[Onii-chan, are you okay?]
[I left some food here for you.]
Since the day I was violated by my sister, I had been hiding in my room, not turning on the lights, not coming out for days on end.
Yes, I had been afraid of something all this time.
I had been trusted her all along, but my sister had seen me as a s*xual object and even violated me according to her own desires.
The ugly sight of my sister, who thought only of her own pleasure, was nothing like the sister who always smiled at me. But I had learned that it was the essence of her as a person.
The essence of humanity is boundless selfishness.
No matter how good someone looks, no matter how virtuous they seem, no matter how wonderful a person they appear to be, they’re just wearing a facade.
Beneath the facade, you’ll find the ugly crystallization of selfishness.
Since learning about what happened with my sister, I had erased from my memory all the days when my classmates, who had changed so dramatically, used to laugh and have fun with me. They sensed that being around me was detrimental to their interests.
It’s all a lie.
I had known somewhere deep down, but when I truly understood the meaning of those words, I felt as if a gun was pointed at my head.
It’s all a lie. Humans think only of their own interests. No matter how enjoyable the days may seem, they can crumble in an instant.
And overwhelmed by the ugliness of humans, I locked myself in my room.
That was me a few months ago.
The most painful period of my life before leaving home.
I had learned the true essence of human nature and had been consumed by darkness.
I had only truly escaped from that darkness and found liberation when I came to the Ouzakura district and met Ginro-san and Yuji-kun.
So, the adorable little sister standing in front of me, “Mana,” doesn’t know the me of now.
Mana and I had our last conversation without exchanging words. It was just a trivial chat separated by the door of our rooms, but I couldn’t even remember what we talked about because I was so worn out back then.
So honestly, I didn’t know how to react when I saw her face.
… I looked at the cute girl in front of me, with her beautiful black hair tied up at the back of her head, those distinctive round and bright eyes, and her refined features.
Yes, it’s Mana. There was no way I could mistake her. We had lived in the same house for years.
But why is she here like this…? Why, why, why?!
“…Onii-chan… it is you, right?”
Mana opened her mouth as I was asking myself a question to which I could not get an answer.
I’m her big brother, right….
I felt that question contained all of Mana’s emotions.
To be honest, among my three sisters, I thought I had the closest relationship with Mana. She probably felt the same way.
When I reversed the roles and thought about it, I realized how much I had been neglecting Mana.
I had suddenly disappeared from her life, and her feelings must have been filled with sorrow.
So, I have to sincerely face Mana now.
“I’m… Yuran Kimisaki… And you’re… Mana, right?”
“I’m sorry, Mana ghaaa”
While I was still in the middle of forming my words, an incredible shock hit my body.
What is this…? I opened my eyes to understand the reason for the intense shock that hit my body.
My body was being embraced by Mana.
“Hig… hig… Onii-chan…!!”
Mana, with her well-defined features, was crying on my chest as if she didn’t care about ruining her beautiful appearance.
I had never seen Mana cry so much before. Even when we had arguments in elementary school, she hadn’t cried like this…
But had my actions truly hurt her this much, damaging her heart?
“Onii-chan… I missed you so much! I wanted to see you, always!”
Mana still couldn’t stop crying on my chest. I gently stroked her head, like comforting a crying baby that wouldn’t calm down.
“I’m sorry, Mana.”
“I never thought someone would report us…”
“Haha, well, if you were crying on the side of the road like that, it’s not surprising someone got suspicious…”
Apparently, because I was seen on the street with Mana crying like that, someone decided to report me to the police, thinking that I was mistreating her.
The police officer rushed over to us with a stern expression, but after explaining the situation, he quickly apologized and returned to the police station.
I wonder what that person who reported me thought I was doing to Mana. I mean, I don’t look like that kind of person, right? I’m starting to feel anxious.
And so, since we couldn’t have a proper conversation on the street, we decided to head back to my place to talk.
We’re on our way to my house now.
“Speaking of which, why is Mana here?”
“I’m in town for a social studies field trip.”
“Eh! You came all the way to this place? There’s nothing here.”
“That’s what I said! So, I really think our school is ridiculous!”
“But you know, the neighboring town has a pretty lively downtown area.”
“Yeah, Mana, were you exploring this area all by yourself?”
“The friend I was supposed to explore with got a boyfriend, so she canceled.”
“I see! I was worried that you still didn’t have any friends.”
“Mou! You always say that!”
“Haha, I’m just concerned about you.”
“Why is the person who’s concerned laughing?”
“Ugh… I’m sorry.”
“I forgive you.”
It’s a silly conversation, but it’s something we couldn’t do before.
A conversation separated by a door.
I had lost my place in my heart.
So, even though it’s trivial, I was so happy to meet Mana by chance and have this kind of conversation.
After walking for about twenty minutes, we arrived at my house.
My apartment is located on the third floor, in a corner of the building that’s about twenty years old.
“This is my place.”
“Hmm, it’s actually a nice apartment.”
Mana seemed impressed and ran around the third-floor hallway with shining eyes.
“Haha, I’m really grateful to Dad.”
“You don’t have to be grateful for that.”
Mana’s feet stopped as if after playing around and breaking a vase.
“Onii-chan, you don’t have to be grateful to Dad and Mom. They chose Onee-chan. They left Onee-chan, who did such terrible things, at home.”
Is Mana resentful of the choice my parents made, which ultimately led to me being kicked out of the house? But I understand that it couldn’t have been helped, and I can’t hold any grudge against Dad and Mom. After all, I’m just an adopted child… their real family is the sister, and prioritizing her is not wrong.
“Nee-san is their real family, and I’m just adopted. The priority there is—”
Mana interrupted my words, her voice unusually forceful.
I’ve never seen Mana raise her voice like this before.
“Onii-chan, you’re important too. You’re also a precious family member. And Onii-chan, you’re a victim… A victim shouldn’t be driven away to a distant place alone. It should be the perpetrator who gets sent away.”
Mana’s pleading gaze tells a story of the past few months when I was gone. Just by looking at that expression, I can somewhat understand how much she must have thought about me during that time.
But there’s nothing we can do about it.
I’m an adopted child, and she’s the biological one. The choice is clear.
“…It can’t be helped.”
When I say that, Mana shrugs her shoulders. Unlike Ginro-san, who wears her emotions on her face, Mana’s feelings are easily expressed through her body language. For instance, when she’s happy, she’ll bounce around with joy, and when she’s tired, she’ll drag her feet and walk like a zombie. And when she’s sad, she slumps her shoulders like she’s doing now.
We’ve spent several years together, so I’ve memorized Mana’s gestures probably more than she realizes.
“…Well, talking about it here isn’t a good idea. Let’s go upstairs.”
Mana’s previous dejected attitude has completely vanished, and she’s bouncing around as if she’s thrilled to be allowed into my room.
I open the door.
We exchange different greetings than we used to. We both used to say “I’m home” when we entered, so hearing Mana say, “Excuse me,” makes it even more apparent that we’ve been living apart.
“Oh, by the way, take off your shoes and wash your face at the sink over there.”
“Oi, Mana, are you listening?”
“Whose shoes are these?”
Mana pointed to Ginro-san’s shoes.
“These aren’t Onii-chan’s, right?”
Explaining about Ginro-san didn’t cross my mind during the journey here. It seems like I might be unintentionally hiding something with this approach.
“…Whose shoes are these?”
Why is Mana so curious about the identity of the shoes?
“In the first place, I had a feeling something was off.”
“What do you mean?”
“You, Onii-chan, are supposed to dislike spicy food, yet you bought something as spicy as ‘extreme spicy sweets.'”
Mana had noticed the contents of my bag, the “extreme spicy sweets.” She remembered that I wasn’t fond of spicy food.
“Answer me, Onii-chan!”
Mana’s approach is somewhat like a scene from a daytime drama where infidelity is revealed, but I don’t have any guilty secrets.
“Uh, sorry, those shoes.”
Revealing the truth.
“Belong to my girlfriend.”
“…A girlfriend, huh? Haha, I see, I thought as much!”
Mana’s suddenly become oddly high-spirited. Mana tends to reach this level of excitement when unexpected things happen.
“…Could it be… you’re living together?”
“…? No, we’re not. It’s just that today…”
With that, an awkward silence settled in the entranceway.
You are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me, you are kidding me.
I thought I’d have a chance to talk to Onii-chan alone, but an unexpected guest??
And it’s his girlfriend.
I considered meeting Onii-chan as a series of lucky events, a reward from the gods. But reality was not as sweet.
The house Onii-chan lives in now, which I’m visiting, already had his girlfriend occupying it…
I knew about her from Onii-chan’s letters, but I never expected her to be practically living here.
I feel like I’m going insane right now.
I’m harboring an unimaginable amount of jealousy towards Onii-chan’s girlfriend.
These are not the emotions a mere “little sister” should possess… I’m sorry, Onii-chan. I’m not the “little sister” you think I am.
Loving my own brother and feeling jealousy toward his girlfriend. I’m such an ugly woman.
I wash my hands at Onii-chan’s house’s sink.
I wish I could tell my past self how happy I would be yesterday.
But that happiness is slowly being overshadowed by my ugly jealousy.
This is the worst… it’s the absolute worst.
I’m the worst kind of little sister.
I forcefully turn off the faucet, but there are still water droplets falling.
I’m like these water droplets. No matter how much I try to seal my heart with the chains of self-control, Onii-chan’s love slowly leaks out.
…I… even though I love Onii-chan…
It’s a love that can never be.
I know that, but my overflowing feelings remain my reality.
That’s me, Mana Kisaragi.
The bathroom door opens.
Someone enters. These footsteps are not Onii-chan’s.
“Oh, I’ll leave a towel here for you, uhm, Mana-chan.”
My detestable adversary was there.
She nods slightly and leaves the bathroom.
She possesses an enchanting beauty that makes my stomach churn, and her voice is as clear as glass.
She’s a very beautiful woman, fitting of being Onii-chan’s girlfriend.
What exists in my heart is not gratitude or thanks towards her…
“Give my Onii-chan back…”
At that moment…
has been developed.