"So, what you two are trying to say is you're going to get married?"
Shimizu Akemi, Akane's mom. She's like an adult version of Akane but their personality is in stark contrast. She might be a housewife now but she was a former delinquent who ruled over their school. She married Akane's dad who was a Straight-A student who managed to tame her wildness.
We're now at their dining room after dinner having this discussion about Akane living with me starting today.
"Huh? No! How did you come up to that conclusion Mom?"
"What? Living together, isn't that the same as getting married? Akane you're already at the marriageable age but Ruki isn't so it's impossible for you two to register yet. Let's see. What about 2 years from now? Let's mark the date of your wedding."
This Auntie. She already went ahead and assumed we're getting married. I don't know what to say. I'm not against the idea but we're still young.
Plus it's unfair for Akane. She's just going to teach me how to love, to be tied up in marriage to me is just…
"Err. I'm not against getting married to Ruki, in fact, I'm happy to be but we're just going to live together. You don't need to jump ahead and set the date to our wedding."
Huh? You're not against? Wait Akane. It's true that I want you to stay by my side but you don't have to decide your future like that. We're still in our 1st year and there's a lot of issues around me.
"Why stall? You're just going to end up there anyway. So we better talk it out with his parents too. Those two are always away. They will surely be thrilled to hear you are marrying into their family to be with their son."
"Shush now Akane. You two are always close since you're both a kid. Even before you were born we already agreed that if you two ended up together we'll give you our full support. We didn't tell you yet because you're still young and you both might find someone else but seeing you two here now, asking permission to live together. It's a happy occasion."
Eh? Why did they decide that by themselves? We have our own will.
"Already agreed… So we were really set to be with each other. I'm happy."
Akane went into her own world but seeing her this happy. I guess it's fine.
"What is it Ruki?"
"Akane is still young and has a future that's not set in stone yet. It's bad for her to have her future decided like this."
"No no no. I want this Ruki. I want to be your bride!"
Akane stood up shouting that. I'm flattered you say that. I want you to stay by my side too. Maybe you being my bride is really needed. But I don't want to be insincere. Not knowing love but marrying her. Haa.
"Shut up for now Akane. Why do you say it's bad? Give me a proper reason."
"Even if you and my parents decided for us to be together. It's still our decision that should be recognized. We owe you with our life but we also want to live it without regrets from having decisions f****d on us."
Even if they are our parents, they shouldn't just decide it by themselves. It's too early to think about marriage too.
"What will you say about this Akane?"
"Ruki's right Mom. Though I have already decided to become his bride, I still don't want to set our marriage yet this early.
So she really thinks now that we're getting married in the future.
"I hear you two. So why will you live together then?"
"Uhm t-that is…"
"I want Akane to stay by my side."
It's fine to be honest in this situation.
"I see, you're resolute at that decision. Do you love my daughter?"
"I don't know if it's love but I certainly don't want to hand her to anyone else."
She's mine. Marriage, that's too far in the future but if it's the only way to keep her by my side. I won't hesitate.
"I can't believe you can say that in a straight face without faltering. And that doesn't seem to be a lie. Not love huh?"
"What about you Akane?"
"I love him, Mom. You know that since I was a kid. It never changes or it may have changed but for the better. I don't see myself to be with anyone but him."
Akane… Maybe this is a way of her showing love too. Though I still don't understand what really drives that emotion. Will there be a reason?
"So, did you two have s*x already? You slept with him last night, right?"
"N-not yet. He said you might get angry if we do."
"Is that true Ruki?"
"Yes. We did kiss though."
"Hmm. You're truly honest. But Ruki, I know about the girls you're bringing to your house."
Ah. Yeah, of course, she will know about it. I always bring one and they're just next door.
"Shut up and sit down Akane. I can't just give you to him if I'm not sure about his morals."
I guess I truly have to be honest here. For Akane. This special silly girl.
"They're girls I've stolen."
"I have this kind of desire to steal girls who like someone--"
"Hey, Ruki, stop! Why are you telling Mom about that?"
"I have to be honest or they won't agree. I want you to stay by my side, doesn't mean I will lie to your parents. They have to understand what I really am or it will not feel right."
"But, they will not agree if they heard all about your secret desire."
"Then I will steal you from them."
"That's some bold statement. Steal Akane from us?
"I told you to shut up Akane."
"Yes. I want Akane, Auntie. I want her to stay by my side. It might not be love but that's my honest feelings right now."
"It's 'want' and not 'love'. Alright, continue talking about that desire of yours."
"Yes. It manifested when we were in 5th grade. I had this desire to steal a girl who likes somebody. Then make her mine. The girls you saw were all like that."
"Make them yours. That's some nasty desire you have there. So, what about Akane? Is she one of your 'stolen girls'?"
"No, she's different. Akane is special."
Hearing that, Akane's mom reached to the chairs on both sides of her. Then after that, 2 phones were brought to the table. There is an ongoing call on both phones. She then tapped the loudspeaker button on both sides.
"Hmm. So, Honey and you i***t couple. What do you think?"
"He's not lying. That boy is always honest. He never lies."
Uncle?! I do lie though? But I guess, I'm almost always frank but that doesn't mean I don't lie.
"What about you dear? We knew about that desire of his but it seems like he wanted Akane seriously."
Dad?! So it's them on the other phone.
"My Ruki never lies. He surely thinks of Akane as someone special. Otherwise, he wouldn't be here and just work on his new target."
Mom?! Ah. I should stop being surprised anymore. I guess I was already seen through by them way before. I wonder when.
"Eh? Mom? What's this?"
Akane was confused when she heard those voices.
Uncle and my parents are just on call. Listening in on our conversation since the start. They already knew we would come here. Or Auntie called them when Akane arrived with me.
"It is as you can see. We know. All about Ruki's desire and your devotion to him. I was even left here to see if he will also include me into one of his targets to steal. Steal me from your dad, but until now, he doesn't consider me as one.
"Ah. I'm sorry Auntie but I already considered you before. I stopped that thought."
"E-eh? Even Mom?"
"What? You boy, even my Akemi!"
Ah. Don't be like that Uncle. I stopped.
"Son, I never thought you'd have the guts to think that. If you know Akemi back in high sch--"
Dad, I don't want you to tell me that. Mom probably stopped him from talking more.
"As expected of my son."
Mom. Haa. I don't want to say anything anymore.
"This i***t couple. Haa. So that's it. You stopped means you don't consider me anymore?"
That was just a momentary thought because of that stew last Wednesday.
"Yes. Though thinking about it will surely kick my desire running into full throttle but there are more targets out there, I shouldn't include you in my issues."
"Ah. Thank God. You two, put a leash on your son. I almost have a heart attack thinking my Akemi will be stolen as well."
Uncle, I guess I'm tired of retorting now.
"Oi Honey! Even if he tried he won't succeed. Is that how low your trust in me?!"
Auntie. Just how much do you love Uncle?
"Akemi, he just knew how fearsome Ruki is. He won't stop until he gets his target."
Dad, please. But I won't deny that. I persist for a month to steal Haruko.
"Right, right. My Ruki is that amazing! How about me son? Have you ever considered your own Mom?"
"Ugh. No, mom. Why would I? I'm not that degenerate. I still think straight."
"Awhh. Too bad."
This is why I'm hopeless. My parents are like this. Haa. No, if they knew all along then that's probably why they also limit the times they went home.
"Dear. Am I not enough?"
Dad, enough. I already know how in love you are to Mom. I wish I knew how to love though. Why did you not let me inherit that?
"You are, darling. But Ruki is like a mini and cooler version of you. Too bad he doesn't consider his own mother."
Mom, you're hurting Dad.
"Our parents know all about it. What will happen now Ruki?"
Akane got overwhelmed when my parents and her dad joined the conversation.
"I don't know. They'll decide now."
"You two. We're just testing you. And you both passed."
Akane's Mom said. She already appeased her Dad.
"Really? Then I'll start living at his house?"
Akane excitedly stood up. She then hugs my arm happily.
"Yes. Your Dad will be home soon so I will not be alone even if you live at his house. Besides, it's just next door."
"Thank you, Auntie, Uncle. For entrusting Akane to me."
"Boy, take care of our daughter. We know about that desire of yours but that doesn't mean you can just neglect our daughter. You said she's special so you better show it to her. Make her a woman tonight."
"Yes. She's special but I still don't know about that. If it will get hard even without the secret desire kicking in then I will."
"W-what are you two talking about Dad? Ruki?"
Akane blushed. She understood, she just wanted to ask.
"Akane. You child, we watched you grow up and you always chase after that boy. Too bad, that strange desire of his came out and he turned like that. But you never wavered. Teach him well, so after 2 years, it wouldn't be a one-sided love wedding between you two. He has already taken a step towards that, saying you're special. There must be a reason so pry it out of his mouth."
"You heard your Dad. Go get your sleepwear, tomorrow I'll send your things next door. You two should arrange it yourselves."
"Mom, Dad. Thank you."
Akane's tears slipped out as she hugged her Mom but it's not of sadness. It's tears of joy. She's happy that they accepted us even if I'm like this.
She then heeds her mother to get her sleepwear from her room.
I wonder. Will it really be fine like this? I can't put a stop to my secret desire. Will it hurt Akane if I bring Satsuki or other targets I successfully stole home? I don't know. We'll try and figure it out.
"Son, learn well. We don't know what happened that let that desire of yours manifest itself but Akane, that girl, she really loves you. So much that we old ones are envious. We didn't feel that strong love back in our time. Do you know? Your mom rejected me 7 times before she accepted me when I danced for her using a kids' song and folk dance."
Dad. I didn't know you have that dark memory. I wish I could really be normal but yeah, it's already done. Since it manifested it also became my only drive. If I hadn't had that realization earlier, I might've to continue neglecting the truth about how special she is for me. Even if that's not love as her father said, it's a step towards it. I'll properly learn to love.
"Ruki, treasure Akane. She's your future wife. That's enough reason to do that. The other girls you've stolen, there's probably a lot of them falling for you too. If you can take care of them then you should. Don't be irresponsible just because of your secret desire, you did that to them so take responsibility. Make your own harem!"
Ugh. Mom. The speech is already perfect but that last sentence.
"Dear, what are you teaching our son?!"
"Shut up darling. I'm still not done. Ruki, you shouldn't let Akane in your room where you always bring your girls, take our bedroom and make it the bedroom exclusively for the two of you. You said she's special so learn to differentiate. Just put our things away in another room. We won't be back soon so take care of our future daughters-in-law."
Huh? Why is it plural Mom?! This mother of mine is always like this. But I love both of my parents. Ah. I guess I still feel some kind of love. I'll work hard to learn all about it. To properly respond to it when the time comes. There will be more that will become fuel for this secret desire, I can't slack off.
"Ruki, I'm here. Let's go?"
Akane came back with her sleepwear on her hand. I'll heed my mom's advice. Akane is special so I should differentiate her between the girls I've stolen.
"Mom, Dad. Thank you. Auntie and Uncle. I'll be taking care of your daughter."
"Boy, remember. Don't neglect our daughter."
"Don't worry, honey. I'll watch over them."
"Son, don't let Akane cry."
"Ruki, remember. Be responsible."
Taking in those reminders, we bid farewell to our parents. The time of our living together starts tonight. Well, it already started last night. But anyway. As to what this change in situation will bring us, only time knows.
I took Akane's free hand and led her to our house.
"Ruki. I love you. I'm really happy this happened."
Akane whispered to my ears.
END OF VOLUME 1