"She's my precious little sister."
The phrase had started out innocently enough. It represented the bond between Kanba and the girl whose smile he treasured more than anything in the world; his little "sister," Himari. They weren't really siblings, of course. Both he and Himari were adopted – Himari had been taken into the Takakura household just a month before he had. From the first moment they met, he knew he loved her. Calling her his precious little sister was a way to express his love, and a way to bind them together as a real family. The first time it had come up it had been in response to his new father, who had asked them how they were getting along. He had pulled her into a hug and said the now familiar phrase for the very first time. It had delighted the little girl so much – after all, she was still trying to secure her place in her new family as well and it made her feel like she belonged. They were both on shaky ground in unfamiliar territory. Yet somehow despite that, the world had been simpler then when they were young, and the phrase had made him proud.
But over time, the world changed, and he changed along with it. That simple little phrase that had sprung out of a simple time became a mantra. It became a shield against the accusations of outsiders, a barrier that let him continue to live in denial. But it also became a cage from which he couldn't escape. The phrase was always on the tip of his tongue and had become an automatic response.
"You love her, don't you? Yes, hopelessly so."
"What are you talking about? She's my precious little sister."
"Is she worth doing all that for?"
"Of course - she's my precious little sister."
Yes, the words were like a cage that had him trapped, and yet, he couldn't help but cling to them for all that he was worth. It was either that, or face the truth…
"You love her, don't you?"
And he couldn't face the truth. No, that was wrong… there was no truth to face. He was her big brother, blood relation or not. She would never see him in any other light. He wasn't her person of fate. (How he hated the word "fate.") The most he could ever hope for were these family bonds that tied them together yet bound them firmly in place, close together but ultimately separated.
…But he could live with that. There was a dull ache in his chest whenever he thought of Himari, but he was adaptable – he had formed his own survival strategy and learned to ignore it. He wouldn't be selfish, and he wouldn't ask for anything for himself. He loved Himari with all his heart. To him, she was his world and his light, and she had already given him so much. So for her, he would be the best brother he could be. He would live his life for her sake, and he would save her, and he would never ask her for anything in return.
…She was his precious little sister, after all.