Practice. Date. First Experience.
Half past nine, Sunday.
When I woke up and raised from the bed, Selene was sitting on the bed's side.
Selene said that currently, Tomomi was in another room in the middle of preparations for going out.
While there was still some time remaining, I was told to prepare and leave ahead to Shibuya.
I said I'll wait until Tomomi finishes preparing, but I was chased out by Selene in the middle of it.
When I was leaving the room 701, Selene passed a secret pouch to me. It was a cutely pink, floral item. Honestly, carrying that around was a little embarrassing.
But, apparently "something important" was inside.
Use it when you're in trouble... she said, but also gave me instructions not to open it until it's to be used. Be careful and don't hurry, so you don't have to use this if possible, in other words it was something for my and Tomomi's sake... apparently.
I wonder what is it. Being told not to open makes me even more curious.
Despite curiosity, I have put away the pouch in the shoulder bag I had. It won't stand out inside.
I told "I'm off." to Selene for a goodbye and went towards the nearest station to ride a bus.
It hasn't passed a month since I came to this city, but I'm getting more and more familiar with the scenery seen through the bus' window. Still, it's been a while since I've gone out on Sunday.
In a word, it could be said that Shibuya is "wide", leaving where to go to Tomomi made me worried. However, if I checked up on the dating spots here and there it would be no practice to her.
While thinking about that I got off the bus and took a private railway, changing into JR line halfway... at 10 o'clock I arrived in Shibuya's Hachikō statue.
People, people, more people. What a large number of people. The square in front of Hachikō statue was synonymous with meeting place, it was really busy. Doesn't getting to rejoin with someone here require you to wade through a wave of people? Makes me think it's really inefficient.
The square in front of Hachikō was shown in the morning news through a live camera, a five-road junction.
People continuously accumulated on the edge of the side-walk and as soon as the pedestrian signal turned green, they filled intersection like a wave. As everyone walked in their respective direction, it seemed like a smooth travelling back and forth. I'm amazed they don't bump at each other.
Were Selene to come to a place like this, she would faint.
"Yo! Nii-chan, did you wait?"
Ten minutes past 11. A voice called out towards my back as I looked towards the intersection.
It's been only ten minutes, she should have come to Shibuya together with me.
Ah, this "did you wait?" exchange might be an indispensable part of dating.
"Um, I just came here."
As I turned around while saying the classic line, there, was Tomomi in her usual rough get-up... not.
"That's rude Nii-chan. Even for me, when I'm serious this much is a walk in the park."
Her appearance was one in a white blouse and a pale pink skirt. The blouse was decorated with lace and tied on her chest, was a black ribbon.
She had pumps on her bare feet, but also sparkling pink pedicure.
This would take quite a while. Even as I overslept, she was preparing meanwhile.
Her fingernails were also perfect.
Normally she didn't use cosmetics... well, I don't think she had to force herself but... I could sense femininity unthinkable of Tomomi.
With her eyelashes raised her eyes looked beautiful, her cheeks were pale pink... are those natural finishing touches Sayuri's work?
Tomomi slowly raised and lowered her shoulders.
"Well, kinda. Make-up takes time."
"Did you do it yourself?"
"No way. Make-up was done by Sayuri. I asked Selene for the clothes. I borrowed shoes from Sayuri, apparently our size is close. Really a pain, the woman's clothes."
"After getting this cute, the person herself shouldn't be saying it's 'a pain'."
"A-are you saying the usual Tomomi-chan isn't cute?!"
Blushing, angry, Tomomi laughed. Without any strength in it she formed fists with both her hands and hit my chest. Was she embarrassed?
When I looked there, there were three people peeking out from the seats behind Hachikō. It was Sayuri, Yuuki and Mika. Mika was carrying Maple like a backpack. When our eyes met, the three of them swiftly pulled back.
It seems like they were serious about inspecting today's date training. Apparently Selene was receiving reports from Sayuri in charge of surveillance and sent over helpful data.
A mail had immediately arrived to my smartphone.
"Feels like information copy-pasted from the net, Nii-chan."
"W-well, it's fine isn't it. Umm... when there's no topic to talk about during a date, this kind of trivia can sprout up a topic."
There was a postscript in the mail just now, Selene apparently knows our position from the GPS function of the smartphone... it said. Mika and others as well as Selene were able to grasp out position. It seemed possible to re-join with them were they to lose us.
Tomomi turned around with a twirl on spot.
"Uhaa! As I thought, skirts are really breezy."
"You're wearing a skirt when you go to the high school, right?"
"Mainly, a jersey. My high school isn't all that fussy about it."
"I-I see. Speaking of which, are you in any kind of club?"
"Were there to be a game club, I'd take them to the nationals."
"That's a shame."
"I-I don't need club activities to play games. Well, 'bout time we go Nii-chan?"
"Where are we going first?"
A mail from Selene had come.
"Shibuya seems to be a city of hills. A lot of them have their own names, it says."
As we walked from the Hachikō square towards the intersection, Tomomi next to me nodded.
"Umm, if I'm not wrong there's Miyamasuzaka, Dougenzaka, Spanishzaka and even Organzaka."
"Hee. You're quite knowledgeable, Tomomi."
When the pedestrian light changed to green, side by side we started walking towards the opposite side.
Once in front of a book store, Tomomi stopped. There was the city centre on the right and 009 on the left. The Maru-kuu's name is really famous. It was a really famous place in Shibuya even I knew, there's a lot of stores with girl's clothes there.
As for the city centre, it felt like not just girl's clothes but also other stores would be there.
"So, where are we going?'
"I-it's Maru-kuu of course. You know, the girls' holy land."
Both of them would be busy, but I was sure Tomomi would like to go to the city centre's area.
"Let's go then."
"W-wait a moment! Nii-chan, c-can we... hold hands for a little bit?"
"We aren't children, we're not going to get lost are we."
"That's not it! T-this is a date."
It was even closer than just joining hands, it felt like holding them. My fingers felt ticklish.
"I-isn't this a little bit too much contact?"
"There's lots of people here so it's all right! And we won't get lost like this."
Eh? Was it measures against getting lost after all?
"Right? It's all right isn't it, Nii-chan."
Seeing the spoiled look in her eyes I inadvertently nodded.
We slowly walked through the side-walk. When we arrived in front of a pharmacy named with a person's name, we ended up at a three-way intersection. The road in front of us could be likened to an Y character. On the branching point from which the road forked, there was a towering Maru-kuu's building.
"Somehow the atmosphere turned really trendy over here, hasn't it Nii-chan."
Looks fun... not really, Tomomi braced herself as she looked up at the silver tower. And then the heavenly voice... rather, a mail from Selene had come.
"Apparently, it's a good idea to go to the upper floor in the elevator and then go down by escalator."
And when I spoke the conquering strategy aloud, I turned my head to look behind us. I wonder, is it all right to drag Mika around such a centre? But despite my worries, Mika was walking hand in hand beside Yuuki with a smile. For now, both Yuuki and Mika seemed all right.
Sayuri's and mine eyes met. Today, she was in quite plain attire.
When our eyes met she laughed troubled. That moment, my ear was pulled strongly.
"Nii-chan, looking away is a taboo. Look at Tomomi-chan more."
"Y-yeah. Sorry. I was a little worried about Mika."
"Sayuri's lookin' after her ain't she."
"That was, well... 'I leave it to you' eye contact. Well then, let's go take a look."
Speaking of clothes, I always went with Granny to Shimomura, and sometimes even went to the Yunikura.
Maru-kuu was a completely unknown world to me.
We climbed up to the 8th floor immediately by elevator. Luckily Sayuri and others were able to get on an elevator too.
When we got on the 8th floor, I was surprised by the BGM. Female vocals in English were filling the floor. The electronic sounds were dazzling, despite being just a sound. Tomomi tightly held my hand, it was slightly sweaty.
"Nii-chan. It feels like enemy territory."
"Certainly. But it was Tomomi who decided to come here, let's have fun."
"Y-you're right. Umm..."
The 8th floor was a club-type... well, guess it's all right. Colour-wise, it seemed like a combination of black and pink.
The guys with bad looks around here were mainly FRIENDS!, I labelled them like that. It was my one-sided prejudice.
"Ah! Nii-chan, look look! It's Catie-chan-san!"
"Why would you put -san after -chan... hey, ohh. Certainly, this would warrant a -san be added."
Speaking of Catie-chan, it was an super-famous cat character, it was collaborating with various local items all over the country and famous artists but... it even fused with club-based fashion.
From the surveillance that was a certain distance away behind us, a yellow scream had rose.
"Waa! It's Catie-chan! So cute! Did you know? Maple call Catie-chan-san 'senpai'. Strange isn't it, how mysterious."
Mika's eyes sparkled. Tomomi's shoulders drooped.
"Seems like Mika's having more fun here."
I took a look around the floor.
"Do you have any clothes on mind? Rather than look at the store's shelves carefully, look at the mannequins on display, with 'this is good'! Kind of feeling, it seems."
This too was a second-hand advice received by mail from Selene.
"H-hmm. This kind of thing isn't to my liking I guess."
Tomomi raised her brows and laughed, troubled.
"Let's go to the next floor then."
Once again we held hands, Tomomi and I went down the escalator. That's when a mail arrived, it was from Yuuki.
"Let's see... Mika is crazy about Catie-chan, Yuuki is going to stay behind with her. From here on they'll act separately."
"I-isn't that fine?"
"The surveillance is still properly attached to us. Mika and Yuuki can have their own date, kinda."
When I turned around, about five steps above us on the escalator, there was Sayuri.
"I wonder if it's all right for two girls to be alone."
"No problem as long as we rejoin them before it gets dark. After this we're going to walk around Shibuya, there's lot of hills here. If we drag Mika around with us she'll get exhausted, I'd feel sorry for her."
"Hmm, well, you might be right."
"It's enough that Nii-chan joins me shopping and gets exhausted."
Yuuki and Mika seem to be having fun, those two can have a breather so it's all right... huh. It's tough on Sayuri who's monitoring us though.
While I was thinking of that, we arrived at the seventh floor.
The seventh floor had an impression of a blue sky and sandy beaches. American west coast's casual style. Tomomi took a glance at the two stores in front as we got off the escalator and then we headed to the left to look at clothes in the stores.
She only looked at them but did not take any, when she sensed the customer service was about to come she quickly ran away.
"What is it Tomomi? If you like it, it's fine to look for a bit longer."
"H-hmm. I don't hate these kinds of clothes, but I don't feel like wanting them. Let's go to next one!"
I've heard that girl's shopping takes time, so this was anticlimactic.
When we went down to the sixth floor, Tomomi found an accessories store. It had all kinds of accessories like barrettes and bracelets. For a thing like this, it would be good to buy and put one on her.
Eh? Uhh... is it all right to give her a present? Even though it's just practice, it's still a date.
But, were I to do that it feels like Sayuri would storm in. She'd complain it's unfair for only Tomomi to get one.
Tomomi just went in and took a brief look. While I was pondering she already finished, isn't it kind of a waste after coming here?
"Hey, Tomomi. It's a date. How about you pick some accessories and try them on, asking 'does it suit me?', that kind of thing?"
"Eh-ehh?! Is that so Nii-chan?"
"Purchasing them aside, since we've come here you might as well try putting them on, I think that would be good."
"I-I seee. I learned something then."
Tomomi nodded in consent.
"And so, how about you try putting on a bracelet right away?"
"Let's try that technique out immediately. Next next!"
As we were leaving the store, Tomomi sighed lightly.
"I'm not good with these things."
"With what? Do you have an allergy to metals?"
"Not that, the feel that clerk gave off..."
"Seemed normal to me."
"Hmm, I wonder. I'm bad with 'gal' kind of girls."
"It's as if you went to India and said you're bad with curry."
"Yup. Sorry, my bad."
Why did Tomomi choose Maru-kuu? I wonder if it's to overcome her weaknesses.
Leaving the question unanswered, we went down to the fifth floor. This floor's and clothes colours were very neutral. More pastel than vivid. Also, the clothes had a retro and feminine feel to them.
When I took a look behind, Sayuri was caught by a clerk.
"What is it, Nii-chan?"
"No, um... Sayuri was..."
"Yeah, it looks like Sayuri would like these kind of clothes. Heck, Nii-chan! You're too mindful of what's behind! Concentrate on the date more! It'll be Nii-chan's fault if I fail at the real thing."
"That was joke, though, I'd like you to look at me a little more."
"O-okay. Got it."
Tomomi got slightly crestfallen in the middle, making me reflect on it. Today's protagonist was Tomomi.
Leaving Sayuri behind we immediately went down to the third floor and found a speciality store with tights and stockings.
"Nii-chan, do you like girls wearing this kind of thing rather than those with bare legs?"
"W-what are you talking about all of a sudden."
"It's erotic isn't it."
"That's old man's thinking, Tomomi-san."
Tomomi stared at the mannequin wearing black stockings and made a complacent smile.
"This might suit Yuuki I guess. She has a great style."
Because a few days ago, I've had a mysterious experience of putting on something similar on her, I ended up looking away from the mannequin.
Eventually we descended on the second floor without purchasing anything. The date felt like a hurried tour. The shops everywhere were crowded on Sunday, it was hard to take time looking at things. But, rather than enjoy the date, I felt like Tomomi tried to digest it. It might be just my imagination though.
The second floor's stores were even more feminine, there were lots of cute feminine clothes aligned here. There were lots of short skirts though... heck, why am I calmly worrying about mannequin's skirts here...
Tomomi as usual, just look around asking for prices and had come back soon enough.
"Nii-chan. Would it be better if I've turned so that this kind of things suits me?"
Ordinary feminine clothes... huh.
"Your clothes today suit you too, I don't think you need to worry about it? I think it's best to choose clothes you want to wear."
I don't think the clothes she'd like wouldn't fit her.
She's cute in the first place, after all.
"But in that case, I'll end up wearing jersey or shorts for next million years."
Tomomi laughed embarrassedly.
As we went down the escalator. In front of the store with shoes, Tomomi pursed her lips.
"Woah, expensive! I'd buy a several new games with this. And these looks really hard to walk in, too."
It seemed like Tomomi was outraged by the high heels on the display. If I'm not wrong, heels are made to make legs seem more attractive. They shouldn't be compared to exercise shoes.
"These kind of clothes are made to emphasize on leg's beauty, isn't that a splendid mission in itself?"
"It's obvious that shoes that are easier to walk in are better. Ah! That's right, when the heel breaks, the protagonist dashes over to hold the girl in a princess carry. In that kind of sense, it might be good."
"That's very like you. By protagonist, you mean there was something like that in a game?"
"In anime. A drunk girl breaks off her heel and in the past, a man would give her a piggyback ride home... kind of thing."
I don't know the original's story, but when it comes to games and anime talk, Tomomi gets really lively. The sight of her getting scared by clerks and sneaking around seemed like a lie.
In the end, completely defeated by Maru-kuu, Tomomi and I went through the doorway on the first floor to the outside.
When I checked behind us... Sayuri wasn't there.
"Hey, about Sayuri..."
"Nii-chan's worrying too much."
Tomomi took out a smartphone and immediately nodded.
"Sayuri seems to be pondering about clothes to buy, Mika and Yuuki left Maru-kuu and are by the large chain store with cheese tarts in the centre."
"I-I see. Then how about we go eat some cheese tarts too?"
"Nii-chan, that would be a double date. Today we're practising a 1 vs 1 date."
"Sorry. Where are we going next then?"
"Dougenzaka's famous, let's try taking a look there."
After leaving Maru-kuu, Tomomi and I started walking up a gentle slope.
Near the Yunikura's store at Dougenzaka, Tomomi stopped moving and looked to the other side of the road.
"Nii-chan, there's a cinema there."
"TOYO Cinema's written on it indeed."
There were rectangular panels saying it's open to public.
"Were Nii-chan to pick one, what film would you choose for a date?"
It was an appropriate problem for a date practice.
According to the sign there was a lot of animated films displayed on the golden week. Among it there were Holywood's long CG animations, I got curious seeing a famous' character from a game appear in the film.
"Look, in that a Japanese game's character appears, looks interestin' doesn't it."
"Woah! You're right! B-but it's a date, isn't it better to go on a film with more romance?"
"Y-yeah. I see, that's true. Well then, want to watch something now?"
Suddenly, Tomomi started to panic and rattling on.
"We've come on a recon to Shibuya, spending two hours on a film even if we're to have fun is... also, we can watch a film anywhere! A local cinema is enough. Ah! But there's the 3D, stereophonic sound and comfortable seating, although only for a limited time, I've heard that apparently audience is shaken by 4D videos. Technology is amazing isn't it, Nii-chan!"
"S-sure. I don't get it, but that sounds amazing indeed."
Come to think of it, Tomomi is quite obsessed about video and audio equipment. Rather than the film itself, she preferred to talk about the video technology.
"Right? Right? Actually, I'm interested in home theatre's too. You can easily watch VOD film and foreign dramas, the 4K projector's era is upon us... kinda?"
I could no longer keep up. Or rather, I was completely left behind in the conversation.
"G-got it. The recent technology is amazing. But, let's leave the talk about movies and home threatre's for another day."
"Ah... yup, I've gotten excited unconsciously. Sorry, Nii-chan."
Making a slightly regretful expression, Tomomi's line of sight moved to the store next to the cinema.
"Uuu, uu. Shibuya has too many temptations."
Next to the cinema there was SEKA's amusement facility.
"The players there must be really good..."
With half opened mouth she stared excitedly and started twisting her body.
That was a very much like her, Tomomi really loved games.
"If you want to play games, you don't have to endure it you know?"
"I-I'm not enduring anything! A-anyway, game arcades aren't feminine!"
"Crane games and Puri Photo give an impression they're mainly done by girls. Also, in case of crane games when you go as a couple, the man is usually going 'All right! Leave it to me. I'll get you whatever you want!' or something, kind of a date's staple thing."
"Nii-chan, do you think that would work with me?"
"Ah, yes. I wouldn't get to have my turn, I guess."
"Exactly. In a crane game it's important to get what you want in three moves. As for Puriphotos I'm not interested, since there's no game elements in it."
Seeing Tomomi's excited expression, I confirmed it.
"You really love game centres, don't you?"
"I-I love them! Rather, I can play the games I love through the net at home, but I also love the unique atmosphere of an arcade. There's also the difference between players in each city..."
Tomomi made a presentation mimicking using a game stick. It didn't seem like a shooter, more like a fighting game.
"Then, that's even more of a waste. You don't have to mind me and should go try fighting them. I'll cheer on you properly."
"B-but that's not very date-like... au."
She suddenly rubbed her belly. Then with a sweet voice she snuggled up to me.
"Nii-chan, I'm hunggryy."
"Well then. It's about time for lunch."
"Let's get a lunch specific to Shibuya!"
"Even if you tell me that... rather, Tomomi, weren't you planning today's date?"
"The plan is always flexible and changes to suit the situation on the field, Nii-chan."
"Then, flexibly... then Roit."
The Royal Hot family restaurant along the road was what I chose."
"Eh?!! A family restaurant? You can find Roits elsewhere too!"
"It's a revenge for not being able to go last time, because of rain."
"Oh, I see. All right then!"
Tomomi easily agreed. She seemed to be bent on it being a place specific to Shibuya, I wondered where does she intend to go after that though. Today, she was being really haphazard, it seemed like the dating practice was unplanned.
After we have finished our lunch, it's become half past one in the afternoon. Immediately after exiting Roit Tomomi stopped and seemed to wonder whether we should proceed further or return to the station area.
"Nii-chan, what do we do? I think it's a waste to go back taking the same route we've come here."
"Won't there be less and less stores as we move away from the station?"
"According to the theory, indeed. But Tokyo is an urban area, let's go to the entrance to the next city!"
"I feel like we're going to get lost. Don't you have any stores other than Maru-kuu you want to go to?"
"Eh, umm... hmmnn... with Nii-chan I'd be happy to go anywhere... oh right!"
Tomomi took out a coin. It wasn't a currency.
"This has a castle drawn on the front, Nii-chan. So, if it's front, we'll proceed. If it's back we'll return."
"Rather than being flexible, you're leaving it to luck."
"They say luck is also a skill!"
With her thumb Tomomi threw the coin upwards. And then, she sandwiched it between the back of her hand and her palm. As she slowly raised her left hand, the coin's front appeared.
"Proceeding ahead is a good thing to do!"
Faced with her wonderful smile and told so, it was hard to say "let's properly decide on the destination!". Moreover, if I go too far with proposals it won't be a good practice for Tomomi.
"I get it. Let's do as coin toss decided. By the way, will Mika and others be all right?"
"They'll contact us if something happens! Those three came after us 'cause they were worried."
After putting the coin in her wallet, Tomomi shook my hand. We started walking side by side.
"Now, let's resume our adventure! Nii-chan."
"S-sure. But, are there any stores ahead of here?"
"The interesting stuff ain't limited to stores. Good luck may come unexpectedly; nothing ventured nothing gained!"
"You're mixing stuff up, Tomomi-san."
At my retort, Tomomi happily narrowed her eyes.
"Speaking of which, from time to time Nii-chan resorts to polite speech."
"Does that seem unfriendly? It's spontaneous."
"At first it did seem unfriendly, but I'm no longer bothered by it. It's kind of a habit, right?"
"Something like that."
As we climbed up a gentle slope, we saw a silver gate on the right. Stopping, Tomomi looked up.
"How do you read this, Nii-chan?"
"Probably, Hyakkendana, isn't it?"
"If it's as the name suggests, then amazin'. That'd mean there's a hundred stores, right?"
"If there's that many, maybe there'll be some Shibuya-specific stores you wanted to see."
Tomomi nodded energetically.
"Let's go, Nii-chan! It has kinda a back-alley feel, we might find an unknown well-established store here."
"Hmm, somehow, I've got a bad premonition."
My hand pulled by Tomomi, we set our feet in Hyakkedana.
Immediately we have come across some unknown stores (?) decorated with conspicuous signs and decorative illumination of fluorescent colours.
Tomomi tilted her head, puzzled.
"What's this. A free guide? Where to?"
"Ah! I get it. They'll tell us about the best stores around here, Nii-chan."
"I don't think that's it."
"Since it's free we might as well use it, y'know."
I'm lacking in knowledge of this place too. But, I know that stores in a red light district like this are not something minors should involve themselves.
"Tomomi, calm down. Listen... is an adventure with a guide, a true adventure?"
"Nii-chan... so cool. I fell for you all over again!"
I intended to calm her down, but Tomomi got further excited.
"It's great that you understand. We have to advance on the road we have chosen by ourselves."
"You're right! I was naive to think of getting a guide!"
We have passed by the office with free information. The huge city crowd disappeared as if it was never there, the alley was quiet.
There was no "store-like" stores. There was just one café in the middle, then the road narrowed and has gotten convoluted, we were like a butterfly trapped in the spider's thread, a labyrinth.
That might be an overstatement, but really... is it all right, this route.
Tomomi stopped unexpectedly.
"Nii-chan. Since we're in such a desolate place... we could kiss, right?"
"What are you bringing up all of a sudden!"
And as I retorted, my heart started pounding quickly. Tomomi's eyes who stared intently at me, have started to shake.
"I-it's not like... I want to practice kissing with Nii-chan! Don't misunderstand, it's embarrassing!"
"I-I know that much."
Tomomi's shoulders drooped, dejected by my answer.
"You don't have to put it that way."
Somehow, Tomomi is being strange. She's been restless all day today.
"It's not like I'm refusing here..."
"Then, if I asked you to do it, would you... kiss me?"
Her face slowly approached. It reached the distance I could feel her breathing.
I drew backwards. Behind me there was the building's wall. My hand still being gripped, as if attracted, Tomomi clung to me closely. With the wall behind me I was unable to escape.
I made my decision.
"Well... if it's the cheek, then."
Tomomi's movements, who slowly closed on me, have stopped.
"A-a-a-are you s-stupid? Are you serious Nii-chan? This is just practice. Really, it's just practice!"
Shown a smile by Tomomi, I had mixed feelings. When her lips approached, despite being her brother, for just a moment I've thought of something improper.
And this passage... which could be called a back alley, it gave me a strange feeling.
It's just my imagination... I thought. But this city's atmosphere and the power of this place, the so-called "mood", is not to be reckoned with.
"C'mon c'mon, don't space out and let's go, Nii-chan!"
As we started walking, my hand pulled by Tomomi, we finally found a store by the road. The glass store window had a sailor uniform and school swimsuit on the display.
At the very least, I knew it wasn't a store that sold uniforms specific to some school.
It had stuff like nurse outfits and bunny suits too...
"Nii-chan, a store discovered! It says it's a cosplay shop!"
"Please, don't say you want to enter it."
"Cheeh. And it looked so interesting."
I pulled grumbling Tomomi's hand and we proceeded, meanwhile I finally understood the lack of people.
Looking left or right, all was there, were hotels.
"Ni-Nii-chan. Can it be, that this... is a perverted place?"
"Tomomi, are you doing it on purpose?"
"Sorry. I knew places like this exist. But, I didn't think we'd come across one! Still, look at that Nii-chan! It looks like a foreign castle."
Places imitating an old castle or resorts at tropical beaches, somehow the adult world is quite amazing... that kind of impression had leaked out in my mind.
"For now, let's hurry out of here."
"Y-yup. You're right, Nii-chan."
If someone out of place wanders here, it'll definitely be a trouble to those in the city. As we proceeded hurriedly to retreat, suddenly, Tomomi's legs stopped.
"Uuu... Nii-chan. I want to walk a little bit slower."
"Sorry. Was the pace too fast?"
"Normally it would be nothing, but these shoes are cramped and it's hard to walk."
Speaking of which, Tomomi did stop quite often today. So she didn't want to say her feet hurt. I felt a little bit pitiful for not being able to notice it.
It seemed like it'd be better to rest.
I sent an email to the heavenly voice. I asked Selene to search whether is there a store we could take a break in. An email returned after few tens of seconds.
"Hotel Crystal Palace. Service time: A break for 4500 yen... heck, not that kind!"
Was that deliberate?! Did you do it deliberately? Selene!
"Nii-chan, are we taking a break?"
"First we're leaving here. Let's go outside for now!"
"We are outside, Nii-chan."
"Stop finding faults in details!"
While taking the state of Tomomi's feet into account, relying on the map on the smartphone we walked at considerably slower pace than before. Eventually, we finally arrived in front of a department store in west Dougenzaka.
We were relieved to move from the tranquillity of the hotel district into the hustle and bustle of the city.
"Finally, we have returned to our original world."
"It was a different world, wasn't it. It was a heart-throbbing great adventure, Nii-chan."
It was heart-throbbing in more ways than one... good grief.
Once again, I confirmed it with Tomomi.
"Are your feet all right?"
"Yup. Thanks for walking slowly with me."
In front of the building on the west, I compared our location with the map on the smartphone.
"Well then... right, left... right seems to lead towards the station."
"Let's go left then!"
"Of course. We're on a date after all."
"But before that, let's find a place to sit down for a while."
"If Nii-chan's tired then it can't be helped. Let's leave it with my win in the dating game."
"There's no win or lose in dating, is there."
"I do think there are loser dates and winner dates."
This time's haphazard and foolhardy dating course, was probably a loser one.
Taken away by Tomomi, we went further and further away from the station. The city centre's landscape had gradually changed into a quiet residential area.
We arrived at the Nabeshima Shoto Park. There was a lot of greenery. It was the first time I was able to realize what's an urban oasis.
The two of us sat down in the park and relaxed ourselves.
I exhaled grandly.
"HAaa... what a bizarre date."
"Why sigh, wasn't it fun for you Nii-chan?"
"T-that's not it! There was a lot of first experience's and... how do I say it. Rather than that, do your feet hurt? Aren't you forcing yourself?"
"What a worrier. Hmm. Easy, my feet on top of the heel might feel sore."
Tomomi took the shoe off just her right leg. The place that was sore seemed painfully swollen and red.
So she walked with her foot like that. Wasn't it difficult to make it up to the park like this?
"It's really swollen!"
"Aww. That's quite something. I thought I'd be able to control the pain, but seeing it makes it even more painful."
"How about your left foot?"
"This one seems all right. Size-wise they were just a little bit too small, but in the first place I never wore such cute shoes. I didn't think my feet would get this sore."
That's troubling. It'd be good if we had a plaster to put on it. Maybe I should go and buy one.
And, the moment I thought of that, I was reminded of the floral pouch I put in my shoulder bag. Selene gave it to me along with some suggestive words.
When I took out the pouch from the bag, Tomomi puffed up her cheeks.
"Nii-chan, what's that? That's not Nii-chan's hobby, is it?"
"Selene made me take it. She told me to open it when in trouble."
I opened the pouch and... took out a plaster. Use it when in trouble, so Selene expected this to happen, huh. Be careful and don't hurry, so it referred to the walking speed.
"Ah! A plaster ain't it! Selene's quite attentive in a feminine away. I somehow feel like I lost. How frustrating!"
Tomomi closed her eyes tightly in frustration.
"Well then, I'll put it on. Stretch out your right leg."
First, I stood up and then I knelt in front of Tomomi who was on the bench.
She had extended her white foot towards me.
"Nii-chan. Look at my foot only. If you raise your line of sight a little... bam! You'll get it."
"Don't explode me."
"Or maybe Nii-chan is curious about Tomomi-chan's victory panties? If you honestly confess, I won't hesitate to give you a peek."
"I-I don't have any."
"So you won't be satisfied with just a glance, huh. Nii-chan's such a glutton. You won't be satisfied unless you lick my panties with your stare?"
As Tomomi innocently laughed, I stretched the plaster over the swollen part of Tomomi's foot.
"S-sorry. Did it hurt?"
"I-it didn't hurt!"
With tears in her eyes, she smiled. So it did hurt after all.
I gently let go of her foot, stood up and pat Tomomi's head.
"You did well to put up with pain, Tomomi. But, be honest and say it when it hurts."
"I-I didn't really lie! A-auu! Nii-chan, that's sneaky! If you make me take a posture like that I can't stand, haauaaaa."
She narrowed her eyes like a cat and her face had become loose.
"Hey, Nii-chan... let's smooch."
How serious was Tomomi... honestly, I had no idea.
We're siblings. We shouldn't do things like that, moreover Tomomi had a boyfriend, so for me to do that... even if Tomomi and I weren't siblings, it was something I wouldn't do.
"Tomomi. I can't do that."
Tomomi opened her eyes wide staring at me, her mouth opened.
"Nii-chan... unless you're get more serious it won't work as practice."
"Y-you're telling me to get serious, of course I can't do that. But, I was serious during today's date."
"Yup. I can tell. Nii-chan acted like Nii-chan properly, and yet.... I..."
She looked down with a brooding expression.
"What is it, Tomomi? Are you okay? Are you bearing with something other than pain in your foot? Tell me what is it! We're siblings after all."
In trembling voice, Tomomi muttered.
"I wonder, why... why is Nii-chan... Nii-chan."
When she quietly raised her face, her expression made it seem like she was about to cry. It was the first time I saw her with such a sad expression.
Tomomi was always positive, whenever in a pinch she aimed for a chance for reversing the situation... I thought of her as of a strong girl. But, that might have been just my belief.
Seeing her shoulders shake slightly, with my little sister about to cry... I didn't know what to do.
"Did I do something bad? Did I step on some kind of landmine, Tomomi? What did you want me to do?"
She shook her head, put on the shoe and stood up.
"Why... stupid...stupid... idiot idiot idiot... Nii-chan you... IDIOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTT!!"
With no clue what's going on. I stood there dumbfounded, like an idiot.
Leaving me behind like that, Tomomi suddenly started to run.
"W-wait a second! Tomomi! Hey Tomomi!"
Tomomi... was crying. She was shaking off her tears.
Although I chased after her in the earnest, I lost sight of her back after she left the park. The plaster must have been working since she was sprinting.
What did I go wrong with? What should I have done?
I immediately tried to call Tomomi with a smartphone. But, the number you have dialed is out of the service range or there is a possibility it has been turned off. That kind of standard message responded me.
I tried contacting Selene, but apparently the GPS no longer worked after her smartphone was turned off.
I headed towards the station while looking for Tomomi.
Along the way, in the Makkie MauMau Good's Shop I have rejoined with Yuuki and Mika, explaining the situation to them. After that, we ran over to Sayuri who was busy buying things on impulse in Maru-kyu. Adding Sayuri who stood there with her shopping bag, we have returned to the square in front of Hachikō statue.
It might be better to consult with police. When I started thinking seriously about it, info had come from Selene saying that the Tomomi's GPS had resurrected.
Apparently she was in middle of transferring from JR to a private railway. Even as I tried to call her, Tomomi didn't pick it up.
In front of the Hachikō, Mika anxiously listened to me.
"Nii-chama, did you get into a fight with Tomomi-neechama?"
I overlooked something. Something important. That's why Tomomi exploded. No, I detonated her.
It was the same on the Tuesday earlier. It was the second time now. And yet, I had no idea what lit Tomomi's fuse.
Detonating Tomomi's bomb, I'm disqualified as her brother.
I was confused. My thinking wouldn't settle down. But, allowing Mika to realize that, I was really disqualified as a brother.
"Sorry to make you worry Mika. It's okay."
"Is it really okay?"
"Yeah. How was your date with Yuuki?"
"It was super fun! Maple says he had fun too! He could see Catie-chan-senpai in work and was deeply impressed! MauMau-san was great too, he says. Also, Mii-chan really liked the cheese tart. The inside was all sticky!"
"I see. That's great. Yuuki too, thanks for watching over Mika."
Yuuki listened to me anxiously.
"I too had fun with Mika-chan. Nii-san, if there's anything I can do, don't hesitate to consult it with me."
It seemed like she was worried about Tomomi, it would be good to consult it with her. Right now, I couldn't even grasp "what was the problem" between Tomomi and me.
"Y-yeah. Thanks Yuuki. Well, we should get going."
I took half of the luggage Sayuri had with her.
"These are things I have carelessly purchased, letting Onii-sama carry it is..."
"You too must be tired with shopping. Let's go back before it gets dark."
Sayuri nodded without any strength. It seems like her mental determination was exhausted by shopping she wasn't used to.
A several tens of minutes after Tomomi, we got on the train back home. The sky was burning up with madder colours by the time we have reached to the nearest station.
What's going on with Tomomi, really. Making her little sisters worried, that's quite unbecoming of Nee-chan isn't it.
It was clear that I was at fault, but she could say what's wrong and tell me not to do it... ahh, the more I think of it the more I'm confused.