Taking care of my younger sister's too naive of a beautiful yankee high schooler, then falling in love - Chapter 16
It was Mid-August.
As usual, we are bombarded with sunlight so strong that it scorches nearly everything. It’s no longer a world where we can live without air conditioning.
Updates of the highest temperatures are broadcasted on TV every day, along with heat stroke warnings. It makes me want to stay in the comfort of my air-conditioned house.
However, just sitting at home because it’s hot is depressing. At times like this, a change of scenery is important.
Today, I brought Mana, Erika-chan, Runa-chan, and Arisa-chan to the aquarium.
“Waa~! Fish~! There’s fish over there! Fish over here too!”
As soon as we entered the aquarium, Runa-chan clung to the tank and shouted loudly.
If she were a small child, it might be pleasant to watch, but when it’s a high school girl doing it, it’s a little embarrassing to watch.
Arisa-chan, who was in the same grade as her, seemed to feel the same way and grabbed Runa-chan by her nape and tore her off the tank.
“Don’t put your finger marks on it! And don’t put your mouth on it either!! Are you an idiot!? Why the heck are you kissing the water tank!?”
“It felt nice and cold.”
“Idiot. What would you do if there’s some weird old guy who’s already had his mouth in here?”
“Geh!! Don’t say stuff like that!!”
Mana laughed at Runa-chan as she scrubbed her mouth with her sleeve.
“Ahaha. You’re too excited.”
As she said that, even Mana was up much earlier than usual, getting ready to leave. It was like the morning of a field trip.
While I was feeling satisfied with seeing the four of them enjoying themselves, Arisa-chan approached me with a grin on her face.
“Though I have to say, Mana’s Nii-san, you can do it too, can’t you~? Going to the aquarium surrounded by four high school girls… It’s no longer a case of having flowers in both hands~. Isn’t this a harem now?”
I responded to Arisa-chan exasperatedly.
“Where’s this harem you’re talking about? I feel like a teacher in charge of leading a field trip.”
I wondered how it would look from the outside to see a male college student in the midst of four high school girls. To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed.
Then Mana said to me, clapping her hands.
“That means Aniki’s dream of becoming a teacher has been fulfilled! Congratulations~! Now you have no regrets!”
As Runa-chan and Arisa-chan started applauding and said, “Congratulations~”, passerbys began to give me scrutinizing looks.
“Please don’t pretend that my dream has come true because of this!”
First of all, I don’t want to be a teacher because I want to lead field trips. Moreover, why are they giving off the vibe as if my life is now complete?
The yankee girls tease me anytime, anywhere. As I was getting fed up with their rampantness, Erika poked my arm with her fingers.
“Listen Onii-san. Can… Can I go off for a bit?”
She fidgeted and pointed towards the stairs. There, at the bottom of the stairs, a toilet could be seen.
“Ah, the toilet! Sure, why not?”
“N-no, not there!”
Her face turned red as she got angry.
“Penguins! I want to see the penguins!!”
“Ah! The penguins! My bad!”
“I’m going to ignore the route we decided on because I want to see them as soon as possible! I’ll go then!”
Erika-chan seemed to have nothing but penguins on her mind, as if she was a fan wanting to meet her favourite idol.
Once she decided to go, she was quick. Erika-chan headed for the stairs without even hearing our reply. There was a sign on the stairs that said, ‘Penguin Corner this way’.
As I was following Erika-chan with my eyes, someone whacked me on the back.
I turned around in surprise. The culprit was Mana.
“Why don’t you go with her? Me and the others will go along the planned route.”
With Mana’s encouragement, I headed for the stairs. As I climbed the stairs, I glanced back and saw the three of them pointing at the fish and cackling.
——Well, it’s fine. We can go our own ways.
I brought the four along together, and thought we’d get the chance to get along and make some memories but… they’re all as unfettered as usual.
Of the four yankee girls, my little sister was the one with the most common sense. With Mana, they probably wouldn’t bother the other customers too much or cause any problems. If something happened, she would call me right away.
I entrusted Runa-chan and Arisa-chan to Mana, and headed for the penguin corner where Erika-chan was headed.
When I went to the penguin corner, I saw Erika-chan looking at a large tank of penguins amongst families with small children.
She held the fence surrounding the tank and intently stared at the penguins… The sight was so picturesque that I wanted to take a picture of it.
In the indoor penguin corner, you can clearly see the penguins swimming. Surely if we climbed the stairs next to the tank and went outdoors, we would be able to see the penguins on land, just like when we came to this aquarium in June.
I weaved my way through the crowd and slipped through next to Erika-chan, who was right in front of the tank, and called out to her.
“Won’t you go up there today?”
Erika-chan replied without taking her eyes off the penguins.
“I tried it once, but it was too hot. I can’t concentrate on the penguins.”
She wanted to devote all her attention to watching the penguins. The response conveyed such enthusiasm.
It was indeed blazing hot outside. The air conditioning here is good, and the sight of penguins swimming in the tank is visually cool.
——As usual, she’s completely obsessed with penguins. If I start talking to her, I might be a nuisance.
I didn’t want to disturb Erika-chan, so I kept my mouth shut and watched the penguins swim by.
Penguins waddle around on land, but once they enter the water, they swim in jet mode. I think the gap between their adorable appearance and their cool appearance is the reason why they are loved by both adults and children… What am I thinking while looking at penguins?
I wonder what Erika-chan thinks about while she looks at the penguins.
I was curious and glanced sideways at Erika-chan.
Erika-chan’s eyes were serious. It had been almost ten minutes since I arrived, but she hadn’t taken her eyes off the penguins for a second.
The other visitors around me looked at the penguins and left within a few minutes. It was just me and Erika who stayed here forever.
Erika-chan’s upright eyes swayed as she followed the penguins. Before I knew it, I was looking not at the penguin, but at Erika-chan’s beautiful profile.
I was startled. I thought I was going to be reproached for staring at her.
But Erika-chan continued, not taking her eyes off the penguins.
“I’m happy to see them again…”
She smiled lovingly at the penguins. A smile that made me feel happy by simply being next to her.
“You really like them, don’t you?”
“Yeah. I like them.”
Erika-chan looked on fondly.
“Hey, Onii-san. Are penguins warm to touch? Or are they cold?”
“Umm… they’re birds. They’re basically warm. But if you hugged a penguin who was swimming around on a hot day like this, it would probably feel nice and cold.”
“It means that they’re from the same family as other birds.”
“Penguins are birds?”
“Oh… so that’s where you’re starting from…”
I thought it was typical of Erika, but I was a little worried. I wanted to ask if she thought that they were a type of fish, but I also didn’t want to ask that… I hope she doesn’t think that everything in the aquarium are fish…
“There was a picture book on penguins in the souvenir shop, wasn’t there?”
Erika-chan suddenly said.
“A picture book? That’s right… I think I did see one last time but what about it?”
“I brought some of my secret savings along. That… maybe I’ll buy it. I want to properly learn about the things I love…”
Looking at Erika-chan’s slightly embarrassed face, I felt my heart fidgeting in my chest. I couldn’t control the urge that was rising in me, so I patted Erika-chan’s head.
“Erika-chan, who tries her best for penguins, is very cute.”
What am I saying while patting her head in a public place like this? But I couldn’t resist the urge to pet her and say something.
I wondered if the temperature outside had risen to the point where the air conditioning in the museum was no longer working. My body felt so hot that I thought so.
But it seems that I was not the only one.
——Erika-chan, who was looking down, her ears having turned bright red.
I resolved myself.
Right now, I’ll tell her. How I feel about her.
I took my hand down from Erika-chan’s head and placed it on top of her hand that was holding the fence surrounding the tank. Her hand jerked slightly, but I kept squeezing it tightly.
Both of our body temperatures were equally as hot as the other.
“—Erika-chan. Will you please go out with me?”
Hearing my words, Erika looked up. Her big eyes looked straight at me.
“I like you, Erika-chan.”
I, too, looked Erika-chan in the eyes and told her.
Erika-chan’s eyes blinked a few times.
Then with her light pink lips, she asked.
“Isn’t that ‘like’ for someone who you thought of as a little sister?”
“Yes. I’ve always liked you as a sister. I first met you when you were in junior high school after all, and I had a strong image of you as my sister’s friend who had saved her.”
She was someone I cherished. I intended to cherish her.
“That’s why when Erika-chan told me that you liked me, I was perplexed. The feelings of “love” I held for you, and the feelings of “love” Erika-chan held for me were different. But also… it was the first time someone conveyed their feelings of love to me so straightforwardly.”
It was so sudden and confusing. I didn’t know how to cherish her. I was worried about how I should do it.
“When Erika-chan kissed me for the first time, I actually became quite conscious of you. But you were like a little sister to me, so I tried my best to fool myself not to be conscious of you as the opposite gender. I was afraid to see you as the opposite gender, so I was being stubborn.”
“…Onii-san you’re so stubborn.”
“Yeah. I’m sorry for being such an inflexible and stubborn person. But, since some time or another, I could no longer deceive myself by thinking of Erika-chan as my little sister. I had no choice but to accept that I like you as someone of the opposite gender.”
“When was it that Onii-san started falling in love with me as a woman and not as a little sister?”
When did I start falling in love with Erika-chan as a woman and stopped trying to deceive my own feelings? I no longer remember when it happened even if I think back.
But I remember one thing for sure. I’ll never forget it. What happened that day…
“Since the other day when I met your mom, my way of thinking has clearly changed…”
“…In what way?”
She was rushing ahead.
She was waiting for me to say something.
I came this far, now I no longer had any hesitation in my mind.
“When Erika-chan’s precious stuffed penguin was thrown away, and when you apologized to me for it, your feelings pierced my heart. I loved you so much, that I had to respond to your feelings properly.”
Those tears broke the shackles that I had in my heart.
My true feelings, which I had kept locked away because I didn’t want to see her as a romantic interest. My uncontrollable feelings that I had tried to deceive until now by thinking of her like a little sister.
“I want to protect Erika-chan as a man. I want to cherish you. I want to support you. Many other feelings are welling up inside me. Even for me, it’s the first time that I’ve fallen this deeply in love with someone. I’ll definitely be awkward and you might sometimes be irritated but…”
With sincerity from the bottom of my heart. I compose my words.
“I want to be with Erika-chan. That’s why… will you go out with me?”
We stared at each other for a long time in front of the water tank where the penguins came and went.
Erika-chan didn’t say anything for a while, just looked at me and smiled with the corner of her eyebrows lowered.
And then finally… she gave one, large nod.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard the answer I had been waiting for.
From today onwards, I’m Erika-chan’s boyfriend.
I won’t lie about my feelings anymore. I’ll properly tell her that I like her.
I won’t hesitate about my feelings of love.
“Ehehe,” Erika-chan giggled and said.
“I’m so happy… This is probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.”
It might be the first time I’ve seen Erika-chan’s face this happy.
My face naturally broke into a grin.
I can’t believe how happy it feels to be in a relationship. The feeling of elation that the state of mutual love brings is unbelievable.
Erika-chan also seemed to be in high spirits.
“Fufufu. Then, now we can do this and that, everything we’ve been refraining from, right?”
——’This and that’?
I have a bad feeling about this. That’s right. There was something I had to tell her straight up.
“Um… Erika-chan. I plan on having a healthy and wholesome relationship with you until you graduate from high school. This is non-negotiable, so thank you!”
“Haaaaa? What the heck!? What does that mean!?”
“That’s why… I won’t do anything that might be regulated because you’re in high school.”
Since it is a public place, I used a low voice to tell her. However, I was immediately answered in a loud voice.
“Even though we’re going out!? Even though it’s mutual!?”
“Yeah. I’m doing this for Erika-chan’s sake too.”
“Eeeh… this is somehow different from what I imagined…”
What was this girl going to do as soon as we started dating? It’s a little scary, so I’m not going to ask…
Looking at Erika-chan’s displeased face, I asked her with a troubled look.
“Then… As expected, should we postpone the start of our relationship to after your graduation?”
“I don’t want that! Fine! I’m fine with a wholesome relationship!”
She said it in a desperate way, so it was cute.
I couldn’t help but let out a small laugh.
Aah, being lovers is such a good feeling.
I feel like I want to keep looking at Erika-chan forever.
But then I looked at the clock and was pulled back to reality.
When I realized the amount of time had passed, I unconsciously let out, “Eh?” from my mouth.
“It’s been over an hour since we got here! What happened to Mana and the others? They haven’t passed by here, have they?”
“Wouldn’t they have just ignored the planned route and gone straight to the souvenir shop?”
“I see. That’s true… it doesn’t feel like that they’d seriously keep looking at the fish…”
Rather, they might think that the souvenir shop would be the most fun.
I moved away from the fence, still holding Erika-chan’s delicate hand.
“Shall we go to the souvenir shop and choose a stuffed penguin for you?”
“Yeah… let’s go choose one.”
A happy smile.
My heart started beating even faster.
The place where their hands overlapped was moist due to our mutual tension and excitement. The feeling reminded me of the day I brought Erika-chan home from the park.
This was the second time I walked with Erika-chan’s hand in mine. But this time was different from the last.
We put our palms together perfectly and entwined our fingers between each other’s fingers. This type of handholding… I think, is known as the ‘lover’s hold’.
Our tightly connected hands, seemingly conveyed our feelings to each other.
I hope to be able to do this, for many years to come…
[ED: What’s with the lewd hand holding shenanigans…]