(Kiyomi POV) [Manami's sister, the white fox in case you forgot]
"But Mark! For someone to do such things to you It's nyot fair!" My nekomata colleague, Hikari, called out with a voice full of concern.
The boy sighed dramatically, flicking the front of his hair that was drenched wet with his hand. His clothes were soaked through as well, courtesy of someone dumping a bucket of water on him.
"This is the burden that one such as I must carry, it matters not to me."
"It is still unfair nyaa!" She protested. "You did it to protect me and yet they did this to you!"
The boy walked up to her and slammed the wall behind her with a palm, causing her to flinch slightly from the unexpected action.
"And I regret not one moment of it. For you, are worth that and more."
I watched the kid perform his lines flawlessly on stage without any guidance at all.
With how well he has been performing so far, I'm starting to believe his initial story about him being a forty year old veteran in the entertainment industry who got transmigrated back to his younger self.
It's either that or he's just an absolute genius.
Actually, both being true is a possibility as well.
I also wonder if this 'Mark' personality is his real self all this while?
The current scene ended as the boy walked off the stage, leaving a dazzled nekomata watching his departure silently from where she sat on the ground.
"That was perfect. And I think our little Hikari wasn't just acting at the end over there," a voice whispered from beside me.
My eyes shifted to the side to see the slime girl, Chuya, smiling at the stage appreciatively,
I nodded slightly to her words, "I think we can move on to the second part tomorrow. Are the scripts ready yet? The boy has been bugging me for the last half of his script for the entirety of yesterday."
"It will be done by tonight," The Ryu girl, Kana, assured me from my other side. "Unfortunately, that also means you'll only have the morning to read through your part before the rehearsal. Think you can do it, Kiyomi?"
I tilted my head at her, "If I must. I was already prepared for such a thing when we decided to redo the script."
Chuya smiled at my words, "Can you blame us? Despite our initial feelings towards this little skit, we are indeed having fun are we not?"
Kana giggled, "You're not wrong. Makes me consider to just leave this as a full time thing instead of a publicity stunt for our manager."
A moment later, both the boy and Hikari came to join us, the nekomata leaning her hand on his shoulder.
"Nyahaha! That was purrfect kiddo! I admit you got my heart to skip a tiny bit back there when you slammed that wall!"
"I'm glad you approve, just don't go falling for me," The boy replied with a straight face.
Hikari chuckled at his words, "Nyaahahaha! Sorry boya, you're a little too young for me! Come back again when you're a few years older!"
I detected a slight hint of seriousness in her usually teasing voice.
He shrugged, not showing any signs of whether he took her suggestion seriously or not.
"That's it for today then. Thanks for your hard work," Chuya commented, her gelatinous body slipping out of the chair she had been occupying with ease.
Kana followed her lead, stretching her long, snake-like body with a groan, "These chairs really hurt my poor tail Isn't there something they can do about it?"
I pursed my lips, "It can't be helped, they did not design this place with youkais in mind."
The boy seemed to ponder for a moment before fishing out a vial of clear liquid and handing it to Kana, "Here, this should help with sores and pains. Just apply it to the places that hurt before going to bed."
Kana takes it with a skeptical look, "And you have this on you because?"
He shrugged, "I use it on my disciples whenever they have a rather intensive training session. I can personally guarantee its effects."
"Ah yes, your imaginary 'disciples'," I rolled my eyes. "The ones that you insist that exist somewhere in town?"
"Well, it's up to you to believe me or not, I don't really care either way."
"Nyaahahaha~ The boy really has a mouth on him eh?" Hikari laughed. "Anyway, I gotta bounce first, I have things I gotta do today, see you girls tomorrow! And you too, little Mark!"
The nekomata disappeared out of the theatre after giving a backwards wave.
"Then I shall get going as well, I'll see you all tomorrow," Chuya followed out, stifling a yawn on the way.
"Same here. Thanks for this er Mark. I'll try it tonight," Kana gave the bottle another glance before slithering out after the slime.
That leaves me alone with the kid.
I noticed he was still dripping wet from the bucket of water dumped on him earlier.
"Are you not going to dry yourself?" I asked, pointing a finger at him. "I'm surprised they let you walk around like that."
He looked down at himself as though he just noticed his condition, "Oh Yeah I told them it was fine since I could deal with it, then the nekomata girl caught me and I kind of just forgot about it."
For someone to forget he was soaked through I don't even know what to say.
I sighed, reaching my hand out in preparation to circulate the Ice quarks I was most proficient with in order to dry the boy.
Before I could do so though, the kid had just placed his index finger on his shirt before pulling it away with deliberate slowness.
The water on his body immediately gathered towards where his finger had touched before it floated out as a blob of water to hover above his finger, leaving him completely dry.
That blob of water vaporized almost instantly after floating there for a second, stunning me with his expertise in manipulating Quarks.
Did I really just see that? My eyes weren't playing tricks on me right?
"Was that Multicasting?"
He looked up at my question, one of his eyebrows raised before both his eyes went wide.
"Oh not again That Er Nope, you must be mistaken."
I grasped both his shoulders quickly, "You! You're a Practitioner?!"
He looked to the side but I turned his head back to face me with one of my tails.
"Answer me! How can a kid like you already be a Practitioner with that level of expertise?! Don't you dare lie to me!"
He frowned at me, "You wouldn't believe me anyway. And it's not like I owe you anything for me to tell you any of that."
"I got you in this skit, didn't I?"
He gave me a wry smile, "I'm not dumb you know? Not to be arrogant about it but I'm pretty sure I'm irreplaceable for my role at the moment. If anything, you guys owe me."
I hate to admit it, but he's right.
Where else could we find another kid that not only fits the character's personality so perfectly but also the splitting image of the original character?
If I hadn't known better, I would have thought the book was originally written with him in mind.
"Who are you, really?"
His grin got wider, "I told you already didn't I? I'm a forty year old Practitioner who transmigrated back to his younger body."
I stared at him, but his grin did not waver.
I sighed, "Alright, let's say I believe your story that just so happens to be the most popular genre of novels being written right now. What proof do you have?"
He shrugged, "I already said I don't need to prove anything to you. Although Hmmm I actually have somewhere I need to be, I could show you instead?"
My eyes narrowed at him, "And where might that be? Some dark, secluded place where no one will see us?"
"You're not wrong, but it's not what you're thinking. I'm going to take care of some Dark Sect members in the forests nearby and I could use a plus one. Ok, that's not true. I don't really need your help but I think this was too perfect a setup for a 'face-slap' situation for me to pass up."
"And you're not even hiding it"
"So? You coming or no?"
I crossed my arms at him, "If you're saying that you can already deal with the Dark Sect yourself, then why are you bringing me along?"
He shrugged, "You wanted proof right? Take it or leave it."
I only needed a second to decide, "You know what? Fine. Let's see how long you can keep this facade up."
If he really is a strong Practitioner, perhaps even I could No. That would be just too convenient.
He grinned and grasped my hand with his, "Alright then, don't regret this."
My vision turned white.