The kids raised their fists up in a war cry, Shinichi high-fived one of the boys, then when he raised his head, for just a moment, he met the Sister’s eyes and nodded. A wry smile surfaced on her, while the other two ladies dropped their jaws, speechless.
“Hina, stop playing around, and let’s go,” Shinichi said.
“…You really are the kind of person to stimulate a person’s self-esteem to manipulate them, huh,” Monica said.
“Don’t put it like that. The kids decided on their own, so you should protect them properly too, Songstress.”
“Huh? Don’t tell me, all of that was…”
As Shinichi headed to the exit, he instructed Monica to stay behind. Any attempt to leave on her part would be accompanied by the children, an act too dangerous for someone who was being targeted.
There was no way she could tell the children not to protect her either, what with how happy they were right now. That’s why all she could do now was to furrow her brows and frown.
“You really are the worst.”
“It’s an honor.”
No matter what Shinichi’s reasons were, he used the kids in the end. Alas, Monica’s complaints could only fall on deaf ears. The amused tone of the boy were grating, but the enemy was still outside. There was no way out of this situation other than to deal with the enemy, so Monica chose to just keep quiet.
“Oh, right. Sister…”
When the mischievous boy touched the door, he said without turning back.
“I make it a policy to repay my debts as soon as possible, so please have a job for me when I get back.”
“…Wouldn’t this count as repayment already?”
“Oh, no. This is a duty that I must fulfill.”
‘As someone who possesses this divinity…’ Though he did not say those words out loud, the Sister felt as though he did.
She watched as the boy and the fox-eared girl disappeared beyond the door, then without intending to, exhaled. Apparently, she had been much more tense than she’d thought.
The danger approaching Monica, the attack just now, and the presence he exuded. When she listed all of the problems out like that, she certainly had her work cut out for her, but fortunately, one of the problems, the boy himself, offered to solve the other problems for her. If so, then she need only turn her attention to the pouting Songstress beside her.
“Monica… You understand, right? He did all of this just to protect us. And I’m fine now. So, let’s wait together, okay?”
But there was no wiping the frown on the songstress, so the Sister too could only wryly smile.
“I-I know… I just get irritated watching that guy.”
“Fu fu. That’s why you picked him up, right? Most of the time, the reason behind that irritation of yours is because you can’t leave the person alone.”
Perhaps because the Sister had gotten it right, or because Monica knew that denying it was futile, she just turned to the side and pouted. The Sister chuckled.
“Thanks to you everyone was saved. I’m happy to have been able to raise you to someone who would never abandon a lost child. ”
The Sister patted her on the head as she praised her, and Monica’s cheeks flushed red.
“S-Sister, I’m not a child anymore…”
She complained verbally, but the fact she wasn’t running away was proof that she didn’t hate it.
“Ah, Monica-nee-chan is embarrassed!”
“Your face is so red!”
“S-Shut it, you brats! You’re going to protect me, right? Then stay still!”
As Monica playfully wrestled with the children teasing her, the Sister relaxed her cheeks and smiled. It seemed these children of hers would remain kids forever.
Then she looked up to the sky and – for the first time – prayed – to that self-proclaimed evil god that would protect others despite being a lost child himself.
Shinichi landed on the roof of the chapel and let Myuhi down. She looked up at him, now donned with a mask, and glared at him.
“How does opening that door lead to the roof exactly?”
『I teleported us so that we won’t be seen. I put on the mask during that. 』
“I see… But why did I have to get carried?”
Myuhi might have been smiling, but blue veins could be seen on her forehead. She was clearly angry, but the Mask’s response was just too foolish.
『Hmm? Now that you mention it, why? 』
He didn’t appear to be joking, his emotions easily understandable despite his inscrutable voice.
“Can you not grab women so casually? Sheesh…”
『I just held you by the waist, though. 』
“That’s not ‘just’ !”
Though it had only been for a short moment and was also done through those black clothes, being embraced by Shinichi still sent her heart aflutter. Understandably, having such a thing described with ‘just’ made her angry.
『You have a small waist, and it’s soft too, so it feels really good to hold. 』
“That’s sekuhara (s||||l harassment)!”
Shinichi nodded in satisfaction, while Myuhi blushed and yelled, but then Shinichi tilted his head and asked, “What is sekuhara?”
“You mean to say you didn’t have that back then either!?”
Myuhi was shocked, but Shinichi wasn’t that slow, and he could more or less figure out that she must have been referring to his teasing. Alas, it was doubtful that he would ever put a stop to his antics.
“Sigh… Enough. So, why did you suddenly take out Masquerade?”
『Because this appearance stands out in a sense… 』
“Aren’t you practically invisible?”
『…Huh? Oh, right, umm… The Recognition Interference ability is supposed to weaken when I’m in contact with another person, so they could probably see me. Probably.』
“Why are you talking like you just realized that just now? Well, whatever, I’ll let it pass… So, in other words?”
『I suddenly appeared with you in my embrace────So, naturally, your subordinates will come, right? 』
True enough, people suddenly appeared. They undid their optical camouflage and quickly jumped onto the roof. They had jumped off from the surrounding roofs and were donned in armor of red.
“Masquerade, release our commander at once!”
None of them bothered to hide their hostilities as they wielded their weapons. They even projected the normal scenery around them to obscure them from view. The Mask smile in genuine admiration of their skills.
『Ku ku, I see the subordinates are appreciative of their superior. 』
Myuhi’s head ached. Should she be glad that her subordinates appeared to save her thinking that she was in danger? Or should she scold them for being so easy to read and manipulate? Perhaps, the blame ought to lay with the Mask instead for scheming against them? Regardless, she didn’t find fault in them being found out. After all, it was too late for that.
“Are my subordinates on the same level as those kids? This is making my head hurt.”
『I figured it would be faster to contact you this way. I came up with that excuse just now, but hopefully you can accept it. I don’t mean any ill will… Most likely. 』
“There’s no need to be that honest!”
Myuhi sent a punch to the Mask’s flank to shut him up. It was strong enough to make the air shake, but the black clothes did not so much as shake. The Mask was calm, but her subordinates simultaneously paled. The girls had brought out their weapons merely as a form of protest, but their boss actually had the guts to hit him. Understandably, they were speechless.
『…So rough out of the blue. Even if there’s no damage, I can still feel pain, you know. 』
“How arrogant of you when you ignored it just now!”
That was not a punch that could have easily been ignored, yet Masquerade made light of it. Myuhi was not happy about that, so she grabbed the part where his collar should be.
The girls had heard about his feats and the ceasefire, but they were still astonished to see him so relaxed.
──He’s kind of different from what we’ve been told.