“…I don’t know what possessed you. What made you think calling me, of all people, was a good idea?”
“Oh, no, I simply thought I should give you a call. We were just about to head out for good.”
I can hear the man on the other end snort loudly, then chuckle to himself quietly enough that I can barely hear it.
“What, and leave this mess behind? Do you have any idea how troublesome all this cleanup has been? Getting rid of Father Kuzuha’s fellow conspirators was easy enough, but the Association really has it out for me now. Get back here right now and pay the price, you brat.”
“I’m still surprised you can use such harsh language against your beloved niece. Perhaps you should consider attending a course on manners?”
“Who’re you calling my niece, you walking embarrassment? What are you really calling me about? I hope you’re not just wasting my time.”
“Well, as I mentioned, we’re about to depart but still don’t know which direction we should head in, east or west. I thought you might have a better idea.”
“…So you just called to waste my time after all. Tell me where you are right now, I’ll go drag you and that stray back to the Association myself.”
“Do you suppose east might be better? I’ve heard there aren’t any fiendslayers there.”
“No, definitely west. If you do, I’ll see you again before the year’s end.”
We’re currently in the middle of the country, near the boundary that distinguishes the two main superpowers. In the west is the heartland of the Fiendslayers’ Association, composed of the six fiendslayer clans. The east, however, is the land of the House of Demons. There, they prefer to domesticate and coexist with fiends instead of simply slaying them. As I’ll be with Suzune, not to mention at odds with the Sakagami family, the east does indeed seem far more appealing.
“I suppose that is for the best… come to think of it, there was hardly any point in asking you, was there?”
“Idiot. You don’t know how terrifying the east can be. You’ll be dog food in three days, flat.”
“So we should refrain from standing out, then. Understood.”
“…Fine. You didn’t have anything to ask me about, did you? You’re such a thorn in my side… I’m hanging up.”
“Oh, one last thing.”
“Thank you for everything. For the last time we met, for everything before that… thank you.”
“Huh. I never knew just answering the phone could lead to such an incredible waste of time. Dunce.”
“Oh, no, it was rather meaningful to me.”
He hangs up, and I return the public phone to its receiver. Suzune peers at me inquisitively.
“Was that your uncle?”
“Yes. I thought I should say one last farewell.”
“Fufu, it didn’t sound like he thought of it that way.”
“Oh, he probably just has issues being honest. I’m sure he’ll recover.”
“I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, huh…”
“What a horribly rude thing to say.”
“Or wait, maybe ‘birds of a feather flock together’ would be better?” She closes her eyes and giggles. “He certainly left a terrible first impression, though.”
“Said something awful to you, did he?”
“Yeah, but I think he was kinda right. I had a lot of thinking to do after that. He was probably just worried about you,” she laughs. “He probably wanted to check me out, make sure I wasn’t some bad apple or anything. He talked about you in the worst way, though… Fufufu, you two really are similar.”
“I get the feeling you’re making a fool of me.”
“Oh, no, of course not. So, east?”
Does she think she can change the subject like that without my notice? Not that it really matters, I suppose.
“I imagine that’s for the best, yes. We can probably make things work, or at least we can figure out our next step from there. Luckily, your spatial magic saves us the trouble of having to find a house.”
“Fufu, yep! But as soon as we get there, we’ll need to go shopping. I get the feeling that your wardrobe needs a massive overhaul!”
“I happen to like simple clothes. They’re easy to wear and no-fuss, and that precisely is where they shine–”
“People who think like that are the kind of person who ends up wearing a tracksuit everywhere, all the time! Worse, I get the feeling you’d be all like ‘I’m cute even if I’m only wearing sweats’! Honestly, just the thought of you saying that is scary!”
“..That’s an oddly specific fear.”
I sigh, and she grabs my hand in hers. I can feel myself go red just from that. I sigh, purposefully averting my gaze.
“…Could you perhaps let go?”
“Says the one who glomped onto me just a little while ago!”
“It must’ve been an illusion, or perhaps a very realistic mirage, or even…”
I can feel her eyes start to bore a hole in the back of my head. I swallow my words, instead simply squeezing her hand back.
“…You unpleasant fiend, you. Fine, do with me as you will.”
“Good! I was waiting to hear that~!”
I turn back to find her grinning broadly enough to make anyone fall head over heels for her, and together we walk on.
Beneath us is asphalt, above us the moon. Normally I’d feel terribly lonely at the sight, and yet today feels dramatically different.
“…The moon’s awfully beautiful tonight, Suzune.”
“Yeah… Hm? Oh, yeah. It really, really is. I’ve never seen such a beautiful moon before in my life.”
And to think, no matter where I go, the world will always look so beautiful…
“No, it’s nothing. Forget about it.”