“Umm… He ran away.
I managed to thank him, but I couldn’t continue the conversation beyond that…” Nobuhiko said with a wry smile.
“Arara, so it didn’t go well, after all.” Rinko could tell from that wry smile just how hard he fought, so she made sure to respond cheerfully.
Nobuhiko didn’t know whether it was simply because Shinichi couldn’t handle the silence or because he was being considerate of him, but he excused himself to go to the toilet.
With everything going exactly as Rinko expected it too, she almost broke into a smile, but she endured the urge and sat beside her husband instead.
“It can’t be helped, I suppose.
I’ve seen many families struggle with returnees.
You’ve been separated for so long, so it’s only natural that it would take some time. Don’t rush it, Nobuhiko-san.
Have courage and take things slowly.
We have plenty of time, after all,” Rinko told her restless husband.
Nobuhiko was worked up because he’d always regretted how he raised Shinichi and how he interacted with him.
But as far as Rinko was concerned, it was all good as long as they could talk. Although it probably won’t go well.
That’s why she decided to calm Nobuhiko down first.
“Right… I have to calm down first.
He’s also dealing with a lot of changes, so I have to be patient.
Sorry for being such a handful. I’m such a terrible dad for not noticing things like this on my own.”
“Not at all. I think it’s wonderful how you’re able to understand things when I tell you something.”
That was proof that he was listening properly and understanding.
For a moment, Nobuhiko blanked out in front of his wife’s smile, but immediately after, his face broke into a smile of his own.
“…I give. I don’t think I’ll ever win against you my whole life.”
“But isn’t that’s exactly how wives are, right?”
The innocent and lively voice of the baby deepened the smile of the Nakamura couple.
“…I don’t think I can intrude on that…”
Seeing the happy family of three, Shinichi couldn’t help but turn around.
He intentionally avoided eavesdropping on them, but regardless, it was an atmosphere that was hard to break into.
If he was merely feeling alienated, then perhaps it would have still been fine, but he wasn’t that adorable. What he felt could be more aptly described to be a feeling of being out of place.
Like black paint smeared upon a painting.
An amateur’s stroke upon a master’s work.
He knew that they accepted all of him.
He was grateful and happy for that, but even then, he didn’t think he could intrude.
“But all of this is really just because I don’t have the heart to. I really can’t apologize enough.”
That was something born from his feeling of something being off which stemmed from the difference in values and reason for reservation.
He knew it would be fine if he just ignored it, but his personality prevented that.
And knowing that the ‘problem was none other than himself’, he couldn’t help but become needlessly apologetic.
Moreover, although in today’s ‘trip’ he was forcefully dragged out by Rinko, he could more or less guess that the reason for it was to allow them to spend time together as a family and also out of consideration for him.
That’s why she specifically picked out this district, as it was another district – different from the one last week – that hadn’t changed much this past 8 years.
It’s only been 8 years since the interaction with the otherworld began, so the influence throughout the region hadn’t leveled out yet.
The district the Nakamura family visited today had an atmosphere that was strongly reminiscent of the old Japan.
Of course, there were still a lot of things that had changed, but that couldn’t be helped.
Where and how should he kill time?
He could read some magazine at the bookstore, memorize the map of the department store from the guide book, check the difference in the price of goods, look for an escape route, or walk around looking for suspicious people.
When Shinichi enumerated the various ways he could kill time in his head, it suddenly occurred to him that the things he thought of were a bit strange. At the very least, they weren’t things that a 15-year-old would normally think of.
Fortunately, he at least didn’t think of looking for weapons. He wasn’t that far gone just yet, Shinichi commended himself.
“Can I really fit into this world?” Shinichi wondered.
As he sighed he noticed a new restaurant inside the department store.
There was a partition separating the restaurant from the other stores, but it wasn’t very tall and he could still see the face of the customers inside if he wanted to.
Normally, he wouldn’t look since it was bad manners to, but fortunately or unfortunately, Shinichi suddenly stopped.
“…Look, I’m going to be killing time right now, so can you not mess with me again, my luck with people!”
His head hurt so much that if only there weren’t any people around he would have crouched already.
Shinichi didn’t have any particular feelings for the person he was looking at.
He neither thought of wanting or not wanting to meet her again.
But his luck was as bad as it was in Falandia, and they couldn’t help but stare at each other.
Of course, if the other party hadn’t noticed him, then he could have chosen to leave quietly, but the ‘girl’s’ flustered appearance took that option away from him.
“…So that’s the reason why you were so fidgety! You hadn’t eaten that parfait yet!”
A sweet smile plastered itself on Shinichi as he teased the beret-wearing girl from Garesto.
Enshrined on her table was an imposingly large parfait.