Mahiro nudged open the door to her sister's room, padding in softly to her bedside. Mihari was sleeping soundly, her chest rising and falling with slow, steady breaths. She didn't have to wake her up— in fact, if she just curled up in bed beside her, she could just say in the morning that she'd been lonely. She wouldn't have to bring up the dream at all.
And yet... There was a reason the dream had bothered her. That wouldn't just go away, and even if talking to Mihari didn't make it go away, it couldn't hurt. Still, that didn't ease her nerves as she watched her sister sleep. Before she could talk herself out of it, she gently shook Mihari's shoulder.
"Onee-chan," she whispered, and Mihari groaned slightly. How long had it been since she started thinking of her younger sister as Onee-chan? How long had it been since she started referring to her as such even in private?
"Mahiro?" she asked, eyes cracked open.
"I um... I had a dream. I was back the way I was before, and none of this had ever happened. I was free to play games and read manga as much as I wanted."
"It sounds like a good dream," Mihari replied, slightly more awake, though her voice still dripped with sleepiness. Mahiro frowned. She really didn't understand?
"It was a nightmare. I didn't have any friends or future, I felt so gross and my body... It just didn't feel like mine," Mahiro said, tears beginning to well. "I didn't realize it at the time, but I was so unhappy... I don't want to ever go back to being like that again."
"Like what?" Mihari asked. Mahiro shook her head.
"Onee-chan," Mahiro started. This was it. The realization that had scared her so badly because she knew in her heart that it was true. "I think... I think I don't ever want to be a guy again."
Mihari was fully awake now, and offered a spot beside her on the bed which Mahiro eagerly accepted, resting her head on her Onee-chan's chest.
"That's a pretty big decision, Mahiro," she said, gently stroking her little sister's hair. Mahiro relaxed under her hand, her sister's touch more comforting than anticipated.
"I know but... That dream made me realize that I really am a girl, all the way through, and maybe I was always supposed to be. Being a girl just feels natural now, and I don't want to ever change."
Mahiro was all but crying now, and Mihari felt her heart break a little. Was this really what she had set out to do? All she had wanted was for her brother to be a decent person again, and now...
"I'm so sorry," she said, and her sister looked back up at her. "I should never have made you change, and now you're crying because of me."
"Onee-chan, no..." Mahiro replied, rubbing away her tears on her sister's nightgown. "You shouldn't apologize, because you've done nothing wrong. I never thought I could be this happy, and it's all because of you."
Mahiro held her sister tightly.
"I love you, Onee-chan"
The words pierced Mihari's heart
Mihari's Onii-chan had never needed to express his emotions like that. Sure he was proud of her little sister, who wouldn't be? She was a genius, always at the top of her class and even very popular in day to day life. If he ever felt like he lived in Mihari's shadow, he never admitted to feeling lesser for it. Before he became a recluse, he was her model big brother.
And yet outside of headpats, the occasional sweet, and brotherly hugs, Onii-chan had never said anything of the sort. Mihari had doubted she would ever hear him say something like that, and to hear it now....
Mahiro nuzzled into her sister's chest, making herself cozy. The conversation had only taken moments, but they were both drained and a good night's sleep would do them well.
"I love you too, Mahiro," she replied, as a single tear rolled down her cheek. If this meant that she would lose her Onii-chan for good, then that was fine. She loved her little sister just as much, if not more.