Hellping

“…Are you awake?”

“Hyaargh?”

 

I knocked on the door and called out softly, only to hear quite the awkward shriek.

 

My body got a little tense immediately…wait, was it really a bad time? Well, it’s already a bad thing to visit a girl’s room when she’s the same age, but in any case, despite the issues, we’re still a pair of siblings. I might be a little apprehensive about this, but it should be fine.

 

I could hear some ruckus in the room.

 

She didn’t seem to be changing clothes. What’s she doing?

 

I waited for the room to quiet down, and heard a voice as frigid as the outermost beverage of a fridge in the convenience store (basically, no different from usual) through the door.

 

“…What?”

 

That’s my line.

 

Seriously, is it a good thing or not?

 

Let’s face it though, even I wouldn’t want to know what she’s up to in the middle of the night, even if I was asked. That aside, I said,

 

“I got something to talk to you about…Can I come in…?”

“…Whatever.”

 

Why did she have to reply in such an annoying manner? Seriously.

Feeling vexed, I opened the door.My little stepsister and ex-girlfriend Yume Irido was dressed in a thin pink pajamas, seated on the bed.

 

She had her long black hair tied loosely with rubber bands, probably so that she wouldn’t damage her hair, and her twintails were draped before her chest. I guess that’s why she looked a little more immature than usual…somewhat like when she was back in middle school.

 

“What do you want at such a late time?”

 

She gave me a taunting smirk.

 

“If you’re planning to confess to me again, I’ll refuse.”

“… Let me retort at this part. You’re the one who confessed to me back then. Do you want me to recite what was in that love letter?”

“You actually remember? That’s disgusting.”

“Yeah, that was really disgusting. Yeah, it was almost like a poem.”

“…Shitty otaku.”

“…Shitty poet.”

 

We glared at each other.

That’s basically how we always greet each other.

 

“…So, what do you want? We’re still family, but do you think that’s enough justification for you to barge into a girl’s room? Depending on what you say, I’ll ask for an arbiter, you know?”

“Fine, I’ll take it. But let me ask you something first. Did you say anything to Yuni-san today?”

 

Jolt.

 

I didn’t ignore the fact that Yume froze up for an instant.

 

“………Nothing in particular, you know? Anyway, what do you mean by that?”

“You really can’t lie at all. Seriously, how did you manage to bluff your way through like that, high school rookie? ”

“Sh-shut up! It’s been a month already, I’m not a rookie anymore!”

 

It’s not a matter of time, right?

Once I saw that she was going to play the fool until the very end, I could only sigh and explain.

 

“Yuni-san asked me to go shopping with her, and I was asked a few things.”

“Asked?”

“My relationship with you.”

“…………………………”

 

Ah, she averted her eyes.

She could fool our classmates, but not me.

 

“Yuni-san’s probably wondering if we’re getting along well, or maybe it’s just me worrying too much. The mood back then was a little weird though…you got into trouble, didn’t you?”

“……Not, at, all.”

“Look into my eyes when you say that.”

 

I pulled a chair from the study table, moved it before Yume, who was seated on the bed, and sat down. I was showing that I wouldn’t let her get away.

…The chair was a little warm. Was she sitting here until just moments ago?

 

“Alright, ‘fess up. I’ll have a restless night, if I don’t get this clear.”

“……Shut up. Just die from sleep deprivation then.”

“And then you’ll be my cushion this time.”

“Uuuuuuuuu……”

 

Yume cupped the pillow before her to cover her mouth. Was she indicating that she wouldn’t speak up? Fine by me. Let’s see who’d break first.

I folded my arms and shook my foot as I stared at Yume’s face. She continued to evade my stare while cupping the pillow, but ultimately—

 

“…Ho-how long are you going to remain like this…!?”

 

It was only a matter of time until she gave up, and asked what was basically a surrender.

Naturally, I continued to keep my arms folded.

 

“I’ll leave if you can come clean and confess your sin. After that, we’ll have a good night’s sleep.”

“A confession of sin…you’re the complete opposite of a priest.”

“What kind of existence do you think I am?”

 

What’s the complete opposite of a priest? A yakuza?

 

“Obviously, I’m not a priest, but I can promise you that I won’t tell anyone else.”

“………(You’re the one I really don’t want to tell.)”

“You had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.”

“Some ears you have…!!”

 

That’s the fault of the person who was loud enough while muttering.

She probably gave up on resisting as she put her chin on the pillow, pouting.

And then she said softly,

 

“I made a mistake…I sent a photo to mom.”

 

Photo?

 

“Photo, of what? ……Wait, back in middle school?”

“Th-that’s not it…! She’d have known immediately if it’s that!”

“That’s true.”

 

I didn’t have to overthink to know that the photos back then really resembled that of a couple’s. My memories of back then were a little vague though, probably because my brain functions malfunctioned.

 

“……I-It’s this…”

 

Yume handed me her phone hesitantly.

I received it, and looked at the photo on the screen.

 

“………………………”

 

In that photo, I was sleeping soundly, naked.

 

“Huh……? Eh? Ahhh!?”

“Uuuuuu~…!”

“Wh-when did you take this photo—ah!?”

 

I thought of the answer without needing her reply.

…Two days ago.

Two days ago, May 4th, I got up, went to take a shower, and after I got out, I lazed around without wearing anything. I fell onto the sofa and went back to sleep. In the photo, my hair was wet, so I guess that should be the moment.

 

“…Y-you…were home, back then…?”

“Y-yeah…! I was just cooped in my room…! When I entered the living room, I saw you naked and sleeping soundly, and I was a little shocked…”

“…Shocked?”

 

I narrowed my eyes and shot Yume a frosty look.

 

“Would you be so shocked to actually take a photo!? Like ‘Woah! That shocked me! Snap!’ Huh? Are there such people around?”

“…I exercise my right to remain silent.”

 

The voyeur girl said and covered her face with her pillow. Oy.

…Well, I guess she wanted to use this photo to blackmail me into doing something after that. It’s her after all. I thought it was strange that nothing happened in the two days thereafter, but that should be the case.

This was a different problem though.

 

“……So you sent this to Yuni-san?”

 

This.

The photo of me sleeping naked.

I shot a frigid look at Yume.

Yume immediately looked away.

 

“You…messed up, huh?”

“~~~~~~~~~~!!!!”

 

Yume collapsed on the bed, and a wordless shriek exploded from the pillow.

She pressed her head onto the pillow, whimpering and flailing way.

 

“I-I know that…!! Of course I know that’s a horrible photo to take!! That’s why I didn’t want to say anything—!?”

 

The background of the photo showed that it was the living room sofa, and not at either of our beds, so there’s still some wriggle room. I had to wonder though what Yuni-san thought of her daughter who took this photo of me naked.

I really couldn’t deny the possibility that Yuni-san would assume the worst case scenario.

 

“U-uuu…! This is ridiculous…! I messed up so badly…Just laugh at me for being such a dull girl…for being some high school rookie who could only improvise…that I’m just a gloomy, boring girl with communication issues…uu, uuu~~…!!”

 

My little stepsister remained sprawled on the bed, and wailed like a banshee. She appeared to be pouting.

…Ahh well, that’s how she always was.

She always got caught up with some insignificant matter, and she would end up in a vicious cycle of negativity. She’s a super duper troublesome woman. Back when we were dating, I had to console her countless times.

I felt a little nostalgic, and sighed.

 

“…Anyway, I’m deleting this photo.”

“Uehh?”

“Hm?”

 

Yume lifted her head, and when I looked back at her, she hastily averted her gaze.

 

“O-of course…with this photo in here, even my phone will be polluted.”

“That’s pushing it considering that you kept it in your photo for two days like a baby…”

“……………………………………”

 

Once again, Yume clammed up.

Seriously, she’s so full of openings today compared to before.

 

“…No…I’m dead. I’m dying. Farewell.”

 

And she started murmuring to herself. Even I found it to be a little tragic.

She tried to play the role of a superhuman at school, but she’s not exactly the intelligent kind to begin with. She looked capable and all, but she’s all Papier-mâché, just the result of hard work. This part of her crumbled, and so did everything else.

I guess the silver lining was that she only showed such an opening to her family. But well, it’s impossible to get this gloomy girl to think positive.

I had an idea.

I aimed Yume’s phone at her, who was on the bed, and quickly snapped a shot.

 

“—Eh!?”

 

At that moment, Yume jolted.

 

“Did you just take a photo?”

“Ah—my bad—I just took a photo and sent it to Yuni-san accidentally—”

“Haaaaahh!?”

 

Yume immediately snatched my phone, and shivered as she looked at it.

 

“…Y-You really sent it…”

 

Of course I did.

I sent a photo of my little stepsister, lying on the bed while in pajamas, to my stepmother.

 

“W-what should we do now…! Sh-she’ll definitely suspect us…!”

“Problem solved.”

“How so!?”

 

I whistled away while Yume gave me a dumbfounded look, and there were two knocks on the door.

 

“…Mizuto-kun? Are you in Yume’s room?”

 

Yume nearly shrieked in fear.

It was Yuni-san’s voice.

“What should I do what should I do what should I do!?” Yume gave me such a look, “Just watch.”  And so I shot such a look back, tossing her phone over to her.

I stood up, went to the door, and just welcomed Yuni-san.

 

“Good evening, Yuni-san.”

“Woah, you’re really in here…Mizuto-kun? What was that photo about…?”

 

A mystified looking Yuni-san looked past me and towards Yume on the bed.

Well, it’s a very normal reaction.

It’s a young boy and a young girl, in our youths, hanging out in the same room so late at night.

But I didn’t falter, and just explained outright.

 

“I wanted to borrow a book, but I happened to see that Yume-san was very frustrated, which was a rare sight. I found it amusing, so I couldn’t help but take a photo. Sorry.”

“Frustrated? As in?”

“She said that she sent a weird photo to you or something.”

“Ah! That photo of you naked…?”

“Yeah. I guess it happened when I was sleeping in the living room two days ago.”

 

I didn’t conceal the fact, nor did I try to bluff her.

I just plainly stated the fact to her.

 

“She said that you might misunderstand, Yuni-san, but to be honest, it’s really nothing. I’ll delete that photo then.”

 

“Pfft.” Yuni-san giggled while hiding her mouth.

 

“Ahh yes. This child always worries about some little things!”

“That’s why I wanted her to sleep earlier.”

“That’s right!…But.”

 

Yuni-san swung her gaze between Yume and me.

 

“Mizuto-kun? I’m glad that you’re getting along well with Yume, but to be honest, you two being in the same room at this time is a little…”

 

Yume definitely froze up behind me, but I remained unfazed as I tilted my head as a show to Yuni-san.

 

“Are we suspected?”

“After all, you two are still young…right?”

“I think if I was actually aware of that, I wouldn’t be able to remain calm here.”

 

Yuni-san stared at me as though she was appraising some antique, not skimping on any details.

And so, I could only show a troubled smile until the very end.

Finally,

 

“Of course~!”

 

Yuni-san smiled heartily.

 

“I may have been thinking too much then. I’m sorry for doubting you, Mizuto-kun.”

“It’s fine. I was being a little careless too.”

 

We lowered our heads to each other. It’s about time for me to retreat.

 

“I’ll be leaving then. Good night.”

“Ah, good night~”

 

I naturally walked out of Yume’s room, and returned to mine.

Once I heard Yuni-san’s footsteps fade away, I took out my phone from my pocket, and gave Yume a call.

She picked it up, and I immediately spoke.

 

“See? Isn’t this fine?”

“Look what you’ve done!!”

 

I was met with a shrill response. Good thing I lowered the volume so that Yuni-san wouldn’t hear us. Good going me.

I brought the phone a little away from me.

 

“The more you try to hide things, the more suspicious you might be. In this situation, the best way out is to be honest.”

“Even so…!”

“And furthermore.”

 

I interrupted her.

 

“The fact remains that we don’t have such feelings…right?”

“……Of course.”

 

I was met with a stiff, somewhat unhappy reply.

 

“They say that when there’s smoke, there’s fire, you know? I’d say our relationship is filled with liquid nitrogen.”

“That’ll cause smoke instead…but I get what you mean. Just don’t fret over such things all the time. If you can’t resolve it, just hurry up and sleep. That’s all I’m telling you.”

 

In any case, this was the best method.

I probably said something to that effect whenever she had such troubles back when we were dating. I guess I was sugarcoating it back then though.

After a moment of silence, Yume muttered.

 

“…………T-thanks.”

 

At that moment, I gasped.

 

“……We’re starting school tomorrow. Don’t say such things that’ll cause snow.”

“You idiot…good night.”

 

After that, she hung up.

I looked at the screen, which indicated that the phone call was over, and sighed once again.

 

“…It’s best to be upright, huh?”

 

Right when I felt my racing heartbeat through my clothes, the phone in my hand suddenly vibrated, leaving me on tenterhooks.

It was a LINE message from Yuni-san.

 

“I’ll leave Yume to you

 

…I once heard that there’s no deep significance whenever women use a heart emoji.

It’d be great if that’s the case.

 

I looked up from my phone, and towards the diary on the table.

A brand new day would start, and Golden Week would end.

And then it’d be morning, we’d be back at school, and she’d go back to acting as a superhuman again…

 

So I thought about it.

I looked back at the phone again, and sent a LINE message to Yume.

 

“Good night.”

 

After some hesitation,

 

“Even if it snows, I’ll lend you my umbrella.”

 

Would she understand what I meant?

Even if she could, it didn’t matter.

Soon after, I received a reply.

 

“Baka.”

 

A tad later,

 

“I won’t forget about it again. I’m fine.”

 

I see.

That’d be great.

 

“…Hmph.”

 

I snorted, and lay down on the bed again.

It’d be great if it’s sunny the next day.

 

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