“Well, she’s not the sort to slack off. Thanks, Hina.”
He could feel Myuhi’s gaze on him, so he made sure to notice her and thank her.
“About what, nyaa?”
“For keeping quiet despite wanting to ask questions.”
He’d mentioned that this would be his way of thanking the Sister, so there were surely things that Myuhi wanted to ask, yet all she did was murmur to herself. That was her being considerate, so Shinichi thanked her for that.
“…You’re always scattering baits for women to bite at, aren’t you? Just a moment ago, you were flirting with Tomoe so brazenly too, and now, here you are showing concern for me.”
Myuhi shrugged her shoulders as though to say that she couldn’t be bothered to explain. The fact that Shinichi was genuinely making a puzzled face in response meant that he wasn’t trying to play around with either of them, but that was exactly why it was a problem.
“I don’t know if I should say that it’s a good thing that you’re not trying to play with either of us, or if that actually makes your personality even worse.”
Myuhi sighed. Shinichi ignored everyone else at school, but fundamentally, he really loved to take care of others.
However, perhaps due to his circumstances, or his innate shyness, or perhaps because he simply found it troublesome, only an exceedingly few from school knew about that, many of which held extravagant positions and came from prestigious lineages.
The special treatment she got from him was undeniably heartwarming. Though she might sigh, her face was also on the verge of breaking into a smirk because of the strange sense of superiority that made her feel.
“…Hey, who was that girl just now?”
Their conversation seemed to have concluded already, so Monica stood up from her seat and approached Shinichi – ignoring Myuhi whose face was on the verge of slackening – but Shinichi raised his hand to stop her.
Monica and the sister both wore a complex expression, unsure of how to react.
“You noticed it too? You have good eyes. Come, Kamunagi.”
Shinichi faintly smiled and called out that name, tracing a circle with his fingertip.
From out of that circle emerged a Japanese katana that was still sheathed.
Casting a sidelong glance at the blinking songstress, Shinichi effortlessly seized it and let out a sigh.
It was normal for her to be surprised. After all, all of this was taking place so suddenly.
『Ta-da! Was that too old-fashioned? Well, whatever. I’m here now, my future son! What business did you have with me?』
Then a woman with a faintly translucent yet distinct outline appeared. She was a beauty and was dressed in a ceremonial miko’s attire.
Her vivacious and light-hearted words hinted at her identity. That’s right, this woman was none other than Shouko Safina, the soul that inhabited Kamunagi, as well as Tomoe’s deceased mother.
“Oh, it’s just a little payback for that time,” Shinichi said.
She was a ghost, so she could pick up on that, but Shinichi had actually said it very quietly, as only a small number of people could hear and see her. A crescent moon smile nonetheless bloomed on him, however.
However, he quickly stopped smiling and approached the sister with graceful steps, then with a gentle smile, he presented the sword to her while she looked at him with shock.
That was already enough for her, and amidst her inarticulate sobs, her outstretched arms trembled.
She seemed unable to make up her mind whether to touch the sword or not, but in the end, she firmly accepted Kamunagi.
She cradled it gently, as though she were handling a newborn.
『Huh? Wait a moment, Shinichi-kun? What’s going on? I don’t really fuss about other religions, but I don’t think you should be bringing me out in front of people I don’t know— Huh?』
Then their eyes met. Shouko’s black and the sister’s blue. That wasn’t a coincidence. They recognized each other’s presence and were now looking at each other.
The two couldn’t be more different. One was dressed in a miko attire, while the Sister was dressed in a nun’s outfit. Even their race differed. Yet were there someone else who could see them, they would surely say that they were similar.
A tear trickled down the sister’s eyes, while Shouko cried out in disbelief. Though their expressions were different, and there was an age gap, anyone observing could see the resemblance in their facial features and aura.
The gap between the granddaughter, Tomoe, and the grandmother, the Sister, was apparent enough to make the stepdaughter believe they looked similar.
“You’re calling me mama? I couldn’t do anything yet you’re calling me mama? I’m so sorry, Shouko. I-I…”
『D-Don’t cry, mama! Umm, it’s true that a lot happened, but as you can see, I’m perfectly fine! I mean, okay, I’m actually dead right now, but!』
Unable to contain herself any longer, the sister let out a loud sob and embraced Kamunagi as though that was actually Shouko’s body.
Shouko fluttered around in confusion, unsure what to do, but that actually made her overlap with the image of the Sister’s daughter.
Just seeing that was enough to satisfy Shinichi’s payback. As a smirk surfaced on him, he gently pushed Shouko from behind.
“Ah, Shouko! To have you in my arms again! To think that a day like this would come, uuuh, aaah, Shouko, Shouko!!”
As a result, Shouko, collided with her mother, and she ended up being firmly hugged. It was as if the Sister couldn’t afford to let her go for even a moment.
『Mama, calm down! Think of my age! …Shinichi-kun, you’ve really done it now!』
Unable to reject those arms, Shouko could only glare at Shinichi. However, the boy just wore a triumphant smile and shrugged, pretending not to know what her problem was. But of course, he’d plotted this whole thing. He had semi-materialized Shouko with that touch just now to make her touchable for those with Spirit Sight.
『You’ll pay for this later, mark my words! Wait, I’m the weaker one between us! Darn it, hey! Can you at least tell Mom to stop? It’s really embarrassing! Hey!』
“That sword was inherited by the Sister’s late daughter.”
Shinichi ignored Shouko’s plea for help and explained for the women that couldn’t see.
Monica and Myuhi had already seen the resemblance between Tomoe and the Sister, so that one line was explanation enough.
If there was still something that they didn’t understand, it would be…
“But if that girl from earlier is the Sister’s granddaughter, then what was that article all about?”
Monica had seen it for sure – that newspaper article reporting the death of the three members of the Abe family.
“They have a complicated family to say the least. Tomoe might have miraculously survived that accident, but there was a chance some fools might still pursue her, so to ensure that that wouldn’t happen, a certain youthful-looking old lady fabricated her death, going as far as to even use the mother’s last name.”
Consequently, that resulted in the Sister, the actual mother, mistakenly believing that even her own granddaughter had died.
“That’s why I told her her methods were half-baked,” Shinichi muttered to himself.
“I’m surprised you were able to make the connection. I thought I was pretty good at connecting faces myself, but I didn’t make the connection until you pointed it out.”
“It’s not that big of a deal. I myself only met Shouko recently, but despite the difference in their hair color, I thought she looked just like Tomoe. That was still fresh on my mind, so when I saw the Sister, it all just clicked.”
“…What a frightening coincidence. Meeting Tomotomo, meeting her mother, and then meeting her grandmother later too.”
Myuhi pointed out cheerfully, but her eyes were full of skepticism.
If everyone were living in the same place, it could still be considered a plausible coincidence. However, everyone resided in completely different locations, not to mention one of the aforementioned was literally dead.
Moreover, the whole process that led him to be here was also a series of coincidences.
Considering what happened since he arrived at the academy, and the events during the recent comprehensive exam, the coincidences around him were unsettlingly starting to pile up.
For better or for worse, all the events surrounding him seemed to be connected.
“It’s common for me, though.”
The way he took all of that in stride bothered Myuhi for some reason, but she couldn’t articulate why, so for awhile, they all just remained silent, while the Sister held onto her daughter’s memento (Shouko) until she could finally calm down.
“────Well, how as it? Did you like my return gift?”
As the sobs gradually subsided, Shinichi said that.
The Sister reluctantly released the spirit of her daughter, but the smile on her remained along with the tears.