Kamisama no Memochou:Volume 3 Chapter 4
Below the ginkgo tree that grew beside the walls extending from the school entrance— in the middle of the pathway that leads to the courtyard between the school buildings and the exterior walls, and also from the boundary between the tiled floor and the soil ground extending inwards from the plaza in front of the school entrance. I leaned against the wall of the school building, staring at the place where the roots swelled.
The sports clubs in the middle of their jogging passed by in front of my eyes with a rhythmic and loud noise while the long shadows of the ginkgo tree branches slowly extended to my feet along with the afternoon sunlight in May.
If it were to be a winter evening, this area would be shrouded in shadows because of the walls blocking the sunlight ages ago, turning into a chilly pathway. I unmindfully imagined Hayano Tomohiko collapsed in the thick layer of snow. Though it was winter, the sleeves of his shirt were unreasonably rolled up, and it was said that there were signs of vomited blood on his chest as well.
But no matter how I imagined, the silhouette in my mind who was collapsed on the snowy ground would turn into the Student Council president Hayano Kaoruko-senpai. When I think about this, I have completely no idea what Hayano Tomohiko-senpai looked like
As for Tetsu-senpai who was squatting beside the cold body of the victim, I could clearly imagine him, but he was wearing his usual short sleeved T-shirt. How is that possible? At that time, he should be obediently wearing his school uniform as well.
I stopped imagining the scene that I never saw before, and picked up my phone to take photos of the surroundings. I sent them to Alice immediately after I finished taking them, and then I walked to the courtyard.
A glass roof reflecting the dazzling sunlight could be clearly seen at the other side of the narrow, dark courtyard, and that is the greenhouse. The day that the incident happened, Hayano Tomohiko was doing self revision there. It is said that it was snowing heavily that day, so the surroundings of the greenhouse should be pitch black as well.
Even so, a crowd of boys went there— the delinquents who used the greenhouse as their secret base, the Gardening Committee members who took Sayuri-sensei’s supplementary classes after class.
Tetsu-senpai— he was one of them as well.
With the excuse of coldness endurance training, they told Hayano Tomohiko to jog out and buy something in the falling snow, while they stayed warm in the greenhouse. Since a really long time passed, Tetsu-senpai went to the entrance of the school to have a look, and found Hayano Tomohiko collapsed at the roots of the ginkgo tree.
Hayano Tomohiko’s cardiopulmonary functions were naturally weak, and he had primary pulmonary hypertension as well; His blood pressure rose rapidly because of the sudden cold, and his symptoms worsened, causing pulmonary hemorrhage, and he died that night in the district hospital.
After collecting all the information about the incident that day and piecing them together, that was the conclusion that Alice and I formed.
The guitar melody of ‘Colorado Bulldog’ rang in my pocket.
“Did you get the photos?”
‘I received it, but there’s something strange.’ That was Alice’s answer at the other side of the phone.
“What do you mean?”
‘The location where the victim collapsed. It should be on the way to the greenhouse after passing the courtyard from the school entrance, but……’
“Is there anything strange about that?”
‘Wasn’t it so cold that it was snowing that day? Then why didn’t he just enter the school building from the school entrance, isn’t walking past the corridors to the entrance nearest to the greenhouse from the courtyard?’
I moved the phone away and checked out the school building.
That’s right. There were two entrances to the courtyard, and the one inside is very close to the greenhouse. That means, one could reach the greenhouse while avoiding the snow outside as long as he enters the school building. However……
The image that drifted into my mind at that moment made me feel a chill on my back.
“…… The person that told him to be the gofer might be the one who told him to run back in the heavy snow.”
I hoped for Alice to deny the suggestion, but she answered nonchalantly:
‘That is certainly possible. The other point is the direction of him collapsed.’
‘From the testimonies of the witnesses who saw Hayano Tomohiko collapsed, there were a few more versions besides Tetsu’s. Before the ambulance reached, actually quite a few students and teacher saw him. The advisor of your club— Kuroda Sayuri saw that as well. According to the testimonies, Tomohiko collapsed while facing the direction of the ginkgo tree, that statement is consistent.’
“…… Does that really matter?”
‘Think carefully about it by yourself. Is empty space the only thing in the middle of your eyes and ears?’
I was rather unhappy because of her saying that, and closely observed the ginkgo tree again. Since his head is facing the tree, that means his legs were pointing towards the school building or the courtyard. And he’s lying down—
“…… Does that mean he collapsed on the way outside and not after he finished buying the things?”
‘That assumption can be established. Don’t you feel that it’s strange?’
“Why? Even if he didn’t collapse when he’s coming back— ah, no, sorry. I get it, I get it.”
I realized the contradiction before Alice started to scold me, and hurriedly corrected myself:
“The timing doesn’t match, right?”
‘That is correct. Seriously, please develop the habit of sitting down and thinking carefully before saying you don’t know.’
“Okay, I’m wrong……”
According to Tetsu-senpai’s testimony, he went to the school entrance to look for Hayano Tomohiko because he came back too late. If that is true, that should happen some time after Hayano Tomohiko went out. Assuming Hayano Tomohiko collapsed before he exited the school, he should be in the heavy snow for quite some time.
Just like that, there’s a suspicious contradiction. Why wasn’t Hayano Tomohiko noticed by the other people before being found by Tetsu-senpai? Even if it’s snowing heavily that day, the place that he was collapsed at was beside the school entrance, and it was just after school, when there are the most people going out.
“Is it possible that he collapsed when he came back? Maybe something happened that caused him to collapse in that direction.”
‘What would the something happened that you spoke of refers to?’
“I have no idea……”
‘The situation that you spoke of is largely possible, because it’s just the direction that he was collapsed. Even if it’s when he came back, there might be some reason that caused him to collapse facing the school entrance. In any case, the thing that we are certain of is that something happened there. A detective cannot miss these clues, and also cannot dismiss them and forget them.’
I grunted in agreement. We must remember them no matter how little they are.
’There’s another thing that I can’t confirm here. So I wish for you to question Kuroda Sayuri about this.’
”Mnn, what is it?”
And Alice gave me an odd question that I found hard to say.
”…...Must I…… ask this?”
I think Sayuri-sensei probably doesn’t want to recall anything about Hayano Tomohiko anymore. But if I ask her this kind of question……
’If you know any other witnesses, feel free to ask them.’
That kind of person— only Tetsu-senpai is left. I get it now, there’s really no other alternative. And there’s not much time left.
Coincidentally, both sensei and Ayaka were in the greenhouse.
”Though you said that you’re going to save the Gardening Club, Fujishima-kun doesn’t join the club activities or supplementary lessons often……’
Ayaka looked rather downcast. It seemed that she was still rather concerned about our unfinished conversation because the guys from Hirasaka-gumi, Hiro-san and the others suddenly came and made trouble.
”It’s okay even if the Gardening Club disappears, I just hope you can come here everyday……”
It’s okay…… even if it disappears. My chest was painful after hearing Ayaka say that.
For who, and for what reason am I protecting the Gardening Club for? In the end I have to have a fight with Tetsu-senpai too. I suppressed the doubs in my heart and answered randomly:
”Err…… Sorry. It’s because I’m busy with my part time job.”
”But I heard that you were fired from your job at the ramen shop because of Shinozaki-san, wasn’t it?”
Sayuri-sensei picked at my wound with a smile, and told me to quickly take out a textbook and sit down. So you even talk about these things? When I’m not here……
”To be honest, if I compare Fujishima-kun with Shinozaki-san, isn’t it completely incomparable? Fujishima-kun isn’t serious, and doesn’t work, and isn’t considerate, and isn’t serious……” She actually said that I’m not serious twice!
”Erm…… Min-san probably saw Fujishima-san’s strong points, right?”
Ayaka hurriedly explained for me.
”Is that so……? For example?”
”W- well…… For example, you would help to taste the new products even if you’re already full, saying honestly that it’s bad even though you know you’re going to get beaten up, and you would take the initiative to try the taste even if Min-san didn’t ask you to.”
”Fujishima-kun, aren’t you an employee? Why did you just taste the products?” Sensei interjected.
”Of course it’s not just that!” If you’re helping me like that, it’s better if you don’t speak……
I weakly sat on the seat beside Ayaka, nearly forgetting the reason that I came here for.
”Actually, it’s my other job that I’m busy with.”
”Oh? So you actually have two part time jobs? It’s no wonder your grades were so bad. What’s your other job about?”
”Well……” I really feel lazy to explain……
”An assistant detective, right?” Ayaka added while looking at my face.
Sayuri-sensei widened her eyes in surprise. I think this is a rather natural response.
”Wait a minute, it wouldn’t be dangerous work, would it? Like searching for missing people, catching adulterers in the act and the likes?”
”Ah, that’s not it……” I see, so the impression of most people on detectives is like that? “We don’t accept cases like that, and I’m really just doing odd jobs there.”
”It’s a dangerous job. He often gets hurt.”
Ayaka said grumpily, while I hastily interjected to prevent her from continuing:
”That means, the detective would investigate a lot of cases through the internet, but there are some cases when we must go to the scene to investigate, and those are what I’m usually doing.”
”For example, what case do you investigate?” Sayuri-sensei tilted her head in puzzlement.
There’s no other choice, since the topic is on this now…… I gulped and continued:
”Now…… we’re investigating the incident on that snowy day. The case about Hayano Tomohiko-senpai……”
Sayuri-sensei’s expression didn’t undergo drastic changes this time, it’s just that her expression was rather unnatural, and she bit her lips lightly.
”The detective told me to ask you something. Sensei, you probably saw Hayano Tomohiko at the scene, right? Before the ambulance came.”
When sensei nodded lightly in confirmation, I continued to inquire:
”Then please think back on the situation that time, was there any signs of bleeding at the spot where the victim was collapsed?”
I noticed a queasy expression on Ayaka’s face, while sensei’s expression was pale as snow.
”Well….. Mnn…… Probably not…… Because it was snowing heavily that time, so we would have noticed if there was blood on the ground. But why are you asking about that?”
Sensei’s answer sounded like she was mumbling to herself, while a chill came on my back because of her answer.
No signs of blood? Hayano Tomohiko should have vomited blood that time.
This might be a point that had been overlooked, because the snow that kept falling buried the signs of blood. That would mean Alice predicted that I would get this answer even before this. I finally understood what she wanted to express.
What— does this mean?
”Why are you investigating this? Quite a few passed now.”
Sensei looked like a withered flower when she was asking me that.
”…… I remember that I told you about the matter that the Gardening Club is going to be abolished, right?”
I glanced at sensei and Ayaka.
”The Gardening Club is actually a rather odd club, and was forcibly founded by a member of the Inspection called Minagawa Kengo in a short time. It’s obviously a small club, but its budget isn’t small, and it requires a large maintenance fee, and that’s why the Student Council is trying to solve this problem. But if there was a reasonable reason when it was founded……”
”Minagawa-kun? Does it refer to that Minagawa-kun?”
”Sensei taught them in supplementary classes before this, right?”
”That’s right…… But the supplementary lessons had to stop after that, while Minagawa-kun repeated the year and then left school…… Though I’m not sure what he’s doing right now, I still know how to contact him. Why don’t you just ask Minagawa-kun directly? Why are you doing so much to ask me about Hayano-kun?”
Just at that moment, I noticed that Ayaka’s condition started to be unstable. Whenever she hears the word Minagawa, her shoulders would tremble. But I must still tell sensei the truth……
”Minagawa-senpai…… He already passed away…… Because of the drug incident last winter.”
Sensei covered her mouth with both her hands.
”How can this be……”
”But I think there’s definitely a link between this— about the incident on the snowy day and the reason for the establishment of the Gardening Club. That’s why I must know about Hayano-senpai and Minagawa-senpai.”
And about Tetsu-senpai as well……
Even if I have to hurt the living to speak for the dead, I have to get this clear.
A voice suddenly came from beside us, it was Ayaka. She stared at thin air, her half-open mouth breathing in and out lifelessly.
”Ayaka…… What’s wrong with you?”
”Minagawa…… Mnn, mnn, it’s nothing…… No……”
Perhaps she knows him? Does Ayaka know Minagawa Kengo? I suddenly recalled how Ayaka looked like when she suddenly collapsed after looking at the monitor in Alice’s room. I thought that it was because she had a bad memory about ‘Angel Fix’ at the time, but there’s actually another possibility, which is Minagawa Kengo’s name.
”Do you know Minagawa Kengo?”
Ayaka covered her ears and shook her head violently in denial. That’s right, even if Ayaka hasn’t lost her memory, it’s impossible that she knows him. That’s because Minagawa Kengo was in the same year as Tetsu-senpai, so he should be about six years older than us. Besides, he left school already, so it’s impossible that he could stay at school along with Ayaka. However—
”Ayaka, please tell me if you know!”
I grabbed Ayaka’s shoulders and started to shake her violently.
”I- I don’t know! Don’t know! I can’t remember……”
”Please, remember it—“
”Fujishima-kun, please stop that!”
Suddenly the piercing metallic sound of a chair being overturned rang through the whole greenhouse, while I kneeled on the ground. Sayuri-sensei was glaring viciously at me with her whole face reddened. Sensei squeezed between Ayaka and I, forcing us apart. When I realized that, regret started to well up in my heart as well.
What— did I do to Ayaka just now?
”It’s okay if you want to play detective, but please think while putting yourself in Shinozaki-san’s shoes.”
Sensei squatted beside me, saying in a tone that’s so gentle that it’s somewhat cruel. At the other side, Ayaka stared at me while being separated by sensei, trembling while supporting herself on the table.
”If you want to apologize, please say it to Shinozaki-san.”
While avoiding Sayuri-sensei’s gaze, I stood up.
”Ayaka, Sorry, I’m……”
”I- it’s okay, I’m the one who feels sorry. Not remembering anything, and I kept bringing trouble to Fujishima-kun……”
”There’s no such thing. It isn’t like that, erm, well……”
I heard my own voice, but it was empty. Harming the people who are still alive just to protect the deceased’s name— just as Alice said. I don’t have that resolution, but I kept harming Ayaka repeatedly……
Sensei gently placed her hands on Ayaka’s shoulders, speaking quietly in her ears. I really couldn’t bear to look on, so I scarpered from the greenhouse after picking up my bag on the floor. As I was about to walk to the school entrance through the courtyard, I noticed a silhouette at a corner of the greenhouse, where the flower racks formed a blind spot. The person seemed to have noticed me as well, and hurriedly left the greenhouse.
After I met the person’s gaze, I realized that she was Kaoruko-senpai.
Seeing me being dazed, senpai sighed, as though she gave up on something.
”I didn’t eavesdrop on your conversation deliberately……”
So she heard all of it…… But from when?
”Are you still investigating this meaningless thing? Please don’t investigate Tomohiko because of your personal interest, okay?”
It wasn’t hard to see how sad she was from Kaoruko-senpai’s expression. To search for Hayano Tomohiko’s forgotten words, how many people must Alice and I continue to harm?
“I’m not doing this because of personal intere……”
“Sayuri-sensei seems to be inside as well. I wanted to ask you to hurry up and tidy up the greenhouse, but since it looked like you’re busy inside, I’m telling you here. Please don’t drag things on anymore! The general meeting is on next week, while the effective date of the resolution is on next month!”
As I was thinking of how to answer her, Kaoruko-senpai turned around and walked away to the direction of the school buildings. I hurriedly chased her and said:
“P- please wait for a minute! Things haven’t been decided yet, have they?”
”Listen, the club president meetings passed the resolution, so it’s useless no matter how hard you and Kousaka work. Most of the clubs will agree with this during the plenary meeting.”
Without even turning around, Kaoruko-senpai answered me coolly.
When I blurted out the name, Kaoruko-senpai finally stopped, standing at the corner of the ladder at the west side of the school building.
”Didn’t die from being tormented…… by Tetsu-senpai and the members of the Gardening Committee.”
Kaoruko-senpai turned around. Her long hair swayed because of her movement like a pleated skirt, while the piercing radiance of the desert sun shone in her eyes.
”What are you talking about?”
I’m not sure, actually. Even Alice haven’t grasped the truth, so of course I’m not certain about this as well. But there is a lava hot truth that hasn’t cooled down into facts in my heart— Tetsu-senpai is definitely not a person who would do this kind of thing. If so, that means that someone in the case that we’re discussing about is lying.
”Then why would Tomohiko—“
”I don’t know yet.”
With her eyes widened, Kaoruko-senpai heaved a long sigh.
”Is there something wrong with your brain?”
That might be the case, it’s not strange even if people think that there’s something wrong with my brain.
”I’m investigating about this. Senpai might not be able to forgive the Gardening Club, but the person who founded the Gardening Club might have his reasons……”
”That’s irrelevant to this!”
After shouting that unconsciously, Kaoruko-senpai clenched her hands and bit her lips, trying hard to refrain her emotions that could explode at any time.
”Are you an idiot? I’m not abolishing the Gardening Club because of this kind of reason. Isn’t Tomohiko irrelevant to this matter……?” Senpai’s voice trembled slightly, and it was evident that she was lying. “I don’t know what you misunderstood, but that’s not my own decision. The teachers were talking about removing the greenhouse as well, while the General Executive division was diligently preparing to take care of these foamy clubs all along. It’s too late no matter how much you investigate, so that’s why I told you to prepare to clear away your stuff.”
Among senpai’s last few words, I could feel the pity and sorrow in her voice. But seeing me continue to look at her unhesitatingly, senpai flung her hair again, turned around and left.
It’s too late no matter how much you investigate…… Irrelevant to this matter…… Useless no matter what you do……
It really might be so. No, it’s probably like that now. I remember that Alice once said that I would think of something about Kaoruko-senpai wanting to abolish the Gardening Club. In the current stage, I haven’t done anything yet. Then what am I running here and there for? Even hurting Ayaka, and having to brawl with Tetsu-senpai……
I think this is probably because— because of the uneasiness for the place that I want to protect. Because I don’t even know why I want to protect it. Is the Gardening Club really a place that I should protect even though I have to dig out secrets from other people’s graves? I want to be certain about this.
Because there’s Ayaka and I. Is this reason not enough? I asked and answered myself, so the answer was revealed immediately. If I could continue my battle with just this reason, Ayaka and I wouldn’t turn out like this now. It’s the same for Alice. If things can resolve themselves, unresistingly accepting everything on this word, she wouldn’t need to shut herself in that cold room full of dolls.
And that’s the reason that we continue to be detectives.
”Does Ayaka know Minagawa Kengo?”
Even Alice was surprised by my statement. She sat on the bed in the office that was always had the air conditioning on, holding a can of Dr. Pepper while turning around to look at me with her eyes widened.
”…… It isn’t certain that things are like that.”
”Oh, I see, indeed— there is a possibility.” Alice hugged a smaller sized bear while staring at thin air.
”But it seems that Ayaka doesn’t remember it…… And he’s a person who dropped out too.”
”He’s an ex-member of the Gardening Club, so it’s possible that he got to know Ayaka by going back to school for a few times.”
”That’s not wrong, but……”
I sat in front of the bed, hugging my knees while staring at my toes.
I couldn’t just ask Ayaka about that, because Minagawa Kengo’s name might just be linked to her past memories.
I raised my head and observed Alice’s expression stealthily. She might just tell me ‘If you’re still a detective, then you should mercilessly dig out Ayaka’s thoughts hidden in her heart’…… Probably?
”That’s right, usually I would probably have no choice but to say that.”
Alice smiled in self-deprecation.
”But I don’t want to see Ayaka like that anymore. When you aren’t here in the room recently, I kept thinking in my room. Before being a NEET, before having the identity of a detective, being able to play a certain role should be a great thing, right?”
”…… A certain role?”
”That’s right, a certain role for other people. Tetsu, Major, and Hiro could be said as companions, Yondaime could be said as a brother, while most of the people in this world would probably be said as friends. This is a relationship that can only exist between a person and another, or that might be what we call ‘human’, right?”
The smile on Alice’s face at that moment looked as enigmatic as the morning fog. I could only feel a pain on my chest, and I couldn’t say it though I wanted to speak something.
”As for what Ayaka is thinking of, it has already sank into the sands at the depths of the river, nobody could know that. But I am afraid that digging it out again would hurt Ayaka, so I plan to just let it be sunk…… That way, I can still hire you with a dirt-cheap price. Do you still remember the employment contract?”
Alice leaned her face on her bent knees, smiling happily with her head tilted. Though Alice confused me by suddenly saying that, I remembered my previous lesson, and thought before I questioned her.
”…… Ah, ahhh, mnn.”
I remembered it. Didn’t I suggest that myself?
Last winter, it happened during the Angel Fix incident. Alice’s aim was not to expose the truth of the situation, and was not to exterminate an organization that creates drugs, but for Ayaka. Why did Ayaka jump down from the top of the building? Only that suspicious point confused the NEET detective who claimed to be able to see through everything while being in her room.
The end of our contract was until ‘the mystery was solved’.
Since Ayaka hasn’t recovered her memories yet, the answer that Alice found was not confirmed by Ayaka, so that’s why I’m continuing to be her assistant detective— things should be like that in name.
”Besides, Minagawa Kengo’s trails could be located from other places.”
”You can’t do anything about this matter. I will ask Yondaime to help. It might proceed unsuccessfully, and it might even completely overthrow the hypothesis that I suggested just now in the worst cases, so I can’t tell you about this yet.”
”…… I understand.”
The detective already said that she ‘can’t tell me right now’, so that means she absolutely wouldn’t tell me anything. This is also a basic principle that I as her assistant detective must carve in my heart.
”So it’s okay if you just do what you’re supposed to do.”
”Er…… Is there anything that I must investigate?”
I’ve already told her about the contents of the conversation between Sayuri-sensei and I, though she just nodded with an expression that looked as though she knew it long ago……
”What are you talking about? Don’t you have to meet Hiro? Why don’t you hurry ang go?”
”Ah, that matter……” I recalled our promise, and felt rather depressed all of a sudden.
”What do you mean by ‘that matter’!?” Alice suddenly shouted while kneeling on her bed. “Isn’t that about your own body!? What’s with your dazed look? Do you think you’re listening to news about a disaster that happened at the other side of the globe!”
”Nothing really, sorry…… I’ll go right away.”
I stood up and walked towards the entrance.
”I am supremely uninterested whether you win or lose. But you have to remember this, you’re my assistant detective. That means every piece of fingernail, every fragment of hair, and every drop of blood of yours are my tools! If you have the audacity to let them get hurt, I won’t forgive you!”
Alice’s blazing flames of fury was directed at my back, and I could only walk out of the office while sighing.
The places that provide sexual services usually starts work at late night, so I originally thought that they only opened at night. But I’ve heard that most of these shops usually start business ten in the morning, and there are even women who work in the morning. On the other hand, the closing time is limited by the laws related to hotels, and they claim to the public that they open till midnight, but they actually open till five in the morning or so.
The soapland that called me to in the phone was at the corner area of the end of the hotel streets after walking all the way to the end of the main streets. Since it was already in the evening, there were quite a lot of customers inside. I hesitated for almost fifteen minutes on the road, and finally went to the back door in the end.
Hiro-san said this in the phone: ‘To win Tetsu, you have to undergo special training from today! I prepared a lot of secret stratagems, and along with Major’s help, you’re sure to win!’
Why must he choose to train at the soapland? I really don’t get it…… Stepping into the corridors in the shop, I saw two bags stuffed so full of towels that they were almost as tall as me, while there was a metal door that had almost all of its paint faded. I pushed it open.
”Erm…… Sorry for disturbing.”
The laughter of a lot of girls came from further inside the right corridors with the odor of chlorine drifting in the air, and there was also a familiar voice among them.
”Ah, ah, ah, sorry, I think he’s here. I’ll go take a look.”
A slim, thin man appeared in the corridor, a smile on his face. It was Hiro-san! My uneasy heart finally settled down, and I heaved a long sigh.
”Welcome, Narumi-kun. Hurry up, get in and close the door.”
With a smile on his face, Hiro-san waved to me, while a crowd of bubble princesses (the employees) poked their heads out of the room behind him to stare at me, making me feel rather embarrassed for a moment.
”Erm…… Why did you ask me out to a place like this?”
”Didn’t I tell you that you’re having special training? Wait a minute, I’ll call the shop owner.”
The shop owner is an okama. It’s unmistakable, he’s a classic okama who makes people feel like framing him and sending him away for appraisal, and he’s a muscular guy as well. His chest was so muscular that it almost burst the shirt he was wearing and shot the buttons on his black vest away.
”So you’re Hiro-kun’s friend? You’re so cute~” The muscled male shop owner observed me from head to foot, causing cold sweat to break out from my whole body. “Kid, remove your tie and your blazer and keep it somewhere. The police might come if someone sees a high school student in the shop. If something like that really happens, remember to say that you’re my brother.”
What a strange situation. I was really unwilling to stay even one second more in a place like this, but I could only take off my blazer unwillingly.
”If you’re willing to, it’s okay if you take off your shirt and your trousers as well.”
”Oh, no no no no no.”
His smile is so scaryyyyyyyyyyyy! I frantically shook my head until my neck almost broke off.
So the special training that Hiro-san spoke of was actually a normal cleanup of the bathroom.
”Listen, the basics of boxing is in guarding. Though that’s what Tetsu told me as well……”
Hiro-san explained at the entrance.
”So you must overcome something first, and that’s the pain when you’re blocking the opponent’s attack with your hands. To fight is to compare whose inner heart is tougher, so you must be used to the pain first. Even so, letting you join a real battle training all of a sudden is too hard, so it’s better if you start from cleaning up the bathroom.”
And then Hiro-san forced a long handled brush, a sponge brush and other cleaning equipment into my hands.
”I can’t comprehend this at all!”
”That’s why, I’m going to turn off the cold water in this bathroom from now, and you’ll have to clean up with only hot water. Your hands would redden a lot, but if you get used to it……”
”I don’t want to! Have mercy!”
But Hiro-san slammed the door shut in my face, and stood at the other side of the matte glass.
”Also, the bathroom is quite slippery because of lubricants and so on, so if you can walk on it without falling down, you can train your feet or movement as well….. probably?”
Is he kidding? Is it really true? And didn’t he just say ‘probably’ just now?
”C- can this really achieve the effect of practice!?”
”Not really, most of what I just said was a joke.”
”I’m going back, please open the door! Now, immediately!” I used the long handled brush to hammer the door.
”Calm down a bit. Cleaning this place up is actually your learning fee, the main point is…… You saw the shop owner just now right? He’s a boxer before this as well, so I asked him to be your practice opponent.”
The brushes and detergents slipped from my hands and fell onto the tiled floor.
”Just treat the cleaning up as a warm up! I’m counting on you.”
The size of the bathroom was about two times larger than my bedroom, so it’s quite tiring having to clean it up. Since it was linked with the bedroom, instead of saying that it’s just a bathroom, it’s more like a hotel room with an extra large bathroom. There was a large pad dirtied by a sticky unknown substance in the bathroom, and also an oddly shaped chair that sank down in the middle. When I cleaned up these things with hot water, a question suddenly surfaced in my heart— where did my life go wrong?
I originally thought that I only had to clean up one, but I was dragged away to clean three more. Judging from the smells, heat and water vapor filling the bathrooms, it’s unmistakable, a couple probably did something in this space two minutes before I came in to clean up! I suddenly thought seriously that I should just go die.
The final fatal strike happened when I was cleaning the third bathroom, and the shop owner suddenly appeared. He wore boxing shorts with a sports vest that faintly showed his hairy chest, while boxing gloves were on his hands. The shop owner threw similar gloves and shorts to me while saying:
”Kiddy, hurry up and change your clothes! Do you know how to wear the knee pads? Do you need me to help you?”
Hiro-san, don’t just laugh secretly while standing at the entrance! Hurry up and save me! And why must we battle in the bathroom!?
”Because there’s a large mat in here, so it’s safer even if you fall down.”
”That’s right, I will think of ways to make you fall down many times~!” The shop owner said while winking at me, making me feel defeated even though I haven’t started fighting yet.
It was about six in the evening when I was exhaustedly thrown out of the back door to the street full of neon lights. Hiro-san who walked out with me patted my shoulders while saying:
”Find me about this time this whole week.”
”Do you want me to die!”
”If you don’t have the resolution to kill, you would not be able to win against Tetsu.”
I sighed for the umpteenth time that day, and followed Hiro-san closely on the pavement. Since my eye swelled up because of being punched, the lights on the street looked rather foggy.
”Narumi-kun, didn’t you ask Tetsu to teach you boxing before this? If the disciple tries only in areas that the master taught, then he would never be able to defeat him. That’s why I feel that the shop owner there is the most suitable, and he even agreed to my unreasonable request.”
Though Hiro-san’s thoughts touched me so much that I almost cried, is he really okay? Was he asked by the shop owner to marry him?
”Hey, if there’s anything else that I can help out with, just say it. You know it as well, since we told Alice that we wouldn’t help out this time, we’re super free right now.”
Hiro-san might have tried to show an ironic smile, but because of his face, it had a hint of kindness in it no matter how hard he tried.
”Apart from Tetsu’s matter— I want to do all I can for Ayaka as well.”
I weakly nodded to Hiro-san in gratitude.
But there’s nothing that I have to ask him for now. That’s because I haven’t decided what to do yet.
”Is it possible that you haven’t decided yet?”
Being asked by Hiro-san again, I really didn’t know what to answer. I could only shut my mouth, following the crowd down the slope to the station.
”…… Narumi-kun, do you like gardening?”
Hiro-san asked me while we were walking through the underpass.
”Eh? No…… It’s still okay, I don’t like it particularly much.”
”Though you say that, you still stayed in the Gardening Club for quite some time, right?”
“Mnn?” That’s because the club would be closed down if I leave.
”If the Gardening Club is abolished, would you feel troubled?”
I swallowed the words that I originally wanted to say. That was a question that I have been setting aside.
Ayaka once said that I really don’t need to fight with Tetsu-senpai if it’s just to protect the scenes of the past so that she could recover her memories, and she said that she would use her own power to work hard and recover her memories, and so she wishes that I wouldn’t do such dangerous things anymore.
That was what I thought at the start— I thought that I tried with all my effort to protect the place that only belonged to us so that Ayaka would remember her memories. Until Ayaka said that, I finally understood that things weren’t so. Working hard so that Ayaka would remember me would be too stupid.
That’s because Ayaka is already back, and is by my side right now.
As for the memories of the past— what does that matter?
”Because when Ayaka is at school…… It seems like she’s only happy in the Gardening Club.”
I finally answered in a low voice in the crowd, while Hiro-san nodded while smiling.
”So you’re doing this completely because of Ayaka, right? It’s not for yourself.”
That’s right. The reason is actually just that simple.
Ayaka looked really happy when she’s taking care of the flowers. Even if she lost her memories now, she would smile naturally when she was picking seeds and pruning the plants. That’s why I want to protect the flowers in the flowerbeds and the greenhouse, and Ayaka who was among them. That was why I wanted to fight Tetsu-senpai as well.
I finally understood now— understanding what the thing that I wanted to protect is.
I actually found out only now……
I suddenly stopped walking when we were at the center of the zebra crossings. Hiro-san hurriedly rushed bag and grabbed my hand after realizing that.
”Narumi-kun, what’s wrong? The lights are turning red soon!”
”…… Eh? Ah, th- that’s right, sorry……”
I felt a blast of wind on my back because of the passing cars when I was walking past the road. I drew out my emotions just now with my fingers again.
Kaoruko-senpai and the other large clubs wanted to abolish the Gardening Club, which had a small structure but used a large budget, while I wanted to protect the flowers and Ayaka.
If that’s so…… There’s actually a way that the club could continue while not going against the Student Council.
Wait…… Could that really work? Or is it more realistic to look for Kaoruko-senpai directly and ask her to revoke her suggestion of the amendment of the rules?
As I hesitated about the answer, the lights on the ‘Hanamaru Ramen’ signboard could already be seen in front of us.
”This program is called the ‘Boxer in a Week using Arm Casts’, a software that I programmed called ‘Wii Tetsu’. It’s a game that can be used with boxing glove sensors. With this game, the boxing game in Wii Sports is far inferior to this, because you can battle Tetsu-san at home.”
Major started to stack a pile of stuff on the wooden stand behind the kitchen backdoor.
”…… Why can you make the software of a Wii game?”
”I know quite a lot of people working at game companies. The toolkit for making Wii games is really easy to use but quite useful.”
Then why don’t you just go work at a games company……?
”The word ‘work’ does not exist in my dictionary. What does that mean, actually?”
”Okay, okay……” I could only sigh because of his answer.
”Major, isn’t this thing a bit tight? Could you really wear this?”
Hiro-san pointed at the arm cast— the thing that looked more like some straps entangled with strong springs, while saying.
”It’s hard to put on or take off if two people aren’t helping. Hiro-san, please help out with this. Vice Admiral Fujishima, hurry up and take off your coat.”
”I don’t want to!”
In the end I was pressed down by the two who had completely entered training mode, and was forced to wear the arm cast without wearing anything on my upper torso. The stranger thing was, there was even a part used for the lower body (Since I can’t just take off all my clothes, they put it directly outside my slacks) The spring pinched my flesh, it hurts!
”This cast is really excellent, it could pull you up forcibly even if you’re knocked down by the opponent, making a pre-battle stance. Since it’s still in the experimental stage, please be the guinea pig, Vice Admiral Fujishima.”
”Don’t play around with other people’s body!”
”Heh! This thing is actually quite fun!” Hiro-san said while pounding my shoulder. At the instant when I almost fell, the springs on the cast started to take action, changing my body back to a battle stance without my permission. I feel that my muscles are screaming for help…
Major and Hiro-san turned their heads over after hearing the voice, and saw Ayaka standing at the end of the alley, poking her head inside hesitantly.
”Ah…… Is the supplementary lesson over? Was sensei angry? Because I left without permission……”
”She said that she’ll give you twice the homework tomorrow. W- what’s wrong with you!? Your face is swollen again……”
”Ah— it’s okay, this is just a slight boxing practice. Ayaka, you’re here to see Narumi-kun’s majestic stance as well?”
Since it was hard for her to refuse Hiro-san’s enthusiastic invitation, Ayaka walked cautiously into the small alley.
”Erm…… Well…… Just now—“
”I’m really sorry for just now.”
”It’s fine, I’m the one who’s at fault, I’m really sorry.”
”Narumi-kun, sorry for interrupting when you’re discussing things, apologizing with your current stance looks really dumb.”
”So that’s why I’m asking you to hurry up and take it off!”
After having a closer look, I noticed that Ayaka was trying hard not to laugh as well. Sigh, I really feel like crying……
”Erm….. What are you guys doing?” Ayaka asked Major.
”We’re doing special training for Vice Admiral Fujishima. We’re using the power of science to obtain victory!”
The kitchen backdoor suddenly opened, while Min-san poked her head out of it.
”Don’t you guys keep harassing Ayaka, hurry up and scram! Narumi, you’re not an employee anymore, so—“
Seeing my hands with the boxing gloves on it raised to my chin, (appearing to be) full of confidence, Min-san couldn’t help but furrow her brows.
”Narumi? What is it, do you want to have a fight?”
”Ah, no, that’s not it……”
My words were completely ignored, and I was pummeled to the floor. Even so, Major’s gadget was really effective. I stood up again with my hands raised and a pre-battle stance.
”What’s with your resisting attitude! Perhaps you’re bearing a grudge on me because I fired you?”
”Ah, no, it’s because of the gadget……” “Shut up!”
And I was covered in dust and soil once again, but was pulled back because of the spring.
”Your tenacity is quite good. I’ll beat you up until you can’t stand up anymore!”
”I’m telling you that It’s because of the gadget……”
After she finished beating me around like a tumbler(?), she brought Ayaka back into the kitchen.
I was really badly beaten up. At the instant when I was about to lose consciousness but still stood up in a battle stance majestically, Major muttered to himself in self-satisfaction:
”I’m really too excellent. You can just wear this thing the whole week!”
Are you insane!? Take it off! Please help me take it off! I’m begging you guys……!
It was quite late when Tetsu-senpai came to the shop, it was about nine or so.
”Master, can you give me some shaved ice?” Senpai poked his head into the shop after pushing away the portiere.
”You’re not eating ramen?”
”I’m on a diet.”
Senpai walked to out of the kitchen backdoor, sitting right in front of me.
”Can you eat ice even when you’re dieting?” Major asked.
”Shaved ice is the secret weapon when you’re on a diet, don’t you know that? It can hydrate you, and it easily makes people feel full because of the sugar.”
”Heh, so that means you can eat it when you’re on a diet? I’m going to tell the girls next time.” Hiro-san answered.
Nobody asked senpai for the reason that he’s dieting, because there’s really nothing to ask. Even so……
”Erm…... Is that for boxing?” I asked in uneasiness.
”I don’t really mind the weight. I just feel that my movements will turn slow if my weight doesn’t decrease.”
Please don’t let his movement become even faster than now……
”By the way, what is this thing?”
Tetsu-senpai looked at the gadget on the wooden stand while asking.
”Fufufu, I can’t sell out information to the enemy, I can only say that this is a secret weapon for Vice Admiral Fujishima to defeat Tetsu-san after a weak.”
You’ve already told him some information……
”Hmph, is that so. This is probably for muscle training, right? Oh, those things that you put on your limbs.”
”Tetsu, you can’t wear that alon—“
Hiro-san’s voice diminished as he saw Tetsu-senpai pulling away the spring easily, putting it on his upper torso.
”This thing is quite tight.” Though he said that, Tetsu-senpai made a banzai pose, then stretched out his hands, dumbfounding the three of us. Even worse, senpai wasn’t even a bit affected by the cast on him, eating the almond shaved ice that Ayaka took out like nothing happened.
And he even took it off himself, placing it on the wooden stand in the end. At that moment, Major suddenly stood up and shouted: “I must increase the strength of the spring fifteen times more!” while I frantically stopped him.
”That’s right, Narumi, when are you planning to fight?”
I couldn’t answer. When am I able to defeat him? I should say, can I really defeat him?
I have no other choice but to defeat him, but there’s no more time now.
”How about next week?” Hiro-san answered for me. “We’ll decide the place as well.”
”I don’t really care. What about you, Narumi?”
I nodded after thinking for awhile. The Student Council meeting is on next Friday, so many things would end if I don’t win by Monday.
”By the way, what would happen if Narumi-kun wins?” Hiro-san stared at my face.
If I win—
”…… That would prove Tetsu-senpai’s innocence.”
”See? I have no idea what this guy is talking about.”
”Really? I understand that just fine.”
The three of them laughed together after looking at each other. Being able to laugh at this time is also their strong points. I couldn’t laugh at all……
Unusually, I stayed until the closing time of the ramen shop as well, so I took Ayaka to the station.
”If there’s not a reasonable explanation, I’ll be angry.”
As usual, Ayaka walked at a position about three steps in front of me, asking me while walking backwards.
”Why must you fight Tetsu-san? I heard that he was a boxer in the past. Fujishima-san, you’re just an indoors-type who would pant even when you move a bucket, isn’t that right? You might not get off the hook with just some injuries……”
”Not really, it isn’t really a fight……”
Then what is it? It’s really hard to explain.
”Don’t just brush it past like this, please tell me the true reason!”
Ayaka looked as though she was going to cry, so I could only stop, sigh and gulp.
I’ll just start from the beginning.
”Do you remember the matter about the Student Council that I’ve mentioned before?”
Ayaka nodded while walking backwards.
”Hayano Tomohiko-senpai— the incident of the death of the Student Council president’s brother, that’s the reason for the Gardening Committee’s abolishment. Because Tetsu-senpai and a few others abused Hayano Tomohiko, he died.”
Ayaka supported herself on the railings while standing in the lights of the streetlights, staring at me.
”Actually, the ones who forced the opening of the Gardening Club was the people who bullied Hayano-senpai…… The Student Council and the others think that these people must have an unspeakable reason for the founding of the club, but……”
Someone must have lied in the process. That was what I believed.
At least, Tetsu-senpai is definitely not a person who would do these kind of things.
”I’m thinking— to senpai, there might be a truth that he couldn’t tell anyone. It was on the day of the incident……”
To senpai, that might be a serious blunder that he couldn’t forgive himself for even if he dropped out.
”But I still wish to know the reason that the Gardening Club was forcibly founded. If this reason is reasonable, then I would talk things out with the Student Council president no matter what, and ask her not to abolish the club.”
”Why must you do this?”
Why? You’re asking me why?
If it was Alice, she would probably answer like this: Because I’m a detective, and I’ve accepted a request.
Then, how should I answer as an assistant detective?
I stood outside the range of the rays given out by the streetlights, silently accepting Ayaka’s gaze, and said:
”Actually…… I have absolutely no interest in the activities of the Gardening Club, and I didn’t even go to take care of the flowerbeds during the spring break; and I’m even clueless about the structure of a greenhouse, not even touching it. However……”
I recalled the promise that I made to Ayaka on the rooftop that day. It had been sealed, and I’ve only went there once since then.
”I’ve promised this to Ayaka, though you probably don’t remember this. We promised each other to join each other’s club— the Computer Club where only I was left and the Gardening Club where only Ayaka was left— so that we would not lose the place that we support ourselves on.”
Ayaka bit her lips while closing her eyes and shook her head.
”…… I’m sorry.”
Ayaka stood on her original spot while using her hands to hug her own body.
”Was I the one who suggested that first?”
”Yeah— ah, but it’s okay if you don’t remember it. I don’t mean that. To me, going to the computer club or not doesn’t matter now, but I still continued the activities of the Gardening Club. Because you looked happy when you taught me things.”
”Don’t you like taking care of flowers?”
The long wait made people think that the sky is getting breaker. Ayaka finally nodded lightly after hesitating for a long time, and I finally sighed in relief. This is the most important reason. I finally realized that when Hiro-san asked.
”If that’s so, then let’s go on. I’ll think of a way to let the club continue to exist.”
”You’re…… going to fight Tetsu-san because of this reason?”
That’s right. I’m going to fight Tetsu-senpai because of this.
”But…… It’s just for my interest. Just for such a small matter……”
”That’s not a small matter. If there aren’t any flowers in the school, it would probably be very lonely.
”Even so, there’s only two members in our club, and it’ll still be—“
I stuffed my hand into my pocket, taking out the object in it and handed it to Ayaka to prevent her from continuing.
Ayaka’s expression was as surprised as it was on a certain day. She took the thing and opened it. A black armband with an orange logo printed on it. The letter in C was G, the innermost one was a circled M.
Of course Ayaka doesn’t remember that, but it doesn’t matter. The meaning of me handing this to her is different from before, after all. And then, I continued to take out a few more similar armbands from my pocket.
”The armband of the Gardening Club, that’s Ayaka’s. And there’s a lot more too. We’ll look for more members after this, but if the flowerbeds and the greenhouse are gone, we can’t recruit more members then.”
Ayaka stared at the pieces of black cloths in my hands, and pressed her own armband to her chest. With her eyes closed, it seemed as though she was holding back tears, and also like she was trying to think of something to answer.
”…… W- why?”
Ayaka asked with her head lowered.
”Why…… are you doing so much for me? B- because, I just can’t remember things about you……”
The words that she said froze in the air, gradually dropping onto the dark asphalt road.
”But when I tried to remember, it felt like I was going to remember something just now…… I probably know this person called Minagawa. He’s…… an ex-member from the Gardening Club, right? With a square face and sleek eyes……”
She indeed knows Minagawa. However—
”Ayaka, just forget about it. Don’t worry about this anymore.”
”But whenever I try to think of it, it’s like there’s a huge black hole in my heart. I felt like looking inside, but I’m afraid of being sucked inside…… So scared, I’m so scared. Even with my back to it, I’m still scared…… I don’t know why, but I actually did such a thing, actually…… Jumping from the building…… but…….”
”Don’t say anymore! It doesn’t matter now, I don’t want you to remember anything……”
”Then…… Then, what whould I do?”
Ayaka said to me with tears glistening in her eyes:
”I- I kept saying cruel things to you—“
”No. You didn’t do anything bad.”
Didn’t you get healthy again and come back to see me?
It’s already enough for me. It’s really enough— but why did it make her show such a sorrowful expression? I don’t know what to do as well……
It felt as though I should say something more. But at that moment, the noisy sounds of an exhaust and sounds of pebbles being crushed came from my back with a strong light.
The bus drove past our sides. Ayaka looked at its silhouette with tears in her eyes, and ran towards the sign of the bus stop ten meters or so in front of us. In the process, she turned around to look at me for a few times, but I did not continue to speak to her.
When I went to school the next day, I immediately walked to the greenhouse. The matter that Alice asked me to help out in her message— she originally wanted me to investigate the manufacturer of the greenhouse and the model, but I couldn’t find the information anywhere. I wanted to ask at the staff’s office, but I really didn’t know who to ask, so I could only wait in front of the entrance. Finally, I could only look for Kousaka-senpai at the Inspection’s office to ask for her help. In the end, I didn’t even have any time to see Ayaka.
After class, I immediately rushed to the building where Hanamaru Ramen was at.
As I was about to open the door to the office, the sound of conversation between two people came from inside.
”…… This is obviously a gift from playing pachinko, how could it be sewn tightly?”
”But….. I never thought that its eyes would drop out just one time after I hugged it!”
Alice hugged her blanket on her bed, looking like she was going to cry, while Yondaime in a crimson coat was in front of her. The object that was on the knee of the young yakuza was the kitten doll that Tetsu-senpai gave Alice, while the button that was his eye was about to drop off.
At the instant when he noticed me entering the room, Yondaime widened his eyes and sewed on the button with lightning speed, then pushed the doll back to Alice, stuffing his portable sewing kit back into his pockets immediately.
”Why didn’t you press the doorbell before you entered!”
”S- sorry, I didn’t think that Yondaime would be here.”
It seems that I’ve been going in and out of the office as I like recently, but when I think closer about this, this is actually a girl’s room…… Mostly.
”As Patronius almost lost its sight, I asked Yondaime to come over. Thank you for saving my new friend. Thank you very much.”
Alice hugged the kitten doll while smiling gently. After a ‘Hmph!’, Yondaime stood up and leaned on the wall at the entrance of the bedroom.
”I helped out about that voluntarily. But don’t forget the true jobs of you and I.”
”I know. For your help, I will repay it by transferring some money to your account. This is a thread that we can’t follow without your help after all.”
”Did you find out about something?” I interjected.
”We found out a bit about what Minagawa Kengo did after he dropped out.”
Really? Doesn’t that mean that we found out about quite a lot? But even so, Yondaime glared at me with a stern gaze. Does that mean that it’s a bad news?
The news that came from Alice the next moment almost made me forget how to breathe.
”He had contact with ‘Angel Fix’ from an early stage. The time when Hirasaka-gumi found out about its danger and started to clear the streets was last September, but he was addicted to it even earlier. And then he got into contact with the manufacturers and dealing organization led by Hakamizaka Shirou. He was one of the said people who could ‘see angels’ as well.”
Yondaime glared at me while nodding.
“During that time, Hakamizaka and co. were looking for places that they could use to plant the plant. Using only Hakamizaka’s greenhouse could not accommodate the need of the market, while Minagawa Kengo appeared that time. He was only one of the old customers that time, and did not actively provide assistance. But Minagawa Kengo accidentally exposed the news that ‘there’s a high class greenhouse at M High’, and there was also a path near the greenhouse leading outside the school— knowing that would be enough. That’s because……”
Wait a minute……! I wanted to interrupt Alice, but I couldn’t say anything.
What does this mean? No matter how great Yondaime is, he couldn’t get so much information that it was like he saw it with his own eyes, could he? No matter it’s Minagawa or Hakamizaka, all of them were already—
I suddenly thought of something— Minagawa Kengo, Angel Fix, M High— the vital clue that connects these things, there was another person other than Ayaka.
Alice continued to say:
“Because Toshi is here.”
“All of this…… was heard from Toshi-san?”
Yondaime answered in displease:
“Don’t ask me how I asked this……”
Toshi-san, Shinozaki Toshio, Ayaka’s brother. He was once one of the members of the Angel Fix drug dealing organization, the man who asked Ayaka to plant the poppy plants. I heard that he’s already out of the police hospital, and is currently under custody.
Perhaps Yondaime had contact with Toshi-san? I suddenly felt a chill in my heart.
He actually found so much information— using his sharp wolf claws.
“As for how the drug organization found out about the place leading to the greenhouse entrance, we don’t know that yet. The siblings don’t usually socialize much, so it’s impossible that Ayaka told her brother. But that explanation would be reasonable……”
Alice’s face fell, and she stared at her fingers on the bed.
“The source of the information was from one of the early addicts of Angel Fix, Minagawa Kengo. Toshi couldn’t count as a member of the organization, but one of the usual customers. But he was noticed by Hakamizaka Shirou. To find a person who could assist him in the planting of poppy plants in the M High greenhouse, there was no other way.”
Angel Fix, Hakamizaka Shirou.
Even though he already turned to dust, he’s still making trouble. Why don’t he just disappear quickly? It’s better if he didn’t exist in the first place.
“I heard that Minagawa Kengo often went back to the school even after he dropped out. Toshi said that he probably met Ayaka a few times, right?”
Facing Alice’s questions, Yondaime nodded silently.
“Back to school…… Why?”
“We’re not sure about that yet.” Alice answered weakly.
Not sure…… Only two people know the truth, one died because of drug overdose, the other one jumped down from the top of a building.
Nobody continued to speak. As for how we could know more, the three in the room knew of it very well.
And they knew that there were no other way as well……
Yondaime and I walked out of the office at the same time. For some reason, I felt somewhat weak, and I held the railings of the stairs, squatting down after that.
“Gardening Club kid, what are you doing?”
“…… Nothing, it’s just that I’m a bit tired because of business.”
When I think about it, Yondaime’s title for me seemed to have been fixed now. If he starts to call me by another name right now, I probably wouldn’t know what to do.
“The things that I can investigate end here. I really didn’t think that he would ask me such an exaggerated thing.”
“How’s Toshi-san right now?” Can he still speak?
“I heard that he wasn’t too good with his dad, and he started to close himself away again.”
I heard that Ayaka and Toshi-san’s parents were on a divorce case right now, and are living separately right now. Toshi-san and Ayaka both lived with their parents before this, but after he got out of the police hospital— so that he would not affect Ayaka, Toshi-san was brought to his father’s house.
“I forced him out of his room and beated him up, but he still had some energy to speak.”
This person really does too much.
“But that guy seems to know almost nothing. You’ll have to think about the rest yourself.”
Me, think of something myself? I walked here and there already, but there was still no progress……
“Aren’t you planning to beat Tetsu up to ask something?”
“Ah— er, it’s not wrong……” I looked at my fists. “But I don’t think that I can defeat him, and even if I could defeat him, it’s no guarantee that I could get any important news.”
And besides, the person who’s asking is not me, but Alice. Even if senpai really hid something, he might really not know anything about the situation.
Yondaime placed his elbows on the rails, looking at me with the expression of a dead cricket.
“Are you an idiot? Then what are you fighting for?”
No matter how I explain, I would probably be scolded or being treated as an idiot, right?
“Even if senpai doesn’t know anything about the incident, as long as I win, he’ll probably tell me the truth, right? Then, that would be able to prove that the fact that senpai abused Hayano Tomohiko to death was a lie. That’ll be the best if so……”
“Oh please, do you really know what you’re talking about? Where are there idiots like you in this world, using a fight to prove the other party’s innocence?”
“Well—“ That may be so, but there’s really no need for Yondaime to repeat that. The thing that I am about to do, is really stupid to the max.
“Then what would you do, Yondaime?”
“I would beat Tetsu up as well.”
Then isn’t that the same as me!
“Who’s the same as you! I’m beating him up because I’m annoyed that he lied, and it’s unrelated to the case that Alice is investigating.”
“That’s….. not wrong, but……”
“And if you only want to prove that Tetsu is innocent, you won long ago.”
I stared at the side of Yondaime’s face with my jaw open.
“Because he already accepted your challenge. If he didn’t lie, why would he accept a challenge like this? Wouldn’t he just refuse with a smile right there and then?”
I see, so that’s why!
“If you don’t know even that, and even gave the condition of ‘not meddling again if you lose’. You’re really an incurable idiot. If there aren’t any information on Tetsu’s hands, wouldn’t you waste your effort? Why don’t you just force the information out from Ayaka? Didn’t she remember Minagawa’s name already?”
“Yondaime, you’re really a logical type! Maybe you’re more suited to being an assistant detective than me……?”
“I’m not doing that. Oi, don’t change the topic! Why are you taking action for? If this goes on, wouldn’t the Gardening Club be abolished for no reason at all? And don’t you wish for that girl to recover her memories as well? If she remembers it, wouldn’t all of this be solved now?”
“You’re not wrong, but……”
I stared at the sky that was dyed red between the two buildings.
“If Ayaka isn’t willing to remember it because it’s too painful, then I think it’s better to just forget it. Besides, being friends once again would be okay, wouldn’t it?”
In the incident during the summer break, Meo once told me that things that have been lost would not come back again, but as long as we’re still alive, the new sprouts will be able to cover the previous sorrow one day.
Yondaime suddenly interrupted my thoughts, silently pointing at a place out of the railings below me and him.
“Why don’t you just tell her yourself?”
I saw Ayaka poking her head cautiously between the buildings, approaching the large steel buckets and beer crates that nobody were there, and she opened the kitchen backdoor. I was startled, and immediately squatted down to hide myself.
“Min-san, is Fujishima-san over here?”
The sounds of the conversation could faintly be heard.
“If you want to, I can push you down from here immediately.”
“No, no thanks, no need for the trouble!”
“You’re really an incurable idiot. Didn’t you say it yourself? Just hurry up and tell her everything, and start again.”
“Well…… I haven’t prepared myself mentally yet.”
Yondaime turned around, preparing to walk down the stairs, and left me aside after saying:
“What an unproductive fellow.”
Yondaime was right. Hearing the clacking sounds of him walking down the stairs, I started to think of how to leave without being noticed by Ayaka, because I really don’t know what to say to her.
After the battle ends…… Will that day really arrive?
“Then, there’s only one way left.”
Yondaime turned around and said.
“Beat Tetsu up completely, until he spits out all of the truth.”
After raising his fists highly, my sworn brother disappeared from the stairs. Until his silhouette completely disappeared, I finally raised my fists in response.
To the dumb me right now, the only thing worth trying— is defeating Tetsu-senpai.
There’s only one week left. What else can I do?
Translator's Notes and References
- A guy who acts like a girl
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