Yuuya sung to his dying newborn sister, telling her how much he loved her and how much he wished she would wake up. He sung her peaceful lullabies, even parts of the few love songs he knew. He just wanted to sing to her as he had while she'd been in the womb.
It actually seemed to help. Her erratic heartbeat calmed down little by little. Her tiny chest, which had been rising and falling rapidly, too slowed to a more relaxed rate.
The little boy was overjoyed. “Papa! Is she getting better? Is Nyoko going to be okay?”
His shocked father honestly had no idea. “I… I don’t know, son.” His voice was a whisper, struck by disbelief. “Keep singing to her, Yuuya, keep going. Don’t stop, okay?” While the child happily complied, Toshiro asked the nurse, “Can you stay with him? I… I have to tell his… their mother.” He smiled. “Yes, their mother needs to know what’s happening.”
With his family surrounding him, Yuuya sang. Just as quickly as they had fallen apart, they came back together. Nyoko became stable. As long as her brother was there to sing to her, she became stronger. Within a few days, she was home.
The family had not entirely won, though. Instead, they had more of a treaty with fate. While the little girl had gotten better, she was never completely well, nor would she ever be. The family suffered another major blow when they learned that her condition was indeed genetic and would indeed be degenerative. She spent most of her life indoors— in a hospital or in her house, almost always in a bed.
Yuuya learned to be energetic, even hyper, for her. His sister was often in pain, and he wanted to entertain her and distract her from it. He often played tricks on others of their family, holding his sister so she could see them play out too. One of her favorite pranks was when he got a chair and put her stuffed animals on top of her bedroom door. He left the door very slightly opened so the toys could rest against the wall above the door. Both of them shrieked with laughter when someone would come in and the animal would fall and bounce off the person’s head. Obaa-chan had the best reactions, she’d cry out, “Aiiiiiieeee!” and toss up whatever she’d been holding. They learned not to do that trick when someone was carrying food or drink.
He learned to do impressions and make her laugh too. He’d pretend to be their father, tired and grumpy after a long day at work. He’d be her favorite cartoon characters. Since Nyoko so loved magic, he quickly learned simple tricks. Always, Yuuya’s devious mind was working and coming up with new gags to pull for her, and she spent a lot of her time coming up with tricks too. It had actually been her idea to tape people’s shoes to the floor. It would be a trick he would never forget.
Nyoko was a very artsy person; she loved to color and draw. Being such a young child, she was not especially good at it but kept trying. Sometimes, she and her beloved brother would laugh together at their awful drawings. Yuuya hated to see her sad.
One time, she was drawing a cat. Her hands started to shake, and she’d twitch every few seconds, but she didn’t give up. Yuuya had been too absorbed in what he was drawing to notice. “Look, Nii-chan!” she told him happily once she finished. “Lookit this cat!”
He laughed fondly. “Are you sure it’s a cat, Nyo-tama?” he teased her. “What are all those lines?”
Instead of laughing as usual, his sister pouted. “My hands were moving funny. Don’t laugh at me!” she whined.
Seeing that she was serious, he rushed to amend what he had said to her. “Oh. Oh, baby, I’m sorry. I thought you were kidding. This, this is quite high-class art! It’s a special style, eh?”
She became unconvinced. “No, it’s trash. Throw it away,” she whimpered.
“No! No, it’s beautiful, baby sister. I love it! I was just kidding before! The really great art looks kind of funny to regular people like me. You know, like those strange European artists? Yeah! This could definitely go in a museum!”
She sniffled, cheered by his words. “Like… like… Picasso-san?”
“Yeah! But this is much better!” He smiled and then took on a posh accent. “Can you tell me about the technique you used here, Lady Nyoko? This is very-“
“Nini!” she giggled. “You’re silly,” she smiled. Then, she too took up the accent. “Well, Lord Nini, this is my own style. I just flick my pencil— sha-sha-sha.”
“Ahhh,” Yuuya made appropriate sounds of enlightenment and appreciation. “I see, the sha-sha-sha technique. Hmm, that is quite a sophisticated style, madame. Well, I hope to see more of your fabulous work in the future.” He smiled brightly at her and then suddenly jumped up and left the room.
“Hey!” Nyoko yelled in surprise and confusion.
Yuuya came back immediately. “Nyo-tama! Was that an art appraiser who just left here? He told me you were going to sell my picture for millions of yen! Is this true?”
“No!” she squealed in delight. “I made that one just for you! No one else can have it! But yes, I’m going to be a superstar!”
“Wah! Sissy! That’s so amazing! I told you that you were amazing!”
They laughed together, happy.
In the future, Yuuya would tell the world that the sha-sha-sha technique was his, but really, he learned it from her. Art was her thing, and he never wanted to draw better than she had anyway. Another thing of hers that he would later claim was his was Tinny. The Papillon had been specially chosen by his sister. Their grandmother had gotten the dog for the girl when Nyoko was old enough to miss Yuuya when he went to school. Yuuya hadn’t liked the dog much at first. He thought it was funny-looking and annoying. He saw how happy Tinny made his sister, though, and so came to love it.
Nyoko, like their mother, also liked long hair. Both urged Yuuya to keep his long after Nyoko had to undergo chemotherapy-like treatments that caused hers to fall out. He hadn’t wanted that at first either. It got in the way and was hot. It especially messed him up when he wanted to play soccer, his only joy at school. Besides, Nyoko’s existence was supposed to let him be a boy. He’d had to wear skirts all through kindergarten— even after she’d been born because she had only been able to wear diapers so people could get to her tubes and monitors easily. When she was two, she was finally able to walk and wear regular clothes. That got him out of the skirts, but now, he had to have long hair too?
His mother implored him. “Please, Yuuya.” With tears in her eyes, she asked again. “Your… your sister… she can’t. Please, Yuuya?”
Using his own pouty expression on him, Nyoko begged. “Pleeeeeeeeeeeease, Nini?” she’d asked in her little baby-like voice.
Curses, he’d thought. No wonder people had trouble telling him no. So, he kept his hair long. He never truly regretted the decision either, not even when his classmates teased him.
Nyoko loved to brush his silky locks for him and try to style it. Mostly she tangled it, but he could never actually get angry with her. Even when he had to brush all the tangles out and remove the tens of bows and clips, he didn’t really mind too much.
“Maybe it’s better that I don’t have hair,” she decided once. “I couldn’t put it up like I do for you.”
He turned around, laughed, and told her, “Yeah, and you wouldn’t have to clean it up after either!”
She immediately crossed her arms over her chest and made a silly pouty face. “HMPH!” she grunted. “I’m mad!” she told him, trying very hard to keep her mouth turned downwards. She failed, and they both laughed, as always. “No,” she admitted. “I’m not mad. I’m never mad at Nini. I love you, Niichan!” She smiled beautifully and flung herself at him to hug him.
It always hurt her a little, but she loved to hug her brother and when he held her.