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Brother's Approval

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Ever since Satoshi had recovered, he'd fit seamlessly back into his life at Hinamizawa. Everyone was happy to have him back, and he got along well, near the same as he had before. Even Keiichi, who hadn't even known him before, easily got along. And of course, Satoko was overjoyed at the return of her "Nii nii." But Rika became bothered by something.

It was that day in the hall, when she and Satoko had secretly met. Secretly, not because they were ashamed of their relationship, but because both she and Satoko believed in modesty. Like anyone else, they didn't need to flaunt their relationship. Which it why Satoko had said, "Oh, Rika, can't you wait? You're so eager, and here in public, too."

"Mii," Rika said cheerfully. "I've just missed you during the day."

"But I've been sitting right next to you all day," Satoko said.

"Exactly," Rika said, leaning closer to kiss Satoko. The two silently enjoyed their rendezvous, not even noticing Satoshi until he softly cleared his throat.

"Nii n- Nii-san!" Satoko stammered. "I was just waiting for you. But, well, sorry to make myself so difficult to find. Let's go home now," Satoko said quickly, dragging her brother away.

Satoshi smiled at his sister, then quickly at Rika, before exiting then. It was an expected reaction of everyone to the situation, of course. Ignoring it and not making a scene was just the type of thing the three of them would do. But Rika remained bothered about how Satoshi didn't confront her days, and even weeks afterwards. He was Satoko's brother, not only that, but the only real family she had left, why wouldn't be confront the person that Satoko became involved with? Couldn't he be counted on to protect his own sister?

This bothered Rika so much that she decided to confront him herself. Waiting until a afternoon she knew Satoko would be away, Rika visited the Houjou home. She greeted Satoshi with a smile after he responded to her knock.

"Oh, Rika-chan," Satoshi said pleasantly. "Satoko isn't here at the moment."

"I know," Rika now spoke seriously. "I've come to speak with you on a certain matter."

"Of course. Come in," Satoshi said, stepping aside to allow Rika indoors. "I'll make us some tea."

Rika was struck again at just how normally Satoshi behaved. He commented on the weather and asked about how school was going, but still said nothing about the matter she'd come to discuss. Rika decided to be direct. "About that matter," she began.

"Yes, what was it again?"

"Satoko and I, we're a couple now," Rika said, blushing despite her determination.

"Oh, yes. For a while now, right? Satoko often speaks so fondly of you. I didn't think that you were having any problems."

"We're not," Rika said, as she tried to keep her composure. "But... You've known all along?"

"Well, yes. Satoko can't keep anything from her older brother."

"If you've known all this time, why haven't you spoken to me about it?"

"Hm? Why would I do that?"

"To make sure I'm worthy of her, and that I'll treat her right."

"Rika-chan, I have no doubt that you'll be the kind of wonderful person that Satoko deserves. You've taken care of her all this time, haven't you?"

"Yes," Rika said, thinking that Satoko had done just as much for her. "But, there's no guarantee that I'll be in Satoko's favor for her entire life. Perhaps she'll want a different lover in the future. What would you do then?"

"Maybe... That would be really troubling for you, wouldn't it?"

"What would become of me doesn't matter. Think of Satoko, and what you'd do for her!"

Satoshi looked startled, and then became calm, thinking seriously. "Well, it would depend on who the person was. Of course I'd do anything to protect Satoko, but I'd hope that she'd make a good decision regarding her partner. If she didn't, I'd... Well..." Satoshi furrowed his brow, thinking seriously again.

Rika realized then she'd been wrong to even think this way. Of course Satoshi would always protect her beloved Satoko. He'd done so much for her in the past. Here she was, almost asking him to prove himself, when he'd already done more than enough. Thinking of what to do now must certainly trouble him, even bring back memories of the horrors in the past. He shouldn't be going back to that time. Rika softened her expression and put a gentle hand on Satoshi's shoulder. "Satoshi, I-"

"Well, Rika-chan, I can't really provide you with an answer. But couldn't you just provide me with peace of mind, at least while it's you that Satoko loves?"

"Of course," Rika said happily. She finished her tea and spent what turned out to be a polite and placid time with Satoshi before leaving. This was the kind of world they lived in now after all, and the type of peace she hope to remain with.