Rushing Out. Darkness. Happy Monday.
Yesterday, what happened afterwards... after we arrived back in the room 701 in which Tomomi was, together with Selene she greeted us with a nonchalant expression. Seeing her behave as if nothing happened, I felt my chest tighten.
I've ended up making Tomomi cry. And... in contrast to the guilt and depression inside of me, Tomomi greeted me as her usual friendly self.
Since Mika fell asleep, around twelve o'clock everyone has decided to take her back to her room.
It was slightly troubled that everyone couldn't return to their rooms until time like this.
Even though Selene was fine as a night type of a person, Mika who's the youngest and Sayuri who leads an orderly life had it hard. Sayuri did her best to fight sleepiness, from time to time she lost to it and swayed to the sides.
Mika didn't fight it, she peacefully breathed in her sleep.
While being careful as not to wake her up, I went down the elevator carrying Mika. After laying Mika down in the bed we have dissolved in the hallway of the second floor.
I tried to call Tomomi, but "Sorry Nii-chan, thanks for going along with me today!" she responded with her usual tone of voice.
Ever since we came back, the entire time Tomomi sent me a gaze saying "Don't mention the events in the park.", not allowing me to approach it.
After returning to my room, I've returned to being alone.
It seems like I was tired by the date I wasn't used to, after taking a shower I fell dramatically onto the bed, before I realized it was ten o'clock of the 29th.
I jumped out realizing I'm late and checking the smartphone, I immediately realized something.
Today was a national holiday.
"Eh? It's from Mariko."
A message from Mariko had reached through the STRING's chat. It came about thirty minutes ago. The content was, today's a holiday so how about we go have fun somewhere? An invitation like that.
In the afternoon... or rather, in the evening I'm going to go to Selene's room, since Mariko invited me so I might as well go play with her.
While I thought that, going to play around with a different girl for a second day in a row might not be the best thing to do as a person. No, well, Tomomi is my little sister though.
I've been in Mariko's care all this time, at the very least I should pay her back by carrying luggage during shopping or through some other punishment.
A message from thirty minutes ago. It's also possible that Mariko had already gone out with her other friends.
No, even so it wasn't good to leave this message unanswered.
First I decided to write I overslept and apologized.
When I sent the message, there was an immediate answer from Mariko. Apparently she hadn't gone out yet.
While shopping, I might as well consult the yesterday's case with Mariko.
I'll say it as a story heard from a friend.
Did I make a mistake on the date with Tomomi... no matter how much I think about it I can't tell, what I knew, was that I definitely made Tomomi cry.
The moment I tried to reply to Mariko "Then, at eleven o'clock in front of the station"——
A mail had come. It was from Selene. Seeing the what's written I opened my eyes wide. My heartbeat sped up and I felt like I was suffocating.
There was just one word.
That Selene, did she collapse?!
My little sister collapsed! I couldn't use this as a reason. I responded to Mariko through string that I have a sudden appointment. I felt a stabbing pain in the back of my chest.
Mariko responded with "Then I'll go with some friends.", possibly out of concern for me, in the first place I was probably the only friend she could invite... anyway, I sincerely apologized to her and promised to make it up to her, then with pyjamas still on, smartphone, smart key and wallet I have rushed out of the room.
After closing the doors just for a moment, I thought I screwed up.
The smart key's number has changed to 101 and I was no longer able to return to my room.
I didn't examine it properly, but the number doesn't change from the morning until the midnight. Then again sometimes it imperceptibly changes.
After going down to the first floor by the elevator, without knocking I jumped into Selene's room.
"Are you all right Selene?!"
In the dim living room with light-blocking curtains, Selene was there, fallen on the floor. Her eyes were closed and her long black hair spread on the floor, like a fairy tale's Sleeping Beauty... she peacefully breathed in her sleep.
She was gripping her smartphone in her hand.
"Hey, Selene, get a hold of yourself!"
When I raised and shook her slender body, Selene slowly opened her closed eyes and murmured in a feeble voice.
"Yeah! It's me! Are you okay? Or should I call an ambulance?"
Selene shook her head sideways and spoke to me in a weak voice.
"...I'm glad you made it in time."
"Made it in time... what the heck?! That way of speaking is way too ominous!"
It's as if saying she's glad to see my face before dying. Stuff of that calibre.
Selene's body was cold. I hugged her tightly.
"Don't die! I beg you!"
I tried to pass as much of my body temperature to Selene as possible.
Can it be, was Selene affected by some incurable disease?
Is that why she didn't meet anyone and refused to go to school and form relations with others?
After getting along with friends it's hard to bid them farewell. What a thing, s-screw that!
Even though she wanted to go to Nippori with me... is that a dream that won't come true?
"...Onii-chan. My last request... will you listen?"
"Don't say 'last'! I'll do whatever you want! As long as I'm able to, whatever!"
With a pale smile, Selene made a request.
"...I want to eat cream puffs."
"...cream puffs are delicious. I'm hungry."
That moment, I finally understood. That there was an incredible misunderstanding, I've abruptly gotten embarrassed.
When I let go of Selene I was hugging, I asked.
"Hey Selene. Can it be that you collapsed out of hunger?"
Selene shook her head vertically and stared at me with eyes sparkling like jewels even in the dim room.
"...yes. That's why as to avoid extra calories consumption, I have spent time in standby power mode."
Relieved, I let out a large sigh.
"You surprised me. Heck, a mail saying 'Help' is way too scary!"
"...to me, this is a serious situation."
"So, if you eat something you'll be energetic again."
This time she nodded twice.
"...I'll be even more energetic if I eat cream puffs."
"What happened to cup noodles?"
"...recently, after eating outside with Onii-chan and eating Sayuri-chan's meals, my taste had become picky. I have noticed the emptiness of eating cup noodles all alone."
Until recently, Selene was living on a diet saying "I can live on just cup noodles", so her development of taste was a joyous thing. I think she's one step closer to normalization as a human being.
"How about you go shopping before you collapse in your room?"
"...exposed to sunlight I'll melt. Is Onii-chan fine with his little sister melting? Can Onii-chan endure his little sister's melting?"
"Don't talk as if you were made of cheese. Uhh... from now on, make sure to honestly write 'I'm hungry so please feed me something". It sounds like quite something, but if you say that it'll be a great help to me."
"...with Onii-chan pampering me it seems like my independence will completely collapse."
"If you are aware you're being spoiled, be independent. All right! How about we go to convenience store now?"
"If it's together with me, outside won't be scary! After the training so far, you should be able to walk outside during the daytime."
"...going outside in the morning is terrifying. If I did it I'd be almost like a human."
"Isn't that fine, you are a human after all."
"...I am the descendant of the kin of the darkness. My nickname 'Black Sun' isn't just for show.
"Nonononono. It's my first time hearing that nickname. In the first place, Selene is a name of a moon goddess, how did it turn into 'Black Sun'."
"...Black Sun, in other words, the sun was eclipsed by the moon. When the moon and sun overlaps... b-but right now, that's not the meaning."
With the room so dark, the changes on Selene's face couldn't be seen well. But her voice was shaking slightly. Was she embarrassed...?
"So, what do you mean? Tell me so it's easier to understand."
"...I mean, I'm the moon and Onii-chan is Yoichi... the sun. When the two overlap, um... uh... i-it's embarrassing."
I didn't really understand what was she trying to say.
The two of us overlapping, meaning, Selene standing in front of me and the two of us pretending to be EXILE? That certainly might be embarrassing. That's something which looks good only when there's a lot of people.
With that, Selene fell silent. I tried to change the subject.
"Uhh... so Selene, did you gave up on being Undying Cicada?"
"...that's a temporary name for publishing on the net. The alias engraved in my soul must absolutely remain secret."
"You went ahead and let me know of it, is that really fine?"
"...it's okay for Onii-chan. He's special."
Selene faced downwards.
Certainly, Selene and I... even among the little sisters, our relationship wasn't normal.
But that aside, let's see. What should we do.
As I looked around the dim room with curtains closed, I confirmed with Selene.
"By the way, it doesn't seem like you were going to school...?"
"...today's a holiday. Happy Monday banzai."
As Selene proudly puffed her chest, my shoulders drooped dejectedly.
"Then, what about cream puffs? You don't seem intent on going to buy some together. I want to go to the convenience store together with you."
I might have been a little bit mean, but I said that in a theatrical tone of voice.
Selene furrowed her eyebrows thinking hard on it, then nodded after exactly a minute.
"...I'll bear it. Even though it breaks my heart."
"So you concluded your thinking with 'bear it'!"
Just how much was she against going outside.
Even during the practice date with Tomomi, Selene brought a laptop to room 701 and devoted herself to supporting us from indoors.
Selene continued to shake her head sideways.
"...that's also because Onii-chan can't go outside looking like that."
Told that, I once again checked my clothes.
Pyjamas. Certainly, going out like this during the day would take lots of courage.
That's what Selene concluded after looking at my clothes from head to toes.
"...with that reasoning, it means with Onii-chan, we're going to remain indoors for all day long."
After reverse-engineering Selene's plan, I no longer felt like going outside.
To think a day like this would come... no, don't give up, me. Let's convince Selene as her brother. As if I'd hole myself up so easily.
"Geez. What about meals? Without anything we'll be hungry."
"...if we eat cup noodles together, it'll be delicious too. We can ask for a delivery for the dinner."
Damn it. There was still that move.
Ahh, what a lazy day it is! Looks like I can only let myself be caught up in it.
Selene beckoned me suspiciously.
"...now, Onii-chan, please fall into darkness. Don't resist it, leave your body and mind to me. Recently, Onii-chan didn't laze around and relax enough. Look, if you lie down on the floor, you won't be able to find energy to stand up. Let's fall into darkness together."
"N-no! Darkness perish!"
I stood up, put my hands on the curtains and opened them all at once. The sunlight shone through the window. The weather today was suitable for a holiday.
Selene let out a bland scream and fell over. Like that, she muttered.
"...Onii-chan, it's already over for me. Please boil water for cup noodles."
I reluctantly headed over to the kitchen.
After eating the noodles I breathed out and said thanks to Selene.
"I didn't say it properly yesterday, but thank you, Selene."
Selene tilted her head like a small squirrel and asked in return.
"You sent us information in mails. Also, that pouch with the plaster was a great help."
"...Tomomi-chan is a sore loser so I thought she would force herself to walk around despite the fact the shoe size didn't match."
"Tomomi lost to Selene in girl power! She said something like that."
"...I don't care about that."
Although Selene was a capable girl when she actually did something, the fact she lacked motivation restricted her too much.
"Yesterday, did Tomomi say anything when she came back?"
"...nothing in particular. Just..."
"Just? Did something happen?"
"...this is just my personal opinion. So, I might be wrong."
"Tell me, Selene. Just as a reference."
She pondered for a moment and then slowly, deeply nodded.
"...I don't think, that Tomomi-chan has a boyfriend."
At first, I didn't understand what Selene is saying.
"W-what do you mean, Selene?"
"...I don't know the reason. But, seeing the state she was in yesterday, I felt that Tomomi-chan lied about finding a boyfriend."
I breathed in lightly. After settling the confusion in my heart, I confirmed with Selene.
"If that was true, why did Tomomi lie about getting a boyfriend?"
"...I don't know either."
Neither have I any clue.
"...just now that was my opinion, it might be different from actual facts so please keep it hidden inside your heart Onii-chan."
"Y-yeah. I got it."
It was a suspicion without any proof, it was needless to reveal it to others.
Unexpectedly, Selene's pupils shook.
"...Onii-chan... can I ask something?"
I nodded silently as she looked very serious.
"...if, my social withdrawal was to be cured... would Onii-chan stop taking me on dates?"
Selene muttered that discouraged.
"Where you worried about that?"
She nodded lightly twice in a row.
"...the evening dates with Onii-chan have become fun and I have started longing for a date under the sun. When Tomomi-chan and Onii-chan went on a date, I was somehow envious. But... if the day comes when I'll be able to go outside during the day, there will be no longer any need to practice with Onii-chan."
"I do want to go on a date with Selene too, we can practice as much as you want."
With movements slower than that of a snail, Selene slowly clung onto me.
Smiling, I told her.
"After this Golden Week is over, how about you go to school? Aim for the date in Nippori wholesale district!"
"...uuu. Onii-chan you sadist."
"I don't think I raised the hurdle that much. You too said you wanted to be independent, Selene."
"...that's... true. It's troubling. Please let me think about it."
The fact she said she's troubled and that she'll think about it, is a proof that she's seriously and positively trying to change herself.
It's fine as long as I encourage her from behind over time... just, how much time do we have left I wonder.
When I looked at the clock on the room's wall, the noon still hadn't come.
"...oh right. Today is a perfect day to reveal my lazy and embarrassing side to Onii-chan. By experiencing my life, please find more of my weaknesses. Surely, it'll be useful with my rehabilitation."
"You just changed the way to put if from 'falling to darkness'."
With a serious expression, Selene said.
"...even though the essence is the same, the packaging can be better or worse. My daily life... first, sleeping until noon. And, after waking up I eat and check the anime in TV."
Selene turned on the TV and recorder with the remote.
It seems like I could only give up on going outside today.
The anime was Selene's favourite transforming heroine rangers. After the opening came the title call scene.
〈"Eh? I was the only one not called? Miki's surprise birthday.〉
"...I saw this one before."
Selene instantly pressed the recorder's stop button. In no time, she played another anime. It was one with lots of boys coming out of robots.
Strangely restless, Selene wouldn't turn in my direction.
"What is it, Selene? You're unusually hurried."
"...I'm in my own pace and calm."
She didn't complete the sentence. That's unusual.
After that we have immersed ourselves in anime until the evening. In the middle of it I was unable to retain patience and started to clean the room.
For the dinner, Selene asked for a home delivery through the net and we ate together.
As the evening grew later Selene started to get motivated, she rushed towards the sewing machine around ten o'clock. What an extreme slow-starter.
When I looked at Selene as she concentrated on work, her appearance sleeping on the bed seemed like it was a lie.
As she struggled with the sewing machine, I dazedly thought of tomorrow.
I'll be alone with Tomomi, the two us.
I need to apologize. Honestly, maybe she'll tell me what did I do wrong.
If I apologize properly and am forgiven, maybe... I'll hear Tomomi's true feelings.
The thing about the boyfriend aside, the time to slowly talk with Tomomi was absolutely necessary.