“Ku ku, that’s the second time you’ve said that. But you should’ve realized it, young lady. It’s dangerous to talk about ideals, beliefs, and pride in front of a bad guy, you know?”
He seemed to advise her, but his conspicuous use of “young lady” was clearly meant to provoke Monica’s ire.
“How cheeky when you’re a kid yourself! If you’re going to say that much, then do you think nothing bad will happen if I leave it to you!?”
“Oh, but what ever could you be referring to, I wonder.”
“Make it clear, young lady. What exactly is it that you wish to entrust to me? And be sure you don’t make a mistake. It’s a rare occasion for someone such as myself to take on a mission, after all. Of course, I’ll have to receive proper compensation too, so make sure you prepare a suitable mission for a suitable amount, alright?”
Shinichi sat there with a smirk as though to say, ‘are you worthy?’ And in the face of such a mocking stance, Monica understandably felt belittled, and she roared angrily.
“How dare you act all high and mighty! Fine! If you’re going that far, then I’m gonna work you like a dog! If you think you can do it, then do it all! Ensure the success of the live, my safety, the safety of the audience, and make sure that all those criminals are dealt with!”
“Sure, just leave it to me. As for the compensation, we can just figure that out later.”
But Shinichi just readily accepted all her demands, no matter how unreasonable, causing Monica to blink. The change in his attitude was just too abrupt. One moment he was so arrogant smirking there maliciously, but then in the next, he was just sipping tea quietly, as though to say that the conversation was over. He was unusually composed, and Monica couldn’t help but turn to the Sister, only to find her trembling while looking away.
“It’s only been a few hours since they met, and yet… She wasn’t like this in the past. Fu fu.”
The Sister spoke quietly and in pauses, but while Monica struggled to pick up on what she was saying, it was clear that she was not trembling out of sadness. Monica was shocked.
“Fu fu… I’m so sorry. It’s just that you were tricked so splendidly. Fu fu fu.”
The Sister apologized with her words while laughing, casting doubts on the sincerity of her apology, but regardless, when she put it as clear as that, Monica had no choice but to realize that she’d been had. She turned to Shinichi with a glare, but…
“Surely, the famous Songstress wouldn’t go back on her word, right?”
But the Sister wasn’t even going to allow her to do that, and with a smile, she delivered the finishing blow, causing Monica to let out an inarticulate scream as her mind crashed.
On one side was the scoundrel who manipulated and toyed with her heart, while on the other was the Sister who has known her since childhood and was essentially her foster parent.
There should have been no reason for her to manipulate her, yet she conspired with that hateful boy to steer her toward their desired direction.
Moreover, they both cruelly poked at her beliefs and pride. She took pride in her work and knew that she made a living through her own songs, so she would never allow anything that would demean or devalue that.
“Ugh, fine, I get it! Yeah, I won’t take back what I said! I might try to mend things a bit, but I’ll take full responsibility for what I say! Is that good enough? Hmph!”
But such feelings had nonetheless been exploited, so Monica angrily sat down and puffed her cheeks like a petulant child.
She tried to hide it behind her teacup, but the young man still noticed it and smiled warmly.
Interestingly enough, Monica, who sat across him, was the only one who didn’t notice that warm expression on him, while the other two were either bewildered or perplexed.
“Alright since we’re done with that, Sister, we need to talk about you next.”
But even that expression lasted for but a moment before he put on that indifferent face again and quickly moved on to the next topic.
The songstress frowned at how he spoke as though he hadn’t been a part of that conversation they were having literally just some seconds ago.
However, perhaps because she thought she couldn’t win a battle of words or for some other reason, Monica just kept mum. Though she nonetheless glared at him as though to say that he wouldn’t be getting off lightly if he said something mean to the Sister.
She seemed on the verge of jumping at him, but Shinichi just sat there unfazed. No, in fact, he even seemed to be enjoying her attitude.
“Me? Is there something wrong with me?’
The Sister didn’t know what Shinichi meant by that, so Shinichi had to clarify.
“I’m indebted to the both of you, so I need to repay my gratitude to you too.”
“Oh, is that all? Well, you don’t have to worry about it. I’m happy as long as you’re willing to protect Monica.”
“Perhaps you and her are okay with that, but I don’t believe it’s fair to just lump my gratitude for the both of you in one payment.”
Monica had insisted that she couldn’t entrust a job to someone who only wanted to repay her goodwill, so Shinichi had to do her a favor in the form of taking on a job. In that regard, he was certainly repaying her goodwill, but that was only Monica’s goodwill and not the Sister’s.
“You’re quite particular about that, aren’t you?”
Monica blinked her eyes as though she found that strange, while Myuhi was exasperated, and the Sister chuckled.
“What a conscientious young lad. I understand. It would certainly be a burden on you if you couldn’t do anything to express your gratitude, so I’ll accept whatever you have in mind,” the Sister said graciously.
While wondering to herself what Shinichi was planning to give her, Shinichi just said, “I’m sure you’ll be delighted,” then stood up with a Foster in one hand. He walked a bit inside the room, then upon finding the right spot , he opened a communication screen that covered all of them.
“…Woah! Icchi is doing a video call like a normal person!”
“Can you please not treat me as though I’m some savage that just discovered civilization?”
Myuhi was genuinely surprised to see Shinichi use technology normally, causing Shinichi to similarly be genuinely annoyed, but that was a brief exchange that continued only until someone appeared on the screen.
『Shinichi!? Are you alright!?』
What appeared on the screen was a girl with chestnut-colored hair tied into a ponytail and a pair of blue eyes. She’d clearly answered the call hastily, most likely since it was Shinichi calling, and she appeared visibly flustered. There was nothing unusual about that in itself, and she was responding the way she normally would too; however, Myuhi couldn’t help but tilt her head. Something was off.
“Yeah, more or less.”
『More or less? I can’t really trust you when you say that because your standards of fine is so off! Well, you look fine at least. You haven’t tampered with the video, right?』
“Why would you even ask that?”
『Because you’re the sort of guy to try and pull something like that, sheesh!』
The girl on the screen was a lively girl, whose expressions rapidly changed, as she spoke with irritation and concern, but while Myuhi and the others could see her too, she acted as if they weren’t around.
“Is the camera not catching us?”
These holographic video calls could be made not to pick up anyone other than the focus, and from how Tomoe wasn’t reacting to their presence, not even their voice, it was likely that Shinichi had made it so, making Myuhi wonder what he might be up to, but…
“…What the heck is she doing?”
But then she realized the reason behind her initial unease and smiled. Her eyes weren’t smiling, however.
“Oh, actually, there’s a little something I’d like to ask you to do, but…”
Shinichi appeared to have noticed that too, and his eyes blinked.
“That’s my line. Hey, Tomoe.”
“Why are you wearing my uniform?”