“It really does happen frequently in the army… I do agree that it gives me mixed feelings, though…”
The appearance of raybeasts could indeed be predicted to some extent, but since their appearance was a natural phenomenon, they could also appear in unexpected places, so it wasn’t all that uncommon for orders to suddenly change. Sometimes units that were dispatched for one mission would suddenly have to change their trajectory. However, the area they were covering in this trip was far greater that any mission required, so really, comparing the two situations wasn’t entirely appropriate.
Though Frire did want the students to be deceived, it also made her uneasy when they believed her so much. After all, it was plain as day to see that they were being influenced by her position as a teacher, her background as a former soldier, and her overblown reputation as the Sword Saint. Her position and her background was making it such that these students would believe even the craziest stories so long as they came from her, and that made her head ache.
“Well, in that regard, do raise them well, Teach.”
“Uuu… Maybe I’ll get some advise from Teacher Satou. You’re usually so good at watching over others, but sometimes you’re so quick to leave them on their own.”
When she was reminded what her profession was, she had no choice but to grit her teeth and do her best. Shinichi actually had some doubts about that part of her – for while she believed that she shouldn’t rely on others too much, she was yet to understand where to draw the line.
“Helping you with everything from start to finish isn’t helping anymore, you know? At that point, it’s called spoiling. Especially, in my case. As someone who possesses too much power, it’s good manners not to lend it too much. In fact, even the way I worked behind the scenes to help you for this school trip was an exception.”
That was Shinichi’s policy, and this matter with the school trip was really just an exception. After all, in the end, the cause of all this was him, so really, the party that had to deal with this mess was blameless, and normal methods were doomed from the start.
“I’m also biased toward my own.”
Shinichi added with a chuckle.
“Fu fu, that would be collusion.”
Frire played along and added.
Shinichi seemed to like that, but then he narrowed his eyes and looked outside.
“Well, it might just be a compromise on my part, though.”
His eyes were sharp and lifeless, and he seemed deaf to Frire calling out his name.
On the glass was clearly reflected his lifeless eyes that held neither warmth nor frost.
“I’m supposed to be the final breakwater, yet under the pretense that the situation has already reached the limits, I lend my hand time and time again… When the waves made in the process reach
He muttered those last words in resignation.
Frustration at his lack of ability.
Despondent that he could only make a move when the situation was bad enough.
But beyond all of that was a frustration toward something else.
“I knew full well the limits of what could be accomplished through brute force, and yet..”
Frire knew that Shinichi didn’t see his power in a favorable light.
She couldn’t understand why he showed such contempt for himself, but this was something else.
Unfortunately, Frire did not know how to properly express what this something was.
It was as if there was a disconnect between them that was even more severe than her relationship with her older brother.
This wasn’t rejection, nay. Rather, in an instant, the man that should have been beside her had suddenly left her behind.
The moment she felt that, her mouth moved on its own.
“Nakamura, stop that. I can’t tell where you are anymore.”
It was as if he was seeing everything from the highest peak of the world, and yet at the same, from its deepest trench. As though he could see into the farthest reaches of the horizon, as though he could see everything, including himself, and yet at the same time, remained distant from everything.
Her words might not have been sufficient and lacked context, but they still succinctly conveyed where he was.
As a result, Shinichi quietly
He remained like that for awhile as he faced Frire.
“─────────Did I go off somewhere?”
Then he said those words with disbelief.
“At the very least, that’s how it looked to me.”
“Oops,” Shinichi blushed in embarrassment as he covered his face with his hands.
He was so embarrassed that he even hung down his head and squirmed a little. That was a rare sight for Frire. A rare treat.
And for a moment, she completely forgot that feeling of being left out as she smiled at his uncharacteristic display of embarrassment.
‘So even he can make a face like this,’ she thought.
“Don’t laugh… It happens from time to time. Sometimes my consciousness just flies off somewhere.”
As embarrassed as the boy was, he still explained that it was hard for him to explain himself.
Frire was puzzled, but they had their promise, so she wouldn’t pursue the matter.
Of course, that promise had long been turned into a convenient tool for both of them, but she still decided to keep her part in it.
Though it was mostly because the boy looked like he didn’t want to talk about it.
“It’s you we’re talking about, so I’m sure there are things you can see that other people can’t. I can tell that much from the incident at Kutoria, so I’m sure you have your moments.”
Shinichi was someone who could get close to the truth just by relying on circumstantial evidence and his intuition.
The breadth of their scope was just too different. Be it in comprehension, speculation, or in the ability to predict, his was on another level. And if he could see something that others couldn’t, then it only stood to reason that he would have his own worries and concerns.
Because of Frire’s own experiences in society, she has come to understand that the difference in position and ability would often lead to differences in what one could perceive.
“…So you are an adult, after all, huh.”
“Can you not say it like that? I might not have the vocabulary to express it and my opinion might not be exceptional, but I’m still glad that ti was you who helped.”
Frire couldn’t understand what it was that bothered Shinichi so much, but regardless, she was glad that it was him who was there and was able to help.
Unfortunately, that just led to a gloomy expression appearing on the boy.
“…I hate how I can’t honestly accept those words.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean aren’t you just saying that because the situation turned out well?”