In other words, it was only because he was able to produce results that she was saying that. It was such an outspoken thing to say that Frire found herself speechless for a moment.
“Come on, now… I might not have the vocabulary to say anything grand, but you’re still being too self-deprecating. You’ve been helping me out for awhile now too. And didn’t you say it just now? That you didn’t want others finding fault with my efforts?”
“I’m telling you that those words made me happy, so just accept my gratitude, okay? You helped me because you wanted to, right? I’m not grateful to you because you produced results. I’m grateful because you felt that way and decided to help.”
As she said that, she dug into her new burger.
Even the simplest cuisines of this world truly were delicious.
Then she noticed a pair of eyes looking at her, so she turned back to the boy and noticed the astonishment written all over him.
“…What? You ate that much. Don’t tell me you want more.”
He had already had his fill with the mountains of burgers and french fries on his tray, but Frire knew full well how bottomless the boy’s appetite was, so she couldn’t help but doubt that even all of that might not have been enough to sate him; however…
“…Shirayuki, what do you think? For a moment, I actually thought she was hitting on me there.”
〈 The master appears to have no ulterior motives. 〉
“Her lack of ulterior motives is actually worrying, though… Just how can someone remain pure to this extent? It makes me not want to fix her, actually, and instead try to prolong this state of her for as long as possible.”
〈Agreed, conditionally, but I still request that you take care of her.〉
“Damn… This might actually be enough to move my heart.”
Before Frire knew it, her terminal and her student started having a conversation by themselves that she couldn’t understand all that well.
“What are you two talking about?”
When asked, they just said that it was nothing, while Shinichi went back to his usual attitude and resumed talking in his usual teasing manner.
“More importantly, I’ll accept your earlier words at face value. It feels surprisingly good actually. From here on, continue to make me feel glad that it’s me helping you, okay? It’s incredibly rewarding.”
“Hmm… I feel like you mean something else, but anyhow… Don’t overthink it, okay?”
Despite that she could still see the strange sense of exhaustion and sorrow on his face.
“Ahaha, that might be impossible. I’m dumb, after all.”
And what came back in return was a self-deprecating remark uttered in such a distressingly carefree voice.
“You know how bad my grades are, Teach. I don’t know what you think about that, but that’s actually my best. I just happen to be cunning outside of schoolwork.”
“If you really think that, then stop worrying so much. Doesn’t your country have a fitting proverb for that? Something along the lines of how it’s hard to tell a dumb thinker from something?”
Unable to accept how harshly Shinichi evaluated himself, Frire found herself saying that by reflex, but she couldn’t finish the saying, and her terminal intervened.
〈Master, it goes ‘it’s hard to tell a poor thinker from a sleeping one’. It means that someone who can’t come up with good ideas will take too long to come up with anything good that they might as well be asleep. For example, a certain teacher trying to come up with the rights words to say. 〉
“Damn it, Shirayuki! No one asked for your opinion! In the first place, you just use whatever your search results turn up, don’t you!? And the way you talk is plenty weird too!”
Frire started running her mouth, throwing one complaint after another at the poor AI, but Shirayuki just feigned ignorance and kept quiet until the storm passed.
“Ku ku, the two of you are just like a pair of close sisters”
When Shinichi laughed from the side and said that, human and terminal alike made a displeased expression and emoji (on the screen) respectively.
“Oh, uh, don’t get mad, don’t get mad… What were we talking about again? Oh, right. You were telling me not to worry so much since I’m dumb anyway, right?”
“I didn’t go that far, but… You just look like you’re tormenting yourself when you brood over it that much.”
“Thanks. You’re probably right, but I think dumb people should never stop thinking precisely because they are dumb. After all, if you know you’re dumb and you stop thinking, then from a dumb person you will devolve to become even dumber than a fool. And that would be
Shinichi said those last words while looking forward, yet strangely enough, his eyes seemed to be looking up above.
“Well, there are times when I envy that sort of simplicity too, you know. Unfortunately, this is just my nature. It’s how I was born, and there’s just no changing it now. That’s true for you too, right?”
When Shinichi put it that way, Frire could find no words to argue with.
Frire was actually about a decade older, but neither her nor the people relevant considered here as such. Regardless, she was still plenty young,
Yet be that as it may, if someone actually told her to go change various parts of herself, she would have no choice but to say that it was impossible.
But that was also why Frire suddenly understood something that had been bothering her all this time.
“…Is that why you sometimes play with the people around you?”
It was as if he was acting like a thoughtless boy his age whenever he did that.
“It’s a hobby of mine that happens to be practically beneficial.”
With a smirk, he responded with his usual smile, and she simply replied, “you’re terrible,” and smiled herself. She thought to herself that she would tolerate him a little more from now on.
“Well, in that case, from tomorrow onwards is a route that you pretty much arranged. Tomorrow, on the 13th, we’ll be mostly traveling, while on the first day in Hokkaido, the 14th, we’ll be touring famous places as a group, but on the second day, the 15th, we’re free, so feel free to
Frire told him to go and have fun with the girls from tomorrow onwards, but on Shinichi’s face was visibly written the words ‘I messed up’.
“Hmm? What’s the matter? Why you making that face?”
Shinichi hesitated a bit, but with a bitter expression, eventually managed to articulate what he needed.
“Uh, you remember how I told you I had a request? Sorry, but the 14th, no, even just the evening of tomorrow (13th) will be fine, but can you take me with you guys?”
For a moment, silence fell on the two of them, and the indescribable expression written on their faces was unusually painful to behold.
After all, Shinichi’s request was basically an order. There was no rejecting it.
He might have given it indirectly, but he was basically saying, ‘I’m going somewhere else, so prepare an alibi for me’.
Frire could understand that much, so she sighed exaggeratedly, then held her head.
Since he was going this far, then there was probably something that needed to be done, and there was no point in trying to stop him.
“Sigh… Right after I tell you to stop worrying and you bring this up? Just where and what are you planning to do!?”
But of course, Frire never expected him to give a clear answer.
Shinichi could understand how she felt, so he felt sorry that he had to bring this up so suddenly and made a deeply apologetic face.
“Umm… There’s someone I want to greet… It’s a friend of mine that I don’t want to fight with as much as possible.”
Shinichi said those words with nostalgia, familiarity, and a tinge of fear.