The Fall of Prince Hayashi
I was falling for Satomi Imai.
I took a seat on my couch and she sat right next to me, our legs just barely touching. Goodness. Why was she sitting so close to me? I scooted over a little bit and ignored her curiosity. She wasn’t that concerned though because the next thing she did was open up the laptop and press the start button.
“Do you have any idea what the password might be?” I asked.
She shook her head. “I already told you at Mori’s house that I have no clue. Yeah, Hayashi had this laptop with him everywhere but I never thought much of it.”
“Are you sure?” I said. “I thought girls would go crazy if their boyfriends were online all the time.”
“Well, I wasn’t that worried,” Imai said. “Hayashi had a lot on his plate, including clubs and now as we know, a job and failing grades. I think the last thing he would throw into that mix is trying to cheat on the girl he asked out.”
That was a fair point. Hayashi was a lot of things, but a cheater was not one of them. Of course he lied and manipulated people around him. Yet...for some reason cheating seemed more like a chore rather than an enjoyment. Having one girlfriend he was forced to interact with was hard enough. Imagine him trying to be vulnerable and open with two different people seemed even more crazy.
I crossed my arms and laid back into the couch. “I have no clue either.”
“Didn’t he play games with you online?” Imai asked. “There must have been a moment where you talked about passwords or at the very least, your laptops.”
“No, that’s impossible.” I said. “We never used to talk about our real lives. It was purely just games and internet stuff with Hayashi.”
“All these lies and rules, what the hell was he so paranoid about?”
I pulled the laptop up into my lap and watched the screen light up. We could have tried everything we thought up of. But understanding Kota meant that he definitely had a three try limit on his laptop.
“Okay,” I sat up right and turned to face Imai. “I’ll try once. You try once. Then on the last try, we both try.”
“Why don’t we do three tries and then we go to a laptop store?” Satomi asked. “They would definitely open it for us.”
“The whole point of handing this laptop to Mori was so that the least amount of people would know about it and that his parents wouldn’t snoop around.” I said. “If we hand it to that guy he might just submit the laptop to the police for Hayashi’s investigation case.”
“His suicide case?” Imai asked.
“Hopefully, it’s only that one.” I muttered. When Mori said that there could have been illegal stuff on the laptop, I only hoped he was joking. But this was Kota we were talking about. He was the type of person who did whatever he saw fit for himself. Who knows...maybe he thought a crime was fit to keep his position in popularity.
“I’ll go first,” I leaned over the keyboard, my fingers grazing the keys.
What could be the password? Kota’s favorite color? His birthday? His birth place? No….those were all way to obvious. If it was a conclusion based off instinct, it was probably wrong. He was complex, so his password should only reflect that. Complex, secret, and personal.
Our friendship was solidified because of online games. The moment Hayashi found out I went to Kumano High and that I knew him, I thought we would have transitioned our online friendship into a real life one. Turns out that wasn’t his plan. He kept things separate in his life. His work persona, his school persona, and his class president persona. I just had exclusive access to both his school and online persona. The both of them were so different, yet somehow, lived together in harmony inside of him.
“I have an idea,” I whispered, noticing Imai move in closer to me. “But I could be wrong.”
Without any hesitation I typed in the password I had in mind, watching the bar fill up with asterisk in front of me.
Let’s see if I was right. I held in my breath as I pressed “Enter”
Sorry. Incorrect. Two more tries.
Help, I forgot my password.
“God damn,” I whispered, handing the laptop to Satomi.
“What did you type in Souta?” she asked.
I crossed my arms, as my face flushed. Should I tell her? Now that I thought about it, what I typed in seemed rather dumb anyways.
“It…” I took a deep breath. “It was Hayashi’s online username. It wasn’t his name of course, but I thought….well….I just thought….”
Imai put the laptop down on her lap, putting her free hand on top of mine. I looked down at our hands and felt my stomach drop. Satomi was touching my hand. Did it feel okay? Hopefully I wasn’t too sweaty. I hated sweaty hands, so it only makes sense if she hates it. Aren’t girls more picky too? She would hate-
“I bet that whatever you typed in was a better guess than what I have,” Imai said. She took my hand in hers and held it tight. “I...really never knew him that well.”
“To be honest, I didn’t know him that much either,” I said. “He showed you his hideout, remember? And you even got to see his home.”
“Isn’t that a normal thing?” Imai asked, her hand still in mine. “That’s what couples should do. That’s what’s supposed to happen. I don’t get a gold star because he did something normal.”
God, why is comforting someone you care about ten times harder than not caring at all!?
“Well, if it was me I wouldn’t have showed that hideout to anyone I cared about,” I said.
“Who would you show then? I thought you didn’t have that many friends.”
“What a harsh reminder.”
Imai waved her free hand. “I didn’t mean it like that-”
“I would show you probably, since we’ve been through...well….we’ve been through a lot these past couple of days.”
Ahhhhhh, we’re screwed. Get ready to ruin everythin-
Imai nodded, but didn’t push the subject anymore. I wanted to know what she was thinking so badly. Whether she thought of me the same way I thought of her. Or what worries she had buried deep in her mind. Did that sound weird? At the very least, maybe I could understand these mixed signals I was getting. Whether they were laced with the same things I thought of, or if what I was hearing was all in my imagination.
“I have an idea on what the password might be,” Imai whispered. She let go of my hand and with diligent fingers, typed in the password she thought of.
She hesitated over the “Enter” key, but in the end closed her eyes and pressed the button.
Sorry. Incorrect. One more tries.
Help, I forgot my password.
Her eyes glossed over the text a couple of times before it really registered. Her password was wrong, but she wasn’t as nonchalant as I was about it. Instead, it weighed over her. Like the moment she saw the words “sorry” on the screen, something inside her switched completely.
Should I ask her what she typed in was? It would come off as a little pushy...right? Let me think…what would I want in this situation? Someone to leave me alone. So, for her….
A sudden deep breath broke my thought process as my eyes flickered over to Satomi. Her eyes were focused on the screen, small tears flowing from her eyes. Yet she no sound came out from her lips. No roars of pain like the first time I met her. No complaints. No words. She just sat there, crying. I hated how her tears were so perfect. How much it hurt me when she cried.
I didn’t think it through when I grabbed the laptop and shut it closed. I definitely didn’t think when I pulled Satomi in for a hug, her head resting on my shoulder. Once the moment finally hit me, I felt dread hit me. I just grabbed her without thinking at all. She would hit me for sure. Actually, she had a perfect opening to my face from this angle. To land a hit all she had to do was pull me off of her and land a punch straight in my jaw.
“Souta, you’re…” Imai let out a small sniffle. “You’re so stupid sometimes.”
Satomi wrapped her arms around my waist, tightening the hug and letting herself cry on my shoulder. She went from silent tears to a full on burst of sadness. I didn’t dare move, like any motion would stop her from letting how she felt out.
“I typed in,” she let out another sniffle. “I typed that in. I knew I shouldn’t-”
“It’s fine,” I pat my hand on her hand, her auburn hair running through my fingers. “You did nothing wrong.”
“No, I did!” Imai shouted. “I told myself it wasn’t possible. But still….I couldn’t help to wonder.”
What did you type in?
The words died on my tongue as she let out another sob. I...I had no right to know that. I wasn’t someone important to her. She was important to me, for sure. Yet...I was just a friend. A friend who should know his place.
It took a couple of minutes for her to settle down. It shocked me at how long it took for her to get back to normal, with Imai’s mood usually changing every five minutes. This whole mission was straining her so much. I wanted it to end right now, to get the answer and present it to her in gold. Anything to help her move on. Anything to get to the bottom of Hayashi’s stupid and heartless mind. If he was alive, then I would have definitely beat him up. No, I would have knocked his lights out cold. Just what he deserved.
Imai closed her eyes, still laying her head down on my shoulders. Her breath was slow and settling, as she calmed herself down again. I didn’t move anywhere, except my hand that rested in her hair.
“So, what do we do about the laptop?” Imai whispered into my ear, her tone almost back to normal.
Was she feeling better? “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” I said.
“I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking you.”
“Well, I’m down for anything…”
“Don’t be annoying and just make your decision, Fuji,” she said. “Don’t worry about me, I’m fine.”
“But your not-”
“I said I’m fine.”
Why was she being so stubborn? Did she want the truth that badly? I pulled my hand off her head and rested it to the side.
“I’m going to pay a visit to the Hayashi household again and your not coming with me this time.”
It took a moment for her to respond and for a second I thought she was going to fight me. Rather, she nodded her head into my shoulder, her hair itching my nose in the process.
“Fine, but you have to buy me food on your way back.”
After a couple more minutes of hugging her close to me, Imai finally let me go to the Hayashi household on my own again. It felt like going back to the past, walking past the high school and sneaking through the backdoor windows.
I unconsciously brought myself upstairs and headed to Kota’s room. It was still as dusty as it was just a couple of days ago, except the fresher footprints on the floor. I opened the wardrobe and pushed open the secret door, looking for the light switch we had found earlier.
What was I looking for? I pulled all of the boxes close to me and started to search through them one by one. I was looking for a sign. Something, anything that Hayashi truly valued. He hid everything he cared about away. Yet there was always a trace to follow. Even if it meant hours. Even if it meant days. I needed to find something that could be the password. For me, for Hayashi, for Mori, and especially for Satomi.
I left my phone at the apartment with Imai, determined to look through the boxes till I found what I desired. Back in high school I would spend days without sleep, of course, back then it was for different reasons. Yet these habits stuck and I was never more thankful for my stamina as I was in this moment.
It must have taken hours. Looking through every paper, every word. Creating a pile of possibilities and narrowing them down one by one. The tower started off as tall as me, yet with every passing minute slowly starting loosing its height. My eyes were burning, my fingers numbing. I knew I should have stopped sooner. Yet how could I?
The final two papers sat in front of me, the dull lightbulb on top of us the only source of light here. I took the last paper and brought it up to my face, reading the words over and over again.
“The password,” I whispered. “I have the password for the laptop.”