For a moment, even Shinichi found himself freezing, and only after a few blinks, did he find it in himself to say those few words.
『Yep! Dead serious! It’s something a certain country secretly launched. A hidden gem with excellent stealth capabilities in the mid-orbit around 3000 km. But given the situation, it appears that they’ve secretly been bit by the Snake.”』
“It’s not funny.”
Shinichi shook his head, unable to so much as sigh at the joke.
Even with his unique senses, that was a distance that was just too far for him to grasp.
Though it was possible to grasp some information on Earth through the media, the connection to the sky was limited.
He had only started to be concerned about such things just a few hours ago too, so he was yet to find a complete solution.
“I guess they’re pulling out all the stops because they know who they’re up against. They sure don’t choose their methods, though it’s actually better for me the bigger and more powerful the weapon is.”
However, that didn’t mean that he didn’t have a solution.
Those words seemed to carry a faint smile, and the sound of them made Takeshi involuntarily twitch his cheeks in a grimace.
He couldn’t see Shinichi through the phone, but it was all too easy to imagine the crescent moon blooming on him right now.
『Man, you scary. From the sound of it, it seems you already have an answer for the satellite. But then again, you’ve always been the type to tackle problems that need immediate attention quickly. Though, on the flip side, if something is low on your priority list, you tend to keep pushing it off forever. 』
It was curious if that was a retort on his part for faltering or just him reminiscing, but regardless, a voice tinged with irritation and petulance snapped back at him, telling him to beat it.
Takeshi merely responded with a genuine smile to that. Some things just never changed. Shinichi hadn’t asked for this, but he continued anyway and said.
『Oh, right. Actually, there’s another troublesome issue. It’s still just a rumor that it might be the work of the Snake, but after today’s exchange, I’m convinced. This is definitely within your jurisdiction.』
“Within my jurisdiction?”
Without answering the puzzled voice directly, Takeshi continued, and Shinichi’s expression stiffened.
『The only eyewitness account so far is from Garesto, but… It seems a silver giant has appeared. 』
『The giant part didn’t bother you, huh. But yeah, it’s probably what you’re thinking. 』
“They’re going that far? …Or wait, did that happen first?”
『I think you’re better off asking Nameless’ Spear and her subordinates for more information. I only know the rumor, and it’s better for me to keep my hands out of this, right? Or you’re going to erase me?』
When Takeshi said that, Shinichi suddenly relaxed.
“…If you’re going to be that meek, then why don’t you just stop this whole fight nonsense?”
『Ahaha, sorry, but I have my circumstances too.』
While thinking to himself how Takeshi was trying to cover up various things, Shinichi retorted with a hint of sarcasm.
“Work hard, you’re an adult now, you know.”
『In that case, you better study hard, Mr. High School Student.』
At that, the two of them fell silent. Not because their words struck a nerve with them, but because they realized that further talk was meaningless. They were childhood friends after all, so they knew that neither of them would do something just because they were told to do so.
『…Well, whatever. Anyway, I told you a bunch of stuff, so do you mind if I ask some questions of my own?』
“Ask away. I mean, you’re free to ask, at least.”
『Some attitude… Well, whatever, I’ll take you up on that then. How do you plan to deal with this mess?』
It was a question that demanded a thorough answer despite its circuitous nature and casual tone. He was not asking him how he would fight or defend, he was asking him how he would solve it. Shinichi could clearly understand what Takeshi was worried about, so he gave him a straightforward answer.
“Obviously, in the way I want to.”
It lacked details, but it acknowledged Takeshi’s concerns, leading Takeshi to respond in a troubled tone.
Yet, at the same time, he must have expected this, as his tone remained casual, though there was also a sense of resignation and exasperation in his voice.
“…If you have a problem with that, I’ll lend you an ear once.”
That was Shinichi’s response upon hearing all of the implications behind Takeshi’s words.
A shiver ran down Takeshi’s back, and he was almost about to say something dismissive, but then it occurred to him that a childhood friend of Shinichi wouldn’t possibly yield to pressure of this level and so changed his mind.
『A guy like you is just so… Do you really have to go that far?』
“It can’t be helped. I think it’s a good plan,” Shinichi said.
Takeshi was exasperated. He was criticizing Shinichi in a roundabout way, but Shinichi just gave him that childish response. In the end, he had no choice but to laugh. This way of doing things was very much like Shinichi, after all.
『Haha, you actually are capable of taking everyone on, that’s why it’s so scary, but I agree. Her songs aren’t bad. I guess the fact that they’re trying to erase that means that they’re just a snake in the end. People who don’t understand the value of things sure are pitiful, huh.”』
“That’s not the voice of someone being sympathetic, Villain.”
『Fu fu, in that case, I’ll be a proper villain and watch everything from somewhere safe. If you’re that serious, then I’ll enjoy the show from somewhere high up.』
Implicitly expressing relief, Takeshi seemed to suggest that everything was fine now. However, Shinichi, despite this, snorted discontentedly.
“Hmph, being a spectator is quite the luxurious position… Well, do as you please. Anyway, it’s a story that will be over by tomorrow. After that comes you.”
『Yeah, I”ll wait for you at Garesto. Until then, I won’t do anything. It’s rare for me to pick a fight with you, so it would be a waste if you just exited the stage right after, don’t you think?』
“That goes for you too. Don’t get caught by the cops so easily. Otherwise, I’ll laugh at you.”
Such banter between the two of them given their current relationship was both unreserved and inappropriate. Although it was impossible for the situation they described to happen, it wasn’t hard to imagine how hard the other would mock them if it did. In fact, it could be said that the image was already clear in their head the moment they verbalized it. That’s why—.
—They laughed as though on cue; however, their voices were stiff.
Having shared a good laugh, the two of them simultaneously ended the call. For a moment, a strange silence seemed to dominate the scene, then Shinichi quietly put away his foster in his pocket and, after a brief pause, let out a roar.
“That blasted peeping tom! How dare he keep peeping!!”
The air shook at the sound of his voice.
It was such an unthinkable thing for him to do given how their conversation seemed to be progressing, but Shinichi couldn’t tell at all how Takeshi was peeping on him.
Evidently, the tricks he’d shown at the cemetery wasn’t all that he had. The fact that he could probably see him so pissed right now only added fuel to the flames.
But it would be bad for him too to endure it, so he just let it all out while hitting his fist against the walls.
Frustration rippled throughout his whole body. Though he eventually managed to suppress it, he suddenly felt a pair of gazes staring at him, and he turned around. There, at the end of his gaze, were two women looking at him with contrasting gazes.
Though he hadn’t forgotten about them, the realization that everything he had casually talked about with his childhood friend had been seen made him feel a bit embarrassed.
“…If you have something to say, then say it,” he said.