For the time being, I put Kurisu-chan to bed on the sofa; she woke up after around four hours. Once she was up and about, the first thing she did was make a call to her mother with the star-strapped phone.
Naturally, I didn’t know what she was talking about, but as she spoke on the phone, she gave off the kinda feeling as if everything had been wrapped up nicely.
“Was that your mother?”
“That’s right. The philosopher’s stone was returned to its resting place, that boy returned to his original world, and the blockade on the gate was lifted… no, I mean, it looks like I can go home now.”
“I see. Good for you. With this, you can finally go home.”
This was the end of our life together.
When I thought over it, it was sad after all.
“… Today’s the last day of living with my onii-chan.”
“Yeah… wait, you don’t have to call me onii-chan anymore, do you? Nobuko-san already figured it out.”
“You’re right, it’s kinda become a quirk.”
Kurisu-chan giggled. Being called onii-chan in her lisping voice was becoming a quirk for me in a separate sense, so it really was time for it to stop.
“Then it’s about time you went home. It’s getting late, I’ll walk you there.”
Kurisu-chan hesitated and hung her head. Fidgetting her intertwined fingers in front of her chest, she looked at me with upturned eyes.
“C-c-can I stay just one more night?”
As I tilted my head, Kurisu-chan’s spoke with reddened cheeks.
“Err… just for tonight, can you stay as my big brother?”
Did I have any reason to decline? I did not.
I was sure it was simply a pain to return so late at night, but that was no trouble to me. She had stayed over a whole week. Adding on another night wouldn’t amount to much.
That being the case, it was already night, so when it came to things to do, sleeping was all that was left. I wanted to do something special to commemorate the last day, but it was too late to prepare something now. Without any special occurrences, we spent our time together, changing into our pajamas and preparing to sleep once eleven came around.
“Good night, Kuria-chan.”
“Sweet dreams, onii-chan.”
I headed to my room. Kurisu-chan to my mothers.
I got into bed, closed my eyes, and at that moment—tap, tap, came a knocking on the door.
When I raised my torso and permitted entry, the door feebly swung open. Kurisu-chan in her pajamas, her face dyed a shade of crimson.
“U-um, I-I had a bad dream, can I sleep with you…?”
“That was fast!”
Only around twenty seconds had passed since we parted in front of the room. You’re telling me in that space of time, she slept, dreamed, got up, and came here? She falls asleep easier than Nobita-kun.
“… And wait, what? Sleep? Together?”
“I-I-I’m so scared I can’t sleep alone anymore! It was a really scary dream where loads of ghosts and ghouls came out! I’m begging you!”
Come to think of it, Kurisu-chan was no good with ghosts. If the dream really was that scary, I get why she wouldn’t be able to sleep. But from her atmosphere, I was hard-pressed to pick up the slightest hint of fear. More so, a devilishness as if she was scheming something was… no, it’s not good to suspect people like that.
Still, sleeping together… in this narrow bed?
“Wait a second, I’m going to have a good long think about it, so…”
“I’m begging you.”
“When a little sister has a scary dream, a big brother is supposed to sleep by their side and tell them it’s okay!”
Her tone didn’t take no for an answer.
“Or could it be when you said you’d be my onii-chan for this last night, you were lying to placate me?”
“You said if I wanted to be pampered, I should let it happen, right?”
What is this feeling that my words are being used against me?
And why is it that Kurisu-chan has a somewhat mischievous smile on her face?
“Yeah. Got it. If you had a scary dream, nothing we can do about that.”
I consented out of necessity. “Thank you,” Kurisu-chan lowered her head and closed the door.
… As I recall, a court case decided that in the case where a man and a woman are alone, and the woman is the one to close the door, that action counts as legal consent, apparently.
If I make a move on Kurisu-chan now, it won’t be a crime…!
… Wait, what the hell am I thinking about? Kurisu-chan had a bad dream, leaving her with no choice but to come to me. I shouldn’t hold such unpure thoughts.
As I was grappling with myself, Kurisu-chan wormed her way into the bed.
Popping her head out from the covers next to me, she smiled in bashful delight.
“… Kurisu-chan, are you really afraid?”
“O-of course I’m afraid! I’m shaking like crazy! Ah, erk! N-no wait, I’m inflicted with sleep paralysis!”
“Now that was sudden!”
“I-I can’t move! I’ve been sleep-paralyzed, and my body won’t move a muscle! There’s no way I can leave the bed like this!”
“Your mouth is moving ridiculously fluidly though!”
And I get the feeling her lines are overly explanatory. No, now’s not the time to worry about that. What to do, how were you supposed to cure sleep paralysis again?
“Wait right there! At a time like this, I should call Kikyouin-san. She seems like she’d be an expert!”
When I was about to leap off the bed, she gripped me by the hand and stopped me.
“If you call her at this hour, Kikyouin-senpai will be fuming.”
S-sure enough… what’s more, she looked especially tired today. If I woke her up by phone, I can’t even imagine how much of her anger I’d garner.
“I’ll be fine. I’m sure I’ll get better if I sit still.”
Kurisu-chan insisted, so I returned to the bed and reverted to my original position.
“What is it, Onii-chan?”
“How long are you going to be holding my hand?”
When I’d already returned to the bed, Kurisu-chan wouldn’t let go of me. Furthermore, when I wasn’t paying attention, she had shifted to a firm hold. Where finger intertwined with finger to form a strong grip.
“I’m sorry. I’m paralyzed and I can’t move my hand either.”
She said nonchalantly. Then how did you even grip me, or so I couldn’t retort.
The sleep paralysis was all her personal testimony. Therefore, anything she says pertaining to it must be the case.
“Then you’ll have to sleep holding it, is that alright?”
“There’s no helping it. It’s sleep paralysis, after all.”
“I’m sorry if I sweat.”
“That goes both ways.”
Her body heat was conveyed through our linked hands. When I lightly squeezed her’s, a similar squeeze was returned. That soft and small hand was extremely warm.
… How should I put it, rather than having my heart racing or my body stimulated, this situation was simply embarrassing. Beside me, a few decimeters from my head was Kurisu-chan’s face. She seemed bashful as well, as her face was flushed. But for some reason, Kurisu-chan made a smile the whole time.
An alluring… a devilish smile.
Kurisu-chan turned her head towards me. Her face grew even closer, my heart throbbed.
“Yeah? What are you thanking me for?”
“Everything. This and that and eeeeverything.”
Kurisu-chan spoke in a bounding voice, but soon some part of her smile grew sorrowful. The tone of her voice dropped ever-so-slightly.
“… I thought I would live my whole life without relying on anyone. I had a circumstance where that’s what I had to do, and I thought that way of life was strong or cool. I would always try to convince myself so…”
“But that’s wrong. That’s not strong or anything.”
“You’re right. I do think a girl like you would have a brighter future if you could accept the kindness of others just a bit.”
“… That’s not what I was talking about.”
“Oh, missed the mark?”
“Hah… let’s just go with that.”
Kurisu-chan said sulkily.
“… Is it passed midnight yet?”
Kurisu-chan quietly said, so I checked the room’s clock.
“Yeah, five minutes passed.”
“Is that so, in that case, it’s already over.”
“Over? What’s over.”
“I’m done calling you onii-chan.”
It looks like tonight really did mean just today night.
“I get the feeling it’s a waste. If you want, you could call me it a little more.”
“I can’t, I won’t say it again. I’ve got to make a clear distinction.”
Her chiding smile turned into one with hidden implication.
“Our sibling game is over. From now on, just as we were before, and even more so than that, let’s get along.”
As her large eyes looked straight at me, for some reason, she seemed extremely mature. I could no longer think of her as a little sister, or feel a want to make a little sister of her.
As a single woman, I thought she was beautiful.
In the end, Kurisu-chan’s sleep paralysis didn’t dissolve until morning, she spent a night her hand linked with mine.