My name is Kyousuke Kousaka.
It was a bright and sunny day...
Yeah, right. It was raining cats and dogs outside. I had been called to the living room by my father, and he gestured for me to sit down across from him. I bowed slightly and did what was expected of me. Honestly, at that time that was all I could do. I had never felt more pathetic in my life.
"I'm not here to give you a happy ending," he said.
That made me flinch. I knew it was coming but that didn't make the blow any lighter.
"There is no secret photo album that Kirino is not in, and we didn't take her in from any dead relatives."
In spite of the seriousness of the current situation I couldn't help but be intrigued by my fathers words. How did he have such extensive knowledge of eroge tropes? Thinking about it logically he must have started to look into Kirino's hobby when he first found out about it. Despite being a stubborn old man he really was just a father looking out for his daughter.
He sighed and leaned back in his chair, bringing a hand to his face. It was the first time I had ever seen such a gesture from him. "This is going to be a long talk. Wait there while I make some tea."
Okay... it seemed I had managed to avoid the death flag for now, if only because I'm also his son.
I nodded meekly, "Thank you."
The minutes felt like hours as I heard him fire the tea maker up. I dared not turn around to look. With the position I was in looking him in the eye wasn't a good idea. Perhaps years after this... after I got a solid desk job, married, and had three kids... perhaps then I could once again talk with my father on an equal footing. Until then I was no better than a stranger in this household. I remembered a while back, before Kirino and I had made this mistake, I read an article about the suicide rate in Japan.
At the time I didn't understand why anyone would jump from a roof or string themselves up, but now I got it.
Not that I was planning on jumping off the mortal coil. My self preservation instincts were stronger than that.
Strong enough to plan out an escape route before going downstairs for this little meetup.
As I heard his foot steps getting closer behind me I briefly wondered how Kirino was holding up. She was either crying or taking her frustration out on something. Probably the former, as I couldn't hear her screaming at anything upstairs.
My father set two cups of tea down on the table, along with the pot.
"This is the good stuff," he said.
I had never heard him so reserved before. I would rather have him be angry at me than disappointed, and it seemed like that was exactly what he was.
He took a sip from his cup before setting it back down and leaning forward. His glare returned, and it felt like he was trying to look into my soul. "Two times in my life I've seen falsity become reality."
"I didn't love your mother when we first started dating."
"Wh... why bring this up all of a sudden? What's this got to do with me and Kirino?"
"Everything," he said calmly, "We're family."
He had a point there. If he had never met Mom neither of us would have existed.
Of course, maybe he was seeing that as a better alternative to what had happened.
"I went out with her on a silly bet I made with my friends. We were young, stupid, and naive. Your mother, believe it or not, was a school idol back then."
He smirked, "I thought she was another stuck up bitch. She always acted high and mighty around me. Hell, she treated me like dirt from the beginning. I've still got a scar to prove it."
This was all starting to sound eerily familiar.
"So what happened?" I asked.
"I got in over my head with my friends. I was single at the time, and a few of my friends were already dating, so I got made fun of." He took another sip of tea before continuing, "So one day I told them I could easily get a girlfriend, and that I just never felt like it. They knew your mother hated my guts, or at least seemed to, and made me ask her out on a bet. I didn't expect her to say yes. It was all downhill from there."
I leaned forward slightly and decided to start drinking my share of the tea before it got cold. No use putting it to waste just because the atmosphere was heavy.
When I set the cup down my father's eyes narrowed, "But you don't have it so easy Kyousuke."
"No... I don't."
"Do you remember what I said before that story of mine?"
"Yeah, about falsities becoming realities."
"Before you graduated, when I found out about Kirino's hobby, I knew that game was hers, and I knew you weren't attracted to her. I took exception because you're just as stubborn as I am. I want you to think back on that day, and think hard. I want you to remember the fact that you took a bullet for your sister."
"It wasn't the last bullet I took."
"Good, and I want it to stay that way."
Silence permeated the living room. I couldn't think of anything worth while to say after that. For one, I expected that he would have been scolding me by now, not lecturing me on what it takes to be a good brother. Honestly, I had failed in my duties as an older brother, and let selfishness cloud my desires. Because of that, Kirino and I had been hurt, and our parents as well. Mom hadn't said a word to me since that day, and I was surprised that Dad hadn't killed me yet.
"You're a good brother Kyousuke," he said firmly, pouring himself more tea. "It's the reason things happened the way they did, and if I ignored that I wouldn't be much of a father to either of you. However, don't be mistaken. Kirino is to be grounded from her games for three months. She needs to learn to take responsibility for her actions. Unless it's for work I'm afraid her friends will have to take a rain check on their meetings. As for you Kyousuke, I'm afraid this signals that it's time for you to move out."
"Your visits will be supervised during the three months."
My gaze fell to the floor, and I tried to take a deep breath, but my lungs felt constricted.
I knew he was right about this, but it still felt... wrong somehow.
His eyes narrowed again, and I closed my mouth.
After a long moment of silence, the old man sighed and leaned back. "Tell me everything."
"I said tell me everything. How this happened."
Chapter 1: Girlfriend
"I'm back," I said loudly, shutting the door behind me and kicking off my shoes. I could already hear Kirino chatting away with one of her friends on her phone. I sighed as I put on my slippers and shook my head. This was routine for us, it seemed. I walked into the living room and smirked at the sight of her lounging on the couch, her cell phone glued to her ear.
"Yeah, haha! Totally. Hey can you hold on a sec Ayase?" She pulled the phone slightly away from her ear and covered the bottom with her hand. "Check the fridge," she whispered. Without even giving me a chance to reply she went back to talking with Ayase. "What? Oh. Nah it was just my idiot brother. Huh?! No way, you can't!"
Something told me I didn't even want to know what Ayase was saying on the other end of the line. I decided to humor Kirino and check the fridge. I opened it, and inside there was a small lunch box with a post it note attached. The note said, 'Thank you,' with a small heart as a period. I grabbed the box and cleared my throat, trying to think about something else to offset the blood rushing to my face. I walked back around the kitchen counter and opened the door to the hall. "I'll be in my room," I said. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Kirino wave her hand, as if to dismiss me.
That damn attitude of hers.
No wonder she didn't have a boyfriend.
Or rather... that was because of what I made her do, wasn't it? I let out another sigh as I closed the living room door and started dragging my happy ass upstairs. When I opened the door to my room the first thing that caught my eye was Kirino's laptop sitting on my desk.
And how could it not? It was probably the brightest pink I had ever seen in my life. I didn't have any homework that day so it was as good a time as any to finish up the eroge that Kirino let me borrow. I threw my bag on the bed and sat at my desk, putting the box of food next to my laptop. If she had been considerate enough to attach a thank you note there were probably chopsticks inside as well. "That idiot," I muttered, "I have to eat it if she's being so sincere, but I won't be able to finish dinner. The hell is she thinking?"
I opened the laptop and the lunch box at the same time. The smell of the delicious food was already making my mouth water. "Holy crap, this is a full course meal." As I had thought, there were indeed chopsticks included. The rice didn't have a heart drawn on it, though.
'Wait,' I thought, 'Why the hell am I getting disappointed?'
I decided to shrug it off and just start eating. I started up the game while I was at it.
Another one of her little sister eroges.
It had been a little over a year since the day I ran into Kirino at the bottom of the stairs, and here I was...
Playing a game about doing indecent things to my little sister while eating an extra lunch made for me by my little sister.
It didn't take a genius to see what was wrong with this picture.
When had my normal life taken such a drastic turn?
I jumped at the sound, nearly dropping the chopsticks. "Hey dumbass, let me in!"
Kicking my door as usual...
I set the chopsticks on the meal so they wouldn't fall, and did as she asked. She brushed past the door without even giving me a second glance. "Have you cleared it yet?" she asked, sitting on my bed.
"No, one more route I think, unless this one has a secret true ending too."
"Nah, just your standard fare this time around." She fell to her back with a deep sigh, her legs hanging from my bed and kicking about as she stared up at the ceiling. "Just got off the phone with Kuroneko."
"I thought you were talking to Ayase."
"I was, but Kuroneko called. I was gonna put Ayase on hold but she had to go anyways, and I was holding her up. I think she's at a photo shoot or something."
I clicked past a few lines of dialogue in the game and took another bite of the food.
"Is it good?"
I turned to her, "Huh?"
"I'm asking you if the food is good!"
"Yeah, no need to get all worked up about it. Sheesh."
For a moment I thought I saw her smile, but her usual scowl was back the next, so I couldn't be too sure. Then she scoffed and looked away, "She likes you, you know."
"That damn goth loli complex teen."
I raised an eyebrow, "Define like."
She sat back up and grinned, "As in wanting to do perverted things with you."
There was that blood rushing to my face again. "Mmm." I turned back to the screen to hide my blush and clicked over a few more lines of dialogue. More standard little sister stuff.
"You knew," she said softly.
Once more I turned to her, but instead of being greeted with a scowl or a grin, she had a rather complex expression on her face. She looked troubled, but not quite to a panicking level. It was most obvious in her eyes. She looked like she was in deep thought about something.
Then I remembered where I saw that expression. When I found the eroge she had dropped and ran into her the next day. She had looked dejected that she hadn't been able to find it. At the time I hadn't realized it belonged to her, but it wasn't hard to put two and two together. "What are you so disappointed about?" I asked.
Her face went red, "G... gross! What the hell? Are you thinking I was jealous or something?!"
"I didn't say that," I said flatly.
I shook my head and turned back to the game, but then...
"What if... I told you the same thing you told me?"
"The same thing?" I asked, concentrating on the screen.
"That you uh... aren't allowed to date anyone."
She pulled out her cell phone and shuffled through it a bit, then frowned in deep thought. "Forget it. I'll be back for the game tomorrow, you'd better have cleared it by then."
She ignored me, storming out of my room and slamming the door in her wake.
It was always nice to get a reminder that I had the strangest little sister on the planet.
For some reason what Kirino had said yesterday bothered me. On my way to school I couldn't help but worry about it. Honestly, if she really asked it wasn't like I would have much of a choice in the matter. If I told her no I would just end up being a hypocrite. Perhaps I should have done it anyways, and let her date boys. It wasn't like it was my business who she dated. I was just being overprotective.
I stopped walking and looked around for the source of the quiet voice, and there was Kuroneko, walking towards me out from another street. She took position by me and we started walking again. "Morning," I said.
It didn't seem like she wanted to make conversation so I kept to my own thoughts. Summer was coming soon, so that meant heat. Unbearable heat. I couldn't wait to start wearing summer uniforms. That, and summer break would give me plenty of time off. I would be able to clear a bunch of games and get caught up on some well needed hang out time with Akagi.
Wait, why the hell was I thinking of eroge at a time like this?
I turned my gaze to Kuroneko as we walked and tilted my head, "Hmm?"
"Is it that difficult of a concept?"
"No, just... you guys don't usually talk about calling each other. I mean, I know we're all friends, but unless there's a group meetup it's always been kind of a one on one thing."
For some reason she blushed and turned away. "We weren't talking about anime."
"She helped me see something that only human eyes could see."
"And what would that be?"
"Even being a simple human has its advantages. The denizens of darkness often cannot understand the things that transpire in the human world."
"You're being cryptic again."
"Wh... what I'm trying to say is..." It wasn't just her speech stuttering, she stopped dead in her tracks, looking at the ground like it was about to suck her up.
"Hm?" I stopped as well, leaning down to try and get a better look at her face, "What are you so embarrassed about."
"I am not embarrassed," she mumbled. "Hmph." Still blushing, she took a deep breath and stood up as straight as she could. I would be hard pressed to say she wasn't acting pretty cute at that time. "Anyways, meet me at the same spot right after school."
It took me a second to realize what she was talking about, then I nodded, "Ah, the bench behind the school where you kissed me."
"Idiot. Don't just blurt that out in a public place," she grumbled, walking forward without me.
'Wait, is this what I think it is?'
The day went by slowly for a number of reasons. I still had yet to get over worrying about what Kirino had said. Not only that, but now I had to worry about what Kuroneko wanted. I was pretty sure I knew what, but that thought only made me more nervous. Then I recalled the conversation with Kirino. Had she been encouraging Kuroneko despite having reservations about the possibility of me dating one of her friends? Kuroneko wasn't the type of person to betray her friends. If she wanted to do something like go out with me she would let Kirino know first.
If that was the case then what happened the night before made a lot more sense.
Was Kirino... jealous?
Or was she just mad that Kuroneko wanted to ask me out after I told her she wasn't allowed to date anyone?
"You look pretty deep in thought," said Akagi, sitting down in the desk next to mine with a smirk on his face. "Girl troubles?"
"Something like that," I said.
"Well, this is the last period of the day. Go get 'em buddy." He spoke in an encouraging tone and slapped me on the back.
The thought was appreciated, but it didn't do anything to remedy to situation.
Really, the only way to handle this was to face it head on. It was my choice to make, and either way I had a set of consequences to face.
I took a deep breath just as the bell rang and stood from my desk.
Honestly, I liked Kuroneko.
I may have even loved her.
She was cute, interesting, fun to hang out with, and she was way out of my league.
After I stopped seeing her as a replacement for my sister I started to see her as a girl.
That didn't help my situation at all.
All I could do was head to the meeting place behind the school building.
I felt like I was weighed down with lead every step I took. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I thought about what things would be like whether I answered no or yes. I thought about what would happen if, God forbid, I were to choke up on the spot and not be able to answer at all.
'I feel sorry for the popular people who have to deal with this all the time,' I thought, 'This is hell.'
By the time I had made my way through the crowds of the main building, put on my shoes, and gone outside I could hardly breathe. I walked around the school building, still mentally struggling with every step that I took. I turned the corner, and there was the bench.
Kuroneko was already sitting on it, looking up at the sky.
"For all its issues, the human world is a beautiful place," she said softly.
I swallowed a lump in my throat. What was this, a manga or something?
She patted the spot on the bench next to her, and I took it with all the grace of an ungreased robot. "Yeah," I said, "Sure is a nice day."
'I'm an idiot.'
She smirked. "We were interrupted last time."
"You had to go fetch your sister, and I wasn't exactly going to miss out on the opportunity to disgrace her at the airport."
"Heh, that was more of a happy greeting than a disgrace."
She frowned and blushed, "She only managed to beat an elementary schooler."
"The fastest elementary schooler in the world," I said.
"Hmph. No matter. Stand."
"I said stand, are you hard of hearing?"
Grumbling a few choice words under my breath I did as I was told. She did the same and we turned to face each other. She cleared her throat and fanned herself.
I held up my hand, "No cryptic dialogue please, just say what you want to say. Otherwise I won't be able to understand what you're getting at."
Her face fell and she frowned, "But that's..."
I smiled, "Don't worry. I'll hear you out."
"I'll just get it over with then."
Despite saying that an uncomfortable silence was all that greeted my ears. "Um..."
"I'm getting there," she said firmly, "I just need a moment to collect myself."
And more silence.
"Listen, if you wanna..."
"P... please go out with me," she mumbled, her face once again falling. I thought I heard her take a deep breath and squeak a little bit, but that might have been wishful thinking.
It didn't take much thought to reach my decision. I knew I would have to talk to Kirino, but that was that. I reached out and patted her head with a smile, "Okay, but I get to introduce you as my girlfriend from now on."
"That might be too much to handle." She took a deep breath through her nose and stepped forward, wrapping her arms around me. The hand I had been patting her head with went to her back. Before I could say anything else she looked upwards and kissed me. After a few seconds she pulled away, her face impossibly red. "That was nice," I said with a smile.
"Mmm." Without another word, she once again buried her head in my chest.
I just enjoyed the moment and tried not to think of what Kirino's reaction to this would be.