“You were doing it, right? What Onee-chan did to you with Ginro-san.”
“I’m not a child anymore, you know? I know exactly what ‘that kind of thing’ is used for.”
Mana sharply and coldly threw those words at me, her eyes devoid of any warmth.
At her feet lay the crushed and mangled condom box, seemingly the source of Mana’s anger.
…This is bad… For it to be seen by Mana…
That condom had been discreetly purchased by Ginro-san during her previous visit to my home, and at the time, we had decided not to engage in such activities due to potential negative effects on my mental state. As a result, that condom had never seen the light of day…
However, after discussing it with her later, we decided on a change of course. We agreed to keep it in the drawer until the time was right for us to engage in such activities. It had been sitting there for months without any use.
So, while I hadn’t engaged in any of the activities Mana was suspecting, it was apparent that she saw my possession of such an item as a betrayal.
I had left home, leaving me traumatized by Nee-san’s actions.
For Mana, the mere presence of this tool related to “s*x” was a betrayal of epic proportions.
That’s why… I had to explain myself to her.
“…Mana, it’s not what you think… It was just here, and I’ve never used it.”
“Just having it is bad.”
I was rendered speechless.
Mana, who was usually quite different, was now calmly cornering me.
“I’m disappointed, Onii-chan. After Onee-chan treated you so badly… to think you were secretly buying something like this.”
“Maybe what Onee-chan said was true after all.”
What Onee-san said…?
What did she say about me? I had a bad feeling about it. Given her quality, it couldn’t be good.
“So… What did she say?”
Mana sighed and slumped her shoulders, then proceeded to reveal what my sister had said about me.
“Onee-chan said… ‘Yuran is happy to be with me.'”
It was a groundless falsehood coming from my sister.
I deeply despise my sister from the bottom of my heart. I have no recollection of ever experiencing pleasure or happiness from her self-serving actions and desires.
But even such baseless utterances from my sister seemed to shake Mana’s trust in me.
“…There’s no way that’s true.”
“Is that so? Maybe you were secretly happy to do those things with Onee-chan?”
“Th-that’s absolutely not true!”
I involuntarily raised my voice.
It was unbecoming and pathetic. I felt self-disgust right after raising my voice.
What am I doing? Why am I acting like this towards my little sister?
“…It’s nothing. I’m sorry, Mana.”
“No, I also… went too far. I know it was a lie from Onee-chan…”
Mana’s voice trembled as she spoke in fragments.
The Mana I knew was cheerful, friendly, and a bit cheeky. To see her in such a disheveled state, struggling to form words, made me realize how much my actions had cornered her.
“…Onii-chan, you didn’t buy this, did you?”
Mana probably asked this question to determine the extent of my guilt.
…I didn’t buy this condom. Ginro-san did.
If I reveal the truth, I might be forgiven.
Mana is more important to me than anything else. I couldn’t bear to live my life with her hating me.
“…… I bought it.”
“Is that so?”
I couldn’t let Ginro-san take the blame for this. I couldn’t live my life with such a burden.
Mana tossed the messy box at her feet into the wide trash can and sat down on the couch as if she were going to hit herself.
“I’ll tell you what… I’m going to ask you something.”
Mana had indeed just said “Miori-san.”
It wasn’t a mistake or a misinterpretation. It was a clear statement from Mana’s lips.
She was my childhood friend and someone I had lost due to my sister’s actions. She was also a reason I was broken.
“Mi… What happened to Miori?”
“Well, until you became like this, you and Miori-san were super close. It was almost like you were a married couple.”
Mana spoke bluntly, as if she had no interest in Miori but was just trying to rattle me by bringing up her name.
“…That’s… from the past. Miori doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore, and I…”
“Miori-san was really sad, you know?”
What is she… talking about?
Miori did say something like, “You shouldn’t even be alive,” that’s for sure.
How could Miori be sad about my absence? It was like Mana was making such a tasteless joke.
“…There’s no way…”
“It’s true, I said it. I told her that you were the victim in that video, that you did nothing wrong.”
“What… did you say?”
“She started crying and said she wanted to apologize to you.”
“Stop it, please…”
“Onii-chan, why don’t you meet Miori-san once?”
Please stop… Please stop…
Miori doesn’t… hate me?
Miori saki wants to see me?
Is the misunderstanding at school… resolved?
Then what’s the point of me being here, in Ouzakura City?
“Onii-chan you like Miori-san more than Ginro-san, don’t you?”
“So come back, okay? Let’s live together again. I’ll figure things out with Onee-chan.”
Several tens of minutes passed, but there was no response from Onii-chan.
He just sat there, with vacant eyes looking down.
It was almost as if the person behind me was not Onii-chan but an exquisitely crafted wax doll, devoid of any vitality.
I couldn’t help but recall Onii-chan from a few months ago, when he had been imprisoned and ostracized in our class, losing all will to live.
I couldn’t forgive Onee-chan for making him like this, but now I realized that it wasn’t Onee-chan’s fault.
It was my fault.
I had caused Onii-chan to return to that state.
Thinking about it that way…
My heart ached.
My heart ground to a halt.
My heart… felt like it was being rubbed raw.
But the pain of that was overshadowed by something else.
I wanted him to sever ties with “Ginro Suzune.”
She was… dangerous. Too dangerous.
Most likely, she was the one who had bought those condoms.
Onii-chan would never buy them himself, and the way his eyes swam as he said, “I bought them,” was completely unbelievable.
It might be a bit of a biased perspective, but I was quite sure that Ginro had bought those condoms.
If he said that Ginro had bought them, then it revealed her character. She was someone who didn’t consider Onii-chan’s feelings and pushed forward with her own desires.
Just like… Onee-chan
Surely Ginro knew about Onii-chan’s trauma.
But even knowing that, if she went ahead and bought condoms, it was only right that she be condemned.
I couldn’t allow someone who couldn’t even consider my beloved Onii-chan to exist.
So, I needed to sever the connection.
That’s why I provided Onii-chan with information about “Miori Budsawa.”
Onii-chan must have liked Miori the most.
It was evident from how he treated Miori. I had been angry about that for a long time.
Truth be told, I didn’t want him to have anything to do with Miori.
But frustratingly, I knew that Miori’s existence was the most effective way to shake Onii-chan’s emotions.
I was even angrier about this fact, but it was all overshadowed by my inability to forgive Ginro.
She had… taken my beloved brother from me, stolen him away in secret.
She had been lingering in Onii-chan’s house.
She had tried to engage in intimate activities with Onii-chan.
She had occupied the center of Onii-chan’s heart.
She had genuinely loved Onii-chan.
I can’t forgive any of it.
That’s why I have to sever the connection.
I have to make my Onii-chan think that he doesn’t need “Ginro Suzune” anymore.
As long as I’m with my Onii-chan…
Suddenly, my Onii-chan, who had been frozen in time, moved.
My heart, startled by this unexpected revival, skipped a beat.
But his eyes still lacked any light.
“I have something I want you to convey to Miori…”
I swallowed hard.
I watched every move my Onii-chan made.
“I won’t go back there anymore… so don’t worry about me. Just live your life without thinking about me…”
“Please convey that for me.”
No way, Onii-chan.
Do you love Ginro Suzune more than coming back home…?
“Are…you done with Miori?”
“It’s not that I …… like it, it’s just that right now I have Ginro and I have a life in this town, …… so I can’t see Miori and I’m not going …… home.”
I felt despair. There couldn’t be words that better matched my current emotions.
The fact that Ginro Suzune had become such an unbelievably significant presence for my Onii-chan.
And the fact that, no matter what I did, I couldn’t separate my Onii-chan from Ginro Suzune.
“I’m sorry, Mana…”
The sound of the door opening echoed.
And that sound reached my ears, taking about three seconds.
The voice of the person I least wanted to hear reached me.