Now that we’ve been introduced to Michiru, let’s take a look at his rough designs. ( ♥ ω ♥ )
MICHIRU: “Hah… Why did Rayla have to go and become an Angel? If he wasn’t an Angel then he never would have…”
MICHIRU: “…If Rayla quits being an Angel then-! Right, then I’ll have a bunch of different ways to protect him. But how should I get him to quit…?”
MICHIRU: “…! Who’s there…?”
???: “Michiru, Michiru~ I’m here because Master told me to give you these documents on Rayla Konomi.”
???: “It looks like you’ve got no choice but to kill him huh~”
MICHIRU: “Can’t you keep your nose out of my business?”
???: “That wasn’t my intention. Oh, hey hey, Michiru~ Look at this; here in his documents!”
???: “It’s his objective~! To throw out an objective like that when he’s an Angel is a joke. Gehehe~”
???: “What’ll he do if he kills one on accident? Maybe he’ll take responsibility and quit being an Angel? Gehehe~”
MICHIRU: “…Quit being an Angel?”
???: “What’s wrong?”
MICHIRU: “You do have good things to say sometimes~”
???: “Gehehe! Is that so~? I have time to spare right now. Is there something I can help with?”
MICHIRU: “…Manipulating data was your strong point, wasn’t it?”
???: “Yes! It’s my special skill!”
MICHIRU: “Would you be able to manipulate data from the Heavens Institution…?”
???: “What’s all this about? It sounds fun~! I’ll do it, I’ll do it!!”
MICHIRU: “…Do you really want to do it?”
???: “I do! I can’t let something as interesting as that get away!”
MICHIRU: “Okay, I’ll let you do it. And in exchange—”
MICHIRU: “It has to be kept secret from Master, from everyone. If you say anything, I’ll kill you.”
???: EEEK!? Gehehe! So scary, jeez… As long as it’s interesting.”
???: “So, what is it that I should do~?”
MICHIRU: “Did you know that the likelihood of getting the death sentence at a Judgment of the Heavens is really high?”
???: “So we’re using a Judgment of the Heavens then. Gehehe, roger that!”
MICHIRU: “…I’ll create a situation in which you have no choice but to let a dealer die without doing anything to help them.”
MICHIRU: “As long as you don’t get hurt, I’ll do anything. Even if that means hurting someone else…”
It was two weeks after our first direct contact mission.
After that, we had direct contact missions almost daily and from morning until night we continued to do research and have direct contact with dealers.
Right now I was using our break time after breakfast for kunai target practice.
FUU: “…To the left, on the border.”
I set my aim for the places I said out loud and threw my kunai straight at them.
FUU: (Yeah, exactly where I was aiming.)
I turned my gaze toward the voice to see Rayla coming up the stairs.
FUU: “Oh, Rayla, good morning.”
RAYLA: “Mm. …Are you the ‘practice every morning’ type?”
FUU: “Yes. You?”
RAYLA: “I was running on the lower floor.”
FUU: “I see.”
I realized something in the midst of our trivial conversation.
FUU: “That reminds me, are you okay on the lower floor? I mean, with your fear of heights…”
RAYLA: “Yeah. There are no windows.”
Rayla pointed to the bottom floor as he spoke. As for the windows in this room, it seemed that he was keeping his back turned to them so he couldn’t see them.
So that means this floor is a no-go, but the room with the training equipment is okay…
FUU: (The upper floor has a 360 degree view of the outside…)
FUU: “So you’re fine if you can’t see outside.”
RAYLA: “Right. The bedrooms all have windows so anything other than the third floor was impossible.”
RAYLA: “It’s thanks to you going along with it that I got the third floor. Thank you.”
FUU: “No, I really was fine with anywhere.”
RAYLA: “I thought this before too, but you really don’t say anything selfish, do you?”
FUU: (I don’t think that’s true…)
What immediately came to mind was what happened last night.
FUU: “That’s not the case. For example, last night when Yun came to my room I was tired so I didn’t answer.”
FUU: “I wanted to sleep so I ignored him. I do selfish things sometimes.”
RAYLA: “Yun went to your room…?”
Rayla deeply furrowed his brow.
RAYLA: “When exactly was that? What did he need?”
FUU: “Who knows; I don’t know what he wanted. I didn’t look at the clock, so I don’t know the time either. I know it was after I went to bed at 2300 though.”
RAYLA: “Are you kidding? That falls into late night territory. What the hell is he thinking?”
FUU: “I-it’s nothing you need to get that angry about…”
RAYLA: “Taking care of your physical condition is also part of an Angel’s duty. If your judgment is off today because you didn’t get enough sleep then it’s his fault.”
RAYLA: “And if you get injured because of that then Yun will pay for it.”
FUU: “You’re overreacting. I just woke up for a bit, that’s all…”
FUU: “A punishment!? You know, I’m just fine!”
I hadn’t meant to, but it was almost like I was tattling on him.
But still, this was the first time I had seen Rayla get this angry on someone’s behalf.
Up until now, he’s been unconcerned and had an attitude like he had no interest in me at all.
Maybe he’s actually worrying about me as his partner.
FUU: (…I’d be happy if that was the case.)
[Tefu Tefu notification]
It was then that Rayla and I got a transmission from Nana on our Tefu Tefus.
We nodded at each other and rushed out of the training room.
Everyone, except for Tchicai, was already gathered in the meeting room.
IDZUKI: “I know I said we’d be meeting at 11 today, so I apologize for waking you up early. I’ll start talking once Tchicai gets here.”
YUN: “I was already up so I’m fine.”
FUU: “Rayla and I were in the training room so we’re okay too.”
Since I took it upon myself to say it, I took a quick peek at Rayla next to me but he didn’t seem to mind.
YUN: “You were together since this morning…? Hey, it’s only been half a month, did you already fall for Rayla!?”
YUN: “Did you fall in love with him!?”
RAYLA: “Is that the only thing that goes on in your head? We just happened to meet in the training room, but you’re going to fabricate something into an established fact? You’re unbelievable.”
RAYLA: “Wait, that reminds me… You went to her room in the middle of the night.”
Rayla was giving off a murderous vibe.
FUU: “R-Rayla, please calm down! I’m sure Yun came to my room because he needed something—”
RAYLA: “Just what were you planning to do by going to her room that late? I’m sure you were thinking about something you’d feel guilty about right?”
YUN: “Urk… W-why do you know that I went to her room—Ah! Don’t tell me… Rayla, are you her stalker!?”
RAYLA: “Don’t lump me in with you. Just answer my question. You were going to force her awake and do something strange, weren’t you?”
YUN: “I-I, well…”
RAYLA: “I’ll make it so you won’t wake for a quite while by getting you with a 100% concentrated needle…”
YUN: “Urgh… Don’t talk about me like I’m a walking R-18!”
MICT: “Rayla’s plan is very good. Do that for sure. So that he won’t wake for eternity.”
FUU: “Mict! Don’t support him!”
After that, Nana and I tried to persuade Rayla into stopping up until Tchicai came to the meeting room.
IDZUKI: “All right, everyone is here. I was just contacted by our Undercover Angel.”
Apparently he had gotten information that a dealer was at a preschool called ‘Staind Preschool’.
That was what was written on an online forum last night and was causing issues.
They’ve apparently already taken care of deleting the information, but they’re still unsure about the credibility of it.
FUU: “So we need to check it out.”
IDZUKI: “Yes. Tchicai and Yun, contact the manager of the forum and pinpoint the person who wrote it.”
IDZUKI: “I’ll have the rest of you come with me. We’re going to go check it out directly.”
YUN: “More research, huh. …Maybe it was a mistake to pair up with Tchica.”
RAYLA: “Is it all right to go to the preschool directly? If there really is a target hiding out there, won’t they just escape?”
IDZUKI: “Yeah, well, they actually contacted the Intelligence Department. They said they want us to come immediately.”
FUU: “Why would they do that?”
IDZUKI: “We won’t know unless we go. However, preschools are a prohibited area. You should know that since you learned about it in school, right?”
TCHICAI: “Yes yeees! Angels can’t enter buildings that minors frequent without permission from the Heavens. ★”
There are certain areas that Angels cannot enter during missions without obtaining permission from the Heavens.
That includes ‘all buildings which minors may frequent’.
Daycares, schools, shopping centers, and various other locations.
So even now we can’t enter the location grounds until they give us permission…
FUU: “Have we already been given permission?”
Nana shook his head at my question.
FUU: “Then how are we going to speak with the staff?”
IDZUKI: “We’ll use Wing. We’ll bring them to the reception room.”
FUU: “Oh, I see.”
Rayla, Nana, Mict, and I met up an hour later.
Nachi stayed behind at the Angel Tower to prepare lunch so Nana was the one driving.
Mict was alone in the intelligence room next door because he wanted to sort through the information…
・A preschool with celebrity purveyors
・They restrict the number of preschoolers out of consideration for providing an environment that is pleasant for each individual
・There are 40 preschoolers
・They’re split into 4 classes of 10
・There are four teachers assigned to each classroom
FUU: “Which means there are 16 teachers.”
RAYLA: “And if you include the school director… 17?”
FUU: “It looks like there’s an assistant director as well. There are 18 names in the documents.”
FUU: “It certainly leaves nothing to be desired. I suppose that’s to give off a high class feel.”
RAYLA: “I guess. I’ve never been to one so I don’t know what’s normal.”
I immediately shut my mouth after I said that.
I said those words unintentionally. We’ve been so busy with work lately that I haven’t really had the chance to ask but…
FUU: (…I didn’t say the rest of it because I might be avoiding the topic myself.)
RAYLA: “…I don’t really mind if you ask though? I don’t think anything of it now.”
I was curious about how expressionless Rayla was as he said that.
FUU: (If I let this chance slip away it seems like I won’t get another one.)
After hesitating for a bit, I resolutely began to talk.
FUU: “Did you meet Michiru as a dealer?”
RAYLA: “That’s right. I said it before, but I needed to earn some money. My family was strapped on cash.”
RAYLA: “Michiru’s house was… they didn’t seem to have that sort of lifestyle, but he said he was dealing because he didn’t get an allowance.”
RAYLA: “Well, I guess what we had in common was that our parents made us do it. So we didn’t really have the time to go to preschool, right?”
FUU: “Your parents had you do that when you were that little…?”
No matter how troubled they were over money, I couldn’t believe they would force a child to do something they knew was a crime.
FUU: (I wonder if Rayla hates his parents. Oh, but-)
I recalled how simply he answered about his parents’ deaths before.
FUU: (His attitude seemed more like he thought nothing of them at all rather than hating them.)
FUU: “What do you… think about you parents?”
RAYLA: “We’re only connected by blood. There’s nothing more to it.”
RAYLA: “I don’t hate them but don’t love them either. To be frank, I don’t feel anything toward them.”
Rayla was detached and expressionless as he spoke of his parents.
It looked like he’d forgotten the feelings of loneliness and sadness somewhere along the way.
FUU: “…What about Michiru? Isn’t Michiru the only person you’ve really trusted?”
RAYLA: “Not really. It’s the same for Michiru. I don’t think anything at all.”
RAYLA: “I will eventually bring him into custody. It’s my duty as an Angel to arrest dealers.”
While Rayla was excessively detached as he spoke, I couldn’t hide my bewilderment.
Just a little while before, Rayla had always looked so pained whenever we talked about Michiru.
Furthermore, he seemed like he didn’t want to talk about it then but now he was speaking about it nonchalantly.
I couldn’t help but feel something was off, seeing him talk expressionlessly and emotionlessly while completely avoiding eye contact with me.
FUU: “…Is something wrong?”
RAYLA: “Like what?”
Rayla looked like he was forcing himself to suppress his emotions—
FUU: “Are you okay with that? Can you arrest Michiru and put an end to your feelings?”
RAYLA: “Taking dealers into custody is my objective. I’ll do whatever I have to for that.”
Something felt off about how quickly he answered.
FUU: (It feels like he suspected I’d ask that and prepared to say that ahead of time.)
FUU: “It’s true that he’s a dealer. But that’s not what I was asking; with Michiru as your friend—”
RAYLA: “He’s a dealer. He’s nothing more than that.”
Rayla’s statements were so smooth and lacking in feelings that it was almost like speaking with a doll.
[dialogue branch ends – continue to rejoined dialogue]
FUU: “You don’t seem like yourself right now. …It looks like you’re forcing yourself.”
FUU: “…If I told you I wanted to know how you really felt, would you tell me?”
RAYLA: “…Why are you trying to get inside of me?”
FUU: “I already told you didn’t I? I—“
RAYLA: “You’re going to say you want to understand me, right? Does that mean you want to understand me completely? Who do you think you are? You’d go that far just because we’re partners?”
FUU: “…I’m sorry. But I’m sure Michiru is going to appear before you again.”
There was so much going on, what with the revealing of the organization’s name and that extreme production he put on.
It was way too much to try and finish in a single contact mission.
There was also the hidden message on that card.
‘I’ve come for you Rayla.’
It’s only natural to think that he’s going to take some sort of action from here on out as well.
FUU: “I want to support you so that you can face Michiru properly.”
FUU: “Before when you had that phone call from Michiru, all I could do was watch you tremble in pain.”
FUU: “So I want to support you as your partner this time.”
With that, Rayla’s once mask-like and expressionless face crumbled just a little…
His shoulders fell, and he brushed away his bangs with a slightly troubled and teary expression.
RAYLA: “What the hell is that … dammit…”
RAYLA: “You’re annoying.”
FUU: “…I’m sorry.”
Even though I apologized, his irritation didn’t abate, and he pushed away his bangs even more roughly than before.
FUU: (It looks like I might have said too much…)
But still, my feelings didn’t change.
FUU: (I want to support Rayla.)
[dialogue branch ends – continue to rejoined dialogue]
Before when he told me a little bit about Michiru… I felt like I got to touch a bit of his past and his heart.
But I couldn’t see that now; it was as if a large, towering wall was obstructing his feelings.
FUU: (Just what kind of change was there in his mental state, I wonder. …Why is he hiding his real feelings?)
The silence continued and an unpleasant mood drifted in.
Unable to bear it, I decided to start talking about what was written on the forum.
FUU: “About the forum incident…”
The place where it was written was a forum called ‘Blue Sky Plaza’ that was used by mothers of preschool aged children to mingle.
‘Staind Preschool is currently selling Star! We’re waiting for the arrival of our dear customers ♪’
The time it was written was 0312.
There was a report at 0600.
The parents who use the forum were asleep at the time it was written.
Because of that, when morning came and the message was discovered, it became flooded with comments.
FUU: “Maybe it was just a prank. Or maybe…”
I was hammering in as much information into my head as possible to really buckle down on this job.
And next to me was Rayla, whose mind seemed to not even be present.
The car stopped at a place a bit removed from the preschool; a look at Nana’s expression told me he wanted us to move to the intelligence room.
Nana and Mict would be doing the investigation.
IDZUKI: “You two will observe the director from the intelligence room.”
FUU: “Observe him?”
IDZUKI: “Whether he’s lying, whether he acts off or says something suspicious – I want you to look at the things that we can’t know from seeing him directly. Don’t overlook anything no matter how trivial it is.”
Rayla and I silently nodded at Nana’s statement.
According to Nana, there were hidden cameras installed in the reception room and we would be able to see the footage in the intelligence room.
IDZUKI: “Also Mict- you’ll be acting from here on out. You’ll be… Right. Think of yourself as being an Archangel, equally ranked as me.”
MICT: “…An archangel, huh. So does that mean it’s okay for me to treat you not as a superior, but as a coworker…?”
IDZUKI: “I don’t mind. Listen, keep in mind that we’ll fail if you slip up.”
IDZUKI: “If the school director is the dealer, then he’ll try to find an opening. We’ll prevent that. However, don’t forget to conduct yourself properly.”
Mict nodded strongly at that.
RAYLA: “Is there really a need to go that far? You’re just listening to him talk.”
IDZUKI: “Of course there is. We’re operating with the presumption that there is a dealer, not that there’s a possibility of one.”
IDZUKI: “Discard the possibility that the message on the forum was a prank. Continue to be suspicious even if he says he’s ‘not a dealer’.”
IDZUKI: “I want you to bear in mind that locating a dealer is that difficult to do. Got it?”
IDZUKI: “Dealers get desperate to avoid getting caught, because they might get killed if an Angel arrests them.”
RAYLA: “…Well, that’s true.”
Rayla seemed to agree as he lightly scratched at his cheek.
FUU: (That reminds me, we’ve done nothing but target Stardust for our direct contact missions up until now.)
Stardust are comparatively easy to discover because the Star has side effects.
It doesn’t make them insane, but their increased malice makes Stardust easy to find.
There are many cases where they immediately cause trouble and become a disturbance.
On the other hand, dealers don’t necessarily use Star.
Excluding the fact that they sell Star, they’re no different from normal people so we can’t find them easily.
IDZUKI: “All right, we’ll go get the school director. I’m really counting on you two.”
Nana and Mict left, and we sat down in front of the PC monitors.
The director was an extremely ordinary man.
MAMORU: “Ah, a pleasure… I’m Mamoru Toono, the school director for Staind Preschool.”
MICT: “Thank you for contacting us. Please have a seat over here.”
Mict was unusually calm as he offered the director a chair.
FUU: “He seems like just a normal person at this stage.”
RAYLA: “Obviously. They’ve only greeted each other so far.”
FUU: “Ah, that is true…”
RAYLA: “I’m more interested in Mict’s acting. He’s way too different from normal.”
FUU: “That’s even more obvious. It was a compulsory course at Angel School.”
RAYLA: “Well…yeah but…”
Rayla’s words trailed off and he turned to the monitors with a displeased expression for some reason.
FUU: (What’s that about? Oh… Maybe he wasn’t very good at the acting course?)
IDZUKI: “So, what is it you had to tell us?”
MAMORU: “Um… Would you mind investigating our school?”
MICT: “…And why is that? Are you saying that the message on the forum was true?”
MAMORU: “N-no…! It’s not that, just…”
MAMORU: “The parents are… well, they’re saying it’s questionable to have a place where children are taken care of to have such a rumor, and that it should be thoroughly investigated and responded to…”
The director spoke about the complaints he had gotten from the parents.
If a thorough investigation proves that there is someone involved with Star, they couldn’t entrust their children with the school.
MAMORU: “Of course, there are also those who continue to leave their children with us as normal, saying this is just some prank.”
MICT: “How many students are attending now?”
MAMORU: “Hah…Well, it’s 18 out of the 40.”
IDZUKI: “So that means over half are truant.”
MAMORU: “The staff told me I should contact the Heavens Institution Intelligence Department, so I called for you all immediately.”
There was one thing I found questionable hearing him talk until now.
FUU: “This person… He really is the school director, right?”
RAYLA: “Huh? Why?”
FUU: “I mean, if you’re the school director, I think you would realize it yourself and contact someone for help if over half of your students were truant.”
RAYLA: “Now that you mention it, he did say that the staff told him he should contact us…”
MICT: “Well then, am I correct in that you’re officially requesting us to conduct an investigation?
IDZUKI: “This will be a top secret investigation. It would be meaningless if the fact we’re doing an investigation was leaked to outsiders.”
IDZUKI: “You can promise that you absolutely will not tell anyone else about this, right?”
MAMORU: “Of course.”
IDZUKI: “Very well, have two of your teachers take time off. As for the length… Right. Two days should be good.”
IDZUKI: “We’ll send two of our people in to substitute for them.”
IDZUKI: “We can’t tell if there’s a dealer on the inside just by watching from the outside.”
IDZUKI: “They’re almost always discovered from within.”
IDZUKI: “Us Angels are experts when it comes to Star. So please, entrust us with this.”
MAMORU: “…Very well.”
IDZUKI: “As for the details of the investigation, we can’t tell even you. Any sort of interference is prohibited.”
MAMORU: “I don’t mind. As long as you will investigate it.”
IDZUKI: “Understood. We’ll send you two teachers starting tomorrow.”
It seemed the conversation was concluded.
RAYLA: “Why is he so passive? Isn’t he being overly timid?”
The other two returned then and told us they were finished.
Rayla and I listed the director’s odd points, which Nana and Mict also appeared to have noticed…
IDZUKI: “Looks like this isn’t nothing after all… It’s just my intuition from doing this for so long, so there’s no proof.”
Nana gave a wry smile as he spoke.
FUU: (We don’t know at this point…)
We all then returned to the Angel Tower.
The needles in my watch were pointing to 1230 when we got back to the Angel Tower.
When we went into the computer room to check on Tchicai and Yun—
YUN: “AND I’M SAYING THAT’S RIDICULOUS!”
We stopped in our tracks upon hearing Yun’s shouting.
TCHICAI: “That’s YOUR opinion, right!? Don’t try to shove it on me!”
It was my first time seeing those two in such a turbulent mood that I ended up hesitant to speak up.
RAYLA: “It’s pretty surprising to see these two fighting.”
MICT: “Should I get them with my string?”
I hurried to stop Mict in shock when he started to ready his string.
FUU: “I-I’ll go ask what the issue is!”
I got in between Yun and Tchicai who were glaring at each other and tried to speak in a soothing voice.
FUU: “Please calm down. What exactly happened?”
YUN: “Tchica said that chocolate muffins would be good for tonight’s dinner!! Isn’t that ridiculous!?”
RAYLA: “Ahh… Well, that would be infuriating. Yun, you do have something good to say for a change.”
IDZUKI: “Hah… Rayla, I understand how you feel, but let’s shift the focus on how this isn’t a regular fight.”
FUU: (Wait… What does he mean by ‘I understand how you feel’??)
MICT: “Wow… This is so trivial I’m going to throw up.”
The other two ignored us and were already continuing to quarrel when—
IDZUKI: “You’ll be punished by me if you don’t behave though?”
Yun and Tchicai saw the dark smile on Nana’s face and were plainly in an unpleasant mood…
Needless to say that in the end, Nana gave them a severe scolding.
After their scolding was over, we all moved into the meeting room.
Before we started our lunch break, we decided to report on our results. First we started with us—
With the school director’s official request for an investigation, we’ll be sending two Angels undercover as teachers to investigate the school.
Additionally, Nana gave a brief explanation of the director’s suspicious behavior. Then…
TCHICAI: “I found out who wrote that on the forum right away! Amazing, right? ★”
IDZUKI: “Hoo… Right away, huh. About how long did it take?”
YUN: “Tchica was so quick~ It was maybe 10 minutes after you all left? I didn’t do anything at all, hahaha.”
NACHI: “He really didn’t do anything.”
Nana glowered at Yun after Nachi said that.
Nana sighed and shifted his gaze from Yun to Tchicai.
IDZUKI: “Hah… Tchicai, next time you find something, immediately send the documentation to the PCs inside Wing please.”
TCHICAI: “Huh? I did send it though?”
MICT: “Huh? …But I checked over all the information in the intelligence room and we didn’t receive any communications.”
TCHICAI: “What, I definitely sent it! I sent it to everyone’s Tefu Tefu, too! Hey, Yun-Yun and Nachin, you both saw it, right?”
Yun and Nachi nodded yes several times.
Just in case, everyone who went to the preschool checked their Tefu Tefus, but no one had received the documentation.
MICT: “OUCH! Wh-what are you doing, you violent man!?”
YUN: “…There’s no such thing as ‘unnatural phenomenon’ in this world! So don’t say that ever again okay…?”
IDZUKI: “Which means we can’t go outside. So everyone will be working inside the Angel Tower for the afternoon.”
TCHICAI: “So, I’ll report it again, but the person who wrote the message is a man named Mana Toono.”
FUU: “Huh…? Toono, that’s the same last name as the school director, right?”
MICT: “But the first name is different. The school director’s name is Mamoru.”
RAYLA: “You did research it properly, right? You didn’t get the name wrong, did you?”
TCHICAI: “Mmm~ So rude, jeez! Of course not! My investigation was flawless!”
Tchicai brought out a single printout as he said that. The information written on it was—
Mana Toono. Age 23. Unemployed. Family includes father, Mamoru; mother, Kumi; total of three. Resides in the Second District.
IDZUKI: “I see… So he’s either trapped by his son or an accomplice…”
FUU: (So Nana thinks there are two possibilities…)
The first is the possibility that Mana has the school director in some sort of trap.
Mana made that malicious post regarding the preschool to rile up the children’s parents. This case would incite them to attack the director.
Another case is the possibility that Mana and the director are accomplices. Mana would write the post to rile up the children’s parents.
In that case, they’d dress it up as though there may be a dealer within the organization and invite us in for some sort of scheme.
FUU: “Either way, we don’t know the motive for the crime.”
IDZUKI: “Well, it’ll show up once we’ve gone undercover. I’ll be choosing two people from our team to act as preschool teachers for two days while doing an internal investigation.”
IDZUKI: “I’ll get permission from the Heavens to go inside starting tomorrow.”
YUN: “Preschool teachers, huh~ It has that ‘kind big sister’ image to it.”
TCHICAI: “If we’re talking about big sisters, then she’s the only one~”
He said that and turned his gaze on me.
FUU: “Wait, me…?”
IDZUKI: “Come on now; don’t just go deciding it by yourselves… But I was thinking of letting Rayla’s pair handle it.”
Rayla made a grave looking face.
MICT: “I’ll help too. I’ll make a rabbit apron to make Ray look like a preschool teacher—“
YUN: “Bwahahaha! A rabbit apron wouldn’t suit Rayla at all!”
TCHICAI: “Yeah, I can’t imagine it at all! I might laugh if I actually saw that~ ★”
RAYLA: “…! I’ll show all of you jerks laughing it up.”
Unconfident Rayla ended up telling Nana he wanted to be part of the infiltration himself.
When I asked Nana why he had chosen us for the undercover investigation…
He said it was because we were able to meticulously analyze Mr. Toono.
With those words of praise, I too got fired up about it, almost as if Rayla’s mood was infectious.
NACHI: “Well, it’s about time to for lunch!”
Everyone left the meeting room in succession after hearing Nachi say that.
It was then, when Rayla and I went to leave the room like everyone else—
IDZUKI: “Hang on. It won’t take much time, but can I talk with you a moment?”
FUU: “…Rayla and I?”
He nodded with a serious expression that was different from before, and we followed after him feeling anxious.
FUU: (Maybe this is something he really doesn’t want to be overheard if he’s gone to the trouble of changing locations…)
Thinking that made my anxiousness swell, whether I liked it or not.
IDZUKI: “…There’s a possibility this incident is connected with [na].”
After his shock, Rayla’s expression vanished and he went as expressionless as a doll.
RAYLA: “…So you mean I might meet Michiru again.”
IDZUKI: “…I thought I’d tell you first before I told the others.”
RAYLA: “I’m not really worried about it. If I see Michiru, I’ll bring him into custody. I just want to end this quickly.”
Nana was taken aback by his cold response.
RAYLA: “I’ll be going if that’s it.”
Rayla quickly left the room, expressionless to the end.
Nana looked at my face as if he was examining how I was doing.
I slowly shook my head in response.
FUU: (I don’t know either, about what’s going on with Rayla’s mental state.)
FUU: “So you’re… telling everyone tomorrow?”
Nana cast his eyes to the ground after nodding with a meek expression.
IDZUKI: “I’m sorry for telling you about this so late. About Rayla’s past…”
FUU: “…That he was a dealer?”
Nana’s eyes grew wide when I spoke ahead of him.
IDZUKI: “Did Rayla tell you that much?”
Nana looked relieved upon hearing that for some reason.
IDZUKI: “I see… I thought Rayla wouldn’t open up his heart to anyone, but he just might for you.”
FUU: “Anyway, that was just by chance. I don’t think he’s opened up to me at all…”
FUU: (That’s right… If he had opened his heart to me, he wouldn’t do things like crush out his feelings, act emotionless, or go expressionless…)
I asked Nana a question to cover up that I was starting to feel depressed about it.
FUU: “Um, why is there a possibility this is connected with [na]?”
???: “Would you let me explain this part, Idzuki?”
IDZUKI: “Hah… There you go appearing out of nowhere again. I’ll leave the explanation to you.”
Jiro nodded with a smile. He immediately sat down on the couch and began to explain it to me.
It was even before this whole forum scandal even happened that they knew there was a possible connection with [na]—
Jiro had considered Staind Preschool to be suspicious from the start.
It’s a preschool, but it’s still lit up in the middle of the night for some reason. It’s been confirmed that a large number of older persons go into the building through the rear entrance late at night.
That was information collected by a Public Order Department patrol unit.
FUU: “But can you really decide that it’s suspicious based on that? Maybe the teachers are there late into the night doing work… Or something.”
JIRO: “Every day though? Just how busy of a preschool would that be?”
JIRO: “And because there are celebrity purveyors or whatever there, there are fewer students than normal. There are a ridiculous number of teachers there because of that.”
FUU: “Well, when you put it that way, that’s true…”
FUU: “…But why would it be connected with [na]? I didn’t really understand that part from what you just said.”
JIRO: “[na] are dealers that target people over 50 years old to sell Star to.”
JIRO: “Because there were only older people seen coming and going from the preschool at night, that’s how they’re related.”
It seems that the older Stardust that were welcomed confessed that the dealers they bought from were mostly from [na].
The conclusion that came from it was that those numbers couldn’t be called a coincidence and that [na] were dealers that targeted people over 50 years old.
IDZUKI: “They weren’t limited by age back when Rayla was a dealer for [na].”
IDZUKI: “But it’s been 8 years since then, and it seems that’s changed for some reason.”
FUU: “I see…”
JIRO: “I was just thinking about getting you guys in on the case when… that forum incident happened.”
JIRO: “I was originally going to have you do an undercover investigation, so I already checked with the Heavens. They gave their permission today.”
JIRO: “I came here to tell you guys that.”
FUU: “? But why start with an undercover investigation? I mean, you thought it was suspicious at night, right?”
We need permission during the night too, but I didn’t really understand the meaning of why an undercover investigation was needed during the day.
JIRO: “The dealer organization [na] is one of the large dealer groups in Akatsuki. So it’s best to move discreetly, right?”
IDZUKI: “It’s one of the organizations we’ve been pursuing for many years. We need to be reliable in successfully carrying out these missions.”
FUU: “I see…”
I didn’t know that the dealer organization [na] was that large of a group.
IDZUKI: “Well, it’s not that we know for certain that [na] is related yet. So even though it’s just a possibility, it’s best to move with discretion.”
FUU: (Is Rayla going to be okay…?)
IDZUKI: “I’ll leave Rayla to you. He… still hasn’t faced his past.”
IDZUKI: “You’ve noticed that Rayla’s been off, right?”
IDZUKI: “He always has a barrage of questions whenever he suspects something, but once he knew that it had to do with [na], he left without pressing me for answers.”
He’s pretending to be calm, but he may be approaching his limit with his mind overflowing with memories.
FUU: “Um… Is it dangerous to be letting him do this undercover investigation?”
Thinking about what might happen to Rayla if he crossed paths with Michiru had me terrified.
IDZUKI: “No, this is good. …He needs a drastic measure.”
Nana stood up forcefully, as if to drive off the heavy mood—
JIRO: “Hey, Idzuki. I still have something to report. Could I have just you hang back?”
So I said goodbye to Jiro and left the room first.
FUU: (If something happens— If something happens to Rayla, I need to support him. That’s my duty as his partner.)
JIRO: “You’re not being ‘discrete’ just because [na] is a large dealer organization, are you?”
IDZUKI: “…That goes for you too, doesn’t it? That boy Kiri you only met once 13 years ago—He’s already a young man now. You’re still searching for him.”
JIRO: “Yeah. That boy that was in the same dealer organization as Rayla. I really regretted what happened back then. Like why didn’t I look out for him.”
JIRO: “If that young man is still in [na], I’ll do whatever it takes to bring him in. So I’ll leave Rayla to you.”
IDZUKI: “Heh, you told me the first day he came here you’d leave him to me.”
JIRO: “Hah, that’s right. …That’s all I had to say! So, I wonder what’s for lunch today~ ♪”
IDZUKI: “Wait, were you planning to eat here?”
JIRO: “Hey hey, what’s with that reaction~? That’s where you’re supposed to happily say ‘Yay! I’m super excited I get to eat with Jiro!’.”
IDZUKI: “Absolutely not. Please, act your age in front of them or you’ll get made fun of.”
As soon as lunch was over, we had a Stardust welcome mission dropped on us unexpectedly, separate from the Staind Preschool case.
We’re free until 0000 because we’ll be making our move at night.
I returned to my room thinking I might take a little nap, but I ended up just tossing and turning without falling asleep at all.
Rayla was on my mind.
FUU: (What will Rayla do when he meets Michiru? He said he’s going to bring him in, so he’ll probably capture him but…)
FUU: (But will that really be for Rayla’s benefit?)
Would that be ‘facing his past’ like Nana said?
As I thought over several things, I became even less able to sleep. I decided to go drink some tea for a change of pace.
When I came into the kitchen, Tchicai appeared to be making a fuss over something.
TCHICAI: “Ahh, good timing! Listen! My pudding got eaten by someone!”
NACHI: “What-? Hmm, that’s odd. It was definitely here when I looked this morning.”
FUU: (Pudding…? Oh, could it be-?)
An incident from this afternoon flashed through my mind.
FUU: “Pudding… Is this about a pink pudding?”
Tchicai nodded firmly at what I said.
FUU: (So… it was that then.)
JIRO: “Ahh, that was good. The food Nachi makes really is the best. Let’s take a looksee at what dessert is in the fridge.”
JIRO: “…Oh, there’s a little pudding in here! And it’s a pink pudding too! Haha! I’m in luck today~ Well then, don’t mind if I do!”
JIRO: “Mm, this is good! What is this, it’s so good! Super good! …Hm, Idzuki? What is it?”
IDZUKI: “Hah… That’s Tchicai’s pudding. Look, his name is written on the side of it.”
JIRO: “Ah, it is. I didn’t notice. Well, it’s not like I can do anything about it when it’s already been eaten!”
IDZUKI: “He’ll be angry. It’s from some famous patisserie that only makes 50 puddings per day, and they all sell out within 10 minutes from when the shop opens.”
JIRO: “Well, if we all keep quiet then he won’t know who ate it! Hahaha!”
FUU: (I can’t really say that I witnessed that…)
If I do tell him, I’m sure Tchicai would go to Jiro to complain.
I would feel bad about that, and it seems like it would just be burdensome in all sorts of ways.
FUU: “Um… I’m sorry; it was actually me who ate it. I didn’t know that you bought it.”
FUU: “Huh… Really?”
TCHICAI: “Well, I can tell that you’re truly apologizing straight from your heart. ♪ ”
I felt really sorry for lying after he told me that.
FUU: “Um, I’ll go buy something to substitute for it.”
I suggested that to at least make up for it.
Tchicai declined but I thought that going into town might help lighten my gloomy mood a little.
It gave me a good excuse to go, so I went out shopping.
FUU: (What should I buy to bring back…?)
I went to take a peek at the shop that sold the pink pudding, but they were already sold out of it.
I wandered around all sorts of shops and looked at all kinds of sweets, but nothing really stuck out.
FUU: (Finding a substitute for a limited product is pretty hard…)
It was right then that I found a cute, sky-colored wagon that was selling small cookies.
FUU: “Indigo … pudding?”
My feet stopped upon seeing a sign that said ‘Super Popular! Indigo Pudding’.
Lined up inside the showcase were indigo-colored puddings.
FUU: “Excuse me, could I—”
???: “Indigo pudding please!”
Upon hearing a man’s voice cover up my own, I raised my head in surprise.
Much like me, the man standing next to me looked at me with a baffled expression.
???: “Oh no, I’m fine going after. You go ahead.”
FUU: “No, I’m fine going after as well.”
???: “No no no, you were first.”
The shop worker laughed at seeing the two of us conceding to each other.
FUU: “Oh… Well then, I’ll take… seven indigo puddings.”
I didn’t know if they’d all eat it, but I decided to buy enough for everyone on the team.
SHOP WORKER: “And you wanted one, right?”
???: “You got it! Thanks~!”
The man seemed to be a regular customer as the shop attendant got his order right just by seeing his face.
SHOP WORKER: “I’ll wrap them up. Please wait just a moment.”
The shop worker took the puddings out from the case and put them into boxes.
The man smiled mischievously as he quietly brought his lips close to my ear.
FUU: “Huh… What do you mean?”
???: “Hmm. You’ll understand when you eat it I guess? I like it but other people say it’s disgusting.”
FUU: (Even though I went out of my way to buy this, he’ll be let down if it tastes bad…)
My shoulders drooped as I imagined Tchicai’s face when the worker finished wrapping both of our orders up.
We both paid and went to leave the shop when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
???: “Hahahaha! Don’t be so disappointed, okay? There are people like me who actually like this nasty stuff.”
FUU: “Wait… You think it’s disgusting too? Then why do you buy it?”
???: “Well, it’s my favorite color. And the fact that it’s pudding and this unappetizing… Hehe, it’s just right.”
???: “Ah, sorry, that last bit was just me talking to myself.”
???: “Anyway, I hope your pudding tastes good! Bye bye!”
I waved slightly as I watched him leave almost as if he was prancing off.
FUU: (…What a strange person.)
I hope your pudding tastes good—
I held that good luck charm-like statement tightly within my heart as I walked along the route back home.
Tchicai let out a cheer of joy the moment I opened the box of pudding.
TCHICAI: “Ahh! That’s a really pretty color! The name is just like the pink pudding, too!”
FUU: “Yes… It is very beautiful, but probably… Um, uh…”
While I was still debating whether or not I should tell him beforehand that it’s disgusting, Tchicai had already taken a bite of the pudding at lightning speed.
FUU: “I-I’m so sorry! I was told it was unappetizing but I thought I couldn’t really know until I tried it…”
TCHICAI: “Kyahaha! This grossness is actually pretty interesting~! Thanks ★”
FUU: “What? …Is it okay?”
TCHICAI: “Yeah, I mean, it’s fun ♪”
FUU: “…I see. That’s good.”
TCHICAI: “Oh, Ray ★ This pudding has a good color, doesn’t it~? It matches you, Ray!”
TCHICAI: “Look, I mean, it’s the exact same color as your hair.”
FUU: “Oh… They really do look similar.”
As Rayla was looking grim, Tchicai’s Tefu Tefu received a transmission.
Tchicai left the dining hall as he was called away by Nachi, leaving just Rayla and I together.
RAYLA: “I don’t want it. It’s obviously disgusting. I hate pudding anyway.”
FUU: “Ah… Is that so?”
For some reason, after he went silent Rayla muttered a few words to himself.
RAYLA: “I hate all sweets.”
FUU: “Ahh, I see. So that’s what it is. …Well then, I’ll take care from now on.”
RAYLA: “Take care of what?”
FUU: “Because I bought something for everyone and it’s too bad that you’re the only one who can’t eat it. Next time I’ll get something for you that isn’t sweet.”
RAYLA: “…You. Why are you being considerate of me like that?”
While he may have had a bored look on his face, some part of his voice had warmth to it.
FUU: “More so than being considerate… I think it’s just normal.”
FUU: “Like for example, if you’re buying souvenirs for your family, you buy things that everyone would like…”
FUU: “If I’m buying something for the colleagues I live together with, I want to buy something that will make them happy. …Isn’t that normal?”
RAYLA: “…Seems like you have a happy family.”
When I heard what he said, I realized that I hadn’t told him about myself.
FUU: “Sorry, I’ve always just asked to hear about you and haven’t told you about myself yet.”
After that, I told him about my family.
That my parents were killed for being dealers and that I was raised by Rina because of it.
That I choose the path to become an Angel in order to even slightly atone for the crimes committed by my parents.
Once I finished telling him everything, I once again looked at his face and saw that he appeared to be staring at me, dumbfounded.
RAYLA: “…You don’t resent dealers?”
FUU: “What I said before about wanting to retrieve as much Star as possible is connected with atoning for their crimes.”
RAYLA: “…I envy you.”
RAYLA: “Ah- …No, it’s nothing.”
Rayla tried to hurriedly hide it but the words he muttered reached my ears quite clearly.
Rayla looked resigned at my gaze and began to speak quietly.
RAYLA: “…I feel like I’m pathetic when I look at you.”
FUU: “…Why is that?”
RAYLA: “I thought that I was trying really hard, but I realized that I’ve gotten nowhere.”
FUU: “You mean…”
RAYLA: “I was convinced multiple times that I had gotten over it… My own past.”
Rayla’s expression twisted into one of agony.
No sooner than he had shown his feelings than I had forced him to make that face again.
It was that same pained, anguished expression he had when he told me a little about his past with Michiru—
FUU: “Please don’t force yourself. …I think you should face your past at your own pace.”
FUU: “I can’t explain it properly, but there was a time when I did hate my parents.”
FUU: “During that time, no matter what I was told I couldn’t control my feelings well. So… I think it’s okay to take it slow.”
RAYLA: “Then it’s too late.”
RAYLA: “I’m an Angel. I can’t be a slave to my past. I’m going to do the things that I should. I don’t want to… have my mind thrown into chaos by him.”
He murmured it as though it was as painful as vomiting blood.
Though he said he doesn’t want to have his mind thrown into chaos, the more he tries to persuade himself, the more he gets thrown into disarray.
All I could do was watch Rayla’s profile as I couldn’t find the right words to say.
[dialogue branch ends – continue to part 2]
FUU: “…I know you’ll be fine. I’m certain you’ll be able to overcome your past.”
RAYLA: “Huh? Why? On what basis?”
Maybe he thought what I said was irresponsible, but I could tell he was irritated.
But I didn’t back down and continued to speak.
FUU: “Because you understand it yourself – that you haven’t overcome it yet.”
FUU: “I know it isn’t easy to recognize your own true feelings like that…”
FUU: “I had my own period of suffering.”
I touched the necklace sitting at my chest from above my clothes.
FUU: (If I didn’t have this, I might have still resented my parents now.)
FUU: (I turned my back on myself that truly loved both of them from the depths of my heart…)
FUU: “You’ll be fine. Because you’re the kind of person who won’t deny their own feelings, but actually come to grips with them.”
FUU: “You’ll struggle on to get to the answer after you’ve overcome your past.”
Instead of talking, Rayla’s hand stretched out and touched my cheek—
And pinched it between his fingers.
RAYLA: “…You’re pissing me off.”
RAYLA: “You piss me off.”
FUU: “W-well… Umm, how? I mean, what’s with the hand…?”
RAYLA: “I’m pinching you because I’m pissed off.”
RAYLA: “…You’re being cheeky for you.”
FUU: “Ah, um, I’m sorry. If I over spoke then—”
RAYLA: “That’s not what I mean.”
Rayla spoke curtly while lightly squishing my cheek and then letting it go.
RAYLA: “…I’m not the strong person you think I am. But… Listening to what you said did make me feel better.”
RAYLA: “…Thank you.”
FUU: “Thank goodness if that’s the case!”
RAYLA: “Pft, haha! That’s an exaggeration. You’re making me laugh.”
FUU: (This is the first time I’ve seen Rayla smile with his whole face before…)
FUU: (I want Rayla to always be smiling. I don’t want him to look anguished or suffering.)
My feelings of wanting to support him as a partner hadn’t changed.
But I was wishing to see Rayla’s smile more and more just as myself.
I couldn’t explain what this feeling was right then, but it was how I really felt.
FUU: “…You’re even more wonderful when you smile.”
Rayla blushed, removed his hand, and turned to the side.
He then returned once again to his expressionless face and pushed away his bangs as if he was irritated.
But the meaning for that expression was slightly different than from before.
And that’s because his ears, which I could see through the gaps in his hair, were completely red.
FUU: (I hope I get to see Rayla’s full-faced smile again—)
I once again pressed my hand against my necklace and made that wish in my mind.
[dialogue branch ends – continue to part 2]