Shinichi’s tone naturally became harder to conceal that, and the first to respond to him was the girl with a warm gaze.
“So you had a friend? Good for you then.”
While only one side of the conversation had been audible to her, the unabashed banter showed how comfortable Shinichi was with the person on the other end. That’s why Monica’s gaze became needlessly warm and gentle, causing him to involuntarily grimace.
“Thank you for the warm gaze!”
It was a gaze that seemed sympathetic but at the same time happy for him, and he found that humiliating.
It made him want to throw a jab and ask if she was supposed to his guardian or something.
It was then that the owner of the other kind of gaze grumbled.
“I see, so that’s how you behave toward your friends. Hmph.”
‘It’s not interesting at all,’ was written all over Myuhi’s face.
She looked like she was glaring at him, but her ears and tail was dropping.
Even Monica, who has been acquainted with her for only a few hours, could sense how troubled she was.
Myuhi was clearly sulking, and Shinichi wasn’t fool enough not to know why.
“There’s no way I can treat women the same as I treat men.”
Am I not your friend too? Was what Myuhi was basically saying, so Shinichi responded to her by saying that he just treated them differently.
“Sometimes discrimination is necessary!”
“Which is it!?”
When the two started arguing almost by reflex, Monica finally couldn’t contain it any longer, and she started laughing.
It was curious if they noticed that, but regardless, the two exchanged dissatisfied and exasperated glances.
But then the two suddenly erase all emotions from their face and stood beside Monica, who didn’t even have time to ask what the matter was.
“Monica, we’re done setting up, so hurry up and start your rehearsal!”
Teresa entered the room out of the blue.
Meanwhile, the sight of Shinichi and Myuhi so quickly changing persona and standing next to her made Monica utter a surprised, “Amazing.”
The both of them nodded, then Monica got up from her seat.
They followed from behind her without so much as a ripple on their expression. It was as though the exchange they were having just a moment ago had been nothing but a lie.
“Hey, she made a terrible face just now for a moment, didn’t she? It was like that time when you asked her if ‘that was all.’”
“…Guess it was a bigger deal than I thought.”
For some reason, Shinichi and Myuhi were speaking to each other with a tinge of concern for Monica.
The rearrangement of equipment and personnel completed just before the sun fully set. Monica took the stage in casual clothes, but she exuded a confidence befitting that of a star.
Her attire was no different from the rest of the staff, band members, and dancers yet the presence she exuded and tone was unmistakably that of the songstress, Monica Chantal.
Nearly all of the staff were meeting her for the first time, having arrived just moments ago.
However, due to her fame, Monica was able to actively engage with them and bring everything together.
The rehearsal progressed smoothly. Her charm captivated people of all ages and genders, not just through her singing but also through her interactions, creating a scene that suggested there was more to her allure than just her voice.
Shinichi and the others watched from a corner of the stage.
They were a long way away, but they were highly alert. Even if someone next to her suddenly attacked with a deadly weapon, or if a bullet of light was shot at her from somewhere, they were confident that they would be able to intervene before Monica was harmed.
Both the disguised faces visible to everyone and the genuine expressions beneath seemed calm, perhaps because of their confidence, but…
“…Do you have something you want to say?”
“Umm, what are you talking about, nyaa?”
There was an unusual tension in the air between the two.
Although her expression remained composed, beads of cold sweat have already formed on Myuhi’s forehead.
Shinichi quietly pointed at Monica.
They’ve already completed several rounds of coordination with the band and the backup dancers, yet they continued to make adjustments in accordance with the song.
It was clearly a professional workspace and a battlefield in that regard.
Shinichi and Myuhi were outsiders, and they knew this wasn’t the place for them to intervene, but…
“You can hear it with those ears, can’t you? She’s been skillfully avoiding something since earlier, but then again, if you consider what kind of event this is, it would be strange for that not to be the case.”
Myuhi’s fox ears twitched while her eyes swam.
There was a qualitative gap in the ability to read people between her and Shinichi, but there were not many people better than them.
That’s why he’d long realized that there was something off about Monica ever since he started for looking for potential dangers in the venue.
And her unease has escalated over the two hours of this rehearsal. Even the managers wore puzzled expressions as they started to realize that something was off. They were yet to figure out what the cause was, however, that’s why…
“Why won’t she sing?”
Shinichi casually and mercilessly pointed out the problem.
Myuhi wryly smiled, but she couldn’t even try to fool him.
There was just too much evidence.
Perhaps due to the fact that most of them were working together for the first time, Monica has been diligently checking the acoustics in the venue, the band’s performance, and the condition of the audio equipment with her own ears.
She has been moving around the venue to ensure that there was no significant difference in sound quality in different locations and that her voice could reach the last row properly. However, she has been finding various reasons to postpone the crucial element that was her singing.
This was the rehearsal after introducing several new members, and the concert was also tomorrow.
Though they were all pros, there were still bound to be subtle changes. Understanding the overall flow, each person’s role, and the singer’s preferences took precedence, but while it wasn’t necessary to sing all of her songs in full, it was still important to let her voice resonate to some extent.
No matter how perfect everything else might be, if there were to be any issue in her singing itself, the entire performance could end in a disaster.
“I have a few ideas why, Hired Guard A,” Shinichi said.
“What a coincidence, me too, Client B,” Myuhi said.
Neither of them averted their eyes from Monica, but Shinichi told her to fess up regardless. Myuhi’s voice shook, but she somehow managed to say something in response. When silence filled the space between them, the expressionless face and the wry smile they respectively wore was terribly solemn.
“I’m sorry. It’s exactly as you’ve surmised.”
Myuhi waved the white flag, and her real ears and tail limply drooped. Shinichi sighed.
“What’s the point of telling me that, tell that to the person in question.”
Myuhi blinked her eyes in surprise, but then she realized what he was getting at, and she nodded with a faint smile.
“You’re used to scolding others, aren’t you? You weren’t even there. Sometimes, you really are like a big brother.”
Of course, she’s long figured out that he was in fact a big brother, but that’s not what she meant. Rather, she was referring to his attitude and way of solving problems. In that sense, he was very older brotherish. But Shinichi just made a sullen face in response to such an appraisal.
“Well excuse me for playing the big brother indiscriminately.”
“Huh, so it does bother you. Fu fu, is it troublesome being the big brother?”
Myuhi chuckled, and Shinichi shook his head.
“Not really. I haven’t done anything else other than that, and there’s nothing else I can do either.”
“What a hardcore and clumsy older brother you must be then.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
One of the drawbacks of a highly advanced translation tool was that even the intentions of the speaker could be deciphered. Shinichi narrowed her eyes as he sensed that there was strange nuance hidden behind her use ‘older brother’.