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“I will be needing a ride to the market district tomorrow after school lets out.” I declared.

I was sitting at the dining room table eating a meal provided by Aiko’s… I mean my mother. I supposed it would be easier to just start treating this family as my own for the moment. Although I had issues with Aiko, my history meant that I understood all too well that it wasn’t appropriate to punish a person for the mistakes of his family. After all, wasn’t it that exact kind of unfairness that led to my death?

Besides, as I got along in this world longer, I was gaining a bitter sense that having a family unit was nearly a requirement for someone my age. While in my world, this age would have had me labeled as an adult capable of fighting and dying against demons in the human armies, it seemed like we were still children that had various restrictions and required parents for many of our needs. Besides the basic needs of food and shelter, there might be other uses for having a family. One such use was to procure transportation.

I quickly realized that Lana was an inadequate form of transportation for daily use. The guest seat on the bicycle was hard and uncomfortable, and she kept making panting noises as she peddled. I couldn’t maintain the proper dress code requirements expected of an employee should I take a bike. Before looking for a job working in a store, I had used the internet to research the typical expectations and requirements. Thus, before even receiving a job, I had a reasonable idea of what would be expected of me by watching several introductory employee videos. Being a store clerk was a serious business, and I was determined to do the store, Bob’s XXX Hot Videos, the proper respect as its newest employee.

What was that? Surprised that I managed to conquer the thing known as the internet? Knowledge is power, so I naturally quickly familiarized myself with such media. I had already known of such a thing from a manga I had summoned from the other world, which appeared to be a training series on the worldwide web. Thus, I was able to use my smartphone to look up such information. Although the interface differed from the manga, I was no fool. With a bit of practice, I was able to unleash the power of this device.

I was reading something right now as I ate at the table. Kio was also using such a device, so I was seemingly blending in perfectly with the masses. That was when I chose to slip out my question in as casual a way as I was able to.

“I would love to, honey, but I am busy at that time. Kio, would be willing to take him?”

Kio looked up from her phone and let out an exaggerated noise of protest. “What? Why me?”

“Because, you have your driver’s license, and I was invited to attend a baby shower.”

“I can’t help that Aiko is such a loser that he hasn’t obtained a driver’s license of his own!” Kio snapped. “He probably just wants to mess around downtown with friends anyway. He can just walk.”

“It’s not that. I was able to obtain a job.” I explained my position.

I hadn’t anticipated that mother would have other plans. If I had known the responsibility would end up falling on Kio, I likely wouldn’t have bothered to ask. Frankly speaking, she was brutish and always seemed angry. She reminded me of the female demons I had cared for back then. I didn’t want to be reminded of that period in my life. Either way, I had planned to remain distant from this Kio and not get involved. Perhaps, if I treated her as a demon from now on, it would work. I find this act did not work with mother or Hina, but it would likely work with Kio.

“I won’t do it.” Kio made such a declaration.

That suited me fine. I was just about to say as much, but her tone had triggered the parental figure. Mother slammed her hand on the table and stood up from her seat, her figure looking imposing over the others.

“Kio! You will do what you are asked!” She responded in a no-nonsense voice.

“This isn’t fair! I hate this, and I hate you!” Kio shouted, turning around and leaving her food unfinished.

She slammed the door hard enough that the entire house shook slightly. Mom sat back down and sighed. Her eyes ended up landing on Hina, who had been quietly eating her food. The silence must have bothered Mother after her previous outburst, as she felt the need to speak more.

“You’re wearing your hair back. It’s nice seeing your face.” She gave such words toward Hina.

“Oh… um… it’s just… my face… clearing up…” Her eyes flickered to me, and then back down.

She must have been using the remedy I had concocted for the acne. Hers had been a lot worse than mine, so there were still signs of it, but it had gone away substantially. I had done fine work if I had to say so myself. After mom’s words, the silence had returned. What did one say to fill such a silence? Was it not known that women enjoyed compliments?

“You look pretty with your hair up.” I gave Hina such a compliment, completing the setup that I believed mother was getting at. “You should leave it up.”

“That’s exactly what I meant!” Mother’s eyes brightened significantly and she even smiled.

Mother also looked much prettier when she smiles. Usually, she had an exhausted look with sunken eyes, but when she smiled, she was a beautiful woman. She had the potential to be beautiful, but not without some work. The same could be said about either sister. Then again, with my knowledge of the body, I could turn any girl into a beauty that could break nations if I was so inclined. I didn’t have any such aspirations, but I was pleased that I had managed to improve my mother’s temperament.

That’s what I was thinking, but then I felt a chill. I turned to see Hina glaring at me, her eyes filled with anger and hate.

“Who asked you?”

“Hina!” Mom cried out in surprise.

“Stop making fun of me!”

Hina grabbed a glass of water and then splashed it in my face. She then spun around and ran to her door, also leaving her food half-eaten. Mom’s mouth was half-open, and she gave me an apologetic look. I calmly picked up my towel and wiped my face. I hadn’t lied when I was speaking to the boss who recently gave me a job. I had experienced all manner of disgusting things over the years, and a glass of water tossed in my face could be considered gentle.

The pair of us finished our meal in silence. In the end, mom put down her fork and turned to me.

“Kio will drive you to work, but you’ll likely need a ride home too at the end of your shift. By then, it’s dark, and I won’t have you walking home when it’s dangerous. I will pick you up, okay?”

“Yes, Mother.” I agreed to her terms.

“Just give me a call.”

“I will need your number.” I knew enough about phones to know that a number needed to be dialed.

“Shouldn’t my number already be on your phone?” Mother asked, pulling her smartphone from her pocket and clicking a few times.

A moment later, my smartphone began to ring out a tune. Frowning, I looked down at the screen.

“See, it says mom, so you do have my number. Just call when you’re ready to go home.”

“So, these smartphones can be used to call people as well. Fascinating.”

I discovered a new purpose for this device. It wasn’t merely an internet machine, but it could initiate phone calls. The manga I read always depicted such telephones as larger contraptions, but I had noticed our home didn’t have such a thing. I now understood why. I realized that Mother was giving me an extremely strange look. I realized I must have said something exceptionally odd.

“I will call you when the time comes. Good night.”

I made my escape quickly. Retreat was a perfectly acceptable strategy. I ended up back in my room, lying on my bed. I still would not be returning to school for a week, so I had plenty of time to familiarize myself with this world. I was using the internet function of the phone to do exactly that until someone opened my door and stepped into my room. I glanced up to see Hina.

“I-I’m sorry about earlier.” She apologized.

“I don’t need an apology. What is done, is done.”

She looked away for a moment, before nodding to herself and stepping forward. “That ointment you made. Do… do you have any more of it?”

So, that was what she was after. She was apologizing to me because she wanted something. At least, that was human nature I understood. People were only as valuable as what you could get out of them. That’s why I didn’t like depending on my family and was eager to become self-sufficient. I would use them as long as they were useful to me, but in turn, I would become useful as well. However, this also left me slightly confused.

“I gave you enough solution to be able to take care of your face for a month. How could you be out already?” I asked.

Her body stiffened, her face turning red. “I… I have… other places.”

She spoke in such a low voice, I barely could make anything out so I leaned closer. “Hmm?’

“I said I have acne in other places! Jerk!” Her hand went to my face, but I was someone who learned from the first time she slapped me and was always on my guard.

I caught her wrist as she went to slap me, and to make sure she didn’t attack with her other hand, I pulled her close to me. Her other hand was hidden behind her back, so to keep her from using it, I wrapped my arm around her waist and pressed her body against mine. As a consequence, our faces ended up only a few inches from each other. She had grown so flustered, she could only stare at me with wide eyes. I decided not to give her time to collect herself.

“It’s foolish to hit someone from who you’re asking a favor,” I stated darkly.

Hina started squirming against me. She was trying to break free, but at the same time her face turned red and it almost seemed like she was growing weak under this hold.

“L-let me go…” She spoke very quietly.

“Not before I’ve said my piece. I may be your brother, but I am not your punching bag. If you try to slap me again or throw water on me, then I won’t hesitate to punish you.”

“P-p-punish?”

I believed in an eye for an eye. Since she slapped me, I would slap her too. I felt a demonstration was in order to make my point. Holding one arm with the other wrapped around her, I didn’t have much room. So, I used the limited mobility I did have to lift the palm from the hand behind her, and then slap down. Incidentally, my palm landed on her buttocks with a light slap. I didn’t feel satisfied with such a weak strike, but the effect on Hina was greater than I anticipated. She suddenly turned rigid, and her eyes opened so wide I thought her eyes might pop out.

I grinned. “Good, you understand. In that case, I will say I do not have any left. I will make some more for you. However, you must pay me if you want any. That is my condition. Understand?”

I waited, staring at her with my sternest look, the kind I used when dealing with the female demons. She finally nodded her head in a jerky fashion. Finally, I let go of her rump and pulled away. She looked like her string was cut, nearly collapsing and only grabbing the door to keep from falling. She shot me a look, opened her mouth, closed it again, and then turned and fled the room.

I didn’t have the experience to know how to deal with family in my previous world, so I was struggling with how I should handle these sisters of mine. It seemed like in the future, I would need to use a stronger hand to keep them in line. If my sisters caused any more trouble, I would make them submit!

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