My parents were still doing well. They didn’t know about the blood relationship between the Himenokouji Family and me, and right now I didn’t have to worry about family politics. When I was a kid, my body was weak, and I caught two or three colds per year. I think I depended on others.
Back in the day, my parents took care of all the daily necessities. They also dealt with everything regarding the Himenokouji Family. I relied on them when I was sick and lazily idled under the warm futon without a care in the world. It seemed natural to me, and I didn’t question it.
Actually, from the day both of my parents passed away until today, I was the very picture of health. I was always free from that most common ailment: the cold. I was the iconic example that sickness and health start in the mind.
I was never sick sick during the six years I spent fighting to live with my little sister. It just wouldn’t have been practical to be sick. The thought of my being bedridden, forced away from my sister even longer, was enough to ensure that I never let any virus rampage in my body.
There are also other cases showing how dependent I was on others. At the time, my parents’ business didn’t require them to travel all over the world nonstop, with no time to rest. They were busy businessmen at most. If I got sick, they would immediately take off from work and focus only on caring for me.
I really was a total kid.
Really, I didn’t had a care in the world, and they worried about me. I didn’t try to catch a cold on purpose, but I was simpleminded, and I took it for granted that they would drop everything for me if I said, ‘Mum and dad, nurse me!’
Luckily, my parents were good people during that time, and it seemed that they treasured their time to be together with me. They nursed me without complaint, and nothing suggested that I and my weak body were a hindrance to their job. I have respect and affection for them because of this, even though they almost always just did as they pleased.
I loved being nursed by my parents. I loved having them constantly beside me, having them make tasty rice porridge for me, and having them feed me porridge. I loved it when they wiped me with a cool towel, changed my shirt and underwear, bought a toy that I liked, and kept their promises to play with me.
I sure was a spoiled child. I pestered everyone to my heart’s content and relishing the taste of omnipotence. Back then, I was surely God.
But really, well… I was just being a kid.
I’d have slapped me if I was the parent, but my parents never raised their hand against me.
My favorite thing ever, above all, was when my mother let me sleep on her lap and, while caressing my head, she told me a story.
That was the main dish in the nursing repertoire, and speaking in movie terms, it was a worthy climax. I gave myself over to her, and the sensations of her soft lap and palms let me sink into an unmatched blissful sleep… Yeah, it’ll always be in my top 5 list of family memories. It was beautiful——
While I hadn’t realized it at all, but I had fallen asleep. I didn’t notice any signs of falling asleep, but it seemed I was bolder than I had thought. Or maybe it was one of Ginbei’s earlier treatments.
“Ah. Did you finally wake up?”
When I weakly opened my eyes, I could see my mother’s nostalgic smile… No, that’s not it. She certainly resembled my mother, who was a famous beauty, but…
“Oh, it’s you, Akiko.”
“What’s with the ‘oh’? Your cute little sister is doing everything she can to nurse you!”
I smiled wryly at my little sister, who had puffed up her cheeks. Then I finally realized.
I saw the familiar ceiling behind her sulking face. I felt a soft pressure on the back of my head, and a gentle touch on its front. Being between those two sensations warmed my heart.
“Yes? What might it be?”
“This is an outrageous crime, you know? Giving me a lap pillow without my permission and stroking my head on top of it… ”
“No, no. What are you saying?”
My sister was perfectly composed.
“Onii-chan, you’ve fallen ill. I’m supposed to take care of you, you were sleeping soundly, and on top of that, you looked pained. Under these circumstances, I have to do everything I can, and I’ve done just that. Rather, it would be strange of me to restrain myself, and if I did, I don’t know what Nasuhara-san and Ginbei-san will say.”
“Exactly, think of this as an emergency evacuation. I didn’t do anything bad, and I dare say it’s Onii-chan’s fault for presenting me with such an opportunity. But, just for arguments sake, even if I had done something that would make Onii-chan angry later on, I wouldn’t have worried about it and given it my best anyway.”
It’s a sound argument. This time, I can’t blame her.
And maybe it’s because I’m a bit feverish, or because I just woke up so my head’s dizzy, but I didn’t feel like giving her a rebuttal. In truth, the lap pillow and head caressing felt incredible. It was absurd to resist.
Damn it. Akiko knew my weak spots.
This little sister remembered how much I loved it when my mom nursed me, didn’t she? Going further, she might realize that she could make me completely dependent on her and I wouldn’t even hate it… To put it simply, well, I knew how to deal with my sister, but this could reverse itself.
Oh dear. To think that our being together since we were born led to this—
“Please, let me to spoil you more.”
My little sister suddenly raised her voice while I was secretly grinding my teeth.
“Onii-chan has been spoiling me since I was born. You spoiled me to my heart’s content, no matter how much I wanted. That’s why I’ve always been a burden.”
“I’m not dependable for other things, but I can do this. So what do you think?”
Akiko said with a smile.
“In any case, please take care of yourself. It would be a great embarrassment for me if you overworked yourself for my sake and get into trouble. Of course, you’d deny that you were in trouble, right?”
But if looked closer at her smile, I could see her lips slightly shaking. It was clear that she was doing her best to maintain her composure. She was acting bright and cheery on the outside, but I knew that internally her thoughts were a mess.
“So today, it’s my turn to spoil you, Onii-chan. Like father and mother did in the old days, I’ll be your hands and feet. Anything is fine. I’ll even breath for you if I can. I’ve made up my mind, and I’ll do it even if you don’t want me to. Just for today, I won’t listen to what Onii-chan says, even if it makes me a bad girl.”
“Hmm… But you see…”
“Even if we see things differently, we want the same thing in the end, right?”
“That might be true, but this and that ar——”
“That’s why, if you resist, I’ll have to tie Onii-chan’s hands and feets. I’d have no choice but to lovingly administer a mysterious drug so that Onii-chan will only want to be spoiled.”
“Fine. Fine. I got it. I got it already.”
I didn’t want to, but I had to back down. I couldn’t picture her actually doing that, but it was true that I had made her worry unnecessarily. I’ll listen obediently this time as an apology.
“Hmm. So you agree with me?”
Her uneasy expression was dissolved by a bright smile that surely blossomed from the bottom of her heart.
“Well then, please. Let me spoil you to bits! I’ll give you anything you want.”
“I see. Thanks. I won’t hold you back.”
I nodded and closed my eyes. I remained in the same position as before so that Akiko could stroke my head.
It felt really good.
It was shameful that I allowed this to happen. I was her guardian. I was supposed to protect her, but I ended up sick in her lap instead. But there were circumstances. It was an undeniable fact that sick patients needed treatment.
Right, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. I’m just granting her her wish to spoil me freely. As a brother, this is the best I can do.
Alright, it was decided. I’d let her spoil me. I also decided to take advantage of my being sick to have her do things I normally couldn’t request.
“Yes. What might it be?”
“Just to confirm, but you’ll do anything?”
“Of course. Himenokouji Akiko doesn’t go back on her word.”
“I see, then——”
In one breath I said:
“I was sleeping until a moment ago, and I think I have a lot of sweat. If possible, could you help me strip and wipe my body?”
It was hard to stop myself from grinning as I made my first request.
Fufu, well then, what will happen?
For her, an extreme brocon who sees me as a man, this should be a piece of cake. She should be overjoyed. But let’s not be too hasty. This little sister of mine was bold in offense, but weak in defense. If you get past her armor, she’ll crumble. And considering that she can’t maintain her composure when I’m the one taking the offensive, I expect that she’ll just be flustered and confused. ‘Eh— Wai— What are you saying all of a sudden, Onii-chan?! My heart’s not ready!’ — something like that.
Maybe she’ll put on a brave face and accept the request, even though she’s obviously confused and nervous. Yeah, that would be good sight to see.
If she doesn’t accept, I could keep on teasing her. I’d be fine with that too. It’s a win for me either way.
So, what will you do, Akiko?
Will you stammer nervously until you’re at the end of the rope? After saying, ‘I’ll do anything,’ what did you expect? Engrave this lesson onto your body; this is what happens when I hold the upper—
“Ah, wiping your body? I already did that.”
“I already did it. It was while Onii-chan was sleeping.”
My sister nonchalantly said.
“You were sweating a lot, and I was worried that your body would cool down, so… I went ahead and did it. Should I not have?”
“Eh? Nono, that’s not it. In any case, thank you, Akiko.”
“Not at all. You’re very welcome.”
My sister smiled at me, but it felt like I was missing something.
But now that she mentioned it, my skin did feel light and cool, especially considering that I was bedridden with a fever… I see, so she didn’t think it was necessary to wait, and she just did it. I hadn’t had the chance to wash up since I collapsed, so it’s a matter of course, I guess.
But wouldn’t it be boring if she did that so easily? I wanted to mercilessly make her blush, and watch her reactions when she had to touch me.
“Hm? Wait, I just realized…”
“Yes. What might it be?”
“I do feel refreshed, and I understand that you wiped my body while I slept. It was only natural since you wanted to do everything you could.”
“Yes. That’s exactly how it is.”
“So, I’d like to ask one thing.”
“Did you, by any chance, wipe my whole body?”
Akiko replied a completely normally:
“Yes, I wiped all the sweat. From every corner of your body.”
But it made sense. She could have easily wiped places like my arm or my face, but they don’t sweat that much. So it would’ve been meaningless if she didn’t wipe my whole body.
And as expected of my little sister, I could tell that she put her heart into it. It seems she even added a minty flavor or something to the towel. If I paid attention, the cool, faint sensation from the passing air felt really good… especially around the area between my legs.
…Uwa. What was this?
Why was I the one who was blushing?
“Are you alright, Onii-chan? Your face turned red.”
“Eh? Ah, no, errr. Of course I’m fine. No problem, no problem at all.”
I hurriedly explained myself. Things weren’t heading in a good direction.
Making Akiko blush was my signature move, my privilege! She definitely wasn’t allowed to make me blush.
I had to restore my dignity as an older brother.
“Akiko. I’ve got a favor to ask.”
“Yes. What might it be?”
“In truth, I’m a bit hungry. I’d like something to eat. Rice porridge or fruits will.”
“This won’t be a problem. When you have an appetite, eating will speed up your recovery. Well then, I’ll prepare something to eat at on——”
“Ah, I have another favor to ask.”
“Yes. What might it be?”
“Yeah. Well, you see, I’d like you to go ‘aaaan’ and feed me. You wouldn’t mind, right?”
“Of course. I intended to do that from the start.”
“I’ll be Onii-chan’s hand and feet for whatever you need. It’s only natural since I’m nursing you, right? Well then, I’ll prepare something immediately, so——”
“Ah. Wait, wait a sec. Now that I think about it, I already ate a lot earlier, and my stomach still feels heavy. Eating wouldn’t be too good an idea.”
I frantically stopped her.
If Akiko didn’t lose it and blush right now, it wouldn’t be fun at all. Her immediate agreement signaled my utter defeat in this battle. She really would go ‘aaan’ and feed me. If that happened, I’d be the one who’d blush for sure, and my dignity…
Damn it, was I too naive? Or was I just too lenient?
Okay. In this case, I needed to get serious too.
This time there’s no holding back. I’ll have her surrender right here and now with my strongest move!
“Hey, Akiko? Rather than that, I’d like something else.”
“Yes. What might it be?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry, but can you kiss me?”
“Ah, I already kissed Onii-chan while he was asleep.”
I hadn’t thought of that.
But Akiko did say that she ‘wanted to attack Onii-chan in his sleep’ many times. Although she never got further than an attempt, and time and again Akiko proved that she was all bark and no bite. But really, why I didn’t notice her stealing my lips…?
“No. I was just kidding.”
“Ah. A joke? Thank God…”
“But if Onii-chan wishes me to, I will kiss him with pleasure. I don’t see how it has anything to do with nursing though.”
“Ah, no. It’s fine. It doesn’t have anything to do with nursing, yep.”
“…? Onii-chan, aren’t you acting weird? Anyway, I’ll do anything if it helps you recover. Tell me immediately if you want something. Don’t hold back.”
When Akiko said that, her eyes were earnest and serious. I could tell that she meant it — her only concern was my recovery. Anyway, it was clear that wholeheartedly determined, and that she would do a lot for me even though my health had only deteriorated a little. Her attitude made me embarrassed for myself. I realized that I really wanted to tease my sister and see her get flustered as always. I was embarrassed that I had such impure motives.
“…I’ve often said that my mother was strong, but the same goes for my sister, huh?”
“Yes? Did you say something, Onii-chan?”
I smiled wryly before nodding.
“It’s fine, Akiko. This cold is nothing, and to make matters worse, you had to nurse me—— Nasuhara-san and Ginbei have already taken care of me, so it’ll be fine. I’ll get rid of this cold before long. No, I’ll force it leave.”
“Yes, of course. Don’t worry about anything else.”
My little sister agreed, her smile a blooming flower. I closed my eyes.
Like I said, I need to get rid of this cold. I should get plenty of sleep since it’s one of the most effective things against a cold. I’ll do my best to drift into unconsciousness. No problem. This fiasco notwithstanding, I’ve always been proud of my resilience. If I think of it that way, this cold should be gone in one day.
The doctor had prescribed three to four days of bed rest, and I had intended to do just that. I also needed to be ready for school, which was about to get really busy. However, I changed my mind. I can’t keep on being this lazy.
As for why, it’s because now I have a reason to do this. I have to get rid of this cold quickly so that Akiko reverts to her usual self — the Himenokouji Akiko who’s clings to me all the time and approaches me shamelessly, yet turns into a good-for-nothing when push comes to shove. This was now my absolute number one priority. If I fail, I’ll lose my dignity as an older brother.
Translator notes and references