Disband. Dispersal. Horrible Ending.
When I opened my eyes, I was alone on a large bed.
Any signs of other people vanished from this room. It wasn't just the bedroom. The room number 701 was too spacious just for me.
It was still half past seven in the morning, but everyone must have finished preparations and left already. The stores open from around ten o'clock, don't they.
Vaguely thinking about things I washed my face and brushed my teeth in the bathroom, then headed to the kitchen.
Breakfast for one person was prepared. On the table, there was a memo on a mushroom-patterned piece of paper.
『"Fry some bread, warm the soup up and please eat. Sayuri."』
Just like it was said, I fried some bread in the toaster, warmed up the soup, then ate it together with prepared salad and Spanish omelette.
In the back of the kitchen there wasa lunch box. In there too, was a mushroom-patterned note.
『"Make sure to properly eat it for lunch. Sayuri."』
Even though I just finished eating breakfast, I got curious what kind of lunch is it.
I opened the lid to take a look. There were fried eggs and sausage octopi. Cooked and rolled taro, as well as boiled spinach for side dish.
If there was a problem, it would be the pink heart symbol drawn on top of the white rice... It was accompanied with a message "LOVE Sayuri" written with nori.
Loved wife's lunch box or something?! Once the lunch comes I need to eat it without leaving anything behind, destroying the evidence (?).
I've always been watching TV with Mika or Selene, so being alone was lonely.
I hope Selene's package is delivered as soon as possible. Then, I'll mail and meet up with someone. Mika's with Yuuki and Tomomi should be all right alone.
Although I was worried about Selene, if I go with her I might hinder her road to independence. Speaking of which, I still haven't gone on a date with Sayuri. Wanting to grant her a date would sound arrogant, in the first place I'm not sure if it's actually brother's role to do that...
I won't progress even if I think about it. Let's just quietly wait for the package to come.
Turning off the TV, I spaced out while sitting on the coach.
On weekdays I always was with one of the little sisters, on weekdays I always ended up with everyone.
It was too quiet and kind of awful. It seems like thinking I can be calm when alone was a mistake.
How long am I going to continue this kind of life I wonder.
As I think of what's ahead, I get anxious.
The past I can remember seems feels like they're all pleasant memories.
How strange. I was told by everyone "I won't become your little sister" by everyone, and yet...
Thinking about it, was I able to act like onii-chan for everyone this week? I started considering.
Selene has graduated from being a NEET. All that's left is for her to go to school.
Tomomi completely calmed down. More like, this week I was the childish one. Please spare me any more FPSes. Blood had completely rushed to my head.
Really, when was the last time I've heated up that much.
Come to think of it, recently I requested omurice from Sayuri, ate some pudding parfait with Yuuki... both of those were menu I chose, but I still don't know how did I come up with that.
Maybe there's some kind of my "true self" I haven't noticed existing, and he might like omurice and pudding... though in that case, just what on earth is the me of now! I'll turn into a fake.
But, it's somewhere there deep inside my heart. My favourites being omurice and pudding parfait.
As I tried to recall it... my teeth had started to hurt.
The pudding in maid café we went to with Yuuki was insanely sweet. While I ate it somehow, I felt like the name 'whipped cream' was like a white nightmare.
That's right, even if it isn't a nightmare... Mika's playing house, that was really hard. I'm glad I was able to finish it up early. I was almost turned into a baby.
But... I didn't think Mika patting my head would be that pleasant.
It was embarrassing, but also comforting...
N-not good. What are you thinking about. Being spoiled by your little sister... I'm the onii-chan here. I must get a grip.
When I looked at the clock, it seemed like time hasn't progressed at all.
Let's try studying.
I went back to my room and started working on self-study. It was quiet so I thought I could concentrate, but it was no faster than normal.
Even though the evening came, Selene's package has not. At this rate it'll be night soon.
My self-studying did not progress, without any book to read I played with my smartphone in a dim room and a message had come from Mariko through STRING.
"On 17th Dad and Mom are going to relatives, Chitose is staying at friend's house too, so it seems like we'll be alone on the important day." she wrote.
Furthermore "Ah! It'll be just us two, but there's no deep meaning behind it!" she added on to the message. It's a coincidence... isn't it? Mariko is a serious person, so she might actually be troubled with how it turned out. I don't look at Mariko that way either...
Heck, let's stop this. It's embarrassing.
Also, I wonder what does she mean by "important day".
17th of May. Friday... ah...
Recently my head was full of little sisters and everything about me had completely flew out of it.
17th of May is my birthday, isn't it.
In the first place, when I was living with Grandpa and Grandma, my birthdays were very curt, I have only vague memories of celebrating them.
It didn't feel like that much special day.
...can it be, that Mariko wants to try celebrating my birthday, so she's been asking about my favourites for a while?
In that case...
I'm no good.
When I replied to her with an apology, she responded with "Can it be that you forgot about your birthday?" with an emoticon of a surprised face. But then, she added "In truth, I wanted to make it a surprise".
For a childhood friend with whom I was separated for so long to remember when is my birthday, Mariko is an amazing girl. I need to ask her when is her birthday and properly return it.
When I was about to ask Mariko when is her birthday——.
Suddenly the entrance had become noisy, it seems like someone had come back.
I replied to Mariko with "I look forward to Friday" and headed towards the entrance.
For some reason, the little sisters have come back home all together.
"Welcome back... hey, didn't you all go out separately?"
Sayuri smiled broadly.
"We're back. Earlier, we have rejoined together at station and came back all together. I bought ingredients in the supermarket, I shall prepare dinner soon."
Normally, Tomomi would have gone in front and explained, but this time Sayuri behaved like the leader. Did Tomomi gave up on forcing herself to act like the oldest sister and is now taking turns with Sayuri for the role of a leader?
When I turned my gaze towards Tomomi, with a supermarket's shopping bag in her hand she raised her voice.
"A-all right! Everyone wash your hands. It's warm, so it's important to wash your mouth. Make sure no bad virus enters your body!!"
Tomomi's eyes wouldn't focus, she seemed strange. As she panicked, from her back Mika jumped out like a little rabbit.
"We're back Nii-chama! Mii-chan will go wash her mouth!"
Yuuki snuggled up to Mika from behind.
"We're back, Nii-san. Seems like you were a good kid."
Good kid, really, I'm not a child. Good grief.
The last one, was Selene who had an exhausted expression.
"...I feel like dying."
She seems fairly tired.
The little sisters came in droves from the entrance. Unsteadily like a zombie, Selene closed onto me.
"...Onii-chan, about the package."
She had a disheartened expression. Her breath was rough... are you really okay, Selene?
"It still hasn't come."
"...actually... when I looked again, the order was cancelled... I'm sorry."
"Eh?! I-is that so."
"...it was misunderstanding. There wasn't a package for today."
Moving as if she was in slow motion, Selene bowed.
"You don't have to apologize so much. Misunderstandings happen to anyone."
"...yes. Thank you for your concern. I'm feeling better now."
So, today, my fate was to wait entire day in vain... Ah! Fate can still be changed so it's better say it was destiny.
I was destined to wait in vain! Eh, doesn't sound too cool.
Still, it was somewhat wasteful.
I would've gone to play with everyone, having to do house-sitting alone broke my mood.
Heck, complaining is pointless. It can't be helped. I was the one who decided to listen to Selene's request. I need to put up with it as onii-chan.
It seems like everyone spent their day busily, little sisters' joy is also elder brother's joy.
Selene's head swayed unsteadily.
"Cheers for good work, Selene. Um, are you okay?"
"...I want to laze around on the sofa, now."
As Selene headed to the living room in unsteady gait, Tomomi called out to her with "Heyy! Make sure to wash your hands and teeth in bathroom!". Selene somehow managed to change her course to one leading to washroom. I'm a little worried.
Unexpectedly, my eyes met Tomomi's.
"Where did you go today Tomomi?"
"Eh? D-doesn't really matter."
I was lightly dodged. It wasn't that she avoided me, but well... even if we're siblings, it doesn't mean I have to know everything... huh.
Anyway, for now I'm relieved that everyone came back safely.
Carrying Maple, Mika headed to the living room. Chasing after her with slow moves was Yuuki.
Sayuri headed to the kitchen. I took the supermarket's shopping bag from Tomomi and carried it to the kitchen.
Being together with everyone like this is happiness, I thought.
After we finished eating dinner, we entered the tea time in the dining room.
I was being avoided by Tomomi, but let's try asking.
"Where did each of you go today?"
At my question, Tomomi stood up from her seat.
"More importantly, Nii-chan!"
"You say so, but isn't it fine if you at least tell stories of what happened?"
"There's nothing in particular to say!"
Her chest strongly swayed vertically... or rather, Tomomi declared while puffing her chest largely.
"If not Tomomi, then how about Selene, Sayuri, Yuuki or Mika."
"...I have none."
"Nothing in particular."
"Nothing from me either."
It was as if they have arranged it beforehand. Tomomi first grinned and then she relaxed her mouth.
"That's how it is, so Nii-chan answers my question now. About next Friday, you've got it open right?"
"By Friday, you mean the 17th?"
"Yup! That's right. On that day..."
"Oh, I've got something to do on that day..."
"Hmhmm, so you've got something to do. So even Nii-chan has errands to do."
And when she finished saying that, when I thought she made an astonished expression, Tomomi raised a high-pitched voice.
The fact I had something planned, was unexpected enough to surprise Tomomi.
I've been spending weekdays with my little sisters all the time, it might have been inevitable.
From both Yuuki and Mika I've heard "Getting along with friends from school is important", earlier, they have encouraged me to do so. This time, I took them up on their words, so to say...
"Can't that be planned for some other day?"
"Hmm, it's a promise from quite a while ago..."
I can't scrap my appointment with Mariko so easily. One thing that it's with Mariko, but also there's the fact I recalled about my birthday.
Suddenly, from a long time ago, a memory of someone celebrating my birthday in the same manner was revived.
I couldn't remember the details, but even I had my birthday celebrated before.
Tomomi's voice turned even more rough.
"When did you promise that?!"
"From about two weeks ago. I've told you about her before but, I was invited by my childhood friend, Mariko. Does your plan have to be on the 17th?"
Eh? Not just Tomomi, Selene, Sayuri, Yuuki and Mika too had hopeless expressions.
Impatiently, Tomomi responded.
"N-not really, see."
What, then there's no problem. Tomomi was being a bit strange today.
"In that case, if you could shift it it on the other day, it would be helpful."
"I-it's not good! No shifting! C'mon Nii-chan! If you don't come on Friday, Mika will be lonely!"
When I glanced at Mika, she lowered her head downheartedly.
"It's better to treasure relationship with friends, was what Mika told me though..."
Mika downcast her gaze and muttered.
"That's right, Mii-chan said so, but..."
From her big eyes, suddenly, fell large drops like jewels.
This is... an emergency.
"It has nothing to do with it! What Mika said... uhh... wasn't said! None of it!"
Overcome with emotions, Mika started weeping.
"U-uu... Mii-chan isn't crying! She isn't crying!"
Why did Mika start to cry?
My words must have acted like a trigger. In that case, it's my fault.
Yuuki, who sat beside Mika had gently embraced her head. Then Yuuki turned her face in my direction. Rather than blaming one, she had a lonely expression.
"Nii-san, is 17th impossible no matter what?"
Possible or not, Mariko was first. Moreover, it's a birthday celebration. Even though I didn't remember myself... she did.
Sayuri stared at me with anticipation and asked.
"Rather than us, will Onii-sama take childhood friend's side?"
That's going into extremes. It's not choosing one, both of sides are important... and in such case, the priority is given to the one who was first.
In the first place, Tomomi's request didn't have to be on 17th, right?
I mean, today too everyone had gone out leaving me behind...
They didn't intend to do it!
Made me wait in vain...
I was lonely, but it couldn't be helped!
I really wanted to chase after them...
The one who took on receiving of the package was me, right?
I endured it... because I'm onii-chan... and yet...
*psht*, something in the deeps of my heart snapped. Tension, responsibilities and obligations were twisted, childish desire bulged up and disrupted me from the inside, words have come out along with it.
"I've put up with today for everyone... so it's fine isn't it. Let me do what I want once in a while..."
Maybe these were the words of my true self I was always forcing down.
The moment I noticed that, the words that have leaked from my vessels have turned into regret.
Rather than say something so childish, I should have forced it down and kept it inside.
Like a dam collapsing starting with a small hole, if I let it out only once... what awaits, it's just a bad atmosphere.
The feeling I tasted long, long time ago——the awkwardness and regret after I troubled Grandpa and Grandma.
My fingertip was trembling. The disgust I had for myself had gradually increased.
At my words, Tomomi opened her eyes wide in shock.
"W-what's with that, Nii-chan! You don't have to put it that way, do you? Today too, everyone... for Nii-chan... and yet... Nii-chan you idiot!"
Not good. Even as I suppressed it, my lips moved by themselves.
"Who are you calling idiot."
"You're an idiot so I call you an idiot! Stupid, stuupid!"
"Are you a kid?!"
Tomomi and I glared at each other across the table. It seems like my brattiness was contagious and infected her.
Mika weakly muttered.
Is this a sibling quarrel? No, wrong. I'm just arguing basing on my own rights. The one unreasonable is Tomomi.
"Refrain yourself a little, pay attention to the result. Suddenly calling me an idiot, you think blood wouldn't rush to my head?!"
Even I can get angry like an average person. I did... endure it, so that I don't clash with someone.
Tomomi made an angry expression and pursed her lips.
"I did intend provoking, you know? Nii-chan's angry? I'm angry too!"
"W-why would you be angry! You've gone, and had fun shopping right?"
"I didn't have fun! I had a proper objective! Could you stop blaming me like that?"
"B-blaming or not, it's the truth! Since you won't even say where did you go, it must be something you feel guilty about, isn't it?"
I said too much. Normally, I would have stepped on brakes here, but as if tumbling downhill, my words continued to accelerate for worse.
Her eyes filled with tears.
"I-it wasn't... I mean, today too we were shopping to prepare Nii-chan's birthday party, we went to choose gifts! It's a surprise so we couldn't tell you."
The blood that rushed to my head was drained.
Sayuri made a small nod in my direction.
"It's true. We wanted to make Onii-sama happy, so we proceeded with the plan in secret. To think... such a conflict in schedule would happen... As not to be noticed by Onii-sama today, everyone had pretended going separately. After going outside, we've been together the entire time."
With tears in her eyes, Tomomi forced herself to smile.
"We wanted to surprise Nii-chan... and it's all gone to waste."
The inside of my head went white.
"That's... no way... is there? Sorry... um... what should I do?"
Tomomi glared at me as I faltered.
"Don't ask me! In the first place, just suspecting people, inquiring for reasons instead of thinking of our feelings... that's precisely why you never get serious about anything or like anyone!"
"...I...don't like anyone?"
Still embracing Mika who breathed roughly and hasn't calmed down yet, Yuuki spoke to me and Tomomi.
"Tomomi-chan, leave it at that. Come on, Nii-san too... okay?"
Impatient, Sayuri spoke quickly.
"U-umm! My opinion is the same as Tomomi-san's! Onii-sama should genuinely love. Uhh, mm... that's... uu, I can't put it well!"
It seems like she was confused. She probably hasn't expected the situation will become like this. Neither have I.
I... might be an empty person. The course of events made me play the role of onii-chan. I tried to behave like onii-chan... a fake.
Because I'm empty, I only focused on fulfilling the role of "onii-chan" inside of me.
"Me too... I did put an effort. So that I can love you all. As not to be hated. Is that a bad thing? Is living as not to make any discord or friction between people wrong? By me breaking everything will be settled well!"
I couldn't choose just one of them. I had to treat them all equally.
While doing that, I did the best I could and yet...
Yuuki's eyes were sad.
"Nii-san. That's... not good. If you match the other person as not to be hated, won't you end up hurting them that way?"
"That's why I didn't say it. Not saying it I endured and made it so it's all forgotten. So far it's been working out well!"
Now that I think of it, even when I entered student council in the middle school it was because no one else was running in the elections. It wasn't that I wanted to join it. By chance I allowed myself to take that role and there was no one else. That's all. In that role, I might have overestimated myself thinking I have finally found something I feel is fun.
While it wasn't so at all.
Tomomi pointed at my face.
"Nii-chan is an always-escaping chicken bastard."
"What's wrong with being a coward! Until now like that... it's already too late, but seeing as myself thinks of how to smooth it over, I'm going to start hating myself."
Self-protection. That's my nature...
Nothing could be done, but still, I'm thinking on how to repair the relationship.
Learning I have five little sisters and told to choose one, I didn't choose.
I didn't want to be hated by the little sisters I didn't chose. I didn't want to be resented. Even if they said they won't, I didn't believe it... escaping to my self-protection.
Choices like that have stacked up, leading to now. The situation I hated the most, I was bad with and escaped from, is all my own fault.
It might be a quarrel from which we could reconcile, but since I never quarrelled with anyone... I didn't know how to.
Selene who was silent up until now, muttered absent-mindedly.
"...because of my deception?"
I ended up asking in response.
"...the package I asked Onii-chan to receive... umm..."
I somehow understood what Selene didn't say.
"You mean that. So that I don't go out and by chance don't encounter you in the city?"
She nodded lightly.
The one who set that up was Selene. But, I was deceived so that I don't notice them preparing for celebrating my birthday.
She said a lie while thinking about me.
No one had any intention of hurting anyone.
I know. I know that.
Still, even though my head knew, my emotions didn't keep up. In this situation, it was as if I was immune. Because I continued to avoid. Because I continued to escape.
Like this, I'm not fit to be the elder brother protecting his little sisters. I'm not suitable.
Once again, Selene confirmed.
"...because I lied to Onii-chan?"
"I didn't say that... just..."
I no longer had any confidence as a brother.
For a moment when I fell silent, Selene has seen through my heart.
"...if you don't like it so much, Onii-chan... how about you quit?"
She continued quietly.
"...if someone forces you, it's fine to refuse. We didn't know we were little sisters in the first place, neither that we had sisters. Onii-chan was raised as an only child. We aren't siblings. A group of only children. And yet, having eldest son or eldest daughter... if it's hard, you can just quit it."
Hearing Selene's words, Tomomi raised her reddened eyes.
"T-that's right, yeah! Quit being nii-chan! I'll quit being nee-chan too! Everyone disband and scatter!"
So us being siblings was impossible after all.
Because originally, we were more like strangers.
We were able to pretend to be a good family just because I met with them one by one, and we gathered only on weekends. Because we weren't too close to each other, there was no conflict.
Still... sooner or later, an incident would happen and we were fated to disband... no, it was destiny. No matter how much we struggle, the result won't change. It can't be changed.
The reason Murasaki-san said "Hurry up and decide on a single sister, if you don't you'll regret it", might have been because of this.
"That so! Fine then! I'll quit!"
Unable to remain on place, I stood up and then holed myself in my room.
That's right. I'll quit. I don't have to be onii-chan.
It's over. Disbanding. Dispersal.
It's not like I wanted to become onii-chan, I'm sick of the role forced on me. I don't care any more... what will be, will be.