Fifth Little Sister. Elementary Schooler. Bear.
During lunch break Mariko suddenly asked me if she could come over to play. I felt it was a bit inappropriate for a girl to come over to someone who's living alone. Now, school was over and I couldn't return to my own room.
Hiding the circumstances in Taishido house, I dodged the subject with great difficulty. Mariko surely was worried about me living alone. That's why I was happy with just her feelings.
In exchange, I promised to go out for shopping with her at some other time.
As I recalled the events that happened in school, I heard a voice from the intercom after I rang the Room 201's chime.
"Who is calling? Is it delivery?"
It was a voice of a young girl. Since there was a camera attached to intercom, my appearance must've been visible on the other side...
"Eh, umm... I'm Taishido Yoichi. It's not a delivery."
"Are you Nii-chama?"
Nii-chama? She probably meant Nii-sama.
"Y-yes. Will you open the door?"
"'You can't open door to strangers' is what the Nee-chama living next to Mii-chan said."
Nee-chama probably meant Nee-sama... hey, does such a kind person live next door?
The smart key also functions as the door key, and was already open, but if I went in forcefully she would be surprised. The girls' voice was very young. I felt like she had to be in early years of elementary school.
"So you're Mii-chan?"
"Yup! Mii-chan's name is Ookuma Mika."
"With this both me and Mii-chan know each other. Then, could you open the door?"
"That's true! Then, I'll open it."
I thought the way I said it sounded like a line a criminal would say.
The intercom was cut off and the door opened after few seconds.
From the gap of the door appeared a very little girl, she was small enough to be taken in arms and raised up. She opened the door with her left hand. She was dressed in pink, frilly lolita dress and carried a teddy bear in her right. A little girl. No matter how I looked at her, she was a little girl.
"H-hi there. Mika-chan."
"It's Mii-chan. Hello Nii-chama. Eh? There's no greeting for me?"
Mika muttered to herself, I looked at the face of the teddy bear she was carrying.
"Is that what that bear said?"
"It's not a bear. His name is Maple. So call him Maple."
"N-nice to meet you, Maple."
"As long as you understand. Nice to meet you! He says."
After being forgiven by Mika and Maple, I finally entered the room. Now then, it seems like this will be tricky as well.
If I were to arrange the little sister candidates I met up until now it would be, a clothes-making and a shut-in girl, having male hobbies and competition-crazy girl, a preparing and scheming (?) serious girl and a girl with male brain that hopes to become a girl. That's a lot of variety, and in the end appeared an orthodox loli little girl.
The living room was cleaner than I thought it would be. Surprising. In the first place, can a girl this young live alone?
Furniture in the room was mostly pink, thanks to that the room has a cute and bright atmosphere.
On top of the table, there was a huge piggybank. There was a pink randosel placed on sofa's side. I glanced at the kitchen, but it didn't seem to be used at all. I wonder what does she do about meals.
"By the way, how old are you?"
"Eleven years old!"
"Then you're elementary school sixth year?"
"Nn. But I'm the smallest in the entire class. I want to be big like Nii-chama is."
She seems younger than her actual age! Sixth year, that meant she's a grade below Selene. With this, I have a full picture of all little sister candidates. The oldest one was Tomomi, a high school first year and the youngest was Mika, in sixth year of elementary school.
One per year, and both Tomomi and me in the same year.
I spat out a sigh in my mind and sat down on a stool that was placed by the table's side.
"Ah! That's Maple's special seat."
"Is that so? Sorry Maple."
"Nii-chama, over here. It's the best seat to watch TV."
I changed my seat to the sofa that was in front of the TV. The TV had a cable television's set top box and a HDD recorder connected to it. I pointed at the recorder.
"Can you use it properly?"
"Nee-chama living next to me taught me how to use it. She's Murasaki-san."
She said Murasaki-san?! For her to live in Taishido residence, the darkest place is under the candlestick huh.
Moreover, for her to properly take care of Mika. She was perfect at her work... but I had an impression of her as a cold person, it must've been my misunderstanding.
"I see. I know Murasaki-san as well. She's a good person."
"Yup! She's Maple's bride candidate. When Maple reaches marriageable age, they'll start dating."
Mika seems attached to Murasaki-san.
She hugged Maple and sat down on the special seat Maple was usually seating on and while looking up at me from under-look after lowering her face she asked.
"If Mii-chan becomes Nii-chama's little sister, she will be rich?"
Suddenly, she asked a question in a way too straightforward manner.
Suddenly, I became more aware of the piggy-bank that was conspicuously placed in the middle of the table.
"How many 500 yen coins I get?"
"How many eh... a lot... I guess?"
"I wonder if all of them would fit in Bu-chan."
She stared at the piggy bank and muttered worriedly. How innocent. Also, she seemed a bit uneasy. She was young, therefore it could not be helped.
"Why 500 yen coins? Normally people would prefer 10000 yen bills right?"
"Because it's strongest, biggest and cool. Isn't that right, Maple?"
Mika grabbed Maple's neck and had nod.
"500 yen coins are cool?"
"I don't like floppy ones. Rather than 10000 bill, twenty of 500 yen coins are definitely better."
Mika muttered quietly. If she is to get 10000 yen, she'd prefer coins rather than Yukichi-san, how shrewd. It seems like I can't drop my guard just because she's a little girl.
"That's right! Nii-chama, try hugging Bu-chan. It's Mika's treasure!"
I stared at the piggy bank on the table. Its surface was very clean, it was made out of a shiny ceramics.
"You can't drop it. Be gentle."
I slowly lifted the piggy bank with both of my hands.
Heavy. It was really quite heavy. The coins were ringin and jingling inside.
"He ate quite a lot didn't he."
Though it was a type of piggy bank that had the coins put in through the back, saying it ate was strange, but Mika nodded vigorously.
"You see, Bu-chan got so heavy Mii-chan no longer can lift him."
"Then, do you want me to carry him somewhere?"
"Nnn. He's all right over there. He's one of Mii-chan's collection after all."
"Collection you mean... no, but, you must have saved up quite a lot haven't you?"
"Listen listen! When I do shopping, I make it so there's 500 yen coin in change. That's because Mii-chan's good with wealth management."
I think that's a bit different from wealth management.
"You see, Nee-chama living next door hugged Mii-chan and said so."
"Yup. Because Mii-chan always hugs Maple she knows it's needed for real fulfilment, Nee-chama must be lonely. She says it's okay to hug, she hugs me reaaally tight and gives me a few 500 yen coins. Fund raising you see. Ah...what do I do. Mii-chan was told it was supposed to be a secret, that's what Nee-chama said."
As she gave away the secret, Mika hung her head down looking uncomfortable.
That's not fund raising but hush money to make her behave isn't it. I feel like I've seen Murasaki-san's calculative side.
"How many times did she hug you?"
"One time in a week since I moved in. Ten times?"
"So return that many to Murasaki-san. If you do that, the lie won't count."
It's a ridiculous logic even if I do say so myself, but hearing my words, Mika's perfectly round pupils started to shine brilliantly. Her cheeks turned pink with relief and she excitedly opened her mouth.
"I-is Nii-chama a genius?"
That's too much praise. With that said, I can't suddenly tell Mika 'give money back', it would be weird.
"Umm... giving her money back would be a bit weird.... how about Mika secretly asks about her birthday?"
"To buy a birthday present. If you bought a present for 5000 yen it would be perfect."
"I understand. Mii-chan will do it."
Murasaki-san's birthday might not be any time soon, but it was definitely better than returning the money.
"Also, umm... does Mika hate being hugged by Murasaki-san?"
"There is no such thing. It's not good nor bad."
That was quite a subtle way to put it.
"If you don't hate it, and you don't need money, if you said it's okay to hug wouldn't Murasaki-san be happy?"
"Nii-chama thinks that's good?"
"Then I'll do that."
I'm happy that she trusted me completely, but I'm afraid she's a bit too pure.
When I tried to find something to drink, I found instant cocoa powder and milk. That was all that's been in the nearly-empty fridge.
"Doesn't Mika prepare any food?"
"Nee-chama next door said 'it's dangerous, wait until you enter middle school'. And so, I only make cocoa until Nee-chama comes."
"I see. By the way, at what hour does she usually come?"
"She comes once in two days. Also, she hugs me in the weekends."
That's quite frequently. No wonder the expiration date on the milk in the refrigerator made it seem like it was new.
"And what else did she tell you?"
"Nee-chama doesn't talk much. We always have a cup of cocoa together, watch TV, and clean. Sometimes we go for shopping and eat snacks, but she doesn't talk much. I wonder if Nee-chama hates Mii-chan."
"No, I don't think she hates you."
Rather than that, it seems like she bares her maternal instinct.
So the reason Mika's room is cleaned up like this is also because of Murasaki-san. But it seems like she isn't interfering with other little sister candidates, I guess Mika's the youngest so it can't be helped.
"What do you do about dinner during the days Murasaki-san doesn't come?"
"You see, Mii-chan likes pizza from delivery. It's roundy round. Maple likes pizza as well. Honey topping for me. He says! Maple's so childish."
I don't really understand Maple's character... but that's that and this is this, delivery pizza is it. That's pretty expensive.
"Mii-chan's hungry. Nii-chama! Let's eat pizza! Today Nii-chama came over so lets have L-size pizza. It's Mii-chan's treat."
Am I going to be treated to food by my little sister (candidate), aren't I! Is what i want to say, but I'll hold back. Right now, I've been already treated to food by other little sister candidates, so I'll treat them all fairly.
Mika ordered a pizza over the phone. Since it was the pizzeria she used all the time, she only said "The usual one but L size please." and with that she cut the call.
In the meanwhile before the pizza comes, we were watching cable TV's anime channel together, and I looked around the room to see if there's a booklet manual from before.
I couldn't find it anywhere on the surface, maybe Murasaki-san properly hid it somewhere it couldn't be seen.
Soon after, the door's chime rang with a *ding-dong*. Mika checked the Taishido's entrance hall on the intercom's LCD screen. It was pizza delivery. Mika said "I'm opening the door. Thank you." notifying the pizza delivery man and unlocked the front door. The home delivery person must've been accustomed to it, since soon enough sound of the room's door chime rang out.
We went to the door together and received pizza. Mika began to rummage in Maple's back and opened a zipper. From inside she pulled out a pink wallet, and paid with a ten thousand bill. The home delivery person gave Mika the change and went back.
"Nii-chama, today's change was 6520 yen. That's a 500 coin get.
"Can it be, you paid with a 10000 yen bill because you wanted that?"
"Yup! You see, Mii-chan loves 500 yen coins."
Mika put away the bill change in the wallet, and after putting it back in Maple she placed the 500 yen coin in the piggy back in the middle of living room.
She stared at the remaining 20 yen with her young eyes. I was puzzled as I held the box with burning hot pizza.
"Today's 10 yen coins are not good enough."
"Not good enough?"
"Yup. They're best when they're all shiny, but today it's mat brown."
The change had also smaller coins, new ones are usually beautiful and shiny, especially the ten yen coins.
"That's a shame. Let's eat before it's cold. Also, this is really a feast."
"Yup! Let's eat let's eat!"
I took out plates from the dish rack in the kitchen and arranged them on the table in the living room.
There was a pouch with tabasco sauce taped to pizza's box. Since there was no tabasco sauce in Mika's refrigerator, I'll use that instead.
As the box was opened, steam rose from the box. It was burning hot.
I don't remember eating a delivery pizza before. Granny always prepared dinner properly... just a little, but I was excited.
It was so called Quattro pizza, it was made so you could enjoy four types of pizza.
There was part with salami, sausage and meat; part with seafood in basil sauce; part that only had plenty of cheese on it; and a simple part that was simple and had fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese on it. It was big enough to make my stomach feel heavy just by looking at its volume.
"Waa. Today Mii-chan will try the cheese one."
"Because I can't eat it all at once, I microwave and eat it later."
That's quite a sad way to eat.
"But, since Nii-chama is here today with me, it might be so delicious I'll eat it all. Nii-chama, go on and eat!"
I've been prompted to eat by an elementary schooler. Mika took a piece of the pizza with plenty of cheese and placed it on her own plate. I put the meat-based and seafood-based ones on my plate.
"Au... here starts the trial."
Mika's face suddenly turned serious.
"What is it?"
"This, I need to use it. Mii-chan always has trouble with pizza because of this."
Mika took the pouch with tabasco sauce that was attached to the box in her hand.
"Need to use it, you mean the tabasco?"
"Yup. Even though pizza is delicious without it..."
"The fact that it's attached doesn't mean you need to use it."
"Is that so?"
"Yeah. That's how it is."
So she put up with spicy pizza up until now. Poor thing.
"Then, what to do. Will Nii-chama drink it?"
"I won't drink it! Well, it's a waste to throw it away without using. From now on, just ask them not to bring tabasco... no, wait."
I remembered something I saw on a TV show before.
"Lend me a ten yen coin you got for change before."
Mika handed to me one ten yen coin that was lying arranged on the table. Also, I took a few tissues from her as well.
"Nii-chama, what are you doing?"
"I'm going to put this ten yen coin in tabasco."
"Is that tasty?"
"I'm not going to eat it."
I poured a small amount of tabasco, then I put the coin inside and brushed it with a tissue. As a result, the ten yen coin regained its lustre in just a moment.
10 yen coins are made out of copper, it's a metal that's prone to oxidation. Components that are contained in tabasco can clean the dirt through reduction reaction.
After it was polished and shiny on both sides, I returned the 10 yen coin to Mika. Her big eyes were gleaming and sparkling.
With one more 10 yen coin by her side, Mika muttered while alternating between looking at my face and the coins.
"So Nii-chama is a sorcerer?"
"Calling me a sorcerer is exaggerated."
It was just something I've heard from TV, but considering how pleased she is, it's good that I remembered it.
Mika looked at the cleaned coin, and her smile wouldn't go off. That's too much.
"Amazing amazing! Mii-chan respects Nii-chama so much now. Next time I'll tell my friends in school. Nii-chama, can I tell them? Is it all right with patents and such?"
"It's- it's all right. Now then, lets eat."
Yup. She nodded strongly. Every gesture of hers is so young, really adorable.
""Thank you for the food""
The two of us ate the pizza. Mika's stomach was full after eating a piece of cheese and meat-based pizza. I've conquered all four types and was overwhelmed by the volume of cheese. It was delicious, but it was something to be eaten with a bigger amount of people.
After the meal we settled down while drinking cocoa with plenty of milk. In the end, the remaining pizza was put into the refrigerator after wrapping it on a dish. As I absent-mindedly looked at the anime channel in the TV, Mika placed an origami pack on the table.
"Nii-chama, let's play with origami."
How calm and peaceful. When compared to shooting games, it was really girlish.
"So what are we going to make."
"Mii-chan will make a crane, Because she can do anything."
Mika exclaimed *ehem* with pride. She had a big haughty expression. Ah, how cute. That was the only impression I could think of.
"Then, can you teach me how to fold a crane?"
"Okay! Umm, you see. First of all choose paper. Mii-chan likes orange today."
"In that case, me too..."
I pulled out a piece of paper from the pack of origami. Oh... jackpot. It was golden paper.
"N-no! Nii-chama can't use glittery gold! Put it back! Hurry up and put it back!"
As Mika almost burst into tears, I put the gold one back in a hurry and pulled out a blue origami paper instead.
"Gold one is no good?"
"It's very valuable so it need to be used properly! Nii-chama's lacking delicacy for it!"
Certainly, there's usually only one gold and silver ones per pack. They're rare.
I folded the paper cranes just as Mika taught me. I did it a long time ago but unexpectedly I no longer remembered it and had to be taught by her.
The orange and blue paper cranes were completed and Mika happily arranged them on top of a TV stand. The blue crane seemed a bit awkward. Seeing Mika's nicely folded crane I had a feeling of wanting to redo mine.
"Cranes made by Mii-chan and Nii-chama fly side-by side."
"Y-yeah. That's right."
Reminded of something Mika turned towards the clock that was on the room's wall.
"Ahh! I need to hurry! Nii-chama, please wait a moment."
She placed Maple on the stool, went to the bedroom and immediately after she came back. She had a tablet in her hands.
Mika started an application on the tablet. It was a very popular with kids application that allowed growing mushrooms. She dragged the mushrooms that grew close to timber logs with her finger.
*Popopo〜〜n!* Together with a light sound effect, the grown mushrooms were harvested.
"You like mushrooms?"
"Yup! They're super cute! Also, they can be picked up! Nii-chama can try picking them up."
"Oh, okay. Then by all means."
The moment I dragged two rows with my finger, Mika raised a voice.
"Why does Nii-chama pick up so many all at once, nooo!"
"N-no, I just did as Mika told me to."
"That's true but, picking up so much at once is too many."
Mika blushed shyly for some reason. After I returned the tablet she set up mushrooms to grow again and closed the application.
"Fuu... this is a relief."
"That's quite an exaggerated relief."
"If it's not done properly, they can't be picked up tomorrow, with this it'll be all right."
Certainly, my lady.
"Oh, Nii-chama! Let's read a book!"
"Sure, I'll read any book you want."
Once again, Mika passed the tablet to me. I see, an e-book. Murasaki-san must've bought it and taught Mika how to read it.
After verifying the account after opening the e-book application, Murasaki-san's name was registered with it.
On the bookcase displayed there were multiple picture books registered.
"Which book do you want me to read?"
"Mii-chan's a sixth year. She graduated from picture books last year. She's an onee-san. But since books are full of kanji, it's troubling."
"Troubling... if it's children's books, they normally should be full of furigana right?"
"Mii-chan chose and bought books by herself!"
So that's how it was. Mika overdid it a little and now she wanted me to read the book she bought.
After flicking the page of bookshelf Mika tapped the book's cover.
A cover appeared only for an instant, there was an illustration of a girl on it.
The text was immediately displayed, the title was 『Princess Knight Maria』.
"Nii-chama, hurry hurry!"
I didn't know what was its content, but it seemed to be a fantasy thing. I read aloud the first lines on the page.
"I-I don't want to give birth to orc's bab... STOP!"
"Nii-chama, what's an 'orc'? By baby, you mean a little baby?"
It was almost as if Mika's driven me into a corner intentionally, such a handful. However, it didn't seem like she did it to gain any merits. In other words, it was natural. Pure, dreadful.
"Hey Mika, this book is for adults."
"Mii-chan's an adult! She's Maple's mom!"
"T-this book is only for adult men to read. That's what the law says."
"Yeah. That's why let's stop reading it."
"Nuu! Then I wish I never bought it."
It's just as you say. I operated the tablet and changed the age setting for books that can be purchased to 'twelve years old'.'
"Let's try another book, pick one from here!"
"Yup, if Nii-chama says so, it can't be helped."
"Is there anything else you want to do?"
Right now, I wanted to grant any request of her.
"You see, Mii-chan also wants to help out. She's been consulting with Maple before. He said 'Mii-chan also can do adult work, she's a splendid lady'. Akko-chan and Kenta-kun help out in their homes, it's strange that only Mii-chan doesn't need to do it."
"You're not helping Murasaki-san?"
"It's not in contract, so don't help... is what she says. Mii-chan is always just looking."
These words struck me right in the chest. So Murasaki-san's been coming to check on Mika because of the will of Taishido Jinya's after all? I didn't want to think it's just that.
"I see. So Mika wants to help out."
"Yup! 'If you help out you'll get pocket money.' they said."
It seems like she had even more firmer work ethics than Selene. Wanting to help out in exchange for pocket money is having ulterior motives though... but wanting to work is not a bad thing.
Even if it's not pocket money, if Mika does her best there should be some kind of way to give her a modest reward... a reward eh? What she might want other than money... I have no idea.
"I'm not sure about the pocket money... but I do understand that you really do want to help out."
"It's good that Nii-chama understands really faast.... fuaaa..."
Mika started to rub her eyes and yawn, The time was still just 9 p.m.
"Mika, when do you usually go to sleep?"
"Nine o'clock. Maple wants to stay up late but sleep is a powerful enemy. Nii-chama, can Mii-chan go to sleep? She took a bath before Nii-chama came."
"S-sure. Sorry for not noticing earlier."
Mika went to washroom with unsteady footsteps and brushed her teeth. Her eyes were already half-closed.
"Well then, good night."
"Oh right I'll pull out the blanket."
"Yup. Thank you Nii-chama. I love you."
She rushed to the bedroom, apparently she was at her limit. After dramatically falling on the bed she embraced maple and started to breathe deeply in her sleep.
I pulled out the comforter and spread it, covering Mika. The moment I was about to turn off the light and close the door, she rolled over on the bed.
If I don't choose Mika, I wonder what would happen with her. I can't leave other little sister candidates either but... I went back to the living room, sat on the couch and turned off the TV.
Not doing anything in particular, I kept thinking as I waited for twelve o'clock to come for the key to open my own room. My thoughts were confused, I couldn't come up with any conclusion.
Tomorrow's Saturday. It seems like I'll just continue worrying until the day's over.
Notes and References
- ↑ For those who are curious, kanji for 'kuma' in her name does not mean a bear.
- ↑ It seems like she spoke for the bear, also, the bear-mika speaks with オレ (ore), non-kanji version though.
- ↑ firm-sided backpack made of stitched firm leather or leather-like synthetic material, most commonly used in Japan by elementary schoolchildren
- ↑ Bu-chan nickname comes from 豚 (buta) – pig.
- ↑ On the 10000 bills there's a portrait of Fukuzawa Yukichi (福澤 諭吉).
- ↑ furigana are small kana symbols above the kanji that indicate how to read the kanji
- ↑ Seems to be one of himekishi series... a reference to a series of hentais.