A Mother's Love
Kyousuke shuffled listlessly into his bedroom. He gently closed the door behind him before promptly collapsing onto the mattress. "Bed..." the teen grunted, his voice muffled by the pillow. "I'm never leaving you again."
Although the statement might seem ridiculous, he meant every word. After dealing with Kirino, Yang and Weiss all at the same time, any man would feel the same. He'd managed to avert a total disaster by explaining his situation as best he could, but the damage was still pretty severe. To say that Yang and Weiss disliked each other was akin to saying that fire is hot. The two were like oil and water, constantly clashing with one another.
And it was clear that the heiress had not endeared herself to Ruby either. While there was no open hostility between them, Weiss' holier-than-thou attitude seemed to rub her the wrong way. And then, there was Kirino. Like Ruby, she showed no outward hostility towards their new housemate. But her passive-aggressive behavior towards the heiress was obvious, even to him.
They managed to get through his 'celebratory dinner' without any bloodshed, though Kyousuke feared it was only a matter of time.
'We'll be back tomorrow,' Yang had promised, though it had been more of a declaration since she'd said this while staring directly at Weiss. The white-haired princess had just glared right back at her in response. After dinner, Kirino had trudged upstairs with only an obligatory 'thanks for the food', ignoring Kyousuke and Weiss completely. The heiress, after bidding him a soft 'goodnight' had likewise retired to her new room and had not been seen since.
The black-haired boy glanced at his clock to see that it was only 9:00PM. But factoring in his current exhaustion, Kyousuke saw no reason not to turn in early himself. Flicking the lights off, he stretched out and closed his eyes…
"Gah!" Kyousuke cried, feeling his cheek sting from the impact of a slap. He blearily opened his eyes to see the hazy outline of his sister hovering above him. "Kirino?!" Kyousuke glanced at the clock to see it was 12:30. He'd only been asleep for a few hours. "What the hell are you doing?!"
"I need life counseling." Was all she said before getting off him and leaving.
The black-haired boy sighed and glared at the ceiling for several moments. He mentally debated just going back to sleep, but figured Kirino would exact terrible vengeance on him if he did. Sighing one more time, he forced himself up and made his way towards his sister's room.
"You mean you still haven't made any progress?!" Kirino demanded as she looked over his save file of Rabu Rabu Imouto.
"What did you expect?" Kyousuke growled. "I've been out all day. And do you really think I'd start playing an eroge with Yang, Ruby and Weiss all in the house?"
"Well, you'd better get your ass in gear," the girl sniffed. "There are others waiting in line."
"You're lending it to someone else?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "If that's the case, go ahead and lend it to them. I'll finish it after they're done, so—"
"No!" Kirino snapped. "I mean there are other games after this one!"
"W-What?" Kyousuke nearly whimpered. "Why?! Why do I have to play more of them?!"
"There's no way you can grasp the full beauty of the genre after just one game," his little sister said haughtily. "Let me tell you; this is just the tip of the iceberg. You've only just begun down the righteous path of eroge."
'Righteous path?' he mentally bemoaned. 'When did I start?!'
"Give me a break…" Kyousuke muttered. "If you want to talk about it so badly, why don't you just go talk to your friends? Why does it have to be me?" Kirino gave no answer. She simply stared at him, her brows burrowed. "You… don't have any friends that are into this stuff, do you?" he asked, realization dawning on his face.
"It… It's not like I haven't tried…" she muttered, turning away from him. "There were a couple people in my class that were into otaku stuff… But every time I tried to approach them, I'd get cold feet."
Kyousuke stared at her for several moments. So, that was why she wanted him to play these games. Kirino wanted to share her passions, but she had no one to talk to. For all her friends and popularity… she was alone in a crowd.
"I see…" he murmured, standing up and striding over to her.
"You see what?" Kirino asked in confusion. Kyousuke stepped next to her and adjusted her laptop so that it was facing him.
"You said you wanted life counseling, didn't you?" the boy questioned, smiling slightly. "Well, here's my counsel. You want talk to someone who shares the same hobbies with you, am I right? Someone that will be able to keep up with you in anime, games or eroge, even if you go all-out."
"So… you want me to go makes friends with otakus?" Kirino looked down. "But… if I'm seen with them… People will think I'm weird."
"Well, you are pretty weird…" Kyousuke agreed. He jumped aside as Kirino attempted to jab him in the ribs. "I'm kidding. I told you, remember? I won't judge you for your hobbies… But what about you? Why are you so hesitant to be grouped together with people who are the same as you?"
"Because that's just the way society is!" she snapped. "They belittle and look down on people like them… Like me. I don't want to lose all my friends because they think I'm weird!"
"Kirino," Kyousuke shook his head. "If they leave you because of something like this, they weren't really your friends to begin with." His little sister bit her lip and turned away from him. Finally, after several minutes of silence, she nodded.
"Alright." She turned her gaze back towards him. "What are you planning?"
"To check out some social networking sites," Kyousuke said as he surfed the web on Kirino's computer. "They're a good place to start if you're looking for people that share your interests. One of these groups must be an otaku group. Maybe they'll even meet IRL every once in a while."
"A-An IRL meeting?" Kirino almost squeaked. "B-But… I don't want to be alone with a bunch of sweaty otaku guys!"
"Yeah," the teen muttered. "That is a concern…" He clicked on a link. "Wait. Here we go."
Kirino leaned over his shoulder and read.
"Otaku Girls Unite?" she read aloud the words on the screen. Kyousuke sent a request to join the group and was surprised to see a reply just a few minutes afterwards.
'Greetings, Kiririn-sama. (As that was Kirino's online handle) My name is Saori and I am the administrator of the community "Otaku Girls Unite". Thank you very much for your request to join. Of course we will gladly approve of your membership. I have a great feeling that we can be the best of friends as two individuals of similar age and interests.'
"She seems nice," the boy remarked. "Very polite."
'Though this may seem abrupt, we currently have a tea party scheduled for this weekend. While we would be honored if you would attend, we understand if this is too soon for you. Should you elect to join us, the party will be held at noon this Saturday at the Cure Maid Cafe in the commercial district. Regards from Saori—'
"Vagina?!" Kyousuke cried out in shock.
"No, you idiot!" Kirino snapped. "It's pronounced Bajeena. It's a Gundam reference."
"A-Ah," he chuckled, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. "S-Sorry. So, what do you think? Are you going to attend?"
"I don't know…" she murmured. "This is all happening a little fast…"
"You might as well get it over with," Kyousuke pointed out. "No sense dragging it out."
"But you're going with me!"
"Because this was your idea in the first place!" Kirino snapped. "Besides… If I go by myself… I might end up getting cold feet again. I need you to make sure that doesn't happen."
"But this is a girl's group," Kyousuke pointed out. "I can't just show up uninvited."
"You could cross-dress." the girl suggested.
"Hell, no!" he roared. "And they'd see through that in a second!"
"Tch, that's true…" Kirino glared at him. "Why couldn't you have been a bishounen-type?"
"Shut up," Kyousuke growled before sighing, his shoulders sagging slightly in defeat. "But, I guess this was my idea... Alright, how's this? I know the cafe she was talking about. I've walked passed it dozens of times while hanging out with Yang. There's a secluded spot right across the street from it. I'll keep an eye on you from there."
"Like some kind of creepy stalker?" she demanded.
"Hey, that's the best idea I've got!" he snapped. "Take it or leave it!"
Kirino glared at him for several moments before sighing. "Fine." She glanced at the her clock to see that it was almost 2:00AM. "It's late. I've got to meet up with some of my friends tomorrow, so I should get some sleep."
And with that, she shooed him out of her room. Heaving a weary sigh, Kyousuke returned to his own bedroom.
The next time he awoke, it was to the ringing of his alarm clock rather than a slap to the face. At this point, which he would have prefered was debatable. With a groan, Kyousuke turned and glared at the device. He mentally debated frying it with a spark of electricity, but figured his parents wouldn't be too happy about replacing yet another one.
So, with what was truly Herculean effort, Kyousuke hauled himself out of bed and, grumbling to himself, he switched the alarm off. He yawned slightly, stretching himself out.
"AAAAAAAHHHH!" A high-pitched scream suddenly pierced through the otherwise silent house. Kyousuke's eyes widened. That had sounded like Weiss! The teen wasted no time darting out of his room and down the hallway. He quickly rounded the corner to see a shell-shocked Kirino sitting next to the bathroom door, murmuring to herself.
"I-I can't believe it…"
"Kirino!" Kyousuke said, kneeling down and grasping her by the shoulders. "What happened?" He noticed that the girl had a strange red mark on her face, but he paid it no heed. Kirino didn't answer him.
"T-They were huge…" she whispered, her eyes staring straight through him. "How is that even possible…? They looked tiny yesterday..."
"Kirino!" the boy growled. "Snap out of it! Where is Weiss?" Silently, Kirino turned towards the bathroom door. Kyousuke's eyes narrowed and he rushed towards it.
"Weiss!" he cried, throwing the door open. "Is everything… okay…?" Kyousuke trailed off as he found himself face to face with a near-naked Weiss; the only article of clothing on her body being a pair of light-blue panties. The two stared at each other for several moments before…
"Kyaaa!" the white-haired girl cried, diving into a squat while simultaneously covering her surprisingly large breasts.
Ah. So that's what Kirino had been talking about.
"I — er…"
"What is wrong with you people?!" Weiss shouted. "Don't you know how to knock?"
He honestly didn't know what to say other than… "S-Sorry?"
"Just get out!" Kyousuke didn't have enough time to react before...
"I said I was sorry," Kyousuke grumbled, rubbing the bright red slap-mark on his cheek. Kirino sat beside him, her own slap-mark just now starting to fade.
"Sorry doesn't fix everything!" Weiss snapped from her seat on his other side.
"I still can't believe it…" Kirino muttered, her breakfast sitting only half-eaten before her. "She was flat yesterday…"
"That's because I wear a corset!" the heiress growled. "Not that it's any of your business!"
"My, my!" Yoshino giggled from across the table. "Things sure have gotten lively around here, haven't they?"
"Un," Daisuke grunted as he read the morning paper.
"Really, though, Professor," Weiss huffed. "Why does this house have no locks on its doors?"
"Hmm," Yoshino hummed. "Well, in our ancestral culture — in the Far East — it was believed that the community should come before the individual. And while that line of thinking had mostly faded, traces can still be felt in modern times. We have no locks as a sign of faith and trust in one another."
"Well, while this is certainly fascinating," Kirino stood, having quickly finished her meal as their mother spoke. "I've got to go meet up with my friends. Thank you for the food."
"You're welcome," the brunette smiled. "And stay safe!"
"Don't worry," The girl waved her concern off. She then gestured towards an object wrapped in white cloth that was propped up against the wall beside her. "I'll bring Starseeker with me."
As Kirino left, Weiss turned to him, a curious expression crossing her face. "Starseeker?" she questioned.
"Kirino's weapon of choice," Kyousuke explained. "It's a bowsword."
"So, like your gunblade but with a bow, rather than a gun?"
"Pretty much," he nodded. "And with a longsword instead a saber."
Suddenly, however, Kirino slammed the door open as she re-entered the room, prompting its occupants to turn to her in shock. "This is all your fault!" she snapped, glaring at Kyousuke fiercely.
"Just what are you going on about now?" he demanded.
"This!" Kirino moved aside, revealing a familiar blonde bombshell standing behind her.
"Hey, Kousaka family!" Yang grinned. "And Ice Queen." She added in a bored tone; almost as an afterthought.
Now, this in itself was hardly unusual. Over the years, the girl had formed a habit of showing up at any given time of the day. No, what was unusual was the rather large suitcase currently sitting at her feet. "Yang…" Kyousuke muttered, glancing at Weiss; a feeling of dread building up in the pit of his stomach as the heiress stared at the other girl with barely concealed contempt. "W-What's with the suitcase?"
"What, your mom didn't tell you?" the blonde questioned. "I asked her yesterday if I could stay here until we head out to Beacon."
"Well," Daisuke suddenly spoke up, folding his newspaper and placing it in the crook of his arm. "I'd better get going. I'm needed down at the station." He gave his wife a quick peck on the cheek before beating a hasty retreat.
'You coward!' Kyousuke mentally roared. Out loud, he growled at his mother. "Why do you never tell me anything?!"
"Ahaha!" Yoshino chuckled, rubbing the back of her head sheepishly. "It slipped my mind. I told her it was fine as long as her father agreed."
"And he did!" Yang grinned. "On one condition, though." She pointed behind her, where Kyousuke just now noticed Ruby shuffling about. "Ruby has to chaperone us."
The redhead gave them an awkward wave. "Hi…"
"Chaperone?" Kirino demanded incredulously. "Who's the older sibling here?!"
"You can't be serious!" Weiss snapped. "What are your true motives, you barbarian?"
"You didn't really think we'd let you stay here with Kyo all by yourself, did you?" Yang asked, throwing her a very malicious grin.
"Of course," the heiress sniffed. "We're engaged."
"In a fake engagement," the blonde bombshell countered. "As far as I'm concerned, you're just two strangers who happen to be sharing living space. As Kyo's childhood friend, it's my job to make sure you don't try and steal his virtue in the middle of the night."
Kyo's virtue was hers to take, after all!
"How dare you!" Weiss shrieked. "I'm not some scarlet woman!"
Kyousuke, Kirino and Ruby watched the two continue to argue back and forth. Had this been an anime, Kyousuke was sure there would be sparks flying between their eyes. "Well," Ruby said, letting out an awkward cough. "I'll just… bring our bags upstairs."
"I'll help," Kyousuke sighed. He turned to Kirino. "Don't you have to go meet up with your friends?"
His sister sent him a dirty glare, but nodded reluctantly. "Yeah," Kirino muttered before glaring at him one final time. "Just make sure that when you start banging, it's in your room, pervert."
"Damn it!" he growled. "I'm not — Ugh." Kyousuke groaned as she simply ignored him and walked out the front door. He glared at the door for several moments before grabbing Yang's suitcase and making his way upstairs. Ruby followed him with her own bags.
"Kirino didn't look very happy," the redhead said quietly.
"She just doesn't like it when things are out of her control," Kyousuke shrugged. "She'll get over it eventually."
Ruby half-grimaced, clearly not believing him. "No," the girl murmured, shaking her head. "She's never really liked us. I've tried to be friendly with her, but… I don't understand why she seems to hate me so much."
"Well, whatever it is," he said as they dropped the bags off in one of the guest rooms. "It's her problem; not yours. You didn't do anything to warrant that kind of behavior."
The red-haired girl smiled slightly. "Thanks," she muttered. "About the incident on the roof two nights ago, too. We never finished that conversation, did we?"
"There's nothing to finish, Ruby," Kyousuke smiled, patting her on the shoulder. "You're like my little sister. You and Yang are practically family. I'd do anything to keep you safe."
"A-Ah," Ruby stuttered. Her face flushed slightly and she averted eye contact. "Like that game you were playing? Cause Yang said— er…"
"No!" Kyousuke squeaked, his face turning red. "Not like that! And I told you, that game wasn't mine!"
"Ah…" The girl wasn't sure how to feel about that. "J-Just forget I asked!"
The two stood in awkward silence for several moments before Kyousuke let out a cough. "W-We should get back down there before they destroy the house."
The two teens made their way back downstairs, where it seemed the argument was finally beginning to die down. "Just stay out of my way and I'll stay out of yours," Weiss said coldly just as they re-entered the room.
"Agreed," Yang nodded. "So, you just stay in my former room and well away from Kyo."
The white-haired girl looked ready to snap back at her, but was interrupted by Kyousuke's mother, much to his and Ruby's relief. "Ah, that's right. Weiss?" Yoshino called out from where she was washing dishes. "Your father's birthday is coming up in a few weeks. Have you gotten him a gift yet?"
"Your dad's birthday?" Kyousuke questioned as he took a seat at the table.
The heiress nodded. "Yes, he'll be turning forty this year," she said. "I had hoped my gift for him would be a wedding," Weiss sent a glare at Kyousuke and especially Yang, who was looking far too smug for her tastes. "But it seems that that's no longer possible."
"Hah," Kyousuke smiled sheepishly. "I'm sure you'll think of something."
"I hope so," Weiss said. "It needs to be prepared in time for the gala."
"Gala?" Ruby asked curiously. "What's that?"
"It's a formal event, orchestrated and attended by the upper echelons of society," the heiress said pompously, looking down her nose at the redhead. "Commoners wouldn't understand."
Ruby simply glared at her in response.
"It's a party for stiff-legged rich folk," Yang translated, casually leaning back in her chair. "Total drag if you ask me."
"Well, no one asked you!" Weiss snapped before turning to Kyousuke. "You know how to waltz, correct?"
"Huh?" He blinked at the seemingly random change of subject. "Why?"
"Because you'll need to know for the gala," she spoke as though this were obvious. "We'll be going together, after all."
"Wait, what?!" both Kyousuke and Yang shouted.
"Why am I going?" the boy demanded.
Weiss looked at him as though he were a complete idiot. "Don't you think it would look strange if I showed up by myself?" she asked, irritation seeping into her voice. "We're supposed to be courting. We need to be seen together at public events like this."
"And even if that weren't the case," Yoshino spoke up from the sink. "We'd be attending anyway. It's being held downtown, at the Plaza Hotel ballroom. Svernare has invited our family as his personal guests."
Kyousuke groaned, but nodded reluctantly. "Well, at least I'm getting a heads-up this time," he muttered, sending his mother a cross look. "Yeah, I can dance. It's a required part of the program at Signal."
"Good," Weiss nodded, throwing a smug look at the fuming blonde sitting across from her. "The gala will be multi-purposed. It serves as a birthday party for my father, a formal announcement of our courtship and a congratulatory celebration for our enrollment at Beacon. Quite a bit of attention will be placed on us, so you'll need to be on your best behavior."
"How many people will be there?"
"Hundreds, easily," she answered crisply. "Mostly my father's business associates and their families."
"And they'll all be gawking at us?" The boy groaned yet again. "Perfect. Anybody in particular I should keep an eye out for?"
"No, not really," Weiss paused. "Just… my sister, I suppose."
"I didn't know you had a sister," Kyousuke remarked, surprise coloring his tone.
"Oh, great," Yang sighed. "There are more of you?"
The white-haired princess sent her a nasty glare. "We aren't… the closest of siblings."
"I can relate." The boy sighed. "Alright. So, I need to dance and keep an eye out for your sister? Anything else I should know?"
"Nothing you really need to worry about," Weiss said. "We'll arrive, eat a light dinner, toast to my father's health. Then, I'll open the night's entertainment with a short vocal performance—"
"Wait, vocal performance?" Ruby asked in surprise. "You're gonna sing?"
"Yes," the heiress nodded. "It's a tradition my mother started nearly twenty years ago."
"Your mother was a singer, too?" Kyousuke questioned.
"She was a small-time singer," Yoshino explained as she re-entered the room, drying her hands on a towel. "I knew her from school. One night, I took Svernare out to the bar where she performed. It was love at first sight. And the rest… well, you can see where it led."
"Whoa… That's so... romantic..." Yang murmured, slightly impressed.
"A pauper getting swept off her feet by a prince!" Ruby agreed enthusiastically. "Just like a fairy tale!"
Weiss nodded, a sad smile forming on her face. "She would sing all the time," the white-haired girl said softly. "One of my earliest memories was of her singing to me. It's why I love to sing."
"Wow," Kyousuke murmured, staring at the white-haired girl sitting across from him as though truly seeing her for the first time. "Seems there's… a lot I don't know about you."
"Well, you've got four years to learn," Weiss chuckled. Kyousuke was quick to return the gesture.
Yoshino watched, a small smile on her face. "Weiss," she said, after several moments. "About your mother… I think I have something you'd be interested in. Kyousuke, why don't youcome with us. Yang, Ruby, I'm sorry, but..."
"It's fine, Mrs. K," Yang smiled slightly. "We've got some unpacking to do, anyway."
"This is… odd," Weiss frowned. "I would have thought you'd be up in arms about me being alone with your childhood friend."
"Let's just say that I know what it's like," the blonde explained quietly. "To crave information about someone you never had the chance to know." She nodded at them before tapping Ruby on the shoulder. The two sisters left them and made their way upstairs. Yoshino nodded and gestured for the two remaining teens to follow.
"The old storage shed?" Kyousuke grunted as he forcibly pried the door open. "When's the last time anyone went in here?"
"It's been a while," Yoshino agreed as the trio entered the old, but surprisingly large building.
"There's dust everywhere," Weiss complained.
"Yeah, that happens when no one cleans a building in a few years," the black-haired teen quipped, wincing as she slapped him on the shoulder.
"Hm," Yoshino hummed as she scanned the rows of shelves. "It should be here somewhere…"
"What are we looking for, Mom?" Kyousuke questioned.
"A small box," she murmured. "It should say her name on it…"
Weiss perked up. "Yuki…?"
"That's your mom's name?" the black-haired boy asked. The heiress nodded and she, too, began to search.
Kyousuke turned to the row of shelves beside him, trying to see through the layer of dust that had built up over the years. Among the various empty boxes and random knickknacks laying around, locating a small box was proving to be a daunting task.
However, after nearly thirty minutes, Weiss spoke up. "What is this?" Kyousuke turned to see her staring up at a white case, a foot or so beyond her reach. On the box, he could see a single character written in black ink.
"That's the kanji for snow," he told her. On the other side of the room, Yoshino's eyes widened.
"That's it!" she exclaimed, startling both teens. "Yuki means snow! That's the box we're looking for!" Kyousuke wasted no time in striding over and grabbing hold of the case before carefully lowering it to the ground. Weiss gently tugged the box's lid open, revealing its contents.
It was by no means a treasure trove. Inside were a handful of books. Journals, it looked like. Sitting on top of the pile was a small photo album. Also packed inside the box were a few knickknacks and memorabilia, like a harmonica and an ice skating-figurine.
The white-haired heiress picked up one of the journals and flipped it open. Kyousuke watched as her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "I… can't read any of this…" she murmured.
"They're mostly written in Japanese, I'm afraid," Yoshino spoke up, smiling softly. "That's why I asked Kyousuke to come. I thought the two of you could work together in translating them."
Weiss looked up at him with a hopeful glint in her eyes. Honestly. She expected him to say no?
"I will," he nodded. The girl smiled gratefully before replacing the journal and picking up the photo album. She flipped it open and on the very first page was a photo of a stunningly beautiful woman smiling at the camera.
"That's her…" Weiss said softly.
"You look just like her," Kyousuke remarked, leaning over her shoulder to peer down at the book sitting on her lap.
"That's what my father always tells me," she chuckled. Neither of them noticed Yoshino quietly slip out of the room as they continued leafing through the photo album. Weiss flipped the page to see a photo featuring younger versions of both her mother and father. Both of them had an embarrassed look on their face as they yelled at whoever was taking the picture.
Kyousuke had a sneaking suspicion that it had been his mother. His suspicion was confirmed when, in the next picture, Yoshino was shown sitting with a pained grimace on her face as she cradled a large lump on her head and Weiss' mother standing above her, looking very smug.
The heiress turned the page and — to Kyousuke's surprise — found a photo of two toddlers playing together. One had dark, black hair, the other had snow-white hair. "Hah," the boy chuckled. "I guess we really were childhood friends."
Weiss smiled slightly and turned the page. Kyousuke noticed something fall out of the album, but his attention was drawn to the new photograph. It was noticeably older than the others and slightly frayed at the edges.
It featured Weiss' mother wearing a stunning dress, standing on a small stage singing into a microphone. "I can see why your father fell head-over-heels for her," he said. "She was gorgeous."
The girl nodded, smiling. Kyousuke turned his attention to the object that had fallen out of the album. It was a small, folded sheet of paper. Its slightly yellow appearance gave him an idea of how old it was. Kyousuke reached down and picked it up, carefully unfolding it as he did so.
"Weiss…" he murmured. The heiress turned to him. She raised an eyebrow at the paper in his hands before gently taking it.
"It… It's a song," she said softly. "It's a song written by my mother."
Kyousuke read the sheet over her shoulder. "It looks like a ballad," he remarked. "The lyrics are in broken English, though."
"That makes sense," Weiss muttered, her eyes scanning over the piece. "She didn't speak English very well when she immigrated…"
"It was on the same page as the photo," he pointed out. "Take a look at the date. Does it mean anything to you?"
The white-haired girl did so and her eyes widened in realization. "T-This is the year my parents met," she whispered. "She must have wrote this for my father. I can't believe this has been here all this time..."
Kyousuke stared at the music sheet for several moments, before something clicked in his head. "Weiss!" he exclaimed, startling the girl. "This is it!"
"What are you talking about?"
"Your gift for your father," Kyousuke elaborated. "You should sing this for him at the gala!"
Weiss stared at him for a minute before her face broke out into a smile. "You're a genius!" she exclaimed.
"We just need to clean up the lyrics a little…"
"No." She shook her head firmly. "My mother poured her heart into these lyrics. It doesn't matter if they're imperfect."
Kyousuke was silent for several moments before nodding. "You're right," he said. "And that's what makes it the perfect gift."
"I'll need to start preparing," Weiss muttered. "I have to contact the band that will be performing with me. I was originally going to sing one of my own songs. We'll have to make some adjustments… I'll need to start practicing right away..."
"Well, maybe I can help with that," he said, picking up the harmonica from her mother's box. "That first note looks like a G."
"You can read music?" she asked in surprise.
Kyousuke nodded. "Kirino and I both took piano lessons when we were kids," he explained. "Never really panned out, but I can read decently enough."
"Hmm," Weiss hummed, looking at him thoughtfully. "It seems there's quite a bit I still don't know about you, as well."
"Well, you have four years to learn," he chuckled. Weiss smiled at him.
"Hmph, well, you were right. The first note is a G." Kyousuke blew on the harmonica and Weiss began to sing in a soft voice.
"Whenever sang my songs…"
"Well," Daisuke said as he looked around the surprisingly in-tact dining room. "Seems that the house is still standing."
"Just what do you take us for, Mr. K?!" Yang demanded indignantly from where she and Ruby were helping Yoshino prepare dinner.
"A group of irresponsible, hormonal teenagers carrying a myriad of dangerous weaponry," the policeman said. Seeing that none of them were willing to look him in the eye, he nodded in satisfaction.
Kyousuke sat, sipping his favorite barley tea as he soaked in the — for the most part — relaxing atmosphere. It seemed that the girls had come to an understanding of sorts or at least called a temporary ceasefire. Beside him, Weiss was humming her mother's song quietly to herself while Kirino flipped through a fashion magazine across from them. Perhaps things would finally begin to calm down around here. Kyousuke certainly hoped so.
"So, blondie," Kirino spoke up, drawing their attention. "How's it feel to be second for once?"
Kyousuke had no idea what she was talking about, but he certainly didn't like her tone. Yang, however, seemed to understand perfectly.
"What are you talking about?" she scoffed, staring at Kirino's… chest? "Did you grow an inch or something?"
"I'm not talking about me," his sister chuckled. "I'm talking about Ice Queen."
"Why does everyone call me that?" Weiss demanded.
"You're kidding, right?" Yang laughed. "She's a washboard."
"She wears a corset," Kirino said, her voice deadly serious.
Suddenly, Kyousuke realized what they were talking about. "Oh, no…" he whispered.
"Seriously…?" the blonde questioned, her face set into a hard line. Kirino nodded solemnly. Slowly, Yang turned to Weiss, who froze at the look on the blonde's face.
"W-Why are you looking at me like that…?" the heiress asked nervously as Yang began stalking towards her. "S-Stay back!"
"Sorry, Princess, but I gotta see this for myself…"
Kyousuke sighed, slowly sinking into his seat and lowering his head into his folded arms. It seems he'd spoken up too soon. It was times like this that made him honestly think he would be better off at Beacon. Surely, things would calm down there, right?
"G-Get away! Unhand me at once! S-Someone, stop her!"
Kyousuke sighed once more. He could only hope...