I’ve always thought I have a certain awkwardness that might make people want to end their interactions with me in the wink of an eye.
Simply knowing that my brother has it worse than I do makes me not worry about it.
". . . . ."
Sanji-onii’s eyes stayed focused on Kyashii just the very second she stepped into our living room, giving the impression he was carefully scrutinizing every inch of her.
Soon after my friends arrived for our planned weekend group study, Onii-chan emerged from the kitchen to greet them. Yet… I think he’s going a bit overboard with his welcome, considering Kyashii keeps squeezing my hand while I hold hers; I can almost feel the sweat building on her palms. It’s easy to catch Kyashii’s tense reaction from my brother’s relentless gaze and offbeat smile at her.
There were plenty of occasions for his weirdness to reveal itself; it’s a shame he chose this moment to do so. “Onii-chan...” My cheeks puffed.
“Um? What is it?” His attention turned toward me.
“You’re freaking my friends out with your earsplitting smile. Keep it out of your face, please.”
“Oh! Aherm!” Sanji-onii restored his focus to Kyashii and the others. “Please accept my apologies, Yuyo’s friends. I’m just shocked and impressed at the same time my sister actually made so many friends.” A grin sealed his mouth.
“Haah?? What do you take me for?” I shot him an icy stare.
“No problem, Onii-san!” Tomoka responded in a waggish manner. “We are thrilled to meet Yu-chin’s brother at long last! You are just as good-looking as she is. Hm-hmm!” Her eyes flitted between my brother and me. “Shibasaki siblings are definitely favored with easy-on-the-eyes genes, huh? I see... I see...” There were several nods from her end.
“Please don’t be rude, Mizuno-san. I can’t believe you’re uttering things like that to Yuyo’s brother.” Minori chided.
“Eeh?! What’s the problem with that, class rep??” Tomoka retorted in a sour tone.
“You don’t have to worry about that, Kamiwaki-chan.” Sanji-onii smiled at Minori. “I’m fine with it. If anything, I owe it to Mizuno-chan to thank her for the pleasant flattery.” He extended his smile at Tomoka.
“Oh, right… Onii-chan, you’ve already met Minori. I was about to properly introduce them to you when your bothersome smile sidetracked me.” I made a face. “Anyway, Sanji-onii, meet my friends; Mizuno Tomoka, Nazumi Hana, Kamiwaki Minori, and—”
“It is a pleasure to meet you, girls.” My brother dismissively cut me off before I could finish. "I'm Shibasaki Sanji. Thank you for taking care of my sister.”
“We’re delighted to meet you, too, Onii-san.” They all echoed the words.
“Uhh, wait, Onii-chan... I haven’t got to introdu—”
“I’m certain you’re Kyashii-chan, right?” That ridiculously annoying face returned when my brother flicked his eyes at Kyashii again.
“Y-Yes...” There was a slight flinch from Kyashii before I felt a subtle tug on my sweatshirt. “It’s nice to meet you, O-Onii-san.”
I guess she really feels uneasy around Sanji-onii, huh?
Well, I get it, though. I mean, who wouldn’t when my brother oozes such an off-putting attitude like this?
“The same is true for me. I’m glad to meet you in person, Kyashii-chan, at last....” Sanji-onii finally put on a pleasant smile at Kyashii. “It’s too bad we didn’t get to say hello to each other that one night you stayed here. I apologize. It was already quite late when I got home, and I slept till the afternoon the following day.”
“Aah... N-No. It’s fine. I was more than happy to t-take care of Yuyo, Onii-san.”
“Is that so?” He didn’t move his sights from Kyashii. “In that case... Kyashii-chan, I owe you tremendous gratitude for taking such good care of my sister back then. And maybe even further down the road?”
“Aah...” Kyashii seemed flustered as she averted her eyes from Sanji-onii with one hand pressing against mine at the same time. “Y-Yes... T-That’s also my s-sincere wish, O-Onii-san.”
“Wait… What’s with using Kyashii’s first name, Onii-chan?” I threw a glare of contention at my brother.
“Ow! Yes, of course. That was impolite of me. I’m sorry, Yuyo.” Sanji-onii’s smile is mealy-mouthed. “I supposed it’s more fitting to call your best friend Shibasaki-chan, then?” His grin was overinflated.
“Wha—?!” Who is he calling Shibasaki-chan?! “Kyashii was born from the Mikami family, Onii-chan. Tell me when exactly you adopted her before referring to her as that.” I waspishly wrinkled my brows.
“Pfft!” My friends’ giggling made it to my ears.
“Of course, she’s not our sibling, Yuyo. I know she’ll inevitably end up a Shibasaki since she’s your future wife.” My brother stifled a laugh.
“. . . . . .”
Not that again!
Also, what is that? A girl taking another girl’s family name??
Is that to say that if I wind up getting married to a woman, she is bound to use my family name?
That makes me wonder how same-sex couples decide about their last names. Do they have the same options as couples of the opposite sex in picking their family names?
“. . . . .”
W-What am I thinking?! W-Why am I even thinking about such things right now?!
My brother’s alienness has infiltrated my viewpoints! Sheessh! This week has been confusing enough for me. I refuse to take more bamboozlement until exam week is over.
My eyes turned to Kyashii, who had been remarkably quiet while staring at the floor. I see that my brother’s embarrassing remarks have managed to turn her cheeks and ears flush in a beautiful scarlet tint.
“Don’t worry; you can have it, Yuyo….” Sanji-onii nodded decisively with his arms folded.
“What is it again this time??” I ended up giving him a death glare. He’s really making things awkward for Kyashii and me.
“Ahem!” For a moment, he pressed his knuckle to his mouth. “There’s no denying it; you and your girlfriend have my approval and support.” He keeps hold of his grating grin. “You’ve been holding hands before me long enough, so I figured you are practically asking for it.”
“. . . . .”
Uhh... There’s that niggling throbbing in my chest again! “We’re not asking for that at all!” I grumbled. “We h-hold hands in fits and starts!”
“Ops... Did I read it wrong?”
“Duh! Obviously!” Sanji-onii, you’re just as much of a nightmare!
Now that he’s pointed that out, I immediately started to get conscious of why Kyashii and I were holding hands in the first place!
But hold up...
Holding Kyashii’s hand is a force of habit when I’m with her... This silly brother of mine is just making me too mindful of it!
I know I said I’d overlook how people put a label on my friendship with Kyashii. But that was back when I was utterly oblivious to her sexuality. Considering how things are going, it makes sense why I have an increasing desire to keep my ear to the ground for anything involving my best friend.
And with no punches pulled, it’s tough for me to bury my head in the sand about Kyashii’s sexual orientation until the exams are over, more so when teasing moments like this adds fuel to my restless mind.
Haaah... How annoying…
“Alright. I better get back to cooking.” Sanji-onii has a silent smile toward me. Ugh! I cringe more when he cracks a smile like that than when he pesters me in plain language. “I’ll let you know when dinner’s ready, girls.” He gestured with a polite nod and headed back to his kitchen space.
“Yes! Thank you so much, Onii-san~!”
“Please overlook my brother’s silly behavior.” I turned to look at Kyashii, who was staring at me thoughtfully. Hmm? “I mean... He’s a good guy. He’s not just wrapped too tight at times.”
“I have no doubt your brother shares your kind nature, Yuyo.” Kyashii slowly smiled. “Thank goodness...” Her lips then parted in a sigh of relief.
“Heeh~...” The sound of her sigh made me chuckle. “But it also looks like you just escaped an extremely stressful situation, Kyashii.”
“What... That level of nervousness is perfectly normal. Hmph!” Kyashii rested her head on my shoulder. “Really, though... I couldn’t be happier that I finally got to meet your sibling. It feels like I just sailed through another hurdle~.” She giggled.
“Mikami-san, save the flirting for later, yeah?” Tomoka interjected. “Let’s sort our stuff first. Man, I’m so pumped!”
“Okay, fineee...” Kyashii had a pout on her face.
“Yosh! The time has come to invade Yu-chin’s room! Is it upstairs, Yu-chin??” Tomoka dashed toward the stairs.
“Come on, guys! Hana-chan, get moving!” Tomoka bounces up with a flurry. “Quick!”
“Tomoka-chan seems to be immensely thrilled with this stayover. Don’t you agree, Kamiwaki-san?” Nazumi-san was giggling next to Minori.
“Ara~... The two of you are probably in the same boat, Nazumi-san.” Minori took a careful look at Nazumi-san. “I’m hoping both of you aren’t up to something sneaky. You’ve been putting up with her tricks lately.”
“Ooh… That’s completely over my head, Kamiwaki-san~.” Nazumi-san perkily held both of her hands over her mouth.
I suppose Nazumi-san has changed considerably since that school trip, huh? She has warmed up to us over the past couple of days. Although I say she sits on the sidelines most of the time, she’s getting used to each of us pretty quickly.
Quite a bit seems to have changed for my friends lately.
Uhmm... I think it’s fair to say those changes within them are for the better, especially with Kyashii.
I’m also conscious of the possibility that this change isn’t limited to my friends. And I’m on the horns of a dilemma if I should worry about that.
What a lively atmosphere down there.
I walked back into my room to retrieve my phone from charging; hence I could hear Tomoka and Nazumi-san’s chirpy chatting voices floating through our living room.
As I reflect upon it, it’s been quite some time since this house was filled with such bustling noises.
When was it... I wonder.
I couldn’t help but allow a weak smile to form on my lips.
Minori and Kyashii, on the other hand, were kind enough to offer some help around the kitchen. It’s incredible how Kyashii can put up with my brother after how he carried himself earlier, though.
Just as I pulled my drawer open to slide the cord back, my eyes fell on the gift bags I had prepared the night before.
Right... The keepsakes I need to give Tomoka and Kyashii.
I haven’t decided how I’ll give these to them yet.
Uhh? I could just casually hand it to Tomoka, but I guess there has to be a better way to give the other to Kyashii, right? And I plan to hand these out before we settle in the Land of Nod.
Unggh… Talk about falling asleep.
I hope there’s no chance for my perverted sleeping self to rear its head again! I can’t afford another decline of dignity on my own turf this time.
“Yuyo…” A light knock landed on my half-opened door.
In a flash, I shoved the drawer shut! “W-What is it??”
Kyashii’s face scrunched up for a second or two as she looked at me. “Umm... You weren’t in the living room, and they told me you were up here.” A bashful smile then materialized across her face as she approached me.
I always find myself gushing over her each time she beams like that. There’s just something about her smile that screams cuteness, right?
“Your eyes are wandering across my face. Have I got a bit of kitchen mess on me?” She cupped her cheeks in a childlike manner.
Here we go again with the charm. “No... Not at all. Your face is perfect from every angle, Kyashii...” I replied with a smile.
“Eh?! Umm...” She muttered as she tucked some hair behind her ear. “T-Thank you, Yuyo.”
“. . . . .”
Grr! Is there anything she can do that’s not cute in my eyes?! Somehow, it is torture to go through this!
“R-Right... Since you’re up here, do you need anything?”
“Ah, yeah… Onii-san asked me to tell you we’ll play a friendly game with prizes after dinner.” Kyashii’s shoulders go up as she smiles.
“Huh?? Did Tomoka come up with that idea?”
“Nope~. Your brother did.”
“Oh? I see... A game, huh?”
“Umm…” Kyashii nodded. “I think it’s sort of interesting since he’s so fixated on explaining the rules to Minori. I wanted to know about the particulars, but they asked me to tell you about it instead.”
“. . . .”
I have a bad feeling about this. It’s not like I just woke up today and have no idea Sanji-onii is concocting yet another bundle of nuisances for me to deal with.
And here I thought he was just going to cook us dinner... Little did I know he would cook up something unsettling as well.