That was the first time Shinichi was seeing that face.
It was a face that he had never seen before despite how long he’d known Takeshi.
An expression devoid of any color. A face that embodied the very concept of “nothingness,” where neither malice nor hatred existed. Nay, perhaps, it in fact contained all the emotions he had harbored when he lost his mother and his childhood friends.
Then again, perhaps it really was merely blank. But if so, then were his acts of vengeance and search merely meant to fill that emptiness? Even he, no, it was precisely because Shinichi was a dear friend that he was taken aback by that, and before he knew it, he had let go.
“But you came back. And Daigo was fixed too! When I learned that, do you know how much I laughed? I even held my stomach and rolled around!”
But then Takeshi’s face suddenly brightened, and Shinichi paled.
“At the time, even Ein was taken aback,” Takeshi said, as though he were reminiscing something funny.
But it wasn’t wrong of him to do so. After all, to him, that was likely the funniest experience he’s had recently.
However, to Shinichi, the smile he wore brought nothing but pain.
“With this, everything will go back to normal. The world will become our toy! Let’s mess the world up! If it’s the us right now, then we can definitely do it. We won’t even let arbitrary criticisms pass!”
His ramblings gradually grew even more twisted, transforming into something that was even tainted with madness. He reveled in it and indulged in a delusional world.
“I mean it’s true right? Ever since, tragedies and comedies alike have always been at our whims!”
That was a face Shinichi recognized all too well. A face that belonged to those madmen that he’s faced and crushed countless times.
That’s why he couldn’t tolerate it. He clenched his limp hand in anger and mercilessly slammed it into Takeshi.
Shinichi’s fist sank into Takeshi’s face, but it did not distort. It was a feeble blow that even Ein did not think there was a need for him to interfere.
It was a punch that could not make even an untrained body stagger.
Though Takeshi was stunned nonetheless, and Shinichi yelled as though he were screaming at him.
“No matter how much of a mess we make, aunt isn’t coming back to scold us anymore!!”
What’s the point of making a mess? What fun is there to it? It was as though Shinichi was saying that when he said those words, and Takeshi froze as though he’d been caught off guard.
However, he soon twisted his lips and laughed again. The madness was gone. In its place was an expression of pure joy.
“…Ha, ha ha ha! Now, I’m sure of it! You haven’t changed at all!”
“You’re exactly the same as I last remember. My best friend, a man that I can be proud of, a man that I’ve always wanted to fight… As expected, you’re not like the rest!”
“Haven’t changed? Me? What are you talking about? And what do you mean you want to fight me?”
This time Shinichi really had no idea what Takeshi was talking about.
That seemed to make Takeshi happy, enough to look like he was on the verge of clapping.
“Exactly! The three of us had such different personalities, yet we never once fought for some reason. Daigo was a man who’d get irrationally mad for justice’s sake, while I liked how unique you two were, and you were someone who would only fight seriously against enemies.”
Because Takeshi and Shinichi would never belittle others without reason.
Because Shinichi and Daigo liked to have their own way.
Because Takeshi and Daigo would never consider a friend an enemy.
That’s why they never really fought each other. That’s why they never clashed.
“So you want to fight with me despite knowing that?”
A friend like you wants to seriously fight with me?
That was both an act that Shinichi loathed from the bottom of his heart, and an act that went against Takeshi’s own principles, yet he was saying that he was going to do just that.
“To be honest, I don’t think it’s a very good thing to do either, but it’s true that I want to fight with you. After all, there’s no point in going all out against anyone but you two. And… I’m a man too, you know. I want to go all out at least once.”
“So you want to continue your lawlessness just for the sake of fighting? Just for the sake of picking a fight with me!?”
It was a stupid reason, yet at the same time, Shinichi figured that it was more than enough for someone like Takeshi.
It was precisely because it made sense that he found himself stupefied.
“Yes. We might have specialized in different things, but it was almost always one-sided whenever we competed with someone. But that was only true when the scope was small. What do you think will happen if we were to magnify the scope to cover the whole world instead?”
Takeshi chuckled, and a chill went up Shinichi’s back.
He was basically saying that they should use the whole world as their playground.
A fight that involved everything, including nations, individuals, soldiers, civilians, Earth, Garesto, principles, ideologies, conspiracies… Everything.
If they were to magnify the scope to that extent, then the difference in specialty wouldn’t matter anymore.
It would all come down to how well they could outmaneuver each other, and whether they could make a move that could overcome the other’s expectations.
“And if the scope is that big, then you’ll be able to seriously fight me without guilt.”
Takeshi casually dropped that he could cause enough havoc to piss off even Shinichi.
Without intending to, Shinichi’s fists shook, and it seemed as though his molars were about to shatter.
It was at this point that all expression left his face, and his heart left.
“If you’re going that far, then what makes you think I’ll let you leave this place?”
The glare and that empty face that had caught countless criminals and evildoers until now were now pointed at Takeshi.
“Did you really think I’d come here unprepared even though we set a date?”
But Takeshi just laughed it off as though he were used to it.
He had the upper hand when it came to restraining each other.
It was true that Shinichi had the strength to capture him here, and he had no way to resist normally.
But he knew where the Mask had been.
And unlike Shinichi, who was too busy, Takeshi had all the time to prepare for this reunion.
That’s why he had a way to prevent Shinichi from making a move.
But really, both Shinichi and Takeshi knew that it would come down to this.
Shinichi knew that he would have no choice but to stop Takeshi, and Takeshi knew that he would never stop.
That’s why this sort of conclusion was a given, and both parties had in fact considered how they could stop the other.
Shinichi came here last night to remove whatever mechanisms Takeshi might have set up.
In fact, he found bombs littered all over the place.
As for Takeshi, he knew that any object could become a weapon in Shinichi’s hands, even the gravestones themselves.
That’s why even those have been removed.
And that’s why Shinichi couldn’t maintain an apathetic face in front of his childhood friend’s fearless smile.
He was too sloppy. There was no way that he would have stopped at merely bombs and removing some objects.
The Takeshi he knew would prepare more traps than that.
He should have prepared threats too, yet Shinichi couldn’t figure anything out.
Just to be safe, he kept an eye on him too, but by that point, preparations must have already completed, as Takeshi just spent his time idly with Ein.
That did little to reassure Shinichi. If anything, it made for an eerie sight.
Cold sweat trickled down him, as it seemed that he was already right in the middle of a trap he could not escape from.
“Hey, Shinichi. What do you think this is?”
Takeshi seemed to have read through him, for he suddenly took out something from the pocket of his suit.