I pulled Avery aside and we spoke quietly to each other for a bit while the twins waited anxiously, and Avery’s friends waited on the other side of the alley. I wasn’t sure how well she was listening to me. She had her head down and seemed rather shy after our previous conversation. She did not at my words, but her cheeks were red the entire time. When I was finished, she agreed again to leave my sister alone.
“If you need anything, you come to me,” I stated.
“Y-you!” Her eyes widened.
“Where is your cellphone?” I demanded, and as she fished it out, I swiped it from her hand.
“What are you doing?” She asked anxiously.
“I’m giving you my number.” I sighed, handing it back to her. “If you ever have problems, just call me directly, understand.”
Why was she looking up at me with teary eyes while biting her lip? I must have scared her. I reached out and patted her head.
“You’re a good girl. Just sort yourself out, okay? Then, I’ll let you suck my… ahem!” I backed away, blushing this time.
I had almost spoken to her as I would have in the previous world. I had to watch for that or I’d get in trouble. I looked at her afraid she would be angry, but she had a curious look on her face. After a second, she grinned.
“I’ll become a good girl, I promise.” She winked at me.
It was my turn to be surprised, but before I could respond, she stuck out her tongue and then spun around and ran back to her friends. As they left the alley, I suddenly felt eyes digging into the back of my skull. Laughing awkwardly, I turned around to see bother of the twins giving me suspicious looks.
“What was that about?” Kelsey demanded.
“Was Avery working with brother all along?” Kristy asked.
“Don’t be ridiculous.” I scolded both of them. “Come on, let’s go.”
I left the alley, and my two sisters began to follow behind me. By this point, it was already dark and the street lights were on. I considered calling home and having mom pick us up, but I didn’t want to be a bother and the walk wasn’t that long either. Plus, there were three of us. The atmosphere felt completely different this time. As we headed down the sidewalk, the girls stayed behind me, whispering to each other.
“Sister… sister, what happened to our brother? When did he become reliable?” Kelsey whispered.
“It’s a trap.” Kristy agreed.
I turned my head and raised an eyebrow at them. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
The two girls stiffened and then blushed.
“Why are you still here?” Kelsey demanded. “Avery already left, you can go on ahead!”
“It’s dark out. I’m going to walk you home.” I explained.
“I can take care of myself!” Kristy complained.
“Is that what was going on in that alley?” I responded sharply, causing her face to redden.
“I- I could have helped her on my own!” Kelsey cut in.
“Likely the pair of you would have ended up getting roped in together,” I mumbled.
“What was that?” The girls glared at me angrily.
Both girls started to cuss me out. I had helped them out and yet, instead of being appreciative, they were berating me. Kelsey accused me of once again setting Avery on me in the first place, while Kristy said I was a pervert who assaulted Avery in front of them and I should be in jail. This was more like what my life had been like before I came to this world. Even when I did good things for them, they only met me with scorn.
I had almost forgotten that this was how I used to be treated, and why I had become so bitter toward my family. It wasn’t all in how I acted, but also in the way, my sisters saw me. In the past, I would have sunk into myself. I might have turned to them and said something nasty about how dumb they were, and then ran off and left them there. However, things were different this time. I had gotten to know my sisters, and even if they were different, I knew who they were deep down. I understood that this sort of thing was a coping mechanism for them, and I didn’t take it seriously.
Instead, I became aware of something else. While we were walking and the girls were talking, my eyes had been scoping out the street. While the atmosphere was different, the behaviors I had picked up from back then, such as being more mindful of my environment, hadn’t changed. I had been watching every dark corner and alley suspiciously, intent on making sure the girls got home safely. After all, if I was jumped suddenly and knocked out, they wouldn’t have anyone to protect them.
That’s why I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. Someone was moving through the shadows. I saw the shape of a person back up into one of the alleys we were just about to pass. I stopped short, squinting into the alley. The two girls who were too busy complaining ended up running into my back.
“Gross, I touched him!”
A man leaped out from the alley. He was wearing a dark trench coat and he had a wide-brimmed hate that covered most of his face.
“I’ve got something for you!” He said in a deranged voice, reaching into his coat.
The girls who were just cussing me out let out shrieks, grabbing onto my coat. However, I immediately realized what was going to happen. Reaching back, I grabbed the wrists of both girls and pulled them forward. They let out cries again, but I grabbed them each, pulling them against me and putting my hands over their eyes. The man threw open his coat revealing his scrawny naked body. He was emaciated with pocks over his body, likely from drugs. It wasn’t a pleasant sight at all and could be quite traumatizing for a young girl.
“Wh-what are you doing?”
Both of the twins were struggling in my grip, but I tightened it and wouldn’t let either of them move. “Shhh… let big brother handle this.”
“You… why don’t you let your sisters see a real man!” He began to shake back and force, the sound of his balls slapping against his legs audibly.
“When I see a real man, I’ll consider it.” I snorted, looking down at his thing. “Doesn’t make a lot of noise, does it? Well, I prefer to slap mine against a girl’s skin, not my own, but suit yourself.”
His face turned red, and then he cursed, closing his jacket and then racing back into the alley. After a few more moments of waiting to see if he was gone, I let go of my sisters. To my surprise, they stopped fighting me and didn’t pull away as soon as I let them go.
“B-brother?” Kristy looked up at me.
“Wh-what?” I asked, suddenly feeling strange with both girls in my arms.
In the other world, this would have felt natural, but now I felt like I was taking advantage of them.
“What did you mean… about slapping against a girl’s skin?” Kristy asked. “What was that slapping noise earlier?”
Seeing both of my sisters staring at me intently, I coughed awkwardly. “Uh… that was nothing. Let’s go.”
I tried to pull away from them this time, but they both seemed to seize a sleeve, and no matter how I moved my arms they didn’t let go. At least, they didn’t keep asking about the slapping noise. In the end, we walked the rest of the way home in silence. Each girl was holding a sleeve, their heads down, and their thoughts left to themselves. It was an awkward way to walk home, and I nearly cried out in relief when we finally got home.
However, as soon as we opened the door, I heard the angry thuds of someone from the living room marching into the kitchen. Mom had a phone in her hand and an angry look on her face.
“Where have you two been!” She shouted at Kirsty and Kelsey. “It’s after dark! I told you if you’re going to go out, you need to be home before the sun sets.”
“Ah… mom, it’s…” Both girls let go of my sleeves, looking embarrassed as they tried to protect themselves.
Mom was very defensive when it came to her daughters, but she didn’t mind as much if the boys were out a bit later. Well, when the roles had been reversed, I was the only one who needed to be indoors while the girls were all allowed to stay out later, so the reverse held here. I had never noticed this difference in treatment before and had always taken it for granted that mom didn’t worry too much about me even if I came home after 9 pm, not that I usually did. Most of the time, I stayed in my room, watched porn, and masturbated. There was a reason my sisters thought I was gross.
I stepped forward. “I’m sorry mom. It was my fault. I held them up because I wanted to walk them home. My interview went late.”
All three women turned to me in surprise. They weren’t the only ones. With mom yelling, the other girls in the house had all come out to watch the scene. Mackenzie, Dawn, and Bethany were all peaking their heads out from their respective corners. They had been too late to see the twins holding onto my sleeves, and hadn’t realized we had come home together. Mother blinked as if she didn’t notice me standing right behind them.
“A-an interview?” Mom asked.
“Yeah, I got a job as a waiter. Just weekends, I won’t allow it to affect my schooling, and it’s close enough that I can walk if I need to.”
“Noah got a job?” Kirsty whispered to Kelsey?”
“I don’t know.” Kelsey shrugged, even though I had told her as much when we had met, but she wasn’t paying attention.
The steam of anger in mom seemed to have been released by my interruption, but she still wanted to be angry. “W-well, you should know better as to not let them out late. They could get in trouble.”
“We did run into trouble!” Kristy confessed.
“Brother took care of it,” Kelsey added, and then blushed.
Mom’s eyes narrowed, looking between the two girls. They didn’t know how to keep their mouth shut. Even when they were trying to help, they found a way to get me in trouble.
“I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.” I declared.
“I already cooked…” Mom crossed her arms. “I’m too tired to cook something else.”
“I’ll prepare something.” I declared, looking over at the sink. “And I’ll get the dishes done. Don’t worry about it, mom. Just lie down. When I’m done, I’ll give you a massage.”
I said it before I realized it. All of the girls perked up at the word. I hadn’t ever massaged any of them in this world, so the offer seemed to come out of the left field.
“M-massage?” It was Mackenzie who spoke in shock.
“Ah! Th-that… a massage?” Mom seemed a bit flustered. “That’s not necessary…”
“It’s okay.” I decided to stick with what I said. “Just go relax and I’ll be there shortly.”
Mom had already cooked, and most of the food she had left out just needed to be reheated. I did the dishes while I was reheating her food. I might have added a few spices to improve upon her cooking, and I served the twins. They ate quietly while shooting me strange looks like they didn’t recognize me anymore. It made me feel awkward. The other girls also stayed out, finding some reason or another to loiter around as I did the dishes. The twins ended up telling them about the strange man, although the story had changed in their retelling. In their version, he had a knife, and I slapped it out of his hands, and then slapped him silly before threatening more if he didn’t leave.
Considering their eyes were covered, I supposed that was a way of interpreting things. It didn’t make sense considering I was holding them and didn’t have a hand free, but I wasn’t going to argue. They didn’t mention anything about Avery or the alley though, so I was fine with it. At least, they kept their voice low enough that mom didn’t hear, and made the other girls promise to keep their mouths shut. I hoped they would, but if mom asked, I’d just tell her the truth.
When I was done with the dishes, I left the kitchen and headed to the family room. The girls watched me silently as I stood next to mom.
“You can lie down on the couch.”
“O-okay…” Mom lay down on her stomach.
The girls were all watching from the kitchen as mom lay there. Why was this all feeling a bit like that world? I was just trying to be nice to mom.