Alice was already waiting at the station when we got there. Daisuke had let me know earlier that he and Maiko would be running late. I could only hope that in the meantime, there wouldn't be two dead bodies I didn't want to deal with. The sister came up to us with a fighting step, but she tried to smile. It faded, but despite this, I was grateful to her for trying.
Konya did not hide that already at this stage he was fighting with himself not to throw some provocation at Alice. I stood between them, almost ready to separate them if it came to strikes. However, they limited themselves to standing in silence and throwing angry glances at each other. I started to feel a bit uncomfortable between the two, being a bit torn between love and just feeling solidarity with my sister.
I wished Daisuke would finally come with his sister because I knew her presence would lighten things up a bit. Anyway, it was only thanks to Maiko that we were able to get Alice on this trip. She would refuse us both under any pretext, Daisuke for obvious reasons, and she was offended at me, but I could see that it was hard for her too. When I saw the siblings heading our way, I turned to the two who were already with me.
The tension and sheer malice between them were almost tangible. I took a deep breath and looked at both.
"Look, I love you both," I said. "But please, try to behave yourself today."
"Alice!" Maiko screamed from a distance and threw herself into her arms. "I'm so glad you agreed to come with us. I missed you and wanted to tell you not to worry about the negative comments under the last chapters."
I looked at her uncertainly, didn't notice them, but I didn't check every platform Alice posted her work on either. I clenched my fists, of course, I didn't like anyone criticizing my sister. Konya let out a small snort, I glared at him.
"It's none of your business," Alice snapped.
"Exactly," Maiko lashed out at him, defending her idol. "Who do you think you are?"
"It's Konya Tatsuo," Daisuke answered behind her. "Our childhood friend and now also Kiyoshi's boyfriend. And that little aggressive beast is my little sister Maiko." He introduced her while looking at her with a reproachful look. "We were late because she couldn't decide on a bathing suit. As if any boy would even look at her."
Maiko rushed back to Alice, who hugged her and stroked her head.
"Don't worry," she told the girl tenderly. "Older brothers already have it that they like to tease." She looked at me and I sighed, I couldn't tell her the truth, although it would have been much easier then.
Girls went ahead, complaining about us and how they should go to the beach alone and without mean creatures like the three of us. Maiko, however, couldn't hide that she was curious about our new companion, despite her loyalty to Alice. She turned from time to time to glance at Konya and watch us for a while, obviously wanting to make sure her brother was telling the truth.
On the way to the beach, first by train and then by bus, the girls discussed their topics while I tried to convince Daisuke, with Konya's support, not to give up on Alice. I wanted to tell him that it could be a good day to make a move, my friend first felt eager and then said that he was too afraid of being rejected again. But he had to admit to us that he still cared about Alice.
We got there and found a nice spot, although there were quite a lot of people on the beach. Well, the summer was really hot, we couldn't count on the beach being available only to us. We spread towels and two umbrellas to protect us from the sun.
Daisuke and Maiko immediately rushed into the water, they loved swimming, just like their father. Alice and I sat down in the shade and didn't intend to move for a while. Konya looked at us and gave me a silent sign that he was also going to the water and would take care of our friend while I had time to talk frankly with my sister.
Convincing them to give themselves a chance was in no way in his interest, but he understood what it meant to have a significant other, and he couldn't take away that happiness from someone, especially when they were so close. I was grateful not only for his support but also for actually trying to help me.
We watched as he and Daisuke stood ankle-deep in the water and discussed something. Both Alice and I let out a sigh of delight at the sight of them in swimming trunks. We looked at each other and pointed to the accusing blushes on our faces, then just laughed.
"We haven't laughed together in a long time," I remarked.
"Not much, there was an opportunity." Alice smiled sadly. I wanted to say something, but she stopped me. "I was furious with you, I felt betrayed, and I couldn't understand why you were doing this. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn't give you a chance to explain it. I'll try not to think of this idiot as Her son, but tell me, if you know everything that awaits you, why did you take this risk at all?"
"Because that's what ordinary people do, Alice," I replied, grabbing her hand and wanting to give strength to both of us for this conversation. "They also do not have this knowledge and certainty whether the person they fall in love with is the right one. And yet they take that risk again and again."
"But the curse... " interjected the sister.
"If I have to suffer because of it, I'll take it, but I want to think that the happy memories I've accumulated from our time together will make up for it, along with the thought that he's just happy. And then I would try again and again because I would believe that maybe I would finally find the one. It would probably be harder every time, but better than spending your life alone." Alice wrapped her arms around her knees and thought about what I had said. "By avoiding the curse like this, you also suffer, right? I see it and would like to help you, I know you care about each other." I nodded at Daisuke.
"How? Do you really think I should give myself a chance?" she asked discouraged.
"And how will you meet your other half, if you stubbornly reject everyone you have feelings for, just because of fear of being cursed? I know you can see when he meets his other half..."
"He's already met her," Alice muttered, I could see tears welling up in her eyes.
"And it may be a long time before they are together, and you can gain many happy days and memories with someone who will not see the world outside of you. I know what I say, and I don't want to push you into Daisuke's arms for no reason. I know him, he's my friend, he wouldn't hurt you, and besides, I think you two would make a pretty good couple." She looked at me and I wiped the tears from her cheeks. "You know, right after you arrived, I saw you two together. I was just out for a walk, and he took you to this old building and probably gave you a plan for the place. He's been working on it for as long as I can remember, but at one point he got a little bit teased about it, so he rarely shared it with anyone now, except for you. Even then I felt that there could be something between you, and it was something beautiful."
"The decision will ultimately be yours, but I just want you to be happy, not have to suffer and sacrifice your life for Eros and others. You need to be a little selfish and don't cry anymore or Daisuke will kill me that it's my fault again," I asked, and she just laughed and to my surprise, she hugged me.
"Thank you. This conversation meant a lot to me," she whispered.
I hugged her as hard as I could, wanting to tell her how important she was to me. Suddenly, Maiko collapsed next to us and started searching the bag for a drink. She got up and remembered that her brother wanted to show Alice something. My sister got up and walked towards the water, passing Konya on the way, who gave her a slightly less-than-usual smirk. He sat next to me and told me to watch what would happen.
Daisuke was holding something in his hands and timidly showing it to Alice, all I could see was that he was nervous and kept saying something. I was sorry I couldn't hear anything. Maiko approached us and the three of us curiously watched the two lovers. But I didn't expect my friend to get down on one knee with his arms outstretched in front of my sister.
"Did he just propose to her?" I asked, staring at them and watching with even greater surprise as Alice nodded in agreement.
"Something like that," Konya laughed and grabbed my waist as I suddenly stood up.
As much as I wanted them to be together, I was not ready for them to take such serious steps right away. As an older brother, I couldn't afford to not interfere. Maiko rushed to help to overpower me.
"Don't you dare," she whispered in a terrifyingly serious tone.