Chapter 16:

Why Bother Lying to Me?

The Fall of Prince Hayashi

“Wait a moment,” Mori said to us both, as we sat their in complete shock. “I’ll be back in ten minutes. I’ll be back in five minutes.”Bookmark here

Lifting the coffee straw to my mouth, I took a long sip as we watched Mori serve another table. Here was the person we were looking for all day. The one we were convinced did something horrible to Hayashi. Rather than hiding away in America, Kuro Mori was serving a cafe in the middle of Kumano. In my memories he seemed more edgy, more thug-like. Instead, now seeing him in person, Mori looked less like a beast and more like a lazy black cat, waiting for the rain to stop outside a window. Bookmark here

“Does he look different to you?” I asked. Bookmark here

Satomi looked up from her food, which she still decided on eating and nodded. “He seems a little different….but I guess I never really knew him that well anyways.” Bookmark here

Taking Mori’s advice, we both devoured our food in the span of five minutes, waiting for Mori to come back to the table. The moment I finished my coffee, he appeared in front of us, no tray in hand. He turned around and grabbed an empty chair, dragging it to the table side and took a seat in front of us. He didn’t seem stressed, or surprised, or showed any emotions at all. Bookmark here

“It’s been a while Imai,” he leaned against the table and looked up at me. “And you’re?”Bookmark here

Of course he didn’t know who I was. I cleared my throat. “I’m Souta Fujiwara. From your class.” Bookmark here

Mori’s eyes widened a little bit as he nodded. “Fujiwara? I’d never thought I’d see you here in Kumano again.” Bookmark here

“I never thought I’d be back here either,” I said. “But that’s before I found out about Hayashi.”Bookmark here

Mori leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms in front of him. “You only found out about that now?” Bookmark here

Aka how the hell did you miss out on news that big? Bookmark here

I looked down at my empty plate. “I was….busy the past three years.” Bookmark here

“Busy,” Mori whispered. Bookmark here

The three of us sat in silence, as Mori took it upon himself to watch the both of us with hawk eyes. I poked my fork at the edge of my coffee cup, and I felt Imai kick me under the table. Bookmark here

My phone vibrated in my pocket. I dropped the fork and sighed. “Sorry guys, let me just check that.”Bookmark here

Message from Satomi ImaiBookmark here

Satomi Imai: Fuji!!!!! Ask him about where he has been!!!!
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You: Why do I have to ask? Bookmark here

Satomi Imai: Plz! :(Bookmark here

I put my phone away into my pocket and could feel the glare coming from Satomi. I rolled my eyes and turned to face Mori. Bookmark here

“We’ve been looking everywhere for you,” I said. “I thought you were in America.”Bookmark here

Mori sighed. “I’m guessing you met my uncle then?” Bookmark here

Imai nodded. “Yeah, we did.”Bookmark here

“I go to school in America, but I always come back home for the summers. It just so happens that I don’t see my uncle anymore. That’s a lie my old folks told him to keep him from asking questions.”Bookmark here

“That’s a lot of effort to avoid your uncle,” I blurted out. “Why bother with the lie?”Bookmark here

Mori took a minute to speak, tapping his foot on the floor. “Let’s just say… He operates on a different level than the normal person. A much sneakier level.”Bookmark here

So, he hid the fact that he was here because of a sneaky uncle. Family drama was nothing new to anyone, but for such an intricate lie….. After all, he was working a job here only a couple of minutes away from his uncle’s store. Then during the school year, he would run away to the United States. This all seemed so suspicious. He must’ve known that too, with the way he was eyeing the both of us as we clicked the pieces together.Bookmark here

Mori’s got up from where he was sitting and wipe down his apron. “It seems that isn’t anywhere near enough for you two. Look, if you guys want to interrogate me, meet me at my apartment. I won’t kill you guys, I promise.”Bookmark here

From his side pocket Mori pulled out a napkin, and from his shirt pocket he pulled out a pen. In the matter of seconds he wrote down his address and handed it to Imai. She took it with a small nod and read it over. She handed it to me when she was done and I folded it away into my back pocket. Bookmark here

“My shift ends at five today,” Mori got up from his chair. “I’m expecting you guys to meet me up at this place at 6:30. It be nice if you bring coffee for me… Since you guys already have yours.”Bookmark here

“How do you like your coffee?” I asked. Bookmark here

Might as well get the right order if he was giving me the demand. Bookmark here

Mori just smirked, patting his hand on my shoulder. “I’m not a picky eater.” Bookmark here

He went back to work in seconds, running to the back of the café to grab the next order. On the other hand, Imai and I were finally processing what just happened. Mori was inviting us over to his apartment. He...didn’t seemed fazed by us at all. I didn’t know how much of our conversation he heard, but even a small sentence would have shown him that we didn’t think kindly of him. Still, even after meeting him for a quick moment, I still believed that he was involved in some way. Everything he says is so calculated, so careful. Like we were a bunch of mines he just had to walk over. Actually, I was one hundred percent sure he was involved in Hayashi’s demise. Instead of yelling at us to leave, he offered to answer our questions. Bookmark here

Screaming at us would have made him more suspicious. A true genius would take the long road to success. Bookmark here

“He’s odd,” Imai leaned against her hand. Bookmark here

I nodded. “Yeah, something about him doesn’t sit right with me.”Bookmark here

“Well, he’s always been like that kind of like that,” Imai said. “Back in middle school we were in the same class. The only thing that’s changed about him is his height and how no one remembers him now.” Bookmark here

No one really did remember Kuro Mori. Even when we asked around earlier, the only person who recognized his name was his own uncle. Nonetheless, an uncle should know how his own nephew looks like so that wasn’t an amazing feat at all. From what I remember from my own middle school and high school experience, Kuro was the type of guy who became popular out of the blue. He never did anything for show, never tried to talk to those he didn’t care about, and did his school activities on school time. Somehow, he was just that type of guy who attracted people. Whether he liked it or not. Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Me and Imai decided it was best to get back to my apartment. There was still some time left before meeting up with Mori, so it wouldn’t hurt trying to relax for a moment. Satomi took a nap on the couch once again and I took it upon myself to lay down on the other end of the couch. I wasn’t trying to make her uncomfortable by sleeping too close to her, and to be honest, I was a person who could live off a couple of hours of sleep. Imai was probably tired from her night shift and from everything else that happened today. Although we never talked about work, as I former convenience store worker myself, I knew how tiring it could be dealing with people.Bookmark here

After a power nap and making a cup of coffee to go, we went straight to the location that Mori guided us to earlier. Surprisingly, the apartment that Mori lived in was actually close by, just a couple of blocks further from the shopping center. How was he able to hide himself in Kumano so well even though he lived in such a close place and worked at a near by café? There must have been someone who noticed him or at least someone who knew him. Bookmark here

“Are we almost there?” Satomi asked, as we passed the block of stores and a couple of houses. I looked down at the sheet with the address and looked over the numbers on the buildings in front of us. Bookmark here

“It should be just a couple of minutes till we get there,” I said. “Do you have Mori’s coffee?”Bookmark here

“You know, he was probably just joking about the coffee earlier,” Imai said. Bookmark here

“I know,” I shoved the tissue into my pocket. “Still, it wouldn’t hurt to get on his good side a little bit. And we’re here.” Bookmark here

We both looked up at the huge apartment complex in front of us. In comparison to my complex, the place where Mori lived was shabbier. The whole building was covered with dirt and rust, with some people about on the front of their floors smoking packs of cigarettes. From their floors up above they looked down upon us, the smoke trailing out of their lips as their eyes narrowed at us. Bookmark here

“Are you sure this is the right location Souta?“ Imai whispered as we went up the stairs. Bookmark here

I shrugged my shoulders. “This is what he said.”Bookmark here

The address said that his apartment was on the fourth floor, so we walked up the rusty stairs all the way up. When we reached the floor, I stepped up and made some room for Imai to get up with me. There were ten doors lining the floor plan, all of them identical in appearance. Bookmark here

“It said the third door right?” Imai whispered. Bookmark here

“We’re about to find out right now I guess,” I said. Bookmark here

Well, it didn’t really matter now. I was going to knock on the door and get the answers I was looking for, then head back home.Bookmark here

The third door has a small name plate, with the word “Mori” right on it. I guess this was the right place. Bookmark here

Imai put a hand on my shoulder. “Are you ready?” Bookmark here

We were both as scared for what was lying on the other side. The answers we’ve been searching for in our minds these past three years could be all solved in the matter of seconds. All we had to do was ask Kuro. Problem solved… Hopefully. Or we could be walking into a big trap that ends up with the both of us being in ten times more trouble than before. Bookmark here

I knocked on the door three times and waited for response. There was a moment of silence before I heard the sound of footsteps on the other side. Then the door unlocked, before Mori poked his head out to see who was outside his door. Bookmark here

“I wasn’t expecting you to actually come,” Mori said as he opened the door wide. “Looks like you guys aren’t a bunch of chickens.” Bookmark here

Imai handed me the coffee and I passed it over to Mori. “Here.” Bookmark here

He eyed the cup and then a soft smile lined his face. “Thanks.” Bookmark here

I know that he was probably teasing when he asked for the coffee… Even then, better safe than sorry. If I learned anything from my youth it was to follow what people said literally, because most people were literal. Or most people would use anything against you. Bookmark here

Imai closed the door behind us and we took a look at Mori’s apartment. My own apartment was flooded with natural light and while I did look kind of worn down, it was still nice enough to look presentable. It was homey, cool, calm and a perfect make shift home. If the outside of the building looked rough, then the apartments inside were made to look worse. There was no natural light, the curtains were all closed, and it was a mess in here. As we made our way into the apartment I could feel the floor go from the rough concrete outside to the sticky floor inside the apartment. I looked over at Mori’s feet and noticed that he still wore his shoes in the house, since it was probably a necessity and not just a habit.Bookmark here

“I know it looks rough,” Mori sat down on the couch an motioned for us to join him. “But what are you expecting me to do? I’m only staying here for the summer… Or half of it”Bookmark here

“Half of it?” Imai took her own seat on the other side of the couch. Bookmark here

“Yeah I’m only here for half the summer,” Mori took a sip of his coffee. “You guys are kind of lucky that you found me here.“Bookmark here

I took a seat on the other side of the couch, so that Mori was to my right and Imai was in front of me. I leaned back into the couch, ignoring my instinct to run away from this apartment because of how gross it was. Staying at home for three years and not having that many friends my age meant that I was a complete clean freak, kind of the opposite of many guys my age. But I couldn’t let Mori know that. It would just be another weakness he could probably exploit later on.Bookmark here

“Why only half?” Imai asked.
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Mori took another sip of his coffee. “This coffee is pretty good, who made it?” Bookmark here

“I did,” I said. Bookmark here

“Well, you sure have enough talent to work at a café Fujiwara.” Bookmark here

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” I said. “But Satomi asked you a question, aren’t you gonna answer it?” Bookmark here

“Fine, since this coffee is so good. I’m only here for half the summer because I’m going back to the US early on to see my girlfriend. She’s from Europe so we decided to spend time with our families for a bit and then head on back.”Bookmark here

“A girlfriend? From Europe?” I said. Bookmark here

“Well, you have Imai and her mom is from Spain so I guess you have a European girlfriend too,” Mori teased. Bookmark here

“Look, let’s cut the small talk!” Imai shouted as she slammed her hand on the coffee table. “Do you know what we’re here to ask about?” Bookmark here

“I guess some people never change,” Mori said. “You were always so hyper. Even Hayashi noticed your energy back then. Maybe that’s what attracted him to you.” Bookmark here

If Imai didn’t smack some sense into me earlier this week about getting triggered from high school memories, I would’ve definitely jumped on Mori and taught him a lesson. Break his nose and leave, without any answers to hold. He knew that Imai was till sensitive about Kota, yet he still acted so nonchalant with every word he spoke. Like he never cared about anyone’s feelings whenever he spoke. I would love to send my fist flying into his face. But I can’t because right now Imai looked like if I made one wrong move she would kill me. Also, I had no doubt that Mori could pack a punch.Bookmark here

Mori let out a hearty laugh, The kind that seem to come from old men. “I’m just messing with you two. You guys here in Japan are always so tense.” Bookmark here

He turned around to face Imai. “I never asked my friends about their girlfriends. Since the moment my friends drop them, they tend to be all up on me.”Bookmark here

Imai‘s face soured. “Just to let you know I never would’ve jumped up on you. I prefer to have taste you know.”Bookmark here

“Yet you still jumped up onto Fujiwara, an old friend of Hayashi’s.”Bookmark here

Jumped on me? Did Mori seriously think that we were… Together? Imai and I both turned right at the same time and yet again Mori laughed at us. We were already here for three minutes and Mori seem to make a joke of everything at our expense.Bookmark here

“We’re not together!“ Imai shouted. “Right now you’re distracting us from your answer: do you know what we’re here for?“Bookmark here

Mori let out a sigh. “So I guess you two really aren’t here to play.”Bookmark here

He leaned forward, his sudden laughter fading away in seconds. Mori took the coffee cup to his lips and gulped the whole thing down in one go. We both watched as his adam’s apple popped up and down, the coffee rushing down his throat. When he was done, he slammed the cup down on his table, kicking his legs up and leaning back in his seat.Bookmark here

“You have some suspicion that I have something to do with Hayashi‘s end,” Mori said. “Am I right?”Bookmark here

I nodded. “Right now we’re trying to find out what happened to him, and you’re the only lead we have. I won’t lie and say that we both think you’re innocent. I have a feeling you’ve been hiding more than what you’ve let on for the past three years.” Bookmark here

There was a moment of silence as Mori’s took in the seriousness of our words. It felt like the whole world could shattering that moment, everything we learned could be thrown out the window right now if he chose to lie. Yet we were here, victims to the truth, whether we all liked it or not.Bookmark here

Mori tapped his fingers on the top of the couch, the sound echoing around us. “Do you….do you know why I went to America?”Bookmark here

He turned to face Imai. “Do you?” Bookmark here

She shook her head no and he sighed. “I heard you two talking about how odd it was. How I just just ran off there without any motive. What do you guys know? Why do you think I left?” Bookmark here

Because you’re a criminal? A coward? Bookmark here

“I went to America because I think Japan sucks,” he said looking me dead in the eyes. “Over here everyone likes to act like they know everything. Your teachers like to act like they know you but they never really do. Your status depends luck. Whether you’re attractive or not plays a huge role. Over here I felt like I was stuck playing a part that I never wanted to play. I can tell you the Hayashi felt the same. Except… We both want to switch our roles.”Bookmark here

“I went to America because it was the cheapest option, but I would’ve ran off to any other country except here. France, Germany, Spain. Any place but here. Because that meant feeling like how this apartment looks twenty-four seven.“Bookmark here

Mori’s crossed his legs. “You two saw a glimpse of Hayashi. Whatever vulnerability you saw from him was something he wanted you to see. He was calculated and cold. He used empathy to get anything he wanted from you two, and you were so desperate that you just sat through it. I had to go through the torture of knowing some thing about Kota then he want to no one else to know.”Bookmark here

“What?” Imai whispered. She was starting to grow pale again, like how she was after we found out about the news from the newspaper station. I wanted her to stop asking questions for a moment, to let us both feel and process everything we were hearing. Nonetheless, she was asking the questions I wanted answers to too. Bookmark here

As if to tease us a little bit more, more he took a longer pause of silence now. Like he was narrating a story, saving everything for the huge drop at the end. A smile blessed his face for a second before he turned to look me dead in the eyes. Bookmark here

“I was tortured for all of high school by knowing that Kota Hayashi was the biggest failure of all time. It’s been haunting me for the past three years.”Bookmark here

Notes from Zen: Bookmark here

Hello everyone! Hope your having (or had) a good day. This book is finally jumping back up in reads and likes so I’m super happy :) Thank you guys for supporting me here on Honeyfeed! Bookmark here

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