“I need to change Shinji’s diaper, so wait here for a bit.”
After Rinko said that she left her husband and her stepson alone.
She was able to settle the issue with the thieves in just 30 minutes thanks to her authority as a member of the countermeasure department.
When she got back, they went through the general stores as planned, but she noticed that her husband was at a loss, so she used the diaper change as an excuse to give them space. In other words, ‘I’ll give you two some time, so talk it out with each other,’ is what she tacitly implied.
“Well, it’s my husband we’re talking about, so it probably won’t go well…”
And besides, it wouldn’t really be strange if they couldn’t talk immediately after that.
Especially, in her husband’s case, who was bad at talking to relatives, and Shinichi, who wasn’t really one to start the topic.
They probably wouldn’t talk even if they were left alone.
“Dad and big brother sure are a handful, aren’t they?”
Rinko smiled as she changed Shinji’s diapers.
The reason Rinko left the father-and-son pair despite knowing that was because she too had her own circumstances.
Of course, Shinji did need a change in diaper too, but the real reason why she left was that she needed to gather her thoughts to keep her worries from showing on her face.
“Who would’ve thought that that director would actually turn out right?”
When she said that, a wry smile appeared on her face.
‘If it’s you then you’ll surely notice it when someone is acting strange.’
That was tacitly implied when she was given the order to watch over Shinichi. Of course, that order no longer actually mattered.
For some reason, the director suddenly told her that she didn’t have to report her findings on Shinichi anymore.
Ironically, though, in the roughly two weeks that she has spent with Shinichi, Rinko found exactly what the director had been looking for – the possibility that Shinichi might be lying.
There were several things off about the way he acted.
And this last incident made that even clearer.
“I guess I’m still lacking too since I failed to notice it for so long. Or maybe I just didn’t want to notice it.”
Shinichi was natural when he spoke with her and interacted with the staff.
He was able to talk with ‘people’ normally even though he had just returned.
It was painful to see him react so calmly to his mother and his siblings, but even then nothing he did suggested he had no contact with people for 2 years.
Just seeing the way the crowd look at him today spoke volumes.
Of course, he had a partner (amaryllis) who could understand him, but that alone wasn’t enough to explain it.
Shinichi was ‘familiar’ with people.
And the way he moved earlier…
“Your big brother was pretty cool earlier, wasn’t he?
Not that you could see him.”
It was curious whether Shinji could actually understand her, but he smiled an unhappy smile in response.
Rinko was found out about Shinichi’s combat skills for the first time today. She didn’t underestimate him as much as her husband did.
After all, Shinichi was able to survive in the nature reserve. That was impressive even with the protection of the amaryllis.
Because of that she believed that he must’ve had some combat skills.
But she believed the skills he learned must’ve been applicable only against beasts.
“There shouldn’t be any humanoids there…”
That onslaught he showed early that utilized only his legs and while carrying Shinji.
He deflected the man’s weapon, kicked him in the stomach to stop his movements, and then sent him flying with a kick to the head.
That was not a skill cultivated to fight beasts. No. That was a skill that had been cultivated to deal with other people.
She already knew that Shinichi hadn’t learned any martial arts prior to being drifted.
Hence, the skills he showed earlier must’ve been learned in Garesto. Moreover, it must’ve been learned among people.
“When I think of it that way, it all finally starts to make sense, Shinji.”
She grumbled even though there was no way Shinji could understand her.
No matter how Rinko thought about it, she couldn’t believe that Shinichi could have survived in the Nature Reserve for 2 years.
After all, Shinichi was the sort of person who always prioritized others.
He just came back, but he was more concerned about his family than himself.
That was also true in the two weeks Rinko spent with him.
When Rinko called out to him out of concern earlier, he misunderstood and thought she was talking about Shinji.
That was not something he just learned recently.
Nor was it the sort of mentality that would allow him to survive out in the wild.
“Sigh… I really detest how I arrived at the same conclusion as that director.”
Of course, that was only referring to the part where Shinichi was ‘in a place with people’.
Shinichi might have been involved in a crime, but that was still only a possibility.
The question now was what should Rinko do now that she’s noticed this oddity in Shinichi’s situation.
She was able to organize her thoughts, so she’s confident that she could at least keep her worries from showing on her face today, but the future was worrying.
She needed to decide whether to talk to him about it or just stay quiet, and whether to report it or not. This was really a bad situation for her.
Rinko took her job seriously, but she would much rather keep quiet if it wasn’t beneficial for her to talk.
Not being overly loyal to the organization she was affiliated with and having fewer dilemmas is said to be the defining trait of modern people.
“Well, let’s just have your big brother enjoy himself today.”
This was originally the plan, but she decided to double her effort.
For the meantime, she’ll just put off the problem for now and tell her son to have fun.
After their trip to the restroom, Rinko and Shinji were all smiles. Of course, the latter’s smile was mainly because his diaper had been changed.
“Huh? Where did Shinichi-kun go?”
When they came back, Shinichi was nowhere to be seen.
The father and son pair should’ve been waiting at the resting area in front of the vending machine, but while her husband, Nobuhiko, was seated on the bench along with Shinichi’s bag, the person himself was missing.