“Are you sure your neck is fine, kid?” Abayomi approached Masuyo.
“Yes. What do you want to talk about?” the boy replied dryly.
“Wow, okay.” the woman smiled, “It’s about what I found at FuturingTech the other day!”
“Yeah, there was some interesting stuff there! Regarding the ID chips, I mean.” she kept smiling.
“And? What did you find out?” Masuyo stepped closer to Abayomi.
“Oh, well! All I can tell you is that the Mijiyuu hacked their system.” she turned around, showing her back to the boy.
“What? What does that mean? It’s all lost? This is why the archives are encoded?”
“No! Not everything is lost! If you find someone who’s better than Yoko at the computer, you might be able to decode what you want, or even follow Mijiyuu’s tracks, right, Sute Koizumi?” Abayomi glanced at the girl.
“What? Do you know someone, Sute?” Masuyo turned to the girl.
“What are you doing, Abayomi?” Sute scowled at her.
“I’m sorry girl, but after talking to Masanori I realized you needed a little push.” Abayomi turned to Sute and put her hands in the coat’s pockets. "Don't you think as well?"
"..." Sute glared at the woman and didn't reply.
Abayomi gave a mocking smile and stepped outside of the building. “Wow. Looks like it’s gonna rain!” she uttered while staring at the sky and then left, bitting the toothpick in her mouth.
“Grr.” Sute clenched her teeth as she observed the woman leave.
“Sute?” Masuyo called, “So, you know anyone that good?”
“Hmm…” the girl’s emotionless eyes stared at the boy’s pleading ones, “I might, but don’t you know one yourself? You were talking about it with Yoko, right?”
“Well, kind of…” Masuyo diverted his gaze, “But if you know someone, everything will work out better. I’m sure of it.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure.” Sute muttered and walked through the door.
“Hey, wait!” Masuyo followed the girl. The two talked as they took the shortest route to the residential buildings.
“WHAT?” Sute growled.
After hesitating for a moment, the boy replied: “Can you talk to that person and get me what I want?”
“How would I know what you want? Aren’t you the one to go to Futuring Tech today?” she kept walking without looking at Masuyo.
“You’re right. So, can you say to me who it is??”
“Maybe tomorrow, I don’t feel like doing it today.”
“What? Why?!” the boy asked while going up the stairs
“Because I don’t feel like it.” Sute repeated and hurried to her apartment’s floor.
“Sute? Wait!” Masuyo followed her. He arrived at the third floor in time to see Sute and Kazashi bump into each other.
“Sorry about that, but I was looking for you anyway.” Kazashi started, she was holding an Utablet in her hands, “I wanted to talk about one thing. Do you have the time now?”
“Hmm…” Sute glanced at Masuyo, “Yes, I’m super free now.”
“Great. So, I was looking through some of the files Hisoka sent me. The ones about The Ozanne Incident, you know, the one from twelve years ago?”
“I just thought it was kind of weird. There’s not much detail. They just say it was what prompted something like the dives to happen. Do you know anything about it?”
“I know that The Ozanne Incident didn’t happen here, but he had some partners in this city… maybe you could find more in the file room. I can take you there if you want.”
“HEY!” Masuyo exclaimed, “ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO JUST IGNORE ME?”
“Wow, Masuyo. You were just standing there like a weirdo?” Kazashi raised an eyebrow.
“Sute!” the boy ignored Kazashi.
“Can’t you see that I’m helping Kazashi-san now?” Sute turned to him.
“Yes, but we didn’t finish our talk. You said something weird.”
“Yes. C’mon Sute, can’t you give me the name? Please.”
“Hmm…” Sute stared at the boy, “If that’s what you want, then go rest and leave everything to me.”
“You don’t want to know the name, you want to find out if Kisho can be alive, right? So, I’ll look for him in your stead. You can just relax and let me handle it.”
“I don’t know if you turned deaf in the last couple of seconds, but I said you can relax and let me do everything.”
“Can’t you just tell me the name? I have to do this today, I’m finally free now! This is why I joined this stupid ‘job’!”
“Is that so? So everything was a burden to you?!” Sute glowered at the boy.
“Aargh! You idiot!” Sute jumped onto Masuyo and the two fell to the ground at the same time as a rumble of thunder could be heard from afar.
“What? Get away from me!” the boy struggled for a second.
“What are you guys doing?” Kazashi hurried to separate the two.
“I said you can leave everything to me. If you’re in such a hurry you’ll have to find a third way.”
“Grr.” Masuyo clenched his teeth and stood up, “Okay, that’s what I’ll do.” he headed to the stairs.
“Humpf.” Sute followed the boy with her eyes as she rummaged the sweatshirt’s pockets. She picked up her cellphone and started to call someone: “Hello, Adda-san!” Sute greeted, “Can you please do me a favor?”
“I guess there’s no helping it. For some reason, that weirdo is acting like that today.” “Yoko! Yoko!” Masuyo ran through the corridors of the main A.M.A. building shouting the woman’s name. He finally managed to locate her voice in the nursery, on the second floor. Yoko and Hisoka were fighting about how dangerous Abayomi Etter was until Masuyo interrupted them by opening the door.
“Huh?” the two looked at the panting Masuyo.
“Yoko! I… need to know… where your teacher lives, now!”
“Huh? Well…” she wondered for a moment, “I’m sorry. I don’t know where she went after the A.M.A.”
“Aargh! Okay, thank you.” Masuyo sighed and closed the door.
“Crap! How can I get to her now?! If only Sute didn’t act like a kid! Argh.” the boy walked through the corridors with heavy steps, “Maybe Abayomi or Masanori know? But how will I contact them? Maybe I should turn around and ask Hisoka…”
“BE BE” Masuyo’s phone received a call, startling him.
“Huh?” Masuyo stared at the unknown number for a moment, “Hello. Who is this?”
“Oh, yes! I’m sorry! It’s just Masuyo, right?”
“Yeah… Who’s talking?”
“I’m sorry! It’s Genki! Genki Kaneko.”
“Genki? What are you doing calling me now? How did you get my number?” Masuyo frowned.
“It’s just that I went to your house a couple of times, Senpai. But you weren’t there! Your parents told me you had a job now.” Genki explained, “I didn’t know when you’d come back so I decided to call after I didn’t saw you there today.”
“Hmm…” Masuyo bit his lip, “I’m very busy, but what’s the reason for your…” he stopped with the sudden realization of something. “Of course! It’s Kaira we’re talking about!”
“I’m sorry, Genki. I have to go now, but I thank you for reminding me of something.”
“Hmm… okay. Glad I could be of help…”
After hanging up, Masuyo instantly began to call his mother while heading to the exit of the building.
“Huh? Masuyo-kun? It’s weird for you to be calling at this time.” a female voice answered.
“Mother! Can you tell me where Kaira’s house is?”
“Huh? What is this all of the sudden? Are you finally meeting your cousin?”
“No, I just need a favor from her. It’s going to help me find my brother.”
“At this point in time, I thought you’d have already talked to her…”
“But I haven’t. Can you send me the address?”
“Hmm… they were living in an apartment. I don’t recall what the address was.”
“Apartment?! No, I’m talking about that place we went to once! It was after we went to a park! We ate Spring Cirashizushi!”
“Oh... That place?”
“Yes, can you send me the address?!” Masuyo left the building as the clouds seemed to be darker than ever, threatening to let the rain fall.
“Yes, I’ll text it to you.”
“Okay! Thank you!” the boy hung up the call and then stared at the sky, frowning. He dashed towards the front entrance of the property, where Adda seemed to be already waiting for him.
“Leaving when the rain is about to fall is a terrible thing, right, Masuyo-san?” the chauffeur remarked.
“I need to go here, now.” Masuyo ignored the remark and showed him the message he had received from his mother. It had Kaira Nakai's address.
“I'm sorry, Masuyo-san. I’m afraid I cannot take you there now.”
“What? Hisoka said that it was fine after we finished our case!”
“And it is.” Adda ensured, “But someone else bookmarked with me today.”
“I believe you know the answer already.”
Masuyo looked around, trying to grasp who wouldn't want him to leave the property at that time. His expression hardened with the realization: “Sute.”
“Exactly. Sute-san informed me that she’ll take care of your business for you, so you should relax instead of going somewhere you don't like, to meet someone you hate.”
“Aargh!” Masuyo growled and held his head, “Why does she keep getting in my way like this?!”
“Believe it or not, Masuyo-san, but she says it’s for your own good. She wishes the best for you.”
“Even if that was the case, she has to understand that I need to find out he's alive as fast as possible! You really cannot take me there, Adda?”
“I'm sorry, Masuyo-san.”
“Aargh! Is there anyone else that could take me there?”
“Not today, I'm afraid.”
“If that's the case I should just call for a car...” Masuyo looked at his phone, “It’ll take much longer, but it's a small price to pay.”
“I should warn you: particular vehicles can't come close to A.M.A.'s property. You'll need to be at least 700 meters away.”
“Great, everything just getting better and better.” Masuyo muttered.
“Can’t you consider doing this another day?” Adda asked.
“No.” the boy started to run.
“Shit, I don't have any money here.” Masuyo was panting. He had called a driver to pick him up. “Well, I can just use my card.” the boy rummaged in his pockets, “What?” they had nothing besides his almost devoid of charge cellphone.
“Hey, you're Masuyo Hirano?”
“Huh?” Masuyo turned towards the voice. It came from a man driving a car, the driver Masuyo had called.
“You sure are in a far place, but...” he analyzed the boy, “What were you looking for just now?” the man was definitely suspecting something was up.
“I? I was...”
“I knew it. You don't have the money, right?”
“Yeah, kid. I won't fall for that type of prank again.” the driver started to turn around with the vehicle.
“No, wait!” Masuyo stretched his hand as if trying to seize the car. “Shit!” he exclaimed when the vehicle disappeared from his view.
“Maybe this is a sign? That I should go back for today?” Masuyo stared at the grey sky, “But I have to know that he can be alive! I know he's alive! And knowing a little bit about Kaira I’m sure she can find out today...” he turned his gaze to the road ahead of him, “It’d be so easy if I had my card... I'm sure I had it! At least until...” the memory of a short girl in a sweatshirt jumping on him passed through his mind, making Masuyo scowl.
“She wants to prevent me from going there that much?!” the boy thought aloud as the sound of thunder filled the sky. Masuyo looked at the address on his cellphone again, “Yeah, it's no big deal. I can definitely walk this.” he started to run, “She’s not going to stop me for no reason!”
Kaira’s and Kisho's house, the house where they probably raised their son. To get there from unity seven Masuyo had to cover a part from Kitoyama's perimeter. It would take him hours to arrive there, but he didn't stop. He kept straining his body, forcing it to move forward.
Masuyo remembered, at least he had a guiding point. One of the Daiken was near their house, so he had to go towards it. This way he wouldn't get lost.
“BE BE.” his cellphone phone received a call, it was from Sute, so he turned it off.
She kept calling him, and he kept turning it off while heading to the Daiken, to Kaira and Kisho's home.
“I’m not falling for that.” Masuyo murmured while looking at his phone, he received calls from other numbers, but it was obviously Sute trying to get him to answer. “You're not stopping me.”
Besides the calls, the boy received tons of messages, but he didn't pay attention to them, and it didn't last long either. Masuyo's phone ran out of charge.
“Hahaha!” the boy laughed as if he had heard the best joke in the world. He held his head with one hand while staring at his cellphone which was in the other, resisting the temptation to break the device, “Well, you can't talk to me now, Koizumi-chan!”
It finally started to rain, soaking Masuyo's clothes with cold water. Even with that, he didn't care about anything else. He had to visit that house again. “I can’t know if I’ll have the resolve to go there again another day. I should take advantage of this whim.” he trudged towards the still far antenna type thing.
After some time, Masuyo began to cough, his vision being blurred by the water and his body trembling with the cold, “Rain? This is way more like a storm, haha.” but he couldn't stop. He was over the hump already, probably…
“Masuyo!” someone called him as he was about to collapse, “Masuyo!”
“Over the hump my ass.” Masuyo scowled, it was the bland voice he didn't want to hear at that time. Adda’s car was pretty silent, but if it wasn't for the sound of the rain and his thoughts, the boy would definitely have noticed the car parking a few meters from him.
“Masuyo!” a girl jumped out of the car with an umbrella in her hands and ran towards the boy who was leaning against the wall.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!” Masuyo screamed at Sute as she approached him, “GET OUT OF MY WAY!”
“I’m here because of your health, you moron.” Sute covered both of them with the umbrella.
“Oh, yeah?” he didn't look at her, forcing his body to take another step towards the Daiken.
“Stop it, now!” Sute yelled at him, but he didn't listen. “You’ll catch a cold like this! Pneumonia even!”
“Hmm...” the boy ignored her. His eyes were completely fixed on the Daiken.
“Masuyo!” Sute tried to stop him by the shoulder.
“Argh, GET AWAY!” Masuyo pushed the girl, making her fall to the ground, drenching her clothes.
“No! You get in the car!” Sute stood up, leaving the umbrella on the ground. She jumped on Masuyo, trying to rear him into Adda's car. Normally Masuyo would have the advantage, but since he was exhausted, he couldn't get away so easily.
“What are you doing, Sute?!” Masuyo struggled.
“You’re too obsessed with this! I told you to let me handle it!”
“Look who's talking! You can't get enough of me yourself!” Masuyo grasped Sute's arms, trying to release himself, “You can't decide if you're kind or if you’re in my way! And it’s all for no reason!”
“Shut up, you idiot!”
They both swayed, almost falling.
“You are the idiot! Acting in illogical ways!”
“Is that so?!” Masuyo started to overpower her, “So, why don't you tell me the logic behind it?!”
“Let me go!”
“Because you'll hate me!”
“It looks like I might hate you anyway!”
“No!” Sute used all her strength to pull Masuyo, making them both fall on the wet ground. “Argh!” she let out a shout of pain when her back hit the asphalt.
“Finally!” Masuyo began to crawl, the pain on Sute’s back made her let go of the boy for an instant.
“You’re not going there!” the girl leaped forward and grasped onto Masuyo’s legs as he tried to stand up.
“What are you doing?!”
“Please! Please don’t go there!”
“Huh?” Masuyo finally realized the girl’s tears.
“Please, don’t go! Let me handle everything! I’ll bring him back!” she continued to yell.
“What? Why, Sute? Why?”
“Please, Masuyo! Wasn’t my Spring Chirashizushi good?!” she stared at Masuyo, the emotionless eyes turned into sad ones, “The Cassava bread was bad as well? I can make them better!”
“Sute, what the hell are you talking about?!"
“We don’t have to love each other, but can our relationship be like this? Can’t we be at least good coworkers? Are you able to not hate me?”
“Ugh, you're just spitting nonsense."
“I have to go now!” the boy shouted while straining his body to free itself from the girl.
“Why don’t you tell him, Sute?” the female voice came from someone standing before them.
“W-What…?” Masuyo faintly recognized the voice.
“Mo… Kaira! What are you doing out in this rain?!” Sute’s eyes widened as she looked at the woman.
“I should be the one saying it.” Kaira approached the lying Sute, using her umbrella to cover the girl, “You’re young, but it doesn’t prevent you from being ill. And it doesn’t excuse you fighting Masuyo-kun.”
“No ‘but’. If you’re that afraid of him finding out, you should’ve kept it better instead of cooking for him.”
“...” Sute looked to the ground, downcast, “But he’ll hate me…”
“You can’t know for sure until you tell him, Sute. But it takes a glance at his face to notice he’s already mad at you. Looks like it’s because you keep preventing him from achieving his goal.”
Masuyo glanced at the two, dumbfounded, “W-What are you talking about?!” he glanced at Sute and Kaira.
“C’mon, Sute, tell him. Greet him like you were supposed to. After all, he’s the one that deserves to know, right?”
Still perplexed, Masuyo focused his attention on the girl, who hesitated for a moment and glanced at the woman beside her. Sute’s eyes maintained some tears, but she looked directly at Masuyo and uttered with difficulty:
“Hello, Masuyo Hirano. It’s a pleasure to meet you… My name is… my real name is Sute…. Sute Nakai.”
Yep. That’s the end of it (at least volume 1).
Hi to anyone reading, this is the author, Kerry Kamiya. I just wanted to say a few things, it’ll be more like an Afterword for the entire MAL x HF contest, to be honest.
Choosing to write two novels at the same time when I had never written anything before was a risky gambit, but I’m glad I did it. Writing them forced me to learn and improve at all times because the two stories are so wildly different, but I really wanted both of them to have a shot, so I gave it my all, and hopefully, it showed up.
Regarding thanks, I believe I said it all in my other novel’s Afterword, but I’ll repeat it quickly: I thank my two friends B. Spark and Petr Nask, who each helped me with the novels in their own way, I’d like to thank MAL and HF for the opportunity, and I’d like to thank anyone that gave one of my novels a bit of attention. Thank you all!.
If anyone enjoyed it, please let me know, I’d really appreciate that. Goodbye!