As usual, thoughts are in italics. Sorry for the delay.
"Miya! Are you ready to go?" called Junichi from the foot of the stairs.
It was five in the afternoon, and the Founder's Festival at Kibitou High School was set to begin in approximately one hour. Like he had said, Junichi was going to spend his Founder's Festival with Miya, rumors be damned, though he'd have to meet up with Tsukasa first to conduct inspections at points during the evening.
"Just a minute nii-nii, I'm looking for my winter hat!" called Miya from her room.
Junichi smiled at his sister's tone of voice. Miya had really been down that day, and she went straight to bed that evening without talking much to Junichi.
Five minutes had passed, and Junichi was still alone at the foot of the stairs, impatiently tapping his foot on the wooden floorboards.
"What in the hell is taking her so long?" said Junichi to himself. Deciding to check it out, Junichi ascended the stairs, purposely stomping his foot as a way of indicating his displeasure at his sister taking so long to find a winter hat.
Junichi didn't even bother to knock on Miya's door and instead, opened it. Turns out that was the worst thing he could've done at that exact moment.
Miya was in a state of undress, wearing nothing but a white bra and cat-print panties. Miya, whose eyes were wide, just stared at Junichi for an entire minute.
"A-Ah... Sorry Miya, I thought you said you were already dressed...," said Junichi, breaking the stagnant air between them, though he was expecting to be chased out by his sister throwing objects at him while shouting "Nii-nii you pervert!"
"S-Sorry about that nii-nii. Um, I decided to change my clothes under my coat and wear something w-white instead of the school uniform...," said Miya timidly, her face aflame due to sheer embarrassment.
It must be said that Junichi was completely surprised. He fully expected to be chased out by now, but no, he was still looking at his sister wearing nothing but her simple white bra and print panties in front of him, fidgeting embarrassedly as she tried to make conversation.
"Wow, Miya looks really cute. No wonder Umehara said that she was popular among the boys in her year," thought Junichi. "Wait, what am I thinking about my own sister! But... I can't deny that she's really cute and beautiful... Mom would be proud."
Junichi was at a loss on how to reply to what Miya said, when he was seemingly saved by the person herself.
"H-Hey, nii-nii... W-What do you think of Miya's underwear? I-It's childish, right? N-Nishishishi~" said Miya shyly, staring at the floor as she tried to perform her trademark chuckle, stuttering through it.
"No!" shouted Junichi loudly, surprising Miya and himself. "Why did I sound so... passionate just now?"
"Uh, I think they suit you really well Miya," said Junichi, looking very interestedly at the clock on Miya's bedside table while scratching his chin instead of at Miya herself.
Miya looked up at her brother and pursed her lips in thought. "Are you telling the truth, nii-nii?"
Junichi nodded once and Miya pressed on. "Are you really telling the truth?"
Junichi nodded again in exasperation, but Miya wasn't through. "F-For real?"
Junichi finally exploded. "Yes, I'm telling the truth – you're beautiful, okay!"
Simultaneously, the Tachibana siblings covered their mouths at Junichi's outburst. "Why... why... why did I say something like that! To my own sister no less," thought Junichi as his thoughts were spinning at a million miles an hour.
"Y-You think I'm... beautiful...?" said Miya tentatively, suddenly covering her chest with her arms.
"No use denying it," decided Junichi. "Y-Yeah. You're beautiful, Miya. That's why you're popular with the guys, if my and Umehara's information is correct," said Junichi encouragingly, trying to turn the situation on its head by trying to assume the role of the encouraging older brother.
Miya looked away, blushing even more than she was previously, as she mumbled a short "Thanks."
"If you'll excuse me now," said Junichi tentatively as he stepped backwards and exited the room, so that Miya could dress herself up. Closing the door, he leaned against the wall beside the door and immediately slumped to the floor, burying his head in his hands.
"What is this... these things I'm feeling... what are they?" thought the confused boy to himself as he sat motionless, leaning against the wall.
Junichi was at a loss. For as long as he had remembered, he had always had feelings of platonic love for his own sister, and these were heightened by the support she had given him for the past year, ever since Makihara stood him up on Christmas Eve.
Thinking of Makihara and Christmas Eve brought Risa to the forefronts of Junichi's mind. "Why? Why did Risa have to do something so stupid?" grumbled Junichi as he pounded the wall with his fist.
A muffled voice came from behind the door. "Nii-nii, are you okay?" called Miya.
Startled, Junichi called back. "Yeah, I'm fine."
Frowning, Junichi stared forward at the stairs blankly, seeing and hearing nothing. Indeed, why did Risa have to do something like that? "I couldn't care less about my own reputation, as long as I have Umehara... No, that's a lie. I care about my reputation. I care about all the friendships that I lost. But what I care about the most is what people think of my sister. As an older brother, that's part of my duty to Miya," muttered Junichi to himself.
So lost was he in his thoughts that he hadn't realized that Miya was standing beside him, looking down at him. She had heard everything that Junichi had said, and from within her chest, it was as if a radiant flame had sprung to life with the passion that she had heard from her own brother's lips.
The flame made her face go red, blood rushing to her cheeks in a moment of embarrassment for herself and for her brother. Shaking her head to figuratively shake off her embarrassment, she squatted beside Junichi and gently shook him.
"Nii-nii. Nii-nii! Let's go! We're going to be late. It's already half-past five. Nii-nii!"
As Junichi looked up at Miya, she took his hand and forcibly dragged him down the stairs, despite his protests. Laughing, Miya continued to drag Junichi while running towards Kibitou High School, after they had locked the house up.
"He may be a little perverted, but he's a good nii-nii," thought Miya.
When the pair arrived at Kibitou High School's gates, Junichi noticed that more than a few people were staring at them, especially at their linked hands – a result of Miya dragging Junichi as she ran towards the school.
The whispers began in earnest, and Junichi was feeling more and more concerned about how Miya was taking it all. He shot her a quick look and noticed that she was staring at the ground in front of her, her lips quivering. Miya squeezed his hand, and Junichi didn't know if she did that consciously or unconsciously. He reciprocated the action, shooting her a look that he hoped would radiate reassurance.
He didn't want to leave her alone if he could help it, but he had to go help Tsukasa out since he was part of the festival committee. "Maybe a compromise with her to let Miya tag along... Yeah, I'll have to hope she agrees," muttered Junichi.
"Nii-nii?" said the girl beside him timidly.
Junichi gently squeezed Miya's hand again. At this point, he didn't care so much about how other people saw him, only how they saw his sister.
"Miya, let's go to Tsukasa. I'll ask her if you can come along with us while we inspect the booths and activities," replied Junichi.
As Miya nodded, Junichi gently pulled her along, silently imploring to the bystanders to just stop. Of course, they didn't, and only when Junichi gave some a death glare did they back off, though they continued to converse in lower tones instead.
Weaving through the crowd while wishing that he and Miya had been more discreet about their entrance had Junichi thinking about where Tsukasa could be. He decided on a whim to head to the patio, where the Robotics Club was operating their Exia Gundam model.
"...and I really think you should've built the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann instead, but it's still cool anyway," said Tsukasa sweetly to one of the Robotics Club members, whose eyes widened at Tsukasa's knowledge of mecha. "Ara, hello Tachibana-kun, Tachibana-san."
"Ayatsuji-san, I need to ask you a big favor. Please?" said Junichi, getting down on his knees in front of Tsukasa to the immense surprise of Tsukasa and the bystanders.
"G-Get up, Tachibana-kun," managed Tsukasa, who was still in shock at seeing Junichi practically prostrate himself before her. "Follow me."
The three of them proceeded to a nearby alcove conveniently behind a bench and a tree. "Well, what is it?" asked Tsukasa. "What do you need?"
"It's about my sister, Miya," said Junichi. Miya, at the mention of her name, slightly inclined her head and smiled, though the smile appeared forced to Tsukasa. "I know that our inspections are purely committee business, and Miya isn't on the committee, but can she please tag along with us? I can't leave her alone tonight... I don't want to leave her alone tonight."
Tsukasa smirked and smiled wryly. "Ara, isn't this interesting, hmm?"
"Nii-nii, I can handle myself!" protested Miya, who gasped, realizing her slip. "Uh, Miya meant onii-chan...," finished Miya somewhat lamely.
"Wooow!" crooned Tsukasa uncharacteristically, sounding more like Morishima Haruka if anything. "What a cute pet name you have for Tachibana-kun!"
Junichi was trying to look annoyed and affronted but could no longer hold his laughter in. Miya and Tsukasa both looked at him with questioning looks on their faces and he replied.
"Normally, I'd be mad that Miya called me that in public, but right now... It's a good way to break the ice. Thanks, Ayatsuji-san," said Junichi, taking Tsukasa's hand intending to thank her with a handshake.
Junichi felt Tsukasa freeze under his grip. "Is there something wrong, Ayatsuji-san?"
"Y-Y-You...," spluttered Tsukasa, while Miya added "Oh my, how bold, nii-nii! Nishishishi~"
"F-Fine, Tachibana-san can accompany us, j-just let go already you dumbass!" said Tsukasa, extricating her hand from Junichi, turning away as she did so, blushing in embarrassment.
Junichi noted that Miya continued to call him that even in front of Tsukasa, attributing it to Tsukasa's reaction to Miya. He then realized: since the rumors had spread, Tsukasa was probably the only person who treated Miya with kindness, excluding himself, of course.
"Thank you, Ayatsuji-san. From the bottom of my heart, thank you," said Junichi as he shot Miya a look of protectiveness.
"For what, Tachibana-kun?" asked Tsukasa, a look of unveiled curiosity on her face.
"For being nice to Miya here, when no one else would be. She was abandoned by her two friends in the wake of this," said Junichi, gesticulating with his hands the two of them. "I've tried to stop caring about my own reputation to save my sister's."
"It's nothing," said Tsukasa dismissively. "Anyone who isn't a dumbass would notice that the photos were clearly edited with Photoshop."
"So you're saying that Morishima-senpai, Tsukahara-senpai, Kaoru, Rihoko, Nanasaki, Nakata-san and Tanaka-san are all idiots? Takahashi-sensei too?" thought Junichi wryly.
"Besides, I'm always of the idea that people should be given the benefit of the doubt. It's not like you love your sister or anything, right, Tachibana-kun?" said Tsukasa, smirking.
Miya paled and felt her breathing increase rapidly in pace, while Junichi held up his hands and immediately denied the idea. "No way, Ayatsuji-san, no way!"
"Ara, really now, Tachibana-kun?" said Tsukasa, that smirk still plastered onto her face as she proceeded to ape Junichi. "I've tried to stop caring about my own reputation to save my sister's—ha, right there is devotion that could only mean love!"
Miya turned away and looked at her hands. Slowly, she brought them to her chest. Her heart was beating a million times a minute. "Is this real? Are these feelings... real? I always loved nii-nii as a brother, because he always looked after me and protected me... but as a man? I..." thought Miya, her thoughts faltering.
"Let's assume that I do... l-love Miya that way," said Junichi evenly. "Is there a problem with it? Other than the fact that it's supposedly incest?"
Junichi had never seen this look on Tsukasa's face before: pure, unadulterated shock. "A-Are you mad, Tachibana-kun?" exclaimed Tsukasa, their duties involving inspection completely forgotten. "Even if it was hypothetical, suggesting something like that for real..."
"You brought it up first, Ayatsuji-san," said Junichi gently but pointedly.
"You're right, I did. But the fact remains: incest is a taboo that shouldn't be crossed," said Tsukasa firmly.
Scratching his chin, Junichi replied. "But why? Even though all cultures despise incest, and even though people have said that incest causes mental retardation in any resulting offspring, there is no scientific evidence that this is indeed the case. Other than social repercussions, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it, am I correct?"
Tsukasa reluctantly nodded. "Other than social suicide and being ostracized, indeed, there is nothing wrong with it. Obviously, that means you shouldn't even consider it. You may not find this advice useful now, but in due time, you may. Please remember that," said Tsukasa as she stood up, leaving the two.
"Wait, Ayatsuji-san, where are you going...?" called Junichi.
"Inspection. Tachibana-kun, you're excused. Spend the night with your sister. Protect her," said Tsukasa.
"If only my own sister protected me the way Tachibana-kun did his own... Or... I wish Tachibana-kun could protect me the way he does his sister..."
Junichi and Miya were seated on a bench underneath a tree – Miya placed her head on Junichi's shoulder and the latter was just absentmindedly stroking her hair. Tsukasa had left them, giving Junichi the night off to spend with Miya. Unfortunately, this did not really help their situation: just what were they going to do? Tagging along with Tsukasa would've given them a sense of purpose to stay at the Founder's Festival, but now...
"Say Miya, do you want to just go home?" asked Junichi, breaking the comfortable silence that existed between them.
Miya leaned back and looked at Junichi with a look that was a mixture of happiness and sadness. "Miya doesn't think that anything here will entertain us," said Miya.
Junichi's face visibly fell. He was thinking of his pledge to have a happy Founder's Festival after he had skipped on last year's, as a result of his depression from being dumped by Makihara, care of Risa.
Miya realized this and made a decision. A very important decision, one that she would look back on years from now with fondness in her heart.
"It's okay nii-nii – how about we just stay and try to enjoy ourselves here? I mean, Miya knows that you promised to have fun at the Founder's Festival this year. Therefore, we should do it!" said Miya as she stood up, her fist raised enthusiastically in the air.
Junichi's eyes widened and he felt his heart soften at the sight of his sister trying her best for him. "Even after everything, she's still worried about how I feel because of what happened two years ago? Miya..."
He stood up and gently embraced Miya from behind, gently pulling her into an alcove near the closed entrance to the building where they wouldn't be seen. "Thanks, Miya. You have no idea how much this means to me," whispered Junichi, who sniffed her hair. "I like your shampoo, y'know. Don't tell me this is what's attracting all those guys to you, eh?"
Within his embrace, Miya was blushing heavily, the flame within her heart ablaze once more. "M-Miya wouldn't let anyone smell her hair," she protested feebly. "But I'm smelling your hair, aren't I?" teased Junichi.
"Okay, maybe you're the exception, along with Mom and Dad," she conceded.
"It's gotta be this," said Junichi. "After all, you don't have a chest large enough to attract the typical adult male, fufu~"
A stomping sound and a yelp followed that statement, and Junichi was found crouching down, rubbing his stubbed toe with his hands. The warm moment they shared earlier had been broken.
Miya was opposite him, sticking her tongue out at him before saying "Let's head to the Tea Club! Riho-chan might be nice enough to overlook the rumors for one night... maybe..."
Noting the sad note in her voice, Junichi stood up and gently patted Miya's head. "Don't worry about it, Miya. I'll find a way."
The pair then casually made their way to the Tea Club's set-up, talking about this-and-that, like Beaver Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Chouken Sentai Blade Braver, and the latest Human Tetris video they'd seen on YouTube. It seemed like no time at all had passed when they finally arrived at the Tea Club's place.
Rihoko had just come around the corner and was slipping into her duty for the evening, only realizing halfway through her greeting just who she was talking to.
"A-Ah, Junichi, Miya-chan," said Rihoko nervously.
It was her first encounter with Junichi since the rumors had spread. She was avoiding him the other day, but this confrontation was unavoidable.
"Good evening, Rihoko. Miya and I just want a table and two glasses of amazake. Other than that, we won't cause you any trouble at all. Please," said Junichi, bowing deeply to his childhood friend. "If not for me, do it for Miya. Please. We just want to enjoy the evening."
"I, I... I don't know!" wailed Rihoko, letting her conflicted emotions get the best of her. "It's just so hard for me..."
Approaching footsteps were audibly heard by the trio and Tea Club seniors Hiba Manaka and Yuzuki Ruriko emerged from the interior of the place.
"Oh, it's you, Tachibana-kun. Giving trouble to poor Rihocchi again?" spat Ruriko.
Miya was about to interfere when Junichi stepped towards her and, to her great surprise, knelt down on the ground and bowed, similar to what he did in front of Tsukasa earlier. "Please. Miya and I just want to be served amazake and seating. We won't bother you anymore after that. Is it not an injustice to deny service to people just because you have a grudge against them? In fact, this is no grudge, but rumors escalating out of my control," said Junichi, standing up.
"Rumors, according to you," said Ruriko. "And your sister too."
Fast as lightning, Junichi stepped protectively in front of Miya and faced Ruriko straight on. "Leave Miya out of this. If you have a problem, take it up with me," said Junichi bravely.
Ruriko practically grinned at that statement. "Alright, we'll serve you and your sister. In exchange for this!" shouted Ruriko.
Without a moment's warning afforded to him, Junichi had no choice but to take Ruriko's right hook square in the jaw.
"Nii-nii!" screamed Miya, rushing immediately to Junichi's side, cradling his head in her arms. "W-What the heck was that for!"
"Ara, may I ask just what is going on here?" came a cool voice.
Rihoko, Ruriko, Manaka, and Miya turned to the source of the voice. It was Tsukasa, and she was smiling dangerously at Ruriko.
"Yuzuki-senpai, may I ask, just what is going on here?" asked Tsukasa sweetly.
"Serving justice in Rihocchi's stead," replied Ruriko proudly. Tsukasa just shook her head in dismay.
"And do you really think your Rihocchi-san here appreciated what you did to Tachibana-kun?" asked Tsukasa, gesturing to Rihoko, who was crying unashamedly, unsure on what to do in the current situation given her conflicted emotions.
Would she rush to the aid of the childhood friend that she loved, or watch impassively as her senpai just punched him square in the jaw? Rihoko couldn't cope and she just cried helplessly.
"That being said, Yuzuki-senpai, you just committed an act of physical violence on school grounds. Normally, this calls for a disciplinary case to be filed, but I'm aware that you're graduating and you meant well for your kouhai. However, I cannot let this pass, so I will have to ask you to leave the school premises. I shall escort you out now," said Tsukasa in a commanding tone. "Hiba-senpai, Sakurai-san, the ensemble is all yours."
As Tsukasa and Ruriko left, Junichi had finally come to his senses. "Oww, my jaw... ack, I think it's bruising. Wow, Yuzuki-senpai... sure packs a mean punch," he said, trying to chuckle but he gasped in pain.
"Nii-nii, let's just go home," said Miya in a concerned tone. She helped her brother up and her gaze fell on Manaka and Rihoko.
"Thanks for nothing, Riho-chan," said Miya in an uncharacteristically scathing tone as she put Junichi's arm around her shoulders and eased him into walking slowly, away from the Tea Club's place.
After ensuring that Ruriko indeed left the grounds, Tsukasa returned to the gate of Kibitou High School and noticed Miya and Junichi slowly walking towards the gate. Junichi was now walking under his own power – Ruriko just surprised him and now he'd recovered, though he was now sporting a bruise on his face near his left jawline and his hand covered the area.
"Ah, the Tachibana siblings. May I ask where you're going?" asked Tsukasa politely.
"Home," answered Miya flatly. "Nii-nii's hurt, so I'm going to have to take care of him. Enjoy the rest of the evening, Ayatsuji-senpai. And... on behalf of us, I'd like to thank you for standing up for us earlier."
Miya politely bowed her head and nudged Junichi, who waved at Tsukasa as they walked on. "At least I was able to help him out this time," thought the raven-haired class representative as she walked back to the center of the patio where the large Christmas tree was set up.
"Goshi goshi goshi goshi goshi," whispered Miya as she scrubbed herself in the bathroom. "I hope nii-nii's jaw feels better when he wakes up."
When they had arrived at their house, they found a note from their parents saying that they'd be back late. Without another word, Miya led Junichi to his bed and commanded him to lie down. She was surprised that he had complied without a single complaint. She then rushed to the fridge to get an ice pack for his bruise, and she gently placed it on his face. She then told him to call her if he needed anything, bowed and left.
Now she was taking a bath just to rub what she felt was the misfortunes of the day off. "I can't believe people would just turn on us because of rumors...," mumbled Miya as she poured water on herself using a water dipper.
"I have nii-nii with me though, so I think I can survive. We're in the same boat, after all," muttered Miya as she stepped towards the bathtub and soaked in the warm water. "Ahh~ That feels good~"
"Us," intoned Miya. "What... what was that feeling, earlier, when I was talking to Ayatsuji-senpai and I said us... Us," repeated Miya, tasting the word on her lips. "Me and nii-nii. Us."
She smiled at the thought. "When everyone else abandoned me, nii-nii didn't. Even Ai-chan and Sae-chan left... but nii-nii didn't. Nii-nii...," she whispered, almost lovingly.
Her heart nearly stopped at that thought. Lovingly. "D-Do I... love nii-nii?" asked Miya rhetorically. "Not as a brother... but as a man...?"
Miya smiled warmly at the thought. A feeling of... acceptance flowed through her. "If that's the case... It's okay. It's okay. It's nii-nii after all. He was by my side all this time, so it'll be okay."
With the feeling that her horizons broadened, Miya got out of the tub and dried herself. She stepped into her room, put on pajamas and checked on Junichi, who had fallen asleep.
Miya chuckled at the sight. "Heh, nii-nii looks cute when he's sleeping, nishishishi~"
Miya swallowed and made a decision. A decision that would help her accept and affirm the feelings that had begun to develop within her. Miya quietly moved to stand beside Junichi's bed, and mustering her courage, she leaned in towards her brother and quickly yet gently kissed him on the lips.
Tachibana Miya slept a dreamless sleep that night.
Goshiis an onomatopoeia for scrubbing. Chu is an onomatopoeia for kissing.
Well, I hope that what I have written here presents a relatively mature take on sibling incest. I'll have to flag my fic now though, in case readers are put off by this.
Read and review please!