“…Not just a worthy foe, but a powerful foe— no, she’s beyond even that.”
Shinichi fell limply back onto the bench and held his head.
Half of his face was still red, but the other half wore a complicated expression.
The feelings swirling within were no different.
He thought the girl still needed time to settle her feelings, but then she suddenly took a great leap and overcame everything.
“It seems I’m just not equipped to learn anything in this field, huh──────”
Shinichi said as though he were talking to someone, then he laid down on the bench and looked up at that ‘pink hair’ and ‘quivering fox ears’ before continuing matter-of-factly.
“───What do you think I should do, Hina?”
The first thing to appear on the other party was shock.
When realization dawned on her what had happened, a wave of red crept up her, but that didn’t last long before her wits returned and she shook her head, then she looked at Shinichi in disgust.
Shinichi, however, just laughed after seeing her face transform so many times and so quickly.
“…First of all, maybe the person who was flirting with Ari-chan literally just a few seconds ago shouldn’t be enjoying the lap pillow of another girl!”
She was using military-grade optical camouflage technology, but believing that to be insufficient, she snuck her way to the bench and even went as far as to erase her aura before seating herself and waiting, all so she could surprise Shinichi.
Or at least that was the plan before Shinichi smashed it up and treated himself to a lap pillow.
It was almost as though he had seen everything that Myuhi had done.
“Well, what can I say, there was a lap here.”
“Icchi, are you supposed to be a certain mountain climber?” 
But he just responded to her as though nothing could be more ordinary.
From the look on his face, it seemed that he really didn’t understand her question, as though taking her lap was a given, but that in itself was a problem that perplexed her.
She’d felt this before too, but this boy just had no sense of distance with those he’s opened himself up to.
Even when he wasn’t trying to tease her, she’d still naturally find herself flustered.
But what really annoyed her was the fact that she wasn’t even bothered by that.
“And besides───You won’t be able to get away so easily in this position, right?”
While he might’ve said that he’d taken her lap simply because he wished to, there was actually another reason behind it.
As the tone of his voice suddenly turned a solemn chord, a crescent-moon smiled on him and he reached out his hand.
Chills ran up Myuhi, and she reflexively tried to move away, but there was a
Shinichi used that opening to take her earpiece translator device and equipped it on himself.
“Wait, Icchi! What are you doing—!?”
“…So I was right. You’ve always been speaking in Japanese.”
Shinichi had noticed from time to time that her lips would move as though she were speaking in Japanese.
He also noticed that she knew a great deal of Japanese literature and culture. It was only a suspicion at most, but now, it was certain.
That being said, this little info was really nothing more than something extra along the way. His real purpose lay elsewhere.
As Shinichi felt the translator device he’d stolen, he tapped on it with his fingers.
When Myuhi saw him tap in that particular rhythm, all blood left her face.
Shinichi used that same hand to cover his face before calling out that name.
Only the girl looking down at him from up close was able to see the white mask in his hand.
And then that mysterious voice void of age or gender resounded, passing through the communicator of Nameless.
『This is Masquerade speaking, I have Crimson in my custody. I’ll be using her for awhile, but so long as you act with prudence in Kutoria and the academy, I will eventually return her to you, safe and sound, so do be at ease.』
Masquerade said his piece, then cut the call. He didn’t even bother to wait for a response. He returned the translator device to the girl and put away his mask.
“Well, that’s how it is, so do behave yourself, Crimson of Nameless.”
Already, all traces of smiles have vanished, and a sharp gaze with no emotions bore into her.
There was no hesitation in the boy when he spoke those words – a directive that demanded complete subservience.
By this point, Myuhi had already understood this boy’s actions. He’d exposed himself purely to threaten her.
He had realized that intentionally revealing himself to her was an effective move.
“…What do you plan on doing with
The girl from that battle in the department store came back to life and asked him that question.
Though fighting and fleeing were both out of the question now, she could not afford to be given to the authorities or be interrogated, so she’s already prepared herself for
Yet the boy’s response couldn’t be further from that. A face too relaxed and a carefree voice that uttered such an absurd request.
“Let’s see… How about──────We go on a date?”
Just one moment ago, he had been threatening her, and yet now, here he was asking her out with that sweet smile on him.
It was such an absurd and illogical chain of events that no one would blame her for being shocked.
Was this boy really that Masquerade?
Perhaps his words were not meant to be taken literally, perhaps he was not asking her out on a date, but merely to move location.
Or then again, perhaps this was merely an extension of his usually tomfoolery?
Any of those thoughts made enough sense to be considered, but Myuhi considered something else.
To be more precise, she considered a memory, and remembered how a certain lovesick girl was here just a moment ago, happily speaking with him as she fought her best to win his affectations.
That’s why she looked at him with a gaze full of disgust.
“…You know, Icchi, I’m starting to think that you really should get stabbed once in your life.”
That lovesick girl had poured out her heart to him, and yet, as soon as she left, this was how he behaved.
Such conduct truly wasn’t appropriate; hence, Myuhi glared frostily at him as though he were the enemy of all womenfolk.
Yet he did not act as though he didn’t care, and instead nodded with a face full of admiration.
“Didn’t think you’d approach from that direction,” he said.
‘Truly a good woman,’ he continued internally.
Just having the eye to notice that fault was something to hold in esteem.
And indeed even for someone such as himself, who had such low self-esteem, such an attitude was indeed deplorable, so she was right to point it out.
In fact, he’d expected her to hate him, and he would throw a wry smile here given her rebuke, but…
“You said that last time too, and I forgot to say it then, but… Actually, there can be no more ‘once in my life’.”
A wry smile here would just enrage her all the more, so he decided to just tell her his experience instead.
But of course, that was even more shocking to Myuhi.
“This back has already been slashed once by a certain woman.”
Shinichi ignored her shock and acted out with his hands how a woman had once slashed him.
Yes, he had not merely been ‘stabbed’, he had been ‘slashed’.
He even tried shaking off his attacker after the attack.
Unfortunately for him, as though he’d forgotten what was real and what was lie, the wound that attack once left ached yet.
Shinichi just laughed without a care despite that, but Myuhi was just too shocked to say anything, and then as though she couldn’t be bothered anymore, she let out a big breath and stopped thinking.
 – [Reference to George Mallory’s, ‘because it is there,’ which was translated to Japanese as, ‘because there was a mountain there’.]
 – [Switched to Watashi. This means that she’s no longer acting out a role.]”