About twenty minutes had passed by since I began waiting for Charlotte to arrive at the scene when the door to the staff room was violently flung open.
When my eyes reflexively turned towards the door and landed on Charlotte, she seemed a lot different from the beautiful appearance of hers from this morning.
Her breathing was rough, making her seem very tired.
From her appearance, it was clear that she was looking for Emma with all that she had.
“Emma? Where is Emma!?”
“Calm down, Charlotte. Your sister is sleeping over there.”
In contrast to the frenzied Charlotte, Miyu-sensei calmly pointed behind her back where Emma is sleeping.
Emma was extremely tired, and as such, about five minutes earlier, she had sat down on the chair and entered the land of dreams.
She was as cute as an angel, but thinking of Charlotte, I would have wanted Emma to stay awake.
Looking at her sleeping sister, Charlotte’s knees gave out as she collapsed on the floor.
“Are you okay…?”
She suddenly sat down, so I worriedly called out.
Charlotte, who was called out by me, looked in my direction. However, since she was on the floor, she had to look at me with upturned eyes.
Probably because she was worried about Emma, her eyes were teary and a bit red.
…Honestly. She’s way too cute.
“I am really sorry… I was so relieved that my knees gave out.”
“Yes. I understand how you feel. If I returned home and found my sister missing, I would also freak out and desperately search for her. And when I finally find her, I would also be relieved from the bottom of my heart.”
“You’re right… When I got home and couldn’t find her, I felt blood leaving my whole body… Aoyagi-kun, you found her, right? Thank you very much.”
Charlotte politely bowed as she expressed her gratitude. Her polite gestures alluded to how well her upbringing was. Moreover, she can speak Japanese pretty fluently. However, her speech resembles that of a young lady’s. Who was the one that taught her Japanese? I am curious about how she learned Japanese, but I have other things to worry about right now.
“You remember my name?”
I don’t remember introducing myself to her.
Well, she must’ve overheard my name since the teachers and classmates have called my name several times, but I didn’t think she would’ve remembered it.
“Ah, it’s because you helped me when I was in trouble. Also, Hanazawa-sensei told me to rely on you if I ever had a problem, so I knew your name. It’s just as she said, you truly are a reliable person.”
Charlotte suddenly complimented me, and I turned my face away. My face was probably red, so I didn’t want her to see it.
By Hanazawa-sensei, she means Miyu-sensei, but I never expected to be introduced to Charlotte like that. Despite being a little embarrassed, I am honestly happy. It makes me think that maybe it isn’t so bad to be used by Miyu-sensei on a daily basis.
“Aoyagi, it’s unusual for you to be flustered. Isn’t your face bright red?”
…I regret feeling grateful to this person even for a moment.
“Stop being noisy. I’m not flustered.”
“Oh~? Is that so~? Should I send Aki a picture of your face?”
“Why are you bringing Aki up in this conversation!? Oh, shit! I forgot about Aki!”
I was about to contact Aki, but I forgot to do so because of all the teasing ever since I entered the staff room. It’s obvious at this point, but it is already long past the scheduled time. I gently retrieved my smartphone from Emma’s hand in order to not wake her up, and checked to see if there were any notifications.
――As expected, notifications of multiple missed calls and messages filled the smartphone display. Naturally, the one on the other side of all of these was Aki.
“You’ve really done it now…”
“Why are you acting like this has nothing to do with you, Miyu-sensei…? This is half your fault, you know?”
“…Well, Aoyagi. I’ll give you some money, so buy a cake and give it to Aki for the time being.”
Miyu-sensei admitted that it was her fault as well and handed me a thousand-yen bill. I believe this will be enough to restore Aki’s bad mood. Of course, the one who would be most affected by Aki’s mood is none other than Miyu-sensei.
“Thank you. Well then, I should go already. Charlotte, I’ll see you tomorrow—wait, Emma!?”
When I tried to leave the staff room after receiving money from Miyu-sensei. Emma, who was supposed to be asleep, grabbed the hem of my clothes. I have no idea why she was grabbing my clothes.
“Akihito, where are you going?”
Although it seems she is still half-awake, Emma is looking at me with an uneasy expression. I saw Charlotte flash a worried expression for a moment, but for now, I need to do something about this child.
“Sorry, I have to leave. Your sister—I mean Lottie is here, so it’s alright.”
In order to keep her from worrying, I gave her a smile and turned my eyes towards Charlotte. Emma followed my gaze and looked in the same direction, and after confirming that her sister was standing there, her face brightened up.
She joyfully called out to her sister and rushed to her side—or so I thought, except, she was stubbornly holding onto my clothes. Why doesn’t she let me go…?
“Emma, why don’t you call him Onii-chan.”
I thought that she would pull Emma away from me, but for some reason she gave the suggestion of calling me ‘Onii-chan’. Emma spoke the words as if she was reading Romaji, but as expected for a young child, due to her lack of familiarity with Japanese, her pronunciation was off. However, that was cute in it’s own way.
“Ah, sorry. I thought that as a Japanese person, you wouldn’t be used to having a child call you by name like that. In Japan, a younger child would refer to an older male by Onii-chan, right?”
Ah, so that’s what she was thinking… It is true that having a younger person call me by name is weird in Japan. On the other hand, calling others by name in a foreign country is something that is a given. Charlotte probably just wanted to be considerate of me.
“It isn’t always the case, but it is true that it’s more common. You don’t have to worry about it though.”
“No, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Since Emma is now living in Japan, she should abide by Japanese customs.”
As expected, this person is smart. She really has studied up on phrases that a Japanese person would use. There is merit in what she has said, so I will let it go.
“Alright, that’s fine then.”
“Yes, thank you.”
Seeing that I have accepted things, Charlotte made a happy smile, and once again turned towards Emma. Then, she crouched down and lowered her height to Emma before reciting, “Onii-chan”.
The sight of her teaching the younger sister was heartwarming to behold. Once the review was finished, Emma-chan looked up at me with a radiant smile.