Hidan no Aria:Volume10 Chapter5

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5th Ammo: Surprise Rose[edit]

As we made our way back to my dorm in Watson's Porsche, an awkward silence filled the car.

The atmosphere was pretty much what you'd expect from a situation where a lovers' tryst had been discovered by a peer.

By the way, Watson had made a speedy recovery, and in an attempt to comfort me, offered the following words, "Don't worry about it, Shiranui gave us his word he wouldn't say a thing."

Well, on that point, we're agreed. Shiranui's not the type to run his mouth.

The problem is...just how am I supposed to face him now? He's one of my few friends, or rather, without him, doesn't that only leave Mutou? What's more, the next time Shiranui sees Mutou and I together, in all likelihood, he'd think some unnecessary thoughts. Haha.

Inwardly mocking myself, I exited the car in front of the dorms.

Though falling five times while making my way up to my room on the fifth floor, I, at last, found myself at the entrance to my room.

Kaname was nowhere to be found, likely having left to buy one thing or another.

I lifelessly crawled across the floor, making my way to the sofa, where I fiddled with my Beretta and brooded dangerously to myself, "With this, I could end things whenever I wanted..."

My heart heavy, my mind seemed to want to escape reality, instead seeking solace in sleep. Perhaps what I was experiencing were the aftereffects of Mezza Hysteria? Lethargy, after all, was quite common once the effects of Hysteria Mode had passed.

-Well, even though it's only 6 PM, let's rest for a bit. Just keeping my eyes open is an effort...




...That's three outs...

...CHOP! CHOP! CHOP!...

I awoke to the sound of people talking and what seemed to be a knife cutting something on a chopping board.

(...?)

Raising my head to peek in the direction of the kitchen, I caught sight of Kaname, who had already returned.

Judging by the smell of curry in the air, it seemed she was making dinner.

It was now...7 o' clock? It looked like I'd been asleep for an hour or so.

"...Ah, Onii-chan. I'm sorry, did I wake you?"

Kaname showed me an apologetic smile as she placed sliced carrots into a salad.

"Don't worry about it. It's my fault for falling asleep at such an odd hour."

It might have been because I was better rested, but my condition felt improved. As I picked myself up-

Kaname laid her knife atop the cutting board, washed her hands, and raced to my side.

She plopped herself down next to me, giggling as she watched me, smiling from ear to ear.

"...What?"

"Can we chat for a bit? This time is reserved for conversing with your cute little sister."

"Cute little sister? According to you?"

"I've sniffed out every corner of this room with Onii-chan's scent."

"Please don't ignore me, and especially not to say something that weird."

"About that...Onii-chan doesn't have any naughty books? I couldn't find even one."

What...what the hell?

What's with the strange question from out of left field? I'm about ready to drop here, have mercy on me.

"None."

Who the heck would buy something so terrifying?

Why on Earth would I plant a Hysteria Mode land-mine for myself?

"-But that's strange, Onii-chan."

"The strange one here is you, alright? Why would you look for something like that, anyway?"

"I was trying to figure out Onii-chan's preferences. I can't find a common theme among the girls I've seen so far."

"That would be because I don't have any. Why would I have preferences for something I can't stand to begin with?"

"But, but~"

Kaname tugged at my sleeve like a spoiled child.

"I want to know what kinds of things excite Onii-chan. That way I can become the kind of little sister that suits Onii-chan's preferences."

"Why do you have to become anything? Please try and keep things within reason."

As I waved my hands to shoo Kaname away-

She simply revealed a puzzled expression, pulling one leg up on the sofa, and turned to look at me.

This movement completely bared her white thighs from under her miniskirt.

(...Ugh...)

Although it seemed Hysteria Mode was unlikely to react to Kaname, I nonetheless guardedly averted my gaze.

It was probably a result of our topic of conversation, but I quickly realized that I had little immunity against thighs.

The subtle fragrance of women and their thighs - these two things were undeniably a danger to me.

"This isn't the time to hold back, Onii-chan. When a rare delicacy finds itself in front of you, not helping yourself is simply too irrational!"

"Delicacy...?"

This time I was the one with a look of puzzlement.

Kaname stuck out her index finger, adopting a look that said, "Listen, listen~"

"A brother and sister, separated at birth, suddenly reunited. The brother is a high school student, the sister, in junior high. What's more, the sister is utterly adorable."

"...?"

"After being reunited, the two live alone under the same roof. From the photos and videos she's seen, the brother completely matches the sister's preferences. When they finally meet, the sister falls for him deeply, so deeply she can't help herself."

"...?...?"

"A situation like this, what is it if not a rare delicacy? In «MySister Goth», that's how it's always been regarded. That's why 'helping yourself' is only appropriate-"

"-That! Though I'm still not quite clear on things, but that kind of thing only happens in those games Riko plays or manga! Something like that could only happen in a world gone mad."

"That's not right, Onii-chan. It's happened in reality, and right before you, too."

Having taken my response as a rejection of her, she protested strongly.

"If I were to describe this in game terms, we're already in the last stage, Onii-chan. The common route's already over, the affection levels on both sides are at their max. All the various odds and ends of the plot have already been resolved, and you've entered the Kaname route. Even so, Onii-chan's been running all over, and you haven't done a thing to me. If things go on like this, you'll get a bad end, you know!"[1]

Saying this, Kaname grabbed my hand-

And pulled them towards her chest. Ignoring my instinctive attempt to pull away, she deliberately placed my hand atop her breast.

"Just look...My body's just burning up. That's why, Onii-chan, you can do to me what it is guys always want to do. I just know it'll be good."

"That's sick! You've been saying over and over you're my sister, so why would you mention something like, like that!"

I immediately brushed off her hand, to which Kaname-

Gave a smile as if about to reveal her hidden trump card.

"Because that way Onii-chan and I can become an Arcanum Duo[2]. It theoretically exists, you know - the strongest brother-sister combo in the world."

"Strongest...brother and sister...?"

"With the ability to trigger one another's HSS, the two of us would become an unrivaled, invincible team."

"Wait just a sec. When you say HSS- are you talking about Hysteria Mode?"

"Hysteria Mode? Is that what you call HSS, Onii-chan? Then yes, within my body exists the gene carrying the ability to enter HSS, that is, Hysteria Mode."

"Wha...what?"

"Because I'm your sister."

...

"-That said, I've never actually entered HSS before, so truth be told, I'd always worried about whether I really could. But after meeting Onii-chan, I'm sure now. I definitely can. The two of us can undoubtedly become this world's strongest pair."

Having spoken this far, Kaname looked as if about to drop another bomb on me.

"Onii-chan is currently a participant in the 'Far East Warfare'. If Onii-chan was willing to enter HSS with me, then I'd be more than willing to help you out. As long as the two of us can enter HSS at will, no matter who the opponent is, they'd not stand a ghost of a chance. Whatever it is Onii-chan wants, or needs, you'd need only stick out your hand and grab it, no?"

-How is it? Not a bad offer, right?

Kaname squinted her eyes, her expression alone sufficient for me to hear the unspoken question.

Thoughts of the KaraganeGolden Shell rose unbidden. More than half of those red stones had fallen into Grenada's grasp, and if we failed to retrieve them, it would spell Aria's doom.

"But uh, well, you see, the catalyst of Hysteria Mode is sex- er sorry, it's love[3]. You know, that kind of thing. An upstanding person wouldn't engage in something like that so casually. Even if you're male and female, you still shouldn't try to force these things."

Kaname laughed, interrupting my half-mumbled response.

"That's exactly right. It's not like we think love is a joke either. Love is no game; it's for war."

With this, I finally understood.

I faintly realized just why it was she pestered me so.

If I posed a simple hypothesis, then this strange situation suddenly began to make sense.

Though I wasn't entirely ready to follow that theory; nevertheless...

Supposing things were as Kaname had said, and we were truly siblings-

Then this girl just might be capable of Hysteria Mode, even if I had never heard so much as a whisper about a female version before.

What's more, her normal abilities had proven more than sufficient to suppress Aria and the others.

More specifically, she, via some unknown method - perhaps even the Los Alamos Elite plan that Watson had mentioned? - had had her physical abilities enhanced. Even though she'd since escaped, from the looks of things, it seemed they still hadn't completely severed their relationship with America.

What worried me was this-

It occurred to me that Kaname's preoccupation with attaining Hysteria Mode was for the goal of further enhancing her abilities.

The problem was, Kaname had yet to enter said state. It seemed she shared a distaste for men no less intense than my distaste for women.

I'm not sure what it is that has her so set on me, but regardless, she seems to have taken a fancy to me.

For this reason, she's chosen me to help her enter Hysteria Mode, and has grown close to me-

Because I'm the only one in this world who can help her obtain the strength she seeks, the partner who can help her enter Hysteria Mode.

Furthermore, it looks like she plans on forming a team with me, becoming a pair who stands above all.

This, putting aside whether or not it's true for a moment, poses a danger in more ways than one.

Suddenly my train of thought was interrupted by Kaname, who leaned in against me.

That unparalleled ability to seize the opportunity was reminiscent of Riko.

"Those with HSS have superlative fighting abilities, but this is countered by a weakness to the opposite sex of equal degree. Because of this condition, the other gender will never understand us, especially during this youthful period where sexual excitement occurs easily enough."

"Um, well..."

Facing me, who'd been left speechless by her words, Kaname's eyes, the color of the deep ocean, raised to meet mine.

"Even if someone else likes you, it'd only be a superficial feeling for the Hysteria Mode you, and not the real you. This misunderstanding inevitably becomes the foundation for mistaken feelings. In other words, in this world, there will never be a girl who could ever truly understand you, and thus truly love you. I am the sole exception, as one who bears the same cross."

She spoke in an alluring tone: were we not the same after all? Was it not thus natural for us to lick one another's wounds, to find comfort in one another?

"Only if Onii-chan continues to be with me can you truly experience love. Even though you've said over and over that this is something wrong, something strange, but in truth, isn't it just the opposite? I am the only person who can truly have a normal relationship with Onii-chan, the only one who could ever be Onii-chan's true love."

Having thus spoken, Kaname pulled something out: a «MySister Goth» box.

"Even though Onii-chan loves me, it seems you're still not ready to talk about it yet. That's why you're resisting this, but it's okay, we can talk later. Right now, I can't wait any longer. For the moment, you just need to do this one thing with me...yeah, just this...is enough."

She flipped over the «MySister Goth» package.

(...!)

Because I've never felt any particular reason to, this is the first time I've taken a good look at it.

On the back of the box, in stark contrast to the intentionally cute designs drawn on its front, is what can only be described as an extremely provocative image.

"What, what the hell are you saying! What do you mean 'you just need to do this one thing with me'! Have you completely lost your mind!?"

I desperately looked away from the anime-ish illustrations.

"Onii-chan, you're the one who's not making any sense here. Ethics are just a headache to anyone with HSS. Let me say something - love is not the catalyst for Hysteria Mode. As long as people have the desire to do so, they can easily separate these two things. Love on one hand, that on the other. So you see, there's no problem here."

Kaname expounded upon a topic I had intentionally never before considered.

"Because Onii-chan is a guy, you've probably had to fight hard against your natural sex drive. Spending everyday having to suppress those urges, it's been hard, hasn't it? But there's no need to worry about that anymore. Just think of me as a toy. That's how I see it anyway."

"What, what do you mean 'toy'...?"

"I am Onii-chan's plaything."

As she said this, she suddenly pressed against me, all her soft parts, from top to bottom, glued against my body.

Her body language simply shouted, "This is it."

"That is to say, even if you were to consider this as mutual exploitation, I wouldn't mind. Even if the order's been reversed, there've definitely been cases before where love has sprouted from such actions- such things are recorded in the TellaNA system."[4]

From the body of the gently smiling Kaname, came the sweet fragrance of caramel.

Her skill at speaking and her beguiling movements reminded me of Riko.

At the same time I finally came to appreciate something else, Kaname's intellect.

Kaname had previously declared to me that she'd acquire all the skills of Aria, Shirayuki, and Riko, who I 'loved'. Though in her own unique way, it now occurred to me that she'd matched Aria's unyielding strength, Shirayuki's spirit of devotion, and Riko's feminine coquettishness. And all that in order to better appeal to me.

This girl had completely captured the distinctive features of those three, and that simply by analyzing the various things they'd left in the room - their books, and games, and such - and then modified them in order to match her own style. Even though she had the assistance of that TellaNA intelligence interface, but to come this far in two weeks was simply beyond words.

Taking this into consideration, even though she seemed like quite the strange individual, er, was quite the strange individual-

It doesn't look like the name "man-made genius" is just for show. She was undeniably brilliant.

-This is bad. People like her are dangerous, because they know how to hide their intelligence. They understand well how to use words to lay siege to their opponent, and thus engaging in conversation with them can be dangerous...or so we'd been taught in Inquesta classes.

-I needed to end this conversation ASAP, even if it meant drastic measures. I can't allow her to keep leading me by the nose.

If things took a turn for the worse, then things would end up like they did in that locker room, and she'd do something strange once more.

"...!"

I shook myself vigorously, in an effort to pry Kaname loose.

"Aaa!"

Exclaiming in surprise, Kaname dropped to the sofa, and tried to get up.

I made ready my escape.

(Now then...no, wait.)

It wasn't just because she wanted to become stronger that she sought to use me to enter Hysteria Mode.

Nor was it simply because she liked me that she'd approached me like this.

No, something else was making her anxious.

Though she had obviously not spoken a word about this, but I could more or less understand what was happening deep within a girl's heart.

This was the first time I'd ever experienced this.

Even if I hadn't heard a word of explanation, but I still intuitively understood.

I'm not sure how, whether it was because of some similarity in the way we act or speak or what, but I can tell what it is she feels within her heart.

And I can also tell that...from the bottom of her heart...she really likes me so much it's abnormal.

-But...forgive me.

"...Kaname, I don't know who you are, or what your purpose is, but none of that matters to me. Hysteria Mode, if you ask me, is an accident waiting to happen. If I could, I'd discard it without a second thought. Accordingly, I have no particular desire to familiarize myself with it, especially to the point of discarding all morality like you suggest. And you, value yourself more; don't abuse yourself like this."

As I spoke, I thought to myself that it might be best if I slept over at Mutou's tonight.

After I turned to head down the hallway, I came to the sudden realization that my pistol wasn't in my belt, where I expected, and as I again turned to retrieve it-

"-Onii-chan is being so unreasonable-"

I heard Kaname mutter under her breath.

She flipped around and dashed into the kitchen, where she ferociously grabbed hold of a kitchen knife.

"-Oi!"

As I shouted in dismay, she moved to cut me off, blocking my path to the hallway.

In the darkness of the unlit hallway, her eyes gleamed.

She's not budging an inch!

"Onii-chan, that's three outs, and three outs calls for a change."

Kaname's pupils are dilated, her teeth gritted.

-What, what's going on here? What's with the violent outburst?

This sudden change in personality is almost like two different people.

Is it because she's decided that further debate is futile and more extreme measures are now warranted?

No, I don't think that's all there is to it.

I've always felt like Kaname's constantly repressing something...

And because our conversation was not resolved to her satisfaction, her patience had finally given way.

"That reminds me, Onii-chan."

From within the darkness of the hallway, Kaname's voice came forth, as well as the quiet sound of her bare feet advancing across the wood floor.

Hidden in the shadows, I could just make out her face, her frozen smile cold as death.

That expression was as different as could be from the beguiling smile she'd shown earlier, filling me instead with spine-chilling horror.

"What...what is it?"

"Onii-chan, you haven't broken your promise with me, have you?"

"Pro, promise?"

Oh...

Is she referring to the promise she extracted from me when I demanded that she not attack without reason: "Promise me, that you will neither touch nor embrace another girl."

That's what she's talking about, right?

"-As long as Onii-chan is honest in his confession, then for each betrayal I will punish you but once. If you try and hide things from me, however, I will stab you ten times over for each lie. Now, Onii-chan, how many times have you broken your promise?"

~step~ ~step~

Kaname continued to walk towards me, gripping her knife with both hands.

As Kaname stepped into the light of the living room, the sharpened point of her knife was first to cross the threshold.

"Go ahead and say it. C'mon, just tell me."

It seems she plans to thrust straight forward. Under the fluorescent light of the room, the knife flashed dangerously- and aimed directly at my throat.

The distance, about four meters.

Given her abilities, this was already within her Killing Range.

I needed to do something, and quickly, or I might meet my end.

(-My gun...!)

It wasn't holstered, so it must be behind me, by the sofa. If it wasn't there, however...if Kaname had already hidden it...No, I had no way to be sure, and turning my head to look would be suicidal. Such a careless mistake might see her knife embedded in the back of my skull.

...That being the case, the only weapon at my disposal was the butterfly knife in my pocket.

But if the motion of me pulling it out were to set her off, I could well find her flying at me.

Moreover, back in the Shinagawa Geofront, all she'd needed handle Aria, Shirayuki, and Reki was a blade.

It was possible her weapon hid some secret, but that aside, her physical abilities were more than dangerous enough already. My current situation was way too disadvantageous.

It seemed, at best, all I could hope for was to block the blade.

In brief, my best chances of survival lay in attempting to placate her.

"The, the promise. I've kept it."

As I tried to convince her, I retreated backwards ever so slowly.

"You've also been doing your best to keep your end, right? That's why there's no need for this. Hurry up and put that away."

I broke out into a cold sweat.

"Onii-chan, you're hiding something from me."

~STEP~

Kaname closed the distance between us.

"Onii-chan, you've hidden three things from me, so I guess I'll stab you 30 times?"

Having finally stepped fully into the light...this time she wore no expression at all-

Almost like a robot about to carry out its programmed routine.

"St, stop...!"

"I have no desire to hurt someone I love, but because Onii-chan lied, I have no choice. Love requires sacrifice, and sacrifice, Onii-chan, hurts."

It's, it's no use. This wasn't a situation I could negotiate my way out of from the start. She's completely gone over the edge.

And yet-

On the other hand, this might be my only chance.

Those are the eyes of a predator. The eyes of a mind having lost all reason.

I could hear a soft -pant- -pant- as well.

When someone's in such a state, their abilities decrease. Even if their strength increases, their precision is reduced drastically. Furthermore, what Kaname holds in her hands is not really a weapon, but rather a simple kitchen knife.

There's nothing I can do but pray for luck, and gamble with her.

"Put the knife down!"

As I threatened her, I pulled my butterfly knife out.

Flipping out the blade in an instant,

"-Why!?"

I caught the blade of Kaname, who howled as she flew at me, with my own.

CLANG!

As our blade edges clashed, sparks flew. Fortunately, the many hundreds of times I'd practiced during my time in Assault the previous year came in handy, and I caught her blade between the grooves of my knife.

Twisting my blade viciously, I snapped the blade of her knife clean off.

-But it seemed, Kaname had never intended on relying on the knife to begin with.

"Why won't Onii-chan understand!?"

-BANG!

"Uoh!"

I...I was just shot!

Even if I was wearing my bulletproof uniform, I was still shot at close range.

Worse, she'd simultaneously kicked my right knee, which hadn't quite healed.

Looking closely, she had my Beretta.

-From the beginning, she'd only used the knife as a distraction, planning from the start to seal my movements with the gun.

In front of Kaname, so much more resourceful than I, I fell, sprawled across the floor.

"I've always been upfront with Onii-chan! Whatever you wanted, I accepted! And yet Onii-chan is still like this!"

Kaname held her finger over the trigger, as she howled into the empty air.

Both her eyes and her lips were swollen in anger, and she seemed primed to open fire at any moment.

Relying on my unhurt leg and my arms, I desperately pulled backwards.

The entrance to the hallway was already blocked by Kaname, so that route had been sealed.

(The...balcony...)

I need to crawl my way there, then man up and make the jump, escaping into the sea. That's my only hope.

In order to avoid revealing my plan, I glanced at the mirror to reaffirm the balcony as a viable escape plan.

What I saw was...

Something I'd last seen in the video of the Shinagawa Geofront engagement-

A floating X-shaped strip of cloth, flitting this way and that like a dragonfly.

That was Kaname's armament which simultaneously handled offense and defense.

It seems she's had it simply hover over the male dorms this entire time.

That piece of cloth hovered just outside of the balcony, almost as if warning me against entry.

Kaname faced me down, whom had nowhere left to run.

"-Did you really think you could escape?"

Slanting her eyes, she smiled.

Her gaze reminded me of a hunter staring down wounded prey.

"You were really trying to run just now, weren't you, Onii-chan? Such disobedient feet you have. Even though you love me so much, why would your feet try to betray you like that? Oh, that's right. It's because you can still walk, isn't it?"

Kaname raised her bare leg and viciously stomped on my injured knee.

"Onii-chan, I saw it all, you know? Fuuma Hina, Kanzaki Aria, and...this was really too careless of me, I could never have imagined Elle Watson was also a girl? How absurd."

"..."

Memories of the past few days bubbled forth from within my mind.

When I ran into Fuuma-

In the bamboo grove nearby, we'd found the bamboo broken and in general disarray.

The kiss with Aria on the rooftop-

The word "TRAITOR" etched all around the air conditioning radiator.

The eyes glaring at us through the keyhole as Watson and I engaged in rehabilitation.

That was all...

(That damn stalker!)

Those were all traces of Kaname, stalking me...!

"Hey, Onii-chan, tell me what needs to happen here. Be honest...should I break your legs? If I do that, then you won't be able to walk anymore, let alone leave your room."

Almost as if playing a piano, her toes gently caressed my knee.

"Oh, I know, why don't we do this? Onii-chan can just stay on the sofa forever, and don't worry, I'll take care of everything."

She...she wants to make me a prisoner in my own home!?

Kaname revealed a bright expression completely at odds with the terrifying words coming out of her mouth.

"Afterwards, I'll just force Onii-chan to fall into Hysteria Mode. Good, sounds like a plan. If I do it like this, you'll understand, won't you, Onii-chan?"

Kaname gradually raised her leg, preparing to plunge it down with great force!

"...!"

This is bad...!

From the look in her eyes, it didn't seem she planned to stop with just my right knee.

And if that wasn't enough to calm her down, then perhaps even my arms...

If that were to happen, then I'd really be up a creek without a paddle.

I broke out in a cold sweat due to the pain, and out of sheer desperation,

"Kaname! ...I...I get it already! I'll, I'll try to do what you've asked!"

I groaned as I covered my knee with my hands.

"TRY...?"

"That's right! Whatever you want, whenever you want, it's ok! I'll accept you!"

Truth be told, even though she was an amazingly beautiful girl...but as I thought of the highly provocative imagery I'd seen on the back of that box actually occurring to me, I just about fainted.

Then again, compared to becoming Kaname's prisoner, with her holding power over my life and death, this was definitely still preferable.

Beggars can't be choosers, after all.

Moreover, this path carried the possibility of seeing Kaname leave my side eventually.

"Onii-chan..."

Having heard my answer, Kaname seemed to lose all strength.

Nor did she finish her attack on my knee, instead returning her foot to the wood floor once more.

"I'm so happy Onii-chan finally understands. As expected, Onii-chan is a kind and tender person: willing to understand me, willing to accept me, willing to love me. This just makes me so happy."

Kaname stared off into space, mumbling to herself.

Picking my words carefully, I continued,

"However, if I'm unable to enter Hysteria Mode as you predict, then you need to give this up. You've said that your hope is to see the two of us in Hysteria Mode, fighting together, right? Well, a weapon that can't be relied on is no weapon at all. If such a thing were to fail in the midst of a real battle, we'd be in unwarranted danger."

-From my experience, Kaname is not a trigger for my Hysteria Mode.

Thinking back to that time in the locker room, even with such a high degree of contact between us, Hysteria Mode had failed to activate.

Taking that as reference, I was fairly confident I could withstand anything she could throw at me.

If things continued down their present course, Kaname would probably end up leaving, wouldn't she?

In other words, in order to see her eventually leaving me, I'd have to first allow her to get closer. To put it succinctly, I'd lose the battle, but win the war.

"Well, if you put it like that...ok. Alright, I get it. I'll do my best to make Onii-chan enter HSS, and with an intensity you've never experienced before!"

Kaname seems to be quite motivated, clenching her fist and breathing excitedly.

Hrm. It seems I've instead kindled her fighting spirit.

Well, it's not like this wasn't a last resort.

I didn't have any way of dealing with her rampage in any case.

"..."

I wiped the sweat from my forehead, and pulled my injured knee towards me.

"-Onii-chan."

At which point, Kaname, almost as if switching masks, broke out in the most adorable smile.

She gave off an aura of utter normality, as if her violent outbreak was just an illusion. Bending down, she laid the Beretta on the floor.

She then extended her arm, slender, as befitted her age, to me, before cheerfully pulling me to my feet.

"Then, let's eat. The curry's already ready."




-Kaname's style of wielding blades was highly reminiscent of a soldier's.

In short, she fights to kill.

(If by some chance, she really tries to attack me...)

Even if she doesn't intend it, the possibility of my death isn't zero.

That girl loses all semblance of reason once she loses it, and the resulting lack of precision might just be enough.

Incidentally, after we'd finished dinner, Kaname had suddenly declared "I need to review something really quick", before grabbing «MySister Goth» and disappearing into her room.

I spent the night in trepidation, but she never reappeared.

Before heading off to bed, I figured it best if I tried to figure out what exactly the deal was with this «MySister Goth» game. A quick Internet search revealed images of a younger sister binding her older brother with chains, whipping him and the like, which I dared not investigate further. The hell is this game?

If Kaname had been using this game as reference, then it looks like until now, I'd been making all the wrong choices.

That being the case, once she finally decided to make her move, I hadn't the slightest clue what was actually going to happen.

It was possible those two circumstances I had just seen would happen to me.

(I need to act quickly to protect myself...!)

In this manner, the day passed.

As Saturday morning dawned, I seized upon Kaname's carelessness to make my escape, making my way to Odaiba Seaside Park.

Before me lay the ocean, behind me a vast lawn. Amidst the scenic landscape, I found a bench upon which to wait for a certain someone.

In my hand I held something which hardly suited me - a bouquet of roses.

They were wrapped in paper, however, so I wasn't embarrassed about the image I gave off.

-So why was I sitting here, holding these roses? Well, it's a bit complicated.

Today's meeting had a certain purpose. I was here to rendezvous with a bodyguard.

Kaname had clearly made an exception to the rule of individuals allowed to live with me, that is, family.

And so I thought:

If I had someone superbly strong became a family member, able to enter and leave my place as they desired-

Then even if Kaname tried to do something horrifying to me, they could rescue me from what would inevitably be a tragic ending.

Taking the members of Deen as a starting point, I began to compile a mental list of the strongest members. Unfortunately, the majority of them were unable to pass as a member of my family.

I mean, after all, whether you were counting by ethnicity or by appearance, I was 100% Japanese.

In that respect, Aria, Riko, and Watson were out of the picture. Jeanne, well, she was never in the picture to begin with. Reki was a descendant of the Genji, but there's no way her acting abilities would hold up. Tamamo would have been optimal - if I had a pair of fox ears growing out of my head, that is.

That left only-

Shirayuki.

She was, like me, quite distinctively Japanese.

Since we were childhood friends, I think she could pass as a half-sister of mine.

When it comes to her last name...hmm, how about she was adopted into the Hotogi family to serve as a miko, but she's now returning to the Tohyama household?

So for the moment, she'll be "Tohyama Shirayuki", a member of my family.

Even then, it's not like I don't understand that this setting is terribly, incredibly forced...

(...But it's not like I have any other choice!)

Moreover-

Today was November 14th, coincidentally Shirayuki's birthday.

Even though I'd completely forgotten about it, but this morning Konayuki had sent a lacquered chest all the way from the Hotogi Shrine in Aomori.

I'd given her a call in protest only to have her announce it was a gift for her sister's birthday. She told me: "Because Onee-sama is rarely home, rather than cause the Post Office an inconvenience, I decided to send it to Tohyama-sama instead. Please do me a favor and give it to her for me." Having been treated like a gofer, I snarled back, "Did you ever consider whether it was an inconvenience to me!?" and hung up the phone.

Although truth be told, I ought to feel rather fortunate.

In order to coax Shirayuki into acting as a member of my family, I'd planned on celebrating her birthday with her. Because of all that'd happened with Kaname recently, she'd been quite distant.

The problem was, after celebrating Aria's birthday, I've not done anything similar since, so I'm rather lacking in confidence. I'd subsequently given a call to the Girl's Customer Support Center - Jeanne. She'd answered me in a stern voice, saying, "Flowers. There's not a girl in this world who wouldn't be happy to receive flowers. It's pretty much a law of nature."

And so, first thing in the morning, I'd set out to a part of Academy Island where I'd never previously set foot, the flower shop, and purchased a bouquet of roses. When it came to flowers, I only knew about chrysanthemums and tulips, but the florist had confidently recommended to me: "If you're going to give a gift to a girl, it has to be roses."

And that's why I'm sitting here, holding roses, and waiting for Shirayuki.

The florist lady had told me, "It's gotta be a surprise", and had thus wrapped the roses in a huge piece of paper. The problem was, I had no idea what was an appropriate time to pull them out in order to constitute a surprise.

Whatever, forget it. It's just Shirayuki anyway.

But man, these flowers are huge. Since I didn't know the first thing about flowers, I'd thrown the last of my savings into this. They really were heavy though; if I'd known earlier, I'd have only bought half.

As I sat, musing over the morning's happenings, I slowly massaged my knee.

(It really hurts still...Sure hope the ligament's not injured...)

Since I'd dealt with Kaname's tantrum more or less, walking wasn't a problem...

But because I only had the vaguest memory of Assault's lessons on how to wrap a joint injury, it still rather hurt.

(Might as well just get rid of this makeshift brace. This probably isn't the time to be stingy, I really should go pay Ambulace a visit.)

Having run a little low on patience, I rolled up my pant leg, and ripped the dressing off.

Rubbing my knee a bit, I returned to the bench.

"Kin, Kin-chan, good morning."

It seemed Shirayuki had come from the direction of the lawn.

As she met my gaze, she gave an embarrassed smile.

Coming over to the bench, she held down the fluttering skirt of her sailor uniform with her hand.

"-I mentioned this on the phone, but you're sure no one followed you?"

"Nn, nn. Yeah, I double-checked the whole way here."

Shirayuki nodded vigorously as I again checked our surroundings.

Kaname doesn't seem to take stalking me lightly, so you can never be too sure.

This was in accordance with something I'd learned in Inquesta previously: If you have a rendezvous to make, and you can't be sure you're not being followed, try to meet in a space where it's easy to fully assess your surroundings.

Because this was a wide open space without so much as a shadow to hide in, I was able to ensure there was no one following us.

That said, there still existed the possibility of long range surveillance.

For that reason, we'd probably best get indoors as soon as possible.

"Um, about that. Kin-chan said you had something important to talk about. What was it?"

"It's not something we can talk about here. Let's head somewhere else first. Let's see..."

Saying that, I glanced around quickly, flowers in hand.

At the far end of the lawn, I could make out the recently annexed white chapel of a Nikko Hotel.

Good, we'll head there.

Even Kaname wouldn't dare ambush someone in a sacred place like that, right?

"Let's make our way to that church."

I rose, only to have my knee scream in pain.

I guess my decision to discard the bandage was poorly made after all.

Nonetheless, it wasn't yet at the point where I couldn't walk. We'd better move.

"O-ok. Kin-chan, eh? That's..."

Shirayuki glanced at the package in my hand, voice rising in anticipation.

Oi oi oi. Don't tell me the surprise is ruined already. Looking closely, I can see a few stems sticking out. Ms. Florist, would it have killed you to have wrapped these a bit better?




As was the norm for a church, the chapel was open to all, though with nary a soul in sight.

Natural light poured in through the skylight, and reflected off the white walls, filling the room with warmth and light. What a comforting place.

"Ooh. How pretty. It's so romantic."

Shirayuki took in her surroundings with a look of enchantment evident on her face.

At first I'd been worried at the prospect of bringing a miko into a Christian church, but it seems my fears were groundless.

It seems that Shirayuki had no difficulty keeping the two separate.

Then again, if she wasn't capable of at least this much, then there's no way she'd have been able to make it in the madhouse that was SSR.

Although even I felt like I was overdoing it, but standing near the door, or rather, a keyhole, reminded me of bad memories, so I walked down the aisle, deeper into the chapel.

Shirayuki reverently followed behind me.

"Everytime I'm with Kin-chan, my heart seems to skip a beat."

Shirayuki laughed with her hands on her cheeks, twisting her body this way and that.

Skip a beat?

Is it because of all the danger we've faced together?

Does that mean she has presentiments of battle from merely being around me? Well, I guess that way of thinking isn't wrong, Shirayuki.

"-I guess it's going to be like this everyday from today on. I should prepare myself."

"From today on...? Everyday...? What, what do you mean?"

Shirayuki responded strangely to my use of "everyday", so I instead pulled her with me, one step at a time, up the stairs.

"...!"

My knee chose this point to start throbbing again. Man, that decision to rip off the dressing was really a bad idea.

-Against my will, I fell to one knee.

About to tumble to the floor, I quickly grasped Shirayuki's hand.

It's probably too late for this to be a pleasant surprise, but what the heck, why don't I give her the flowers now.

I subsequently tore the wrapping paper, revealing the crimson red roses within.

"-Kin, Kin-chan?"

"Happy Birthday, Shirayuki. There's more, but let me first say this- what I'm about to say, you're free to accept or reject as you wish."

From the skylight above, a pillar of light shone down, lavishing radiance directly upon me and Shirayuki, still in shock.

Shining above Shirayuki's lustrous black hair was a beam of resplendent light, like the halo of an angel.

"But before you say anything, remember this. Far from coming to me easily, I agonized over this, but my answer is still the same- You're it. If you turn me down, there's no one else. If it's not you, then it's no one."

My knee throbbed once more. I'd better wrap this up as soon as possible, and head over to Ambulace for a rest.

That does it for the prologue, let's leave the details for another time.

Forget beating around the bush, I'm just going to cut to the point here.

Doing my utmost to maintain my kneeling posture, I raised my head to look at Shirayuki and asked,



"-Shirayuki. Won't you please become Tohyama Shirayuki?"

As I spoke-

~GONG~ ~GONG~

The church bells rang.[5] They're announcing the time, I guess?

That's just perfect. Even if someone happened to be eavesdropping, the bells would have covered things up just fine.

At this unexpected turn of good fortune, I couldn't help but grin.

Shirayuki's limpid eyes shone bright-

"Yes!"

Eh?

Surprisingly she agreed without further ado.

Man, just how submissive can you be? I haven't even explained all the details yet.

Speaking of which...

What's the deal with her expression?

-It's the face of someone who has at last realized their life's desire-

Clutching the roses to her chest, she seems moved beyond words.

"In other words, from today on, we're family. So please live with me once more. I know preparations will take some time, but I'm willing to wait."

"...Ok!...Kin-chan-sama...Kin-chan...sama!"

Did the light get into her eyes or something? Shirayuki bowed her head, burying it amidst her flowers.

"I understand, even if it's Shirayuki, it's still not an easy thing to so readily become a member of my family."

This was, after all, a task which combined bodyguard duties with undercover work.

For this kind of thing, I, who had spent half a year in Inquesta was probably better suited to the task.

Well, I guess I'll take the lead, then. Let me let her know.

"It's ok. Just leave it all to me. All you need to do is follow."

Ignoring the pain in my knee, I made an effort to stand.

"Alright...Aah, Kin-chan, thank you. From the time we were small, I, I've always been waiting for this exact moment to come."

...?

"But it came so suddenly...! This is the greatest day of my life!"

Shirayuki...san?

Shirayuki gripped her flowers with both hands, raising her head to the heavens as if beckoning.

Was accepting my request really something that would make a person that happy?

"...Kin-chan-sama...Let this day forever be celebrated as a national holiday. It's a holiday, a holiday."

What, what the hell? It feels almost like a host of angels are surrounding her, blowing their trumpets in celebration.

Don't tell me she actually summoned something? You sure can't take mikos lightly, I guess.

I rubbed my eyes and double-checked that it had just been my imagination before beginning my explanation.

"So anyway, recently my continued wellbeing has been threatened by Kaname...GIV. Even though she pretends to be a docile, obedient child at school, but the second the two of us are alone, it becomes obvious her mind turns a little, you know. I mean, just from the way she calls herself my little sister you can tell how far gone she is."

"Holiday~"

"Did you hear a word of what I just said?"

You know, I've been feeling like Shirayuki's eyes are kinda unfocused here.

She reminds me of a cat that's just been run through the shower, just frozen in complete shock.

"Hey, listen up."

"Whee!"

"Counting by age, you'd be Kaname's older sister. In that girl's mind, she's my younger sister. That is to say, please don't fight, alright?"

"It's~a~holiday! I've gained another younger sister!"

"One more thing. It seems to Kaname, as long as they're family, living together is ok. I want to make use of that point, and have you join my family. Please always stay by my side- Uh, hello? Shirayuki?"

She...she fainted! While still holding on to her flowers, and even while still standing, she fainted!

What's more, the expression on her face makes it seem like she's died and gone to Heaven!

With a bodyguard like this, will I really be alright? We haven't even started, and I'm already feeling a little less safe.

Well, it's not like I had anyone else to rely on in the first place. Just this once, I'm in your care, Shirayuki.

Carrying her on my back, I'd made my way back to the bus stop before Shirayuki came to. She then proceeded to make the strangest comment, "You know, Kin-chan, I'm 100% OK with it, but from the viewpoint of the law..."

I yelled back, "Stop worrying about that!" and forcibly pulled her along.




Slightly worried about her lifeless state, I saw her off at the bus stop before making my way to Ambulance. I returned home after they finished tending to my knee, making it home at about 7 PM.

As I rode the elevator, I thumbed off the safety on my Beretta, reloaded to capacity, as well as sharpened the edge on my butterfly knife.

To a third party, I probably looked like I was about to enter a war-torn battlefield. I was really just heading home.

"...I'm back."

I opened the door, and stepped inside.

Though the living room light was lit, I saw no sign of Kaname.

Where did she run off to this time? Right as I had that thought, I heard sounds from the direction of the kitchen.

Making my way down the hallway, I noticed something fishy. The wooden floor was littered with drops of water.

What's going on here?

Confused, I made my way into the kitchen-

Only to crash into Kaname.

"...!"

"..."

Popsicle in mouth, Kaname appeared thoroughly astounded.

She was dressed in striped underwear...

...but only on her bottom half.

From the looks of things, she'd just finished a bath, and after drying her hair, had wandered over to the fridge to grab a popsicle. Geez, even if this is your house, isn't this still a bit unrestrained?

The worst part was, I'd chosen this exact moment to come home.

"...I'm...I'm sorry!"

When you think about it, this was really the fault of the person who'd so carelessly wandered out in her underwear, but that didn't stop me from stammering out an apology.

Though thankfully the ends of the towel wrapped around her neck hung down, miraculously hiding her breasts from view-

But still...the subtle curves of her immature chest...were seen by me...

As I reflexively dropped my gaze, what filled my view instead were her panties. What the hell kind of underwear is this? It doesn't cover anything! I mean, I know that girls' bodies are smaller, but still, this is too much! Don't tell me this is the rumored T-back that Riko had previously mentioned.

-thump!

Deep within me, that familiar feeling of blood flowing began.

Hey! Hey!

Listen here, inner me! How dare you choose a moment like this to pull this kind of stunt!?

What happened to all the trust I placed in you back when I was facing down Kaname?

This is bull; she's just a junior student, and my self-proclaimed little sister to boot! The hell do you think you're doing, reacting to her-

Even though I've never thought of her as such, but...on the off chance she is my sister-

And I fall into Hysteria because of her-

This would be the greatest failing of my entire life!

Last month, Riko told me I was becoming less and less like a human. Now I was about to make that come true, in a completely different way! I was falling down the path of a beast, no less.

-Hehe.

Having lost my mind to panic, Kaname's laugh startled me.

"...It doesn't matter how much you think about it, Onii-chan. What the brain and the body want are two different things."

Naked from top to bottom, Kaname advanced towards me, one step at a time.

Madly scrambling, crawling to my bedroom for dear life, I frantically yanked out one of my shirts.

"Hur-, hurry up and cover yourself up! Maybe you think it's okay because you consider us siblings, but still, as a girl, you're too unguarded!"

Trying with all my might to avoid the slightest glance of her body, I waved my shirt in her direction-

-Which she grabbed.

~rustle~ ~rustle~

I guess she put it on?

"..."

I cautiously turned my head.

(...!)

I...

Had made a terrible mistake. Crap.

Kaname stood there, wearing my shirt, her thin, thin underwear covering her bottom half.

...For some reason, that only made her all the more seductive.

THE HELL IS THIS!? How on earth is it that putting on more clothes made things more provocative than wearing just about nothing at all!?

Kaname drew one step closer.

"Don't worry about it so much, Onii-chan. Or rather, there's no need to think about anything at all."

As if to box me in, she stood with her back to the door, and gradually advanced.

I finally realized one very important fact: This...was the bedroom.

Even though the closet had drawn me here, finding myself trapped in this location, I only had myself to blame.

At last, Kaname-

Barely clothed, leaned into my chest.

Keep, keep a grip, Kinji...!

This is quite possibly the greatest trial of my endurance in my entire life.

If I can't hold on, the two of us might pass the point of no return!

"Isis and Osiris were brother and sister. So were Izanagi and Izanami. In Sweden, marriage law only forbids those marriages where blood relations exist on both sides of the family. In other words, as long as only one parent is shared, then brothers and sisters can marry."

"-What the hell are you saying!?"

"You're restraining yourself, aren't you, Onii-chan? I understand - that feeling in the pit of your stomach, the blood, beginning to flow...That's why, as I said, the possibility is certainly there."

Kaname gazed at me with those beautiful eyes-

"I'm begging you, Onii-chan- Hold me tight..."

She stared straight into my soul, and pleaded with me.

What, what're the two of us doing?

If this was a normal household, then our parents, discovering their children engaged in some shady activities would punish us with a stiff warning...but in this house, it was just the two of us. There was no one to stop us.

No, wait, that's not right.

Wasn't it for this exact reason that I'd picked myself up a bodyguard just earlier?

"-Kaname! Starting from today, I have another half-sister coming to live with us."

"-eh? That's-"

"The reason you're staying here is because you're family, right? That's why, if there's another family member, you have no choice but to accept it. The rules that you made yourself, you must abide by!"

Having worked myself up, I spoke in a flurry. The problem was, would she believe it?

Even though I was anxious as could be within, Kaname didn't laugh.

Far from it; she seems to have taken my words at face value.

Contemplating my words-

She slowly nodded her head.

"-Then let's speed things up a bit. There's no time like the present."

"Er, huh?"

Right as my words left my mouth-

Kaname grabbed my sleeve and pulled me in the direction of the closet.

In order to stop her, I shifted my center of gravity, and struggled to the side-

Employing what appeared to be judo, Kaname caught hold of my tie and jacket, and pulled me once more in her direction. Dragging me with her own body, she deliberately fell back onto the bed.

"...!"

Kaname lay on the bed-

With me, pressing down on her.

That technique just now was way too showy.

"..."

The way things look, it's almost like I pushed Kaname down.

Kaname lay on her back, eyes gazing at me.

It's here. The moment has finally arrived.

"Onii-chan, before things go too far, there's something I want to tell you. Afterwards, you have to forget it, and never speak a word of it ever again. What I'm about to say...comes from the bottom of my heart, but is also against our rules."

Her eyes took on a serious expression I had never seen before.

"Wh, what is it?"

"You know, I...never really cared about combat. All of this...was for the sake of this moment. As long as I could live to experience this, then it's enough. That's because Onii-chan, you're my first love...and also my last."

Kaname's sea blue eyes fluttered...

As if about to sink into the deepest, darkest depths of the sea, she stood on the shore, and bared her heart to me.

"Kaname..."

You...

Why are your eyes so filled with sorrow?

For what purpose is it-

For what possible reason could the young, adorable you-

Shed tears like this? All while putting up a strong, smiling front?

"Onii-chan."

As Kaname's slender arm encircled me-

-I finally understood.

Having gradually switched into Hysteria Mode, I finally understood what it was with Kaname.

Kaname, she...will inevitably...

"Onii...chan..."

Kaname softly closed her eyes.

As if resolving herself to cross some line deep within her, she took a deep breath.

"I...won't let Onii-chan turn back. I, already cannot turn back. Just this once is enough, please treat me as a woman...!"

She forced those resolve-filled eyes open once more.

At that moment, before my eyes, I saw her cast off her child self.

Kaname...seems to have resolved herself. It seems at this moment, she is no longer an artificially enhanced warrior, no longer my younger sister, but just a girl with an iron resolve. Discarding all thought, and crossing the boundaries of the relationship we'd had until now...

In order for us to understand one another, she implored of me.

And I-

Finally comprehending what I had been musing over, I spoke as if to accept her.

"...You seem nervous."

Relying on the half of me which was now in the grip of Hysteria Mode, I murmured to her.

"Of course. But don't mind me, Onii-chan. Hold me."

"If that's how it is, then just relax. If you're this stiff, then there's nothing we can do, right?"

Supporting myself with one elbow on the bed, I pressed in close to Kaname, and gently caressed her cheek and hair with my other arm.

Remembering that Kaname had mentioned she was fond of my looks, I supported her head with my hands, allowing her to look directly at me.

"Aaah..."

Kaname, seemingly having misunderstood my actions as finally agreeing to her demands, let out a voice both joyous and demure.

"Aah, Onii-chan...Onii-chan is looking at only me. And I am only looking at Onii-chan."

Kaname's slim arm wrapped around my back.

Her deep blue eyes were moved to tears.

"Wha, what is this...? This feeling...! From within my heart, my core, my center...From deep within, something's happening. I'm scared...I'm scared, Onii-chan."

At last, it's begun. For the first time since her birth, Kaname's experiencing Hysteria Mode.

From this intimate distance, I watched Kaname's body, trembling without ceasing, and reflected on what was about to occur.

Kaname had always sought after, and dreamed about, using me to enter Hysteria Mode.

That dream...was about to be realized.

Unfortunately...it might not be what she was expecting.

If my guess is correct, the second Kaname's dream comes to fruition-

She will know despair.

So much so that afterwards, she will likely wish to disappear from the face of this Earth.

If that truly happens to be the case, then the various weapons in this room are a danger...though admittedly, this thinking might be a tad overprotective.

Thinking thusly, I reached my hand to my Beretta.

As part of the same motion-

My finger gently drew a line from Kaname's shoulder down her slender curves to her lower back.

It seems she misunderstood what I was doing, because she closed her eyes, and revealed an expression of mixed excitement and unease.

My finger drew ever so slowly down,

Until it neared her hips.

"-Ah!"

Her moist eyes, half-closed, snapped open in surprise.

Followed by which,

"...!"

Pulling back her arm which had been wrapped around me, she placed it against my chest.

It's as I thought.

Placing her arm against my chest...

She pushed, as if to reject me.

"No...no...no~"

"..."

Aria10 267.jpg

Testing my theory, I leaned in even further.

"No...! -Brothers and sisters, this kind of thing...no!"

...~drip~...~drip~...

Kaname spoke as if to contradict everything she'd said until now-

While making the most lovable, most adorable expression yet, eyes overflowing with tears.

Her previously formidable strength was all but gone as she tried to push me away.

She was fighting back with all the strength of a cute little animal, and it seemed the slightest effort was all it would take to subdue her. Her knees, near my legs, trembled, inspiring pity, as she tried to lock her legs.

She's...scared.

This is no act. There's no way an act could reach such a degree.

She's...changed.

(As expected...)

As I lifted myself up, Kaname turned completely red, wiping her tears from her eyes with her hands...

As she continued to sob.

Her trembling, her fear - her every action evoked a primal male instinct to conquer, an extraordinary feeling of absolute loveliness.

The current Kaname was utterly incomparable to the her up until now. She exuded a charm that would drive men mad.

If it was any other man before her, I imagine his mind would be all but lost to thoughts of her.

However...

"...Put on your clothes, Kaname."

I sat up and tidied up my clothes.

For the time being, I'm not going to worry about whether or not she's my sister-

But there's one thing I've come to realize.

And it's due to that realization that I haven't raised a hand against her.

Kaname's current condition is that of Hysteria Mode-

-the female version.

If take my own experiences with Hysteria Mode as analogous, then it all makes sense.

Even though saying this myself is pretty humiliating, but when I enter Hysteria Mode, I become "irresistible" to women in every way. Whether it be my protectiveness or the way I speak, my every action tugs at their heartstrings.

Using this as a metaphor, the female Hysteria Mode enacts exactly the opposite change in body and mind. One will become such that men cannot help but want to protect you, and in this way, ensnare their hearts and minds.

...For example, the current Kaname.

(It's likely that that's not all there is to it either.)

Kaname, still trembling, sat up and looked at me with tear-filled eyes.

Looking at her, I inferred the existence of another change that had come upon her.

The male Hysteria Mode grants unparalleled strength. The central nervous system is primed for operation, and holding nothing back, one's full potential is unleashed. But this is all for the purpose of protecting women.

Looking at Kaname, however, it seems that the female version has the reverse effect.

It's a change which instead incites a feeling in men that they must do whatever it takes to protect her.

Hysteria Mode: men fight, and women are protected, with the result being that the enemy is taken down and the women escape unscathed.

From the evolutionary viewpoint of multiplying and protecting offspring, such a scheme only makes sense.

I stood up, and exited the bedroom. In my heart, I murmured-

-Kaname.

The way things look, it seems you've failed.

It doesn't look like a male-female HSS pair produces two superhumans...just one.

The so-called "Arcanum Duo" you described to me earlier seems to be purely hypothetical.

Given how hard it is for Kaname to trigger my Hysteria Mode, it seems only logical when it ends sooner than normal.

As for Kaname, she doesn't seem willing to leave the room, as I can still hear her sobs from within.

"..."

Slightly worried, I glanced toward the bedroom, peeking through a crack in the doorway.

Leaving the door purposely ajar like that is just too sly. Not only does it give off the impression that it'd be a minor thing to enter, but any time you'd pass by, you'd be struck by the desire to look in.

Through the slit in the doorway, I could faintly see Kaname huddled on the bed, her knees clutched to her chest, as she silently cried.

This scene was again one that left you feeling unable to leave her alone.

I didn't think it likely that this was intentional on Kaname's part, but rather that Hysteria Mode was drawing out her full feminine potential.

(Forcibly drawing someone in...before suddenly becoming weak and delicate at the critical juncture...)

It's not like I had room to talk, but...female Hysteria Mode sure played dirty.

If it was someone unfamiliar with the nature of Hysteria Mode, they'd likely find themselves unavoidably feeling pity for her, and thus enter the room. After entering and seeking to comfort her, without noticing, things would probably pass the point of no return.

Normal Kaname, violent Kaname, and now Hysteria Mode Kaname.

Almost like two, no, three separate personalities.

Although this feeling was slightly different from the empathy of a fellow sufferer...

As one who also bore the curse that was Hysteria Mode, I could well understand how distraught she must be.




It wasn't until later that night, around 9 PM or so, that Kaname finally left the room.

She had changed into the uniform I'd left for her by the door. She didn't speak a word.

It looked as if the realization of the true nature of her Hysteria Mode had sunk in, and her lifeless eyes appeared devoid of spirit.

It seemed that her Hysteria Mode had since ended.

Perhaps the female Hysteria Mode lasts a lot longer than the male one?

Or maybe it's simply that it's harder to distinguish when its effects have faded.

"...You hungry?"

At my attempt to make conversation-

She slowly nodded her head, the look of utter dismay never leaving her face, her eyes never meeting mine.

"Go ahead and eat. Although, saying that is kinda weird, since you made the curry after all."

Speaking to her as gently as possible, I went back into the kitchen.

I filled a plate with the reheated curry, and the two of us walked back to the dinner table...

And ate in complete silence.

Kaname's thoughts still seemed to be in disarray. I'd probably best let her think things through for a bit. When all is said and done, this wasn't exactly the kind of situation that called for chatter, and I had no plans on reminding her of the futility of what had just happened.

Nonetheless, at this point in time, it was vital that I not leave her alone.

At the very least, when it came to the little things in life that she so looked forward to, such as eating together like this...it was the least I could do to keep her company.

I'll wait for her to speak when she's ready.

(...)

This feeling reminded me of when I was young. I'd get into a heated argument with my schoolmates over some tiny thing or another, which would break out into a fight. Later, on the way home, I'd fall into a disheartened silence like she's going through right now.

At those times, Nii-san would do what I'm doing right now.

Never staring, he'd just eat along with me silently, never prying for details. He'd simply allow me to act as we did everyday.

This simple act...filled my heart with peace.

It let me know that I still had family, I still had a place to call home.

In that home, I had a brother who would lovingly forgive everything.

Recalling those memories was enough to move me to tears, such was the strength of that feeling of comfort.

As I sat there, accompanying Kaname, who continued to eat her curry in silence-

I remembered-

That time I spent with Nii-san...it was curry too.


Translator's Notes and References[edit]

  1. Some VN terms here. They're pretty self-explanatory, though, so I won't bother explaining. If you need to Google them, be careful :P
  2. Haha. Now this is a difficult one. To understand this, a short description of how kanji/furigana are used in HnA is necessary. Kanji (characters) have specific meanings attached to them, but can be read in different ways. To resolve this, furigana (the tiny kana you see next to kanji) are used to show how it ought to be read. In HnA, the author will frequently introduce series-specific terminology by pairing kanji giving a literal description of the term with katakana showing its name. In this case, the katakana name part reads Arcanum Duo, whereas the kanji bear the description of siblings crossing extremes. What this means Kaname will explain in just a moment.
  3. Probably obvious, but the term here is referring to romantic love.
  4. An intelligence interface system described in chapter 3.
  5. Church bells ringing out after a wedding are a Western tradition, if you missed the reference.