“It’s because you can actually do it that that threat is so effective. So unfair.”
He’d given that response so readily, but she couldn’t even snort at it because he indeed had the power to do so. Because of that she could only wryly smile.
And yet the expression that appeared on his face was that of regret and shame.
“That’s because that’s all I can do.”
In the end, for what exactly was his lamentation and helplessness meant?
Pursuing the matter was an option, yet doing so seemed certain to touch those he’d requested be left untouched.
Then she remembered that they’d yet to agree on anything, but…
“So, will you be signing this cease-fire agreement?”
She too long, and now, Shinichi was hurrying her to give an answer.
Myuhi clicked her tongue internally at that, as she looked at Shinichi with a face full of complaints.
“This is less a treaty or a threat, and more like a new way to declare a war, no?”
If one were to sum up his demands in an extreme manner, he was essentially telling them to submit or die.
A simple demand, yet in the face of someone against whom victory was impossible, and even if victory was possible, if the costs were too great, then it wasn’t really a request that they could afford to turn down.
Myuhi felt like the boy in front of her was even daring her to voice her complaints.
“Interpret it however you wish, but… It’s time you gave me an answer, Crimson.”
But his demands weren’t difficult by any means. In fact, they could even be said to be of no difficulty.
Accepting would limit their movements, yes, but it was much better than the foolishness that was to antagonize the Mask.
She was also confident that her organization would accept the Mask’s offer.
If there were a problem, that would be—
“I still have a lot of questions, but unfortunately, there’s not much time left,” Myuhi said.
“Hmm, I’m free until the dorm’s curfew,” Shinichi said.
“My people will finish organizing a rescue squad before then.”
—The need to quickly wrap up their discussion and inform the higher-ups to stop them from doing anything unnecessary.
Even if they don’t go so far as to send a rescue squad, Myuhi was certain that they would at least send people to check the veracity of the message that Shinichi sent.
“…Sounds like an organization that takes care of its members, huh.”
“That’s the kind of person our excellency is. And I also happen to be his trusted
As she proudly told him that with a sweet smile, he grimaced.
“Did I get the order wrong?”
“Quite wrong, yeah.”
Myuhi was quick to answer, and Shinichi was quick to shrug his shoulders, then he pointed toward the exit of the store, and told her to, “hurry up and go.”
He wanted her to explain while no one’s come yet.
“Don’t renege on our deal even if someone comes, okay?”
“I’ll turn them away and just consider it my mistake.”
Feeling as though she was finally able to get back at him, Myuhi got up from the table, and was about to head to the cashier to pay her bill, but then she suddenly turned her head back.
“By the way, what’s the ridiculous reason?”
If the serious answer were to be summarized, it was basically a deal with Nameless.
It could also be said to be a threat where Nameless’ only benefit was the window of negotiation left opened.
But in that case, what was the ridiculous reason that he mentioned earlier?
Surely it should be something absurd. Myuhi tried to guess the answer to herself as she waited for the boy to respond.
“…You’re asking that now?”
Shinichi scratched his face, seemingly troubled by her question, but they didn’t have much time left.
It can’t be helped, Shinichi sighed, then answered while facing away from her.
“I hate fighting with friends.”
Tinged with a hint of displeasure and a child’s selfishness, those words that left Myuhi blinking a few times, eventually drew a smile on her.
“Fu-Fu fu fu… Oh, Icchi. You really don’t care who you’re talking to or what kind of position they have, do you? To you all that matters is whether you like them or not.”
Not only did he accept Myuhi despite knowing her identity, he even continued to call her his friend. At that, Myuhi couldn’t herself but laugh.
“Got a problem?” Shinichi complained, but that just made her smile even bigger.
“Ah, dangerous, too dangerous!”
But then she hastily shook her head and her smile turned to that of surprise.
“This is how you trick your girls, don’t you!”
“I have a lot I’d like to say, but first you should throw yourself a tsukkomi for thinking a friend’s trying to trick you.”
You’re crazy, Shinichi complained with half-opened eyes, but Myuhi ignored him.
“But,” Myuhi said as she turned around with her body too and responded to his ridiculous reason.
“You’re fine like that. I can’t swear an oath like Fudonecchi did, but I’ll do my best not to fight with a friend.”
As far as that ‘best’ allows anyway, Myuhi emphasized, then broke out into an innocent laugh.
They would probably end up fighting in the not-so-distant future, but out of consideration for this business partner of hers, who didn’t want to fight with her, she decided to do her best to avoid that future.
Then as though she were adding a condition to a contract, she added.
“That’s why───because you’re a warrior who defeated
She gave those words of encouragement to this boy, who was younger than her and living a dangerous life, not as a crazy student nor a soldier from Nameless, but purely as an adult older than him.
“But if ever you get tired, I’ll be sure to at least lend you a lap pillow!”
In that one moment alone, however, she returned to that girl called Hina.
Then she foolishly ran off, while stubbornly insisting to herself that she was not running away, and thinking to herself how much more embarrassing than she’d thought it was to sincerely say that to a person.
Her tail vigorously swung as she ran away, but that was less because of her happiness and more because of how much fun she was having.
As Shinichi saw off his friend, he leaned into his back and let out a sigh.
The words she left had a surprisingly strong impact on Shinichi.
Though he continued to deal with his remaining donuts, a wry smile had surfaced on his face.
“As expected of my stalker wannabe, she’s been watching me real close. It’s starting to look like she’ll see through everything…”
If he lets his guard down, he might just display that unsightly appearance that she warned him about.
Once that happens, he will easily fall apart.
It was probably because he himself realized that that he messed up the order wrong on purpose.
And she probably picked up on that too.
If so, then had their conversation continued, she would have likely seen through other unexpected things as well.
And Nakamura Shinichi would have been left as bare as the day he was born.
That would have been a fatal crisis.
“…I’m seriously such a hopeless guy every time after a crisis settles.”
A self-deprecating smile appeared on him as he found fault in himself as usual.
Although he could calmly solve the problems that flooded toward him one after another, the regret after everything settles and the new problems he could see always seemed like they would break his heart.
What was even more unfortunate was that this troublesome and fragile character of his was unlikely to ever change.
“‘I hate fighting with friends?’ Hah!”
Perhaps that was why.
He ended up looking down on something he said.
Those words weren’t a lie. They were definitely the truth.
But that was also why sorrow found its way into him.
“I’m sure you don’t think that way, though.”
Shinichi said to a certain someone who wasn’t here.
At the end of his dropped gaze was the screen of his foster on the table.
Controlling his foster at this distance without touching it already came naturally to him.
“Hmph, that smile of yours is as shady as ever!”
On the display was a news site that specialized in publishing engineering-related information.
And on that site was a certain article on which could be found the picture of a young engineer of note being introduced.
At the tender age of 21, he was already one of the top engineers of Earth on Garesto’s technology.
Despite saying that he did not wish to take the center stage too much as he was still just a promising youth, he had a personal body guard, who himself was an important person to Earth’s engineering world.
The youth was undoubtedly Japanese with a familiar face and a name he knew all too well.
“You’ve noticed it already, haven’t you? That’s why you had that blade covered in my fingerprints recovered. And yet I haven’t heard so much as an eek from you. Don’t tell me, you really───”
On the picture was a business smile that a friend could see through easily.
Behind him was a blond man that worked as his bodyguard.
The brilliance of that blond was different from your normal blond hair, and it was also something that Shinichi knew all too well.
Yes, the face on the picture was without a doubt the face of his childhood friend. A face he wouldn’t mistake even after 8 years.
“───Are you seriously trying to pick a fight with me, Takeshi?”
Shinichi could only stare bitterly at the fake smile on his childhood friend’s face.
It was presently June 6. 8 days until the appointment he’d forced onto the
Not a long time by any means, but it was long enough to feel like hell for him.