16 years old.
Second year high school student.
Grades neither good nor bad.
I had lost my parents when I was a child and lived with my relatives from there on – except for this, I had lived a normal life without really being interested in anything.
This had been the story of my, Himenokouji Akito’s, life up until a few days ago.
“I think being a bro-con’s very special.”
While we were eating breakfast, my sister insisted:
“Brother complex… when two blood-related siblings have intimate relations with each other – that kind of forbidden love. You should think about it as well. There are billions living on Earth, but how many can say that they’re bro-cons? One or two people at best, there’ve probably never been more than ten, right? First off, Onii-chan, you should be able to at least recognize that we’re a rare kind. Should you not recognize that there’s a great need for this kind of people and embrace any close relatives you know of with that kind of special quality?”
“With that said, I want to add that I’m a huge bro-con, and furthermore I believe that people with this kind of quality should be proud of themselves! Since I happen to be one of those bro-cons, I believe that a reward is due, yes?”
“That so? By the way, this miso soup’s pretty good, huh?”
“Yes, I’m very proud of it. Would you care for seconds?”
“Oh, thank you. I believe I do.”
“Okay. About how much do you want? A whole bowl? Half a bowl?”
“Well, I think I’ll have half a bowl.”
“Mm. Thank you.”
“You’re having quite the healthy appetite today, haven’t you? Now, about our bro-con talk—”
“Oh? This Tsukemono are also pretty good! Did you make those, too?”
“Yes, since I’m living with Onii-chan now, I prepared a Nukadoko beforehand. Is the taste to your liking?”
“Yes, this is pretty tasty. Your cooking has gotten good, Akiko.”
“Yes, I’ve been practicing a lot. So about the bro-con talk——”
“Oh! This Furikake is pretty tasty.”
“Those are just things I found at the store! That aside, Onii-chan, aren’t you going to listen to what’s on my mind?!”
My sister flew into a rage when she noticed what I was trying to do.
But what was wrong with that?
There was nothing enjoyable about listening to a speech on bro-cons first thing in the morning.
Furthermore, the target of her affection was none other than me.
“It’s a very important matter, so can you please listen to me?!”
“No, I mean…”
I took a deep breath and said:
“I understand that you’re a bro-con, but how come you like me? Honestly, I really think there’s nothing to likable about me.”
“Don’t say such things!”
My sister insisted with her fists shaking.
“I think Onii-chan’s very cool! I’ve been devoting myself to Onii-chan for a long time now!”
“Even though we’ve been apart for six years? On top of that, didn’t we only just reunite yesterday?”
“Something like that doesn’t matter!”
I don’t understand how she can say something like that, but anyway, I have a firm hold on my own beliefs.
“Alright, I understand.”
For the time being I gave in to her.
“I’ll listen to what you have to say seriously. Well, I can’t just keep ignoring it. That fetish of my little sister who’s going to live with me.”
“Please don’t call it a fetish. It’s my personality— personality! You could also say that it’s my very identity!”
“I understand, I understand. You being a bro-con is your personality and it’s a rare trait you don’t often see as well as something you’re taking pride in. So? What is it you wanted to say?”
“Yes, right away.”
Clearing her throat with a cough, she said:
“This morning’s breakfast was very good, right? Please reward me by carrying me in your arms.”
“…I don’t know what’s going on in that head of yours, but you’re really making me worry about you.
“I’m sorry. I got a little carried away.”
“As long as you understand…”
“Yes, I’ll give up on being carried. A kiss will do.”
“No wait, how did it get to that?”
“Embracing me’s also okay.”
“That isn’t even a hug anymore, we’d basically having a man/woman relationship!”
My sister, with a look of disbelief on her face and her eyebrows raised, said:
“All I want is to get a reward from Onii-chan! Why can’t you understand?!”
“Hey, I’m the one who should be angry here, right?”
“The point is, all I want is to flirt with Onii-chan, just that and I’ll be satisfied!”
“You’re showing your true intentions again.”
“…Fufu, you still haven’t realized it yet, Onii-chan.”
While smiling, my sister had raised her lips in a bold manner and laughed.
“By continuing the argument while acting indifferent, you could say that we’re already flirting in a way. If someone saw this situation, they would definitely think that this was the case. ‘Those two are madly in love’, they would think. Fufu, even if you haven’t been tricked by me already, I still caught you off-guard. Onii-chan’s a very cute person.”
“Anyways, can I get some more miso soup, please? It’s incredibly delicious.”
“Yes! There’s a lot of it, so eat to your heart’s content.”
For some reason she looked like a villain as she was mumbling to herself, but she still gave me my bowl while smiling.
It was very cute.
How should I put it… my lively reunion with my sister still hadn’t ended, but I was simply grateful that this situation did.
No matter how you put it, serious conversations about bro-cons are probably only going to cause an uproar and weird things to be said.
Well, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t unhappy about this. After all, that’s just the kind of person my sister was.
My sister had often been clinging to me.
We did everything together ever since we were kids.
Our house was usually empty since both of our parents were always working, so my sister gave me all of her attention, we were almost the same age, after all.
‘I love you, Onii-chan!’
I had a hunch that something was off when had kept saying those words everyday.
At that time I would’ve never imagined that even in my wildest dreams, of course.
That the ‘love’ she meant was not a familial one, but rather the one between man and woman.
“Today’s weather is nice, isn’t it?”
Sitting side-by-side with me on the veranda, my sister was talking while holding a cup of tea with steam rising from it.
With a relaxed expression that looked like a cat basking in the sun, she said:
“…If Onii-chan’d let me have a lap-pillow as well, I’d be completely satisfied.”
“I’ll say it just once, I won’t do that, okay?”
“…If Onii-chan’d let me have a lap-pillow as well, I’d have no more regrets.”
“You’ve ruined my mood in one go.”
Although I said that, I was actually still relaxing with a good mood.
We had been separated for a long time, and we had become like strangers…
But my sister was still my sister.
It was currently the end of March.
We had been waiting for spring break to come, and then we moved out.
We had both stopped being dependent on the ones who took care of us.
After 70 years this two-storied wooden house had become tattered.
…Now that I think about it, that had been a pretty bold move.
The repairs still hadn’t been completed at that time and the yard was covered with dead grass.
Compared to the houses we came from, this place looked like a rather run-down dwelling.
Since it had been scheduled for demolition soon, the only apparent inhabitants of this dorm were my sister and I…
“I’m grateful to the Arisuga Family.”
My sister said with a diligent voice.
“It must’ve been tough for them, always taking care of me and helping me out with everything. They raised me even though I wasn’t even their real daughter.”
“That’s right, huh? Kyotsugu-san and Shouko-san both helped us to get this place. I’m truly thankful for their help. Without them we wouldn’t be here right now…”
“We can finally be at ease now.”
“I guess that’s right.”
“But as a matter of fact, ever since long ago, I had always believed in it. Ever since Onii-chan and I were separated, I knew. That once I left the Arisugawa house, Onii-chan and I would live together.”
“Well, it has finally happened, right? What you’ve been waiting for all this time.”
“Yes. It’s finally happened. Finally.”
My sister said with a slight smile.
It was the kind of fleeting smile one would carry when it’s a period where hot and cold days alternate, but then one ends up getting six warm days and only one cold day, and then it’s the perfect time to watch the cherry blossoms fall.
Those six years seemed to have gone by so fast.
“So once again, I’m pleased to meet you. I’ll be in your care from now on, Onii-chan.”
I believe my sister had been raised incredibly well.
She was raised like a person from one of the most distinguished families.
Her appearance, movement, and behavior proved it.
No matter what happened, she’d never completely lose her temper, she had turned into a splendid young lady.
The Arisugawa Family had let us exchange letters during those six years (although the Arisugawa and Takanomiya Families both checked the contents, I forgave them after several months). For just that point I was very thankful.
Well, growing up with someone who prided herself for being a bro-con was… entertaining, but I think it was a bit painful as well. Kind of like getting a tooth pulled out in one go, that kind of feeling.
“…I’m sorry, Onii-chan.”
While she was thinking of something, my sister offered me an apology.
“I talked about things that made you feel unpleasant, didn’t I, Onii-chan? Let’s stop with this improper topic.”
“Yes… that sounds good.”
“We did have a good relationship as siblings. But now that we are reunited, I think we kind of feel awkward to each other.”
“Hm. That’s right, huh?”
“Yes, it must be like that.”
My sister cleared her throat with a cough, looked over to me with a serious expression, and said:
I was called by my first name all of a sudden.
“Eh? What is it? What’s wrong? Why are you calling me that all of a sudden? Are you not going to call me ‘Onii-chan’ like you usually do?”
“Correct, I won’t, Akito-san.”
My sister energetically let out a ‘gugugu’ sound and while bringing her face close to me, said:
“Our relationship right now, doesn’t it seem kind of awkward? Akito-san.”
“Eh? Mm, well… I guess so?”
It had been a long time since our separation and we were now both in that sensitive age of puberty.
Back when we were kids, I had said similar things and wanted to get closer, but this discussion was a little unreasonable nonetheless, don’t you think?
Of course, I did want to get closer to my sister, but still.
“It can’t be helped, you understand? Akito-san.”
While urging the indecisive me with a ‘gugugu’, my sister spoke heatedly.
“It’s a shame, though. It took a lot of hardships for us to live together and yet… even though we’re real siblings, we seem like strangers. Don’t you think that too? Akito-san.”
“Y-Yeah. I guess you’re right.”
I understand that.
What kind of relationship does calling me by my first name imply?
Also, how come you’re adding ‘Akito-san’ to the end of all your sentences?
“Yes. It seems you’ve noticed.”
she continued smilingly:
“I’ve called you Onii-chan all these years, but I’m forcing myself to call you by your first name. It takes a lot of effort.”
“I mean, isn’t that right? Calling someone by their first name, is that not something only people with a close relationship would do? But I’ll try my best to call you that.”
There certainly was some truth to that.
I don’t know about that in other parts of the world, but in Japan, if you want to call someone by their first name, various conditions have to be cleared. That part is common sense at least. Calling each other by our first names would automatically reduce the awkwardness between us.
I see. She’s trying to solve this in her own way. Well, I worry about it too much. I’m the older brother, so naturally I need to be the one taking initiative——
“It’s not that simple!”
I retorted by reflex.
“Isn’t it weird nonetheless? It feels kind of strange, calling you by your first name.”
“It’s just a matter of practice. You’ll get used to it in no time.”
“No, it’s just… being called Akito-san by my own sister is a little… how should I put it, a bit strange.”
“They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We have to start off by doing the things we can.”
“Well, I understand that much, but…”
“It’s no… good?”
“Hm. Well, I wouldn’t really say it’s absolutely no good. There’s nothing strange about the ethics of it, and it’s not prohibited, but…”
“Please allow it. With this, I feel like we can become one step closer. Let’s close the gap between us by doing this. Step by step, we’ll remove this awkwardness between you and I.”
With my sister’s insistence, I was slowly starting to change my mind. My sister was going to live with me from now on, so if the gap created a weird atmosphere, it certainly would become a bit difficult. I, too, had been waiting for an idea that would help fixing this.
“Okay, got it. Let’s try it.”
“Yes. Thank you very much for listening to me.”
“You don’t have to thank me. Since we’re going to live together from now on, I also want to improve our relationship.”
“Thank you very much. Hearing those words makes me happy.”
She smiled. A smile that would get a full score was blooming.
It had been like this ever since we were children.
Ever since my sister was little, she had always been a good girl.
I don’t want to boast, but her good upbringing is partly thanks to me. As I said earlier, our parents weren’t around often. As such, the job to raise my little sister fell onto me. I told her over and over again to ‘become a splendid person’, she diligently listened to me and did just that.
“Well, without further ado.”
My little sister cleared her throat with a cough and said:
“Hm? What is it?”
“It’s nothing. I just wanted to call your name.”
“Nothing. I’m just calling your name.”
My sister had gotten into a good mood all of a sudden.
…Well, if it only got rid of that weird feeling between us, then that alone’d be good enough for me. All those six years hadn’t been very reliable. If this could at least help me atone a little bit, then it wouldn’t be bad.
“In any case, you seem pretty happy, huh, Akiko?”
“Yes, I’m very happy. With this, I’m one step closer to my dream.”
“After all, Akito-san is more of a late bloomer than I expected.”
My sister twisted around while saying this.
“We’re finally together in our love nest, yet we’re in this awkward state where you’ve not even tried to lay a finger on me… We have to break this predicament as soon as possible. If we don’t tear down those walls between us, we’ll never be able to commemorate our first night, right?”
“I think I won’t allow it after all.”
My sister yelled while her head was bent back in surprise.
“Or rather, I find it strange that you’re surprised at that. Understand? Really, I can’t let my guard down. No matter what it is, you always try to go back in that direction.”
“But, don’t lovers call each other by their first names?”
“When did we become lovers? We’re still siblings, you know?!”
“How cruel! How could you change your mind on what we talked about earlier! There should be a limit to how fickle you can be!”
“Anyway, I forbid it.”
“Wait! Wait, please!”
My sister desperately pleaded to me.
“Well, let’s do this, then. What if we just change how we call each other a little, will that work?”
What is it this time?
“Yes. If I just change the nuance of how I call you, perhaps it’ll clean the bad impression that Onii-chan has of me. For example——”
My sister coughed twice to clear her throat and then said with a smile:
What’s this? Is it just my imagination or does it feel really dangerous now?
“Well, even if you ask how it is, when you do this it’s a bit..”
“This one is no good? Well, how about this then…”
She coughed twice again and smiled.
What’s with her? It feels even more dangerous now… It actually gives me the creeps.”
“Hm. This one’s no good either, huh? Well then, what about… *cough* *cough* …Akito-san. *guhehe*”
“Err, I can see your true intentions coming through with that.”
I understood that it’d end up like this.
Really, this sister of mine…
“You know, weren’t you trying to clean this bad image I had in mind? It’s clear my image has gotten even worse now.”
“Ehehe. I was found out.”
“…You know, can you please try to be a bit more responsible? Why do you try to get things into that direction… are you some kind of cat in heat?”
“Hmph. That’s a little impolite, isn’t it?”
“Ah…Well, guess you’re right. Sorry.”
“Yes, lumping me together with cats troubles me. While I’m a cat lover who can recognize the immense charm of them which makes you want to hug them, in the end cats are just creatures who breed while in heat only. I, on the other hand, am someone who’s sexually excited all year round, cats can’t even compare to me. It’s easily my victory.”
“…I’ve listened to you all the way to the end, and yet it was for naught! How am I supposed to comfort myself?!”
Whew, I stopped and took a short breath.
All this time my little sister was watching me with a smile on her face.
…Well, I guess I’ll leave it like that.
All of these dumb conversations we’ve had have slowly helped our awkwardness.
My sister must have anticipated that the conversation would end up like this.
“Don’t worry, Onii-chan. I don’t have that kind of feelings for anyone else. Onii-chan’s the only one for me.”
“Err, I don’t know what to say.”
I sighed once more.
My cute and obedient little sister.
Thus, our reunion ended and I started living with her, although it’s not what I originally had in mind.
To tell the truth, it was a bit too much for me to handle.
Translator notes and references
In Japan surnames are written in front of first names.
Japanese pickled vegetables.
Bed of salted rice-bran used for pickling.
Dried food sprinkled over rice.