Ryou had poked fun at Tomoe because he wasn’t used to seeing her cry.
Yet here was a boy who could bring her back to normal just like that. Ryou admired Shinichi from the bottom of his heart.
But Shinichi shook his head at his compliment, and turned to Tomoe.
She was the amazing one. Somehow, Ryou could tell he was telling him that.
That’s why there was gentleness in his eyes when he watched the two of them interact.
—If it’s like this, then it should be find to entrust her to him.
He’d only intended it as a joke before, but now, he was seriously considering the matter.
Meanwhile, the other ‘girl’, who has been keeping quiet all this time, took her tiny front paw and made a guts pose.
And that’s one more in the bag! Youko grinned, but no one noticed her.
“Come to think of it, do you know of your name’s origin?” Shinichi asked,
Oblivious to the shady smile plastered on his servant. Shinichi asked Ryou that question.
Ryou had been thinking how to get Tomoe to latch onto him, so when a question was suddenly thrown at him, he panicked, and hurriedly tried to muster a reply.
“Huh, ah, ahh, umm, what was it again? If I recall correctly, it’s supposed to mean ‘one who protects’ in an ancient foreign language,” Ryou said.
“…One who protects, Ryou?” Shinichi said.
For a moment, tension washed through Shinichi’s face and voice.
But it was too quick, and only Youko, who has been with him for a long time, was able to notice it.
“Yeah, that’s why my name is written in katakana officially. Well, I’m sure they want me to become a man who can protect someone. I can do that much,” Ryou said enthusiastically with a proud smile.
Shinichi could see that he had his own attachment to his name.
“But of course, I’m going to be training you, after all,” Shinichi said.
Ryou laughed. “You really are arrogant, huh.”
It sounded like he was complaining, but he also sounded like he was enjoying it.
It was curious. Had he already accepted Shinichi? Had he gotten used to him? Or had he merely given up?
It was likely all of the above.
But then again, perhaps he simply thought that his arrogance suited Shinichi.
“…Another coincidence, huh. Ryou, Ryo… Guardian,” Shinichi muttered in a quiet voice that only his servant could hear.
He wasn’t sure just yet, but the word and meaning was definitely a match with one of the languages he knew.
“It’s because you suddenly started asking about the origin of our names that things became so strange. We should at least be able to ask you the same thing, right? Otherwise, it wouldn’t be fair,” Tomoe said as she finished up her Shiratama Zenzai and pointed her spoon at him.
Shinichi found himself blinking at that, then a wry smiled surfaced on him as he realized how dumb he was for not realizing that the order of events would naturally lead the same question to him.
As usual, he forgot to take himself into his calculations.
But of course, Tomoe was asking purely out of curiosity, and not because of fairness despite her words.
“Well, that’s true… My name is read Shinichi, written with the word Shin (信), from trust (信用), and Ichi, from one (一). It means to become an adult that can be trusted by at least one person. ‘Even just one person is fine, grow up into a man that can be trusted.’ Something like that,” Shinichi said.
That was the small wish his parents had when they had their first born.
As for whether their wish has been realized or not, as the person in question, he didn’t really want to know.
Not because he had no confidence or because he found it embarrassing, but simply because he didn’t think it was right to talk about that matter to the person to whom those feelings were directed.
“Huh, that’s an oddly humble origin,” Ryou said.
“You think? I personally like it though since it has a gentle feel to it,” Tomoe said.
Ryou felt the meaning to be aiming too low, but Tomoe found it gentle.
Shinichi shared both sentiments, so he just laughed away their remarks.
When he casually glanced at the time on his foster, he realized that their time was up.
“Now then, we digressed there for a, and there are still other things I want to ask you about, but let’s put those off for later, since
There was some bitterness in his words, and although he said ‘thanks’, it could also be taken negatively.
Of course, he was indeed grateful to her for informing him, but at the same time, there was no denying that the intel she’d brought him also brought more trouble with it.
Because now he had to check for his fingerprints and what other traces he might’ve left.
Shinichi had simply been too unguarded against investigation methods that relied on Science.
There was also the matter about the student council president having seen the analyzed picture once.
He needed to take action quickly, or everything might just fall apart.
“You’re welcome, Shinichi-kun,” Tomoe said.
But the girl was just glad to finally be able to get back at him.
With a satisfied face, she happily called his name and even made sure to add a ‘kun’ to it.
Before him was the lively girl known as Tomoe Safina, not a hint of that tearful girl from earlier was left.
Though her smile was brimming with triumph, there was a cheerfulness to it that made it impossible to hate her.
Although that was indeed not something that could be described as ladylike or noble, it was a good smile nonetheless, the kind that could liven up the atmosphere.
“Geh, don’t need to tell me twice— I’ll call you tomorrow evening at the latest. Later,” Shinichi grumbled, but despite that, he was inwardly happy for being able to see something good.
His servant quietly jumped up on his shoulder, and looked at her master with a huge grin, but her master didn’t see that.
She knew that her master was glad to have been able to protect the girl’s smile, so she turned to her and gave her a thumbs up with her front paw as they left.
From the confused expression on Tomoe, she probably couldn’t understand what Youko was trying to say, but regardless, she winked at her as though to encourage her. This relationship will likely last for a long, long time.
───And so, it came to pass, that the discipleship of a boy and a girl with spiritual powers to a boy returning from another world came to be, all without anyone knowing. A discipleship that would greatly influence the exorcist clans throughout the world, but as one might expect, not even Shinichi could know that—