Papa no Iu Koto o Kikinasai!:Volume 1 Chapter 4
Chapter 4 – Memories of Sora
Miu-chan carefully slid the duplicate key into the keyhole, and turned the key while trying to make as little noise as possible. After making sure the door had made a tiny click, Miu-chan wordlessly turned back to look at us, and the two sisters' eyes met.
"We're going in……!"
"I got it."
Sora-chan led the way. She made use of the shadows from the pillars, and dashed into the doorway after making sure there was no one around watching her.
Hina followed closely behind, and dashed inside beautifully.
"Oji-san, hurry up and come in!"
I hurriedly ran into the doorway as well at Miu-chan's urging.
As we'd expected, there was no human presence in the house.
"Phew…… seems like we weren't discovered."
Sora-chan let out a long sigh as she stepped into the house.
"Um, I think there's no need to do this so sneakily, you know……"
"What are you saying? What would we do if we were discovered and taken away?"
Miu-chan puffed up her face a little, a little angry.
Right now we're inside the house my late Sis and Brother-in-law used to live in, which is also the place the three sisters used to call home.
Right now the house should be under the management of the Takanashi household.
Reason would, of course, be because the three sisters who were supposed to inherit the house are now staying in my rundown apartment.
Needless to say, there's no way I didn't notice how out-of-sorts the current situation is.
However, the reason we infiltrated was because we were afraid that we'd run into relatives of the Takanashi family. The drama that took place during the family meeting might continue—for all we know, Sora-chan and the others might really get separated as a result.
Because we didn't want that to happen, we wanted to make sure no one discovered us "infiltrating the home". Even though this idea by itself was full of issues, I couldn't reject because of Miu-chan's pleading. Moreover, the number of things that girls have to bring along no matter what is quite a lot too.
…… As long as my 3-by-2-meter rundown apartment can fit the items in.
I sat down on the sofa in the living room with a trace of worry.
"Then, Oji-san, please wait here in the meantime."
"Ah, let me help as well."
The two of them said at the same time.
"W-why such violent objections, you two……"
"Really, that's why I say men……"
"They're really thick-headed."
I got criticized pretty badly.
I just thought that I'd be able to help if there was any heavy luggage……
"In any case, just stay here and don't do anything!"
"Absolutely! Don't come up without permission!"
After strongly emphasizing that one last time, the two of them went upstairs.
Hina and I were left downstairs.
"Hina—do you want Oi-tan's help?"
"Don't~ want. Hina can do it alone. Hina, wants to find Usagi-chan~~"
I even got rejected from this side.
Am I so unreliable?
But, once I recalled about living together with Sis last time and found my room cleaned every time I reached home, there'd be an indescribable feeling of my knees giving way.
Maybe that's what they call adolescence.
"Speaking of which, there's nothing to do……"
Hina was busy turning the toy box near the TV upside down, and I expected the two upstairs to be busy sorting out their own belongings as well.
Looking at the colourful toys all over the floor, I couldn't help but worry—who'll be cleaning this up later? Don't tell me it'll be me?
I looked around as I considered all these. The house was quiet to the point it bordered on strange. Plus……
"Was this place actually this big……?"
I had already thought that this house was owned by a capitalist the last time I came by.
However, right now it just feels emptier compared to the last time.
I felt another wave of drowsiness as I was thinking of all these.
I'm probably going to blame this extremely soft sofa I'm sitting on.
The surrounding area was extremely quiet as well, as this was located in a residential area.
Not to mention that I was suffering from a lack of sleep due to the night shift at work last night.
It'd be impossible for me not to feel sleepy with all these factors coming together.
I couldn't help but to let out a huge yawn.
"Oi-tan, are you sleepy?"
"Mm…… yeah, I do feel like sleeping for a bit."
"Then, it's okay if you sleep~"
"No, even if you say that……"
"Hina will sing for you!"
"Sing…… a lullaby, is it?"
Raising her tiny hand up in the air, Hina, who was full of confidence, pestered me to lie down on the sofa, and then sat down on my stomach. At least I won't need a blanket.
"Go to sleep~~ Go to sleep~~ In Mama's embrace~~♪"
She was completely off-tone yet she was extremely excited about it. Her tiny hand was slapping my head as it went patter-patter (she probably wanted to pat my head instead).
In this situation, like hell I can fall asleep. But seeing Hina trying her hardest like this, I didn't want to say anything much either.
I'll just endure this until Hina's had enough of this—I closed my eyes obediently as I thought.
Speaking of which, I slept on the sofa like this last time as well.
That time, this house had Sis, Brother-in-law, Sora-chan, Miu-chan and Hina…… they were all living happily together.
They accepted me as though I was really part of their family and everyone gathered together for a meal……
Ah, so that's why. No wonder the house had become this lonesome.
I had already known, that the days of everyone gathering at the dining table like last time would never return……
In Hina's gentle singing, for a moment, I thought I heard Sis singing a lullaby.
I suddenly opened my eyes and took a look around.
There was no change in the living room.
No, the light from the window seemed to have become a little dimmer.
Looks like I really did fall asleep earlier.
I took a look at the clock, and it seems like I had slept for about an hour or so.
I'm not even sure whether it's due to Hina's unexpectedly effective lullaby, or me just having a bad habit of falling asleep easily in this house.
"Geh, speaking of which, where's Hina?!"
It's a huge problem for a guardian to leave children unattended for a whole hour.
I was planning to get up and look for Hina but I realized that I just couldn't get up, as though I was being pressed down by something heavy.
I took a closer look and realized that Hina was tightly hugging my waist and sleeping like a dead log.
"A-and I was wondering why it was so heavy……"
But that's one hell of a hug, considering she's asleep. Are you a koala infant or something?
"Oi—Hina—Can you please release me……"
Since Hina didn't seem to have any intention of waking, no matter how much I called her, I had no choice but to carefully release her tiny hands and let her sleep on the sofa.
She made a slightly unwilling face as she was moved, but she went back to sleep not long after.
"Be good and sleep here, don't go anywhere……"
I took off the shirt I was wearing over and placed it lightly over Hina as I crept out of the living room.
I took a look at the situation upstairs from the hallway, but there was total silence.
Don't tell me they dumped me here and went out shopping again……?
Can't be helped, I had no choice but to go upstairs.
Of course, I didn't go up because I had some special interest towards girls' bedrooms. Even I have had experience of being inside a girl's room, even though that was in elementary grade 2.
I went up the dimly-lit staircase as I couldn't find the switch for the lights.
As I went up the flight of stairs found only in suburban houses, I encountered a girl whose face had turned red from her life-and-death struggle with her suitcase.
"Nnn—! Nnn—! U—nnn—!"
Sora-chan was trying her best to pull out a suitcase that was so big it couldn't come out of the room.
"…… What are you doing?"
Sora-chan tensed up the moment she noticed my presence.
"W, W-W- Why?!"
Um, even if you ask me, I don't know how to answer you.
Besides, that should be my line.
To think that she was so focused to the point she couldn't notice anyone else until she was greeted. Somehow, it feels like Sora-chan is surprisingly stubborn in some amazing aspect.
"Well, I can roughly guess what's going on. That suitcase should be stuck and can't come out."
Sora-chan let out a ‘Uu……" at my words, showing a face as though she had hit a setback.
"I think you better not force it, it's better to sort out your luggage again."
"B-But it's just a little bit more! Really! Anyway the luggage here has already been reduced by a lot!"
"……Reduced by a lot?"
"Uuu…… I say. After talking it through with Miu, we decided that we'd each bring along our things in one suitcase. Look, if we brought a lot at once, it'd be troublesome, wouldn't it?"
I see, so that's why you picked the largest suitcase and then filled it up to the brim. To be honest, I think that there'd be no point if it were like this……
"I see, but if they're things that you really need, you don't have to be fussy over using only one suitcase; it's fine if you bring more, you know?"
I originally intended to give Sora-chan a little more leeway, but Sora-chan's face turned deep red, either because she couldn't accept my suggestion, or she was embarrassed from being seen like this by me.
"As I thought, I'd better find a way to get this suitcase out! One is more than enough!"
"Wait, hold on a minute! It'll break if you keep pulling like this!"
My uneasiness became a reality in no time at all.
Of course, it wasn't the door that broke—just as Sora-chan continued her tug-of-war with the door, the suitcase, unable to take the pressure any more, broke into pieces with an extremely loud sound.
All sorts of clothes and stuffed toys flew out from inside the broken suitcase like flower petals, and Sora-chan also came flying towards me, having lost her balance.
I let out an involuntary shout as I caught Sora-chan and fell down the stairs from the impact.
The first time I met my nieces was many years ago.
"I have someone I'd like you to meet."
At that time, I was suddenly called to a high-class hotel in the city by Sis, and it was there that I met the man that Sis was about to get married to—in other words, my current Brother-in-law, Takanashi Shingo-san.
I was thunderstruck when I heard the news.
Even though I had heard about Sis going out with someone, I had most certainly not expected the other party to be a middle-aged man. In other words, the two well-dressed little girls sitting opposite me would one day become my nieces.
No one would laugh it off and accept it under such circumstances. I was also very confused by the situation at that time, because at that time, I was only a middle-school student.
After I finished off the cuisine I ordered faster than anyone else, I left an "I'm going to the washroom" and escaped from the table.
I had no intention of returning to the table as well, after I came out of the washroom. Just as I was strolling around in the elevator lobby, I saw two girls who had just come out from the washroom.
It was the girl who was sitting opposite me earlier, her name was Sora if I remembered correctly.
While we were eating, she was constantly sneaking looks at me, and whenever our eyes met, she'd unconsciously lower her head immediately.
It seems that Sora had just taken her sister to the washroom, as she was drying her sister's hands with her handkerchief.
The first one to notice me was her sister, Miu. After she saw me, Miu immediately became very wary and hid behind her sister.
And then it was the older sister's turn to notice me, and her face suddenly turned red, and she panicked.
Just then, the younger sister ran away from behind her sister's back—Miu at that time always had vigorous reactions with strangers and was extremely shy—you'd never be able to tell by looking at Miu-chan now.
"Ah, wait, Miu!"
Hurriedly running after her sister, but would it really be okay to just leave this person, who might one day be their uncle, without greeting him—
It might have been because she had gotten confused by such a thought, Sora-chan, hesitating and looking back as she ran, tripped and fell onto the floor.
It was painful just looking at her as she fell flat on her face.
I quickly ran forward and helped Sora-chan up.
I took a closer look, and realized that Sora-chan had a face that would break into tears at any moment.
"Are you okay? It's okay not to bear with it if it hurts."
Sora-chan shook her head as she gritted her teeth and said "it's okay".
"Show me your hands."
Sora-chan shook her head again.
"You…… okay, be good and just show me your hands."
I used a little force and opened Sora-chan's hands, and as expected, the skin on her palm had torn a little and was bleeding.
"Uwahh, looks painful……"
I involuntarily mumbled to myself.
"Uuuu…… Nngu…… Uuuuuuuuuu……"
Sora-chan appeared to have reached her limit, as large droplets of tears began to fall from her eyes.
"Uwohhh?! W-Wait a moment!"
It was a first for me to have a girl cry in front of me.
I picked up Sora-chan in a hurry and entered the washroom.
"It might hurt a little, so bear with it, okay?"
I sat Sora-chan down next to the sink, and I washed her wound gently.
After I cleaned her wound, I used my handkerchief to wipe her hands dry, and then stuck a band-aid on her wound.
I always have band-aid prepared in my wallet because of Sis' constant nagging at me.
But, I certainly didn't expect that my own band-aid would be used on a girl.
"How is it? Does it still hurt?"
Sora-chan shook her head as she sniffed; it looks like she stopped crying.
"Okay, let's go back then."
I thought I just heard an extremely unpleasant phrase.
"U-Umm…… don't tell me, ‘Oji-san'…… is referring to me?"
"Nnn…… because, Yuri-san said……"
Indeed, Sis had placed a strange setting by saying ‘this is your uncle' when she introduced me.
"If possible, could you please not call me ‘Oji-san'? Somehow I feel repulsed just hearing it."
"…… Then, Yuu-chan?"
"T-This is just like how Sis called me, so please spare me from that."
Sora-chan folded her arms solemnly, and started thinking hard as she went ‘hmmm—'.
After thinking in such a cute way for a moment, Sora-chan's eyes suddenly lit up, as though she had come up with a brilliant idea.
"Um, then I'll call you—"
The ten-year-old girl in front of me, with a vibrant smile on her face, called me—
"H-How could…… N-No way…… Don't die! Onii-chan!"
As I tried my hardest to open my eyes, I saw Sora-chan's crying face.
Urg…… I seem to remember that I fell down the stairs……
Owowowow?! What the hell, the pain from my waist and my back was transmitted clearly via nerves to my brain.
"Hey?! Onee-chan! Oji-san! Are you two okay?!"
Just as I began to see stars from the pain, Miu-chan looked down at us in shock from upstairs.
Sora-chan, who was tightly clinging to my chest and crying, immediately got up.
"Are you okay? It'll be really serious if you hit your head, you know?"
"Don't worry. My head seems to be fine, even though my whole body's hurting."
Tears began to fall from Sora-chan's eyes again as she placed her hand on her chest.
"You see, you've started crying again. You were like this last time as well, you'd cry when you fell down."
Sora-chan stared at my face with a shocked expression.
"No…sorry. I just remembered."
I took a cloth near my hand and wiped Sora-chan's tear-stained face.
"Ah, Oji-san. That's……"
Miu-chan suddenly pointed to the cloth in my hand and said.
Sora-chan's face turned green.
Her stunned expression turned into that of shock, and then slowly turned deep red.
"Eh? What's wrong?"
I double-checked the cloth in my hand, and I realized that this pink piece of cloth not only had a silky feel and clean look to it, it also had black lacings, and was quite an incredible piece of cloth.
No, though technically it's cloth, it's not exactly cloth either.
Of course, it's definitely not meant for wiping tears.
"That one is Onee-chan's favourite."
Miu-chan was referring to the piece of cloth in my hand right now, which is what the world knows it as something called panties.
Sora-chan let out an earthshaking scream.
She snatched her favourite pair of panties from my hand, and then slapped me viciously.
"Ouch! Stop it, calm down, Sora-chan!"
"No! Noo! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!"
My face became swollen almost immediately as I took multiple critical hits from a wailing Sora-chan.
The sounds of cutlery rang throughout the house.
Incidentally, tonight's dinner is curry.
Fortunately for us, the gas and electricity were still running in this house, so everyone worked together to prepare dinner.
The curry was accompanied by seafood. As Hina had strongly requested, we added octopus wieners into her portion of the curry.
The taste was still passable because it was instant curry bought from the nearby supermarket. We planned to stay the night here and then go back tomorrow morning because preparing dinner took longer than expected.
I opened my mouth to speak as I couldn't stand the silence any longer.
"It's about time, that you stopped being angry……"
Sora-chan didn't even have any intention of speaking to me, and snorted unhappily.
She had completely ignored me since the undergarment incident.
I already got slapped for it, don't tell me she's still not appeased……
Here it comes again. Every time I open my mouth to eat the curry, my face which was slapped sore would throb painfully.
"Oji-san, are you all right?"
"Er…… I guess so……"
Even though I had already made an ice-pack using a cup filled with iced water, ultimately it's still just an expedient measure I took. To me, it was even an unprecedented "Slapped-by-a-female-other-than-Sis Anniversary". It's a little regrettable though, that it's not related to reasons of romance. However, I guess it's my just deserts for having forgotten our first meeting.
"Oi-tan, does your face hurt? Hina will blow on it for you!"
Thanks, Hina. You really are the most considerate.
"Onee-chan, shouldn't you stop being angry by now? No matter what you say, you can't slap someone after he's saved you from falling down the stairs……"
"I-Isn't it still because h-he……"
In that instant our eyes met, Sora-chan blushed and lowered her head again.
Is it really that embarrassing to have your undergarments seen……?
"Sorry about that, Oji-san. Onee-chan is a really, rea~lly shy person. Last time, a boy in her class was also……"
Miu-chan stuck out her tongue mischievously.
"I'm going to take a bath first!"
Sora-chan placed her utensils into the sink as she said that, before going upstairs.
My my, seems like she really doesn't want to talk to me during this period.
After dinner we took turns going into the bathroom.
It's been a long time since I soaked in a bath tub as well.
To actually have the luxury of being able to stretch my feet straight in the bath, I guess it's because I'm too used to living a life of poverty in that small apartment.
"Hina—remember to close your eyes."
I used the warm water to wash off the soap bubbles from Hina's tiny head.
I used my free hand to gently massage Hina's head, and Hina, who found it interesting, began to laugh happily.
Who'd have thought a child's head felt this soft. Her hair feels very refreshing as well.
I constantly reminded myself not to use too much strength, as I washed Hina's hair, my heart pounding from this experience.
"Okay, are there still any bubbles left?"
Hina raised her hand up high.
I lightly carried the tiny Hina into the bath, causing this toddler to be extremely happy.
"Oi-tan! Let's hold our breaths!"
"Hoho, that's pretty daring of you. Don't think you can win against me that easily."
"Mu——Hina will definitely win!"
"Okay, bring it on then!"
We both shouted "Ready~" and then submerged into the bathtub.
I tickled Hina's sides as I stayed submerged in the water.
As expected, she jumped out of the water as she puffed out air.
"Oi-tan is sly~!"
"Muahahaha, adults are sly creatures."
"Again! Don't cheat~!"
"Okay, okay, no cheating this time."
Of course I'm lying to you.
"If you're lying, I'll ask Onee-chan to hit you!"
"Urg…… Hina, don't bring out your sister at a time like this……"
Just like that, the two of us played in the bath for quite a while, and I also got to enjoy a soak in a bath for once after a long time.
Because it took some time to prepare dinner, by the time we came out of the bathroom, it was already past nine.
Just as we were drying our hair and preparing for bed.
Hina was the first one to succumb to sleep, and she was already slumbering in Sora-chan's arms before we were done.
"I'll go up and put Hina in bed."
"Onee-chan, need my help?"
"I'm fine by myself."
Sora-chan shook her head and brought Hina upstairs.
I guess I might as well turn in early tonight too. There won't be anything else for me to do here anyway, other than watching television.
That one-hour nap earlier wasn't enough to ease the severe lack of sleep I have.
"Miu-chan, I'm going to bed as well. Can I sleep in the guest room on the first floor?"
"Okay, the bed's already prepared for you."
Just as Miu-chan said, there were already a set of sheets and a mattress prepared.
Like that, I lay on the mattress quietly. The new sheets still had a smell of mothballs, and for some reason it gave me a sense of nostalgia.
I began to toss and turn but I just couldn't fall asleep.
"I can't sleep……"
I wondered if it's because sleeping at ten was too early for me, or if it's because I'm just not used to sleeping in such a big room all by myself……
I just couldn't calm down for some reason, and I kept changing my sleeping posture non-stop.
I don't know how much time had passed.
I heard the sound of someone walking down the stairs.
Is it a trip to the toilet, or just to get a cup of water……
The footsteps in the hallway became louder as it came closer, and stopped outside my door.
With a sliding sound, the door opened and someone walked in.
"Sorry to intrude~……"
"M-Miu-chan? What's wrong?"
"Ehehe…… can we sleep together?"
"Erm…… well, I'm fine with that……"
At my words, Miu-chan had a relieved expression as she happily ran into the room. She pulled out another mattress and set it next to mine.
"I think I've become used to life in the apartment…… somehow I just couldn't sleep."
"Is that so……"
"Hehe, somehow it feels a little embarrassing."
Miu-chan, for once made an expression of embarrassment, and used the sheets to cover her face slightly. It's a slightly childish action, but it makes one feel at ease.
"Me too…… I just felt that this room was too big and I just couldn't fall asleep."
Miu-chan poked her head out and looked at me.
"To actually think that a smaller room is better, I guess I'm too used to a life of poverty."
"If that's the case, then I'm the same. Everyone's used to a life of poverty."
We looked at each other and couldn't help but smile wryly.
"So you really ARE here……!"
This time it was Sora-chan, who was carrying Hina as well.
"Hina wants to sleep with Oi-tan too~"
Hina slid out of her sister's arms and landed on my stomach with a thump.
Damn, you three-year-old. I almost suffocated thanks to you.
"Really, Miu…… I was still planning to talk with you for a bit, yet you……"
"That's because it's just hard to calm down when you're alone. Speaking of which, you can't sleep either, right? Onee-chan."
"Wha…… I'm not the same as you."
"Lies. Explain the pillow in your hands."
"T-this is, um……?!"
Sora-chan hid the pillow behind her back in a panic, and her face turned even redder from embarrassment.
"Whatever the case, please help me get this one off me quickly……"
In the end, we slept in the ‘river' character, just like how we slept back in the apartment. However, strictly speaking, this time there's an extra stroke. (Note: ‘River' = 川)
The one sleeping in the middle is me. Sora-chan and Miu-chan were sleeping on each of my sides. Hina, on the other hand, was sleeping between Sora-chan and I, but occasionally she'd roll over me to sleep beside Miu-chan.
Hina, please stop rolling over me.
"Can I lean a little closer, just for a little bit?"
Miu-chan asked me.
Sora-chan, refusing to admit defeat, squeezed in closer to me than Miu-chan.
Even though there was more than enough space for everyone to sleep in, why would there be a need to squeeze so closely together…… I felt a tinge of gratification even though I was thinking that.
"I guess…… it's because I'm being trusted……"
"Oji-san, did you say something?"
"Nope, I didn't say anything at all."
"You liar, you were definitely laughing to yourself."
Sora-chan pinched me in the side as she stared at me.
"Why'd you pinch me?!"
"I just felt annoyed."
That's a little too much. I'm your senior as well as your guardian, you know.
Hina, that technique of yours, it's actually called the Flying Body Press, you know?
Miu-chan squeezed in even closer and clung to me tightly.
"Hey! Miu! Let go!"
A perfectly executed suicidal-style elbow, she's clearly a toddler yet where does she learn all this?
"Onii-chan too! Stop laughing to yourself!"
"Like I said, when did I laugh to myself?!"
Just like that, our family continued our lively night.
However, I overlooked two things.
The three sisters would never ever go near Sis and Brother-in-law's room.
…… And also, that rabbit doll in Hina's arms that was extremely important to her.
In the second week, Hina started going to kindergarten. Sora-chan and Miu-chan returned to school as well.
As for myself, I began a new job.
The one who recommended me this new job was the American football team captain, as well as the factory manager's son—Hanamura-senpai.
The job scope was everything and anything physical within the factory. This included moving the goods onto the truck, and even the packaging itself.
The working hours and shifts also became more flexible, and I can often bring back the snacks that are about to expire home.
After knowing of my situation, Hanamura-senpai didn't hold back in helping and looking after me, which is why I could get a job with so many benefits.
Thanks to Hanamura-senpai, my poor financial state improved greatly, and I could finally spend some time on studying.
However, the next problem was that I didn't show my face in the clubroom for the past few days.
It can't really be helped either, since I have to juggle my university classes and my part-time jobs, and I also have to consider the timing for the kindergarten. With all these factors, there's no way I'd have extra time for club activities.
Just as I was pondering on whether to continue being a ghost member, or just hand in my club resignation form—
Once my classes ended, I headed in the direction where Hina's kindergarten was located.
Usually, picking Hina up was Sora-chan or Miu-chan's job, but today, both of them seemed to have something going on, so it's my turn to go pick Hina up.
I went through the kindergarten's gates, and the one to meet me by the shoe racks was the kindergarten teacher I'm acquainted with.
"My, today it's ‘Oi-tan' who came."
"Yes…… um, please don't call me that……"
It's conflicting to be called that by a female who's visibly older than you.
The kindergarten teacher ignored my mood and shouted inside: "Hina~ someone's here to fetch you—"
Hina sped into my arms once she saw me, and I made use of the force to carry her up.
"Yo, I've made you wait."
"Today it's Oi-tan?"
"Your sisters have something going on in school today, so they'll be a little late. You don't like Oi-tan to come fetch you?"
"No! Hina likes Oi-tan!"
Hina suddenly planted a kiss on my face as she said that. But rather than kiss, it was more like she sucked forcefully, causing my face to be covered with Hina's saliva.
"Uwooh?! Hina, where did you learn this?"
"Ki~ss, I learnt this from Takeshi!"
"Takeshi…… is it?"
Wow, Takeshi-kun, you must be pretty daring to lay your hands on my cute niece.
This kind of thing must be nipped in the bud.
"Hina, where is this Takeshi now?"
"Takeshi…… is over there!"
I looked in the direction Hina pointed towards, and there was a cocky brat with mid-length hair playing in the sandbox.
"Okay~ Hina, wait here for a bit. I've got something to talk about with that brat—"
"Segawa-san. You can't."
The kindergarten teacher had a pleasant smile on her face while keeping a tight grip on my shoulder.
What are you doing, let me go. Protecting his niece is an uncle's job……
"Hina, why don't you go back in and prepare to go home?"
After the teacher sent Hina away, her grip tightened even further, with no intention of letting go.
"Segawa-san, even though there are many fathers like you, you can't do such a thing. Also, here's the information regarding liaison issues, please do read through once it you go back~ Oh yes, Hina forgot to bring her booklet today, please make sure she brings it tomorrow~"
Thick leaflets of paper were thrust into my hands. Tch, I guess I'll have to find some other time to lecture that Takeshi-kun.
However, I sure didn't expect that kindergartens would have so much contact-related or report-related issues.
It covered almost everything from a child's lifestyle management and health management to dietary issues and sleeping postures. They then compiled everything into a booklet and gave them to parents.
The kindergarten and the schools nearby have a whole mountain of activity recommendations planned for the parents as well.
In other words, given my situation now, it'd be impossible if I could finish reading this much information each week and memorise them.
Just picking up or dropping Hina off is hard enough.
Do the other guardians really manage to finish all these properly?
Or is it because my family is an exception…… seems like it.
"Um…… is Hina okay?"
I asked the kindergarten teacher with a tinge of worry.
The teacher had a surprised expression at first. But after taking my family's situation into consideration, she gave me a gentle smile and encouraged me.
"She's fine. Hina is a really obedient child, and she gets along with the other children as well. Plus, there are many parents who forget the material or the booklet."
"Is that so……"
The teacher's reply gave me some reassurance.
"Oi-tan! I've made you wait~"
Hina bounced back wearing her yellow hat and carrying her bag.
"Right, let's go back then."
Hina's smile is the source of Oi-tan's drive, you know.
I held Hina's hand and we walked back home. When we go back, I'm sure we'll find Sora-chan and Miu-chan waiting for our return.
On the second day, I was sitting in the students' canteen eating plain noodles and some onigiri from home when someone whom I knew sat in front of me. This would be the person I can't wait to see the most.
"Mm, it's been a long time."
Raika-san gave a short reply, took out her small bento box and began eating silently.
It's been almost a month since I disappeared from the club. During this time, I also didn't get to speak to Raika-san.
To be honest, even if I met her, I wouldn't know what to say. Even though I don't want Raika-san to forget me like this, but this doesn't mean I can just abandon Hina and the others and go to the club everyday—such days of internal conflict just kept continuing. I was suppressing my feelings of wanting to see Raika-san, but seeing her eating her lunch silently, it became impossible to continue suppressing these feelings any longer. The feeling of happiness got mixed up with the confusion of not knowing what to do, and they erupted together.
As I was torn between two sides in my heart, Raika-san suddenly spoke first.
"Are you, busy with work?"
"Ah, mm, yeah. Ah, but the job recommendations from Kaichou really helped a lot. That's why I was contemplating going over and saying thanks or something."
"Is that so."
The conversation ended like that.
Raika-san was already a person hard to communicate with, and today was also straightforward answers. The conversation ended too abruptly, which gave me a great disappointment.
Just then, Raika-san's gaze landed on the onigiri I was eating.
"Ah, you mean this? It was made by Sora…… um, the eldest of the three girls. Lately she seems to be putting a lot of effort into cooking."
Other than onigiri, Sora-chan's forte would be curry, hamburg steaks and miso soup. Incidentally, the chances of her burning the hamburg steak is 50%.
"Speaking of which, Raika-san, do you do the cooking yourself? Do you prepare your own bentos as well?"
"Wow, that's amazing. It looks really good. There's no way I'd be able to make something like that, the best I can do is just frozen food."
"That's not the case."
Raika-san expressionlessly covered her bento with her hands. Don't tell me this is her way of expressing embarrassment?
"During this period I did make bentos for my nieces, but their rating was poor. They said ‘Everything in Oji-san's bento looks dark brown", I became a little let down thanks to that……"
But the reason why Miu-chan didn't like the bento was understandable as well.
Roasted fish, egg rolls and vegetables. If I think back about it now, it does seem a little too masculine.
Even I feel it's a little unsuitable for a girl's bento.
"Yuuta's nieces, are they cute?"
Even though we've not spent much time together, when Raika-san asked this question, it meant that she's highly interested—I can at least understand this much.
Which means this is a chance in a lifetime for me.
That night, for the first time I had a guest over at my place who wasn't Nimura.
"I am Oda Raika…… pleased to meet you."
Raika-san, sitting upright at the small table, bowed deeply in greeting.
"Nice to meet you, I'm Takanashi Miu, ten years old. Onee-san is really beautiful~!"
"Hina~! Three years old~!"
As though they were infected by Raika-san, Miu-chan and Hina hurried to make their own introductions.
Only Sora-chan kept a poker face for some reason.
"Hey, you must greet guests properly."
This time I got another fierce stare.
What's the problem……?
"Takanashi Sora. Eldest. Fourteen years old."
She did her self-introduction in a terrible mood.
Just what is she unsatisfied with?
Looking at such an attitude, Raika-san's mood must have surely been ruined—
"Haa…… so cute."
Looks like I was thinking too much.
With an enchanted expression I had never seen before, Raika-san was looking at Sora-chan with a warm gaze.
W-what's wrong? What's with the flushed look and the slightly delicate breathing?
"Yuuta…… these children, give them to me."
"H-Huh? R-Raika-san, are you okay?"
"I'm okay. No wait, I'm not fine. L-Let me hug them for a while……"
Even though it was different from what I had expected, but I made a lot of progress when Raika-san came over to my house.
Even though I feel a little apologetic to my nieces, I have no choice but to get their help in order to close the distance between Raika-san and I.
"Hey~ Hina, come over here."
"What~ is it~"
Hina ran over with a patter and she sat down in my lap naturally.
This action of Hina's seemed to have gotten Raika-san even more fired up. She took out her handkerchief and laid it out on her own lap.
"Come on!" –Raika-san signaled to me with her eyes.
As expected, a toddler's cuteness applies to people of all ages and gender.
"Hina, this Onee-san wants to play with you."
"Really, Hina's very busy~"
"Well, don't say such things…… I'll buy you ice cream, okay?"
"It can't be helped~"
Hina, who was smiling widely, walked towards Raika-san.
Hina obediently sat on Raika-san's lap.
"…… How cute. What a nice smell…… Huhu…… Uhuhuhu"
It made me very envious to see Raika-san's enormous breasts supported by Hina's tiny head.
"Hey~ Hey~ what are we playing~?"
"L-Let's read a book then."
"Book~? What book? Hina wants Chindewella!"
It seems that Raika-san still can't understand Hina's special terminologies.
"It means she wants to read Cinderella. The book's on that shelf over there, so please read it to her."
"Okay, I got it."
Very quickly, Raika-san began reading for Hina who was sitting on her lap.
Yep, this is such a soul-cleansing scene.
…… And Raika-san is at my place right now, it's like we're a family!
F-F-Family…… I almost got a nosebleed just from my imagination. To my nieces, I thank you.
"Oi-tan, come and read too~"
"O-Oh. I got it."
What an unexpected turn of events. I went over to Raika-san's side and looked at the picture book in her hand with a mixture of uneasiness and excitement.
Now our distance is only a few centimeters. Hina, good job!
"If you look closely, you really look like parents with their child~"
"No, this…… um…… awuu"
Miu-chan closely followed with amazing support. The blushing Raika-san's reaction was truly a feast for the eyes. Family! Parent and child! Rather than the result, I'm looking forward to the process more!
I cheered for Miu-chan in my heart.
"Papa and Mama……?"
Hina turned around to look at both my face and Raika-san's face.
But I think that I couldn't have wished for this last blow more, because in our midst there's someone who doesn't find this situation amusing at all.
"I-I'm coming over too!"
Sora-chan stood up violently and squeezed herself between Raika-san and I.
"O-Oi, why must you sit here?"
"I want to! I insist on sitting here!"
Saying that, Sora-chan hugged Raika-san's arm. The latter also made a solemn face.
"Sora-chan…… how cute. Would you like to be my younger sister?"
……Hey— um, Raika-san?
"Ah, then me too~"
Miu-chan took Raika-san's other side.
"Miu-chan…… has a nice smell…… damn you Yuuta, I'm so envious of you."
Raika-san seemed to have gone nuts…… she's becoming more and more abnormal as she's surrounded by Sora-chan and Miu-chan beside her, as well as Hina who's on her lap.
"O-Oi, you'll be causing trouble for Raika-san……"
"I don't mind at all!"
Raika-san, whose face became a deeper shade of red, and opened her eyes wide!
…… Erm, Raika-san? Your character setting's a little strange, you know?
Just like that, it turned into a scenario where I was completely left out.
"Hey~ Onee-tan~ hurry up and read~"
"Is it really okay for me to do so? If possible I'd even read to you for the next 18 hours."
"Isn't it obvious? Look, we're just like four sisters now."
As she said that, Miu-chan looked at me and gave me a meaningful smile.
…… It's on purpose.
They definitely left me out on purpose.
Urgh…… if possible I'd like to join in too!
But I really don't have the courage to do so when faced with such a powerful girls' formation.
To give an example, this obstacle here is about as difficult as an old man running through a girl's college alone.
At this point, I can only try and find the weak spot in this wall of steel, and from there I will break through……!
"Hina~ would you like to play a game with Oi-tan?"
"Yeah, it's something Nimura left here, it's a little old, but it's quite addictive and fun!"
"But, Chindewella isn't over yet. Hina wants to be with Onee-tan!"
To think that my reinforcement betrayed me.
"That's right, it's a hundred times better to be with Raika-san who's cool and gentle, than to be with that perverted Onii-chan."
"It's true, Raika-san's not only cool, and she also has a great figure. Don't tell me you're a model?"
"No, that's not the case…… because it's embarrassing."
She really is popular. That ‘weirdo' image that she has in school has been completely swept away, and in place of it was a pure and shy beauty, though whether I can use the term ‘pure' leaves to be questioned.
The fact that Raika-san's a weirdo probably can't be changed, but to think that she'd be so obsessed over cute things, it's really something you don't see every day.
As I was left out, I could only watch these four sisters get along while strolling like an idiot. Suddenly, Sora-chan's voice rang out coldly.
"Ah, that's right. Since you're free, go prepare dinner."
"I want pasta~"
"Hina wants hamburg steak! Those kinds with cheese inside!"
"Urgh, I got it! I'll go prepare dinner!"
In the end, besides preparing dinner, I was even sent out to buy snacks. I've been completely treated as a gofer.
"Then, I'll send Raika-san home. Remember to lock the door and windows after I leave. Lock up everything except the chain lock on the door."
Raika-san and I left the apartment after I instructed the three sisters, who stayed behind.
The hill at night had completely turned cool, and it'd still be chilly wearing just a T-shirt, so I pulled on an extra shirt.
As we walked side by side, Raika-san suddenly spoke up.
"…… It was really a great time. Cuteness is justice. Cuteness is the best. Kaichou was right."
Raika-san placed her hand onto her chest, as though still immersed in Hina's touch and smell.
"Haha, it's still a first for me to see Raika-san like that."
"…… I like cute children, because I'm not cute at all."
Reverting to her usual expressionless self, Raika-san muttered under her breath.
Just as I was about to look into her face, Raika-san suddenly looked at me.
"Yuuta…… is work tough?"
"U-um…… I'd be lying if I said it wasn't, but it's for living expenses, after all."
It's been a few months since the entrance ceremony. So many things happened that it's tiring just thinking back about it. One of the things that gave my life a complete turn would be taking in the three sisters, and meeting Raika-san before that. Even though I've had no time to show myself in the club room ever since such a life started, it's also because I took in the three sisters that I can be alone with Raika-san now.
"It's been lonely because Yuuta never really shows up for club activities these days."
"Lonely…… eh? Who?"
What the hell, should I feel happy or not?
"I also…… feel a little lonely."
Using a voice that could have been missed out, Raika-san had indeed said it.
"E, erm, Raika-san, does that mean……"
Raika-san coolly said that as she quietly walked away.
At this moment.
"Onii-chan you blockhead, idiot……"
Sora-chan squatted in the corner of the room, muttering non-stop under her breath as though reciting curses.
"Onee-tan, what's wrong~?"
Even Hina had an incredulous expression as she saw Sora-chan like this.
On the other hand, Miu-chan, who knew what was going on, simply shrugged her shoulders.
"Ah~ looks like the damage this time's quite heavy…… Hina, it's almost time for bed, go brush your teeth."
At Miu-chan's gentle reminder, Hina ran into the bathroom with a pitter-patter.
Looking at Sora-chan who was still squatting there with no reaction, Miu-chan said in a low voice:
"I don't think it's that kind of three-sided relationship……"
"B-be quiet! I'm not taking anything to heart!"
Even though her expression showed otherwise, Sora-chan was serious as well.
To be honest, Sora-chan also understood that Yuuta didn't do anything out of line. But the moment she thought about that beauty beside him and the foolish smile he'd have on his face, dark feelings would burst out from deep inside her heart, unable to stop.
"Onii-chan you blockhead, idiot, lecher, pervert, paramecium, grasshopper……"
Somewhere in the middle, the cursing, incomprehensible in more ways than one, resumed.
"Really, Onee-chan, it's about time you stopped, you know? Being jealous is one thing, but what'd happen if Hina picked up weird phrases?"
"W-Who's jealous of that guy!"
Sora-chan argued indignantly.
"Besides, isn't it because you said something unnecessary like ‘they look like parent and child~'?"
"It's not unnecessary, because they really did look like it earlier."
Miu-chan retorted as she stood her ground.
Looking at her growing younger sister, Sora-chan felt that she's been bullying people more ever since they moved here—especially her older sister. To think that in the past she was unwilling to go to the toilet alone, and would always hold her hand……
But the problem isn't there.
The most important problem would be that person—Oda Raika's relationship with Yuuta.
Sora-chan also understood that they were both from the same club and had a senior-junior relationship, and she also noticed that Yuuta had at least some feelings for her. But how far have the two gone?
If things go on, it might even change into an unusual problem.
Even though she didn't know the reason why, she could more or less feel it.
"Uuuu~…… how slow…… why the hell would he take so long to send someone home……"
Sora-chan who was jealous kept hitting Yuuta's shirt to vent her frustration.
"If you're taking it to heart so much, you should've gone along."
"There's no way I can do that……"
Miu-chan shrugged helplessly, and she spoke to Hina, who was playing with her doll by the window.
"Hina—once you pack up it's time for bed—"
Hina obediently put her toys away, before placing the doll in her hand on top of the toy box.
In front of the rabbit doll she specifically retrieved, she lined up her dolls carefully.
"Hina and, Onee-tan and, this one is Oi-tan."
The small dolls were lined up one by one. Finally, she placed the two largest dolls in the middle.
"And, Papa and Mama!"
Hina became satisfied after she finished lining up her dolls.
Suddenly, a large question mark appeared on her face.
"Papa and Mama, haven't returned—…… why?"
The dolls could only listen to the question that this little girl had.
"But, it's okay. I'm sure they'll return soon. Usagi-tan~"
It'll be fine as long Usagi-tan is there.
Because, this is Hina's promise with Mama.
|Back to Chapter 3||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 5|