In his hand was a prefabricated box made out of paper, a common sight in stores of that kind.
For a moment, the girls wondered what it was, but then they saw the name of the store written at the side, and the color of their eyes changed immediately.
Is that the sweets from Avis that’s been talk of the town lately!?”
“Yes, I’m somewhat acquainted with the manager, so I was able to conveniently get some of those limited-edition cream puffs. Please have some.”
“You mean those special cream puffs limited to just 100 a day!?”
As the change in their eyes became increasingly apparent, they took the box with such vigor it seemed as though they were stealing it and not receiving a present.
By the time they finally saw what was inside, their eyes were already dazzling.
“Uwaah, it’s the real thing!”
“And here I thought I’d never have the chance to eat it because of class!”
“Wow! Are you sure we can have this?”
“As long as you keep our promise, sure.”
The girls nodded so hard to that that it seemed like their heads would fly off,
and then with Shinichi’s blessing, the three of them happily dug in to those oh so delicious cream puffs.
But as happy and as ecstatic as they were, the sight of her friends being so easily played made Tomoe’s head ache.
“…It’s because you’re like that that I keep calling you a womanizer.”
“Rude. This is clearly just a negotiation skill.”
Preparing what the other party wants beforehand, yet only giving something decent at the start, then when the other party demands more than the initial tribute, give them the real tribute you prepared and make them accept your conditions.
When put into words, that was indeed all that he did.
“I’m saying that it looks that way when you do it to a girl.”
“That’s prejudice… Or so I’d like to say, but it’s frustrating just how little I can deny that. It’s so frustrating in fact that I’ll keep quiet even though your portion is about to be eaten.”
Shinichi said with a meaningful grin that took Tomoe aback.
“Huh? Ah! Hey! What happened to my share!?”
Complain as she might, in the end, she too was a girl that loved sweets.
Especially, given how this was a limited edition cream puff. Naturally, even Tomoe would want to eat it.
After forcing her way through the trio, she secured her share and took a bite, and immediately, her cheeks loosened.
They loosened so much, it seemed they would fall off. The sight of that made Shinichi smile.
And he made a face so gentle and peaceful and full of content, completely unlike when he was playing with her.
“…Ah, right. I forgot.”
He enjoyed the sight of them enjoying themselves with an expression like that, but then he suddenly remembered why he was even here in the first place.
She’d suddenly fallen from the sky, and then he heard the reason why she fell, so he figured he should at least scold her firmly since he was technically in charge of her.
Of course, it was also partly because he wanted to mess around, but that was the main reason why he sparred with her, and in the end, because he got too excited and he had to think of a way to keep everyone quiet, he completely lost sight of his original purpose for coming here.
“Feel free to eat as much as you want, but did you have some kind of business with me?”
“Hamu, hamu… Huh? With you?”
“Hah? I came here because Shinguuji told me you had something you needed to tell me…”
That’s what he was told this morning at the boy’s dormitory, that’s why he came here.
But if Tomoe’s reaction were to be taken at face value, then apparently, the person in question doesn’t even recall having any business with him.
“Huh? It’s true that I asked Ryou to pass you a message, but that’s not what I told him.”
“…So, what? He intentionally didn’t pass me the right message, and instead had me meet up with you? What’s he doing making everyone double the work?”
“Come to think of it, when I was asking him to pass you a message, he was really adamant that I meet you directly. He even said, ‘if you want, I’ll bring him out of the dorm for you.’ When I told him it would be faster if he just told you, he got mad. Really makes your head hurt, doesn’t it?”
But while Ryou and Tomoe couldn’t make heads or tails of Ryou’s behavior, the three girls quietly looked at each other and shared a meaningful glance.
“Could it be?”
“Yep, Shinguuji might just be trying to push Tomoe onto Nakamura.”
“That might just be the case. He can control her better than him, after all.”
As Tomoe’s friends who knew how she treated Ryou, they were in the position to make some conjectures.
One of Tomoe’s weaknesses was that she tended to lose her cool ‘a little’ whenever the blood got to her head.
Whenever that happened, not even they could stop her, and even
But from what they’ve seen so far, Shinichi would likely continue to tease her even when she’s lost her cool.
“But even if he’s fine in that regard, he’s that Nakamura, you know?”
“He’s a lot more decent than the rumors say, but it’s not as though the rumors have disappeared…”
But since the person being pushed onto Tomoe was Shinichi, who had an even worse reputation than Ryou, a part of them couldn’t help but find it hard to accept.
Even if the two got along well, it would still be difficult for them if other people saw their relationship negatively.
“Well, whatever, we can just ask the person himself later. So what did you ask him to tell me? Is it the sort you can talk about here?”
While Tomoe’s friends were discussing among themselves, Shinichi decided to postpone Ryou’s matter and ask that instead, making sure to ask that last part quietly enough that only Tomoe could hear it. Tomoe didn’t mind and nodded.
“It’s fine since it’s something everyone knows about. I just want you to go on a little date with me tonight.”
“…Hah?” A student said.
Tomoe said so matter-of-factly, yet those words were not something that one could accept just like that.
Inadvertently, Shinichi found himself turning to her friends.
They were thinking about all sorts of things themselves, but when they heard Tomoe say that, they couldn’t help but be roused from their thoughts.
“Ahaha, yeah, I know. I know that feeling all too well.”
“She doesn’t mean anything by it, but she sometimes says things that invite misunderstandings.”
“Tomoe is really blunt, after all.”
From the way her friends were talking as though they’d experienced this for themselves a lot, Shinichi could more or less understand.
That some important bits failed to be included when Tomoe asked him out.
“Sigh, think first before you talk, can you? Otherwise, you better not complain when I take you somewhere dark.”
That’s why he said that to tease her and threaten her, but her response was even more unexpected.
“But that’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m telling you we’re going somewhere dark, so you have to come with me.”
When she said that so naturally, understandably, even he found himself coming with a migraine.
The way she was talking with just the literal meaning of her words was starting to make his head hurt that much.
So he turned to her friends with a difficult face again, and they nodded at him with the same expression.
Apparently, even they thought it was dangerous for her to be this unaware.
“Okay, we’ll make sure to drill it into her later.”
“What the heck have you guys been talking about since awhile ago?”
Meanwhile, she was acting the same as normal because as far as she was concerned, she was doing what she needed to do to achieve ‘something’, not realizing that her words could be interpreted in so many ways.
Shinichi decided to just let her friends point it out to her later, and just continued with the conversation.
“Ask them later. So, what’s you’re objective? By tonight, you’re talking past dorm curfew, right?”
“Yeah, that’s why I want you to keep it a secret. Especially since we’ll be doing it regularly. This help, or rather, evaluation… I want you to see it with your own eyes.”
“Exactly what will we be doing?”
She was speaking ambiguously and with a lot of misleading words, so Shinichi asked her to clarify, but he did not, by any means, think that she was asking something serious from him.
Because his intuition that could sense trouble wasn’t reacting at all.
But even if it wasn’t trouble, the words that came next gave him an ill sense of foreboding.