「―― The tormenting attitude is a reflection of her inner insecurity. I suspect she knew that the first time you read her mind. That's why she got angry」
Riko became aggressive because Chihiro read her mind.
At least that is certain.
Then it's natural to think that there was something there that she didn't want to be read, a weakness.
「...But that Nishizaki-san?」
She brutally attacked Chihiro without hesitation, sneering at him.
The gap between the image in his brain and the one in reality doesn't feel quite right.
Then Maria looked down at the tea on the table. When she touches the edge of the glass with her fingertip, the quiet surface of the water fluctuates.
「Your image of her is after your first contact, isn't it? Up until that point when you first read her mind, what was your impression of her before she attacked you?」
「Well, she had dyed her hair, so it was hard to get close to her, but I felt her inferior in her mind... just a normal, freshman girl like the rest...」
Looking back, that's what he thought at the time.
Maria smiled at Chihiro's words.
「I'm sure, that's the answer. She had a complex about someone... a student, a teacher, or [everyone with abilities other than her own]. She thought you saw through it, so she got angry and attacked more than she should have」
But the fact that her mind had been read did not disappear.
Chihiro also became an object of Riko's inferiority complex. After all, Chihiro is able to grasp that Riko is weak.
So Riko continued to hurt Chihiro.
She did that in order to get mental rest by continuing to surpass Chihiro. and to deny her weakness.
If that is the case, Riko's attacks on Chihiro will never end.
And it will escalate gradually. If Chihiro is serious about building up his strength and trying to rebel against Riko, the speed will accelerate.
The only way to stop it is for Chihiro to quit the school or die.
「The ability to create illusions. Fiction, pretense. The ability to deceive and manipulate others into believing they are stronger than they are. That's the way I see it」
「No way. So, you've always felt Nishizaki-san to be like that?」
「Yes. But, Izumi-kun?」
Maria reached for Chihiro's face and squeezed his cheek. Then, continue to speak.
「Do you have the luxury of worrying about her?」
Maria makes his eyes to face her.
Anger, or is it annoyance?
Maria seemed to be resentful of Chihiro's attitude.
Her narrowed eyes pierced his eyes.
「Aren't you angry? Being tortured like that, having socks stuffed in your mouth? She was going to make it impossible for you to resist, and then she was going to torture you to no end?」
The sincere words struck his heart.
Of course, Chihiro bit his lip and replied with a heavy exhale.
「...Of course, I hate it」
「It hurt, it was painful, I really thought I was going to die. No, if Maria hadn't helped me, I really would have been」
He wants to be strong.
Chihiro wished it, and yesterday he had a small, tangible accomplishment.
After he set his mind to moving forward, he found himself more humiliated and defeated than ever.
There is a simmering anger deep in his chest.
It's been in Chihiro's heart for a long time.
[I'm asking if you have desire, jealousy, hatred...]
Two days ago, on a rainy road, he was asked the same thing.
And this is the answer.
「I want to win. I want to win against Nishizaki-san. As much as she's ever done to me. No, I want to hurt her even more. I want the power to do that」
Perhaps because of Maria's anger touched by his mind reading earlier.
He realized that he could not stop his emotions and words.
Chihiro is not a saintly person. People have called him a good-natured person, but he is an ordinary person who holds grudges and is envious.
Maybe he's greedy and uglier than most people.
In the past few days, Chihiro has been touched by Maria's desires many times.
A woman's lust that's too intense. Having been touched by it, he is able to visualize "raping a woman" more clearly than before.
It is similar to taking another's life with violence.
But in reality, it is a matter of another dimension, another vector.
It is a line that a human being must never cross. If he crosses it, he's no longer a man but a beast.
He knows that.
But he wants to.
Maria smiled at Chihiro, who was expressing his deepest emotions.
Both of her hands wrapped around Chihiro's cheeks.
「Thank you for telling me. I'm so glad... and I feel so relieved」
「Yes. You're a lot like me. You're the kind of person who can't help but have desires」
Through their intertwined gazes, Chihiro can feel Maria's changing emotions.
She's the same as always.
Her helpless nature that desires all kinds of torment.
「The truth is, there was something I felt yesterday and today. Your desire is too soft」
The person Chihiro made a deal with.
The girl who changed his life speaks her true feelings in a voice so seductive that he can't hide it.
「The two times we had intercourse, you were almost like a normal man. No, in terms of aggressiveness, it was below average. In that sense, I was even disappointed」
But they brought true comfort to Chihiro's heart.
Because, despite her words, Maria's expression is completely debauched.
「But don't worry. I know you'll fall. It may take some time, but in the end, you will. Right? Don't you, Master?」
With that said, Chihiro's heart is beating faster and faster.
Yes, she's right.
Maria affirms Chihiro's existence, including the deepest, darkest part of him.
She takes her hand off Chihiro, picks up a cup of iced tea, and drinks it down in one gulp.
Seeing her hand grab a cookie this time, Chihiro understood her intention. He followed her and cleaned up all the leftovers.
Maria stands up and opens her hands.
「Come on, Izumi-kun, can you try everything on me that you want to do to Nishizaki-san? Don't worry, this apartment is soundproof, and my body won't break so easily」
Maria believes he would rather break her.
Chihiro's ability to read the strongest emotions leaves no excuses, and the girl's lustful desires are laid bare.
Chihiro felt that he heard the sound of his own reason being unbound.