Chapter 22: Christmas Eve
And so, my time-killing in the bathroom began.
Fried chicken is undoubtedly delicious, but it tends to leave one’s hands greasy.
Consequently, I contemplated making a chicken dish that wouldn’t require me to get my hands dirty.
While pork belly is certainly tempting, given that it’s Christmas, beef stew would also be a great option.
As I repeatedly filled and drained the bathtub, I found myself oscillating between these culinary thoughts.
Occasionally, the steamy water would make me feel lightheaded, but the monotony of my actions was even more tedious.
Nonetheless, such trivial concerns were of little importance.
At this very moment, my mind was consumed with the desire to prepare something incredibly delicious for my daughters.
I never thought I would become so devoted to them.
Initially, taking them in was merely an impulsive decision.
Come to think of it, I completely forgot that this world was a yuri game… or rather, a world that was similar to that yuri game.
Back in the day, when I first played “Resonating Hearts”, it was such a moving experience for me…
At that time, nothing really mattered to me.
I was in a state of apathy, feeling completely numb and disinterested.
It was my concerned friend who suggested the game to me on a whim.
She mentioned that she was involved in the production of the game, so she asked me to give it a try.
Although I didn’t really care, I decided to give it a shot just to pass the time and for entertainment purposes.
To my surprise, I was really impressed with the voice acting, character designs, and storyline.
However, what really resonated with me the most was the fact that there was happiness waiting for me if I continued to progress in the game.
No matter what happened in the past, if you keep moving forward, you’ll eventually be rewarded.
I couldn’t help but empathize with the happy sisters in the game… When I shared my thoughts online, some people told me that I was crazy for getting so addicted to a game.
But really, it was just my personal opinion.
That’s what I thought when I was a 16-year-old high school freshman in my past life.
Wait, how old am I now, in terms of mental age?
In my past life, I died at the age of 17, and now I’m 21… Does that make me much older than the average adult? Should I do the math, 17 plus 21?
But anyway, it wasn’t until recently that I started remembering things from my past, even though I had lived a normal life up until now…
Well, it doesn’t really matter now after I’ve became a papa…
As I was lost in my thoughts of the past, I realized that a considerable amount of time might have passed without me noticing.
Chiharu’s voice could be heard from outside the bathroom.
I checked the time on my smartphone and an hour had already passed, which was shorter than I thought.
“Oh, you were able to choose?”
“Yes, we were able to choose.”
“It was faster than I thought.
Did you choose properly?”
“Yes, we did.
We had already read the fashion magazines in the school library, so we knew which ones we wanted.”
“Ah, I see.”
Maybe they really wanted the clothes after all.
Damn it, if only I hadn’t messed up the first method, I could have passed as a good dad.
Through the glass of the bathroom, I could see Chiharu’s silhouette.
Upon closer inspection, I could see not only Chiharu but also the silhouettes of Chiaki, Chinatsu, and Chifuyu.
I wonder what expressions they are making right now.
“Well, it’s Christmas after all…”
“Kaito! Thank you so much!”
“Well, it’s Christmas after all…”
Thank you very much.”
“W-well, it’s Christmas after all…”
Well, it’s Christmas after all.”
Being thanked so much made me a bit embarrassed.
I was not used to this kind of gratitude rush yet…
“I’m really looking forward to Christmas…”
“Please do look forward to it.”
“Yes, I will.”
After thanking me, they left.
I could hear their excited voices as they walked away.
I’m simply happy.
In other words, giving Christmas presents was the right answer.
However…it cannot be denied that I made a mistake in the way I forced them to choose.
While there is a saying that the process is more important than the result, I believe that both are important.
Although the outcome was good this time, the process was not.
I’ll have to be more careful next time and set a good example as a responsible adult.
“Nihihi, we finally can be fashionable!”
We were already on our futons, and the room was dark.
It was time to sleep.
But the excitement of Christmas presents still lingered, and sleep wasn’t coming easily.
“It’s so noisy, can you be quiet?”
Chiaki’s words got a reaction from Chinatsu, who was making a roundabout appeal about her desire to merely sleep.
But I’m sure she couldn’t sleep either.
I could hear rustling sounds coming from within her futon.
“Chiufyu also understands how Aki-nee feels… it’s impossible to sleep, right?” Chifuyu said.
“I can’t sleep! I can’t go to bed! After all, it’s a new brand! That’s what’s coming down on our house!” exclaimed Chiaki.
“You’re being overly dramatic about a single piece of clothing….”
Despite her attempt to conceal it, I could sense Chinatsu’s excitement brewing deep within her, eager to receive her presents.
And you know what? Even Onee-chan couldn’t contain her excitement.
I’ve been trying my best to avoid being too greedy or revealing my personal feelings, but this time, I can’t help but admit that I was more excited than ever before.
“I can’t sleep….”
“I mean, how can you with all this excitement?”
“… Well, I’m finding it harder than usual.”
It took me quite some time to fall asleep with all that on my mind.
Perhaps even Chinatsu, Chiaki, and Chifuyu were dreaming of Christmas coming early.
And that’s because, just like them, I too was eagerly anticipating that day.
The day after the sleepless night was finally over.
I woke up slightly later than usual.
Onii-san was already gone to work, so he wasn’t around.
I thought it wouldn’t be good to have too irregular of a routine, so I woke up my sisters.
“Hey, it’s time to get up,”
I busied myself with getting my sisters out of bed, removing the blankets, and quickly dressing them as it was cold.
We then proceeded to brush our teeth, wash our faces, and sat down to eat the breakfast that Onii-san had kindly left for us.
Once we were done, we brushed our teeth again.
My sisters and I had this strange routine where we brushed our teeth twice–once in the morning when we woke up, and then again after we ate breakfast.
After finishing our morning routine, we started working on our winter break homework.
Despite Chiaki and Chinatsu groaning and booing about having to solve problems without looking at the answers, they eventually agreed to do it when I said I would help.
“It’s so troublesome…”
“I want to see the answers…”
“Leave it to your Onee-chan!”
We laid out the problem sets on the table in our usual room, with a cushion placed underneath.
Chifuyu solved the problems at a rapid pace, almost as if her pen was unable to keep up with her brain.
“Look, Natsu-nee and Aki-nee, you two should do your homework as well.”
“Stop booing and just do it.”
“Sigh… Is this what a younger sister should say to her older sisters…?”
Chifuyu continued to solve the problems with ease.
Perhaps inspired by her hardworking attitude, the other two finally opened their own problem sets.
Both of them picked up their pens and worked through the problems smoothly…
“Both of you, give me the answers you have under the desk.
I’ll confiscate them if you don’t.”
“Come on, hand them over.”
“”We’re not hiding anything…””
“Hand them over.”
“You know, Chifuyu said this before, but it’s pointless to look at the answers.
This problem set is not cheap either… 1,200 yen? It’s expensive…”
I couldn’t help but involuntarily react to the price.
Oh no, I can’t let my dignity as an Onee-chan be damaged by being greedy for money.
I have to set a good example as a responsible older sister.
“Ahem… yes, so? Let’s do our best, okay? I’ll guide you through it step by step.”
Yeah, that’s my sisters for you.
They may grumble, but they always try their best in the end.
If there’s something they don’t understand, I’m always ready to lend a helping hand.
Just like that, our perfect routine was completed.
After completing our perfect routine in about two hours, we took a break.
Chifuyu and Chinatsu were reading a cookbook they had borrowed from the school library.
Meanwhile, Chiaki was drawing something on a postcard-sized sheet of paper with colored pencils.
“What are you drawing, Chiaki?”
“Um, a bunch of things.”
“And where did you get that drawing paper?”
“I asked Kaito and he gave it to me.”
She had drawn a bright and colorful Christmas tree, Santa Claus, presents, and the words “Merry Christmas” in a stylish font.
“Why are you drawing those things?”
“Huh? I want to give Kaito a Christmas card!”
“Ah…I see… Yeah, that’s the reason…Okay, okay..”
..That’s not fair, Onii-san.
Of course, I appreciate your kindness, but… Uuu, so lucky…But, I can’t be jealous because you’ve taken care of us so much.
“Of course, I’ll make some for Chiharu, Chinatsu, and Chifuyu too!”
My little sister is incredibly adorable.
She expresses her gratitude so well that it has inspired me to follow her lead.
It’s not just about saying thank you.
I should also learn to express my gratitude not only through words but also by doing something like Chiaki.
Yes, it’s important to put your feelings into something tangible….
“Can I draw for Onii-san too?”
“Sure! Let’s draw together! I have a lot of postcard-sized paper!”
Chiaki retrieved a stack of postcard-sized papers from beneath the desk, and handed me a single sheet from the pile that had accumulated on the desk.
I was not as good at drawing as Chiaki, but as her Onee chan I had to make sure not to be outdone.
Onee chan must always be number one…
“What are you guys drawing?”
“I’m making Christmas cards for Onii-san, Chinatsu, Chiaki, and Chifuyu.”
“In that case, Chifuyu will draw one too.
Even though my drawing skills are not good at all…”
Chinatsu and Chifuyu, who were reading a book, grew interested and Chifuyu even asked Chiaki for a piece of drawing paper.
Meanwhile, Chinatsu seemed to be slightly unsure of what to do.
“…Well, since I’m getting a present as well…, give me a drawing paper too..” Chinatsu said
Reluctantly, Chinatsu also asked for a piece of drawing paper.
She began to draw on it with colored pencils, resting her cheek on her hand and muttering complaints under her breath.
“I don’t think he’ll appreciate this…”
“Chinatsu, it’s the thought that counts! Express your feelings in your own way, however that may be!” Chiaki said
“You…where did that passion come from all of a sudden?”
Thanks to Chiaki’s intense fervor, Chinatsu continued to frown; but she eventually put down her hand from her cheek and began to earnestly draw.
Several hours passed in silence as we all focused on our own drawings.
And so, December 24th arrived, a day that was a holiday, but still quite busy.
To prepare the dishes for Christmas, I woke up early in the morning and set to work in the kitchen.
I baked the cake batter, made beef stew in a pressure cooker, marinated pork in sauce for Chiaki, who said she wanted to eat fried chicken, and used the pressure cooker for the beef stew, so I made pork belly in the rice cooker…
After cleaning up the cluttered kitchen, I started whipping the cream…
“Chiaki, do you want to taste it?”
I scooped some cream with a spoon and handed it over to Chiaki, who was watching and drooling.
She took a bite and her face blossomed into a smile filled with happiness.
Yeah, she was so cute.
Chiaki continued to watch me cook intently.
I tried to act like a stylish chef as I continued to prepare the dishes.
After all, I wanted to look cool in front of my daughter.
“What are you doing, Kaito?”
“I’m dressing up the chicken with potato starch,”
“Ohh Dressing up?”
I continued to answer her in a cool manner as I put the chicken into the hot oil.
The sound of the chicken sizzling in the oil echoed throughout the kitchen.
If the chicken was left raw, it could potentially cause food poisoning due to Campylobacter bacteria.
I absolutely had to avoid that when feeding the girls.
However, if I cooked it too much in the oil, the chicken would become tough to eat.
Finding the right balance was extremely difficult.
After frying the chicken for a while, I decided to take out the largest piece first and cut it open with a knife to check the inside.
It was a beautiful white color with no traces of pink.
If the biggest piece is cooked properly, then the others should be fine too.
“….Do you want to taste it?”
I picked up a piece of chicken with a toothpick and handed it to Chiaki.
Maybe I should have Chiaki’s sisters, Chiharu, Chinatsu, and Chifuyu, taste it as well.
They were currently upstairs, so I’ll probably ask Chiaki to take it to them….and I’ll put them on a plate with three pieces of chicken on it, each with its own toothpick.
“Could you take this to Chihana and the others? I want them to taste it too,”
Chiaki took the small plate and left the room.
However, I couldn’t hear her footsteps as she climbed the stairs to the second floor.
A few seconds later, she returned with an empty plate.
“I let Chiharu and the others taste it!” she said happily.
I thanked her, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she had eaten all the chicken by herself in the hallway.
Well, I would just have to make sure the other three sisters get to try it later.
With Chiaki as my taste tester, I continued cooking, and before the sun had set, all the dishes were finished.
“Chiharu, dinner’s ready! Today’s dishes are amazing, they all taste delicious!”
“Really? Thank you, Chiaki.”
We were writing Christmas cards and doing our homework.
Chiaki had been downstairs the whole time and hadn’t come up to the second floor once.
She must have been watching Onii-san cook the whole time.
“We made Christmas cards too.”
“Let’s give one to Kaito!”
“Chifuyu wasn’t very good at drawing… “
“Don’t worry about it! It’s the thought that counts!”
Chifuyu and Chiaki weren’t very good at drawing.
They weren’t completely lacking in artistic talent, but compared to Chiaki, their skills fell short.
We went downstairs with our completed Christmas cards, which were the size of postcards.
As we entered the living room, a delicious aroma tickled our nostrils.
Naturally, all of us sisters swallowed our saliva at once.
Onii-san was in the kitchen, plating the food.
“The Christmas special is ready.
I’ll help bring the dishes upstairs since there’s a lot of food today,” Onii-san said.
Oh, that’s right.
The four of us are always eating together, that’s why he… I felt a bit conflicted about Onii san’s consideration.
“Why don’t we invite Kaito to join us for dinner today?” Chiaki suggested.
“Huh? Oh, no, it’s better if the four of you eat together,”
Onii-san declined the offer.
He knew that Chinatsu wasn’t quite used to eating with more people yet.
He could sense the slight discomfort, so he decided to back off.
“Uuu, but… Chinatsu, it’s okay for all of us to eat together today, right?” Chiaki asked
“You don’t have to worry about it,” Onii san reassured her.
“I’m not… I was actually thinking the same thing,” Chinatsu said so while hiding behind me.
“I see…so, is it okay for us to do that?”
“Yes! I want to do that too!” Chiaki exclaimed.
Responding to Chiaki’s words, Chifuyu and I nodded in agreement.
With a slightly happy expression, Onii-san began to arrange the food on the dining table.
We approached him and handed over the Christmas cards we had been hiding.
“Are you… giving these to me?”
“Yes, we made them for Kaito!”
“Thank you very much, Onii-san…this is all we can do.”
“Kaito-san, Please take this…”
“Please….Take this… “
Onii-san received the four cards and held them with a delighted expression.
“I need to laminate these later.
They are really…thank you.
I’ll treasure them.”
After carefully storing the cards in clear files, Onii-san proceeded to carry the plates to the dining table.
All of us lent a hand and sat down to enjoy our first Christmas Eve dinner as a family.
The atmosphere was a little uncomfortable initially, but it didn’t bother us much.
We gathered around the television and watched some variety shows together, while relishing pre-cut slices of cake.
We were fuller than usual, but content.
Afterwards, we took a bath and returned to our second-floor room, where we got into our futons as usual.
Then, Chiaki smiled.
“Hehe, Kaito was happy with it.”
I love Kaito, so I’m really glad he enjoyed it!”
Chiaki’s use of the word “love” caught Chifuyu’s attention, but Chiaki continued talking about Onii-san without realizing it.
“Even Chifuyu, too…”
Chifuyu was murmuring something in a small voice, but I couldn’t hear what she was saying.
TN: there was a mistake on my part that I fixed long ago and forgot to mention, The Yuri game’s name should be “Resonating hearts” instead of the previous translation of “resounding love”.
Original name in Japanese is “Hibeki Koikokoro”.
Koi means love and Kokoro means heart, but the flow of the story till now have convinced me that there is more emphasis on the heart part.
As the protagonist Kaito gets closer to the four girls and their hearts resonate with each other.
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