“T-That’s… It’s not like I actually like her or anything, I just thought it would be fitting for the ranked one boy to go out with the ranked one girl.”
Aristel F. Padyuel, the young lady and next head of the Padyuel Family, one of the Ten Great Nobles of Garesto.
With status, beauty, and ability, it would be a lie to say that Ryou did not have any motives beyond what he claimed, and in fact, now that he thought about it, he must’ve been trying to appeal to her by aiming for the top; a truly painful thing to realize.
“…That’s a terrible thing to hear outside of the academy. Oh, I suppose even inside the academy.”
“I know! I won’t do it anymore, so just leave it be already! I want to forget about it too! And besides… She’s already completely fallen for that guy…”
The realization that he’d really messed up his way of doing things made him want to quickly erase that part of his past, while Yousuke was all grins as he noticed Ryou finally put two and two together.
However, he didn’t hear the last part that Ryou muttered.
“I need to go to the restroom for a sec, oh, right… Women shop for a long time, so you better be prepared.”
Yousuke left Ryou with that warning and headed for the store’s restroom.
As Ryou saw him off, he thought back to the cabin in the plane and thought of how unexpected it was.
Ryou didn’t know when she ‘became like that’, but as someone who had been pining for her, he could understand in that moment just who it was that she was yearning for, and it immediately dawned on him what a problematic thing that was.
Aristel as a love rival was just too strong.
Status, beauty, ability… She had them all, and it was doubtful if Tomoe could win anywhere at all.
Perhaps they could compete in personality, but unfortunately, Ryou couldn’t speak for her in that regard.
Of course, if she heard him say that, the only thing waiting for him would be a full course of violence and curses, but he was sincere.
Ryou would accompany Shinichi even by force to increase his intimacy with Tomoe, but that was difficult with the twins around.
Ryou racked his head trying to come up with a solution, but he didn’t actually know anything about this subject, so naturally, he couldn’t come up with a solution.
Who would’ve thought that the day would come when he would regret his lack of relationships and romantic experiences?
He knew he was sticking his nose where it didn’t belong, but Tomoe would never move on her own.
They grew up together, so he could tell that she was a late-bloomer in that regard.
In the first place, it was doubtful that she’d even noticed her own feelings.
“It’s a long road ahead, but you know… You were looking at him just like she was.”
Her eyes were just like Aristel’s.
Ryou knew that they had a troublesome bloodline, and Shinichi knew about that too, but he didn’t care and was even willing to deal with their problems.
Surely, there couldn’t be a better man for her than him; all the more so, when there were feelings involved.
He wanted to help her at least this much since she was a childhood friend that suffered a similar fate as him.
Though they had an undesirable yet inseparable relationship, and she wasn’t any good as a woman, he didn’t want her to suffer any more. He wanted her to be happy.
“Hmm, sound only?”
Yousuke opened a call inside a restroom, only to be greeted by a black screen, but his doubts would immediately be cleared by the voice on the other end.
『There’s a lot of people around, so I can’t open a video feed.』
“Ah, I see. Sorry, I didn’t consider that.”
When he pricked up his ears, other people could indeed be heard through the call.
He had forgotten that he was also in the park with them.
“They’re shopping at the Bibinyaa Spot right now, so I think we’ll be here for awhile.”
『I see… Sorry to have you act like a spy.』
“It’s fine, Onii-chan.”
They couldn’t see each other, but Yousuke still shook his head as he said that.
They were exchanging information like this to keep their group from happening into Shinichi.
Yousuke found it sad that his older brother and his older sister couldn’t meet each other, but he knew that nothing good would come from their meeting, so he cooperated with him.
“Are you having fun? We had a fierce competition just awhile ago at the airfield. Honestly, it’s hard work just accompanying them.”
Yousuke wanted to talk normally to Shinichi as his younger brother since they couldn’t have this sort of idle conversation back at the academy.
『My condolences. I’m having fun too. It’s been awhile since I came to a place like this… Everyone looks like they’re having fun.』
“It sure was crazy how they just suddenly up and decided to go to Japan, though. Thanks to that, we were able to have fun after doing nothing but study and play. Even that stubborn sister of ours is really excited. Because of that it’s harder on me than usual.”
Yousuke laughed. It didn’t sound like he was having a hard time at all.
『…You’ve been doing nothing but study and train? Since when?』
“Huh, ah… Don’t worry about it… It’s nothing important…”
Yousuke realized that he messed up, but it was already too late. Shinichi had already picked up on the hidden meaning behind his words.
『Yousuke, since when?』
Shinichi asked him in a monotonous tone. He wasn’t about to take no for an answer.
Imprinted habits have always been difficult to get rid of, and Yousuke couldn’t help but obey this voice.
“…Since 8 years ago, I suppose. A lot of things happened, and we were never able to come to places like this.”
But even then, he still had to try and fool him by relying on the expression, ‘all sorts’.
When his older brother first went missing, the whole family was too preoccupied to think of traveling or leisure, and then the introduction of the otherworld’s system and the divorce of their parents turned their life upside down. By the time they finally collected themselves, their paths were already decided. That’s why they didn’t have the time for leisure at all.
『Isn’t this your second time going on the trip?』
“We went to Europe last year, so it felt more like we were studying culture rather than playing. It’s our first time coming somewhere just for the purpose of having fun… But don’t worry! We decided this on our own!”
Yousuke said in an attempt to end the subject.
At this rate, even the parts he’s trying to hide would be dug up.
『………It’s a load off my back when you put it that way.』
Perhaps Shinichi sensed that, or perhaps he could tell what it was that he was hiding, but after a long period of silence, he chose to end the subject.
Yousuke regretted his carelessness, but it was already too late.
He tried to say something, but his older brother was a step ahead.
“A-Alright! I’ll see you later!”
“I really can’t win against him,” Yousuke muttered after cutting the call.
He was trying to be considerate of his older brother, but their positions were reversed because of his mistake. How pathetic, Yousuke shook his head.
At the same time, he was once again reminded of how amazing his older brother was.
While thinking of how to kill time, Yousuke went back.
“───Fuu, they’re working too hard, seriously”
After closing the call with his brother, Shinichi made a sad face, but he quickly got rid of it.
“Oh, sorry about that, uncles. I had an important call just now. And I couldn’t put it on hold just for you… Did you wait long?”
Casually and intimately, Shinichi called out to them, but to the people that voice was directed to, the brighter it sounded, the creepier it was.
There was a man quivering by the corner, a man lying on the ground without any strength, and yet amidst all that, stood a boy as though nothing could be more natural.
The more normal he acted, the scarier he appeared.
Especially when that boy was grabbing someone by the mouth to block it, and that someone happened to be a large man that was also being lifted from the ground, his legs flapping about.
Shock and confusion could be seen from the man’s eyes. After all, he had a robust physique, and his Status should be fairly high, and yet, a child that looked nothing like the part had completely sealed him. How was he supposed to accept that?
Helpless, all the man could do was do his best to yell despite the hand blocking his mouth.
Of course his limbs were also doing their best to resist, but the boy was so casual about it that he could even take a call.
Before long, fear dyed the man’s eyes.
Then came a scream. The boy that had been smiling normally until now had suddenly stomped on someone’s leg without even glancing at it, bending it to an impossible angle and giving rise to an unbearable scream.
Yet despite that, for some reason, no one was coming.
It was true that they were in a blind alley, but the crowd of the park was just a few meters away.
And yet, even as the man shaking by the corner screamed, no one so much as noticed them.
The man being lifted up became angry, but his emotion quickly turned to something else.
He let out a muffled scream and looked down to see a blade buried deep into his thighs, causing him to scream even more out of fear and pain.
But the boy didn’t care about him at all and just went about his business.
“Now then, will you answer my question or not? —What are you people trying to do?”
Despite stabbing a man’s thigh with a sword, the boy’s smile never left his face.
And what an evil smile it was, for it was enough to chill even the air despite the heat and the pain from the earlier act.
A face that couldn’t be more normal, and yet on it was a crescent-moon smile.
Before that, whatever beliefs or principles the men had vanished, and they all surrendered.