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Chapter 4 Main Chapters Chapter 6

Chapter 5: Family

Haruhi wanted to return to the palace, convinced that we wouldn't find any more warriors in this region. This gut feeling was borne out by Yuki's crystal. After some discussion, Haruhi agreed to my suggestion that we return to the palace by another route, so we could at least check out one more region before our return.

Koizumi suggested we visit some of the villages near the Konan Empire's border with the Koutou Empire. He said the two nations were at peace, so we shouldn't have anything to worry about.

On our second day away from Taniguchi's bandit camp, we arrived in the fifth village we'd visited so far, and something very odd happened. People smiled and waved at me, or said, "Good to see you back!" I hope I didn't appear rude, because I almost didn't realize they were speaking to me.

Finally we ran into one guy who told me, "Say, you're finally back! Your family will be glad to see you!"

I looked quizzically at him. Taniguichi rode up his horse (we'd brought a few spares and mounted him on one, after Yuki spelled it for him,) and whispered, "Kyon, these guys are nuts, right? There's no way you could have family here."

"Let's go ahead and visit them, Kyon!" Haruhi suggested unexpectedly.

"Kyon, eh? A nice nickname from such a pretty girl!" The villager smiled knowingly at me. "You sly devil!" He left us with a chuckle.

"B-b-but, this isn't where Kyon lives!" Miss Asahina protested.

Haruhi looked at me, "Come on, Kyon, don't you want to see them?"

I looked at her. "Haruhi, my family has never lived anyplace remotely like this," I said quietly. "I don't know what's happening, but it's suspicious."

"Still, we should at least check it out!" Haruhi said loudly.

"An excellent idea. Why don't Kyon and Haruhi go look in on his family while we buy provisions?" Koizumi suggested.

Taniguchi stared at Koizumi, while Nagato simply looked at her still unresponsive globe. Haruhi made my decision for me by grabbing my horse's reins and leading us away.

Fortunately, Haruhi took it upon herself to ask for directions. It was still awkward not knowing where my own house was, but at least I didn't have to ask. We came to a small, one-room cottage on the outskirts of town, humble but well-kept. After we dismounted, I stepped forward and knocked on the door.

It was opened by my little sister!

"Kyon!" she gasped, then ran forward and grabbed my leg. She begged, "Take me away from this weirdo!"

An old, kindly, looking man stepped forward. "Yuiren, who's at the door?" he asked, then saw us standing there. "My son!" he cried in delight. "Kishuku, you've come back to us! And who's this? Have you brought us your bride?"

"Where- who- what do you mean?" I asked incoherently. I looked down at my little sister. "How long have you been here? What's going on?"

Haruhi pushed past us into the house. "This is it! This is the illustration in the book! But where are all the kids? I should be able to scoop up armfuls of moppets!"

"I'm sorry my family disappoints you," I said in annoyance. "Don't you remember? I've only got one sibling." I looked back down at my little sister. "What's been happening?"

She pointed at the old man and accused, "That old weirdo's been claiming he's my dad, and all the other villagers say so too, but he's not our dad, Kyon!"

"Yuiren," the old man said sadly. He looked at me and explained, "She's been distraught ever since you left."

My little sister's right. This guy isn't anything like our dad. Our dad's a lot younger, for one thing. And they look very different. And my dad's personality is a lot different from what I've seen of this fellow.

Haruhi had now turned her attention to the old man. "So, are you one of the Suzaku Seven?" she asked him.

"No, but my son Kishuku is," he said as he beamed at me. I couldn't look him in the eyes.

"He's not your son!" my little sister shouted at him.

The old man looked apologetically at Haruhi. "You'll have to excuse her. So, are you my son's bride?"

Haruhi explained, "No, we go to school together. I'm the leader of the SOS Brigade, of which he's a member. I'm Haruhi Suzumiya." She bowed.

"School, eh? I didn't realize he was going to school. Oh, excuse me." The old man bowed back, "I'm Kyuuen Sou. You've already met my daughter Yuiren and my son Kishuku."

"Those aren't our names!" my little sister wailed. She looked close to tears.

I knelt down so I could look her in the eyes. I patted her on the head and whispered, "I know, I know. Calm down, I'll figure something out. Are you hurt in any way? Has anyone mistreated you here?"

She shook her head in negation as she got a grip on herself. "No, everyone's been nice, but that makes it worse! It's so weird here! Can we go home soon?"

"I don't know about soon, but hopefully sometime," I tried to reassure her.

She looked me up and down. "Why are you dressed like that?" she asked.

That's my little sister for you. She's only in the fifth grade. Sometimes she helps out with SOS Brigade activities. It looks like she's been well cared for- the Chinese hand-me-downs this old man must've given her are clean, and she looks like she's been eating well. I had no idea she was taken to this world as well. I sure hope nobody else I know is stranded in some remote area in this world.

The old man sighed in relief, seeing Yuiren- I mean, my little sister- calm down. That guy's confident misidentification is starting to affect me!

"Yuiren," the old man smiled at her, "didn't you make something for our guest?" My little sister stared back at him in disbelief, and he continued, "I know you were making something for the bride he'd meet one day."

"No, I wasn't," she contradicted him, "I was trying to get away from you!"

Haruhi announced, "It was nice getting to know you. Please excuse us for having barged in on you like this."

She bowed, and he returned it forlornly. "Are you leaving already?" he asked sadly.

I quickly stepped forward. "I think we'd better take my little sister along too," I suggested. "We can help her."

The old man sighed, and hugged me tightly, acquiescing, "If you're sure, my son. I entrust her to your care."

I felt really awful.

My little sister was cheering.

He finally released me and went to hug my little sister, but she protested, "Kyon, make him stop!" as she ran to the other side of the cottage.

The old man smiled ruefully. "Very well, then. Farewell," he bowed to her.

She looked rebellious, but I had my eye on her, so she shrugged and bowed back and replied, "Thank you for taking care of me." I think she actually was sincere when she said that.

The others were surprised when we all met in the village square. I had put my little sister in front of me on the saddle. Taniguchi stared at her in shock. "So your family was here?" he inquired.

"No, just me," she replied firmly.

Koizumi tapped his chin as he mused, "This is an unexpected development."

"I should've known the SOS Brigade was involved," my little sister declared. "What is this, some sort of historical reenactment? You guys dumped me for more than a week with that old weirdo!"

I protested, "We're trapped just as much as you. I had no idea you were here."

Haruhi leaned over from her horse to examine my little sister at close range. "So, are you one of the Suzaku Seven?" she asked.

My little sister blinked. "What's that?" she asked, confused. "A pop band? A team of superheroes from some new manga? Why would I be part of it?"

"Yuki's crystal ball isn't doing anything, so I don't think so," I surmised. "To answer your question," I looked at my little sister, "the short answer is that somehow we've become them and we need to find the rest to get home."

My little sister nodded sagaciously and said thoughtfully, "When I wake up from this, I'm not going to sleep for a week."

Chapter 4 Main Chapters Chapter 6