“Well, it was so so,” Shinichi said.
When he was asked so happily like that, Shinichi couldn’t help but immediately lie to him straight-faced.
He himself was still shocked from that incident and still couldn’t calmly think back to it, so he wanted to put an end to the depressing topics as quickly as possible.
“So so? I’m sure it must have been a great reunion. I would have loved to see such a moving scene.”
Although he was saying these things without knowing the actual situation, his words also showed how he saw Shinichi’s parents and siblings.
And while Shinichi felt mostly pain and sadness from that, he was also a little happy.
“Still, I guess it must really be difficult for one parent to take care of three children, huh.
Isn’t it hard living alone with your dad?”
Daigo thought that the reason Shinichi was taken in by his dad was because of that.
Naturally, Shinichi couldn’t actually fool him by lying about his family’s setup, given that if he lived around here, they were bound to meet again, so he told him the truth.
“Actually, there’s four of us living together.”
“My dad remarried. I have a new younger brother now too.”
When Shinichi flatly told him that, a loud voice resounded throughout the store.
Shinichi couldn’t stop but laugh at the dumb face his childhood friend was making.
Of course, the only one who had to bow to the people around them was Daigo.
“Fu fu. On top of that… My dad married a young beauty.”
That old man did!? …Wow. Good going, uncle.”
As expected, even Dagio didn’t think Shinichi’s dad was the sort of man who could pull off such an envious feat.
Shinichi wryly smiled when he heard him quietly muttering to himself, ‘I want one too.’
It seems this childhood friend of his wasn’t in a relationship just yet.
It wouldn’t have been strange for him to have already been married or have a lover at his age, but for some reason, Shinichi was relieved.
A lot had changed already, so if this childhood friend of his had even gone and gotten himself a wife or a lover, Shinichi might have no longer been able to keep up with the changes.
“Aren’t you having a hard time living with them?”
“I’m fine. The person he married is a good person and my new younger brother is lively and cute too.”
“I see you still love children as usual.
Still, since someone as shy as you is saying that, then I guess it really must be so.
Did you get over your shyness after living 2 years out in the wild?”
Daigo laughed as he patted Shinichi’s head while repeatedly saying, ‘That’s great’.
Shinichi was completely being treated by his childhood friend as a kid. Well, technically, he was a kid, but being treated like that would naturally leave him with a sullen face.
As expected, given the situation, Shinichi found it difficult to tell him the truth that ‘it’s actually gotten worse.’
“Ah, but first— Huh. It’s this time already? Sorry, Shinichi. I’ve got to go. I have a part time job, you see.”
When Daigo saw his watch from the corner of his vision, he panicked and quickly got his belongings.
Freed from the patting, Shinichi nodded with understanding.
Daigo took something and pressed it.
“Wait, what is that?”
“What do you mean what? It’s the bill. I’m paying.”
He said it so naturally that Shinichi couldn’t help but grin.
“We’re splitting the bill.”
“N-No. I’m an adult right now, so…”
“We’re splitting the bill.”
“It’s not that much.”
“We’re splitting the bill.”
Shinichi repeatedly told him to split the bill without any change in his expression or voice.
Daigo seemed to be asking Shinichi with his eyes why he was so persistent about this, and Shinichi cheerfully answered.
“That’s how we always did it, right?”
When Daigo was told that, he fell silent and thought back to it.
It’s true that they had a relationship where one saved the other.
But other than those times, they had an equal relationship.
Was Shinichi doing this after considering their previous relationship? Or was he doing this because he acknowledged Daigo to be a friend?
Shinichi himself did not know for sure, but he did not want to lose that relationship just because of a difference in age.
“That’s why we’re splitting the bill.”
“Right… I remember now. That aside, you sure are persistent in some pretty weird places.
I guess I’ll just have to give in here,” Daigo happily sighed.
A persistence that wouldn’t bend no matter how much one was beaten.
An unyielding spirit that – even if one asked for help – would never think that one was wrong or yield to the enemy.
They were so proud of that trait of Shinichi’s as his friends, Daigo remembered.
Daigo smiled at the fact that the person himself did not seem to be aware of that.
“That’s right, you bonehead. Ha ha. I’m glad you haven’t changed.”
As Daigo said that, he paid for the drink he drank and stood up.
Incidentally, somehow he’d also prepared his contact number.
“When you buy your own, contact me.”
Currently, all Shinichi had with him was a tool to contact people for emergency purposes.
It was not something he felt comfortable using to contact others for private reasons. Especially since he did not know who might be listening.
“Alright,” Shinichi nodded. As Daigo was about to walk away, though, he suddenly stopped on the second step.
“Hey, Shinichi. Do you think I’ve changed?”
When Daigo turned his head and nonchalantly asked him that question, for a moment, Shinichi was confused, but still, he answered.
“What are you talking about? It’s been 8 years, you know?
It would be weird if you hadn’t changed. If anything, you should be asking if you’d grown.
From the way I see it, you’ve grown into a fine adult, Daigo.”
“…I see. Thanks. Be careful on your way back.”
“You do your best at your part time too.”
Shinichi waved his hands and saw Daigo off. When he was gone, he sighed deeply.
Shinichi felt that Daigo wanted him to say that he ‘hadn’t changed’.
But he’d changed too much for him to be able to instantly say those words.
Normally, it wouldn’t have been a problem if it were just his body that changed these past 8 years, but…
“…I knew it in my head. But it’s harsh when it’s someone you know…”
There were people negatively affected by the interaction between the two worlds. As such, there were people who were bitter about the whole thing.
They were divided between those who believed that nothing could have been done about the situation and those who think otherwise.
On one hand, you have those who think that it can’t be helped that the two worlds are interacting, on the other hand, you have those who think that things could have turned out differently had the two worlds just prepared properly.
But it was a meaningless discussion given that the interaction between the two worlds had already advanced to this stage.
That’s why Shinichi didn’t know what he should say.
The most he could do was to stay politically correct and say the obvious things.
Unfortunately, this once again left him feeling helpless and sighing.
As Daigo quickly walked to the store he worked part time at, he regretted a little.
Why did he have to ask that question when he parted with Shinichi? Because of that Shinichi had to fuss over him.
He should have known that asking Shinichi that would make him worry what he should say.
Although Shinichi didn’t mess his words up, Daigo clearly saw his eyes swimming for a moment.
Daigo already knew it himself. It has been 8 years since then. Things didn’t always go well.
His mom moved to her hometown. His dad’s company went bankrupt and he failed to be reemployed.
Somehow Daigo’s dad managed to find employment through his mother’s relatives’ connections, but both of his parents suffered a lot while raising him.
Despite that they still supported him to chase after his dream. And yet Daigo himself couldn’t get them results.
There was an overwhelming difference between Daigo and the high rankers. He was able to deal with the studies and the training until then, but when the knowledge and technology of Garesto joined the fray, a the wall called status blocked his path, and Daigo could not overcome it. In the end, Daigo shamelessly ran away.
The dream he had so strongly sworn upon, he gave up just like that. Since then he hasn’t managed to find a steady job, and he can’t even last at any of his part-time work.
So, in the end, who was the weak one? When he thought back to the past, he couldn’t help but laugh in self-mockery.
Although it was just a short while, it’s been a long time since he was last able to enjoy himself in a conversation.
2 years. His childhood friend had been thrown into a harsh environment, but he came out the same as ever.
Although Daigo was happy about that, on the other hand, it made him ashamed of his own weakness.
“Don’t turn out like me, Shinichi.”
A person who lost something he once had.
Daigo could only imagine what kind of treatment awaited someone like Shinichi who was an All D.
But no matter how hard he tried to imagine it, he could not see him kneeling.
Although Shinichi was a weak child who always cried, he never once yielded to anyone.
Because of that natural stubbornness of his, although he never won once, he also never lost once.
“…Huh? Come to think of it, what was that guy’s dream again?”
Daigo was hell bent on becoming a police. Takeshi watned to be a scientist.
So, what did Shinichi want to become?
Daigo felt like it was something really abstract, but he just couldn’t quite remember it.
But whatever it was, Daigo prayed that his dream would come true.