Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai:Volume 5 Chapter 4
 Chapter 4
It was after school on a particular day. As usual, I was with Manami heading towards the shoe cupboard area, and in the middle of that, we bumped into Kuroneko at a stair landing, who was sweeping away.
I raised my hand in greeting in a friendly manner, but Kuroneko, after taking a fleeting glance at me, averted her eyes and started sweeping the stairs.
As usual, there was no sign of any other student on sweeping duty.
I smiled wryly and left that place.
As we reached the bottom of the stairs, Manami asked in a seemingly incredulous manner.
“Kyou-chan, is it really okay for us not to help her today?”
That was no longer our job. I turned my gaze to the water-point at the ground floor, and took a glance at a particular girl who was wetting her mop. After she’s done wringing the mop, she put it into the bucket and started walking towards here. On noticing me, she called out in a questioning voice.
“...... do you need anything from me? Kousaka senpai.”
“Nope, do your best with the cleaning.”
That’s right. It’s not my turn to appear on the stage.
With a tinge of loneliness, together with warm contentment, I left the place behind me.
“............ I see. Such a thing actually happened.”
“Yeah. I really didn’t put my hand in or anything of the sorts. Since in spite of me not doing anything at all, they somehow managed to take on everything by themselves.”
While making our way to the shoe cupboard, I told Manami about what happened.
“But it wasn’t entirely fruitless right?”
“Yeah, I think.”
The reason for that was --- probably. Because it was the case of me having the intention of doing something for her sake. It was fine if she could make a friend and enjoy her school life here. Even if it’s not by my hand. Because that was how I felt, I guess.
Being conscious of the unsophisticated motive that I had, if there was one thing that was strange.
It was perhaps the strange sensation that I’ve felt in my heart.
“In any case...... you’ve done your best, Kyou-chan.”
With an air of fluffiness, she smiled gently.
Manami’s words brought a closure within my heart with a clink.
“Orhh, haha, somehow, I feel refreshed.”
“Fufu, well, any confidence in the mid-term test?”
“It’d be a breeze. Thanks to you.”
“Hehe ~, you’re welcome.”
We walked slowly to the gate while chattering alongside each other.
A few petals fell from the roadside cherry trees whose cherry blossoms had already scattered quite some time ago.
It was at that time when the mobile at my butt was vibrating from a new message received.
“Ugh, sorry, got mail.”
I excused myself, took out my mobile, and verified that two messages were received.
One was from Kuroneko, with no subject, and the body was a single short sentence written, I’ll be waiting behind the school building at half past three. It sounded like a letter of challenge.
“............ wonder whether it was about something I did.”
It’s kinda scary to receive such a mail from a junior. So to speak, if you have some business with me, you should have told me just now when you saw me. While tilting my head, I affirmed the second message.
And what was displayed was ---
“It, it’s from Kirino!”
“Ah, ahh. The title is "Re: Contact me", so she replied to the mail I sent out......”
What’s with her? Replying only now! Slowww!
...... hm, anyhow, it must be about breaking a new record over there --- something like that. Or befriending some cute girls...... or having gotten a boyfriend...... So to speak, she must have sent something she’s proud of to aggravate me. Still, Kuroneko, Saori, and Ayase are all worried about Kirino --- so that’s all fine as long as we know that she’s well. Everyone will be relieved.
“Hey, Kyou-chan, aren’t you opening the mail?”
“Huh? Yeah...... right. Well, it’s not like I’m going to reply, just so you know. There’s no harm taking a look, I guess ~”
Click, I pressed the button hard. My heart was thumping wildly.
But the mail I got from my little sister betrayed my expectations.
Please throw away my entire collection that I’ve entrusted to you.
That was the only sentence written.
Perplexed, I stared at my little sister’s reply mail in a dumbfounded manner.
Throw away my entire collection that I’ve entrusted to you ---
“Please throw away...... what’s the meaning of this?”
The meaning of “throw away”, in other words, is like saying “take out the garbage”?
No, no way. Definitely no way.
“Is this some kind of a metaphor?”
Even if I thought about it, I couldn’t figure it out. I didn’t choose to accept the contents of that message at face value. While it did flash into my mind for an instant, it was immediately cast aside. Because, it just wasn’t possible.
How much she treasures that collection of hers...... aside from my little sister herself, in this world, the person who knows this best would be me. This was what I declare. There was no way that she would say throw away my collection to me. No way. Neither did I want to think about this.
Inside that collection, there is this “EX Meruru Special Figurine” which was jointly given by me, Ayase, Saori, and Kuroneko.
It also contains the “Stardust ☆ Witch Meruru” boxset that Kuroneko and I had watched together.
And also that “Let's fall in love with my little sister ♪” which led to her first life consultation with me ---
All of them, all of them, are inside there.
Something like --- throwing them away. There’s no way she’d say that, right?
“Kyou-chan, you don’t look too...... good?”
“ --- --- No, it’s noth...... che.”
I half ignored the incredulous looking Manami and called my little sister’s mobile right away.
No one picked up. Even after about ten rings, even after about twenty rings --- I couldn’t get to hear my little sister’s voice.
“This is not working......”
Kun! What’s with the “throwing it away”! Making others worried, you should have other things to say right!
…... let’s use a different method. In any case, I need to do something to ascertain that this mail was a mistake. Anyhow, I’m absolutely convinced that this mail was a mistake. Absolutely convinced but ---
If I don’t clarify it, I can’t keep calm. Since there is too little, too little content.
“............ why don’t I check with Ayase?”
That will be fine, right? There’s no way Kirino will somehow contact me first before her best friend, Ayase, if it’s Ayase, she might know something about Kirino.
Besides --- whichever way, I pretty much like Ayase.
Since I’m extremely hated by her, I’m hesitant about calling her without any reason. Thinking about it, this may be a good pretext.
I’m fired up. Wait for me, lovely my angel Ayase-tan.
I’m coming right now!
Likened to making an emergency escape mentally, or likened to running away from reality, I sorted out my emotions for a moment in order to calm myself.
In high spirits, I called the number which was given to me by Ayase previously.
As I did that ---
We are unable to comply with your wishes and cannot connect you to the number you are calling ---
We are unable to comply with your wishes and cannot connect you to the number you are calling ---
Click, tuu, tuu, tuu, tuu......
“Unable to comply with your wishes, meaning I got blocked!?”
I cried. I cried in anguish with everything I’ve got.
Boohoohoohoo.................. this is the first time I’ve heard a message on a communication block......
The despair of the world seemed to have invaded my entire body, and crestfallen, my knees fell to the ground.
“...... it’s, it’s the end....... heh, hehe...... anything and everything...... has ended......”
Ter, terrible...... is it okay for such a cruel end to exist in this world?
Probably as a result of my earlier enthusiasm, I’m now afflicted with heavy damage. I can’t stand up anymore.
Manami, who had been gazing at my abnormal actions, gingerly asked.
“Kyo, Kyou-chan......? Is it perhaps that you want to contact Ayase-chan?”
As I raised my face covered in my snot, Manami took out her own mobile and showed it to me.
Eh, isn’t it that this fella normally doesn’t carry her mobile along with her? Even if it’s impudent, seems like she has come to the stage of adapting to modern times. Then again, I’m digressing.
“What? What’s this?”
“Erm...... I’ve exchange mobile numbers with Ayase-chan......”
“Wait! How did you become on such good terms with Ayase!?”
“Ehhehe...... somehow ~”
Somehow my foot! What, what’s with this combination...... isn’t it way beyond my expectations......
That aside, specifically how long have they been on such good terms? Didn’t they meet only in January?
I’ve never thought that there will be common topics between a grandma and a middle school girl......
U~m. I don’t get it. What do they talk about after exchanging mobile numbers?
Well...... even for me, I’ve made new friends with Saori and Kuroneko, and I don’t really care who she becomes on good terms with...... but what is it...... somehow, it feels kinda lonely...... kinda irritated...... Wait, what’s with me getting jealous of Ayase! Am I an idiot!
“Well, then, I’ll entrust it to you.”
Manami put her phone readily to her ear, and after exchanging one or two lines, "Here you go", and she passed it to me. I took it from her and switched it with mine.
“...... hel, hello?”
“--- long time no see, Onii-san.”
Woah, it’s really Ayase! It’s my angel Ayase-tan!
“Long time no see my foot! Why did you block my number!? Did I do something!?”
No, indeed, during last year’s Natsukomi, there’s one particular matter where I really did something! But, arguably, since then, a matter which could earn me a communication block --- isn’t there like none!
“Eh? You've only notice it now? The block was in place since half a year ago however.”
Speaking of that, I’ve always been communicating with Ayase through mail.
The truth was that I’ve been blocked ever since summer...... Sob...... I never knew that......
“...... what is it? Could it be that you’ve purposely asked Onee-san for help in calling me just for that? If that’s the case, it’s really a bother, and I’d like for you to stop.”
My heart seemed about to break! To be told off in this manner by a middle school girl, is there anyone who wouldn’t cry?
Ever since I’ve met her, whenever I play eroge, I’ll definitely start with clearing the routes of girls with long black hair, but yet, I feel upset when I’m treated like a hentai. It seems like there is no way I can impress her on my upright and clean-handed character.
Well, since I have to resolve her misunderstanding, there’s no helping it.
“That’s not it. It’s just that there’s something I want to ask you.”
“Something you want to ask me?”
“Yeah. It’s about my little sister --- however.”
The effect of that line was instantaneous.
Even over the phone, I could tell Ayase’s seriousness just went up a few notches.
“Yeah. Since then --- did Kirino contact you?”
After Kirino went for overseas studies, there was one time Ayase and I meet up to talk.
At that time, she had never heard anything from Kirino. She appeared to be in a pain as she talked about how Kirino never contacted her.
After several months had passed...... I was wondering about whether there was any change in the situation on her side.
“...... no. Not even once since then...... I’ve sent out tons of mail but...... there was no reply...... at all.”
At the last part, she was almost in tears.
“Onii-san...... I’m...... hated by Kirino right......”
“No way that would ever happen!”
I raised my voice over the phone unintentionally. Kirino’s actions can be ambiguous at times, but, out of all people, I least wanted to hear those words from Ayase.
“...... I know full well about how much pain she was in...... when she had a fight with you...... Just going by that alone, there’s no way she’ll hate you. Then again, even if I don’t say that...... you should be most aware of that right.”
“...... yeah, you’re right...... I’m sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry as well...... for shouting at you.”
So it seemed.
Kirino that brat --- since then, she didn’t even contact Ayase once......
If that’s the case, what’s with that mail? She sent one and only to me --- and the content was, "throw away all my collection"......
A joke? A bad prank? If so, it’s still fine, after getting in touch with her, I’ll just go "Don’t mess around with me!" at her, and that would be the end of the story.
However, joke and bad prank aside, for her not to contact even her best friend......
What should I do? What should I do?
“Onii-san? Erm, what happened to Kirino? Could it be she’s in an accident ---”
“No, nothing happened, don’t be worried.”
I tried my best to keep a normal voice in order not to arouse Ayase’s suspicion.
…... there’s no way I can tell her, regarding this matter.
“She has not contacted me as well...... so even I became worried. That’s why I gave you a call.”
“Is that so...... she didn’t even contact Onii-san...... …... I...... I think Kirino must have a very strong reason for not contacting us.”
I thought so too. As to why it was, I have no idea, but it’s certainly strange for her not to contact the people she likes a lot, such as Ayase and Kuroneko.
“But...... but even so...... if say Kirino were to contact us...... I think she’ll contact Onii-san. At that time......”
Ayase paused at what she wanted to say, and continued with a considerate, thick, gentle voice.
“At that time, please become Kirino’s strength.”
“...... I understand.”
After ending our conversation, I said goodbye to Manami and headed off to the appointed place to meet Kuroneko.
However, my head was filled with the matter regarding Kirino’s mail.
My pace slowed naturally and before long, I came to a complete stop.
I took out my mobile and once again gazed at the mail Kirino had sent.
I had thought that if Kirino were to contact one of us, it would have to be Ayase.
However, she was thinking entirely the same thing as me.
If say Kirino were to contact us...... I think she’ll contact Onii-san.
This is stupid. Why will that be so, I don’t get it. Certainly, I was the one with whom she secretly engaged in life consultation several times. But that would be because there wasn’t any other suitable candidate, and even if I were to hate her after knowing her secret, it wouldn’t be a problem for her ---
--- no, that’s not it.
I know. She has only said it to me. I returned the words which I yelled at Ayase back to myself. I should be most aware of this.
After all, I heard it with these ears. I’m very grateful --- those words, they were properly engraved into my heart. I’d never forget them.
Even for a dull person like me, in a straight manner, she said that to me.
No matter how much I’ve misunderstood her, having seen that, even I have realized it.
Pah (sfx). I folded closed the phone and started walking once more.
As appointed by the mail, when I went to the back of the school building at half-past three, Kuroneko, was waiting in her school uniform. After her cleaning duties ended, she must have stayed back at school. She was sitting on the bench on which she sometimes sits alone eating her Meruru bento.
Having noticed me, Kuroneko stood up. In a hardly audible voice,
“...... er...... erm......”
As she was saying that, she looked at my face, opened her mouth and went "ah", as if she noticed something. Her eyebrows knitted as if she was pondering about something --- and said in a low voice.
“--- you look terribly unwell, don’t you.”
“...... is that so?”
“Yes. It’s as if you just saw the end of the world, you know.”
That’s because. I’m only on the receiving end of the double punches from Kirino and Ayase, you see.
“...... hm. Somehow --- it seems like the circumstances were not brought about by deeds. Alright, try telling me about what happened. Since I’ll make an exception and listen to you.”
I was somewhat concerned about what she meant by “deeds” however ---
“The truth is I received a strange mail from Kirino ---”
...... that’s right. It might be good for her to hear me out about this matter.
In terms of being a best friend to Kirino, this person won’t lose to Ayase, that’s the reason why.
Kuroneko kept silent and listened to me as I explained.
“...... and that’s about it.”
Kuroneko, who had her eyes shut, opened them slowly.
“--- and? Why are you still tarrying about here?”
After listening to the story, that was the first thing she said as she opened her mouth.
“Why are you here, answering to my summons? That’s what I’m asking.”
Kuroneko was silently angry. She appeared irritated, disdainful, and mortified. As always, she spitted out her provoking, mortifying curses.
“No, but, with only such a short mail ---”
“With only such a short mail, isn’t this more than enough? It’s obvious that she’s trapped in a situation which forces her to send such a mail. Or is your sister the kind of person who would say such a thing based on a joke or a whim, I wonder? Even to me, who has only known her in such a shallow amount of time, it is plainly evident.”
Please throw away my entire collection that I’ve entrusted to you.
She couldn’t have said that. Even though I should have known better ---
“But she’s in America right now ---”
“So what? It’s not a great problem, is it? It’s not about returning to the demon world, nor about falling into hell. She’s just not contactable though. You know where she is, there is a way to get there, you are conscious of your own worry --- and what else is needed?”
Kuroneko bit her lower lip with her ‘giri’ sound.
As she did that, it sounded like a dark, heavy voice that reverberated from the depths of hell.
“You are really, really really really --- the worst useless incompetent person, Senpai. An indecisive, blockhead with bad sense, a lecherous, idiotic, lazy trash --- but yet strangely gentle. You have a bad personality just like your sister. What a pair of siblings bearing such strong resemblance, jeez.”
I have nothing to retort.
After the reprimand, the place was filled with silence. After having spent some time together with Kuroneko, based on experience, I remained silent. With regards to her, there was a meaning to her silence. A form of communication called silence.
As we looked at each other without saying anything, after a brief amount of time had passed. Before long......
“I have something to report.”
Kuroneko sighed as she muttered. As she said a line which was unnatural to the continuity of the current matter, in a baffled voice, I responded with an
“It’s because there has been quite a few changes. ...... such as about the class, various matters. That’s why...... I’m reporting it for now.”
She spoke her words haltingly. As usual, she’s not too good with words. Normally, she won’t be able to communicate effectively with the other party in such a roundabout manner. But, it’s now clear to me. I can make a guess as to why I was called here. She probably wanted to thank me. That’s why, the conversation flow might sound strange just by hearing our lines alone, but this was my reply.
“...... no, I didn’t really do anything significant.”
“Indeed, you weren’t much of a help.”
She agreed on that!? Wasn’t she supposed to disagree with me by saying “No, that’s not it”!?
“But, I was happy.”
“...... when you said that you were worried about me but not in your sister’s place; I was happy to hear that.”
Kuroneko cast her eyes downwards as she spoke.
W, wait...... what is she...... saying......
“Not ‘Nii-san’, ‘Senpai’ is better, you’ve said to me; I was happy to hear that.”
Is she nervous? Her folded hands before her skirt were shaking.
“Joining the same club with me, worried about whether I’m isolated in class, backing me up on the presentation, staying with me till it’s time to kill time with Tamura-senpai.”
“I was very happy.”
--- I thought I’ll die. Dumbfounded, my jaw dropped.
Anyone who’s receiving such an expression of gratitude from the smiling face of a normally dishonest, condescending girl would have reacted in the same manner.
This overwhelming surprise threw me into a state of confusion.
I didn’t know what to say in reply, but somehow, I opened my mouth.
“Is, that so?”
For an instant, I forgot to breathe before her.
In that manner, I couldn’t take my eyes off Kuroneko.
“I think you are just as dishonest as me though.”
“I’ve said what I wanted to say honestly. So --- what are you going to do?”
“ --- ---”
Ahh, that’s right.
This person is telling me it’s fine to do this and used herself as an example.
Really, this girl --- how do I put it? I seem to be close to falling in love with her.
Within my intoxicated brain, I made the obvious decision in an obvious manner --- I’ve decided.
“I’m going to go see Kirino.”
“...... I see.”
Kuroneko cast her eyes down contentedly, and said with in a gentle voice.
Her speech became curt again.
So as to speak, was it awkward when this happened in the past?
It was no longer so right now.
“That’s the end of my report.”
“Is that so?”
I clasped my fist and turned on my heel.
“Well then, I’m off.”
“Wait a minute”, I heard from behind me. Then I heard the sound of footsteps rushing up to me.
As I turned around ---
There was a soft feeling on my cheek.
Leaving a faint sweet scent, the blushing face of Kuroneko pulled away.
“...... wha...... what......”
Are you doing...... My voice trailed off before I could say what I wanted to say.
What is...... what is the meaning of this?
Kuroneko read my inner question from my expression and replied.
“...... a ‘curse’. A curse that will kill you if you waver and wimp out. The curse will not be lifted until you fulfill my wishes...... Pitiful, if you leave it alone, your whole body will start spurting blood, writhing and rolling back and forth on the ground till you die.”
Even as she was blushing up to her ears, she had a boundlessly evil smirk on her face.
“If you’ve already understood, quickly disappear from my sight. This time, you can go meddle in your little sister's affairs.”
She then sent me off by pushing me from behind with all her strength towards the direction of the sky’s horizon.
The departed flight from Narita Airport appeared to have finally stopped its ascent. Having clung to half of the seat in front of me from the great fear I had, I breathed out a sigh of relief as I looked up.
I traced along my cheek with my finger.
Even now, there was still a soft lingering warmth there ---
“...... a curse indeed.”
I’m unable to judge what kind of intentions she has for her to do this.
Was it to cheer me up and give me a push from behind?
Was it because she wanted me to go help her dear friend Kirino?
Was it an impulse to play a prank on me? --- Or...
I’ll leave that aside for now. Once everything has finished, after returning to Japan, I’ll start pondering about it again.
At any rate, it seems like I’m greatly indebted to her.
Thanks to her, I’m here doing this right now. I’m kind of surprised that it had only been a few hours ago.
After that, on returning home, for some reason, my old man was in and I tried discussing with him about the matter regarding Kirino.
"Great! Go ahead!"
The old man was extremely enthusiastic about it.
He took out a suitcase from his room and with lots of vigor, put it down with a large ‘dong’ sound.
"Whatever you will need are all inside this. Feel free to take it along with you."
Why was it that he had everything perfectly prepared for a trip? Why was the old man at home in the evening?
I didn’t ask him all that, neither was there a need to ask.
" --- Kyousuke. I shall leave everything in your hands. I’m entrusting this to you."
Gratitude was embedded within those strong forceful words.
I arrived at my destination airport and opened the map I got from my old man.
While this was the second time I went on an overseas trip (the first being my junior high school excursion to Hawaii), to be honest, I had no confidence in my ability to arrive safely at Kirino’s residence.
What do you mean by what a miserable fella in spite of getting all worked up to come here? Don’t be stupid! I can’t speak the language here well enough, unfamiliar with the land here, and didn’t even have time to buy a single thing.
Of course I was scared! Ku, if, if my luggage got snatched...... super scary, I don’t even want to think about it. In the worst case, I wouldn’t have a choice but to call the dormitory number that the old man gave me and call Kirino out --- to come pick me up!
That was the last thing...... that was the last thing I wanted. Worrying my own little sister, and receiving her help; it’s no longer the question of how miserable I would become. It’s a matter of losing my pride as a big brother.
Tough, but such needless worry came to an end. Because the travel items that I’ve received from my old man were meticulously prepared. There was a travel guidebook with lots of memo paper, affixed into it with clips, which detailed how best to get to my destination from the airport --- transport guide, map, money, situational conversation manual, et cetera --- perfectly prepared to the point that whatever I needed was inside.
“As expected of my old man! These preliminary preparations ain’t too shabby!”
He did this despite hating overseas travel and had never gone on any trips at all.
In order to go meet his daughter --- he did all this research. Sounds like my old man alright. That’s what I really thought.
Following the directions of my old man’s memo, I got on a taxi from Los Angeles International Airport.
The driver was a black man, the type that Sena is particularly fond of, and after showing him the corresponding page from my old man’s memo (the address was written in English), he said something and nodded, appearing to understand it.
I didn’t exactly get what he said but it seemed something like, Okay boy, leave it to me.
Is it really okay? Will he bring me to a remote place and kill me......
Thanks to a certain someone, I will remember that feeling of fear towards burly men.
Carrying that worthless unsettled feeling, I gazed out of the window to view the cityscape of Los Angeles.
It’s the sea. On the other side were stretches of soaring mountains.
The time difference was seventeen hours. The climate was warm, and it didn’t feel too different from that of Japan.
So as to speak, since America is said to be a free country, I would expect it to be entirely different from Japan and the trip here would be more straining, but it’s surprisingly not so. Perhaps, those were the thoughts I had had on arriving, but the only things that seemed foreign were the wideness of the roads, the cars were all driven on the right side, and lots of foreigners walking in the area, and that’s about it.
Honestly speaking, the first time when I went to Akiba, I was much more surprised.
Well, in Los Angeles, there weren’t any maids walking around distributing leaflets.
Ignoring my unease, the car journey was smooth. As to how smooth it was, it was smooth like running on deserted streets of Chiba. Not the slightest congestion was present.
Whenever the driver made a right turn when the light was red, I was initially nervous about it, but somehow, it seemed like this sort of traffic rule does exist. I had no idea at all.
After running along the freeway for quite some time --- by the time I reached my destination, it was already dusk.
“So this is the dorm, er, rather, it’s a house.”
It was a white, two-story wooden residence. Looks like a new building, standing conspicuously without a blemish, and sparkling clean.
On top of that, it was pretty spacious. And there was equipment outside that appeared to be for barbecue use, it was pretty much like a campsite. As I had imagined this to be undoubtedly an apartment type, I was somewhat perplexed by what I saw.
I wonder how many of such houses do they have here?
I rang the intercom, and waited for a while.
But...... as expected of America, what a huge luxurious home.
It might kind of suit the taste of that flashy girl.
As I pondered, the door opened and a familiar face appeared.
In spite of having expected such a scene before, my heart still tightened and felt like it was going to give way.
I took a deep breath softly, and made a smiling face. As I was feeling nervous, my body might have stiffened a little.
“Yoh, long time no see.”
“...... what...... are you...... doing here......”
The voice of the little sister which I hadn’t heard for months. Woah, surprise, surprise.
“You know...... is it such a weird thing for me to come see you?”
“It’s, it’s weird indeed.”
She told me straightly. Or rather, how heartless did my little sister think I was......
…... che. I form a ‘heh’ word with my mouth and adopted a frowning expression.
I will try to ascertain the matter I’ve heard from my old man.
“I’ve heard that recently, your health wasn’t doing too good.”
“...... it’s not a big deal. Just something like a flu.”
“I’ve heard it’s been going on since February. Our old man is worried as well.”
If I hadn’t taken any action, it seemed like he would probably have flown here himself.
“...... I see...... father......”
Kirino hung her head down dejectedly. And the front fringe of her hair drooped swiftly.
...... her hair had grown longer.
Her appearance reminded me of the time when she was sick from influenza and had to stay in bed.
Looking at her comfortable home casual dressing, could it be that she had been sleeping before this? And her face seemed pretty pale, compared to the last time I saw her, she looked kind of worn out. To begin with, she’s doing modeling work and already has a slender build...... what would happen if she went on further to become thinner?
“Not just the old man. Ayase, Kuroneko, Saori as well --- everyone is extremely worried about you, you know? Why didn’t you contact them at all?”
“.................. che. That’s none of your business, ain’t it?”
Kirino pushed her hair back and bit her lower lip.
I hadn’t heard those words in ages. Che, in other words, it was the kind of rebuke that I’m so used to.
It’s nostalgic. This feeling of extreme annoyance was nostalgic.
Kirino gave me a glare of extreme displeasure, then snapped at me in a hateful tone.
“...... that aside...... what did you come here for?”
Good timing, I was just waiting for that.
I slowly opened the suitcase, rummaged through the items, and brought out a transparent plastic DVD case. As I showed it to her, Kirino’s eyes went wide.
“That’s...... what I gave you......”
The DVD I was showing to her was the one that I received from my little sister some time ago, the game disc for "Sis x Sis ~ Siscon Love Story ~". Imitating club president Miura’s wide double tooth grin,
“I’ve come here to play eroge.”
Several minutes later ---
“...... I don’t get the meaning of this...... I ultra-don’t get the meaning of this...... Why should I, who should have been studying abroad in America, be playing an eroge beside you......”
It was inside Kirino’s room in the dorm.
We were sitting at the side table beside the bed, where the laptop was placed.
And in the midst of playing the aforementioned "Sis Sis".
We were just at the end of the opening event, and about to go into the main story.
Kirino, with a sour look, was miffed......
It was as if I was looking at the same scene as the one on that day when she left Japan.
“Wasn’t it you who said, Understood, let’s play?”
“That’s because you were harping about eroge eroge outside, and that was the only thing I could say in that situation! Don’t you have any sense of delicacy at all! It’d have been bad if someone else heard that!”
Speaking of that, was it because America was stricter than Japan when it comes to eroge?
“Che, do you really get it? That aside, we haven’t gotten to the main point yet, other than playing eroge with me, let’s hear the real reason behind why you’re here?”
“Well, isn’t this fine? Don’t worry about the small details.”
“Do you understand what you’re saying? You flew all the way here because you want to play eroge with your little sister, and yet you said, Don’t worry about the small details?”
The details certainly weren’t small. Looking at this objectively, I’m a hentai.
But you will get angry if I tell you the real reason. That’s why I couldn’t say it.
“...... sigh...... I seriously don’t get this.”
Even as she said that, she wasn’t really displeased. It seemed like her health wasn’t as bad as I’ve feared, and my heart started to feel more at ease. ...... ya, despite saying that, it’s not like I was worried to the extreme or anything of that sort.
“What are you looking at?”
Kirino snapped irritatedly. As I wiped off the grin on my face, I looked around the room.
The first thing that caught my eye was the double deck bed. Somehow, it seemed like this was a room for two. According to Kirino, this kind of dormitory has several such rooms, and about ten girls lived here together. Of course, they were all assembled from different parts of the world, track-and-field elites of the same generation.
But right now, only the two of us were in this home. As a matter of fact, it seemed like before I could enter this dormitory, Kirino would have to seek permission from the school, and the teachers would take into consideration the reunion between "two close siblings" and make things convenient for me. Currently at this time, since her roommates were out training, there was no special preparation done, but with regards to whether the two of us could spend the night alone privately, a proper request would have to be made.
“Well, the truth is, I’m pretty lucky, it seems.”
“............ don’t do any weird stuff just because we are alone here.”
“As if I will!”
Generally speaking, it would be a different story if she was a cute junior, but to be self-conscious just because I was alone with a bratty little sister, it would just be plain annoying. Idiot, you are getting too self-conscious! There’s no way I will lay my hands on my little sister!
“...... hng, that so.”
She turned the other way in an obnoxious manner, with displeasure. One second later, she glanced in my direction.
“Contrary to what you said, don’t you look pleased after knowing you can spend the night with your little sister? Ahh, yuck, yuck, eeww ---, oh gosh, at this rate, won’t you ---, have come all the way here to take advantage of an opening to steal my underwear ---? Won’t you go sniff sniff on them ---?”
“N~o W~a~y duh.”
Irritating. Irritating irritating. Even though I just saw her for only a few minutes, I already felt like going back!
“Be quiet and look at the screen.”
I frowned and formed the shape of a ‘heh’ word with my mouth as I was spamming away left clicks all this while. That’s why even as we were talking, the game play had advanced to the heart-throbbing school life of the sisters. The skill of being able to play an eroge in the middle of a conversation was one that I’ve obtained through experience. Even though it served its use now, it’s not a skill I could boast with pride.
By the way, as I was playing the game, I was bothered by something,
“Hey, you can’t play eroge when your roommates are around right?”
I came to grips with something big. Kirino responded to the nagging doubt I had and started complaining in a teary voice.
“Even if it’s me, there’s no way I can play eroge in front of all those pure innocent girls younger than me. To think that I’ve actually taken the trouble to install a heap load of eroge that I haven’t cleared, and impressively brought them past the customs into America! And yet I can’t play them at all! Uuw...... for, for me to actually accumulate games......! Mortifying......!”
Kirino was gritting her teeth and clenching her fist tightly as she said that. You, you......!
Although I had somewhat anticipated it, but still, to think that you really brought your eroge into America!
“Hah, if you want to laugh, just laugh!?”
“I’m not laughing duh!”
This is really bad! If she was caught, won’t this hit the news?
Well, I’ll be the one to talk.
“Bu, but, you did well in persevering till this point...... I’ll give you that.”
“Yeah...... now, after coming to this country, I totally understand how the guys feel when they secretly watch porn when their parents are not around.”
“Wha, you did play them anyway!”
I wouldn’t care even if you get caught, you know! Even if I’m your brother, there’s no way I, having come all the way to a foreign country in a hurry, would cover up for you by saying, "This is my game!", you know?
“And...... we are almost getting to the first choice......”
On the screen was the scene in which the two heroines, side by side, were pressing the protagonist to answer to the question, "Whose bento was delicious?". The protagonist went with the safe answer, "Both were delicious.", which of course couldn’t be possibly accepted --- "Choose one!", he was forced, so as to speak.
1. …... Surprisingly, the bento from Rinko was more delicious.
2. …... Of course, the bento from Miyabi was more delicious.
“At any rate, you are going to start capturing from long black-haired ‘Miyabi-chan’, aren’t you?”
A big brother whose eroge capturing tendencies were within the grasp of his little sister...... I feel like dying, oiy.
“...... fu, fu. Why are you talking as if you know everything about other people’s taste? You are off the mark duh. Today...... that’s right. The one on the right side, who keeps running "Stupid Aniki!" off her mouth, that conceited looking little sister. I’ll start with her route.”
“Eh? Rinko route? …... are you going to start now?”
For some reason, Kirino was queerly dismayed.
“Wait! Rinko-rin’s scenario is not allowed.”
“What’s that? Geez, weren’t you the one who said think of this game as myself and treasure it well. But yet, why is there a You-can’t-play-this route in it?”
“That’s because! Erm....... that...... any --- anyway, you can’t play that! I thought that I gave that to you as a present so that when you feel lonely without me, you can play it by yourself in your own room, jeez!? --- why didn’t you play it over there and instead brought it all the way to America to play it with me!? This is really beyond my expectations!”
What the hell made you snap!? Is there a need to make such a fuss about playing Rinko-rin scenario? I don’t get it.
“Well, well...... if you insist, I won’t play it though.”
Besides, I actually prefer the long black-hair one. I chose choice number two, Of course, the bento from Miyabi was more delicious. I’m already familiar with this particular route.
In the orthodox advertisements of Sis Sis, Rinko and Miyabi were featured as the main heroines, so as to speak, it was a game of double heroines. The main characteristic of this game is the crazy scenario presented by the triangular relationship formed with both younger blood sisters. Despite how transient these things are, in the Eroge Review Column of many large game review sites, it was highly acclaimed and hailed as One of the Most Outstanding Nakige. As usual, it feels like there’s something wrong with the world I live in.
As the game was being played, the exchanges between us gradually decreased --- and a few hours went by.
And then, as we passed the middle stage, Kirino heaved a sigh as she murmured.
“Hey...... what about you?”
“...... what do you mean by what about you?”
“Well...... everybody is worried about me, isn’t it? …... what about you?”
“Of course, I’m worried as well.”
Don’t ask me for the obvious, duh. If not so, why else would I come all the way here.
I answered without meeting her eyes.
Our conversation stopped once again. Sitting beside the bed, we continued playing the game.
The BGM, character voices, and clicking sounds of the mouse reverberated across the room.
This time round, it was me who asked in a sighing tone.
“What about you.”
“Did you feel lonely when you didn’t get to see me?”
“Are you an idiot? There’s no way that would happen right......”
“That so? I was lonely, you know.”
“What about it?”
“Not, nothing............ fuun...... is that so? …... so you were lonely without me.”
“Righto. I was super lonely, and got scolded by Kuroneko. Don’t take me as your little sister’s substitute, she said.”
As we carried out those short exchanges, the game continued to progress.
Click, click, click...... The sound of rhythmic clicking.
“...... speaking of that. That black one, I heard she went to the same school as you?”
“Yeah. Thanks to you spreading some strange things about Manami, it was troublesome, you know.”
I told her about the incident where Kuroneko and I made a game together.
Kirino listened without saying a word.
“...... fuun. As I thought...... she looks like one who sucks at interacting with others, and probably a lone wolf at school. And then, you put your hand into it...... and helped her to make friends......”
“I didn’t do anything actually. They became friends all by themselves.”
“Ah, that so?”
“Are you jealous that your friend was stolen?”
“Not at all. Tch, I mean, anyway she’s just a net friend, that’s all there is to it. Since it’s about time I got tired of that girl, it’s just nice that some pushy people came out from nowhere.”
Seems like these two are more or less on the same tune on this.
“Don’t say that. You know, you went missing without telling her anything. And she got all depressed because of that, you know?”
I acknowledged loudly.
“The truth is...... she really wanted to make that game with you, you know?”
Kirino took a sniff. She sat on the bed, grasping her knees, and buried her face into her knees.
Her long hair fell over.
Wanting to meet her friends. Wanting to hear their voices. Wanting to play with them --- she appeared to be saying all that.
That’s right. It’s not possible for her not to think about all these. Because Kirino really loves her friends.
But why has she not contacted anyone even till now?
“I brought the game we made. Let’s play it later.”
“...... I don’t really mind.”
Once again, our conversation was cut off. It was not an awkward silence. How should I put it....... it was somewhat closer to the atmosphere when I’m with Manami, like that of lukewarm water. Using such an analogy may sound weird with regards to my real little sister, but somehow, it was the kind of warmth that one would feel when one spends time with one’s family.
“Coach didn’t allow me to go for practice today...... even though I told him that I’m fine, but he paid no heed to me at all....... and I was getting a little depressed.”
Kirino was gazing at the screen of Sis Sis that I was playing with an affectionate look.
“Playing eroge somehow makes me feel much better.”
“....... that’s great, isn’t it.”
...... an earth-shattering line.
“The way you said that sounds real perverted though. It’s been a while since I could do what I like to my heart’s content, you know...... and it makes me real happy.”
The thing she like = eroge, so as to speak, a junior high school student who could say that openly is pretty rare. Of course, this girl must have completed Sis Sis in its entirety, but despite that, she could still derive such pleasure on a replay...... just goes to show how much she loves it. That’s it, right. During that time, she did hand it to me with brimming confidence. At any rate --- one won’t normally say such stupid lines even in one’s own heart ---
It was a good thing that I brought an eroge here.
The time was ripe. I let out a small breath --- and asked the thing that I had wanted to ask.
Without stopping my clicks, and with eyes on the display,
“What...... was that mail about?”
“............ just as it was written.”
“To throw away the entire collection that you’ve left with me?”
“...... yea, yeah.”
“Is that really ok?”
As I attempted to seek out confirmation from her face, she averted her eyes.
“...... didn’t I...... already say it?”
“"EX Meruru Special Figure", "Stardust ☆ Witch Meruru DVD Box", "Let’s fall in love with my little sister ♪", "Mascera DVD Box", "Scatology * Sisters", "Big Bro's Panties", "Scum Little Sister"...... the secret collection which you showed me before you left...... is it really ok to throw all of them away?”
Even though I sounded like an idiot, I asked in earnest.
Because I had to ascertain this girl’s true feelings.
There was a trail of a tear streaking across her cheek.
But yet ---
“Throw them away, everything.”
She was serious about it.
“...... if I don’t do that, the naivety from within me wouldn’t disappear.”
Little by little, Kirino started filling me in.
“I’ve already known right from the start that my ability can’t pass for one among these track-and-field elites assembled from all around the world. In the first place, I came for this abroad study program in order to accumulate experience. I knew that it’s not possible for me to just become good right at the start...... that’s why, when I came here, I imposed a restriction on myself.”
“Yeah. A restriction in which I couldn’t contact any of my friends in Japan till I beat one of these elites in an official time-attack race.”
So, that’s it. That’s why, without saying a word, she went abroad all by herself.
“When I set the restriction, I thought that it was a great, challenging goal and things would work out somehow, marginally at worst, if I give it my best shot. They must be worried about me, I thought, I’m really sorry, I thought, but it’d be fine as long as I win, I would win with this in mind, then explain my circumstances and apologize. But......”
I could not hear her teary voice beyond that. I didn’t need to.
You didn’t win right...... not even once since you came here.
“In spite of having attained such results in Japan......”
That’s why she couldn’t contact Ayase or Kuroneko.
“Since I’m already relatively used to such a deplorable state...... I’m not too bothered by it.”
Hehe, she laughed in self-contempt, but completely devoid in energy, her voice became soft.
“I really feel apologetic towards everyone......”
Even when engulfed in chagrin and suffering, bounded by her own self-imposed restriction, she would neither whine nor ask for help from anyone else.
Unlike in Japan, it’s difficult to even seek an hour of sanctuary through her games or anime here.
The only person she could contact was not any of her friends, but her big brother. To top it off, contrary to expectations of some sort of a request, it was an order to deal a penalty to her worthless self. How stoic could this girl be?
“...... stupid idiot.”
I understood it well. In short, this was the level of her determination.
The Kirino, who appeared to be perfect in every way, was not necessarily strong in her spirit.
Rather, her true nature is one of immature fragility. Getting depressed on the onset of difficulties was normal.
Just like the time when she cried over her broken friendship with Ayase.
Just like the time when she cried over her mobile novel getting ripped off.
Just like the time when she cried over her parents' denial of her hobbies.
In spite of that --- she possesses an extraordinary strong sense of responsibility and tenacity.
The drive to accomplish whatever comes along her way. Using that as her weapon, Kirino has managed to come this far, but now, it didn’t serve her. In fact, it had quite the opposite effect.
It was as if she was hitting the body of a wall of cold, hard steel, over and over again.
With extreme resoluteness, firmness, earnestness. However, the towering wall was too massive and solid.
It was no wonder that she would collapse, emotionally speaking of course.
--- so glad I came. So glad that I was in time before it’s too late.
I resumed the game that had been suspended for an hour. I averted my eyes from Kirino and fixed them onto the display.
This girl probably wouldn’t want me to see her crying.
At the side of the sobbing Kirino, the clicks continued indifferently.
What was unfolding on the screen was the climax scene of Miyabi’s route.
The little sister, whose days were numbered, confessed the feelings of love that she had kept hidden all this while......
It was a heart-wrenching scene. Honestly speaking, the storyline is a conventional one, and it’s not something that suits my taste. But yet, somehow, I felt overwhelmed.
A soft piano melody drifted from the speakers of the laptop.
I stopped my finger from clicking ---
“Let’s go back together.”
Bah (sfx). Kirino vigorously turned her head towards me.
“What are you saying? Didn’t I tell to throw everything away!”
“I threw nothing.”
I continued staring at the screen as I replied.
“Why --- “
“Didn’t I make a promise to you. I’ll take care of them before you come back. That’s why I didn’t throw them away. Even if you ask for it.”
“But, but....... I...... I’ve yet to.”
I’ve yet to accomplish anything. I’ve yet to achieve anything. That’s probably what she wanted to say.
I came here intending to bring Kirino back to Japan. Right now, the determination which Kirino has preciously held on to for a long time was going to be crushed by me. Perhaps, it was a cruel thing to do. Perhaps, I was imposing my own whim on her. But even so, that was what I wanted to do.
Just like the time when I couldn’t leave the solitary Kuroneko alone.
This time round, I’m going to self-righteously meddle in my own little sister’s affairs.
“Even when I....... have been getting worked up at you, and snapping at everyone demeaningly...... and coming here abroad for athletic studies. Not even a half a year had gone by; this really won’t do; to turn tail and go back to Japan......?”
With her head drooping, and her body trembling.
She jerked her head up and shouted.
“There’s no way I can do that right! What a pathetic thing! Who do you think I am!?”
“My little sister!”
I put my face close to hers and shouted back.
“.............. I, I don’t get you......”
“You are my little sister! What’s wrong with me getting worried about you! Your body’s not doing too good, isn’t it? It’s tough, isn’t it? You really wanted to chat with your friends, and hang out with them right? If that’s the case, just come back to Japan!”
“I can’t do that! Not when I can’t even win against the youngest girl here! How would I be able to explain such a sorry state to those I’ve beaten back home!”
“There’s nothing to explain. You may have your pride. You may have a strong sense of responsibility. But, no matter what, you’ve overextended yourself.”
“I did not! If I haven’t gone to such an extent, I wouldn’t have been able to win my way till here! What do you know!? About the feelings...... that I’ve carried for track-and-field all this while......”
Bang! Kirino punched her fist against the wall. Her face grimaced in pain for an instant, then she choked out her words in a tearful voice.
“Someone like you, will never understand.”
I’ll admit that. For a person like me who had ignored her, treating her as non-existent all this while, I don’t have the right to lecture her.
“But you know. Being so adamant at this point, obstinately remaining here...... is that going to help you win? You keep collapsing; didn’t coach tell you to take a break from training today as well? Do you think you can catch up to those people whom you are no match for when you can’t even see what’s happening around you?”
“That doesn’t matter. I must definitely win. That’s why I’m going to win. That’s all there is to it.”
An unreasonable argument. It was akin to saying she could resolve everything with just her willpower alone.
It seemed like she used to be a slowpoke in running. I just thought of this. Perhaps --- Kirino just maybe wasn’t that blessed with a talent for track-and-field after all.
Perhaps, all this while, to compensate for her lack of talent, she had been using the fighting spirit and willpower she had just shown me to blast away her opponents and made it all the way here.
Drawing out a strength beyond her limits, bearing an impassive preparedness.
Those were the secrets of Kousaka Kirino’s speed.
Such as maintaining a full acceleration as she runs. While the meandering curves may not matter, even as the sharp curve comes looming in, knowing that a crash is inevitable, Kirino can’t afford to brake. Otherwise, she can’t win.
“Isn’t it okay to just have a fresh start? You’re too impatient. Let’s go back for now, allow yourself to recuperate, and regain your true strength. After that, you can come back and have a rematch, can’t you? So? Won’t that do!”
“What a nag! I’ll never give up!”
It was useless to say anything more. My words couldn’t reach her.
But even so, I couldn’t wuss out here. Having received Kuroneko’s curse, failure was not an option. Since I didn’t want to start spurting blood, and lie writhing, rolling back and forth on the ground till I die.
At this point, I had to follow her example --- drop your front and be honest.
I’m not going to accept any complaints from her.
I grabbed hold of my little sister’s shoulders with both hands, and turned her towards me ---
“It’s lonely without you, you know!”
With all my effort, I declared my true feelings to the stiffened Kirino.
“I’ve already blurted out all those stuff buried within me! And the result! I don’t really care about what circumstances you have! Forget about Kuroneko or Ayase! I came here to bring you back not because they asked me to, but because I’m lonely without you around! That’s all! Any complaints!”
The bed made a creaking sound.
Sniff. I’m seriously crying here, how pathetic.
This is bad. Really, somehow. How lonely I had been.
Kirino, despite being Kirino, was dumbfounded, with her eyes freezing up as they widened.
“...... y, you......”
“...... let’s go back together. Otherwise, I might die.”
I had been truly feeling troubled.
I couldn’t help it. Tsk tsk...... I couldn’t help it really......
But, those weren’t in any manner a facade, they had arisen from what I truly had felt.
They were heart-felt words sent from a lazy big brother to his little sister, who has always given her best in everything to the point of collapsing.
“There’s no need for you to try so hard. No need for you to be so outstanding. It’s okay even if you hate me. There’s no need to care what others think. If there’s anyone who has anything to complain about such a diligent girl like you, always giving her best, I’ll beat that guy to a pulp.”
Even if I said that, it was a selfish whim of mine. I was pulling Kirino back. Tempting my little sister who’s working hard abroad, discouraging her.
I want my little sister to be happy. I want her to be happy at a place where I can see her.
But I don’t see it as something for the sake of satisfying my own ego. Every big brother would have felt the same way.
Isn’t it so?
“...... stupid Aniki.”
She called me that again.
Frankly speaking, it didn’t really feel so bad to be called by you in this manner.
But I’m never going to tell you that.
“After we get back, let’s hang out at Akiba again. Of course, together with Saori and Kuroneko. In August, there’s Natsukomi. If Kuroneko gets into the circle, you can be the salesgirl. How about that? And let’s go meet the other famous groups that Saori is going to introduce to us. I’ll be laden with all your stuff probably, but I’ll do my best to bear with it. That’s why ---”
“...... I know what you’re trying to say.”
“Don’t apologize, since it’s annoying. And my shoulders are hurting. How long are you going to continue grabbing your little sister’s shoulders?”
Kirino was no longer crying. She’s talking down to people as usual, and an intrepid smile floated on her lips.
She shook off my hands from her shoulders and stood up.
“...... since right now, there’s a place I need to go for a while.”
Several days later ---. Together with Kirino, we landed at Narita Airport.
We passed through a long passage like a procession of ants.
In the end, Kirino returned. She terminated her overseas studies. Things went more smoothly than I expected. Seems like dropouts for this program among the assemblage of worldwide elites were not uncommon. So that’s the case, isn’t it?
In the end, I didn’t know the actual reason that had extinguished my little sister’s determination, making her decide to come home.
Was it my persuasiveness, or was there another reason?
Whichever the case, Kirino would probably take responsibility for her own decisions. She’s still ranting “It’s all because of you!” off her mouth to me though, as usual.
That’s the type of person she is. Even though the face beside me had a cool look of nonchalance --- I guessed that was not what she really felt in her heart.
“Our old man is picking us up with his car.”
We grabbed our luggage and underwent a customs inspection. At the place where one passes through the gate, there was a person running towards us. She was panting, her shoulders bobbing up and down.
--- it was Kuroneko.
This was the first time I was seeing her like that. Kirino’s eyes widened, puzzled. She was probably trying to find her words. Her mouth flapped open and shut several times.
“...... long time...... no see.”
As she struggled to catch her breath, Kuroneko muttered expressionlessly. She was in her usual --- well to me, it’s been a while since I saw her in that --- pitch black Goth Loli fashion garb. The person who had informed her of the arrival time of our plane was of course me. It was the instant of a reuniting between Kirino and Kuroneko, who had not seen each other for several months.
“...... hah...... hah...... what’s with you...... did, did you run out of breath? Were you in such a hurry to meet me that you ran all the way from the bus stop?”
“...... don’t say such foolish things to me...... hah...... hah...... after a few months...... are those the first words one would say?...... an ill-mannered girl...... as usual......”
Is this girl okay? Weren’t you the one who started with hah hah? You are probably lacking in stamina. Where did you come running from? Kirino being Kirino, despite being extremely happy, had started talking down in a detestable manner.
“Geez --- you guys are still the same.”
With a teasing tone, I watched over the two of them facing each other.
“You, you fool. Being a hikikomori and all, don’t overdo it.”
Kirino, with her cheeks threatening to break into a grin, frantically resisted, and handed something to Kuroneko.
She handed her a filled PET(TL: a.k.a plastic) bottle. Kuroneko gulped everything down, and then hah, she sighed out. “...... how unnecessary......”, she went. And then ---
Leaning in until she’s just next to her face, blushing, Kuroneko murmured.
“...... uhn...... I’m back.”
Kirino returned with a smile tinged with embarrassment.
Just for this instant, the two contradictory girls were honest with each other.
Not expecting to see such a scene again, I burned it into my mind.
After that, the two of them just engaged in meaningless conversations.
Making a fuss of the game that Kuroneko had made, making plans for the Natsukomi enthusiastically, asking each other whether the other party had felt lonely without them ---.
It was as if they were trying to catch hold of the time they had lost together.
It greatly resembled the time they were fighting inside a Mac in Akiba one year ago.
“...... fu. So the fact is you lost, turned tail and escape back here. --- aren’t you quite the troublemaker?”
“Tch, fooool. Who do you think you are talking to? With more training, it’s a definite that I’m going to beat all those guys there next time.”
“Really...... in spite of not even being able to scratch them, do you really stand a chance?”
Kirino took out her iPhone slowly. After some fingering, she showed it to me and Kuroneko.
It seemed like an internet news article. Embedded within the article was the photograph of a girl running on the track. It was a girl with a beautiful brown complexion. Her hair was tied up into a ponytail. Even though she was not very tall, her slender legs were long. She carried an air of a supple thoroughbred. Even though I couldn’t read the English content of the article, it seemed like she won some big tournament --- that was what it appeared to be.
Kuroneko asked. With a sense of pride, she pointed to the screen of her iPhone.
“Lia Hagryy-chan. Among her peers of the same age, she’s probably the world’s fastest grade school student. …... She’s my roommate over there.”
“In other words...... she’s also faster than you?”
“The current me is not a match for her. She's super cute, very young, with ability unseen of even at the world level. As if she’s a world idol. Fu, and she even made the news.”
Kirino started deriding herself. Seems like even she could make such a face.
“--- --- but, there was one time when I beat her.”
She suddenly became cheerful and puffed out her chest. It didn’t seem like she was lying. My little sister wouldn’t lie about matters pertaining to contests. Since she’s one with an overwhelming sense of pride.
“I see...... you managed to beat her once?”
“Well. It was something like a surprise attack though.”
“But you won.”
“I see. Then, it’s fine.”
Kuroneko nodded contentedly.
That’s great. It’s not like you came running back here with a clean score sheet.
I could tell that it was what she seemed to be saying.
The truth was that this girl came back after returning a blow to the wall of the world. There wasn’t a need for Kirino to deride herself as if she hasn’t accomplished anything at all.
“By the way ---”
Kuroneko started with the side of her mouth twitching upwards into a broad grin.
“...... when did that happen, I wonder?”
For some reason, Kirino was at a loss for words.
“It’s, it’s a secret.”
With her face red, she turned the other way.
Kuroneko smirked as if she knew about everything.
“I see. It’s just that you won when you were coincidentally in your perfect condition.”
“You are a really detestable one, you know.”
“...... fu...... what do you mean, I wonder? If you don’t say it out clearly, I won’t understand, you know?”
“I can’t be bothered with you!”
Once again, with a sharp jerk, Kirino averted her eyes from Kuroneko,
And at that moment, her eyes widened for an instant as if she had just noticed my presence. But then---
She just stuck out her tongue at me.
...... what the hell.
Not knowing anything, I stood there alone, bewildered.
Well, forget it.
Ahem, I cleared my throat, faced my little sister who had not set foot onto the great land of Japan for several months, and said to her the following.
“Welcome back, Kirino.”
 Translator's Notes
- Sena's full name is Akagi Sena (赤城瀬奈). She is the younger sister of Akagi Kouhei (赤城浩平) which appeared in episode 12 of the anime. Sena is a Fujoshi(腐女子), the same age as Kuroneko, which is 2 years younger than Kyousuke. In the earlier parts of this volume, Sena and Kuroneko entered Kyousuke's high school and joined the game research club.
- An utterance akin to indicating ‘I see’.
- Meaning Doujin group for Doujinshi.
- A metaphor. Referring to Lia = wall of the world (ie. a wall / challenge of at the world level), as well as the block she couldn't overcome.
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