Recollection Part 14
–Night. It was much later than usual when Azusa finally came home.
She took off her shoes without saying hello and was about to go upstairs to her room when I hurriedly called out to her.
“Azusa, wait a minute… what have you been up until now? If you’re going to be late, call me. I was worried about you.”
I was worried that she had been involved in some kind of accident, so I’m glad she made it home safe and sound. But that didn’t mean I could overlook it.
I am obligated to protect Azusa on behalf of our parents and aunt.
I promised to lead a decent life, and that’s why we are living alone together like this.
“Come over here for a minute. Let’s talk a little.”
When I beckoned her from the living room, Azusa was breathing in a blatantly annoyed manner.
“Haa… I felt good after all this time.”
If it was the usual Azusa, she could have said ‘I’m sorry’ when she did something wrong.
As long as she was properly sorry and would not make the same mistake the next time, there was no need to even talk to her.
“But we are still kids, you know? Both our parents and aunt told us to lead a regular life… It’s not a good idea to go out at night too much, you know. So what have you been up to?”
But she was listening to my words like she was bored.
“…It has nothing to do with Onii-chan.”
“It’s related. We’re family.”
Family. The word “family” made Azusa tilt her head in puzzlement.
Then, a little later, … she started giggling, what was so funny?
“Family (laugh) Azusa and Onii-chan are family … I wonder if that’s really true?”
–I was creeped out.
It was creepy because it seemed like someone other than Azusa was in front of me…
This was not like Azusa.
Her smile was more friendly and endearing.
But she no longer smiled like that.
Like Kirari and Yuzuki, … Azusa also scoffed at me with a silly smile.
“Azusa, too, has been trying to think of you as ‘Onii-chan’ for a long time, you know? But today, I realized it. Onii-chan is still a stranger to me, not connected by blood… I’ve always felt uncomfortable as my ‘Onii-chan’.”
And so she, too, said her farewell to me.
“Azusa’s real Onii-chan is not Kotaro’s Onii-chan. My real Onii-chan is … ‘Ryoma Onii-chan’!”
Azusa told me that and spun around on the spot like she was dancing.
Just thinking about Ryuzaki put her in such a good mood, it seemed.
“So, there’s no need to say ‘I’m coming home late’ like to an Onii-chan. You don’t have to force yourself to be ‘Onii-chan.’ … Azusa has decided to be very spoiled by Ryoma Onii-chan, so no more Onii-chan.”
Those words weren’t exactly a shock to me.
But no matter what she said, our parents and aunt left me in charge of Azusa, so I couldn’t give in so easily.
“Don’t say that… Father and mother will be worried, right? Even our aunt would be upset if Azusa went out at night. So you’d better keep your promise…”
“What’s the point of making promises to people who are abandoning their children?”
–With that one word, I lost even my mannerisms.
“You like to live by someone else’s rules, don’t you, Onii-chan? I think it’s creepy how you try to follow the rules even when you know it’s wrong. Azusa is definitely not like that.”
She continued to pile on words.
Her words, full of thorns, stabbed at me one after another.
“Don’t you have a will of your own? Onii-chan, I really don’t know what you’re thinking. … Are you satisfied with just doing what you’re told without hesitation? Is that the way you want to live your life? It’s so boring, like being a robot.”
I’m not so stupid that I can’t see that it’s a smile of sympathy, even though she is smiling at me.
I finally realized that Azusa’s heart has moved away from me.
“Azusa will continue to play at Ryoma Onii-chan’s house at night, okay? We watch TV together, go shopping, and eat dinner. We’re going to do things we haven’t been able to do for a long time… Ehehe~, I’m looking forward to it♪”
After saying that, Azusa turned her back to me.
She left the living room and went back to her room.
I could only watch her go.
Thus, I became estranged from the girls I thought were special.
On the day of the entrance ceremony, I lost everything I had built up to that point…
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