He found such a thought ridiculous, but he kept the bare minimum guard up at least.
“W-What are you looking at me like that for!?”
Without him intending to, he found himself glaring at her, and she defiantly glared back.
Sparks seemed to erupt as their glares collided, but neither side was willing to back down.
Left as is, they might just spend their whole lives glaring at each other.
“Look, nee-chan and the man are gazing into each other!”
“Wow, it’s true.”
“What a passionate gaze!”
“Wow, nee-chan actually brought a man with her!”
“Sister, will onee-chan get married?”
“That guy is kinda normal, though?”
From an unexpected direction came unexpected words, and suddenly, the eternal glaring contest came to an end.
Shinichi turned to the direction of the voices, while the woman made an ‘I messed up’ face and immediately let go of Shinichi.
At the end of their gaze were little boys and girls about the ages of 5 and 6 led by an old woman dressed in nun’s clothing.
“Oh, my. It’s true. Has spring already come?”
The nun’s face softened into a warm and welcoming expression. Her features were not Asian but western, but regardless, the wrinkles on her face suggested a long accumulation of experience. Her blue eyes twinkled with joy.
“Sister! You’re doing it on purpose, aren’t you!”
They must have known each other, for while the girl acted angry, there was a friendliness to her and a trust that the nun wouldn’t get mad.
In fact, the nun did laugh amidst her apologies, while she urged a little girl nearby to do something.
The little girl briskly walked with small steps before Shinichi realized that she was headed for him.
Before he knew it, he’d crouched down for her. The two women praised him for that, but he just acted like he didn’t notice.
He had developed a natural skill to ignore the reactions and stares of others, as his ability to sense people’s attention and consciousness was unnaturally high.
“Here, onii-san, towel!”
Shinichi intentionally focused only on the girl in front of them, while the little girl cheerfully handed him the towel with a smile.
The towel was clearly big, and its fluffy texture indicated it was not merely a hand or sweat towel. This was clearly meant for someone fresh out of the bath, in other words, a bath towel.
“Huh? But why?’
Shinichi accepted it despite his confusion, then he saw water dripping down his vision.
As he received the towel and examined his hands more closely, he realized that the sleeves were sticking to his arms due to being completely soaked. A quick look around confirmed that his entire body was in the same state, soaking wet, almost as if he had fallen into the sea.
Why was he like this? He didn’t show it on his face, but he was quite perplexed. When did he go swimming in the sea? He wondered that seriously, yet the fact alone that he was contemplating that was a testament to his confusion.
“You’d obviously end up like that if you walk around without an umbrella when it’s pouring this hard.”
The woman told him with an exasperated voice while she closed her umbrella.
But that was an earth-shattering revelation to Shinichi.
“Rain? Since when?”
The woman appeared to be in disbelief, then after looking at him with pity, she pointed out the window.
Shinichi followed along with his gaze, and there could be seen an unmistakably heavy downpour.
Shinichi was speechless.
It was really raining.
“Since around past 12, so about 2 hours already? Hey, don’t tell me you’ve been walking around like that this whole time?”
“…No wonder I’m sopping wet,” Shinichi nodded exaggeratedly.
The woman and the sister were in disbelief, but the children seemed to have a different impression.
“Nii-chan, are you a dummy?”
“No, nee-chan, don’t pick a dummy…”
“Dummy, dummy, gyahaha!”
A cruel barrage of dummy born from the innocence of children.
The woman was understandably about to scold the kids, but Shinichi stopped her, then he stood up and pointed to nowhere in particular, and with a loud voice, said.
“Wow! Onii-san, you’re the real deal! You’re a real dummy!!”
‘Dummy, dummy, dummy…’ The kid said with a fake echo while pointing meaningless up to the heavens.
There was a satisfaction on his face that was completely unlike what he was saying, then Shinichi placed his hands by his hips and puffed out his chest as though to triumphantly say, ‘how’s that?’
“He’s actually saying it himself!”
“Ahaha, so weird!”
Unlike the adults, whose eyes have already turned into dots, the children burst into laughter.
Some of them continued to make fun of the boy, but there was a positive connotation behind their words.
“Ku ku ku, all those that get wet from this big dummy will also become a dummy! Ahaha, rawr!”
“Waah, run! We’re going to become dummies!”
“Kyaa, get away!”
“I’m going to eat you!”
Then just like the villain in a hero show, he chased after the kids.
The kids happily screamed as they played tag with the dripping wet monster.
“My, what a lively child… He seems like a good person.”
The sister opened her eyes wide in surprise for a moment, then she quickly broke into a smile.
For or better or for worse, however, those last words did not enter the other woman’s ears, who just stood there, astonished. Perhaps, because she was still too young, she couldn’t afford to just watch, and as her temples shook, she crushed the towel that she too had received.
“You brats! Be quiet in the chapel!!”
Then she threw it at them.
“Uwaah, nee-chan is mad! Run!!”
At the behest of one of the kids, the children scattered away from the chapel.
Shinichi alone, who had the towel thrown at him, remained.
“…Impossible… I couldn’t react at all?”
The face behind the towel was so shocked that no one would believe it to be the same face as the person playing around just awhile ago.
This had nothing to do with his attention being preoccupied and not even noticing the rain.
That woman had done something special that made him unable to react when she threw the towel.
In the first place, it should have been impossible for someone to be able to lead him by his arms without him noticing.
He had failed to notice it when someone touched him while he was weak…
He had failed to even notice something when it was thrown at him…
“And you need to quit playing around—”
It was curious if it was from the shock or not, but Shinichi once again failed to react when the girl approached him. At the very least, it was much slower than he’d like to admit, and he couldn’t help but become fearful. There was something unsettling about her.
The way she could slip past his attention with ease gave rise to an instinctual sense of dread within him. He couldn’t understand fully why, but it was as if she could easily harm him.
Just as she had grabbed his arm earlier, he couldn’t help but think what might have happened were she carrying a weapon, had she thrown a bomb…