“Sorry to interrupt. They’re showing me around the church.”
“That’s right,” the kids proudly said with a gaze that seemed to be looking for praise.
At that, the tense face of the sister loosened, and she praised them just as they hoped, then she looked at the problematic boy while patting their head.
──Just who is this boy?
He was clearly not a normal person. A shiver had run down her spine the moment he entered the church. That’s why she’d gone out to meet him under the pretense of playing along with the children’s request, only to find a boy who seemed oddly out of place.
Although he presented himself as a helpful older brother to the children, that didn’t seem to be all that he was. Though if Monica’s testimony were to be believed, then he didn’t come here with any ill will. Regardless, her instincts, honed by experience, were blaring at her, and she found herself subconsciously clutching the rosary hanging from her chest.
“Everyone prays here in the morning~” A child said.
“Oh, you can pray already? That’s amazing,” Shinichi said.
It might have just been needless suspicion on her part, given how he was able to earn the approval of the children in just a few hours, but the Sister did not miss the complicated expression he had when he glanced at the crucifix hanging in the chapel, and that disgust written in his glare.
“Do you hate the church?” The Sister asked.
“Huh? Oh… Well, not this one, anyway,” Shinichi.
He was surprised when she pointed that out, but he immediately let out a dry chuckle and excused himself like a child that had been found committing a prank.
“I got scammed and lost a lot, you see,” Shinichi said.
“…I’m sorry. I asked something strange,” The Sister said.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with this place, really. I’m glad to meet someone like you, though, Sister, a nun that’s a bit different from the norm. After all, I was saved by a strange woman just like you and was able to make all sorts of memories thanks to her.”
Was he really as young as his appearance suggested? For some reason, there was a strange maturity to him regarding such difficulties that made her ignore the fact that he’d seen through her.
“…I might be poking my nose where it doesn’t belong, but if there’s anything bothering you, I’d be more than happy to lend you an ear. I might not look like it, but I am the person responsible for this place, and the church has a convenient location for that too.”
The Sister extended an invitation while implying the existence of a confession room. Though uneasy about his true nature, that aspect of the boy that seemed just like that of a lost boy made her want to help him nonetheless.
After all, he had been wandering the streets in rain this heavy without realizing it, so it was inconceivable that he had no problems weighing on his mind.
In the end, she was still a Sister, a person responsible for this house of god, so she couldn’t just abandon a lost child.
“Thank you, but it’s fine. I certainly have all sorts of things going on right now, but that’s just life.”
“Oh my, so young yet already so laudable, or rather, unfortunate?”
“I wouldn’t be able to keep my foot rooted on the ground if there weren’t anything weighing on my shoulders or back, anyway.”
“…Fufu, has anyone ever told you that you’re pessimistic?”
“All the time, but actually, this is already the most optimistic I can be.”
The Sister and the boy shared a laugh among themselves. The children tilted their head, unable to understand, while the Sister just thought to herself how problematic the boy before her was. It made her head ache, and she hadn’t a clue whether to accept his words at face value or not.
Was he saying that such worries allowed him to remain on ground, thus calming him down? Or was he saying that without such burdens, he would start floating up and go back to the heavens?
When the boy told her that it was in fact both, he did so naturally, and the Sister could not help but lament once again. It seemed that she would have her work cut out for her dealing with him despite her long years raising children.
“No wonder that girl ended up picking you up,” she found herself saying in the end.
“Yes?” Shinichi said.
It was curious if he’d heard those words she unintentionally let slip.
The Sister tried to awkwardly laugh it off, and the boy looked at her suspiciously, but in the end, he decided to just let her off with a smile.
“…It’s a bit late, but are you sure we haven’t met before?” the boy asked.
“Hmm? I’m fairly sure this is our first meeting… You wouldn’t be trying to pick up an old lady like me, now, are you?”
The Sister was certain that he really was just asking that, but she felt as though it was good manners to respond in that manner when asked that question; however…
“Oh, you’re coming from there? In that case… You just happened to remind me of my first love, so I couldn’t help but wonder.”
Fluently, and without any hesitation, the boy responded to her as such, making it apparent that there was another problem surrounding this boy.
“Oh my, what a bad woman you must have met then.”
“Surely not. You are a wonderful woman, right, everyone?”
When he said that, all the kids looked at her, and while they couldn’t understand their conversation all that well, there was only one answer they possibly give if someone asked whether the sister was a wonderful woman or not.
“The Sister is amazing!”
“Yep, I love Sister!”
“Sister belongs to us, so you can’t have her!”
Then the boy turned to her with a smug smile, while the Sister was taken aback. The words of the children were really touching, but the face of the boy, who drew those words out, were to some extent familiar to her, so her eyes became glazed.
“I’m happy to hear that, thank you, everyone…. I can’t believe you got the children involved. You’re a surprisingly mischievous child, aren’t you?”
“Ahaha, I get that a lot.”
‘I’m sure. After all, you could make a face like that,’ the Sister shook her head. The boy was being openly defiant, and it made her head ache.
“Were I two or there decades younger, I would have tried to remedy your attitude with a punch, you know.”
“I would’ve loved to meet you then. Really.”
She tried to scold him indirectly, only to have her own heartstrings tugged. She knew that he hadn’t done so intentionally, but there was a tone at the end of his voice that stimulated her motherly concern for him. The boy was a natural.
──Why does this boy smell so much like a womanizer, I wonder.
Moreover, his compatibility with Monica was just too good. She has never had a scandal involving men despite being a celebrity, yet she actually brought a man here.
It was such a rare thing that she couldn’t help herself, but really, she shouldn’t have teased her so much. She might have just made her conscious of it, for better or for worse.