Whatever it may be, the most important part is always the ‘first time’.
Your first time 〇〇. Your first time being 〇〇. The first time always leaves a deep impression.
Depending on the subject, it could be a good memory or a bad memory, but it will be an experience nonetheless.
Still, when it comes to the vagueness of the ‘first time’ that Shinichi experienced, it wasn’t clear whether one should feel anger or astonishment toward it.
At a corner of one of the places of relaxation for the people living at Kutoria, at a corner of a park, was a boy lying on a bench while holding up several layers of envelopes against the sun.
The envelopes were white, light-pink, brown, yellow-green, and light-blue. Even with five of them, they were still nothing before the sun.
A shy voice called out to the boy, and when the boy turned toward its direction, he found someone he was meeting for the first time at school.
A girl he has been acquainted with prior.
But when he realized the truth of the matter, he ended up dropping his envelopes.
“D-Do you remember me?”
The girl asked anxiously, but the boy couldn’t have possibly forgotten about her.
A bespectacled girl who hid her face with her beret hat. She was the girl who was with him during the incident before his transfer to this school.
Based off her uniform, she was probably someone from the school, but Shinichi didn’t bother to voice such an ordinary remark.
“…Was I always such a blockhead?” Shinichi asked himself.
He found his head aching when he realized how dumb he was.
The girl became anxious at that and she couldn’t help but ask a second time, “U-Umm, as I thought, have you forgotten about me?”
“Huh? Ah, I remember you. You’re the girl who prefers food over duties, right?”
“P-P-Please don’t remember me like that!!”
Shinichi teased the girl as usual, and the girl denied his accusation with a blushing face.
Shinichi felt like teasing her some more after seeing her reaction, but he decided to behave himself.
“I’m joking. You were with me during the incident at the department, right?”
Shinichi confirmed with the girl as he brought himself up.
The girl nodded, and he naturally offered her a seat beside him.
“You really helped me out that time. I had just returned to this world then. If not for you, my lack of knowledge would have surely made things harder for me. There might have been more casualties too.”
—That’s why you saved me. Thank you.
Shinichi boldly told the girl as she sat with reservation beside him.
The reason he was behaving himself was because he was indebted to this girl.
“Huh? …But the one who was saved was me!”
The girl was taken aback by his unexpected words, and she became shocked, and then flustered, as if saying that despite studying here she wasn’t of any help.
“Really? But you really helped me out when you told me about their equipment. You were also the one who helped the people being used and the hostages to escape. You even disabled the tools that kept the floor closed. If not for you, I would have had to figure out everything by myself despite knowing nothing.”
See, you saved me, he told her. That’s why there was no need to get worked up.
“Having the ability and being able to act are two different things. Especially, when dealing with people. It should be easy to understand if you use me as an example. After all, I was able to act despite actually being incompetent myself, right?”
The way he put that put a smile on the girl, and Shinichi too smiled a little himself.
But immediately after the girl’s face became serious and she looked at him.
“…Actually, I wanted to greet you as soon as I saw you, but you were umm… really something when you transferred, so…”
“Ah, that’s right.”
Shinichi laughed when he saw her so carefully word his behavior after his transfer.
The girl didn’t mind and continued talking. “And the atmosphere about you also changed, so it was hard to call out to you. But regardless, I want to thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for saving me. Because of you I was able to remember something important.”
Honest words of gratitude, some of which Shinichi couldn’t even remember, so his eyes swam for a moment, but he quickly recovered and told her that she’s welcome with a gentle voice.
Taken aback by his response, the girl found it hard to say the words she wanted to say next.
“…Umm, this might come off as strange, but why don’t you act like this in school?”
As frank as he was at the department store or as gentle as he was now.
The way he was responding now was normal, but in school, he didn’t respond to others at all.
That was also the reason why she couldn’t find an opportunity to call out to him.
“Ha ha… I’m just bad at dealing with people. Honestly, my people skills are a disaster. I can still handle myself if I’m just talking to one person, but I’m hopeless with crowds. I could take on a less offensive attitude, but it doesn’t last long and it’s really exhausting. I figured that since I’d stand out no matter what I do, I might as well just be like that right from the start.”
Shinichi explained with a wry smile.
At the same time, he seemed to be saying that he had no intentions of interacting with the people from school.
The girl didn’t know how to take that, causing a troubled expression to appear on her face.
“…W-What do I even say to that? I don’t know if you’re bold or just lazy.”
“Lazy obviously. Aren’t I so bad at it that I ended up being openly defiant?”
The girl pondered the topic seriously, but Shinichi just replied with a laugh.
That was the truth, after all. He may be bold when it came to things he refused to budge on, but his true nature was that of a slacker.
The girl made a face as if his words greatly rattled her and she froze.
“Defiant? Not overcoming what you’re bad at and instead becoming defiant… S-Something like that is…”
“Hey, there’s no need to think about it so deeply, is there?”
Shinichi was half-impressed-half-shocked by how serious this girl was.
Still, given the way she put that just now…
“Is there something you’re trying to overcome?”
“You talked about being a leader of some group before. Are you worried about that?”
“Huh, how do you… Ah, you remember what we talked about!?”
Shinichi figured that the girl must have been worrying about what they talked about before, causing the girl to be surprised.
At that time, they just happened to meet by coincidence and hadn’t even introduced themselves. It was just some idle grumbling then.
With all the things that happened afterwards, she herself has already forgotten about their conversation then, but he actually remembered.
Shinichi took her surprise to mean something else, however.
“You know it’s one thing if it was a conversation some years ago, but it’s only been a month, you know? It’s sad that you think I’d forget it so easily. It’s true my memory when it comes to school subjects isn’t very good… And today didn’t go well either, but…”
For a moment, it seemed Shinichi was about to tell her not to look down on him with an unhappy face, but before long, he started being depressed about how bad he was at studying.
“That’s not what I meant… Fu fu, still, is that really something you should be saying yourself?”
That behavior akin to a pouting child and that timidity that didn’t allow for it to last long.
Seeing his frequently changing expression, a pure smile bloomed on the girl’s face.
“Sorry for being like this. This is just the kind of guy I am, self-absorbed and self-loathing. A vain and unproductive one-man show where the protagonist needlessly works himself up even though there’s nothing to fight. Hmph!”
Shinichi once again became withdrawn unhappily but this time she ignored it.
The way he behaved suggested he was much younger than what she’d heard.
Where was that decorated warrior? She had seen the ideal she had been chasing after in him, but this was the result she got instead. Still, she was not disillusioned; instead she became happy and even found herself smiling since he was acting so familiar with her.
“…So, in the end, are you doing well?”
“Yes, if I do my best, I think I can get them to understand me.”
And despite him acting the way he was, she was elated to hear him voice his concern for her.
After all, those were words of concern that were truly looking at her.
There was more spirit in her voice when she naturally responded to the boy’s words.