The next morning, I opened my eyes when the clock had just struck 8 AM.
Umi didn’t come wake to wake me up this morning either.
Last night, my battle with Sae-san unfolded. I did manage to say what I wanted to, but to be honest it was giving me a bad aftertaste
I went down to the first floor and though usually all three of them would be up by now, this morning there was no one there. Just as I was drinking the barley tea in the fridge, Nami entered the living room.
「Good morning Nami-chan」
「G！……G, good morning!」
When she saw Mitsuru, Nami became flustered and hurriedly left to wash her face.
（Ohh? Could it be that I got even more hated because of the incident last night?）
I thought that while observing Nami but she soon returned to the living room. Seeing her with her face washed and her hair brushed, it seems like she just didn’t want to be seen with bed-hair.
「Where are Sae-san and Umi?」
「Err…They are still sleeping. We went to sleep late last night after all.」
「Is that so?」
「Hey……About my sister…No, about us sisters…」
「Hm? What is it?」
It seemed like Nami was worried about what Mitsuru said last night. “You entered the house where the memories of my mother are with muddy shoes”. When they heard Mitsuru’s remarks last night, Nami and Umi thought that it wasn’t only Sae he was talking about, but them as well. For Mitsuru, all three of them were uninvited guests. Last night, Nami and Umi were shocked by Mitsuru’s remarks and discussed what they would do from now on.
Nami-chan told me that Umi was especially shocked.
「Ahaha, it’s not like I said all of that seriously……Sorry, sorry, yesterday I also got agitated and ended up saying all that」
I started talking about the real intention behind yesterdays words.
（Sae-san pissed me off, but I didn’t want Nami and Umi to distance themselves from me）
I told her that I wasn’t serious about the stuff I said and that I was happy that Nami and Umi could be like little sisters to me. The things I said yesterday were meant to make Sae-san realize that even if I were to think like that, it wouldn’t be strange.
Sae-san was only thinking about herself and ignored Mitsuru, Nami and Umi’s feelings. Especially towards Mitsuru, she kept insisting that because she was Kaito-san’s wife, she was Mitsuru’s step-mother, so he should listen to her.
She didn’t even consider the fact that Mitsuru could think of her as someone who just appeared out of nowhere. Mitsuru explained that he only said something so extreme so that she would understand that.
「That’s why I wasn’t really serious. I’m glad to have you and Umi here」
「Is, is that so……I’m glad～」
「Yeah, that’s why you and Umi shouldn’t worry about it」
Nami’s face lit up and she started smiling.
（Wow! She’s so cute…Isn’t this the first time she showed me such a meek smile since she came here?）
「By, by the way…About going to the sea……」
「Aa, that? What about it? Did she put a stop to it after all?」
「It’s no good!!」
I was a bit surprised since Nami suddenly raised her voice.
「What is no good？」
「A, so, sorry…I mean, I want to go. Umi and I will convince big sister, so please take us with you.」
「Ok, I get it. Then I’ll leave convincing Sae-san to you.」
「A, and……I have another request」
Nami told me, with great difficulty, that she also wanted a new swimsuit.
She would return the money with her monthly allowance, so she wanted me to lend her money to buy a new swimsuit.
「A～That right. It’s unfair if I only buy it for Umi. I’ll buy Nami-chan’s as well.」
「Eh? Is that really ok?」
「Yeah! Just this much is completely fine. I’ll buy it so you can just freely choose the one you like」
「っ!!! Thank you very much! Aa……But…If it’s possible……well……」
「Huh? What is it?」
「Could you choose my swimsuit for me?……That is, you’re buying it for me after all, so I want one that’s according to Mitsuru-san’s taste…」
「……Is that so?……Sure, I get it. Then if we can officially go to the sea together, let’s go buy it.」
（If I choose…Iyaiya, I can’t buy something like that for Nami. She’d likely just cut me off saying「I can’t wear a swimsuit like that!」）
While we were discussing that, Umi came to the living room.
「Morning～ Nami-nee……Onii？！！！！ What are you doing alone with Nami-nee？？！！」
「Hm？ Good morning, Umi. What are we doing?……We’re talking about the thing last night？？」
「A, aa, Oh…So you were only talking」
「Are you still half-asleep?」
「I’m notっ！！…You’re too insensitiveっ！ I’ll go wash my face！！」
Umi angrily disappeared to wash her face.
（Iyaiya, it’s not like I’m the protagonist of some light novel, there’s no way I’m so dull. You’re way too jealous, Umi）
Then, Sae-san entered the room. The atmosphere instantly became delicate.
「……G, good morning………Mitsuru-kun」
I greeted her first but Sae-san didn’t look me in the eyes.
（Hmmph, was the medicine a bit too effective?）
I realized it would be hard for Sae-san with me here, so I retreated to my room.
「Onii～ Food is ready～」
「Hm, I got it, I’m coming now」
「Hey Onii? Well……」
Umi was surprisingly being evasive with her words.
「What is it？」
「It’s about the thing you were saying yesterday……」
（Aa, that matter…Nami was saying Umi was worried about it after all）
I told Umi the same thing I told Nami.
「Is that so～ I’m glad～ I was surprised. I though Onii actually hates me～」
「Well, that’s how it is. Umi is already an important person for me, so realx」
「Yesっ！ Then today as well the usual good morning！Onii *Kiss*♡！」
After giving me a kiss Umi happily went downstairs.
（Well then, what do I do about Sae-san……）
Breakfast after that was like a funeral. Sae-san didn’t look at me and was silent the whole time.
The rest of the morning, I helped Umi with her homework and while I was at it, I helped Nami-chan as well. Whenever I would talk to Nami-chan, Umi’s mood strangely worsens. It was troublesome but there was nothing I could do about it.
（I have to talk to Umi after this. Her attitude is way too blunt）
If she kept on acting like this, Sae-san’s doubts would grow. I’ll need to have her act less obvious.
Conversely, Nami-chan’s attitude kept on getting softer.
Maybe because of the talk we had this morning about the thing last night, the blunt attitude towards me was nowhere to be seen and I became able to come into contact with her normally. For me, it was a happy miscalculation.
In the afternoon Sae, Nami and Umi said that they were going to have a family meeting and started talking amongst themselves.
（Iya…Not a family meeting, please just call it a sisters’ meeting. A family meeting without me? What’s that supposed to mean?）
That’s what I thought but I stopped myself from saying it.
「Mitsuru, can we talk for a bit?」
「Dad? That’s rare, what are you doing here?」
「Aa, I just returned from my work trip……」
Dad came into my room.
（Hmm, he’s probably going to ask about last evening’s matter. But I wonder what Sae-san told him.）
「Did you have an argument with Sae yesterday?」
「Ah, it wasn’t to the extent of an argument, more like I expressed my standpoint」
「……Is that so?… You can’t accept Sae?」
「I don’t know what you heard from Sae-san but do you have any intention of listening to my story?」
「You don’tっ！Well, It doesn’t matter. If we’re talking about accepting or not accepting, it’s Sae-san who’s not accepting me. She just pushes her point of view and doesn’t try to hear me out. She doesn’t only do that to me, it’s the same to her little sisters as well」
Then I continued.
「Even when I tried to compromise, she wouldn’t follow along. She obstinately kept on trying to push her opinion. That might have worked when it was just the three sisters but now the circumstances have changed. If she doesn’t compromise with me there’s no way this newly created family could work. She should understand things like this at her age. That’s why I told her to be more like an adult.」
Dad silently listened to me.
「She asked me who I thought she was, so I explained in an easy to understand fashion how I saw her from my perspective. My words were a bit forceful but if I didn’t say it like that she wouldn’t understand! That’s all it was」
「……Is that so? I understand your story. Just, don’t bully Sae」
「Bully?」I said laughing.
「That’s right, when a bullied kid can’t take it anymore and strikes back, the teacher finds out and the bullied kid becomes the bad person and gets scolded…That’s how I feel now」
「Kukukuっ…That’s quite a story, but the teacher always favors the bullied side」
「Rather then your stupid son, you’d rather take the side of your cute wife who’s asking to be spoilt」
「That’s right. It’s fine as long as you understand that」
「Ah, at most you’ll just comfort her tonight」
「You…You shouldn’t talk like that to your parent」
「Ahaha, then take your son’s side from time to time」
「That’s impossible. After all, my cute wife is better than my stupid son.」
「Yeah, yeah, by the way, I’ll take Nami and Umi to the sea. It that fine？」
「Yeah, I’ll leave them to you. Don’t just play, remember to help them study too.」
「Even though I’m like this I’m quite smart. Don’t you know?」
「I don’t. I thought there are only perverted things in your mind」
「Tskっ……That’s because I’m still your son after all」
After finishing our talk, dad tried to leave but I called out to him.
「Dad! Why were you in such a hurry? I’ve never heard of anyone asking for approval after the marriage.」
「If you calmly look at Sae, I’m sure you already have your answer」
「Ah, I know that……but even so」
「Next year, Umi will be a middle schooler and Nami will have her high school entrance exams. I didn’t have the leeway to slowly prepare…」
「Is that so?…」
「That’s why I’ll leave the little sisters to you. Lift the weight on Sae’s shoulders, even if just by a bit.」
「Then explain this to the big sister that can’t leave her little sisters. We can’t make any progress like this.」
「Understood……But, if you touch those two I’ll kill you」
「Ughっ…I’ll try my best……」
Seeing me like that, dad smiled bitterly and left the room saying our talk was over. I was a bit glad to talk honestly with my dad for the first time in a while.
If I argue with Sae-san again, dad will probably unconditionally take her side.
And I should take Nami and Umi’s side.
So I’ll be looking after them.
I want to bring the Sae-san, who’s like a Showa era geezer despite her youth, back to normal. That’s what dad is thinking.
She had to do her best to raise her two sisters for so long that now she is acting overprotective as if they were some endangered species. We can’t come to a settlement even if we try to talk it out normally, and she can’t even talk normally unless she borrows the help of alcohol. But when she does that, she just goes out of control.
Indeed, dad’s worries might be true and Sae-san’s mind might just be at its limits. That’s why my dad would take her side no matter what. So that he won’t force her any deeper into a corner. So he came to make sure I understood and was relieved to find out that I did.
And Umi went as far as to use her body to make sure she had a place to belong to. That’s not something a 6th grader could think of.
Though I couldn’t be any happier about it!!!…
I don’t yet know what kind of darkness Nami holds in her heart. When dad said he didn’t have time, he probably meant that the three sisters were reaching their limit.
If she could be released from the heavy responsibility of raising her little sisters, Sae-san might also become a bit more upfront…I kept on thinking about the meaning behind the discussion with dad.
While I was deep in thought someone knocked on the door.