Memories. Ambush. Spring storm.
According to the weather forecast a storm will hit during today's spring evening.
Ever since morning Mariko was unable to remain calm and kept fidgeting.
Was she worried about weather? I thought that and asked her. It seems like it wasn't the weather but her family was what she was troubled about.
Mariko has a a little sister in middle school, Chitose-chan. She noticed her little sister's strange behaviour recently... and she's worried that she might have found a boyfriend.
The Chitose-chan I knew was a shy and withdrawn girl. At least that's the impression I got because she always hid behind Mariko.
So it was a bit surprising to me that she had a boyfriend. She was like a young duck going after its parents and followed her Onee-chan... I think Mariko was being overprotective.
Back then she was too embarrassed to make eye contact with me, who was Mariko's friend.
I said a baseless follow-up to her "No matter how much you worry, it won't help unless you see them, I'm sure it's all right".
Mariko responded with a dispirited "I guess". She seemed quite overwhelmed by it.
No matter what kind of boy it was, it seemed like Mariko was concerned just by knowing it was a boy. Certainly, if my little sister got a lover... I would be worried too.
My little sisters too, will one day find someone they love.
Although I have to bless them as their brother, that makes me a bit... uneasy.
I somehow survived the classes and went back home, the everyday change of the room's number on the smart key continued.
I stood in front of Room 601's door and sounded the chime. The key unlocked the door, but entering a little sister's room without knocking was rude. There's a need to show some respect.
However, the game-loving Tomomi might have been glued to the controller.
The door wasn't opening... I tried opening it slightly and looked inside.
Instead of hearing gunfire and explosion sounds I found... Tomomi sitting in seiza and waiting for me. She was in rough clothing comprised of a T-shirt and hot pants.
"I have awaited you, Nii-chan!"
She looked up at me with a stiff expression and tried to stand up.
"Why are you in seiza?!"
"I was looking forward to seeing Nii-chan so much that I got the feeling as if it was right before the release of an epic game. A'right, I stood up! Yeahh!"
Because she was sitting in seiza posture, she was unfamiliar with her feet that had gone numb, and the usually agile Tomomi ran to me while staggering like a zombie.
I've caught her.
The moment she hugged me, I felt an unnerving elastic texture press against me.
"Nii-chan, I don't feel my legs! It's super extra numbness!"
"Just how long were you sitting like that?"
"About thirty minutes. Mufuun, I'm so happy to get a hug from Nii-chan."
"Let's go to the living room for now. Can you walk?"
"I invoke the right of princess carry."
"Let go of me."
"No no nooooo. Tch. Nii-chan's stingy."
I lent Tomomi a shoulder and we arrived in the living room. She sat down on the sofa and stretched her legs. I also sat down on the sofa. The room didn't change from before, the surround speakers and the large TV were still there. Plastic models still adorned the shelves.
"So, what did Nii-chan come here for? Did you come to be mushy mushy with me?"
"Mushy mushy... of course I think of getting along with Tomomi as siblings..."
Tomomi leaned forward from the sofa and cut in brightly. I diverted my gaze away from her chest which shook from the momentum.
"Nii-chan, look over here properly."
"Y-yeah, sorry... you refuse?"
She made a big nod.
"Does Nii-chan want to make me his little sister?"
"Of course. Not only Tomomi, I want all of you to be my little sisters. I don't know what to do yet, but I do have such intention."
"I've already said that I don't want to become a little sister haven't I? Instead, I'm ready to make you big brother though."
"So is there any difference?"
Tomomi vigorously nodded again.
"Yup. I don't want to be protected by Nii-chan. At the very least I want to be on equal footing with you. That's why I don't want you to make me your little sister. That's my 'Shall I make you big brother?!'."
As she said that, she downcast her gaze and blushed.
"But you see, me wanting to be mushy mushy with Nii-chan is true. I want to have fun during the time we spend together, I'm an onee-chan when we're all together right? The eldest daughter? I'm in a position that requires me to act responsibly."
"Y-yeah, you're right."
"That's why just when we're alone together, I want to be spoiled by Nii-chan a lot you see..."
A maiden's heart is complex but not as much as Tomomi's little sister's heart.
"You don't want me to make you a little sister, but you want to be spoiled by me... is that what it means."
"If Nii-chan is all right with it, I'm prepared for tickling revenge match or carbonated drink-all-at-once match. I prepared a vast menu of matches."
"But that isn't you being spoiled is it?"
Tomomi puckered her lips and twisted her body.
"I just want Nii-chan to pay attention to me! However, being spoiled isn't the only thing I want. I myself don't know my own feelings. My status screen has been showing that I'm in 'confused' state for a while now."
She made a troubled face and raised her eyebrows.
"C-calm down. First of all, take a deep breath."
*Suu...haa...suu...haa!*, even as she took deep breaths Tomomi continued to fidget.
"I haven't won any match, but can I request something of Nii-chan?"
"As long as it's something I can do."
"I-I want a lap pillow."
If she calms down that much, then fine. As I nodded, Tomomi bounced up and fell down right next to me, she put her head on top of my lap.
"So this is Nii-chan's lap pillow, a bit high up."
I responded jokingly to her.
"Indeed, it seems like the height adjustment has been jinxed."
While having her head on top of my lap, Tomomi let all the strength in her body fade.
"Have you calmed down?"
"It feels good, Nii-chan. Umm... Nii-chan, do you know about Daddy?"
"By Daddy you mean... about Jinya-san?"
My recognition of him as my father was quite ambiguous... probably that's the reason I've started to call him 'Jinya-san'.
For Tomomi Taishido, Jinya was also her father.
"Yup. I've never met him. Did you, Nii-chan?"
"I did. However, I didn't know he was my father. A kind uncle who comes occasionally... that was the feeling."
"Hee. So he was kind."
"He listened to any request I've told him... but when I recall it, it didn't feel like a father. More like a sorcerer or a Santa Claus."
"What's that? I know that Santa Claus real identity is that of Daddy, but for Daddy's real identity to be Santa Claus?"
Tomomi responded with a "Hmmm" raising a voice full of emotions. I continued.
"More importantly, is it really true that you never met him?"
She nodded with an careless expression.
"Speaking of which, what did you do until you came here? You never came here to meet Jinya-san, did you?"
"I didn't. By the way, I've been in the house of Mommy's relatives. I don't remember it well, but it seems like I was problematic... that's what I think now. My relatives were strangers after all... they didn't become my family."
As Tomomi toned down depressed, I started stroking her head.
"Hey! Nii-chan, that's a foul!"
"S-sorry. So you wanted to be tickled?"
"Not that... I was just surprised because it was sudden. Umm... it's all right to continue. Use surprise attacks all you want! I accept the challenge!"
Tomomi faced away as she lay down on my lap, but that wasn't an angry voice at all.
"Nii-chan, tell me more about Daddy."
"Even if you ask me, I don't know what to tell you..."
Tomomi didn't know anything about Taishido Jinya, probably neither has Selene, Sayuri, Yuuki nor Mika. I don't know what was the reason, but he only met with me, the eldest son... he was a horrible father after all.
"Anything is fine. How many times did you meet?"
"About once a month."
"What did you do when you met?"
The fact that I was given preferential treatment stabbed into my chest like a needle. It seemed like Tomomi guessed what I thought and said brightly.
"You don't need to refrain yourself because of me. I was the one who asked."
I nodded deep inside my mind.
"Umm... we went out to eat together a lot. Also, he took me to department stores and bought me some toys. Just as I told you before, he was like a Santa Claus who came once in a month. He listened to whatever selfish request I made."
"Was he a good person?"
"He was a gentle person."
Tomomi continued with a lonely tone.
"Listen, me too... we too were given support, it's not only Nii-chan who's special."
She was concerned about me.
"Hey Tomomi, about the support and all that's to be from now on. I think we need to speak with Murasaki-san."
She raised her head and turned around towards me.
"Then let's go right now, Nii-chan!"
"If we're to go, then the faster the better."
"You're right. Then, I'm going."
I rose up from the sofa, Tomomi beside me shook her head energetically.
"I won't let Nii-chan go alone."
"You're going to help me persuade her?"
"Yup. I'm the eldest daughter, ain't I. Since I'm on equal footing with the eldest son, you can rely on me. I want to lend my strength to Nii-chan."
She said so proudly and puffed her chest. I nodded while removing my line of sight from the bulge which let out a *boing* sound.
"Sorry... no, thank you Tomomi. It's very encouraging."
"If I'm not wrong she's in room 202."
"Eh? Why do you know where Murasaki-san's room is?"
"Umm, look! I've heard from Mika. Let's depart immediately, shall we, Nii-chan?"
"But is it fine? Today is Tomomi's day, don't you... want to be spoiled?"
"It's fine, it's fine. Let's finish the talk fast and as long as you take care of me it's all okaay."
Even so, she won't become my little sister... will she.
My hand was pulled by Tomomi, and we left the room together.
After going down to the second floor by elevator, we stood in front of room 202 which was next to Mika's. Of course my smart key didn't react to room 201 or 202.
Tomomi and I made a determined stand arm in arm right in front of the door.
"What kind of ambush would be the best, Nii-chan?"
"Heyy, what ambush... can't we just normally sound the chime?"
"But we can't shake her up like that right? If we attack her from the front, we'll encounter her defense. We need to attack the enemy from an angle she doesn't expect and push to win!"
She theory-crafted the tactical approach. For her to come up with such an idea, she's truly a pro gamer... I was honestly impressed.
There was some truth in what Tomomi said about doing a feint attack.
To break through Murasaki-san's guard, we might need to take special action. But it's best if we don't offend her.
Tomomi took a peek at the intercom's camera.
"I have an idea."
"Before we execute it, could you tell me what kind of plan is it?"
"The fact that Nii-chan might come must be within Murasaki-san's expectations. First I will call Murasaki-san myself. Nii-chan will squat down in front of the door so that he doesn't appear on the camera."
"Oh-ho, I see. And then?"
"I will call Murasaki-san by saying 'There's something I want to talk about'. When Murasaki-san opens the door, Nii-chan will appear from under her feet. And then, Nii-chan will put a foot in the gap of the door so that it can't be closed."
"But doesn't that mean that the surprised Murasaki-san will shut the door and my feet will be hurt?"
"Bear with it, Nii-chan. There are scenes like that in detective movies and games. If you worry about a little bit of pain it'll be GAME OVER. If Nii-chan doesn't want to do it, how about I do it?"
"A-all right. Let's go with that plan."
I squatted down by the wall right by the entrance and hidden in the blind spot of the door, my leg was extended and on standby.
Right before the interphone Tomomi sank down lowering herself. We would look like suspicious people if one would look at us from the side.
"All right, let's go Nii-chan."
Tomomi pressed the interphone's button, but there was no reply. She might have been absent, or maybe she didn't want to answer after seeing Tomomi's face from the camera.
Just as I thought that, the door of the Room 202 suddenly opened and Murasaki-san jumped out.
Moreover, she was half-naked.
Her body was just covered with a towel lightly wound around her. Her partially wet hair wasn't covered with anything. On her skin were visible water droplets.
A soft smell of a soap drifted from her.
It seemed like Murasaki-san rushed out from under a shower to respond. Now she raised her voice in panic.
"What happened Mika-sa..."
Murasaki-san's line of sight has caught me.
Since Mika's name appeared, and Murasaki-san lowered her gaze... it means she must have misunderstood and thought that it was Mika who had called her out.
She saw that I was squatting at an angle which made it seem as if I tried to look at her bottom.
"I'm sorry I'm sorry! This is umm, eh, a misunderstanding!"
I screamed as well.
"Eh, err, Murasaki-san, Nii-chan has something to talk about!"
Murasaki-san lost her calm and tried to close the door. Tomomi was confused as well and she pulled the door as not to let Murasaki-san close it.
"Wait Murasaki-san! Please listen to what Nii-chan has to say!"
At first Murasaki-san tried to close the door with one hand, then she used both. That moment... her towel slid off.
Just before the door was closed with a loud thud, Murasaki-san's appearance just as she was born has been burned firmly into my eyes.
A minute later, Tomomi and I looked at my smartphone as a mail came from Murasaki-san saying 'Please wait 10 minutes.'.
Exactly ten minutes later, Murasaki-san appeared in front of us with her hair dry and dressed in a suit.
She was wearing rimless glasses. I see, so she's usually wearing contacts.
Even so, she was incredibly calm as if her scream from a while ago never happened.
Murasaki-san nodded lightly.
"I apologize for the disturbance earlier."
I responded dryly.
"I-I apologize as well. Please don't mind it."
Ah, what am I saying. Murasaki-san had no expression and her face was like a noh mask. She invited Tomomi and me inside.
"You have something to talk about. Could you tell me in more detail?"
"Sorry to intrude."
"Nii-chan, you saw Murasaki-san naked earlier, didn't you?"
"H-hey! What are you suddenly..."
Tomomi elbowed me, her line of sight was directed towards Murasaki-san's face.
Her expression didn't change. After confirming that, Tomomi dropped her shoulders.
It seems like in these ten minutes Murasaki-san has entered her on-guard mode.
We moved to the living room. There was only a minimum of equipment and simple furniture, not even a TV was there.
The sky outside the window was covered with thick clouds, the room was dim.
Murasaki-san lit the lights, Tomomi and I sat down on the sofa side by side. After I sat down, Murasaki-san started to stare at my face.
"What is your business."
"Um, about earlier... I apologize."
"What do you mean?"
Her words didn't indicate she was angry, but Murasaki-san seemed cold and distant. Tomomi once again unnaturally cleared it up.
"Nii-chan means the fact that he saw Murasaki-san naked earlier."
Tomomi was probably trying to upset Murasaki-san.
But Murasaki-san spoke without batting an eyelid.
"That was my carelessness. I was sure that Mika came to play... no, I had an erroneous thought that some kind of urgent problem had come up which required my immediate assistance."
Her appearance didn't change, but Murasaki-san was probably... shaken.
"Come on Nii-chan, back to main topic!"
Tomomi winked to me, it seemed like she noticed Murasaki-san's weird state as well.
"Umm, Murasaki-san. Could you tell us what the current state of the situation is? Even though it's past the two weeks deadline, I still haven't decided on a little sister. In fact the support should have ceased and everyone should have scattered, shouldn't they? Why hasn't that happened yet?"
Murasaki-san looked away from me for a moment.
"I can't answer that."
Angry because she refused to answer, Tomomi raised her eyebrows.
"Why can't you answer?"
"I cannot disclose the will of the deceased."
Once again, it's because that's what will says... is it.
When I thought about it, I was reminded that when I first heard about it I was overpowered by these words.
Just what kind of will has Taishido Jinya left behind?
Tomomi became even more displeased.
"Then, can we stay like this forever?"
"I can't answer that."
While Tomomi spat these words out all fired up, Murasaki-san confronted it as if she was a wall of ice.
The atmosphere was boiling and it seemed like it would explode at any moment. I too was troubled when I heard 'I can't answer that' for an answer, but it was also a fact that we could live like this thanks to her.
And that we could be like we are now, is also thanks to Murasaki-san preparing everything.
"It should be fine to properly answer it!"
As Tomomi's shoulders trembled with anger, I patted her gently to calm her down.
It should be me who's angry here.
But I couldn't. I didn't think of Murasaki-san as a cold person. She liked Mika, after mistaking them for Mika she immediately jumped out to meet her despite being in the shower.
"Tomomi, Murasaki-san has a duty to protect the confidentiality. I think she won't say it now."
Murasaki-san didn't react to my words. She neither confirmed nor denied. It looked like 'something' tied Murasaki-san's mouth. Tomomi spat out a small sigh.
"Nii-chan should also tell her off."
Tomomi looked down and said that. Murasaki-san turned towards me once again.
"...I'm sorry, please leave for today."
She lowered her head apologetically.
What we came to do today, was to check if we can make her talk if we spend a longer period of time for it. No, even despite wanting her to reveal it, I didn't have any guarantee she would do so in the end.
I stood up from the sofa.
"Um, then... I'll say how I feel about it. It's not possible for me to choose only one person. If I were to choose between the assets and the little sisters, I choose the little sisters. However, since I'm a high school student I have no money... that's why, honestly. I know it is selfish of me. But at least do not abort everyone's support."
"Please leave for today."
It seemed like there was nothing I could cling onto. Murasaki-san once again fell silent and bowed.
Tomomi puffed her cheeks as soon as we left Room 202.
"Nii-chan, why did you help Murasaki-san! Were you that excited by her adult naked body?"
"You're wrong! That was an accident!"
"I wonder... hey, can it be that Nii-chan prefers older girls? Are younger girls no good? Is the same age in safe zone?"
"Why would you ask me such a thing out of the blue?"
"By the way, how about that childhood classmate of yours?"
"I-it has nothing to do with Mariko, does it?"
As soon as I spoke Mariko's name, Tomomi became even more grumpy. Don't be offended just because I didn't tell you.
"Hmph! Oh right Nii-chan! Let's eat some burgers to cheer ourselves up! I've heard about a new product."
The newest product she spoke about must have been the fiery burger. Just by recalling it my lips started to swell. Eating it for two days consecutively would be too hard.
"Sorry about that Tomomi. In fact, I ate it yesterday together with Selene. It was really hard. Eating it two days in a row is a bit..."
"So Nii-chan really went on a date with Selene?!"
"Since Selene's a bit of a shut-in, I wanted her to come outside for a while."
"I see... you're not just my Nii-chan, that's right. Yup! Then let's go to a family restaurant, and let's play monhun on our mobile phones until it's the middle of the night!"
"I won't play with you, but I'm fine with going to a family restaurant."
We aren't too good at cooking after all.
There was an Italian-type family restaurant called 'Saesulia' near the bus stop. The meat doria and drinks are cheap over there.
"A date with Nii-chan a date a date! So much fun〜 I'm so happy〜!!"
Tomomi and I went down with an elevator to the first floor. We went outside leaving the entrance hall, and I stopped my legs.
A strong wind raged outside the entrance. The sky has turned white for an instant and a loud roar came from far away.
It seemed like there was a lightning. It was big and close.
As if it was a signal, rain dropped from the thick clouds. As a violent downpour hit the ground, I smoothly turned to look at Tomomi's face.
"Can we do it next time?"
"When's the next time?"
"Like... next week."
Tomomi energetically shook her head.
"NO NO NO NOOOOOOO! I want a reward for cooperating with Nii-chan today!!"
"But in this rain, it seems like delivery service is impossible as well... that's troubling."
"Nii-chan's an idiott! I want to go on a date as well! Let's take an umbrella and go!"
"It seems like the umbrella would be blown away."
Suddenly Tomomi's voice has clouded over and she let out.
"NII-CHAN'S AN IDIOTTTTTTTTTTT! YOU CAN EAT BREAD CRUSTS ALONE FOR ALL CARE!"
Tomomi turned back from Onee-chan mode into little sister mode... or rather, a spoiled child mode. She went inside the elevator and pressed the button, the door closed with only one person inside.
Before I noticed, I'd already been left behind in the hall. Honestly, I didn't think Tomomi could act like that. I had a bad feeling about this. I needed to chase her!
I ran up the stairs, the sixth floor was high up. My heart was beating strongly, my legs were extra heavy because I didn't have any warm-up.
And yet, I ended up being late, unable to catch the elevator.
I proceeded towards Room 601 while out of breath. Even if it's locked from the inside, the smart key would open Tomomi room's door, so there was no reason to run. But I thought about it too late.
I tried calling Tomomi through the interphone but there was no reaction.
I opened the door... or rather tried to. The door stopped after opening slightly. A chain lock was hung from the inside.
Tomomi must have been furious. I tried to call out to her through the small opening.
"Heey Tomomi! Tomomi-chan! Tomomi-san! Tomomi-oneechan!"
There was no reply. Just when I thought that, a thunder-like roar sounded from inside the room. It seemed like she started playing a game.
My voice has been easily drowned in the intense gunfire.
There was no reaction as I tried to send her a mail from my smartphone. It seemed like it would be a nuisance to neighbours if I left the door opened. That might have been Tomomi's aim.
I gave up and closed the doors. I was shut outside completely without any idea as to why that had happened.
For the time being, I went back to the entrance hall on the first floor, and through the front door made out of glass, I looked outside in a daze. I searched the banners and signboards for a shop we can go to.
I tried mailing Tomomi once again.
But what should I say to fix her mood?
It would be fine if I could write 'Let's go to family restaurant right now!' to break through her storm of fury, but I couldn't do it on that day because of wind and thunder.