I was young and ignorant thinking back about it now, but between my second and third year of middle school, I had something called a boyfriend.
He got a face that’s never going to stand out, doesn’t really care about fashion, always hunches his back, talks about boring stuff, he doesn’t have any charm as a guy; he’s basically a block of scum—but well, he’s a little on the smarter side though.
But I was in middle school back then—the flawless time of my youth, and I was a peerless plain looking girl. Just because someone treated me kindly, chit-chatted with me, and enjoyed being with me, I ended up on cloud nine.
I was careless.
I was absolutely ignorant.
The moment I wrote the love letter with such agitated emotions in the middle of the night, and handed it to him in the spur of the moment, the rails of my destiny were completely paved from the beginning to the end.
The destination of my middle school romance could only be described as a ‘catastrophe’.
It’s not a shoujo manga that’s meant to bluff kids—just a matter of time until we wake up and realize what reality is, and we just broke up as though nothing happened. That man and I couldn’t avoid such a fate.
And then our parents remarried.
We became stepsiblings living under the same roof.
They say life isn’t always smooth sailing, but such a disaster isn’t something that will definitely happen—that’s definitely the mischievous God pulling a trap on us, definitely.
The trap laid by God.
In other words, fate.
The days of me getting along with that man had been discarded from my mind into the trash, but I have to admit that my mind has some memories that can’t be erased, like mold that can’t be scrubbed away in the bathhouse.
I think it happened between our second and third years—it was spring break.
I was called to that man’s house.
—My dad isn’t home now.
And just like that, he went straight to the point with an embarrassed voice. I was foolish back then, and the first thing I thought was.
It’s finally here.
We dated, we kissed, so what next is naturally—that’s what every single girl in middle school would have thought. I’m not being really lewd here. I’m serious.
Amongst the girl chatter I occasionally hear, it seemed we’ve been talking more about this topic recently—after all, we’re starting our battle against the dreaded menstruation .There’s some distance between us and the bastards who’re just gawking at internet photos and yapping away.
I prepared myself.
I was finally about to experience what I only knew in books—my anticipation and uneasiness was about 3:7 ratio. It’s the first time I’m entering my boyfriend’s room, marching on to the capital.
To the capital I went.
It’s a stupid way to express how I went to my boyfriend’s place, and also explains the determination I had—the night before, I went online to research on ‘things to know before the first experience’, and basically searched everywhere, leaving no stones unturned. I even practiced how to make the voices.
I made sure I was thoroughly prepared, entered that man’s room, and first sought a place to be comfortable at. The room’s messy with books all over the place, and the only place to actually sit on is the bed. Is it there? Is it going to be there? My mind’s in a mess, I was at a loss, and then that man just said.
—Don’t worry. Have a seat.
So I sat on his bed, but what happened next was really shocking.
That man just sat next to me naturally.
—Ehhhhh…!? He-he’s more aggressive than I thought…! Even though he’s usually a reserved guy!
Seriously, how short-sighted was this girl? Go get hit by a truck and get isekai’d!
That’s what I think now, but unfortunately, I was stuck on Earth, and started chit-chatting with that man.
I’ve no impression of what we talked about. My mind was just, completely preoccupied with stuff like, when’s he going to knock me over, do we start off with a kiss, is this underwear okay?
Whenever that man adjusted himself, my shoulders were shaking; whenever his little finger twitches, I just let out weird sounds. The sad time of the naive girl lasted 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes.
And then from then on, an hour passed, two hours passed, three hours passed—
Huh? We’re not done yet?
I was starting to think so, and finally, that man said,
—Well, it’s about that time. I guess…
It’s finally here.
Please don’t hurt too much, please don’t be scared, please make sure everything goes well…!
— You should be heading back. I’ll send you back.
—It’s a pity, but if it’s any later, your family will be worried.
And so I was escorted by that man back to my apartment.
Wait, an escorting wolf!? Is that it!?
I was thinking of such stuff until we’re about to reach home, but thinking about it, mom’s at home. It’s more appropriate to do such stuff at his house no matter how I look at it.
He just waved at me normally before the entrance, and just said normally
—I enjoyed myself today. That’s it then, bye.
I just watched him leave, spacing out—and then I realized.
That man didn’t invite me to his house just to do such things.
He just wanted to use his room to talk to me.
I was the only one who wanted to graduate into an adult!
—Huh? Yume, your face’s really red, you know? Did you catch a cold~?
I returned home, and mom was worried about me.
I couldn’t give her a proper reply, and I just laid down on the bed, completely crushed bitterly by the shame I felt.
Since then, about a year later.
That man and I never managed to take the next step until we broke up.
“Dad and Yuni-san said they’ll be late today.”
“…Hmm, and then?”
I’m finally done packing my belongings into my room, elegantly reading a detective novel, and my little stepbrother—yes, little stepbrother, no matter what anyone else says—drops by to inform me.
My little stepbrother, Mizuto Irido, is looking like he just swallowed a bitter pill.
…Ahh, I see. I guess even a formal conversation with me is so painful for you? Hmph.
“What are we doing for dinner?”
“Don’t make it sound like I have to be responsible for this. I’m not your mother.”
“Right. I’m just discussing things with you since you’re going to be at the same table as me—ah damn it, I can’t continue the conversation like this.”
…You’re making it sound like I’m the dumb one.
I’ve improved, you know? Compared to when I first met you.
The little stepbrother’s as thin as a beansprout growing in the shade. He’s never one to have kind looking eyes, but they’re getting more heinous, and he’s anxiously tapping his toes onto the floor.
His hair’s really messy, and he doesn’t care about his attire, but in fact, this man’s facial features are as standardized as an illustration. My affection for him is in the negatives, and he’s just so irritating, but it feels like he can look decent, and that increases my annoyance with him.
“I’ll prepare dinner by myself then. I decide the menu, that’s fine?”
“Prepare…you know how to cook?”
“Pfft.” So Mizuto chuckled, acting like I’m a little idiot.
This man knows I can’t cook. He once made the bento I made that was basically industrial waste, “Yep, really delicious.” and made such a bold face lie.
“Well, we’re family now. I can cook some for you. Be grateful and eat my cooking like a pig.”
One of these days, I’ll slaughter this man.
While concealing the murderous intent in my chest, I try to smile as much as I can.
“No, Mizuto-kun, I’ll feel sorry leaving everything to you. I’ll help out to.”
“No need for that. It’ll be really troublesome if those hands are full of band-aids.”
“I mean I’ll hate to receive your graciousness wholeheartedly, you cold-blooded man.”
“I don’t want to hear you say that, you cold-blooded woman—goodness.”
Mizuto looked gleeful, only to sigh. He thinks this pretentious sigh shows that he’s concerned about me? If that’s the case, just hurry up and die.
“Let’s go then.”
To where? I tilt my head.
“We need to buy ingredients for dinner—you think food’s going to come out of nowhere?”
What is this situation?
Why am I at a supermarket with the ex-boyfriend I just broke up with a month ago?
Isn’t this, like newlyweds? Or a couple living together now!?
“Erm…ohh, this is cheap.”
And while I’m letting my thoughts run, the ex-boyfriend’s just putting one shopping item after another into the card.
Doesn’t this man know what’s the situation now? How dense can he be—or does he not think of me as a woman? …no, well, I’m not a woman to him, and he’s not a man. I’m the older sister, and he’s the little brother.
…Wait, isn’t this just a repeat of what happened that time? I’m the only one letting my thoughts run wild, I’m the only one unhappy about this.
Got to remain calm.
“…It feels like you’re just chucking stuff randomly. Have you thought of what you want to cook?”
“Hm? Well, nope.”
“Ehh…you don’t know? These are to be used for dinner right?’
“I say, we should buy the cheaper stuff first before thinking of what we can cook. If we planned what to cook, that means we’ll have to buy the expensive stuff too, right?”
I got it.
So this is a little nugget of life, huh…this man actually has a parameter called life skills.
What’s with this guy? Why’s he so capable at this useless stat?
“Worst case scenario, if we can’t figure out how to use these stuff, throw them into the pot, add curry powder, and you can somehow make curry. Understand the difference between ‘cooking’ and ‘making food’, little sister.”
“Who’s your little sister? I said I’m the older sister, right?”
…The more I listen to him, the more tragic I feel about giving him the lousy bento I made. Arggghhhhh…
“Well, it’s cute to make some bad food once in a while, but not for every day. Go level up.”
Mizuto’s careless voice causes my body and thoughts to freeze.
This guy’s just prattling off again—no, but just now, it feels like he just blurted it out without thinking. The chances of it being what he really thinks is—
“…What? I’m leaving you alone.”
Without realizing it, I’m standing in the middle of the walkway. I hurry on after Mizuto, shaking my head as I try to chase the thoughts aside.
Seriously, it’s going to end up as a repeat of the last time. I’m the only one thinking weird things, and this man’s just being so casual about it. It’s really unfair.
…I’ll make you realize it.
I’m going to make sure this hateable face will be bloody red.
And then I’m going to make sure this man’s going to call me ‘onee-chan’!
We stand side by side in the kitchen reluctantly, finish making the curry, and finish dinner.
I guess there’s no mishap out there, except for when Mizuto saw me wield the chopper and went all “hey wait a sec. You’re scaring me! This is where you put the fingers, here!” and just touching my hand accidentally—our parents aren’t around, so there’s no need for us to act as siblings on really good terms, and that feels better for me.
“The hot water’s ready. Now what?”
“I’ll bathe first.”
“I knew you’ll say that.”
“I don’t want you to bathe in the remaining bathwater.”
“So you’re fine with me bathing in your leftover bathwater?”
“…I’ll bathe after you then!”
I didn’t really notice because of mom and my new stepdad, but I’ve been bathing in the same bathwater as this man every day.
And then…and then, it feels…that…!
Thank goodness. Let’s sort out my mind while Mizuto’s in the bath.
And plan the counterattack later.
While planning this locked room murder mystery game (one I basically thought up. I’ll assume Mizuto’s murdered in the room, and will think of all kinds of tricks to make it possible), I try to get myself to calm down. Not even 10 minutes in, Mizuto returns with his hair dripping wet.
…Well anyway, anyone who has their hair wet will look a little cooler. Basically, it’s a common thing to see. Nothing special about it at all. Nothing at all.
“…Aren’t you too fast? Have you washed probably? You’re dirty.”
“Don’t decide for yourself before I answer. I washed already. I’m just fast because I think it’s a waste of time.”
Always in a hurry…that’s what I hate about you. You would pace yourself along with me when we started dating.
But whatever, the time has come.
I erase the thoughts of Mizuto’s corpse in the locked room, and stand up.
“I’ll go bathe then…I’ll kill you if you peek.”
“If I see you like that, I’ll die without you killing me. My eyes will rot.”
…Say this while you can.
I keep watching the door as I strip myself, and enter the bath.
Because of mom and my stepdad, I didn’t really notice, but if I think hard about it…I’m, in that man’s house, naked…if that man suddenly barged into the bathroom, nobody can save me…
…Thinking back about it, there’s no way that beansprout man will do that, but if it really happens, I’ll make sure to bite him off in various places.
I carefully wash my body and keep it warm, and leave the bathroom. I put the dry bath towel over my naked body, and use the dryer on my hair.
…This is where it starts.
I tightened the knot on my bath towel.
—I didn’t bring my clothes into the changing room.
It’s for me to cut off my retreat—because I decided to crush that man’s aloof face with my back against the wall.
Yes. I can do this without bringing a change of clothes. I’ll just appear before that man while dressed in only a bath towel!
The mirror’s showing my body, which has grown a lot feminine compared to when I was getting along well with that man. The chest has changed completely over the past year—so much that it’s getting my mom and my classmates envious.
There’s still some steam coming from my bare chest as I have just left the bath. I shouldn’t be saying this, but this is one alluring scene—do-do I show this to that man?
I’m a little bitter, thinking that I should have at least prepared my underwear. But if I don’t go this far, it’s not going to be effective on that blockhead.
I make up my mind, and leave the changing room.
My bare feet are making sounds, and I return to the living room.
The moment he sees me, Mizuto spits out the tea he’s been drinking, and starts coughing.
That’s a bigger reaction than I thought!
I turn my face aside, highly my relieved look.
“You idi…wh-what are you doing?”
“It’s my house. That’s normal, right?”
I try to answer calmly, and sit diagonally before Mizuto, who’s on the L shaped sofa.
Mizuto turns his face aside, but from time to time, he glances at me.
“No, but…well, I’m here…”
“We’re siblings, so? …are you—”
I force a smile, piling onto Mizuto’s troubled face.
“—Mizuto-kun, are you a bad kid looking at your stepsister with such lewd eyes?”
He’s blushing!! He’s blushing!! He’s blushing!!
Mizuto’s been trying to look away from me, but he’s definitely looking; I can sense his stare. He’s glancing at the chest and thighs that the bath towel can’t cover.
Hu hu, too spicy for you there? So how about it, I know you’re a kid! Ahh, it’s a pity. You dated a woman in her kid body form, so you can’t handle an adult woman like me! Who has a kid body now?
So now, let me cross my legs now.
Ahh, he’s looking. He’s definitely look. It’s so easy.
This man’s usually trying to look cool, but now he’s actually losing his cool like this—fufufu! I’m really enjoying myself.
I reach my hand for the TV remote, trying to show off my chest.
Ahh, he’s looking he’s looking he’s looking. He’s definitely definitely looking.
I continue to try and maintain the poker face. It’s like I’m taking revenge for today, and also that day a year ago. This man never noticed this about me back then, and now he’s so captivated by me.
Is this what they call the pride of a woman? I feel a certain something in my heart being fulfilled.
…Or so it seems.
It’s about, well…I’m a little embarrassed.
He’s looking a lot more often than I expect…and I feel that if my bath towel tilts, if my legs aren’t careful, I’ll show him something that shouldn’t be seen.
…Or rather, what am I doing anyway?
There’s no need to be doubtful about this. Isn’t what I’m doing now completely erotic…?
Does it feel like I don’t have any right to complain if this man pushes me down?
Suddenly, I calm down.
I want to pull the bath towel up to cover my chest a little more, but the defenses down there will lower. A single movement can cause an irreversible outcome, and I’m unable to move at all.
…I-I got too cocky…
Why am I always like this whenever I get cocky…
Mizuto lets out a deep sigh, suddenly stands up, and walks towards me.
Eh, eh, eh? I-is he, really…?
Mizuto approaches me while I’m petrified like a rock, still grabbing my bath towel. He removes the coat on him.
My heart’s starting to pound. Eh, for real? No, wait, I-I didn’t plan to go that far—!
I unwittingly close my eyes, and then,
—I feel cloth draped over my shoulders.
“You’re probably trying to tease me or something…didn’t think you’re going to regret it, you idiot?”
I open my eyes with much fear…and see the coat Mizuto just removed on my shoulders.
Mizuto himself is looking down at me with a dumbfounded look.
“You’re usually so obedient, but sometimes you just go with the flow to do something very out of character. You…better change that habit. I’m not going to keep cleaning up your mess.”
His tone’s rigid, and his words sound so condescending to me.
But then, these words sound the same as during middle school, when he saved me countless times.
I fondle the shirt on my chest that still has his warmth.
His words, his warmth…cause me to remember what happened a year ago.
“…A year ago.”
“When I came to this house…why, didn’t you do anything?”
The sudden change in our relationship was soon after that day—when we’re entering the third year of middle school.
I once thought if there’s something weird I did on that day, which destroyed his illusion.
But then, that’s just my misunderstanding. The reason for his change in attitude was something else—
“Why…are you mentioning that now!?”
Mizuto’s showing an unexpected face.
“Ha! Just laugh all you want!”
He went straight to the point.
“Just laugh at the useless bum who prepared everything, called his girlfriend to his house, and just dithered over there and did nothing, alright!?”
It took me about five seconds.
I stopped thinking.
And once my brain starts to think again, I stand and yell with all my mind.
“P-prepare!? Dither!? Wh-what…what do you mean!? I-I really prepared myself on that day, but nothing happened. I thought I was the one who wanted it…!?”
“Huh!? N-no. I saw you being so tense and wary, so I just had second thoughts…”
“That! Was! Because! I! Was! Really! Nervous!!!??????”
Mizuto too yells with his eyes wide open.
“You’re kidding right!? Were you also planning to do it that night!?”
“I really was! I wanted to take that room as a memory of my life! Absolutely!!”
“Y-you serious…? Then, the regrets I had about that day because I ruined it was…”
“I’m the one regretting it!! Return me all my worries for thinking I lack charm!”
“Like I care!!? It’s your fault for being so nervous that day!!”
“It’s definitely your fault!! You sleasebag!”
After that’s an endless volleying of insults that can’t be written in words easily.
We start trading barbs, and then it gets physical as we take it to the sofa.
Once we use up all the insults we have, we’re just panting away hard, our shoulders huffing as we glare at each other.
We’re panting at each other, with Mizuto pressing me down onto the sofa.
I really…can’t take this.
We look like we get along well because we like books, but we can’t get along, and just this little thing ends up as a big misunderstanding, and we somehow end up as siblings…
For some reason, I want to cry.
Why do things not go as I want.
If I wasn’t so nervous on that day, maybe now—
“…Crying while arguing is forbidden.”
“Shut up…! I know that…!”
I wipe my tears with my arm.
The weak me a year ago who already relied on this man doesn’t exist anymore.
It became the reason why these feelings end up this way, but I don’t feel regret about my own growth.
So it’s not my fault.
It’s all this man’s fault! All of it!
I hear my heart jolt.
It’s my old family name—and also the way he used to address me.
I rub my thighs uneasily. The coat he put on me’s long gone while we’re arguing. I’m just wrapped with a towel, practically naked. Even the towel is in a mess, and it can fall apart anytime soon.
I remained on the sofa with Irido-kun on top of me, his white hand reaching for me. His fingers are rather soft and thin for a guy, and he brushes my bangs past my forward.
It’s a step to be done—before we do something.
So that he can see me clearly, when I was lacking confidence, being so shy, and had my bangs long to cover my face.
He always moved my bangs aside before he did that.
Irido-kun’s staring into my unfiltered eyes. I feel that everything and anything, from my chest to my belly, is being seen by him, and I cover my face with my right hand.
My hand’s gently grabbed by Irido-kun, gently nudged aside.
His honest eyes are clearly saying his intentions to not let me go. All I can do is to give a weak excuse through my mouth—my lips.
That’s completely out of line.
Stepsiblings should never do such things.
…But my words just sound so weak—
I know this alone isn’t going to stop him…that’s what I know from experience.
Irido-kun’s soft voice echoes in my chest.
“—It’s my loss today.”
Our eyes meet.
His face’s blushing because he used up strength during our quarrel—no, not that.
I feel my consciousness being sucked into Irido-kun’s eyes.
I think I can feel everything about him. His warmth, his breath, his heartbeat.
And before I know it, I close my eyes.
I feel the calm breathing gently reaching my lips.
It’s been a while since we kissed—
The moment we hear the voices from the entrance, we jolt up like a spring.
“Mizuto~! Yume-chan~!? Are you in the living room~!?”
M-mom…!? They’re back!?
“Ack…! It’s this time already!?”
Mizuto hastily pulls his distance from me, checking the time.
Woah…! It’s so late before we knew it. How long did we bicker…
“Hey! Put on your clothes, quick! This situation’s bad!”
The current situation’s—basically me almost naked, Mizuto’s clothes in a mess, and we’re together on the sofa.
We need to maintain the good siblings act before mom and stepdad, but there’s a limit to that. It’s bad if they think we’re being on such good terms with each other!
“B-but, my clothes…”
“Ah right, you walked out without getting your clothes…ahh shit! Hide somewhere! Erm erm—yeah, here!”
Mizuto shoves me onto the floor, and removes the sofa cushion. It seems like it’s meant to store stuff.
“Wa-wait! I can do this without you pushing me…! Ow!? You just kicked me! You just kicked me, didn’t you!?”
“Don’t talk, get it!?”
Mizuto shoves me into the sofa space, and closes the lid.
My eyes are completely dark.
“—Hm? You’re alone, Mizuto!?”
“I thought I heard Yume’s voice though…”
“Welcome back, dad, Yuni-san. Yume-san went to sleep first—”
As I hear the conversation with Mizuto trying to misdirect them, I recall what just happened.
If…mom and stepdad didn’t return.
What…did I do…?
It’s weird. It’s really weird!!
We broke up. We hate each other. He’s just an annoying little stepbrother no matter what he does, not my boyfriend! But, but…!
I hold onto my pounding heart.
Why do things never go as planned?
We managed to end these feelings for good—we’re supposed to be happy with that.
But now we’re siblings, and I’m just tempting him, and only now do I know we both feel the same!
This is what I hate!!!
The next day, I exercise my right as the winner.
“You said you lost yesterday, didn’t you, Mizuto-kun?”
“…Well, I did, sorta. But to be forced by you to say this—”
“Anyway, little brother, this is your sister’s order. Leave the room.”
I chase Mizuto out from his room, and begin searching.
Mizuto testified yesterday that he ‘called me over a year ago, and prepared various stuff’…if that’s the case, that thing’s definitely there. I don’t mind if I can’t find it, but if it’s still there, I have to destroy it.
I was completely prepared to rummage everywhere from under the bed to the bookshelf, but I’m a little disappointed to find the target item in the drawer I first checked…though it’s just like that man to not hide such stuff in weird places.
I bring out the target item, and leave Mizuto’s room.
And Mizuto, waiting in the corridor, just stares at me, looking like a dead, rotting fish.
“What did you look for?”
“Where’s the ‘onee-chan’?”
“Something unnecessary for stepsiblings.
I say as I bring the box of dozen behind my back, playing dumb…a dozen’s unexpectedly many. Eh, erm…he so happened to buy 12, right? There’s no rule saying that we have to use them all, right? I guess.
I cautiously make sure Mizuto’s eyes won’t see the thing, pass him by, and head towards the stairs leading to the first floor.
The sudden rude voice behind me suddenly strikes, and I turn around.
“What, my little brother Mizuto-kun?”
As he says that, Mizuto looks aside, trying to pass it off.
I snort as I go down the stairs.
I head towards the trash bag by the corridor, dropping that little box in, and tie it up firmly.
I just need to throw it away on the garbage collection day. Then, just in case, there’s no way we’ll do anything inappropriate as stepsiblings.
I heave a sigh of relief…and look up the stairs.
I know it can’t possibly reach him, but I answer.
“…I know this at least.”
But there’s no point mentioning this trivia. Right? There’s no point remembering it, or knowing it…let alone, mentioning it at all.
That’s why he didn’t mention it.
That’s why I didn’t mention it.
The useless trivia—that stepsiblings can get married.