Looks like Shiki's been eating hamburgers again.
"Nii-san, hang in there......! What in the world happened? You have all these wounds, and...... you look terrible."
I don't say anything. No, I can't say anything.
I don't even know what Akiha is saying.
Akiha gasps silently and then walks towards me.
"Anyway, I will have to treat you. Nii-san, can you walk?"
Yeah. I'm alive, so I can walk.
"I will treat your wounds, so please come to the sitting room. Ah, and take a bath--that will be impossible, so I'll have to wipe you with warm water."
Akiha disappears with quick footsteps.
"...... Then I will go back to my room. Please rest well tonight, Nii-san."
Without even asking anything.
In the end, she doesn't ask anything and quietly walks away.
Just like... the girl... I killed.
----As I think that, I grab Akiha's arm.
Music: play track 9
I embrace her without thinking.
...... Akiha doesn't say anything.
Even though she definitely should pull away, she doesn't resist my trembling body.
Like this----all I wanted was to stay like this.
"I, am the worst."
From my sin, and I escape to Akiha.
"...... I wanted to save her...... I wanted to save her...... but I couldn't do anything."
As if seeking salvation, I squeeze Akiha tighter.
There's no response from Akiha.
As if repelled by my weakness, Akiha pulls away.
...... Her words are really right on target.
Her rebuke is so correct, I finally return to myself.
"...... Sorry. Just forget about it, please."
Akiha walks to the door without answering.
She tried to leave, but she suddenly stops.
"----I will not ask what happened.
But when you left, I was very frightened. I felt like you would not return. Like eight years ago, I had the same premonition."
"That is all I have to say.
...... I will be very clear so my slow Nii-san can understand. I'm saying please don't leave your cute little sister alone again."
"Ha, haha----I see, I get it. But cute? It's not right to say such things about yourself, Akiha."
I finally manage a response.
But with just that, Akiha gives a boastful smile.
"Yes. Then I will see you tomorrow. Sweet dreams, tomorrow will be a new day.
I won't allow you to be looking like that tomorrow."
This is so cute Why do they have to ruin it by having sex?
I----looking at my body covered in wounds, fall to my bed.
As if I'm saying goodbye to something, I let out a deep sigh.
"...... Sorry, Yumizuka. I decided----I shouldn't be full of regret after all."
...... Everything about what happened with her will be an indelible scar.
But, I should believe it was the right thing to do.
I know it is a sin, and I will have to accept my punishment someday.
But, I can't have regret for being alive right now.
Music: play track 2
"............ Is it morning?"
My chest hurts.
The unmatched clear sky greets me, as it always does.
But, that fact just hurts me too much.
The girl who disappeared last night will never be able to experience a morning like this again----
She hasn't been able to for a couple days, dude.
"Shiki-sama, are you awake?"
...... That voice brings me back to reality.
"...... What is it, all of a sudden... ?"
Being regretful, is that hypocrisy?
"Shiki-sama? Are you awake, Shiki-sama?"
Knock-knock, comes a hesitant sound at the door.
I am back in my room.
No matter how much regret I feel, I wake up just like always.
As long as I live, I can't escape reality.
No matter how much I regret it.
"...... Yeah, I'm up. Come in."
"Please excuse me."
The door opens with a clink and Hisui enters.
"Good morning, Shiki-sama."
Did she come to get my change of clothes? She's carrying a clean set.
"Morning, Hisui. Um, has everyone had breakfast already?"
"...... Shiki-sama. Forgive my rudeness, but did you check the time since you woke up?"
"Eh--? The time? It's still morning--"
The clock claims it's just past twelve.
"I see, sorry. You came to wake me up... just what was I doing?
...... Ah, it was a late night, but I still shouldn't have slept in like that."
"No, you do not have school today, so sleeping in was an option, but---Shiki-sama, you intend to go out again tonight?"
She has that stern, 'Were you two up late having sex again?!' look on her face.
"...... Oh. She really is different from me, leading that disciplined lifestyle."
...... I think back to what happened last night.
While I was still in a dazed stupor over what happened with Yumizuka, Akiha took care of me without asking any questions.
After that, um...... it's a little embarrassing, so I don't want to remember it.
Life with a small penis is truly a life of embarrassment.
"Hisui, is Akiha still here? She's an awfully busy person, so does she have a routine on her day off?"
"Yes, she does have plans during her day off, but today she is still in the mansion."
She has plans, but she's still here......?
"I don't quite get it, but...... Well, I'll get changed, so please head to the sitting room ahead of me."
"Yes. Well, please excuse me."
As usual, Hisui glides away without a sound.
"Yes? What is it, Shiki-sama?"
"Yeah, I forgot to say something. Thanks for coming to wake me up. It's a little late, but... good morning, Hisui."
Staring up at the ceiling, I let out a deep breath.
About Yumizuka Satsuki... That's something I can never forget, for the rest of my life.
But, I will not let that control my life.
I have a home to return to. Akiha is here for me, and I have an ordinary life to live.
To protect all of that, I betrayed her.
So--if I can't protect that, then everything will have been a lie.
"----Is that just sugarcoating it?"
Maybe all I can do is deceive myself.
Well, Hisui is waiting.
I should change quickly, and go back to the normal life waiting for me in the sitting room----
"Good morning, Shiki-san."
"Morning, Kohaku-san. Sorry to be a bother, but could you fix me something to eat? I'm a little hungry from all that sleeping."
"Yes, right away. I will get it ready, so please wait a little bit."
Kohaku-san quickly patters away towards the dining room.
That leaves Akiha and Hisui, who is standing wordlessly like a statue.
"...... Yo, Akiha. G'morning."
Akiha just looks at me with a dissatisfied look on her face and doesn't return my greeting.
I knew she'd be upset about last night.
I know I deserve it since I embraced her like that last night---
"Akiha. Last night, was---"
"Nii-san. Sleeping in this late... just what were you thinking?"
"Eh---um, well, I... sorry."
"Christ, keep your mouth shut! The maids will overhear, and they're already suspicious!"
"...... Geez, I'm not mad about that. It's your day off, and you've chosen to sleep in until now. It's your laziness that angers me!"
With a "hmph", Akiha angrily turns her face away.
...... Well, it may just be my imagination, but "peevishly" is a better word than "angrily".
"Well, I couldn't help it. I got in late last night, and my body was just tired."
"You brought that on yourself. No matter what the circumstances, please obey the rules of this house."
I hate to admit it, but since she went to sleep the same time I did, and still woke up early, I really can't counter her argument.
"Hey, Akiha. I said so before, but waking up past seven o'clock in the morning isn't intentional.
Even I would like to get up earlier, but my body doesn't listen to what I tell it.
If you want to help me wake up earlier, please buy me a really powerful alarm clock. I'm sure that'd get me up."
"...... Uh, Nii-san? This may be a stupid question, but did you ever tell Hisui what time you wanted her to wake you up?"
That's right, I forgot such a simple thing as that.
"Oh yeah. Hisui comes every morning to wake me, so it's alright for her to do that.
So... Hisui, could you please wake me up at six-thirty each morning? It would really help me out......"
I swing around to face Hisui.
She stares right back at me.
"Forgive me, but I refuse to wake you up, Shiki-sama."
I don't know what to say. The shock put my brain on hold.
Looking at the situation, Akiha is also gaping at Hisui in surprise.
"Hisui, why can't you wake up Nii-san?"
"I am unable to undertake things I cannot do.
I do not think I am able to wake up Shiki-sama with my own power."
"----Unable? Why not?"
I unthinkingly enter their conversation.
Hisui continues staring at me.
The hateful glares, they burn!
"No, I don't remember----I woke up from your voice? I thought I woke up by myself......"
"That means there is no memory of me even calling out.----Akiha-sama, that is the situation."
"Oh, I see," Akiha says and looks over at me teasingly.
...... How do I say this...... it would seem my standing here has just been lowered quite a bit.
"In short, you have tried repeatedly to wake up Nii-san, but there isn't even the slightest reaction on his part---that's how it is, Hisui?"
Hisui nods silently.
I nod silently as well.
...... I see. The truth is, Hisui has already been trying to wake me up early in the morning.
I don't want to say it myself, but I must be really good at sleeping in.
"......... Nii-san. Why are you looking so proud of yourself?"
"Nothing. I was just surprised by how daunting it is to wake me."
"...... Hmm. I understand. Hisui, just like before, please try and wake up Nii-san as much as you can."
Hisui nods in assent.
It seems like the conversation is finished.
In the end, it may be just me waking up whenever I feel like it again.
As with any H-game protagonist, Shiki has the power to attract women pretty much no matter what he does.
"So it is not quite that he is hard to awaken, but that it seems very rude to do so, so I can not help but be very gentle.
Once Shiki-sama is about to wake up by himself, warmth returns to his white face, and I know he will wake up soon, but---"
Looking down, Hisui talks about how I look when I sleep.
...... I can't help but feel embarrassed.
Come to think of it, a sleeping person is completely defenseless, and after listening to that explanation, I flush as red as if she said she saw me naked.
Hisui descends into silence, and Akiha is obviously trying not to look in my direction.
The air has become a little, heavy.
After I eat lunch, Akiha and Hisui are still in the sitting room.
It wouldn't be good to ignore them and go back to my room, so I sit on the sofa across from Akiha.
"Here, Shiki-san. You prefer green tea, right?"
Kohaku-san places an after meal cup of tea on the table beside me.
"Yeah, thanks. If you don't mind, then."
"No, not at all. This is your home, so please relax a little more."
Kohaku-san must be trying to make me feel more comfortable here because she takes good care of me.
"Kohaku, you shouldn't spoil Nii-san.
He's been living like a sloth at the Arimas' house so long, it's probably good for him to be a little tense just at first."
I'm a little surprised.
When Akiha talks to Kohaku-san, there isn't any hint of her usual coldness.
Maybe it's because they're so close in age, but they seem to be really good friends.
Or lovers. There was that bath....
I glance over at Hisui.
Since Akiha dismissed all of the other servants except for Hisui and Kohaku-san, I think Hisui must be trusted by Akiha as well.
But, since Kohaku-san is her complete opposite in personality, I have a feeling that there isn't much talk between Hisui and Akiha.
"May I be of service, Shiki-sama?"
Hisui realizes I was looking at her and asks me if there is anything she can do.
"No, it's nothing. I was just thinking that you're really calm."
"---Yes. It is something that Makihisa-sama taught to me."
She answers very distinctly.
...... The answer is so distinct, I can't continue the conversation.
I get a little uncomfortable and go silent.
It seems Kohaku-san and Akiha are still talking.
"Shiki-sama, is it okay if I ask a question?"
"Eh---ah, yeah. What is it?"
"It seems like you departed the mansion last night again, so I would like to inquire if you had some usual, scheduled routine to take care of every night."
"Ah---no, I don't have anything like that. The past two days were just something special."
I steal a glance at Akiha's face as I say this.
She's got that 'if you talk, there will be no more sex' look. Talk, Shiki, talk! Spill it all!
"It's alright, Hisui. I won't go out late at night anymore.
Besides, I'm not a kid anymore, so it's not like there's any danger in going out at night."
"You say that, but Shiki-sama, you are the eldest son of the Tohno family. Please refrain from doing anything careless."
"That's true, but it has nothing to do with going out late at night. If I can't walk by myself, I shouldn't be going to school either, right?"
"Well, yes. But during the day it is bright outside and people could help you, right? But at night it's different. There's been all these vampire murders recently, so if you go outside and collapse, what do you think will happen?"
Without thinking, my body shudders.
Killer vampire. The killer indiscriminately killing people on the streets at night.
...... Last night, the classmate I killed with my own hand.
"...... No, it's okay, Kohaku-san. There isn't a vampire out there anymore. ...... Those incidents... they won't happen ever again."
Because Yumizuka Satsuki... is no longer in this world.
Except, you know, there's the one that turned Yumizuka into a vampire in the first place.
"Oh? Is that true, Akiha-sama?"
"I haven't heard anything about it. The one to ask is Nii-san, since he seems to know something about it.
Oh yeah, there was a victim from your high school, Nii-san. Year 2 Class 3 is your class, right?"
"Eh......? There wasn't a victim from my class."
"Ah, Shiki-san, you didn't see the news this morning. Last night, they found a large quantity of blood from someone named Yumizuka Satsuki in an alley off the main street.
The blood seems to have been there for a while, but from the amount of blood there, they say she is more than likely dead."
...... My heart starts to throb violently.
The fact that Yumizuka Satsuki is dead, I know that better than anyone else.
But when they say she's dead, it sounds like, "you killed her, didn't you?" to me----
"---Nii-san? What's wrong, you're really pale."
...... I can't say "I'm alright."
I am sad that her death was publicized in reality and could not stay as something just in my heart.
I said I wouldn't regret it, but a shadow envelops me as soon as I think about her.
"Everyone, let's have a welcome party tonight!"
Kohaku-san suddenly makes a loud announcement.
Akiha and I say the same thing aloud, and even Hisui tilts her head.
"A welcome party for Shiki-san! Everyone is here, and we haven't even celebrated Shiki-san's arrival yet.
So, tonight should be Shiki-san's welcome party."
"Right?" Kohaku-san looks at me and smiles.
I must have looked really depressed.