Kamisama no Memochou:Volume 3 Chapter 3

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Chapter 3[edit]

It’s hard to believe that there would be a day that I would feel depressed to go to Hanamaru Ramen.

That’s because the ramen shop right now doesn’t have its usual warmth. Having said those words, Tetsu-senpai probably wouldn’t go there for quite some time now. Major and Hiro-san probably feel awkward, so they wouldn’t go. Coupled with Min-san’s stern expression when she was asked by Alice to take care of Ayaka yesterday, I don’t feel like going just by thinking of that.

But there’s still a reason that I have to go there.

“Do you really have to go?”

Sayuri-sensei sat on the teacher’s chair in the greenhouse, a lonely expression on her face. The seat at my side was empty because of Ayaka’s absence as well. That means the supplementary class would end for the day when I leave.

“I originally planned to teach you all of the English grammar from the third semester too, what a pity……”

Can you please not speak such scary words with such a piteous gaze? The unmarried Sayuri-sensei was often said to be a widow, because of her unique maturity, but she was actually more like an innocent college student up till now. I know that you’re worried about my grades, but……

“Then I’ll give you a lot of homework!” After saying that, she immediately stuck a note on my pocket again.

“Do I really have to wear this?”

“Yes.” Sayuri-sensei smiled while taking out the clothes peg. I still have a lot of places to go to……

I slowly rode my bike, passing through a road, going past the police station, a whole row of empty houses of vagrants arranged at my left. I rode along the steel road to an alley that was surrounded by blocks of short buildings. I started to feel depressed when I faintly saw the portiere of Hanamaru Ramen, and my feet that were pedaling started to turn heavier as well.

At least let there be someone waiting at the space behind the kitchen backdoor—

“Judging from Major’s personality, it must be a bluff. Show! Two pair!”

“What a pity, mine is three card. Tetsu-san, you’re too naïve.”

“Ahhh, why didn’t you change even though you have three card!?”

“Because Hiro-san and Tetsu-san just changed a card, that’s a basic tactic.”

“Major, sorry for saying this while you’re happily explaining away, but mine is a straight flush.”

“Why……!?”

“Why is my line! Why are you three over here!?”

I couldn’t help but say. Tetsu-senpai, Major and Hiro-san who were surrounding a wooden stand playing poker turned around and looked at me at the same time.

“So it’s just Narumi. Don’t talk to me right now, I’ve just lost twenty thousand yen!”

“Vice Admiral Fujishima, please stand behind the super lucky Hiro-san and signal to me his cards with semaphore.”

“I’ve asked the girls out, treating them to roast meat. Are you going too, Narumi-kun?”

Hearing Hiro-san say so, Tetsu-senpai and Major acted like a king kong and a gorilla respectively, repeatedly hitting their chests. I really didn’t know what to say, so I could only squat down behind the kitchen backdoor.

What’s with these people? They’re the same as usual.

Just at that moment, the door at my back suddenly opened. I flopped directly onto the ground after being punched.

“Oi, Narumi. Just ignore these mites(dani) of the community, hurry up and help out in the shop! Didn’t Ayaka take sick leave today?”

Min-san looked at me with a cold expression. Didn’t you say that you fired me just yesterday!?

“Oi, we were called mites.”

“But it seems that we’re not fleas in the community.”

“Maybe mite sounds cooler?”

In the end, the three started to sing the Ireland folk song ‘Danny(dani) Boy’ at the same time.

“…… Why are the three of them here?”

I asked Min-san while taking off my blazer, putting on an apron.

“Why do you ask that……?”

Min-san tilted her head while stirring the food in her large pot, and it was like her expression said: what is this guy talking about?

“Min-san, you know it as well, right? Tetsu-senpai refused Alice’s request, while Major and Hiro-san wouldn’t help out in the case—“

“Those are two different matters, aren’t they? They’re not related at all.”

“What does that mean? Not related……?” But really, it does seem that they’re unrelated. Even if they don’t assist Alice in investigation, they don’t need to stay away from Hanamaru Ramen. But this is still……

“…… I can’t separate them that well.”

“Is that so? Tetsu and Hiro just went to see Alice just now too. I heard that they got a gift from playing pachinko, and there’s a doll that Alice would like.”

I even thought that ‘healthy’ words like pachinko gifts can’t be linked with Tetsu-senpai. So that’s not all, they even went to see Alice? What are they thinking of……?

“You’re the one who’s thinking too much.” After saying that, Min-san threw a cabbage to me. I caught the cabbage and washed it, cutting it while muttering:

“Is that so? Alice must mind it a lot, right?”

“About what you’re thinking of, she doesn’t really mind about that.”

My jaw dropped, and I stared blankly at the side of Min-san’s face.

“The thing that she’s concerned of is that Tetsu might be arrested because of her investigations…… Meaningless matters like that. She doesn’t care if they’re helping her or not. This is also the only merit of those community mites.”

Min-san who was looking at her pot suddenly raised her head and smiled at me.

“She’s just worried about other people. If she’s a person who just worries for herself, she wouldn’t be living in a rubbish dump like that ages ago.”

I held the kitchen knife, not moving.

So that’s why. Min-san was right.

The reason that some NEETs whose lives are facing despair can enjoy themselves together is probably because there’s someone by their side worrying for their future— even though they look as if they don’t care about it.

Of course, many NEETs aren’t that lucky as well. When those people are alone in a cold night, they might grasp the merciless hand of the ‘red angel’.

Minagawa Kengo might have been one of them.

Dropping out of school in the middle of high school, drifting to a dark corner in the city, the body and mind falling onto the asphalt road—

And then they met the ‘angel’.

I once experienced a small part of what the drug could bring. The only word that could express the feeling— though I really really feel that it’s extremely dumb, there’s truly only one word that could describe it…… that is ‘love’.

It felt as though the whole world loved yourself, imagining that the whole world would accept yourself.

I think that nobody in this world could live on without having these fantasies. Because of that, many people committed suicide when the supply of love by ‘fix’ stopped when the flowers that Ayaka planted disappeared and Hakamizaka died. A person who tried the drug would know the whole truth during the instant when he wakes up.

The whole world doesn’t love him at all.

But I still came back. Thanks to Alice and Ayaka’s help.

“—mi! Oi, Narumi!”

I was slapped, and was brought back to the kitchen that was full of heat from the sea of memories. The first thing that came into my view was Min-san’s brows that were arched in anger.

“Eh? Ah, erm…… Thanks to your help as well?”

“What gibberish are you spouting? Alice ordered something, hurry up and send it there!”

Min-san handed a bowl of bean sprouts ramen without meat or noodles on a plate to me, then knocked me on the back with her knees. That hurts……


“Look, most cat dolls in the market are quite ugly, but this could be said as a chef d'oeuvre! Good thing Tetsu saved it out from the gift cupboard in the pachinko shop, I really don’t know how to thank him.”

A broad smile was Alice’s face, repeatedly showing off the present that Tetsu-senpai gave her. Just like that, a new kitten joined the doll army on her bed. I see, so this girl really doesn’t mind.

“What’s with that gaze? Perhaps you have something to say about me naming the cat Patronius”

“Not really.”

I placed the ramen bowl onto the moveable computer desk.

“Judging from your personality, you’re probably thinking about meaningless things because you saw that Tetsu and the others looked for me, right?”

“Mnn…… A little. I thought for a bit about problems about ‘love’.”

Alice’s expression looked as though she accidentally swallowed a bug. After staring at me for awhile with her large, bright eyes, she got off the bed, slowly walking to the kitchen. When she was back, her hands were full of Dr. Pepper, and she handed one of them to me.

“It is said that Dr. Pepper was originally sold as medicine, though I’m not sure if it’s effective as brain damage treatment.”

“Thank you for your concern!”

Alice who walked back to the bed shoveled the ramen and the drink in the dark red can in turn into her mouth while saying:

“Don’t think about these things that you don’t understand, you just have to take care of Ayaka and yourself.”

“I know that it’s the best if things can be like that……”

While sighing, I turned the cold can in my hands.

“How was Ayaka after that?”

Why are you asking me? Logically speaking, Alice would have asked Min-san or investigated herself, so she probably knows about Ayaka’s condition already, right?

But at that moment, I realized that she wanted me to speak.

“…… Her condition stabilized when she arrived at the hospital. Her mother fetched her. Though she said Ayaka took leave today, she would probably be well enough to go to school tomorrow.

“That’s fine.”

Alice’s sincerely happy expression made me feel shy for awhile.

It’s great that a tragedy like her needing to stay in the hospital again didn’t happen, but I still recalled Ayaka’s terrified expression that time.

At that moment, the screams that Ayaka made because of her memories.

I really wish that she would remember about me— but that wish started to waver. That’s because her memories about me would be entangled with the drug. If she’s in such pain, is it better if she doesn’t get her memory back?

Facing the silent me, Alice said in a businesslike tone:

“Yondaime called me just now, saying that though he hasn’t found the other three dropouts, he contacted some of the members of the Gardening Committee. It seems that Yondaime asked those people to look for him, so you’d better go and get some information as well.”

“…… Right now?”

“That’s right. Yondaime is different from you, he likes to finish things fast.”

“But I still have to help out at the ramen shop……”

Alice picked up the phone before I even finished talking.

“Ah, Master? It’s me. Didn’t Narumi quit the job at Hanamaru Ramen already? Yeah. So you mean that he’s just helping as a volunteer right now? I understand. Then of course his work as an assistant detective is given priority, right?”

The matter was dealt with in less than twenty seconds. So I’m just helping as a volunteer…… But she wasn’t wrong, since I’m now fired.

“Then…… Please go there immediately. They might already be there now.”

“…… Where’s the location?”

“A shrine.”

Shrine?

*

Though Japan is proclaimed as a country with no religion, there are actually lots of religious places in the city. Most of them are small shrines that most people don’t even know the names of.

Besides visiting there during the New Year or during rituals, almost nobody would think of these places. But sometimes it might also become an unforgettable place for a small amount of people.

And to me, the shrine gave me that kind of feeling that day.

The shrine was located at the borders of a neighboring district, and it took about ten minutes to ride over there from the ramen shop. Cheap and broken down apartments surrounded the woods nearby, and the forecourt of the shrine was located there; there was also a rather large cemetery that was surrounded by a cement wall beside the shrine.

A silver Civic car was parked on the road in front of the shrine. Yondaime didn’t bring his bodyguards here, perhaps taking the location into consideration. He wasn’t wearing his crimson coat that day, so his whole attire was black; and there was a bottle of sake squeezed under his arm as well.

“Sorry for being late.” I parked my bike at a side of the road that had some distance with the car.

“Those people have already arrived.”

I looked at the forecourt of the shrine.

The temple that was surrounded by woodland was more majestic than I expected, and the stone path was rather clean as well. A small path leading to the cemetery was on our left, and we saw the silhouette of a columbarium after we passed the woods.

Three young men had gathered in front of a small tombstone earlier than us, and they were about the same age as Yondaime. One of them was wearing a suit, another was wearing casual attire of a Polo shirt and khaki trousers, while the last one was wearing the uniform of a construction site. When we approached, the three bowed to Yondaime at the same time.

“Sorry for calling you here suddenly.”

Yondaime said in a completely unembarrassed tone, opened the bottle of sake and poured it on the tombstone. The sake that flowed down gradually dyed the word ‘Minagawa’ on the tombstone black.

The man in the casual attire answered: “It’s okay, I was free anyways.”

“I was visiting a client, so I could get here sneakily. Of course we must come when Sou-san is looking for us.”

After the man in the suit finished saying that, he immediately poked the construction worker by his side: “While it’s unusual for you to be able to come.”

“I don’t have any breaks at all, and I did not even know Minagawa was dead. I actually squeezed in some time to get out, but thank you for contacting me.”

“You don’t need to thank me.” Yondaime answered expressionlessly, placing his palms together vertically in front of Minagawa’s tombstone. I hurriedly stabbed the incense that I bought just now into the ground, closing my palms as well.

The victim in the ‘Angel Fix’ incident might be the founder of the Gardening Club as well— Minagawa Kengo.

“I never would have thought that he would touch drugs.”

“He even looked rather unconcerned when he dropped out.”

“Do you remember? His parents divorced long ago, and his pop is rather……”

The three who once used the Gardening Committee as a secret base discussed in a pained tone behind me. It seemed that they had never met Yondaime, but heard about him before, and that’s why we managed to call them out like this. The fact that Yondaime created a chance for them to pray to Minagawa like this shows that a rather attentive mind was hidden behind his stern appearance.

“Then today is for……?”

The man in a suit sized me up while asking.

“You’re our kouhai? I heard you have something to ask us?”

“Ah, y- yes!”

“It’s better to speak over there.” Because of Yondaime’s suggestion, we returned to the woods, sitting on the wooden steps in front of the temple.

“Eh? Isn’t that……?”

The construction worker who was sitting above me suddenly noticed the clothes peg on my pocket and pointed while saying:

“Doesn’t that belong to Sayuri-chan?”

“…… Do you know Sayuri-sensei as well?”

“What do you mean do we know her? We once went to her lessons in the greenhouse.”

“It’s so nostalgic. She probably used this to make sure you don’t forget about your homework, right? It’s so embarrassing.”

“Is it possible…… that she gave you guys supplementary lessons before this as well?”

I nodded in surprise, recalling Sayuri-sensei’s words. That’s right. Some delinquents gathered at the Gardening Committee— she once said that she hanged out together with those people for some time, and started to give them supplementary lessons after class for some reason.

“Heh. That does indicate that you’re really our kouhai in some way!” The three laughed while saying.

People are connected to each other in intriguing ways sometimes.

“I often skipped classes to smoke behind the greenhouse, and I was caught by Sayuri-chan one day.”

“She wasn’t scary at all though she was angry, and she had just joined the school recently at that time.”

“Why did she start the supplementary lessons? That’s quite puzzling.”

The expression of the three while they were chatting looked comfortable like someone bathing in the warm sunlight during winter.

“But it’s all thanks to those supplementary lessons that I could graduate.”

“I can’t believe until now that you actually got into college.”

“I retook the exam a year. I also can’t believe that you actually found a job.”

“It would be better if Kanegawa didn’t drop out half way.”

“Eh? Did he take the lessons in the greenhouse as well?” I couldn’t help but interject.

“That’s right. As I recall, there were about ten people there.”

“Sayuri-chan worked hard to move the blackboard in as well.”

“But since the incident happened, we couldn’t continue.”

“Is it…… the death incident of Hayano Tomohiko?”

“Ah, so you know about it. That’s right, you wanted to ask about this?”

It was as though the surrounding air suddenly chilled down. The man in a suit answered in a low voice:

“Tomohiko was in the supplementary classes as well. It was because he wasn’t that healthy and kept taking leave. Though it snowed on the day that he died, I think he still did go to the lessons.”

“But I really didn’t notice that he was bullied by anyone.”

“Then, Tetsu-senpai…… Did Ichinomiya-senpai have lessons in the greenhouse as well?”

“Oh yes. The ones who dropped out were all from the greenhouse group, all Sayuri-chan’s students.”

“Though only Tomohiko’s personality was different form the others, it wasn’t until the extent that people would bully him……”

“Does speaking of this now have any use?”

To hide the trembling of my fingers, I clenched my hands, fixing my gaze on the ground with my lips tightly closed. Yondaime who was sitting beside me didn’t say anything at all, and his expression didn’t change at all.

There were once lessons in Sayuri-sensei’s ‘classroom full of flowers’.

And it was destroyed from the inside by Tetsu-senpai and the others in the end…… Did Tetsu-senpai really do such a thing?

I still think that there’s something off. That’s right, Hirabayashi-sensei who was the advisor at that time and the people who gathered in the greenhouse didn’t know of the mistreatment at all. How is this possible?

“It’s great that we didn’t become NEETs already.”

“That’s right. I think I’ll visit Sayuri-chan with a present during Obon.”

“To be frank, I’m quite embarrassed to go to M High now, but I really feel like seeing Sayuri-chan.”

“I wonder if she didn’t marry until now because of us.”

The three laughed in a lonely way.

The three of them refused Yondaime’s suggestion to drive them back, but that’s quite normal. They would feel nervous, and though they were asked out, they probably didn’t want to owe Yondaime any favors.

“Do you want to go back to Alice’s now? Isn’t Tetsu at the ramen shop as well?”

After sending them away, Yondaime asked me at the entrance of the shrine.

“Well…… Is there something wrong?”

“You’re my brother after all, so if there’s a need……”

Yondaime leaned on the car with his elbow on the top of the car, showing the expression of a hungry wolf in an instant.

“I can help you to beat him up.”

Shocked, I hastily shook my head in response.

“T- there’s no need. I can’t ask other people to do such a thing.”

“Then are you preparing to do it yourself?”

Why do you keep coming to these conclusions?

“I can’t possibly do such a thing, and I don’t want to owe you any more favors.”

“If it’s just beating up that guy, it’s no big deal actually.”

To be honest, is Tetsu-senpai or this guy the stronger one? Though it’s unrelated to this, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat curious about this. Yondaime probably has an advantage in speed, but Tetsu-senpai would probably have an advantage in strength and stamina…… I think it’s safer for me to put this meaningless curiosity aside.

“You did me a big favor for today already.”

“This is not a favor, I’ll claim my payment from Alice.”

Ah, I see. As expected of the fourth generation of a businessman family, having such principles. However, would the fee be counted into my request fee in the end?


After Yondaime drove his car away, I pushed my bike onto the slope while thinking of Tetsu-senpai’s matter.

I’m sure that he’s hiding something. He doesn’t want to say anything though he’s one of the people involved, so that troubles me. The reason for beating him up is quite good, so it’s quite enough.

Though it’s rather odd, beating him up for something like this, but should I be more determined to pester him until he gives in? Alice yielded the very moment when Tetsu-senpai refused, why is that?

I suddenly recalled my conversation with Hiro-san.

‘Though we might lose a client because of this, it’s much better than losing a companion.’

So I chose not to touch Tetsu-senpai’s past again.

Alice might have the same sentiments as well. Not asking for Tetsu-senpai’s help might make us lose the power of the detective squad, we wouldn’t need to lose a companion because of this.

But I still find something odd. Is this kind of thought really better for all of us?

If we’re true companions—

Should we give him a vicious punch instead?

Perhaps this was Yondaime’s true intentions? ‘If I were you, I’d definitely beat him up.’ Something like that.

Unknowingly, I clenched my fists.

*

The next day, I had an opportunity to interact with Sayuri-sensei alone in the greenhouse.

“What is it, Fujishima-kun? You look like you’re spacing out, or is there something on my face?”

After she said that, I hastily turned my attention back to the textbook on the table.

“You really can’t concentrate when Shinozaki-san isn’t here, can you?”

“No, that’s not it.”

Two days passed since Ayaka fainted in Alice’s room, but she continued to take leave, and nobody picked up the phone; her mother did say that she probably could come to school. Though I was worried of Ayaka, I was actually thinking of the information about Sayuri-sensei in my bag.

After I reported to Alice about the things that I heard at the shrine, she immediately investigated Sayuri-sensei’s background in detail, then handed the information to me; and I finally found out that sensei’s surname was Kuroda. As for the other contents, I really didn’t feel like reading it in detail. She’s a teacher that I meet everyday at school! I would feel embarrassed if I know too much about her.

Even so, I still couldn’t resist checking if she was unmarried. I’m really too curious for my own good.

“She probably knows about the situation that day as well, so you’d better question her about it.”

Alice said in a nonchalant tone.

While sneakily observing sensei’s expression, I pretended to concentrate on taking notes, but the things that I read actually didn’t get absorbed into my mind as well.

“There’s a staff meeting later, so I need to go first. You can revise what I taught before this first, I’ll come back later.”

After saying that, Sayuri-sensei stood up and was about to walk past the racks and tables full of flowers, out of the greenhouse. Ahh, it’s my last chance. I pulled away the chair and stood up as well, running frantically out of the greenhose.

“Fujishima-kun, what is it?”

Sensei walked while looking back to ask me.

Err…... Where should I start from? Though time was short, I couldn’t just start questioning her out of the blue, right? And if she found out that I was investigating the death incident, it would be hard to explain things.

“Well…… I heard that sensei did such a thing before this, right? Supplementary lessons after class.”

“That’s right, there were even more people before this……”

Sensei’s expression at that moment looked rather sad, perhaps she recalled her dead student?

“Err…… I wore the clothes peg that you use to remind me of my homework when I went for my part time work yesterday, and I coincidentally met some senpais who graduated.”

I finally thought of a lie. Sensei looked rather curious about that.

“They said that they recalled you as soon as they saw the note, so it seemed that they went for your classes as well.”

“Is that so…… Who are they?”

“Well……” I spoke out their names as I recalled them.

“Uwaa, that’s so nostalgic! Are they alright these days?”

“Yeah. One of them was in college, while another started working now.”

“Is that so? Ah……”

When we reached a school building, a joyful smile that looked as though she was dreaming appeared on Sayuri-sensei’s face while she was walking up the stairs.

“Doing this is actually right…… Though I really regretted it when that happened.”

Sensei seemed to be mumbling to herself.

That happened……. The incident that made her regret teaching in the ‘classroom full of flowers’, That was probably—

“I heard from the senpais about the reason why the greenhouse lessons had to be canceled.”

Sensei suddenly stopped while she was climbing the stairs, while I hurriedly stopped in front of her and turned back.

“Ah…… Mnn, that’s sure to happen, talking about things like this. It really…….”

Sensei covered her mouth with her hands, her face turning pale. I just felt as though my gut was in pain as though a block of ice was stuffed into it. Do I have to continue to ask? To send messages for the dead, but hurt the ones who are still living?

But I have to do this.

“The person called Hayano…… Did he go to the supplementary lessons that day as well?”

Sensei stared at my face for awhile and nodded.

“But why are you asking about this?” Sensei said weakly.

“N- no…… Well, it’s just that……” I answered with the lie that I cooked up after a night’s though: “Since senpai were discussing about the last person Hayano-senpai talked to, so that made me rather curious……”

“Eh, ah……”

Sensei’s expression turned even more clouded. Though I felt like telling her ‘It’s okay, please forget all about this!’ and run down the stairs, away from there, I refrained myself from doing so and waited for an answer.

“…… Mnn, yeah. That’s right, only Hayano-kun was there that day, and since it was about time for the staff meeting, I asked him to do revision and I went back to the school building…... I was tidying up my desk after the meeting ended when I heard the sounds of the ambulance, and in the end……”

Sensei’s voice sounded like the moans of a patient that time. I really couldn’t bear to continue listening.

“…… So- sorry! I shouldn’t ask these strange questions……”

“I had no idea that Hayano-kun was bullied. I…… I saw that he was quite friendly with Ichinomiya-kun and the other, but- but……”

“Sensei, please stop! Sorry!”

“I planned to resign after that incident. The principal found out about it and gave me a huge scolding…… He said that giving these kids lessons was just a waste of time, and I used the school facilities without permission as well. Because of me—“

That wasn’t your fault, so please don’t say things like this.

Sayuri-sensei kept trembling while leaning on the walls of the stairs. I couldn’t help out regarding this matter, so I could only stand there and stare blankly at sensei’s face that was pale like a morning moon.

Was Tetsu-senpai the one who destroyed Sayuri-sensei’s class? Is that really true?

I really don’t know, and don’t dare to believe it. So I must confirm the truth.

With my own— fists.

*

I decided to ask him out to the park beside the railways where vagrants usually stay. I originally thought that asking him out to Hanamaru Ramen might be okay as well, but when I thought of the fact that I might need to do a lot of explanations if I was noticed by Alice through the surveillance machines; and the things that we were going to talk about was dumb contents that I’d rather Min-san didn’t hear.

The southern side of the small park had a five-person team soccer field surrounded with a green wire fence, Tetsu-senpai was waiting there while leaning against the goalpost. That was a cloudy afternoon, there weren’t anyone there, and the tents that I’m not sure if anyone inhabited them were unusually quiet as well. The whole park seemed to have been infected with a virus, a piteous atmosphere drifting in the air.

“…… What is it? Calling me out to this kind of place.”

Tetsu-senpai glared at me while kicking around a soccer ball left there. I really wished that someone would accompany me there, but I felt that it’s better if I go alone as well. My feelings were rather complicated, and I couldn’t talk for awhile.

In the end, I swallowed my mixed-up feelings, and said:

“…… I heard it from Sayuri-sensei and the others.”

Tetsu-senpai shrugged, as though he was saying ‘so what?’.

“Did you really bully the guy called Hayano together with the others?”

“Didn’t I tell you already? You’re so fussy.”

“I want an accurate answer.”

“I often asked him to be my errand boy. Though I didn’t really take off his shirt or anything, who knew he would freeze to death.”

I felt a stab of pain, as though a freezing spearhead was pierced into my armpit. I really felt like covering my mouth and my stomach with my hands, and nearly squatted down, too weak to continue.

“…… Is that…… true? Please tell me the truth!”

“I’m telling you that it’s true.”

Lies! You…… You obviously aren’t that kind of person!

“Sayuri-sensei said that as well, Hayano was quite friendly with the others. How woul—“

As I approached Tetsu-senpai, he suddenly grabbed my collar, pushing me viciously onto the goalpost; hot air was squeezed out of my mouth. After some time, my body started to feel bouts of pain.

As I approached Tetsu-senpai, he suddenly grabbed my collar, pushing me viciously onto the goalpost; hot air was squeezed out of my mouth.

“Didn’t I tell you before this? I’ll beat you up if you continue to investigate!”

I saw vicious flames of fury in Tetsu-senpai’s eyes, but I did not avert my gaze.

“Then— try it!”

Yondaime said so as well, just do it if you can. Do it! Senpai clenched his fists so hard that the sounds of his joints cracking could be heard. If it were Yondaime, he would’ve done it ages ago. Though I wasn’t as strong as him, I was still his sworn brother after all— the bond that was formed with the sake that was thicker than blood.

“I’m okay even if you want to have a fight.” I forcibly squeezed out a voice from my throat that was tightly throttled. “I drank the sake in Hirasaka-gumi after all, of course I have the resolution to deal with things with a fight!”

That’s right, the judgment of Hirasaka-gumi is God’s Judgment (It’s just a normal fight). As long as you’re in the right, God will allow him to win. But that’s probably just a meaningless belief…… It’s impossible that there would be such a thing. God wouldn’t be that free that He’ll meddle in kids’ fights, and I’m not a person in that world with a clear borderline as well, but still—

There are some times when I have to do it!

“If senpai isn’t lying, you’ll win. I think— I won’t lose to you!”

That’s because I believe in senpai. He’s definitely not a person that would mistreat other people, causing them to die!

Definitely— he’s definitely hiding something, and that’s why he lied. Even if that’s only an empty truth that would hurt the living and shame the dead……

I must expose it!

“If you win, I’ll stop investigating this. But if—“

Senpai narrowed his eyes

“If?”

If I win? Would this really happen?

But I must still do that. I must expose his lies, proving senpai’s innocence.

Also, the Gardening Club would be abolished after two weeks. If only senpai would speak the truth…… If only we could find the true reason for the Gardening Club’s existence……

“If I win…… Please tell me the whole truth.”

“What do you mean by truth, I’ve said all I knew at the police station.”

“Then why?” I straightened my back and left the goalpost, pushing away senpai’s hand. “Why did Minagawa Kengo forcibly open the Gardening Club? You must know the reason, right? Because you’re companions who were in the greenhouse together!”

“I don’t know.” Senpai looked rather awkward. Lies! Those were lies! He must know something!

“Are— are you really unable to tell me that? Why? Why are you lying? Sayuri-sensei, the advisor and the previous members of the Gardening Committee all said that they didn’t know senpai once mistreated other people, right until the incident happened. How could that be!? Senpai is—“

I heard the sounds of senpai gritting his teeth, and even thought that he would bite me to death……. But then he finally said:

“…… So what does that mean?”

“If you don’t want people to know, then just defeat me in a fight!”

“Fighting these meaningless fig—“

“If you can’t tell me……” I continued hurriedly: “To Alice…… At least tell it to Alice. She probably knows all about it now. So please just answer one question from Alice frankly, that’s all!”

“Do you really think you can defeat me?”

Of course I never thought of that, but I still continued:

“Even if I can’t now, just give me two weeks—“

I suddenly felt that the world in front of me spun rapidly, and then a piercing light shone into my eyes, the taste of mud and iron filling my mouth. I only realized after quite some time that Tetsu-senpai hit me, causing myself to be sprawled on the ground.

“…… I got it, Narumi.”

Senpai answered me with a hoarse voice. My ears and my eyes felt bouts of pain.

“When you’re ready, challenge me anytime. I’ll kill you……”

*

Min-san handled my would in the kitchen of the ramen shop.

“You’re pretty badly beaten up, even having bruises.”

Quite a few plasters were stuck onto my neck. I didn’t really notice it since I was too agitated, but they say that both my lips and the back part of my neck were bleeding.

“W- well……” I didn’t know how to answer. “I just fell down from my bike.”

“Oh please, do you really think that I can’t tell these are bruises from a fight?”

Uwaa! So she could tell just by one look?

“Don’t tell a lie if you can’t, remember that.”

“Uuuu…..”

Only the two of us were in the shop, so it’s hard to escape from her questions.

“How could you win when you’re against Tetsu? Are you an idiot?”

“No, I just got assaulted this time.” Why does she even know who hit me? She would probably beat me up immediately if I tell her that I’m going to have another fight with Tetsu-senpai.

“Isn’t your only virtue your mouth that’s unusually good at bluffing? What are you fighting for?”

“So Min-san thinks that as well……”

She was spot on. But you don’t need to keep emphasizing that it’s my ‘only virtue’, do you? At least say that it’s one of my ‘less virtues’?

“But don’t you think that sometimes you just have to do it?”

“Absolutely not.”

She refuted me immediately. That’s so depressing.

“You only think that there’s a necessity because you’re just a dumb kid. What are you so impatient for? You seem to be like this recently.”

I’m impatient— really?

With my hand on my lips that were still aching faintly, I thought. It might be so. When did it start? Probably from the time when Ayaka came back? It just feels as though I was mystifyingly running around here and there, doing a lot of meaningless things. Yondaime seemed to have said that as well. Wait, wasn’t the one who told me to beat Tetsu-senpai up Yondaime in the first place? Wait a minute, why am I listening to him so obediently? And did Yondaime really mean that?

My wounds were slightly hot, and that made my consciousness fade slightly, so I lowered my head again.

“I feel— that would make me feel better. Beating him up or getting beaten up by him.”

“That’s completely meaningless. If you have the time to do such dumb things, it’s better if you use the time to keep Ayaka company.”

That might be the case, but……

“I’m really confused right now. To senpai, and to Ayaka as well……”

“Tetsu’s problem is Tetsu’s, Ayaka’s problem is Ayaka’s, aren’t they just different?”

“Senpai…… It might be so. But Ayaka…… I kept her company at school, but she just calls me ‘Fujishima-san’, always speaking politely in front of me or squeezing out a smile. It’s just too……”

“Did you speak of this to Ayaka?”

“How could I say that to her!”

“Why?”

“Because it’s already hard on Ayaka to take care of herself, how can I be so selfish?”

“Why are you NEETs always meddling in other people’s business, not worrying about yourselves?”

I stared blankly at Min-san. I didn’t even have the energy to rebuke her ‘I’m not a NEET’. Min-san smiled while washing her frying pan.

“You really don’t have any progress. Why don’t you just act as you usually do? Ayaka is the same here as well. Seriously…… Looking at your actions, it made my shoulders ache as well.

“Act as I usually do…… The problem is Ayaka doesn’t know how to deal with me.”

“Why?”

“Because, Ayaka doesn’t say anything to me—“

Ah!

I slapped my thigh forcefully.

So that’s why. Ayaka didn’t know what to do because I didn’t say anything to her.

If that was so, both of us— really didn’t have any progress at all, staying at the same place. Even so…… Because of that……

Start from the beginning…… Could we start over from the time when we haven’t grown? Starting from the October that we haven’t known each other yet. Ayaka was the only one observing me at that time, even though it was like that in the beginning, we still became friends after some difficulties.

It’s just that I’m the only one knowing Ayaka right now instead. If so, isn’t it the same as that time?

If so, is there a way to start over without having a need for her to regain her memories? Using the same way……

I felt rather embarrassed to raise my head. It felt as though the sound of Min-san cutting the onions was like her laughing at me. No, she might really be laughing at me.

Just at that moment, the door of the ramen shop was opened.

Raising my head, I saw a silhouette wearing a sailor’s uniform behind the portiere. Pinning a side of her hair up with a pin, the slightly coffee colored fringe, the friendly eyes blinked repeatedly below her determined brows. After that, she suddenly blushed, going backwards rapidly, planning to close the door again.

I wanted to stand up, but Min-san who was beside me suddenly waved, throwing something with a lightning speed. A clumped up black object hit Ayaka’s face.

“Uwaa!” Ayaka made an odd noise, then kept flailing her hands, frantically trying to pat away the black apron covering her face.

“Are you trying to go back right now? We’re preparing to open the shop right now, wash your hands!”

“Erm…… Well…… Fujishima-san is here.”

With an apologetic look, Ayaka bent her back while walking into the shop.

“I’m telling you that this guy was fired.”

What a cruel way of putting it.

When I passed by Ayaka at a counter, she suddenly saw my wounds.

“Hurt!? H- how are you? A- are you okay!?”

“Eh? Mnn, it’s nothing much. I’m alright, Ayaka…… Are you okay?”

“Eh? Erm…… Sorry for not picking up your calls.”

I shook my head weakly. It’s okay as long as she is still willing to come to Hanamaru Ramen.

“…… You, why are you wearing a uniform?” She didn’t even go to school today.

“W- well……” Though there was obviously not much dust on the skirt, Ayaka kept patting it. “A lot of flowers are going to bloom soon, so I went back to take care of them. Though I didn’t go to classes, I thought that I should at least attend Sayuri-sensei’s supplementary lessons.”

Ah, I see. After I ran away without doing revision, Ayaka went there. Because of that, Sayuri-sensei probably wouldn’t get so depressed.

I stood at the seams between the counter in the kitchen and the customer seats, blankly looking at Ayaka putting on her apron with unaccustomed movements.

I originally thought she would come back— wouldn’t come back to Hanamaru Ramen and the greenhouse……

“W- what is it?”

Ayaka raised the side of the apron to cover half of her face, asking in a rather embarrassed tone.

“Nothing!” I shook my head while denying, and suddenly felt pain on my neck. “Ouuchhh…..”

“Fujishima-san, are you really okay? Why is your wound—“

“It’s just from a fight with kids, just let them fight. Letting Tetsu and Narumi fight might cure them of their idiot illness.”

“With Tetsu-san? Y- you really fought? Why?”

Why…... Hearing Ayaka ask the same question again, I really didn’t know how to answer. I think all of this was done for Ayaka and myself, though I couldn’t really tell how they’re connected—

Though I’m not sure how they’re connected, I could only answer frankly:

“Sorry, I’m a bit muddled up right now, so I’m not sure why— but if Tetsu-senpai doesn’t tell me the truth, the Gardening Club might just be abolished. So……”

To protect the place that belongs to Ayaka and I.

“I…… Is it because of me? Because I can’t remember the past, so you’re so stubborn about the Gardening Club because you want to keep things the same way as it wa—“

No. It’s not that. Though I thought that in my heart, I found that I couldn’t say it out loud.

I clenched the armband that I kept in my pockets that I didn’t hand it to Ayaka for a long time.

I did think of that before. But now that Ayaka said it out directly, it just made me feel that my reason for protecting the Gardening Club is not only to get her memories back.

Then why am I so determined to protect the Gardening Club?

“I’ll do my best!” Ayaka made a sound that was close to pleading. “I would definitely do my best to remember! I’ll help out at the ramen shop as well, and wouldn’t take leave again! So please don’t do such dangerous things! It’s okay even if the Gardening Club is not here, if only you—“

I felt like there was an impact on my face by a large steel ball. She would do her best? Ayaka said that she would do her best?

Why? Why is she saying that? I actually don’t wish for her to say these things. So she was thinking of such grievous things beside me all along……?

“I didn’t do that just for that……. I don’t know how to say it. Ayaka, you don’t need to…… And I’ve decided already, so……”

“Fujishima-san!”

“Ayaka, forget it. It’s useless.”

Min-san looked at the pot while saying:

“He didn’t do it just because of you. Men are a type of creature like that, an idiot when they’re born, an idiot when they’re born, and an idiot when they’re dead as well. Don’t bother about him.”

I looked at Min-san who was icily looking at me from the corner of her eyes, and looked at Ayaka who was in tears. As I was about to open the door, the door of the ramen shop was forcefully opened.

“Aniki! Is it true that you and Tetsu-ojiki are going to have a fight!?”

A crowd of tall men wearing black T-shirts squeezed into the ramen shop, almost crushing the door— so they’re Pole, Rock and other men from Hirasaka-gumi, about six or seven of them. I just felt that the color in my face instantly drained out.

“E- erm…… Why do you know about this!?”

“Tetsu-ojiki called Sou-san just now, asking him to be the witness.”

What’s with this person? Rushing forwards without caring about anything!

“We could finally see aniki’s true powers!” “If he ties in Tetsu-ojiki, he’ll be able to fill in the vacancy in the Four Heavenly Kings for Hirasaka-san!” “We’ll be invincible then!”

“See, they’re all idiots.” Min-san said to Ayaka beside her. But Ayaka’s eyes were full of tears, and she shook her head helplessly.

“Oi, you kids! Get out if you’re not ordering anything! Make trouble outside if you’re going to do that!”

Min-san shouted while banging her pot with a spoon. The young yakuzas stood up straight, then politely sat on the seats together. Evidently, the others could only be chased outside to sit on the beer crates.

“Then I’ll have a tonkatsu ramen.”

“Tonkatsu ramen!”

“I want tonkatsu ramen as well!”

Tonkatsu ramen was specially made by Min-san to wish us luck before this, but the taste wasn’t that good…… I just feel that I’m going to have a headache.

“It seems that the odds will increase drastically this time!” “Oi, who’s going to be the dealer?”

“Okay! I’m betting on Tetsu-ojiki, ten thousand!”

“I’m betting on Tetsu-ojiki as well, ten thousand!”

“Then I’ll bet on Tetsu-ojiki fifteen thousand!”

“I’m going all out! Twenty thousand on Tetsu-ojiki!”

“Using up the determination for entering a bear’s lair to bet twenty thousand on Tetsu-ojiki!”

“With the resolution to jump down from the stage of Shimizu Tower, I’m betting fifty thousand on Tetsu-ojiki!”

“Eh? Aniki, are you okay? You look rather pale. Please show us more vigor!”

It’s all your fault! Okay, I get it, I don’t have any chance of winning!

“We can’t bet like this.”

“Then should we change it to how many minutes the fight will last?”

“Shouldn’t we change it to how many seconds?”

“Or change it to how many meters will aniki will fly away to?”

“Or how many months will it take for aniki to heal?”

“Or how many rib bones of aniki will be broken?”

Please stop, my fighting spirit dropped to zero a long time ago already!

As I was seriously considering whether I should run away from the kitchen backdoor, I suddenly heard the door open, and a voice drifted in along with the chilly wind outside.

“— I’m betting as well. Five thousand on Vice Admiral Fujishima.”

“Then I’m betting ten thousand on Narumi-kun as well. I’ll be able to get two times more than Major, right?”

The members of the gang stared blankly at them with their mouths wide open. I think my expression might be the same as well.

Major had a large backpack on his back, and he pushed his goggles onto his forehead. Hiro-san who was by his side wore a tailored coat with tight-fitting jeans. The two of them stood in front of the entrance of the ramen shop. “…… Ojiki, are you serious?” Pole asked doubtfully.

“Of course I’m serious. Isn’t it a fight between Narumi-kun and Tetsu?” Hiro said while winking at me.

“Gambling doesn’t only take in account winning or losing, we must observe the odds as well. However small the chances for Vice Admiral Fujishima to win—“

Major dropped his backpack onto the cement floor with a thud, then looked at the others.

“If the odds are eight times, I will bet on Vice Admiral Fujishima. Because—“

“Because we’ll provide support from now.”

…… Provide support?

Does that mean Major and Hiro-san would support me?

The members of Hirasaka-gumi sitting in a row on the seat exchanged gazes and started to whisper to each other, but still nobody had the courage to bet on the other side. Well, this is quite normal, Major and Hiro-san are the ones who are strange. Helping me? Why? What would they get from this? Why is that?

“Of course it’s to get money.”

Hiro-san showed a casual smile, and brought me out to the gathering spot outside the kitchen backdoor. Though there wasn’t much sunlight here, it was the small kingdom of NEETs that was full of warmth. Major sat on a beer crate while Hiro-san leaned against a large steel bucket.

“You guys…… Didn’t you guys say that you wouldn’t help Alice and I?”

“That is that, this is this.”

“I just said that I wouldn’t involve myself in Tetsu-san’s past.”

The two got even more enthusiastic, vigor filling their eyes. That was when I understood something.

They couldn’t just wait there silently without doing anything. Just because they’re Tetsu-senpai’s companions, they couldn’t get involved if senpai isn’t willing, and cannot take part in the investigation. Even so……

“Narumi-kun, of course, we wouldn’t force you if you say that you don’t need it.”

Hiro-san suddenly showed a rather lonely expression.

For money, and for themselves. The rough NEETs in this city are so useless that they must use such a forced excuse to hide their own kindness— even so, even if it’s only for this reason…… As a response for their kindness, it has value even if I were to be beaten up by Tetsu-senpai.

“Tetsu and I hung out together for a long time, and I saw quite some fights as well. I can tell you his habits when he’s fighting or the blind spots of his attacks!”

“Vice Admiral Fujishima, I can let you test the fighting stimulator that I modified from a Wii.”

The silhouettes of the two came into my view, but I felt my vision blurring. The hot tears almost gushed out, so I hurriedly lowered my head.

“…… Narumi-kun? You’re really……”

“I- it’s okay, nothing’s wrong. I’m okay.”

I bit my lips, trying hard not to let my voice tremble.

“Got it.”

The heat on my face passed through my throat along with the pain on my body. I silently waited for the heat flow to fade, and raised my head after staring at my open palms:

“— please help me.”

The two stood up at the same time.

“Min-san, I want a tonkatsu ramen as well!”

“I want a large tonkatsu ramen as well!”

Major and Hiro-san poked their heads into the shop to order. I repeatedly opened and clenched my fists, confirming the head lingering in my wet palm.

At that moment, the prelude of ‘Colorado Bulldog’ rang in my pocket.

‘What were you doing just now? A bunch of people from Hirasaka-gumi are gathered below as well, why aren’t you here to report to me?’

“…… Okay, I’ll be over there right away.”


“A fight with Tetsu?”

After Alice who was sitting on the bed finished saying, her jaw dropped. It’s quite an accomplishment for her not to drop her Dr. Pepper in her hands onto the floor.

It was quite an expected response. After I collected the dirty clothes scattered all over the floor and threw them into the washing machine outside, Alice started to grumble:

“I really cannot understand the mental structure of your mind. Compared with your brain, ‘Finnegans Wake’ is easier to understand. Deciding the results with a fight with Tetsu? If your aim is to increase your intelligence by letting your skull withstand a large impact, it would be better if I just introduce you to a person who specializes in removing buildings.”

“Well…… Erm……” Since I knew that I couldn’t explain, it was even harder for me to say anything. “Did you read the translated version of ‘Finnegans Wake’?”

“Of course it’s the original one! And don’t change the topic!”

Alice hit her blankets repeatedly in annoyance. Why does it seem that it’s easier for her to get angry these days? What’s wrong?

“Listen, in your knowledge, Tetsu is probably just a good-for-nothing gambler who wastes his life on pachinko and horse races……” Is that wrong? “Look at this so your mind will be clearer. Change your opinion of him!”

Alice pointed at the right side of the bed with her fingers, the monitor that was placed crookedly on a rack nearest to me, then typed speedily on the keyboard with one hand while saying.

After some time, rough black and white footage was played on the screen. I realized that it was a rather old recording, because the kitchen backdoor was not too similar to what it looks like now. The wooden stands that were used as a table were not present, while the large steel buckets haven’t rusted yet, and were glittering. The only thing that was the same was the silhouette of a man. His muscular back could be seen even through a T-shirt, and his powerful, toned arms that were like cable car wires. Tetsu-senpai.

The more surprising thing was, the ones opposite him were Pole and Rocky. Though only the chest of the T-shirt of Hirasaka-gumi could be seen, there probably weren’t any other lackeys that were fitter than them.

Since there were no sounds in the footage, their next movements couldn’t be predicted at all. It looked like Pole lashed out first, while Tetsu-senpai’s strong body was light as a falling leaf, evading his attack in millimeters, then punching the abdomen of the black shirt. The vibrations from the punch seemed to float out of the screen, Pole who didn’t fall even though he was punched really should be applauded. At that moment, senpai noticed Rocky going to his back carefully, so he sprang back a few steps.

Up till now, I still thought that Yondaime should have the advantage in speed, while senpai should be more accustomed to brawls, attacking with his raw power and stamina. But that was completely wrong. Against the two bodyguards of Hirasaka-gumi, senpai didn’t even give them the chance of getting near, viciously hitting the opposing party from outside the attacking area of the enemy as though he was using magic, and even making people feel as though his attacks are a kind of art.

So— he was a boxer.

“— that’s right, this is a boxer.”

After Alice finished saying that, the footage vanished.

“Though this was footage from three years ago, you shouldn’t expect his skills to be rusty. You should know that Tetsu still keeps his boxing equipment, right?”

That’s right. When I suddenly asked him to teach me boxing, Tetsu-senpai immediately prepared boxing gloves, bandages and a sandbag.

That means, senpai is still a boxer right now.

“He’s what we call a boxing fighter, having both speed and destruction, an all-rounder that could deal with any enemy. If they fought on a ring, Yondaime would probably lose to him as well. As for you……”

“I understand that.”

“You don’t understand! The fist of a boxer is a killing weapon, it can kill, understand!?”

“Erm…… Well—“ I stared at Alice whose brows arched in anger. “Are you worried about me?”

“W- who…… who’s worried about you!” Alice’s face was flushed, her hair even stood up as though it went through an electric current. “Who’ll be worried about your things!”

In the end, she just threw items by her side at me just like the last time she got angry. Pillows, remotes, empty cans, printers, and so on— Oi, oi! Don’t throw the printer!

“Why must I worry about you!”

Alice’s angry roars caused the wall of dolls to collapse, scattering all over the floor with dull thuds. Also because she was frantically waving her pillows, hitting her bed, an avalanche of dolls happened once more.

“I just couldn’t forgive your dumb actions! As for how low your intelligence is, it’s so despairing that even touching the Monolith[1] for seventy thousand times couldn’t raise your intelligence to the level of monkeys!”

Being shouted at like that, it made me feel rather embarrassed as well. After I picked up the dolls scattered on the floor and placed them back on the bed, Alice scattered them again with a swing from her pillow. I don’t have any choice but to kneel on the bed.

“Some people say that ‘Idiots would stop being idiots after they died once’, if you want to prove this saying that only idiots would believe in, then please—“ I caught hold of Alice’s wrists so that she would calm down.

“W- what are you doing? Let go of me!”

In front of me was a NEET detective with a flushed face, tears swirling in her eyes.

In front of me was a NEET detective with a flushed face, tears swirling in her eyes.

“Erm…… Sorry for always acting like an idiot.”

“I- if you have the time to apologize, then don’t keep doing dangerous but meaningless things every time!”

“I know that I keep worrying you, but that’s all that I can do.”

“I’m not worried!”

Alice’s hands were tightly held by me, but she still used her head to repeatedly ram into my chest. I thought blankly, would Tetsu-senpai’s fist be a thousand times as painful as this……?

“You’re my assistant, and the more terrible thing is that I only have one assistant, and don’t even have a replacement! But you just like to act tough every time!”

Alice leaned her cheek on my chest, raising her head to say to me tearfully. Heat seeped into my clothes.

“Mnn.”

My answer was somewhat like a sigh. And then, I let go of Alice’s hands, lightly patting her hair.

Thinking alone wouldn’t help things, but I’m not alone anymore. So I tried to change the thoughts in my mind into words:

“Doing this might be stupid, but I really can’t differentiate things clearly. I actually felt quite sad when senpai said that he wouldn’t tell us anything about him. So it’s impossible for me to hang out with him as usual at a place unrelated to the incident. I’m not that mature yet.”

But I didn’t mention the matter about Yondaime asking me to do it. Because it isn’t the reason anymore, I decided to do so myself.

“Of course, I know what Major and Hiro-san meant, but…… Sometimes, because we’re companions, we shouldn’t pretend that nothing happened; get angry when you’re angry, isn’t that right? That was why I asked Tetsu-senpai out, and it accidentally turned into this situation……”

“What do you mean accidentally? Is this a matter that can be simply brushed past?”

In the end, it turned into the situation when I have to prepare for battle— the main point is because I was rather scared of facing Tetsu-senpai, and senpai was just too kind.

“But actually I don’t think it’s wholly useless, not a meaninglessly dangerous action as well. Tetsu-senpai promised that he would answer your questions honestly if only I win.”

Actually he didn’t promise things, it’s just that I believe he would definitely answer.

A boxer probably wouldn’t lie because of the results of a fight with his own fists.

“Though I never thought that I would win from the start, but if I never tried, the chances would definitely be zero.”

“Just because of that!? There should be a more intelligent, detective-like solution!”

“Mnn…… Sorry.”

“……. Whatever, do as you like.”

Alice pushed me away with her head lowered, then turned over, ignoring my presence.

“Though I obviously have a lot of detective work piled up…. I really don’t have the energy to scold you anymore.”

As I was about to answer, the hurricane-like typing sounds rang again. I could only retract the hand that I extended towards Alice’s back.

That’s right. I’m an assistant detective, and the first party in the incident. But I did as I liked this time, it’s understandable that Alice is angry.

Can I still apologize to her when things end? Would she even forgive me?

Or—

Thinking about this wouldn’t help things at all. As I was about to leave the bedside and walk to the entrance—

“Where are you going? I didn’t say that you could go back!”

I turned my head over because of Alice’s displeased voice.

“I’m burning a DVD right now, wait there.”

DVD?

After a while, Alice took out a disc and placed it into a transparent plastic box, then handed it to me.

“This one is the recordings from the times when Tetsu was fighting. He often fought near the building before this, so there is still some footage about this. There is also footage of Master and Yondaime. Play it in slow motion and see if it helps. For some reason, only your eyesight is okay. And speaking of which, it only has meaning if you can dodge it even if you can see it— w- what’s with your smiling expression!?”

“Eh? Ah, n- no, nothing!”

After looking at the DVD-R in my hands, I looked at Alice’s face.

“And are you planning to go after you finished speaking of your meaningless things? I still have matters to explain to you! And there’s a lot of things for you to investigate at the scene as well!”

“Ah…… T- that’s right.”

I frantically suppressed the urge of my mouth curling, and walked back to the bedside.

Alice explained to me the long-winded work contents while being angry, as usual.




Translator's Notes and References[edit]

  1. An object that helped primates to evolve into intelligent beings in the movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey
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