Visit. School Gate. Afterschool Date.
Since today she had day duty, it seems like Mariko will be going home late.
I called out to her asking if she needs help with anything, but she answered with "I'm okay, rather than that...", Mariko started to worry about me in turn. It seems like she worried about me not getting along with the other guys from class.
In addition to the fact I had the surname of Taishido, Mariko was always sticking to me so I was completely alienated from other classmates.
When in school, I've been spoiled by Mariko the entire time. The little sisters told me "make sure to make some time for yourself" just recently and yet...
That's it! Surely, this is a chance to make friends!~
Resolved, after school I tried to talk to the classmates who remained behind in the classroom.
"Ah... sorry, I'm going to club activities now."
"I'm s-sorry Taishido-san, I have errands I can't miss. My apologies."
"Don't come to me just because your girlfriend isn't with you."
To the last guy——there's something I want to say just to Hiraoka-kun. Mariko is not my girlfriend, just a childhood friend!
And before I could explain, Hiraoka-kun clicked his tongue and left.
Trying to make some male friends all of a sudden, just because Mariko was busy, was too much huh. Mea culpa, it is all my fault.
It can't be helped. I'll just quietly go home alone. I'm not crying. It's just that something entered my eye. I-I'm not really... lonely or anything.
I headed towards the school gate and walked slowly. There were sparse figures of students leaving school at this time in there.
Right behind the school gate, I found a crowd of students. Moreover, girls raised shrill voices. In that case, it must be some kind of accident or incident. If not, then what on earth was it? A celebrity? A graduate celebrity coming to see their alma mater... something like that might have happened.
By the time I arrived at the gate, the crowd grew conspicuously large.
When someone stopped me from moving, I couldn't help but get curious. Without saying any apologies, curious about the crowd's true identity I stopped moving.
Long slender legs and a pose like that of a model. Plain, goth-type clothes with slightly open chest area in design, like a princess from another world.
It seems like she didn't expect this crowd and solidified with a blush.
Finding me among the students surrounding her, the beautiful girl waved her hand to me.
Her expression changed into a smiling, meek and relieved one. Not just the boys, the girls too, everyone present stared at her as she spoke.
"I'm glad. We could properly meet up."
She took a step and the crowd split in two beside me. After quickly walking over to me, she quietly took my arm and we started walking with arms crossed.
"Aren't you with Mariko-san today?"
The beautiful girl in goth clothing——Yuuki looked at the surroundings restlessly.
"She's got day duty so she'll be late..."
"I see. I wanted to meet her, but I'm relieved too."
The crowd stirred. It seems like others were more aware of my existence than I thought.
"Oh, isn't that Taishido Yoichi?"
"If I'm not wrong, something about a freshman and top of the class..."
"It seems like it's a real love triangle. The possibility she's his his fiancée is high. A beautiful girl coming all the way to school to meet up, she can only be his fiancée.
I increased the pace of my walking.
"Uwah! What happened all of a sudden Nii-sa... Yoichi-kun."
Yuuki called me "nii-san" but restated it afterwards. It seems like she realized I kept silent the existence of my little sisters.
Turning my ears deaf in my mind, I took Yuuki and left the school gate.
After walking for some time from the school, Yuuki spoke to me apologetically.
"I'm sorry Nii-san, for coming all of a sudden."
I stopped moving and shook my head.
"I didn't tell you not to come to my school, that earlier... it was just bad timing. It's nothing for you to worry about."
"B-but... Nii-san, there was a super misunderstanding. L-like, a fiancée..."
Her face was dyed red with embarrassment.
"I'm used to misunderstandings. Also, if I tried to explain, it would turn even more exaggerated."
"Uuu, even though Nii-san doesn't have friends, to get into unnecessary misunderstandings in school... I was careless."
As Yuuki followed up with this sentence I felt like crying. Rather, she was spot on saying that I have no friends, but please stop making me confront reality! Let's change subject.
I started walking and asked.
"By the way, for you to come to visit me, what happened?"
"A-actually, Nii-san... I have a request."
"A request? You could have just waited back home."
Carelessly I slipped that out. Once again Yuuki raised her eyebrows anxiously.
"Uu! Sorry, Nii-san! I didn't think so many people would gather. Wearing a skirt that doesn't suit me, I can't reflect on it enough."
"About that crowd, um... it's because the clothes fit you too well that everyone must have misunderstood you for a model."
"Nii-san is so kind. But don't wrap me up in gentle lies."
It wasn't a lie, but it didn't seem like anything I'd say would make her believe me.
Yuuki really didn't seem to have any confidence in her own girl power.
"You're able to go outside in a skirt now, you grew more than you think you have."
"This is, um... Undying Cicada-san's new design. She said she'd like me to wear outside. Something about monitoring... a-also, since I might have met Mariko-san, I wanted to look properly like a girl. Of course, as not to trouble Nii-san I didn't intend to name myself as the little sister. Like, middle school's junior or... uu..."
She spoke very fast tongue twisters in a panicked, strange voice.
I see. Cicada-san, so Selene pushed Yuuki's back. If a normal girl wears this kind of dress, she'll naturally stand out.
That Selene, isn't this design too aggressive? Her chest is so wide-open... well, it's because Yuuki is wearing it that it stands out... or rather, it fits her too well, so she ended up gathering a crowd around her. It meant that Selene's aggressive choice was perfect.
Yuuki completely fell with it.
My honest and kind little sister worried about many things before coming to see me like this.
The reason Yuuki made up a lie like "middle school's junior" is because I haven't spoken with Mariko about my little sisters in the first place.
If I were to talk about it with Mariko, our current relationship could break... I was afraid of that.
But, still... I'll have to tell her about it sometime.
No, if I think "sometime", I'll end up never telling her about it.
I always pushed the problems back. Escaped. I don't want to escape any more.
If Yuuki didn't come to school, I wouldn't properly let them meet, I think.
Let's make some time soon and introduce Mariko to everyone.
And then, inevitably Mariko will know about what happened this time. I can't even imagine what kind of expression she'll make.
Deciding in my mind, I calmed down a little. After calming down I finally noticed.
Today, Yuuki's actions were bold, very unlike her usual self.
Rushing to school without any prior notice, if it were Tomomi or Sayuri I would say "it can't be helped", but it was unexpected for Yuuki.
"So, what kind of a request you have for me, Yuuki?"
Yuuki lowered her shoulders and muttered facing down. Seeing that gesture of hers suggesting she lost her confidence, I was tempted to encourage her. Tempted to cheer on her.
"I too... wanted to go on a date with Nii-san. O-of course if there was something to do with Mariko-san, Nii-san's appointment would take priority, you wouldn't need to worry about me, I mean..."
"There's no way I won't worry, I mean, you're my little sister."
"Uu...b-but... it's weird right? Going on dates with Nii-san. Back then with Tomomi-chan it was, um... training-like thing... I-I might not need it, but... but..."
Yuuki turned red up to her ears. Unable to settle the sentence properly, she seemed confused.
"It's not weird. A date for siblings to get along well is fine isn't it!"
"I-is that so?"
"In this world, there's lots of siblings that are going on dates together!!"
Though in the end, it was just my opinion. With that said, since Yuuki didn't have any confidence, affirming it was neccessary... I think.
Trembling like a small animal, Yuuki stared at me with slightly watery eyes.
"Is that o-okay, Nii-san? I ended up being a bother to you."
Even the crowd earlier wasn't anyone's fault. Because Yuuki was so attractive, it was something like a natural phenomenon happening.
"That was no bother. Also, me too... I was alone today. So I'm glad you came."
"T-then, can we go on a date just the two of us?!"
"Aren't dates something two people do alone?"
I no longer thought... siblings going on a date is weird.
I was serious on dates with Selene and Tomomi. Siblings going on dates is natural. There's no way it's a bad thing!
"But we're siblings? Isn't date something lovers do?"
"After you yourself said you want to go on a date, I won't let you say you lost your nerve."
Yuuki snuggled up close to me and whispered into my ear.
"Somehow, us walking so close each other feels like we're lovers."
N-no way... Yuuki isn't thinking anyhow like Sayuri... is she?
"Walking while crossing arms with a beauty like Yuuki exhausts my older brother's providence."
"That's embarrassing, Nii-san!"
While she spoke angrily, Yuuki clung onto me even more. It was a little... hard to walk.
Anyway, for today's schedule it was decided to be a date with Yuuki.
Results-wise, since I was ignored by all of my classmates and intended to go home, Yuuki saved me... is how it was.
Now then. If we just go through the residential area like this, it won't feel like a date. It would be a mere stroll.
"Is there anywhere you want to go, Yuuki?"
"If it's with Nii-san, anywhere is going to be fun."
I'm beaten. It felt like "What you'd like to eat?" answered with "Anything is fine!".
This is the simple pattern of "Anything's fine!", but after choosing a menu it might end up "I don't want this after all", and I still wouldn't be able to make a complaint.
Worrying about something like that is unnecessary with Yuuki. That said though, since Yuuki went as far as to summon her courage and come to see me, I want to make the date her reward.
Where should we go?
As I pondered, Yuuki made a proposal.
"Or rather, I'd like to see anywhere Nii-san would like to go."
"Where I'd like to go... is it?"
Nothing came to mind.
Wanting to do something or go somewhere, for nothing like that to come to me... no, unable to come up with anything even as I think about it, I must be seriously ill.
No such illness exists and in the first place I thought its weird as well, it seems like I'm suffering desire deficiency. And so, ignoring the matters related to myself, unless someone gives me a reason to, there are times where I don't know what to do.
Until now, it wasn't a problem. For a long time, there was no one who'd ask "What do you want to do?".
In the end, I'm just an empty human being dragged by the flow. Aren't I.
By interacting with Yuuki and the others, I finally noticed that about myself.
"Wait a moment! I'll... think of it."
"Sure. Take your time."
As we walked together, we came to a bus station. Passing by it, we then walked until we reached the next one. After walking for long enough to get to next bus stop, I couldn't think of anything... nothing.
"Sorry Yuuki. I'm... empty."
"What is it, Nii-san? Empty you say... Nii-san's full to bursting!"
"Full... I'm not a watermelon am I."
"You're full of with little sister's love. Nii-san."
"U-umm, uh... I'm really happy as a brother that you accept me, but I'm empty after all. Even as I think I can't come up with anywhere I'd like to go..."
Yuuki nodded with a convinced expression and smiled.
"So Nii-san thinks he's empty."
"Yeah, apparently there's nothing inside."
Since I didn't notice myself, I have neglected making up my own insides.
Wanting to do this or that.
Since when is it, that I started to think of my own desires as of a bad thing.
Probably it was when I asked for too much from my grandparents, I... have begun to think that wanting something is a bad thing.
I've had a dried-up heart... haven't I. That's why by getting in touch with Yuuki and others, it turned very moist.
Yuuki stared at me intently. Her eyes were clear like gems and her gaze was endlessly straightforward.
"Nii-san isn't empty. More like a big container that has accepted us. Nii-san's inside is very large so from a distance it might look empty. But, deep inside you properly think of yourself... ahh, I can't put it well. Well, Nii-san is like white drawing paper and we are the paint... without both of us there, we can't draw our dreams."
"...you're a real romanticist, Yuuki. That sounded like a song's lyrics."
"Uu... sorry, that was plagiarism. Actually it's from a song of my favourite singer."
She blushed shyly. Even though she was encouraging me, she ended up finding faults in herself.
"I think it's too much to call it plagiarism, that was just a quote."
After a light nod Yuuki continued.
"You see, Nii-san, I don't think there are empty humans. Umm, look! In Nii-san's apartment 701 there's lots of rooms, but there's also Nii-san's own room. Even though it feels like there's none, there is one."
"Don't speak of other's rooms as if they were unidentified organisms."
"Ahahahaha! You're right, Nii-san... ah!"
Suddenly Yuuki put a hand on her belly.
*kukyuu*——————! A sound came out. Smiling embarrassedly, Yuuki said.
"Nii-san, I'm hungry."
So people whose stomach sounds when they're hungry really exist.
"Let's go eat something then. What would you like to eat?'
With a goal, we could finally decide on a destination.
"T-then! Let's eat something sweet, Nii-san!"
"Sweet? Is it fine not to eat a proper lunch?"
"Speaking of women, it's sweets! Ah! But I think men also like sweets. What kind of sweets does Nii-san like?"
"Let' see. Hmm... if I were to name one..."
Suddenly, an image appeared in my mind. I ended up saying it.
"Pudding parfait I guess."
Yuuki's eyes sparkled.
"T-then I have an idea! Actually, there's a store I've been wanting to go to for a while, Nii-san... c-c-come with me! I don't have courage to go in alone."
Is it a store it's easier to go inside with two people? She did suggest it, so I have no reason to say no.
"Let's go see it then."
She happily nodded and we headed towards the bus stop on the other side of the road.
We got off the bus in front of the station's traffic circle, Yuuki aimed for the back alley to avoid the crowd.
Moving away from the centre, we have wandered into a place that had an adult feel to it... like the Shibuya's Dougenzaka from the other day.
"Is the store you're looking for really in such a place?"
"Y-yeah! It's in a place that's slightly off and doesn't fit it. It's the rare kind of of store that steadily are going away."
The place we arrived at, was something like a western-style coffee shop judging by appearance. It had a kind of bitter feeling, it could be said it looked very showa-era.
Being pushed out by cafeteria's like Star Max or Teris might be not that rare.
When Yuuki slowly opened the door, a bell had rang.
The store was somewhat retro with calm atmosphere.
Massive wooden counter was the first thing that caught my eye. About six box-type table seats of which four faced the window. The windows weren't that large, it felt like a hideout, even if it sounds childish, it seemed like a secret base to me.
The store employee... um, a waitress, was it. The girl in a maid outfit had come and bowed to us.
"Welcome back, Master. Milady."
Can it be, this... when I looked inside carefully, I realized that despite the small size of the store there were many waitresses.
All of them had apron dresses, maid outfits put on.
"Y-Yuuki? This place..."
"It's a m-m-maid café, Nii-san. For a while I was curious about maid's girl power. I did cosplay for one once before, but I really wanted to meet an actual maid!"
Called out to by the maid, Yuuki panicked and started speaking very fast. Speaking of which, I wonder how much was Yuuki's fear of girls overcome.
Earlier, she was nervous in front of the school gate, but it might have been because half of the crowd accounted for the female students and she felt their gazes. Was she still not used to be looked at and called out to by girls she doesn't know?
When she was in Shibuya with Mika, it must have been thanks to Mika that she's overcome it.
I see, not having courage to enter alone meant this.
"It's all right. I'm here with you."
"Y-yes. Thank you, Nii-san."
Prompted by the maid, Yuuki and I headed towards the seats in the innermost part by the window.
But to think the day I visit a maid café would come... knowledge-wise, I have investigated about them for the date practice at Akihabara but...
As I thought, this kind of store is the type that has the service where they write something on omurice with ketchup, right?
While thinking about it as we walked, I have started to become nervous as well.
Right away, a maid put water and towels on the tray and has come to our seats.
It was a different person from the one who had guided us to the seats, it was a small and chubby maid. On the name tag that was on the maid dress, a large "newbie!" was written.
The newbie maid seemed nervous, she trembled as she held the tray. Somehow, it felt dangerous.
Yuuki, me, and the maid too were all nervous for different reasons.
——Momentarily, the maid's feet tangled right in front of us.
The moment I raised my waist, Yuuki lightly stood up and held the maid up. Except for me of course, who was surprised by Yuuki's reaction speed, the newbie maid also started blinking in surprise.
The tray that was about to slip away from the maid's hands was also safe. Yuuki gently supported her, not even water had spilled from the glass.
Yuuki gently confirmed with the maid who nearly fell over.
"Are you all right?"
Instantaneously, the newbie maid's face... turned red up to her ears.
"E-e-excuse me for my mistake!"
"That's great. It doesn't seem like you were hurt."
"Y-yes! Milady! Thank you very much!"
Yuuki... your reaction just now was too handsome. You were supposed to refine your girl power, but your handsome actions had the shining heart marks appear in the newbie maid's eyes.
Indeed. I can understand why is Yuuki popular with girls. Normally she's nervous around them, but at critical moments her handsomeness stands out, that Yuuki.
The newbie maid still tense, spoke in a strange voice and hurriedly retreated.
By the way, both Yuuki and I ordered pudding parfait and drinks sets. For the drinks Yuuki ordered coffee and I choose tea.
After settling down, Yuuki exhaled loudly.
"I'm surprised, Nii-san. I didn't think a maid would suddenly fall over."
"Y-you're right. Rather, I was more surprised that you have predicted and immediately prevented the maid from falling over. It was as if you knew she would stumble and fall."
Yuuki tilted her head in puzzlement.
"Hmm, no such thing. Just, from time to time I feel 'that's dangerous' and that hunch of mine is often right."
Before, when Mika stumbled I thought that Yuuki reacted too fast. It must mean she's very carefully watching others.
"Also, wasn't Nii-san standing up to go help her? But, have you hesitated because she's a girl? If I support her, she won't be able to say it's sexual harassment."
"Now that you say it. I didn't have time to think of something like sexual harassment, you overestimate me. Rather, it's Yuuki who did well despite being bad with girls."
"Ah! You're right, Nii-san. But when speaking with girls normally, I'm still feeling nervous."
Yuuki laughed innocently, the newbie maid from earlier came back carrying a tray with drinks and pudding parfaits, coming up to our seats.
This time, as not to fall over she walked slowly and carefully.
"T-thank you for waiting!"
The maid put out the parfaits, tea and coffee on the table, then stared at Yuuki. The moment her eyes met with Yuuki's, she blushed.
The moment Yuuki nervously responded with thanks, the newbie maid raised her voice.
"U-um! Is Master and Milady... that... going out with each other?!"
"He?!! Eh, uhh..."
At this sudden question, Yuuki's made a dumbfounded expression.
Suddenly coming at people with such private questions, is maid café's service like that?
The two nervous girls blushed and fell silent. This is where I make a proper explanation.
"We might not look similar, but we're siblings. Ah! Just in case let me say, I'm the older brother and Yuuki is my little sister."
So, I did an explanation in polite speech but... the newbie maid didn't even glance at me and started squirming on spot.
"Milady Yuuki... hahnn! Please wait a moment!"
Pressing the tray against her chest, the maid moved away in noisy gait.
It seems like the corner of Yuuki's mouth felt itchy.
"Well, that... it seems like the maid saved by you is looking at you with heart marks in her eyes. You might get some service as a special customer."
"Special?!! Being liked by girls is troubling!"
"In your case, because you naturally let out a feeling of a handsome guy it can't be helped."
"Uu... I'm not a handsome guy, but a girl and yet..."
When we started talking about that, the newbie maid came back with a hand bag of whipped cream.
"Milady! Master! Please let me provide a service with whipped cream!"
While we were taken aback, the newbie maid had created a tower of whipped cream on top of our parfaits.
On mine, it was about five centimetres tall. That seemed pretty sweet.
On the other hand, when it comes to Yuuki's parfait, the yellow pudding was no longer visible under the whipped cream. If my pudding was turned into a Tokyo tower, then Yuuki's was twice as large Tokyo Skytree.
"P-please enjoy yourself!"
In the end, she bowed curtly, with a blush still on her face the newbie maid had gone to serve other customers.
"That's excessive service isn't it, Nii-san."
"You're right. It's not even ice cream."
Since it seemed like it would fall over, Yuuki and I started to fight the mountain of cream on top of the parfaits.
Before I have eaten half of it, my taste had issued an emergency declaration.
"I've gotten a headache from the sweetness..."
Yuuki raised her eyebrows troubled, her shoulders drooped.
"Actually... I'm not too good with sweet stuff. But, girls love sweets don't they. Unless I surpass this, my girl power won't be refined."
"Isn't it fine for a girl to be bad with sweet things?"
"If you want to change, I"ll support you. But see... you don't have to force yourself to change. I think you are charming enough as you are now."
"...i-it's embarrassing, Nii-san."
Her hand stopped moving completely. I scooped some of the cream from Yuuki's mountain and ate some. Sweet! My brain screamed from over-nutrition.
"Nii-san too shouldn't force himself!"
"Still, I'm onii-chan here!"
As I ate Yuuki's serving of cream, I suddenly had a thought.
Don't force yourself, what is the "true self" I wonder.
My empty self was slowly filled with whipped cream.
After such overly sweet moments in the afternoon, I spent the time with Yuuki.