“Fu fu, let’s get back to the topic before you get angry.”
Upon seeing Shinichi not deny the possibility of that, Takeshi continued the conversation.
Shinichi didn’t want the topic brought up anyway, so he just quietly played along.
This conversation was important to him too, after all.
“Traces of tampering with their historical information haven’t been found, but it’s doubtful if the people that inputted the data actually knew the truth when they did.”
“…Later people might have also edited it further, so that makes the matter all the more complicated.”
“There’s no way to know who, why, and to what end someone might have added information, after all. So even if something has been tampered with, there’s no way to actually know.”
“Of course, that would only be the case if they were alone.”
“Right? …Ah, what a pain. The more you think about it, the more suspicious everything becomes.”
It was a problem too difficult to recognize for those living within their world.
But from the perspective of a third party, from world with a different way of archiving, it was a topic all too easy to become anxious about.
So there was no way that things would remain the same.
After all, both worlds have become connected and were watching each other closely.
“This feels like a bomb that would explode in our era, honestly.”
“If anything… I think I’m the one who’s going to become the bomb.”
“That’s it! I mean that’s always been your role, right?” Takeshi laughed.
“Really?” Shinichi looked at him suspiciously, then he started laughing too.
To these two, quarreling childishly and contemplating the world’s darkness were both nothing more than a casual chat.
Were the other childhood friend here, the absurdity of the matter would have been called out, but fortunately or unfortunately, that childhood friend wasn’t around.
That’s why it was pretty much a given that this was how their meeting would turn out.
And after sharing a laugh, they both stood up and brushed off the dirt and debris from their clothes, and then…
They stopped laughing. Tension surfaced on their servants.
They could tell that the time for playing as friends and the reunion as childhood friends had come to an end.
The first speak was Takeshi.
“Come to think of it, when did you learn about me and mom?”
“When I transferred to the academy. Relatively quickly actually. I got a convenient tool, after all.”
“The foster, huh. Well, I wasn’t the one gave it to you, so I’m not about to feel responsible that that all-purpose tool ended up in the hands of a boy as mischievous as you.”
But of course, it was already too late. Takeshi mocked the fools of the world.
‘He really hasn’t changed,’ Shinichi thought to himself.
While he might have described Takeshi as someone who hated people, to be more precise, he simply looked down and detested those that he didn’t like.
That’s also the reason why he couldn’t stand it when someone he acknowledged didn’t receiving the recognition they ought to.
That’s why his mockery of the world carried with it a sense of schadenfreude.
───No, it’s gotten worse.
“…I happened into Daigo, and he told me that you moved after graduating from middle school. At first I was just wondering how you were doing… That’s why I was so surprised.”
Even as Shinichi ignored Takeshi’s attitude, there was no denying the genuine surprise in his voice as he explained that.
“I was really shocked… I even thought my heart would stop.”
It might have been even more shocking than the 6 year gap.
“Really, I can’t stand how stupid I am. I’ve always been thinking about going home, yet even when time became disjointed, it never crossed my mind that someone might have died. I couldn’t even imagine it. That was true even after finding out what happened to my family. I’m just too soft, it seems.”
Even though he’d seen people die so easily in Falandia.
Even though he wasn’t confident that they would be waiting for him.
He chose to irrationally believe that they would be there.
That was how shocking the death of his friend’s mom was from illness to him.
“…It happened relatively quickly after the existence of another world was announced. My mother was someone whose strengths and weaknesses were clear-cut, and unfortunately, it was already decided internally that her workplace would shift its focus to Garesto after going public. When it finally began, my mother couldn’t adapt at all.”
That was something that many Earthlings went through. A tragedy akin to one’s whole world being turned upside down.
“Because of that she made a huge mistake and in the blink of an eye was made to retire. She used to work for a big company and was quite capable, so she had enemies of her own, who framed her.
Moreover, she was known in the industry, so she ended up being labeled as someone unsuitable to the booming otherworld industry, and any attempt at reemployment ended mostly in failure.
Already, it was impossible for her to remain in her industry, for she knew just too many people there. She went back home to her parents with me to Hokkaido, but there was no one who could help her.
She had to raise me on her own while working part-time jobs and doing side gigs. I tried to make some money myself through some shrewd methods, but it was a drop in the bucket.
We had been driven into a corner, both financially and mentally, but to make things we even worse, we just had to get scammed too, and what little savings we had was gone.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the scammer just had to be an old childhood friend of my mom. She was so shocked she collapsed. She fell sick, and before I knew it, she passed away from right in front of me.”
That was three years ago on this day.
Shinichi had investigated beforehand, so he already knew.
When he found out, the pain in his chest was so intense that he actually thought that being struck with a blunt object would have been preferable. However, when presented with the same facts in a direct manner by Takeshi himself, the weight of that reality became even more excruciating. Takeshi, unaware of that, deliberately relaxed his tense body and gave a faint smile.
“Hah, feels like watching some suspense flick, huh? It’s so cliché that it makes me laugh. If only I had a few more months… I had everything set up to make a fortune too.
My abilities, my inventions, my research papers—I could have pitched everything perfectly.
Then I’d have gained immediate attention and opportunities would have come pouring. Once that happened, getting money would have been a breeze… Just a little longer, and I could have shown my gratitude to my mom. It’s frustrating how quickly things change.”
Despite that, emotions welled up from within him as he continued to reminisce.
Unlike what he said, his face was filled with regret for failing to make it in time.
His voice trembled as though he were on the verge of breaking down. He was so charged with emotions that even a friend couldn’t interfere thoughtlessly.
But of course, Shinichi wasn’t even in the same world at the time, so there wasn’t really anything that he could say.
Regardless, they’ve known each other long enough that Shinichi could tell that it wasn’t simple consolation that Takeshi sought from him.
“─────What happened to your dad and your older sister?”