Music: Play Track 2
A wrenching pain suddenly wakes me.
I lift myself up from bed.
I sleepily check my back. There aren't any wounds.
...... The pain is exactly my back, but more from my spine.
And not so much pain as it is the feeling of something hot welling up around the back of my neck.
"...... I must've slept wrong. It's a good thing this bed is soft, but when it's too gorgeous like this----"
All of a sudden...
I look down at my hands and my mind halts completely.
"-----What is, this?"
I stare at both hands.
Red. From my elbows to my hands, my skin is painted red. My fists are a dark vermillion.
No, red doesn't quite describe it.
The dried red on my hands is closer to black.
I don't understand.
Last night, I spoke with Kohaku-san in the courtyard and went straight to bed.
I didn't do anything to make my hands like this, and I don't remember seeing a nightmare.
I think Shiki just had his first period.
My head is throbbing with pain.
I put aside wondering why my hands are painted red.
It's almost seven o'clock.
I have to go wash my hands before Hisui comes to wake me up.
"Ah, morning, Hisui. I woke up a little early, so I went to wash my face."
Somehow, I manage to blurt out an excuse.
"Good morning. Well then, what should we do about your change of clothes? I have prepared your uniform in your room."
It seems like Hisui was already in my room, and we just missed each other by the stairs.
"Yeah, I'll go ahead and change after breakfast, so leave it there. Sorry for not being there when you came to wake me up."
"...... As you wish. I will go tell Nee-san, so please wait in the sitting room."
Hisui walks toward the west end of the mansion to call for Kohaku-san.
"......... No, I'm the one who's surprised."
Managing to respond calmly, I walk into the sitting room.
"What's going on? Do you usually get up this early?"
"Is it that early? Today I slept in an hour more than usual, so I don't think it is early at all."
She seems to be in a very good mood.
"Nii-san, it is common sense for students to get up this early. Do not assume I am lazy like you."
is what she would say.
"...... Akiha, did something good happen?"
I ask full of fear, to which she answers with a big smile and a nod.
"Nii-san, please have a seat. Breakfast is not for a while, so please keep me company."
I sit on the sofa across from her.
I've always liked that word, along with bourgeoisie. Death to the bourgeoisie! It's a bitch to spell, though.
"Do you want any milk? If so, I can go get some."
"No, this is fine. But Akiha, it just strikes me as odd that you already had another teacup ready."
I ask this, being a fairly natural question.
"Yes. I always prepare an extra set so we can have tea if you ever come."
Akiha is quite interested in having Shiki come
"Eh----you mean you were waiting for me yesterday and the day before?"
I'm a little afraid of her answer.
But, she doesn't seem angry at all.
"That is true, but you do not need to worry. I do it because I want to, so you may do the same."
...... Her words are correct.
"Besides, I think this is fine. It's good enough if you wake up early only once in a while."
Smiling, she brings the teacup to her lips.
A chill runs down my spine.
Something is wrong.
Akiha being calm and kind is very fortunate, but this might be too much.
I have to find out what's wrong.
"Yes? What is it, Nii-san?"
"Um, I hate to ask, but are you still drunk?"
Akiha tilts her head to the side like a small bird.
I think her eyebrow twitched, but she still holds her smile.
"Saaay... you're being awfully nice. You're still sloshed, ain't ya? You'd never be this nice when sober."
Aaah, now that's the Akiha we know and (don't) love.
"---Oh really? Akiha, you really shouldn't force yourself like this."
"I am not forcing anything......! You think that I would do such a thing as to drink so much that I would be drunk the next morning!?"
She pounds the table again.
Again, the teacups rattle.
"First of all, don't make my plans yourself. I don't need your permission to skip school......!!!"
She stares at me, breathing heavily.
I take in her gaze and cross my arms.
"You're back to normal now. Well, since you have that much energy, I guess all of the alcohol is out of your system."
Akiha stares at me, aghast.
"...... Nii-san, did you plan this?"
"Not really. I actually did think that, though."
"Your method is a bit sneaky. Why can't you just keep peaceful mornings peaceful, Nii-san?"
"Same to you. A peaceful morning isn't something you control...... Well, I'm happy that you were always waiting for me though.
But, I think it's better if we spend the morning more like this. So go ahead and say the things you want to say."
...... Well, I'd probably be squashed completely if she really did say something every time she had a complaint, so I hope she can hold back at least a little.
You mean where you bitch about everything and Shiki takes it with a smile? Yeah, your relationship's been that way for awhile.
"...... Geez. Nii-san, you seem to have become a better talker since I saw you last. Back then, you could never calm me down like that."
"Is that so? That was just me talking honestly. As your Onii-chan, I just wanted to get along with my beloved...... no, I can't say that...... my dear little sister."
"Onii-chan? Even if you are just joking, please don't say that. It feels sick."
Akiha's sexual fetish obviously only covers 'Nii-san', 'Onii-chan' is going too far.
Akiha averts her eyes.
She just stares at her teacup.
"...... I, do not want to hide things from you either, Nii-san."
She manages that response.
"But if you knew how bad I wanted you to fuck me, you might look at me strangely or simply run away in terror."
"What? Are you actually hiding something from me, Akiha?"
"Are you kidding? What am I NOT hiding?"
"No. Well, if it's something I want to say, then I want you to get up early everyday. ...... Really, I was happy when you woke up this early today.
"Sure thing. Since Hisui won't wake me up, just have Kohaku drug me more often. I'm sure she'd be happy to... eager, even."
So...... If you had tea with me every morning, I would be able to go to school everyday happily---"
Akiha fidgets and glances around.
"Huh......? Akiha, you're not eating?"
"Of course not. Akiha-sama already finished breakfast. Shiki-san, if you want to eat with Akiha-sama, you have to get up before six."
...... There's no way that's going to happen.
"Oh well, I'm going to eat. Later, Akiha."
Getting up, I head towards the dining room.
Akiha wordlessly watches me leave.
She wants to say something, but that look seems to be directed not at me, but at Kohaku-san.
"Kohaku, please continue drugging my brother. Thanks."
I return to the sitting room after breakfast to find that Akiha is not there.
Instead, I run into Hisui, who's gathering up all the tea cups.
"Huh......? Hisui, where's Akiha?"
"Akiha-sama already left for school."
"Oh yeah, her school is far away...... Well, I shouldn't be hanging around either."
"Yes. Your uniform is prepared in your room. When you are done changing, please call for me."
Hisui quietly disappears towards the lobby.
"I'll come right back today, so it'll probably be around four o'clock. Oh, and you don't have to wait for me here."
"As you wish. In that case, please be careful on your way, Shiki-sama."
"Thanks. I'm heading out."
Waving to Hisui as she bows, I go out into the street.
As soon as I realize it, I become uneasy.
What happened with Yumizuka was something that I could not forget.
So why---why is it that until now, I didn't even remember her?
----Shiki-kun, you and I are the same.
...... Those words still burn in the back of my mind.
"............... But that's strange."
But still, I can't think about it deeply.
There isn't a whole lot Shiki CAN think about deeply.
It seems that when Akiha tended my wounds that night, I lost something.
About Yumizuka being a vampire, and even now, it all seems too empty.
Or was that a really bad dream after all?
"......... That, can't be true........."
But I can deny it that strongly.
Even though I'm in a classroom without her right now, I can't recall her that well.
From that night until now.
Something about reality doesn't seem quite right to me----
Music: Play Track 1
Of course, there are three sisters there, one of which happens to be a vampire. Arihiko just can't compete with that.
I enter the lobby and see Hisui.
"Welcome back, Shiki-sama."
"...... Yeah, thanks, Hisui. Are Kohaku-san and Akiha gone?"
"Akiha-sama has yet to return. Nee-san is in the rear courtyard cleaning up."
"Like always. I'll be in my room, so please continue whatever you were doing."
"Yes. Please excuse me."
I head up the stairs.
"I will be arranging Makihisa-sama's room. If you need anything, please call me."
Hisui walks toward the eastern end of the mansion quickly.
I grip it tightly.
...... I imagine myself giving the ribbon to Hisui and shake my head.
Eight years ago.
We only spoke a few words underneath that tree.
But it is a precious memory to me.
So---even though it might sound selfish, I don't want to give it back to Hisui when she doesn't remember the promise.
"-----Besides, there's something..."
I can't quite place it, but there's something not right.
Until this feeling goes away, I want to hold on to this ribbon.
So is this more under the purview of the Kremlinger-Gott theorem, Holstein & Scherr's 37th law of h-games, or the Grubeck-Watters Corollary?
.................................... I think about yesterday.
I spoke with Kohaku-san when I was cooling off in the courtyard.
----Why did you return?
Her face, for an instant, was not her usual cheery expression.
Just what was that all about---
"Oh, are you leaving already Shiki-san? It is still pretty early, so can't you stay here a bit longer?"
Kohaku-san places the broom on the ground.
"I didn't want to get in your way."
"I am already done sweeping. I've already checked on the flowers, so I'm finished. I have a little spare time before I have to prepare dinner, so I thought that I would come here and relax."
She takes off her apron, as if emphasizing the fact that she isn't working right now.
"So, Shiki-san. Would you mind talking with me?"
"Ah---no. If you're fine with it, then sure."
"Then it's decided," Kohaku-san says with a smile and sits down on a chair a little distance away.
---Actually, let me make a correction.
Trying to sit down, she stares at me.
"Anyway, Shiki-san. About our conversation last night..."
"? Yesterday's conversation, which one?"
"About you borrowing something a long time ago. Did you already give that back?"
Her eyes shine brightly as she asks.
...... Just like the time I received the knife, she seems incredibly curious.
This is not going to end well.
"...... No, the person doesn't seem to remember it. That's not the whole reason, but I've decided to hold onto it for now."
"Oh, so you'll just steal it like that? It's not like it's a useful thing, right?"
"Ahaha. Yeah, it's not anything useful. It was nice to get it, but I haven't even used it once."
...... Well, a guy using a ribbon is just weird, and thankfully, I'm not into that sort of thing.
"Arihiko asked me if I'd try it out once or twice, but even he didn't like the results so we never went back to it."
This is not going to end well at ALL.
Kohaku-san sounds very happy.
Really close to me......?
"I don't know how it was for her, but without that promise, I think I would've become a miserable person."
...... Those days where I was treated like an unwanted child.
I was given her most prized possession and was told to come return it.
Thinking that the girl was waiting for me, Tohno Shiki, at the place I was supposed to return to---that was enough for me and I didn't want anything else.
Shiki is SO getting drugged tonight, it's not even funny.
"I know it's just my selfish notion, but I can't give it back to Hisui yet.
I want her to remember it. Since it made me so happy, I want to thank her and fulfill the promise.
...... If I don't do that, I don't think I will be able to face myself or Hisui."
Still sitting in the chair, I completely bare my heart.
...... I don't know why I'm telling all of this to Kohaku-san.
Maybe there's something about this garden that helps me to talk about the past.
"Shiki-san? Am I really making that strange of a face?"
She looks at the window glass.
In the window is the troubled looking face, and Kohaku-san just looks at herself in a surprise.
"Kohaku-san......? If you aren't feeling well, you can go back to your room and rest. Don't mind me."
"---Maybe you're right. I'll rest and then get dinner ready."
Kohaku-san slowly walks away.
"And Shiki-san? Hisui-chan is forgetful, so please be patient with her.
Oh, maybe if you take her to that same tree in the garden as eight years ago, she might somehow remember."
Kohaku-san picks up the broom and heads toward the rear entrance to the mansion.
"...... I see. If I take her to that tree, she just might remember......"
But, that seems wrong.
If I force her to remember, that won't make me happy either.
But, maybe it is a good idea to go see that tree.
I haven't been there since I got back, so maybe I'll swing by there when I have another chance---
Come to think of it, I wonder why Kohaku-san knows about where I met Hisui.
...... Even though they're sisters, I can't imagine that Hisui would just tell her.
That promise seemed secret, somehow.
I just can't imagine Hisui, with her personality, telling Kohaku-san like that----
Yep, Shiki's definitely in for some midnight fun-time... and by fun I don't mean sex.
Dinner, as usual, is a quiet affair with just me and Akiha.
Kohaku-san stands behind Akiha, and Hisui stands behind me during our wordless dinner.
"...... What's with her? She seemed so cheerful this morning."
Hisui is silent.
Kohaku-san is cleaning things up in the kitchen like normal.
From the lobby, I hear the sound of someone falling.
Fearing the worst, I race towards the lobby.
Music: Play Track 8
"Don't come near me......!"
Leaning on the stairs, Akiha refuses me violently.
"Wha... don't come near you...? What are you talking about!? I don't know what happened, but I can't just leave you like that!"
"I'm fine, just... don't come any closer... Nii-san."
My heart skips a beat.
Akiha just breathes painfully.
...... There's something wrong with me.
For a moment, I feel it resembles the figure of Yumizuka Satsuki.
Ohh god vampires unff
"I'm fine, so please, don't come near me. If you come near me, I'll----"
and then collapses.
Kohaku-san enters the lobby.
"Kohaku-san, Akiha's acting strange. I'm going to get her to bed, is it alright?"
"---Yes. I'll be there right away, so please take care of her......!"
Kohaku-san disappears towards the west end of the mansion at a run.
"...... Ah...... ha, ah............!"
Akiha suppresses her cry. Her back arches as pain seems to flow through her.
"Calm down, stupid......! I'll get you to your room......!"
I carry the writhing Akiha in my arms as I go up the stairs.
I must be going crazy.
For a brief instant, I think I saw a flash of red.
Idiot, what do you think she's trying for?
"Hey Akiha, rest in your bed."
"Hwa...... ah...... ha...... ah......"
She lies down on the bed, still breathing hard.
"N...... ah, nn............!!"
The bed shakes.
Her hair shaking wildly, she claws at her breast.
She couldn't get his clothes off, so she's trying to take off her own and hoping he'll follow suit.
---That redness again.
It has to be my imagination. As if to dispel the illusion, I raise my voice.
"Hang in there, Akiha......! Damn it, what's with this, all of a sudden......!!!!"
I stand before Akiha, who is writhing in pain, unable to do anything.
I bite my lip. Even though she's in so much pain, there isn't anything I can do to help her.
---I bite down so hard, blood starts to trickle.
A red drop falls on the bed.
It is quickly absorbed by her red hair.
"............ Ah............ nn............"
Maybe laying in bed is helping, as her breathing gradually calms.
I relax a bit.
I suppose if she's like that, she should be alright without me. Kohaku-san will be here soon, and I shouldn't stay in her room too long.
"...... Rest easy. Kohaku-san should be here soon."
I start to stand up.
In that instant,
Akiha embraces me.
"Just when I got you into my bedroom...! You can't leave yet, I won't allow it!"
Her nails rip into me.
Despite this, I embrace her shoulders.
"............ Akiha. It's okay, I'm here."
"Ah...... a, ah-----"
Her shaking hands. Resting her face against my shoulder, she muffles a sob.
"---Akiha. If it hurts that much, don't push yourself. You don't have to hold back."
"...... No...... that's not it, Nii-san.
I---I don't deserve anything from you."
her strength drains from her body.
"...... Father, I----I must, to Nii-san..."
Make love to? Put the rape to? Give a blow job to? Force her naked body onto? ...all of the above?
As if trying to hide it,
"Must I, kill him with my own hands?"
I hear her sobbing.
Music: Play Track 1
"Shiki-san. Has Akiha-sama calmed down?"
Kohaku-san must have been waiting in the hallway as she was standing outside the door.
"...... Yeah. She's sleeping. But Kohaku-san, why is Akiha---"
"No, it is nothing you need to worry about. At times, Akiha-sama lapses into sudden dyspnea. It is the same as your anemia; Akiha-sama is a member of the Tohno family after all."
"...... What do you mean? She's always healthy."
"Yes. But those of the Tohno family all have that sort of illness.
Maybe it's inherited, but both you and Akiha-sama carry a variation of Makihisa-sama's condition.
Akiha-sama's condition is not very serious. It isn't something to be taken lightly, but it's not life-threatening, as your condition is, so please don't make such a worried face."
I don't know what to say.
What she says is true; I can't dispute it.
In other words, I was the only one who didn't know. I just thought I was the only one with problems.
"......... Sorry. Please take care of Akiha, Kohaku-san."
Bowing to Kohaku-san, I walk away.
I go back to my room, but I can't sleep.
The frightened figure of Akiha burns in my mind, and I can't calm down.
My back hurts.
Blood oozes where her nails dug into my back.
Her nails left numerous knife-like marks in my skin.
...... But, they don't hurt that much.
She must have REALLY wanted his clothes off, jeez.
Red. Blood drips from my lip.
It was only for an instant, but her hair was blood red.
I can't calm down because I'm angry at myself?
That's a lie.
That hair. Just remembering that color makes my heart beat like a drum.
...... What's wrong with me?
Just remembering her red hair causes my blood to boil and my breathing to become difficult.
Nanaya: May cause increase in blood pressure and respiratory problems. If suffering from inappropriate lust for close relatives, discontinue use and consult a doctor immediately.
I try not to think about it, but I can't even manage that.
Back then, Akiha was just too beautiful.
This was the first time I was so into something.
I think I felt this burning sensation in my head a few days ago.
"...... Jeez. I'm acting like I'm in love with Akiha."
...... That, is also a lie.
This excitement isn't anything as gentle as love.
Remembering, and breathing out of control. That is what you call lust.
"Yes, doctor? Sorry to bother you so late, but I've been using that new Nanaya to perfect my killing edge, and I'm starting to lust after my sister." "Oh, this is very bad. I'm going to need to see you right away."
Kohaku-san enters my room, carrying a silver tray.
There is a glass of water and something that looks like medicine.
Told you this was going to happen.
"Ah, you look like you're not feeling well after all. Before, you looked very worried. I thought that maybe you wouldn't be able to sleep and was a little concerned."
Kohaku-san steps over to my bed.
"...... Kohaku-san. Is that, something like a sleeping pill?"
"No, it isn't anything that strong. It's something that only helps to relax. If you don't mind, then please take it."
Kohaku-san sounds a bit hesitant.
In other words, she doesn't want to offer the medicine, but if I can't sleep, I should take it.
Don't do it, Shiki! Don't take her strange candy!
...... That kindness really helps.
Oh how wrong you are, Shiki... how wrong you are...
"Thanks. With this, I should be able to sleep soon."
Awww... what a nice psycho. She drugged him with hallucinogenic flowers, but she regrets it! Isn't that cute?
"Yes. Well then, I will be going. Sweet dreams, Shiki-san."
I'm sure they'll be plenty sweet with the aid of Kohaku's sweet candy
With a bow, Kohaku-san exits the room.
Stretching out my arms, I let out a deep breath.
...... I should just stop thinking about Akiha.
I should go to sleep and wait until tomorrow-----
Surely, nothing bad will happen as a result of this.