Chapter 24:


Be Yourself, Ayane-chan!

In my futon, with my eyes closed, I heard a loud voice.

“Well, you finally stopped snoring, at least.”

It was clearly Aya’s doing.

“That means he’s awake, honey,” is what Aka said in response.

I couldn’t see him, but from the sounds of the plates clanking and water flowing, I could tell that he worked on the dishes. That wasn’t really on my mind though. What really mattered was how defeated I felt. Waking up like this was worse than waking up to an alarm, which I could punch to shut it up. It wasn’t like I could complain, though. I had no choice but to say something.

“What time is it?”

“6:00,” they said in unison.

“I guess I’ll keep sleeping then.”

Hearing this, Aya stepped on me. I thought I’d moan, but I instead gagged in pain, forcing myself to sit up. I guess I wasn’t a masochist as I thought.

Turning that pain into anger, I yelled, “What the hell was that!?” with a sharpened posture.

“Well, Ayane-chan did say you wanted me to do that to you.”

“Why the hell would she tell you that!?” I yelled, standing up.

Aya, wanting to further screw with me, moved her head to the side while putting a finger on her cheek, preparing to fane ignorance.

“We’re just comfortable as a family.”

“Too comfortable! Way too comfortable!”

With me saying that at such a loud volume, I heard a creak in Ayane’s door. Having woken up to our chaotic discussion, Ayane wiped the rocks in her eyes with her right hand, while the left hand held onto a large bear plush. To call this adorable would be the biggest understatement known to man. I couldn’t focus on this any longer, though. I had one thing I needed to say.

“Ayane-chan! Did you tell your mom you wanted her to step on me!?”

Ayane yawned, tilting her head before she responded.

“What? Why would I tell her that?”

Aya smiled sadistically as I covered my face in embarrassment, realizing what just happened.

“Was it that obvious?” I asked.

“Yes,” everyone said in sync.

I now buried my face with my entire body.

“I really need to be less honest about my fetishes…” I mumbled.

“I’m surprised it took you that long to figure it out,” Aka said in an unusual case of snark, so I retaliated.

“Rich coming from the big strong dude doing the dishes.”

Aka laughed it off before he explained himself.

“When you do something for the one you love, you stop caring about gender roles as much. I just want to make it easier for Aya to make our breakfast.”

He’s more mature than I thought. While an insult like that would’ve crushed someone like Satou, I guess adults really did have a different view of the world. Realizing this, I decided to step my pride down a notch when I spoke up.

“In that case, I’ll help you. You know… since Ayane-chan will be helping with breakfast.”

I couldn’t say this with confidence though. I instead looked down with my hand locked onto my neck. Who knew that the most difficult part of masculinity would be learning when to let it go. Regardless of the fact that I insulted him, though, Aka didn’t use my vulnerability as an excuse to clap back. He instead gave me a kind response.

“I’d love your help,” he said with a smile as he finally turned to look at me.

Now, with the four of us contributing to the house, Aya found the perfect excuse to talk her mouth off.

“It looks like the weather’s gonna be cold again.”

For some reason, she trapped me with this idiotic statement.

“That’s quite possibly the most boring way to start a conversation. You know that it always snows here, right? Or perhaps, you’re just blind.”

This offended Aka, for some reason.

“You gotta stop with that sharp tongue, dude.”


“That stopped being a clever insult years ago.”

“In that case, it just means you’re so flawless I couldn’t think of anything better to pick on you for.”

Aka blushed and stopped talking. I almost forgot he was Ayane’s father before that happened. Regardless, this gave Aya time to speak again.

“I’m just saying, if I called Ayane-chan a shithead, a bitch, or a piece of shit, then I’m sure that would insult you.”

“It already has.”

“See, you were so upset by it that you didn’t even realize that was the first time I swore.”

I normally would have laughed in this situation, but I’d grown too invested in the discourse in order to not take it seriously, so I clapped back with some more snark.

“To be honest, you sound like the type of person who’d claim to never swear, only to do so all the time.”

Aya didn’t continue though, laughing before she picked her sentence back up.

“There’s no winning with you, is there?”

I didn’t see this response coming, but I had nothing witty to clap back with. I instead sighed with my arms fully lounged, on the counter next to the sink, before I spoke.

“I feel like I’m always the one losing.”

“How so?”

“Well, my sharp tongue always drifts people apart.”

Instead of Aya responding though, it was instead Ayane. Stepping closer to me, she forced me to look at her when she spoke.

“That… that may be true, but I think you’re a kind person deep down!”

I couldn’t take her seriously since her bear plush was still in the kitchen, but I tried to keep in mind what she said.

I couldn’t tell her about it, though, as we had put our breakfast on the table. I looked at my food in awe. This… was the first full meal I’d ever seen in the morning. I’d never felt so happy, but I couldn’t smile. I just looked at my food. It wasn’t until long, though, that I felt something on my face. I tried wiping it off as quickly as I could, but everyone knew already. As Ayane held onto my hand, Aya spoke.

“Well, it seems like someone’s happy.”

Finally showing my face, I responded.

“I am. Thank you so much.”

Through this, they could still see my tears, but now, they also saw my smile.

“Well then, how about you dig in,” Aya told me.

“I will. Thank you for the meal.”

Quickly gobbling up my meal as always, I found myself finishing even before Aya. As such, I knew what I needed to do next.

“I’m going to change into my school uniform,” I told them.

“It’s not like you needed to announce it. Just do it,” Aka told me.

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