Shinichi didn’t hesitate to broach the parts that Takeshi left untouched.
The Sasaki family that Shinichi knew consisted of a mother, who served as the pillar of the family, and a father, who struggled to make ends meet.
There was also a troublesome older sister, that got carried away easily, and a crooked but clever younger brother.
Yet the father and the older sister were both strangely absent from Takeshi’s story.
When Shinichi pointed that out, the corners of Takeshi’s lips curled abnormally.
No, he did that on purpose.
“They divorced when we moved here, but we’ve never met since. At most, I called to inform them of mom’s death, but it’s been radio silence other than that.”
But as though he hadn’t smiled like that, Takeshi just said that matter-of-factly.
But in a sense, that was the wrong answer to Shinichi’s question.
It was slight, but the expression on Shinichi gradually thinned.
“But that’s not the end of it, is it?” Shinichi said.
“Huh?” Takeshi said.
“They kept making one mistake after another, inexplicably distanced themselves from the people they knew, lost their assets through scams, lost their job, and couldn’t find work. With no one to lend them a hand, one day, they just disappeared…”
This was the story surrounding Takeshi’s older sister and father, yet Takeshi listened to it calmly as though it were none of his business.
More importantly, the story was just too similar to what he and his mom experienced.
“Just like what happened to aunt.”
The only thing that could be gleamed from Takeshi was a wry smile void of even the slightest trace of affection for his own flesh and blood.
He seemed to also be sorry for having made Shinichi said all of that.
Perhaps, that’s why Shinichi had no choice but to point that out.
“You did that, didn’t you?”
“Yep, it’s all me.”
He said it so light-heartedly as though he were making a joke that it made it curious just how much of that was actually true.
The emotions on Shinichi continued to thin, just as Takeshi’s apologetic wry smile continued.
“As expected of someone that specializes at information gathering. I can’t even hide anything from you. How scary.”
“Don’t lie. You and I came here knowing that.”
Takeshi tried to put on a playful grin in place of his wry smile to deflect the situation, only to be met by a penetrating gaze that saw through his charade, leaving him with no choice but to surrender and shrug his shoulders. Then he suddenly spoke with contempt.
“In the end, they were nothing more than insignificant maggots… Just worthless parasites.”
Disgust. Hate. Anger.
A voice brimming with malice woven from those emotions, resounded as he seemingly glared at his older sister and father that weren’t here.
That in and of itself was proof of how deeply rooted his hate was.
“They conveniently forgot who it was that supported them until the otherworld was announced, got over their heads and started treating mom like a servant!
Just because they managed to adapt to the new technologies or had a higher limit on their Status, they acted as though they’re all that and drowned in the flattery of those around them!”
What would happen if people like that managed to take hold of the family’s finances?
The mom, who has lost her work, and the son, who had no prospect in Status, lost all voice.
Takeshi didn’t feel or expect anything from them, so it didn’t really matter to him.
But his mother was full of affection for them and likely struggled to act wisely.
What kind of unfair treatment had she endured? What kind of hurtful words had been thrown at her? As a mother, what did she think when her own family did such things to her? The more Shinichi thought about it, the tighter his fists clenched.
“My mother endured partly because of me too, but that man actually just left a sheet of paper behind when he divorced her. He abandoned us and didn’t even pay one yen in child support.”
How did his aunt feel at the time?
Seeing his childhood friend tremble in anger and fury, Shinichi couldn’t help but wonder that.
The person who had lavished love on the entire family, ironically, found themselves in a dire situation, only to be exploited and abandoned by the very people they loved, her husband and her daughter—what a heartbreaking betrayal.
To think that they failed to understand the warmth of that deep love; hence, what welled up from within Shinichi was not anger at first but pity tinged with contempt for the father and daughter that abandoned these two.
It was all too easy to imagine what sort of fate met them. Most likely, even until the very end, they failed to comprehend what it was that they’d abandoned.
The value of that which they abandoned and the fearsomeness of the enemy that they made for themselves.
It was an unrewarded end to be sure, but a pitiful end compared to the woman who had been attended to by her beloved son.
An overwhelmingly foolish end────But it only stood to reason.
As Shinichi came to that conclusion, he too was filled with anger.
That’s why, he merely said those words before whatever warmth in him vanished.
That seemed to get through his childhood friend, and he smiled in response as though in gratitude.
“Yeah, it’s just as you think, they were completely beyond saving. They were with mom for that long yet they failed to understand just how amazing she was. People with worthless eyes are everywhere, and seeing them always makes me want to crush them.”
But there was no stopping Takeshi’s hate.
“A pair of clowns that thought they’d grown wings all on their own. All they did was adapt better to the technology, yet they actually drowned in their newfound status. Do you know? While I might have had faults of my own, the biggest reason why no help ever came for us was because those two’s attitude were just too terrible. Exactly the sort of ending you’d expect from people that got in over their heads,” Takeshi mocked.
“The moment they fell from grace, and I started to become popular, then they remembered that we were family. I’m your father, remember? I’m your big sis! They said.
They didn’t so much as lift a finger when my mom needed help no matter how many times she asked, yet they had to gall to ask me for help.”
The superficial smile Takeshi wore had a ghastliness to it that could make one’s knees weak.
Everyone here was an anomaly, however, so no one was intimidated, but as a result, even more emotions left Shinichi’s face.
“That’s why I did as they said and crushed them.”
“You revealed that it was you who orchestrated their downfall, didn’t you?”
“Bingo! As expected, you know how I do things! They went red like monkeys and howled, you know? Oh, excuse me, that’s insulting… To monkeys!”
“Apologize to the maggots too while you’re at it. Did you kill them after tor*uring them?”
“No way. They were precious human resources. I made sure to use them as test subjects! I kept them conscious until the very end and handled them carefully.”
Takeshi seemed entranced as he said that as though he were reminiscing the moment.
What was frightening was how clear and radiant his face was, as though it were free of any murkiness.
That was proof that he had no remorse or regret for his actions.
“Yeah, it’s you, after all. I figured you’d do that.”
But the response was just as frightening with how calm it was.
Even Takeshi, who was all smiles, twitched.
“Huh? What an indifferent response… To be honest, that’s actually quite scary.”
The normal response was to get mad, or scold him, or be afraid. They might have been terrible people, but they had been dealt with too cruelly, and he spoke about that fact so happily. But Shinichi’s response was flat, and no emotions could be seen on him.
But to this childhood friend of his, that was actually the scariest reaction he could give him.
He knew that the angrier Shinichi was, the more he suppressed himself.
That’s why he knew that the Shinichi in front of him was already on the brink of blowing up.