It had been just over a year since she'd left for America to study. Money had been tight so she'd only been able to communicate with Kana and Chiaki by mail and phone, but her trust in them seemed to have been well placed. Chiaki had remained at the top of her classes and Kana's work had been going well.
Now though she was finally qualified and home, truly home. She stood on the road opposite her flat breathing in the sweet fragrance of the sakura petals mixed with the smoky tang of a nearby bonfire; looking up fondly towards the all too familiar floor of flats she returning to. The place which held the vast majority of her most treasured memories.
It's not as though America was boring or terrible but the language was hard to grasp and I never really made any close friends. And some of the guys were real jerks. Some things never change...
She huffed in irritation sending a cloud of steam up into the air.
To be this old and not to have found the right guy. I'm beginning to suspect there's no such thing as a suitable guy.
Certainly people would soon begin talking and questioning why she didn't date anyone. Haruka blushed.
But the thought of dating a guy...of being with a guy is so strange. I think it actually grosses me out. Maybe I'll never have that sort of intimacy with someone then at all, but I do wonder what it' would be like.
She crossed the road.
I'll probably become an old maid supporting Kana and Chiaki's quests for love. Well there could be worse ways to live. I wonder if they've found anyone yet? I never really brought the subject up but perhaps I should of. Kana after the loss of Fujioka lost interest in dating and Chiaki's never really shown any interest as such so probably not...
She climbed the steps to their flat. Most of her stuff had already been sent on ahead except for a sizeable travel bag which took some lugging, but was no match for the strength of the eldest Minami.
I can't wait to see them both again. I hope they haven't changed too much whilst I've been away.
She'd sent a text giving her estimated time of arrival at around 5pm. Glancing at her pink rimmed watch it read 7 minutes past 5.
Close enough, she thought in satisfaction as the last step was surmounted and she made her way along the landing that linked their flat. Putting the travel bag down she pulled out of her pocket the spare key she had taken a year ago; the symbol that she was to return again.
Unlocking the door she was surprised to find all the lights off.
She removed her shoes.
They knew I was coming home tonight, right?
Haruka made her way down the incredibly familiar hallway.
It's been too long. Oh how I've missed them both!
She turned into the living room and switched on the lights, showing the place strung with colored decorations. Haruka gasped as her eyes fell on a table laid with tea for three and then flinched as popping noises assailed her from both sides as well as a loud buzzing sound.
"What?" Confetti strands settled down among her long hair and from both sides she heard the delighted cry of,
"Haruka-nee! Okaeri!" Two pairs of arms and two bodies flung themselves about her and she melted into the loving embraces of her younger sisters.
Well I say younger but they've grown as tall as me; my two wonderful sisters in whose arms I feel safe and home.
She wrapped an arm around them both and pulled them into a tighter embrace as tears rolled down her face.
"Tadaima," she whispered.
There followed much in the way of jubilation and small talk between Haruka, Kana and Chiaki as they ate their way through a late tea. When they had finished the main course and whilst Chiaki brought out dessert Haruka left to go to the toilet.
On the way back she peeked into the various rooms in the house she'd missed so much. Her own room was as immaculate as expected, Chiaki would have been careful to ensure it was ready for her return. Kana's room was...somehow more cluttered than she expected and felt smaller. It took her a few seconds to work out that Kana's single bed had become a double. Her eyebrow twitched.
Why on earth? Maybe Chiaki is having trouble sleeping? Or Kana has a...Urk...
A look into Chiaki's room seemed to confirm the former idea for it was no longer a bedroom. It was a study with the desks from Chiaki's and Kana's room, as well as a lot of their books stacked around the sides.
I guess Chiaki must be having trouble sleeping then, but she's nearly an adult. And she never mentioned any such trouble. It looks like there are a few things that will need resolving. I guess its best I just check that that is the situation but there's no need to press for details tonight at any event.
She returned to find Kana had already started on dessert. Chiaki looked up apologetically from her untouched plate.
"Sorry Haruka-nee. Kana couldn't stop herself from starting." Haruka chuckled,
"Some things never change. And this looks delicious Chiaki, did you make it?"
Chiaki blushed with pleasure from the praise and Haruka knelt down in front of her plate that presented an offering of what looked and smelled like lemon meringue tart. She took a seat and scooped up a mouthful. The light fluffy texture was sweet, creamy and coated with a tangy liquid lemon. After swallowing it she looked at Chiaki with pride.
"You've become a really great cook Chiaki."
"Chiaki's cooking's the best!" Kana mustered with a half full mouth as Chiaki at the same time blushed and said,
"Thanks Haruka-nee. It's all thanks to your teaching though."
The dessert was so good Haruka almost forgot what she was going to ask about. But as her mind reflected on how grown up Chiaki had become the double bed jarred in her mind.
"Ah I couldn't help but notice Chiaki but are you sleeping in Kana's room now?"
She expected Chiaki to be a little ashamed and apologetic and there did seem to be a sudden tension and wariness in the air as Chiaki's eyes opened wide and she exchanged looks with Kana. Kana nodded and returned her gaze to Haruka with a mixture of amusement and anxiety.
But why would Kana be anxious?
"Well in a manner of speaking," Chiaki began hesitantly. "Actually it's something we've been meaning to tell you for a while, but in the end we agreed we'd tell you when you returned."
Now Chiaki was speaking more fluidly, but still constantly glancing nervously between the side of Kana's head and Haruka's eyes. As she paused, Kana glanced away from Haruka towards Chiaki with a smile of encouragement. Chiaki turned back to Haruka.
"You see...well I'm sleeping with Kana now."
"I guessed that much," Haruka said, her face twisting in puzzlement at the air of worry hanging about.
Chiaki flushed and stared at the table in vexation, trying to find the right words.
"Chiaki means we're in love," Kana butted in having finished her lemon meringue, licking the last piece off her lips.
Haruka's brain wasn't quite following. A queasy feeling similar to being seasick and a sense of disorientation overcame her. She wasn't sure she was actually hearing what she thought she was. And as the most natural explanation for the words sunk in she felt a hot flush spread from her cheeks to her chest. Her mind continued to desperately make better sense of what was being said.
"Of course you do...as sisters?" Her smile felt unnaturally wide and her voice a fraction high.
Kana shook her head.
"As lovers..." she clarified. Seeing that Haruka was having trouble registering this and that Chiaki was getting increasingly nervous Kana did what seemed most natural to solving both dilemmas. She leaned round the kotatsu and wrapped an arm about Chaki's back.
"Like this," she added. Then her face moved over Chiaki's.
"Kana?" Chiaki whispered. Not in rejection but asking if this was really okay here and now. Kana smiled and nodded and Chiaki melted into her embrace.
Haruka watched stunned as Kana's lips met Chiaki's; black hair running over gold. And Chiaki instead of resisting pressed her body into Kana's and deepened the initial kiss. Their bodies entwined and shifted against each other in a manner only born from much practice.
Haruka wasn't really thinking. Part of her was transfixed and fascinated and part of her felt horrified and embarrassed. The latter was rooted more deeply in her mind which was pretty edgy about intimate stuff and quickly began reasoning through.
They're kissing, that's what guys and girls do before. Oh my God! Must protect my sisters from...but these are my...What on earth am I meant to make of this? And why does my body feel so hot?
The kiss didn't last long but for those in the room it felt like a very long time indeed. Softly Kana's lips released Chiaki's and both girls turned their gaze Haruka-wards.
If it were possible Haruka would have had steam coming out of her head at this point, which was as red as a boiled lobster. Then she collapsed with a thump backwards onto the floor and the world went black.
When the world returned Haruka found Kana and Chiaki were leaning over her looking concerned.
"Are you okay Haruka-nee?" Chiaki asked. Haruka nodded and started to sit up.
Why did I? Oh!
She shot away from the pair and ended up against the wall, rubbing her eyes.
"Please tell me I saw a weird dream?" She asked plaintively.
"Did our kiss upset you that much?" Chiaki asked in a small sad voice. "Are we that scary to you now?"
It was impossible not to look at and want to comfort Chiaki when she used that tone. Looking up Haruka saw Chaiki and Kana kneeling before her with their hands entwined.
"N...no. But Kana what weird things have you been teaching Chiaki whilst I was away?" Anger crept into Haruka's tone. She didn't know how else to cope, it was all so strange.
It must be Kana's fault! With all her weird kissing games and the like! I'll have you torn asunder for wrecking Chiaki's innocence...
"It wasn't Kana's fault. I was the instigator," Chiaki spoke up, still giving Haruka her puppy dog look; draining away Haruka's anger.
"But...but why? Why would you do something so?"
"Do you think our love is disgusting?"
"Yes!" Haruka's response was automatic. It was obvious it was. Everyone said so didn't they?
"Because...because you're sisters!"
It sounded a bit lame as reasons go but then sisters shouldn't sleep together. It just wasn't natural right?
Kana jumped in and took over from Chiaki and Haruka quickly realised she was in trouble. Kana had a gleam that suggested she had a plan and although often scatterbrained Kana's insights could be devastating.
"But love is blind right Haruka-nee? We can't help who we fall in love with in this world, boy or girl, sister or stranger? So how can it be wrong?"
Haruka gaped and suddenly felt all at sea. She clung on to the last piece of stubborn sanity she could find.
"It just is. Everyone says so."
"Have you ever kissed anyone before Haruka?"
Haruka felt herself heat up and go bright red. She'd have retreated except her back was against the wall and there was nowhere to creep off to.
"You've never kissed me or Chiaki either have you?" Kana continued.
"No," Haruka managed to gasp.
"So until you have how can you call it disgusting?"
Maybe it was because it was late but Haruka couldn't find an answer. Seconds later and she found Kana had moved nimbly over her.
"Please accept a kiss from us before judging if our love is that disgusting," Kana said earnestly. "We both love you too Haruka, but if after kissing us you still feel the same way we'll sadly accept your view of our love."
Haruka stared up into Kana's eyes: Pleading, earnest and beautiful. Somehow everything felt so surreal that this seemed more like a dream than real life.
I can always pretend it's a dream and at least I can then say it's disgusting. I have nothing really to go on otherwise and my heart is beating so fast.
It sounded almost alien but she heard her voice whisper,
Kana's lips moved down and she heard Kana whisper,
"Just relax," in a comforting tone.
She closed her eyes and felt a soft tingle race over her lips that quickly spread like wildfire. Kana's strong left arm wrapped about her back and she found herself surrounded by the familiar smell of the middle Minami.
Safe and familiar and…Mmmph!
Kana's lips had pressed themselves firmly around and against hers and were moving about in such a way that Haruka found her own moving back and her head pulling upwards to press against Kana. All too quickly Kana pulled away leaving Haruka gasping and her mind spinning.
"How was that?" Kana asked as she shuffled to the side to let Chiaki take her place. She didn't really expect a response though; Haruka looked a thousand miles away.
Before Haruka could even begin to recover and answer Kana, Chiaki's golden framed face with her soft eyes, button nose and rounded lips filled her vision. Chiaki's eyes looked worried for a second and then she smiled.
"I love you Haruka-nee. Whatever you think of what we've become..."
Then Chiaki's lips were pressed to hers. Chiaki was less rough with her lips but more sensual and soft, allowing her tongue to run gently along the underside of Haruka's lips and prying on occasion the inside of Haruka's mouth.
Again Haruka found herself responding back to the kiss and emitted a soft moan as Chiaki flicked a sensitive spot on her upper lip with her tongue; again it was only a short kiss and all too soon Chiaki had pulled back, gazing at Haruka nervously.
"Was that disgusting Haruka?"
Haruka felt dizzy, but not because it had felt bad.
"No..." she finally mustered, almost reaching up and touching her lips. "It wasn't. But I don't understand."
"Love is blind," Kana stated in a matter of fact voice, feeling a little left out. Chiaki brushed a lock of Haruka's hair back behind her ear.
"We'd love it if Haruka could come to fall in love with us too, but that would clearly need a miracle. It's enough if you can just accept us as we are and what has happened to us."
Haruka nodded blankly. Somehow the whole evening seemed to have stretched a thousand years and a million new thoughts were running rampant.
"Bed!" She gasped. "I need to get some rest...to think."
She gratefully accepted the hands up offered by Chiaki and Kana and then, assisted by Kana, stumbled to her bedroom and threw herself down onto her bed. Kana had the good sense to simply bid her goodnight and then leave, sliding the door shut with a thump.
Kana was always rougher; some things truly don't change. The ki...was rougher too, but that was a totally different sort of change. I wonder...so many things. A dream perhaps? But no it felt too real and my lips are still tingling. When did they? How? What will happen? What about the future for them together? What about me all alone?
She buried her head into a fluffy white pillow.
Regardless it's wrong right? But how can something so wrong feel so right? They love me as they both love each other. And that love between them became something more intimate. I wonder if even now they are?
She shuddered, not so much with fear or disgust now as at the strangeness of it all.
Is it fate that I was thinking about how I'd probably end up an old maid alone and then this happens? Ultimately would I be happy living my life with Kana and Chiaki with no men around? I guess I would, although one never knows till one tries, but men make me so uncomfortable. It's hardly like I'm protecting their innocence anymore either. I'm the one who's the most innocent in the end!
She touched her lips lightly with her middle left finger. They still tingled.
They're definitely not the most innocent, that's for sure…
It's safe to say Haruka didn't sleep much that night; tossing and turning and agonising about the future and wondering which road was right one, with the world so suddenly turned upside down. A lot of her thoughts came to dead ends or encircled and to list them all would be a story in itself; but at last at 1.23 am she took a deep breath as her thoughts boiled down to a few simple conclusions.
If it makes Chaiki and Kana happy I'll support their relationship...and if they want me to be a part then I shall try. For me utopia is to be with them for a lifetime, a dream I never thought could become a reality but now...I know I'll regret it if I miss the chance to try. As Kana said love is blind.
With that resolved she shut her eyes and peaceful sleep stole upon her.
When she woke it was too bright, sunlight flooding through her window. Glancing right she sat up in shock as she read the time off her clock, twice.
She shot up out of bed and hurried about looking for some clothes. The jet lag and events of yesterday must have taken more out of her than she'd realised. She never usually woke up this late.
She pinched the bridge of her nose and then sat down on the bed with a loud 'Whump'.
All that happened? She touched her lips again and suddenly felt nervous as she recalled the conclusion she'd reached. What am I thinking? Could we really? Yet I feel strangely excited by it all. She staggered nervously out into the hall and across to the living room.
"Kana? Chiaki?" She called out nervously. But no-one answered, instead a white note stood on the table.
Have gone to work/school so have left breakfast in pans in the kitchen - lots of love Chiaki & Kana xxx
Haruka felt her heart beat loudly in her chest and a gentle warmth flood through her as realisation surged through her.
It's not just that I can't imagine a future apart from them but that I really want to try living in such a future with them...and if that means going beyond pure sisterly affection to something more then...then I shall have to try it. Given last night it mightn't be so scary, but how far have Chiaki and Kana gone already?
Thinking about that only made her more nervous so she spent the rest of the day doing house chores and wondering how on earth she could express how she felt.
The day sped by until early evening when she was sipping green tea in the front room, wearing a white T-Shirt and blue jeans. She heard the front door open and Chiaki call out,
Chiaki's voice was so nostalgic and familiar it almost made Haruka cry with happiness, as tense as she was inside. And when Chiaki entered and greeted her with a gentle smile, tinged with caution, she felt as though her heart was melting.
"Hey Haruka, how are you?" Chiaki looked like she was debating whether to hug Haruka or not, wary from the night before and not knowing what to make of the situation. Haruka rose slowly and walked over to Chiaki where she gathered her younger sister into her arms. Chiaki gasped in surprise and then sunk into her older sister's hug.
"I'm good, I think," Haruka replied softly.
"Does this mean that you...you're okay about Kana and I?"
Haruka nodded and felt Chiaki exhale in relief.
"I have something to say to you both later though, if you'll hear me through," Haruka added and felt Chiaki stiffen slightly and pull away to try and get a read as to what it was. Haruka was a Minami though and her face was unreadable. "How was school?"
"Ah, same old..."
Normalcy swept back in and it felt like past times from just a year ago. There was a lot to catch up on that hadn't been mentioned and inevitably the conversation turned to how Chiaki and Kana had come together.
"How did you and Kana...you know?" Haruka had eventually asked when her curiosity could no longer contain itself.
Chiaki's cheeks went rosy red and her eyes when she looked up at Haruka sparkled with deep joy.
"Well at the time I was really lonely, it was a couple of months after you'd gone. One night I stayed up and made Kana dinner and when she returned, well I'd had thoughts and dreams before but that evening I felt drawn towards her and she noticed something was up."
Chiaki chuckled, "she found out with Kana logic and attempted a play kiss that surprised us both as I kissed back briefly, before slapping her away and fleeing to my room. After that she came in later and asked if she was my crush...and when I admitted as much she said she wasn't sure if she felt the same but wanted to give it a go if I was willing."
Chiaki gave a contented sigh,
"It hasn't all been smooth and we still argue a lot, but every day I look back and realise how much happier I am now. I don't regret doing something that has brought me so much joy."
"I see, then I'm glad for you," Haruka murmured thoughtfully as she took a sip of tea. But she felt the force of Chiaki's words inside despite remaining calm and poker faced.
They were uncertain and gave it a go, so bravely...and they want me to do the same? If they do I won't say no. One only has one life to live.
After that the conversation returned to Christmas, America and relatives before Chiaki excused herself to go do homework. Kana was due back in a couple of hours and in that time Haruka continued her cleaning of the kitchen and made a full tea so that she and Chiaki were sitting ready when Kana came home.
Kana bounded in eagerly in with nose drawn by the smell, wearing her royal blue polo shirt and dark trousers. After exchanging a meaningful look with Chiaki, Kana relaxed and set about eating with good cheer. The meal passed by in a blur for Haruka; it was fun and relaxed but as it drew to a close she felt her heart rate increase steadily and became more subdued.
When the conversation inevitably reached a lull Chiaki's curious eyes fell upon Haruka who was fidgeting with the floor and looking increasingly nervous.
"So what was it you wanted to talk to us about Haruka-nee?" Chiaki asked cautiously. Kana tilted her head to one side in curiosity.
"Ah," Haruka took a deep breath and looked up at Chiaki's thoughtful face and Kana's eager eyes, but although nervous she didn't feel afraid. There was an air of calmness and love surrounding them all and it gave her the strength to say what she felt.
"About earlier, well yesterday. Well firstly, as Chiaki knows, I'm fine with you both being together. It was just a shock yesterday to find out so suddenly. But more than that I...last night when you said that you'd be happy for me too, well..."
Tears stung Haruka's eyes and her head buzzed with heat and tension. Suddenly she wondered if she'd heard right yesterday and whether it was really okay for her as the older sister to suddenly be revealing the insecurities she'd kept locked away for so long. The next sentence came out in something of a rush.
"...Well did you mean that you'd be willing to give me a chance to be with you?"
She could barely see Chiaki and Kana's faces but she got the impression they were stunned.
"Yes," she heard them gasp as one.
She blinked away a couple of tears as warmth began sinking into her soul.
"Then, well, I'd be willing to give it a..."
She couldn't even finish before Kana's frame launched itself about her and pinned her to the floor in a tight bear hug.
"Haruka!" Kana buried her head against Haruka's neck and chuckling. "Ehehe, I'm so happy!"
Relief brought a fresh waves of tears flowing from Haruka's eyes as she wrapped her arms round Kana.
"But I'm not sure I'm gonna be able to go as far as you two probably have...at least to start with." Haruka said blushing as she got her breath back.
"Don't worry," Chiaki's voice echoed from above as Chiaki's hands stroked their way softly through her lovers' hair; entwining them together in a black and gold tapestry. "When we agreed to ask you we decided we would slow things down and move at your pace until you've caught us up."
"Oh..." breathed out Haruka happily. "Somehow I feel so happy right now."
Kana released Haruka and sat up; Chiaki was kneeling behind Haruka's head.
"And we do too; we love you so much Haruka," Chiaki said as she bent round and over Haruka before adding with a devilish grin, "for now kisses are okay between us right?"
Haruka managed to gasp out an 'un' before Chiaki's sweet face bent over to fill her vision and Chiaki's lips lightly brushed her own. Haruka felt a powerful tingling feeling course through her and gasped as the kiss deepened. Her lip movements felt a bit clumsy but Chiaki's lips felt incredible and soon she was moving in sync; feeling the heat as Chiaki's smooth tongue made little darts and Chiaki's nose brushed and ran against her own.
"Mmmm," she heard Chiaki murmur as she parted and rose back above Haruka. Before Haruka could recover Kana had pounced with a gleeful,
"Itadakimasu!" And captured Haruka's lips. Kana was a bit more forceful but Haruka, not wanting to be outdone this time, pressed her tongue up against Kana's lips where it was met by Kana's. Their mouths opened and Kana's saliva mixed with hers as their tongues brushed and rubbed, forcing a moan from Haruka. Kana's black hair spilled about her caressing her face as her body once again tugged inside with desire. All too soon it ended with some of Kana's saliva trailing between them as they parted. Much to her surprise Haruka found she was breathing heavily and her body was trembling with excitement.
Gently levering herself up she grinned sheepishly.
"I don't think it'll take me too long to catch up."
"Want to sleep with us tonight," Chiaki suggested slyly as she wrapped her arms around Haruka's back and rested her head on Haruka's shoulder. Haruka tilted her head sideways against Chiaki's as Kana wrapped her up in a hug from the front. Safe and encircled in their arms Haruka felt the answer come naturally,
"Of course. There's nowhere else I'd rather be."