Translator: DarkHeartedAlchemist Editor: Weasalopes
【Episode 3】Life and Mind: Part A (5)
We were just about to reach the island, when suddenly…
「Oho? Isn’t that…?」
Looking where Shiki was pointing, I saw Fujisato and Kuhoh standing in front of one of the shops on the parking lot.
Seeing the two of them together was quite a rare sight. Fujisato was one of my classmates, but she was the member of the Going Home Club, while Kuhoh was both a Librarian Committee member and a member of the Kendo club, and also my kouhai when it came to the grade she was in. We might’ve eaten lunch together yesterday, but I had no idea they were that close to one another.
They noticed that we’ve noticed them, and they were just as surprised as we were.
「Hey there, Monjiro! It’s quite unexpected to see you on a date with two girls at once. I never knew you had the ambition to become a harem king!」
Fujisato pointed her finger at me, her face flushed crimson red, lips made into an O shape.
「Oh dear, I also had no idea senpai was such a player.」
Kuhoh added as she crossed her arms on her chest while maintaining a somewhat amused smile.
「It’s nice to see the two of you too, even if that combination is quite unusual.」
Fujisato was wearing clothes that looked like they were taken straight out of the summer edition of some popular fashion magazine. On the contrary, Kuhoh’s clothes were rather plain, but at the same time well-suited for her. They were so vastly different that they were actually a very good match where one person was complementing what the other was lacking. And, you know… seeing them in something other than their school uniforms was always a welcomed change of pace.
「About that, we just met each other a while ago. But I’ve gotta say, seeing the three of you together is also unexpected, what’s up with that?」
「I. on the other hand, am very glad to have bumped into you, senpai. Perhaps fate does bring people together.」
It would’ve been very nice if this chance encounter was really fate’s doing, but the recent events were far too coincidental for me to believe that. But since Fujisato said they’ve met a while ago, then maybe they really had nothing to do with this?
「Hello there, Shiinamachi-senpai.」
「Even though we’ve seen each other only yesterday, It’s always nice to see you, senpai.」
「Hello to you too, Fujisato-san, Kuhoh-san. It’s great that we happened to bump into each other like this.」
Then the two of them turned their attention towards Shiki. I wanted to introduce her to them, but Shiki already took the initiative to do so.
「Nice to meet you, my name is Yatono Shiki. I am Shiinamachi Kaguya’s friend and Monjiro’s slave, in all senses of the word.」
I expected her to say something ridiculous, but this was next level.
「EEEEEEEEEHHHHH?! M-M-M-Monjiro, is that true?!」
「A slave you say? Now that’s a word that you don’t hear often in this day and age.」
Fujisato had a mini panic attack, while Kuhoh was contemplating what she just heard. Those reactions were completely expected by me, because I knew both of them well enough to predict that sorts of things.
The pattern went more or less like this: Shiki would make an over-the-top self-introduction, Fujisato would panic because of her imagination running rampant, and Kuhoh would remain as stoic as always. As long as I could visualize all of that in my mind, keeping my wits about me was not a problem. Besides, I’ve seen and experienced things far weirder to be moved by something as normal as this. Being stabbed to death, turning immortal all of a sudden, been there, done that.
「I hope we will all get along with each other.」
「You’re not even going to say that was a joke?!」
I felt so grateful to Fujisato for pointing that out. While I of course hoped they’d become good friends with each other, it sure would be nice to have another normal person in our group.
「If she’s not going to do it, then I will: everything that Shiki-san said was a joke, right, Shiki-san? Right?」
「Phew, now that’s a relief. And here I was wondering when our good boy Monjiro got himself a label change from a serious glasses-wearing type to a perverted glasses-wearing type. You had me there for a second.」
Fujisato pressed her hand against her rather ample chest, amplified further by her frisky garment. I was very curious what she meant about those labels, but I decided it’d be better not to pursue the matter further. On the other hand, Shiinamachi-senpai seemed to have something on her mind as she looked at the two girls.
As much as I didn’t like it, they were still suspects in our investigation. One of them, or maybe even both of them could’ve been responsible for killing senpai and me, and yet here they were, chatting with us so nonchalantly… I really didn’t want to believe that was the case. To rid myself of that anxiety, it would be nice to clear them off every suspicions. All of a sudden I felt like I was being in the middle of some detective novel’s plot as its main hero who wanted to have faith in his comrades. But in exactly those kinds of stories, the common trope was that those closest to the protagonists were the culprits, so it was too early for me to let my guard down just yet.
「Are the three of you on a date, perhaps?」
「Sure would be nice if that was the case.」
I made a wry smile, and senpai simply giggled as she covered her mouth with the back of her hand.
「That’s right. I invited Shiki-san and Jiro-kun on a date. They’re my precious friends, so I wanted us to spend this day together to become even closer.」
「Oh, is that so? How thoughtful of you, senpai.」
Fujisato giggled and gave me the look that clearly said 「Enjoying your youth to the fullest, are we? Nishishishi!」 *Sigh* okay, yes, you’re right, I am having a blast and its lovely, okay?
「What about you two? What are you doing here, Fujisato-san, Kuhoh-san?」
Now was the time to check if the two of them actually had an alibi. We were attacked around ten minutes ago. If it turns out that they were here before that time, then they were in the green.
「I came here to feed the cats. It’s a hobby of mine. I come here by bike to do so whenever I happen to have some free time on my hands.」
Fujisato pointed towards the parking lot that was literally littered with cats and kittens. Now that I got a closer look, this island really had a lot of them hanging around, maybe because the fishmonger was nearby. And since there was only one road leading here, the probability of them being hit by a car was really low. It really looked like a paradise for them.
「As for me, I live in the neighborhood, so I happened to stumble upon Fujisato-senpai as I was on a walk before my training.」
Kuhoh pointed towards a tall building at the other side of the bridge. Apparently, that was the place where she lived.
「Have you been here long?」
「Ten minutes, maybe fifteen? When the three of you showed up, I’ve just told 「Well fancy meeting you here!」 to Kuhoh-chan.」
「To add to that, we’ve met when I was just getting off the bridge.」
「Wait, really? I didn’t see you at all when I was riding here! Sorry about that!」
「Please, don’t be, senpai. You seemed to have such a good time riding your bike that I didn’t want to bother you.」
Crossing the bridge from the mainland to the island would take approximately five minutes. Getting from the place we were attacked to the bridge would also take five minutes. If both of them hurried up, they could’ve easily made it. But what would be the point of rushing from that place all the way here to meet us?
From my perspective, it really looked like the two of them had just met each other by chance. But senpai still had that thinking expression on her face. Just what was she planning? Then she brought her hands together and exclaimed happily:
「Fujisato-san, Kuhoh-san, are the two of you free tonight? If it’s alright with you, would you be interested in participating in a pajama party at the clock tower with us?」
That invitation… there was no mistake about it!
Shiinamachi-senpai’s famous pajama party… The Night Gathering!
「Seriously?! I don’t have a shift at the store tonight so I am available! Wow, I can’t believe that I’ll be able to see how the legendary clock tower looks from the inside!」
Fujisato was over the moon as she was nodding her head happily.
「I should also have some free time on my hands after I finished my training today. Would it be all right if I came right after the activities at the kendo club, senpai?」
As a veteran of those parties, Kuhoh had nothing against it either.
「That’s great to hear! Then let’s have a fun time together, all of us!」
「I’m sure we will!」
Both Fujisato and Kuhoh seemed genuinely happy to receive an invitation, which made me released the breath I was unconsciously holding up until now. They really didn’t look like criminals who had their hands stained with blood. I realize that treating them as potential culprits was more than a little unfair of course.
If we were to label people as killers based on chance encounters like this one, then Shiki would still be on the list of the suspects. Speaking of the devil, when I glanced in her direction, I noticed that she was glaring at Kuhoh and Fujisato this entire time. I couldn’t confirm if she was using that golden eye of hers just now, but I did noticed that her hands were moving ever so slightly inside the pockets of her lab coat. What was she doing?
「Are you fine with that, Shiki-san?」
「Yes, no problems here. This would be a great occasion to show my new, amazing pajamas to everybody.」
「And in what sense are they amazing?」
「They’re see through. Every single part of them.」
「S-Should something so lewd be allowed? Is she a flasher? Should I call the cops?」
Fujisato tried to be the voice of reason here, but her cheeks were all red, and for some reason, she was glancing in my direction every so often. This was another one of those troublesome situations. Natural thing to do would be to say that I’m not interested in Shiki’s transparent pajamas, but I had a feeling that if I said that, everyone present would get mad at me, and I’m not pulling the pin on that grenade ever again. In that case, the right answer was…
「I’m looking forward to seeing that pajamas of yours, Shiki. Wear them no matter what.」
「Aye aye, cap’n. Since it’s a direct order from you, I’ll be sure to deliver!」
「No, you can’t go 「aye aye」 on something like that! She can’t do it, right?! Please, someone tell me that she can’t!」
Seeing someone else being dragged into Shiki’s shenanigans was a truly refreshing sight.
「You two should bring your pajamas too. Don’t worry, normal ones will do.」
Kuhoh looked quite perplexed at that remark.
「That might be a problem. Usually I sleep in tracksuits or T-shirts and simple shorts. I don’t think I have anything that qualifies as appropriate attire for that kind of event.」
During the last sleepover party she was indeed wearing a tracksuit, same as me. In comparison to the other attendants (all of whom were girls) we were sticking out like a pair of sore thumbs, so maybe that was one of the reasons we were able to get along with each other so well.
「Don’t worry about that, Kuhoh-san, I can lend some of my pajamas to you. I have a feeling that the ones with a lot frills and cute designs would look especially good on you.」
I tried to imagine Kuhoh in a girly pink pajama with a lot of frills, and realized that I kinda want to see it.
「I’m sure it’ll suit you very well, Nagi-chan!」
「I-Is that so? We’ll, I’ve never worn such girly clothes before in my life, but it might not be so bad to try it out I guess. Just make sure to go easy on me, especially you, Monjiro-senpai.」
This whole conversation made me wander should I prepare similar attire myself? But male pajamas will probably not be as interesting as female ones, so maybe I shouldn’t do it after all.
As I was pondering about that, Shiki walked over to me and spoke in a voice so quiet that only I could hear it.
「If all goes well, then tonight we’ll bring this case to a close.」
Those words… so what she meant was that the party was just a ruse organized by senpai only for the purpose of checking whether or not Fujisato or Kuhoh were the culprits. And there she was, chatting happily with the two of them without a care in the world. I couldn’t believe that senpai was really capable of such deceptive tactics.
But if the culprit was one of them, then they were the deceivers, and we were being deceived by them.
Even if that turns out to be the case, I refused to believe it to the very end. I still wanted to think they had nothing to do with this case.
「If you truly believe them to be innocent, then observe them carefully during tonight’s sleepover. If nothing happens and they’ll turn out to be innocent, I promise I won’t suspect them anymore, you have my word.」
…That was exactly what I was going to do. All for the sole purpose of clearing my friends from any suspicions.
Thinking that, I watched as Shiinamachi-senpai, Fujisato and Kuhoh were laughing together in harmony, while dark clouds slowly creeping over my heart.