How long did we wait? Maybe it was a moment, maybe more than a few minutes. The phrase “justice former ally” must have been heavy enough to make me forget the time interval. I was trying to pick up again what I had once thrown away so unceremoniously.

However, what cut off that seething discomfort was the sound of the door slowly being opened. The girl glanced out only with her face, as if peering at us.

“…..Hashimoto san.”

“Nanase, please wait here.”

I stopped Nanase from speaking and slowly turned my feet toward the front door. In such cases, it can be difficult mentally to have someone close to you. That’s why I want her to watch over from behind for a little while longer.

“It’s almost nice to meet you.”


She replied to my greeting, albeit in a very faint way. It seems that her condition is more stable than I had expected. The fact that she showed up like this proves it.

“I’d like to talk to you if possible, can you do that?”

“Well, it’s……”

“You can let Nanase sit behind you, or you can let her leave. On the other hand, it is possible for me to leave the room and listen to Nanase alone.”

I suggest to her that she choose one of these options. If it’s possible, I don’t want her to not choose both.

“Um, that’s……”

“Don’t worry. Neither I nor Nanase will tell anyone about what happened today, including anyone from the school, of course.”

What is she looking for now? I’m not an Esper, so there’s no way I would know that. But I kind of know what she’s afraid of.

“When this is all over, you and I can be strangers again. Well, I might at least give you a report when all is said and done.”

“…..What’s the report?”

“It’s going to be a happy report for you, that all the threats are over.”

And then there was silence for a while. I’m not good at making eye contact with people, but I still couldn’t take my eyes off her weak eyes. If I did, even the thinnest of threads would be severed.

“……Come on in, you two.”

With that, she withdrew inside. I don’t know if she trusts me or not, but she was willing to talk to me at the very least. I went back to Nanase and told her that I had been given permission to go inside.

“I-I see ! You did it !”

“Yeah, but here comes the hard part. Do you remember what I said on the way?

“Yes, of course. Don’t talk about school-related matters and refrain from smiling as much as possible.”

“That’s right. And you can pretend to be concerned, but don’t say that her classmates were worried about her. Just say that you were personally worried about her.”

“I understand.”

People who are on the verge of truancy sometimes feel a strong sense of rejection when school is mentioned. This is especially true for young boys and girls who are emotionally traumatized. In addition, if someone smiling and cheerful is in front of them, they may feel pressured into closing their minds. The young girl’s mind was a mess before, but from now on, we must be very careful.

(In that sense, Nanase’s choice may have been a little delicate.)

It might have been better to go with Yukihana Hisui. The only flaw is that I can’t see a future where we will cooperate. But Nanase has its advantages, so I hope I will make good use of them.

“Let’s go, then.”

I didn’t want to keep her waiting too long, so we quickly entered Hashimoto’s house. The house looked neat and tidy at a glance, but there was a heavy atmosphere in the house. Perhaps Nanase sensed this, too, as she looked more nervous than she had on the way here.

We were led through a short hallway to the living room on the first floor. There, we found Hashimoto already preparing a cup of tea and pouring it. Apparently, we had been recognized as a guest.

“Can I sit here?”


After a brief exchange, I took a seat on the lower section of the sofa. I don’t think manners are necessary, but there is no reason to be not polite. Nanase also sat down next to me and put her bag on the floor.

“Here’s some barley tea. If you don’t mind.”

“Thank you.”

I drank half of the barley tea offered to me. It’s easier for the other party’s guard to melt if you drink it all at once than if you don’t care about it. Nanase, on the other hand, doesn’t put barley tea in her mouth, and she’s stuck next to me with her tense expression as usual.

“So, what do you want to hear from me?”

“Yeah, let me get straight to the point. I want to talk about Shishiyama Shinya, who just recently transferred to my school.”

When I mentioned the name, her expression hardened. No, rather, it looks like she’s forcing herself to cover up her complex emotions that are a mixture of displeasure and hatred.

Hashimoto took a sip of the barley tea she had poured herself and put the glass on the table. Is she trying to calm her mind or cool down her own heat?

“……Why are you asking me that?”


“In the first place, who are you, a former ally of justice or some such joke?”

A quizzical look pierced through my body, as if to inquire about me. I don’t think it’s going to be easy to get her to believe me. No, it is impossible to make her believe me from the very beginning. That’s why I stared back at her and said.

“……Well, that’s where we need to start, isn’t it?”

For a moment, I thought about letting Nanase leave the room. But in the end, I feel like nothing will change. That’s why I……

“First of all, listen to my old story, and then make a decision. In this story, you will find the answer to your question.”

And so, I told my past story without any concealment. It was embarrassing to talk about my past to a girl I had almost never met before. After all, it was like imposing my own black history on her. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I was adding to my black history. Even more so when there’s a younger girl next to me whom I know somewhat.

“And when I was in the second year of middle school…..”

And then I told the truth about that day. Hashimoto was listening with gritted teeth for some reason, and Nanase next to me was looking at me with a somewhat sorrowful expression on her face.

By the time I had finished telling them everything, all the ice in my glass had melted away. I gulped down the diluted barley tea and looked at Hashimoto again.

“That’s my story. Do you understand why I’m asking for information on Shinya?”

“……Kind of.”

Hashimoto then looks away from me with a complicated expression on her face. I’m sure she was lamenting the fact that she was the only one being unreasonable. However, She finally realized the obvious, she’s not the only one suffering unreasonably in the world. No, I had to get her to realize that or else the story would not progress.

“So, I think it’s time for you to tell me your side of the story?”


“It looks like you’ve been through a lot more than me.”

Then I smile self-deprecatingly. Yes, as if to show that I’m the only one who understands. If I had said this before I told her about my past, she might have gotten angry and turned me away. However, if I freeze the air with my story, she will think that she has to tell me.

“So how did this happen?”

Follow up with a natural introduction to the story to make it easier to talk about. If I use an answer format, she will naturally tell me what I want to ask her. Nanase, who was next to me, also stiffened her expression and straightened her posture.


Then she finally speaks.

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