“Hey, Kuna? Do you think everyone’s evil?” Sumire questioned.
“What if I told you they were?” Kuna responded.
“W-well... I-I’d... I don’t know. I’d have to do something about them, I guess... Right? That’s what all the heroes do in manga when there are bad guys out there, they defeat them and save all the good people.”
Kuna considered telling her that the ideas of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are subjective. That no two people can agree on those abstract concepts. However, he understood that these ideas were far too heavy for his little sister. She’d undoubtedly listen and would probably understand what he’s saying, but her desire to act on her ideals could be dangerous. Instead, he responded in a way that she’d accept without question and would cause the least confusion.
“No, Sumi. Everyone isn’t evil. It’s like I told you when we were younger, some people just have a lot of stuff on their mind and don’t know how to handle it.”
It was a mature answer for a ten-year-old boy. Sumire was always able to pick up on the fact that her brother was ahead of their peers.
“Is that why the teacher lady at the orphanage was such a b-word all the time? Some of the older kids said she was just on her period, b-but I~ don’t know what that means.”, she asked, pursing her lips in an effort to hide her grin.
“Don’t say stuff like that!” Kuna responded, flicking Sumire’s forehead as he spoke. The girl chuckled, causing the boy to pelt her with more flicks.
“Anyway, she was probably a little different. I don’t know her, so I can’t say anything for certain, but if I had to gue~ss...” the boy pondered, looking around the room as he gathered his thoughts. Once they came to him, he continued.
“She might’ve had a rough childhood. It’s also possible that she went through something crazy that caused her to become strict with us. Whatever it was, she didn’t want us to feel the same pain she felt, so she was hard on us all so that we wouldn’t end up like she did.”, he finished. Sumire looked up at him with a searching glance of her own, trying to discern how he felt about the teacher. Her question was answered when Kuna looked down at her.
“She was still kind of a bi—… meanie.” he relented, a soft smile on his face.
Sumire smiled back at Kuna, then spoke up to ask another question.
“Do you think we were wrong to leave her then? If she had a lot of stuff on her mind and no one helped her, she might be sad... right?” she asked honestly, her smile slowly fading as she spoke.
Kuna sat back and looked toward the ceiling, doing his best to look as confident and laid back as possible. Sumire’s calmness depended on how quickly he responded, as taking too long would likely make her think he was confused. If she thought that, well... Kuna didn’t want to think about that. Instead, he let his heart speak before his brain could catch him.
“Yeah. We probably are. She’s probably gonna be strict with other kids, and they’re gonna hate her. I mean... we don’t even know her name. We just know she was mean!” Kuna chuckled, a somber expression on his face.
“However,” he spoke firmly. “That’s why we need to be better people. We need to become kinder, more understanding, and more selfless. That way, when we’re older, we can go back to The Orbis School and help her get over whatever it is she’s struggling with! If we do that, then maybe in the futu—”
“That’s so cool, Kuna!” Sumire interrupted. Her eyes were beaming as a wide smile fell over her face. Her brother usually called her out for interrupting but made an exception, just this once.
“I wanna be like that when I grow up. I wanna help people and learn about why they’re sad and help them be happy! That sounds cool! What are those people called? I wanna study that in the future!”
Kuna smiled as his sister spoke. When she finally finished, he responded to her question. “They’re called therapists. They help people move past their issues and find happiness.”
It was a good idea, in theory. Listen to other people’s problems, help them be happy, and become society’s hero. They were like Hero Seekers without an Imperium or a degree. In reality, though, it was stupid. Sumire spent five of her eight years alive bullying the people that went to The Orbis School’s orphanage with her. She’d beaten kids, stolen from them, made fun of them, and humiliated them... All for what? Because she didn’t have mommy and daddy to tell her that was bad? No. It was because no one stopped her. No one could stop her. She unlocked her Imperium before any of the other children. That made her special. Kuna had his, but he—
“What’s wrong, Sumire? Why are you crying?” Kuna asked softly, reaching over to hug his sister. She didn’t move her hands to hug him back, though. Instead, she asked him a question.
“Am I a monster?”
“No, Sumi. You aren’t—”
“You said people who know that they have problems and do bad things to deal with it are monsters!” Sumire stepped back from Kuna’s embrace as tears flowed down her face.
“I know what I said, but—”
“I was always mad because we had no parents! I was mad because they didn’t love us enough to stay with us! So I took it out on the other kids because it made me happy to feel like other people were as sad as me... How does that make me anything other than a monster!” she screamed.
“Sumi, please calm down—”
“I hate you! You lied to me so that I—”
“Sumire!” Kuna yelled, placing his hands on his sister’s quivering shoulders.
“I’m sorry, Kuna. I-I didn’t mean that. I-I was just...” Sumire muttered as her voice broke.
Kuna hugged the girl as she began to cry harder, pulling her head close to his chest as he placed his cheek on her head. As Sumire listened to her brother’s heartbeat, her tears began to cease. Kuna stepped back from their embrace and asked her a question.
“Before I say anything, I need to know.”, his eyes narrowed as he furrowed his brow. Sumire felt the boy’s intensity as a knot began to form in her throat.
“Was it the voice? Is that why you got so sad outta nowhere?
“Yeah. It told me I was a bully, then it told me about all the stuff I used to do, and it made me feel really bad.”, she admitted, looking toward the floor as she spoke. She expected Kuna to reassure her. She expected a hug, some words of encouragement, or even a kiss on the forehead. What she didn’t expect, though, was—
“Then you tell that voice to eff off! That stupid little voice shouldn’t be interrupting our moments together!” Kuna proclaimed as he stood taller, a confident smirk on his face.
“Y-you said ‘eff off’! Y-you’re not supposed to say stuff like that, Kuna!” Sumire squealed, her eyes wide in shock.
“Oh yeah! S-sorry! D-do as I say, not as I do, o-okay? You shouldn’t be cursing.” Kuna stumbled, a plastered-on smile strewn across his agitated face.
“Anyway, listen to me, Sumi,” his awkward smile fading as he spoke. “If you want me to be honest with you, yes. You were a monster back then, and the kids at The Orbis School are probably going to avoid you as they have been because they think you still are a monster.
Sumire’s features began to slump as Kuna spoke.
“That’s the good thing about us humans, though!” Kuna spoke with confidence. “Monsters can become better people if you give them a chance to! You used to be bad, but we worked together, and now you aren’t. We have a lot more stuff to work on, you and me both. So, think of this as your...” Kuna’s eyes searched the room as he thought of the best way to word this.
“...Training arc! Like in manga! I’m gonna train you to be a better person, and when you finish, you’ll be strong enough to be the best therapist in all of Tenebris!”
“Really? You think so!” Sumire yelled as her eyes beamed.
The blind will always lead the blind. You seriously expect to learn how to be a good person from the same boy who used his Imperium to print money and commit forgery? I mean, I know you told him you wanted a penthouse in Neos, which makes you partially responsible, but that doesn’t excuse the crimes. Besides, I know you can see how confused he is. Are you seriously going to keep telling yourself that a ten-year-old boy has some sort of life plan for you both? The way I see things, it’s evident that Kuna has no clue what he’s doing. He’s going to lead you to despair if you follow him. If you’d just listen to me, you’d be happier, Sumire. Don’t let him turn you into something you aren’t. Your Imperium puts you ahead of the rest of these peons, so act like it.
“Is it the voice again?” Kuna asked.
“Y-yeah.”, Sumire sighed, her eyes glued to the floor. “It said that I shouldn’t listen to you because we used your Imperium to get this new penthouse. Then it said that if I listen to you about being a better person and stuff that I’ll be sad.”
“Sumi, I don’t think—”
“It also said you have no clue what you’re doing....”
Kuna froze as his lips and chin began to tremble. The quivering boy looked away from his sister, who seemed not to notice the boy’s odd display as she continued talking.
“...but that’s just stupid! I’m not gonna listen to the voice because you’re a magician!” Sumire smiled, running to her brother to embrace him in a tight hug. “The voice is always pretty mean, but you’re kind to me. That’s why I like listening to you, Kuna!
“Th-thanks, Sumi. Y-you’re the best person in the world.”. There was nothing else that he could say. He just hugged his sister while using his strength to hold back tears. Unfortunately, though, that strength had also been utilized by his arms.
“Y-you’re...squeezing...me!” Sumire yelped, still holding tightly onto her brother.
“O-oh, sorry! I was just really happy, so I couldn’t help it.” Kuna smiled. “So, about what—”
“When are we gonna start training? I wanna be stronger!” Sumire interrupted. Kuna narrowed his eyes, ready to say something snarky, but sighed.
“We’ll start training tomorrow. Right now, you need to wake up.”
“What are you talking about?” Sumire asked with an incredulous look on her face.
“You slept through your 6:00, 6:05, and your 6:10 alarms. You seriously don’t hear them ringing? You’re gonna be late for your first day at SSS!”
“Wait... shoot! I totally forgot! Thanks, Kuna!” Sumire responded, her high-pitched youthful voice suddenly deeper and more mature.
“A-also, before I go...” Sumire stammered
“I love you, Kuna, and I really miss you.”
“I love you too, Sumi, and I miss you even more.” Kuna sighed, a solemn smile plastered on the boy’s face. “Now wake up! I don’t want you late for school. Those academy people in Soteria don’t play around about that stuff!”
“Alright, I’m getting up. Promise!”