After opening the shop, everything was going as usual. Customers coming, me serving them their orders, they pay and leave. Everything was fine. It was now around 6:00 PM, so I started to prepare the dinner. I had to make sure Eri gets enough nutrition as she looks a bit malnourished as Overhaul practically opened and closed her for experiments. So, I made some Oyakodon for dinner. I called Eri from downstairs, to come down to eat the dinner as it is 6:40 PM now. Some time passed but she didn't come down. I thought she is engrossed in her cartoons so I called her again, but she still didn't come down.
I went upstairs to call her for the lunch. 'This girl is seriously engrossed in the cartoons, I think I should put some time restrictions on the usage of tablet and engage her in some activities. That will probably be a good choice to reduce her dependency on cartoons to pass her time.'
I opened the door to the room and found her sitting in the corner of the room with her tablet. I went near her, saw the usual cartoons going on her screen. So followed the Tablet Stealing Procedure I applied on her yesterday, I quickly snatched the tablet from her hands, she couldn't even see my arm movements and I stored it in the Inventory.
She didn't look at me, her head still looking down.
"Let's go, dinner is ready," I said. She didn't look up and went downstairs. She seems down, she was having her usual cold expression towards me, in the afternoon but why is her mood down.
'Did she heard what Fuyumi said?'
We had our dinner but there was no conversation, she ate her fill and went upstairs. I am now pretty much sure she heard what Fuyumi said about her. I will have to talk to her about this. For now, I cleaned the dishes.
I took out an old-looking phone from the Inventory and entered a number and called. It ringed for a while and the call was connected.
:: Hello Chief, LB this side:: La Brava said in her usual cheery but tried to imitate agent lingo.
"La Brava, I am going to meet the HPSC President tomorrow for a 'talk', You relay this message to others," I said to her in a serious tone as it is a pressing matter for the Night Raid. If I take more time to deal with this, the problem may escalate into something bigger. It is best to cut the problem in its bud.
:: Chief, what are you planning to do? I don't think it is a good idea, going straight to the lion's den. They are looking for you and you want to meet them directly. We can talk and plan about this later. :: La Brava said in a worried tone, as aside from Danjuro, Night Slash and Knuckleduster are the two people who have communicated with her without laughing at her appearance or her way to show affection.
"You don't understand La Brava. They don't have much information about me, so they will snoop around everywhere to find something related to me. I think they already know about some people being my accomplice from the nearby CCTVs. If given enough time, they will surely find about you and try to use you to reach me. Your information is not that hidden as I myself collected your information from an information broker. So I intend to reach them before they reach you." I explained to her. I had to convince the 'little' girl over the phone.
:: .....Okay, Chief, I will tell others about this:: After a small pause, La Brava said in a reluctant tone and hung up the call.
I took the old-looking phone back to the Inventory and went to take a bath.
I entered my room in my pajamas and a white T-shirt. The lights were on, I saw the little girl was lying on the bed without her tablet. It was surprising to see her without the tablet, but then I remembered that I forgot to give back her tablet after dinner. I went close to the bed and asked,
"You awake Eri?" She didn't turn around or replied to me. I thought she was sleeping and forgot to turn off the lights, as I was about to turn around to switch off the lights, I heard a light sob. I looked at Eri and shook her a bit.
"Eri? What's wrong?" I asked her, but she still didn't reply or turned around to face me. I forcibly turned her, only to find her crying, as her tears covered her cheeks, with her eyes red.
"What happened Eri? Why are you crying?" I asked her in worry. I took her in a hug and let her head rest on my shoulder, I caressed her head. "What happened? You can tell me." I asked again.
"I am... Sorry... I avm Zorrie..." She started apologizing repeatedly while crying as her tears were falling on my shoulders.
"Why are you apologizing? Eri, tell me I am not going to be angry at you."
"When I was upstairs. I heard some ..shouting, so I came and listened to your conversation a bit and ..I.. heard what the big.. sister said I didn't... I wanted..... I.. a-m Sorry."
I placed my hand on her head, as her head is on my shoulder. I started caressing her head and let her calm down a bit.
"It's none of your fault. I saved you as it was my own decision, I am going to adopt you, as this is also my decision. I know what Fuyumi said was insensitive and rude, but I think she said that in the spur of anger as in her perspective, I made a rash decision of adopting you only based on my feelings, without any prior thinking. But don't worry, she is a very sweet person. She is just strict to me as I am a bit of an unreliable guy in her eyes when it comes to responsibilities. But what she does not know is that she is very wrong about me." I tried to lighten the mood a bit.
While I was caressing her head, her sobbing stopped. She raised her head from my shoulder and looked at me then she lowered her head when I also looked at her.
"I am sorry." She apologized again.
"Now for what are you apologizing again?" I asked while thinking how many times the girl is going to apologize to me.
"I acted differently towards you. I.. didn't trust you even though you saved me from him. I thought.. you will also use me.. like... him. When grandpa left me in his care, I trusted him, as grandpa said he has a quirk similar to mine, I thought I will be able to find someone similar to me, as my mother said my quirk is cursed. I thought I will not be alone with the curse but he... he..." Tears started forming in her eyes as she was remembering her past.
"No need to explain. I know what you've been through and you don't need to worry about him anymore. About you trusting me, Well.. we just met a day ago, It is normal for you to not trust me now, as it will take some time for that. For now, just don't worry and live a normal life. I am here to protect you, if something happens, I am there for you." I wanted to say more but my phone started ringing. I looked at the caller, it was Fuyumi. I looked at Eri who was again resting her head on my shoulder. I accepted the call.
:: Hello Shido:: Fuyumi sounded somewhat anxious from what I could hear.
"Yes, Fuyumi what happened? You sound a bit anxious."
:: I am feeling very guilty about the things I said in the morning. I didn't mean them but I was shocked and angry as you, an unreliable guy who couldn't even take care of a cat chose to adopt a little girl out of the blue::
I looked at Eri, who was also listening to the call, as her head rested on my shoulder and gave an 'I told you look.
:: And I was angry as you make a lot of impulsive choices like the time you ran to fight a villain, to save the two heroes and this is also an impulsive choice you made, but as a responsible girlfriend I will help and support you in the choice you made. But only this time, be careful from next time as I will not be supporting in every impulsive decision of yours. :: Fuyumi berated me through the phone.
"Hai, hai, I will be careful next time."
:: Yeah be careful, And I needed your help. ::
"What is it?"
:: I was thinking if I want to help you in raising her, then I should have a good image of mine in her mind, as it will be good for me to communicate with her easily. Can you tell me something what should I do? ::
"You don't have to worry, Just stay normal, you are good the way you are. Your friendly personality also makes it easier for you to approach kids. But I would suggest the first thing you should do is Apologize to Eri."
:: Did she heard that?...::
:: Can you pass the phone to her?::
I turned the loudspeaker on. Eri who was only listening to our conversation now had to talk to the 'big sister'.
:: Hello Eri, I am Fuyumi, Shido's girlfriend, the big sister you saw in the morning. Well, I would like to apologize for the insensitive and rude things I said about you. I was very angry at Shido as he again heard him say he fought against gangsters and suddenly wanted to adopt a daughter. I am not against you being adopted by him, just I was worried he was making this decision solely based on feelings, but don't worry From now on I will help him in taking care of you. So Eri-chan I would like you to forgive me for the rude things I said to you::
Eri looked at me for an answer.
"Do you want to forgive her?" I asked, to which she nodded her head.
"Then say it.. she will be happy to listen you forgave her."
"I forgi-ve you."
:: Huh, did you really forgive me Eri-Chan? I am really glad you know, I was feeling very guilty to make a cute little girl like you, sad. How about you, I and Shido go out to have fun and celebrate you being a new member of our family, sounds fun right?:: Fuyumi who regained her cheery side asked Eri about an outing. I think it will be a good idea to reduce the distance between Eri and Fuyumi.
"Okay," Eri said in a subdued tone as she was not able to handle all the cheeriness coming from Fuyumi's voice.
:: Hehehe, Nice. Shido is ready at around 11 AM, I will come to your house::
"Okay. I will be ready with Eri." I said and the call got hung up from the other side. Well considering Fuyumi's cheery and soft personality, It will not take much time for Eri to get close to Fuyumi.
"So.. how are you feeling now?" I asked, I don't know if she has some more such misunderstandings hidden. It will be better to resolve them all in the beginning.
She shook her head, after some time she yawned. I guess now she is sleepy. I placed her on the bed and wanted to get up, but she grabbed the hem of my shirt and pulled it, preventing me from standing up.
"Can you sle-ep on the bed.. with me?" she asked me with tearful eyes, her voice somewhat anxious.
"Why?" I asked her while patting her head, to which she relaxed a bit.
"I had a nightmare last night." She said with her head a bit down.
"It's normal to have nightmares, no need to worry about it. I will sleep on the bed if you want." I said and went to turn off the lights. After that, I laid on the bed to sleep. Eri came close to me and hugged me from the side and rested her head on my arm and went off to sleep.
'Well.. what do I do now?' I thought as it was a bit awkward when you are lying down and a little kid is sleeping while hugging you like a teddy bear. I pushed that thought away and stayed in the same position until her rate of breathing evened out, meaning that she fell asleep. I slowly pulled my arm under her head and placed a pillow. Even if you are a cute little girl, I don't want a numb arm when I wake up in the morning.
I looked at her sleeping peacefully. I sighed in relief as Fuyumi and Eri were able to talk at least and the relation may become better after tomorrow. Now the final thing left is the adoption process, after that Eri's entry into my family will be completely legal.
I placed my hand on her head and caressed a bit.
'I will give you the normal life you desired when you were in that hellhole, You won't be alone anymore as there is me and Fuyumi for you. Even if your real parents didn't accept you.... '
'.. I will accept you.'
[Mission is accepted. User to be sent to the mission location in 5..4..3..2..1]
'Huh, what just happened. Why is there a mission now?'
Before even I could comprehend what just happened, I was standing in the middle of nowhere in a forest. I was looking around where I was, when I heard a voice behind me.
"Is that you, Mr. Jackie Chan??!!"
I turned to look at the familiar voice, only to find nothing.
"I am down here, Mr. Chan!!"
When I looked down, I found the familiar-looking black dude in a white tank top and denim jeans lying on the ground with his face raised to look at me. I sighed,
'Ah shit, here we go again.'