! If she becomes a girl like that I'll be troubled.
"Umm, Mii-chan was taught earlier."
"Listen listen! Kenta-kun said that it's good to help out even if you don't get pocket money for it. It's the feeling of wanting to help out that is important."
My imaginary fears were blown away in an instant. GOOD JOB! Kenta-kun!
"Y-yeah. Kenta-kun's a good guy."
"Yup. That's why Mii-chan wants to be like that too."
What I wanted to teach Mika the most was conveyed to her by Kenta-kun... hey, why am I being disappointed here. Mika being blessed with good friends is a good thing isn't it.
In the first place, I don't do any work to get money so I have no right to say that. It's because Kenta-kun is the same age as Mika that she felt its convincing.
While thinking about that, I slowly drank cocoa together with her. The time from now on was "free time" according to Mika. We watched her favourite anime and folded origami together, after that Mika started to doze off.
It was already half past 8 p.m., she always goes to bed at nine so it was about thirty minutes early today.
"Aren't you starting to get sleepy? Go brush your teeth."
"Yup. Um... last thing for today. I want to sleep together with Nii-chama."
Hearing those words my heart skipped a beat. No, even though it really did skip a beat it's not like that... hey, ever since I started involving myself with the little sister candidates I developed a habit of making excuses to myself.
"Y-yeah. Got it."
I'll stay beside her until she falls asleep. Mika smiled, took toothpaste and went to wash her teeth. After that she pulled me with her small hand to the bedroom. She sat down on a single-person sized bed with a loud noise.
"Nii-chama is sleeping here today. Maple has a day off for now."
So she was sleeping with Maple beside her every day. Also, I just wanted to stay beside her, but at this rate it'll really be sleeping together. But I don't care, she's my little sister (candiate) after all.
Mika turned the bed's light and after the room's main light was turned off she lied down close to the wall.
"Hurry hurry Nii-chama."
"Then, excuse me."
"Yup. Also, according to the plan Mii-chan will be hugged by Nii-chama and when she falls asleep she will be told "good girl" and pat on her head."
"S-sure. Like this?"
I patted her head gently, Mika nodded few times.
"Yes. All done."
Mika raised herself slightly.
"Not going to sleep?"
"Yes. But I need to confirm whether everything is done. Nii-chama please confirm it."
She stood up and turned on the lights in the room, from the randosel that was beside the study desk she took out a paper and with small pauses for a breath she began to read the essay aloud.
"My Onii-chan. Sixth year, Ookuma Mika. I have an Onii-chan in high school. He's very cool, gentle, can use magic and do anything. He's playing together with me. We draw together, play games and take baths together. When we eat our meals he praises me for eating green peppers I'm bad with. That's why I want to be of help to my Onii-chan. I want to hurry up and become an adult, now I can only massage his shoulders. We drink cocoa and go to sleep together. I love my Onii-chan the most."
What happened today was written down. So she wanted to do all these things today.
"Is that your school's homework?"
"Yes! We were told the theme is 'family'. Teacher knows about Mii-chan so she told me that I don't need to do it, but since Mii-chan has a family now she said to Teacher that there is no need to worry."
What she said had resonated deep inside of me. But if I made a dark expression Mika would definitely ask 'is the essay no good?', so as not to make her worry I made a warm smile.
"It's a good essay."
"Yup! Mii-chan's amazing right?"
"Yeah. You're really great, I'm proud to have Mika in my family."
"Yup! Mii-chan is someone Nii-chama can boast about!"
Mika put the essay back in the randosel, turned the lights off and went back to bed.
"Um. Nii-chama, Mii-chan wants you to stay beside until she falls asleep."
"Of course. I'll be here until Mika's sleeping soundly."
Her expression loosened and she turned off the bed light. In the room that turned pitch black Mika fell asleep just after a few minutes.
She was probably half asleep but Mika squeezed my body tightly as if it was a body pillow... and suddenly bit my neck. Even though I said bit, it light and sweet. Maple must've been usually going through this. While gently stroking Mika's hair I thought.
It's been only two weeks, but was I able to become a good Onii-chan for these little sister candidates?
Notes and References
- ↑ ブルー入ってる blue here refers to being depressed.