Kurosagi mixed the batter for her cookies in her kitchen. She added a whole bag of chocolate chips into the batter and mixed it in. She began to place the batter on a pan making sure to make the cookie shapes separately. She placed the pan in the oven and shut it with her foot. It was then that she heard a knock on her door. She opened it only to see Hatori standing before her with a bag of groceries.
“Do you need to put those away?” asked Kurosagi. Hatori nodded as he walked pass Kurosagi. Hatori placed some of the groceries in the fridge and then looked at Kurosagi.
“Do you want to go out somewhere for lunch?” asked Hatori. Kurosagi looked toward the stove.
“The stove will shut automatically when the cookies are finished, so I don’t mind as long as there isn’t a case.”
Hatori smiled and suggested a new restaurant that just opened around the district. Before Kurosagi could say any words of agreement, she heard the front door to her office open followed by a familiar voice.
“Kurosagi, are you in?”
Kurosagi sighed realizing that it was Orchie. Kurosagi peeked from her kitchen door allowing her to see Orchie walking to her desk.
“What do you want Orchie?”
Orchie smiled and was about to speak, but stopped when he saw Hatori peeking from above her. Orchie frowned.
“Are you still here?”
“Of course; I do live here,” pointed out Hatori already sensing the hate in Orchie’s voice. Orchie’s frown deepened.
“I wonder why Kurosagi would even agree to house you,” mumbled Orchie. Kurosagi cleared her throat loudly getting Orchie’s attention.
“What do you want Orchie?” repeated Kurosagi. Orchie pulled out a folder from his bag and handed it to Kurosagi.
“It’s another case we need your help in,” stated Orchie. Kurosagi flipped the folder open with her thumb and read through it rapidly.
“There’s a serial killer in Ohtori Elementary School. The weapon is unknown, but it is clear that they were strangled. There are five victims so far the latest being Ran Su, age ten,” stated Kurosagi.
“That’s right. The news hasn’t made it public yet because the school is famous for the rich kids and the principal wants it to remain a secret.”
Hatori frowned and asked, “So you guys are trying to capture the serial killer, while keeping a low profile?” Orchie nodded. Kurosagi smirked and shut the folder.
“So you want me to get you the clues from the latest victim, so you can investigate?”
“And my payment?”
Orchie handed her a check of five thousand dollars. Kurosagi took the check with a smile and said, “The deal is done.”
Kurosagi looked up at Hatori and said, “We can have lunch after this.” Hatori nodded feeling slightly disappointed.
Orchie led them out of the office and instructed Hatori to ride in the car with him, while Kurosagi biked. In the car, Orchie glared at Hatori and asked, “Do you even have any intention of moving out?”
“Well Kurosagi doesn’t pay me enough for me to live on my own,” said Hatori. Orchie groaned. Hatori looked back at Kurosagi’s biking figure and then looked back at Orchie.
“When did you first meet Kurosagi?”
“When I was in first grade. My grandpa brought her home one day saying she was an old friend, who would be living with us for a while.”
Orchie smiled and added, “She was taller than me at that time.” Hatori saw Orchie’s warm smile and asked, “Were you in love with her at that time?” Orchie blushed.
“Well I was a kid back then and Kurosagi was really cute, so of course I had a crush on her,” stuttered Orchie. Orchie frowned and added, “Noda also had a crush on her at that time too.”
“Noda, do you mean Noda Sato?”
“So you guys knew each other in the past?”
“I would think so. We are cousins.”
“Cousins? But your last names don’t match.”
“Our mothers were sisters, so of course we don’t have the same last name!”
Orchie groaned and muttered, “Why the hell am I even talking with you? You’re the enemy.” Hatori sighed. It was with that conversation that he learned that Noda Sato also met Kurosagi when he was in elementary school. The age of Kurosagi was still a mystery.
They arrived at Institute of Mura and also saw the outdated blue Prius making it clear to Hatori and Kurosagi that Noda Sato was in the building. They entered the building and were immediately allowed access when Orchie showed his detective’s badge. They walked through the hall to a room labeled morgue.
“The body is in here.”
Kurosagi nodded and pressed the button on the card reader. A small ringing echoed in the room behind the door followed by a voice through the card reader.
“Who is it?”
“Noda is that you in there?”
“Kurosagi, so Orchie did call you?”
“I’ll open the door right away.”
The door clicked open and Noda dove down to hug her, but Hatori grabbed her from under her arms and lifted her off the ground preventing Noda from hugging her. Noda looked at Kurosagi and Hatori and asked, “Is this a new way to reject my hugs?” Kurosagi sighed ordering Hatori to put her down. Hatori placed her down gently. Kurosagi glanced at Hatori and said, “I could have just sprayed him with the road kill spray.”
“That’s why I picked you up, so you wouldn’t have to,” retaliated Hatori. Kurosagi turned away from Hatori in a huff. Noda and Orchie stared at them with wide eyes. Noda adjusted his glasses after getting over his initial shock and welcomed them into the room. When in the room, they saw a body of the dead Ran Su upon the metal table.
“Is that her?” asked Kurosagi. Noda and Orchie nodded.
“She’s so young,” muttered Hatori with sadness in his voice. Kurosagi walked to the body and said, “I’ll get the clues.” They all nodded keeping silent.
Kurosagi held her hand over the body.
“Give me the three clues I need to solve this case, Ran Su.”
Kurosagi touched the body and gasped as the heat rushed through her body and her eyes became glazed.
“School, strap, Study.”
Kurosagi removed her hand and fell to her knees. Noda, Orchie, and Hatori ran to her side. Kurosagi smirked looking at her hand.
“School, strap, and study: the three clues I need to solve this case.”
Kurosagi got up and repeated the three clues to Orchie. Orchie nodded and added, “Those are pretty vague, but now we know that the murderer is somewhere in the school and that the murder weapon is some form of strap.”
“That’s correct, so is that all you need?”
Orchie smiled widely and asked, “Can you go under cover in that school?” Kurosagi frowned.
“As a student?”
Orchie nodded and added, “You just need to wear the school uniform and you will pass out as a student there. We just need to have Terry make a fake file for you.”
Kurosagi groaned and asked, “Are you serious?” Orchie nodded.
“We can’t have police all over the school or the press will catch on, so we need you to help us.”
Kurosagi crossed her arms and said, “I’ll do it as long as Ogami-San can also sneak in and that you give me a payment of an extra ten thousand, understand?” Orchie nodded pulling out his checkbook. Orchie looked at Noda and said, “Can you do me a favor and call Terry to make a fake file for Kurosagi and Ogami-San?” Noda nodded pulling out his cell phone.
Orchie handed the check to Kurosagi and said, “Ogami-San would be able to get in if he pretends to be a substitute teacher.”
Kurosagi nodded and looked at Hatori.
“Is that OK with you?” asked Kurosagi. Hatori nodded and added, “I was a tutor before.”
Noda hung up the phone.
“Terry created the fake files: Kurosagi is Emi Su and Ogami-San still has the same name, but now he has a teaching degree. Kurosagi will be able to get in the school as a transfer student and Ogami-San will be her teacher most likely.”
Kurosagi nodded in approval. Orchie placed his hands over Kurosagi’s shoulder and asked, “So why couldn’t I come along?” Kurosagi sprayed his face with the road kill spray making Orchie gag.
“You stick out too much and don’t try to sneak in to hug me,” stated Kurosagi. Orchie groaned and glared at Hatori. Hatori flinched wondering what he did now.
Orchie scratched his nose and said, “We should get you some new children sized clothes, so how about we head to Derrick’s store.” Kurosagi nodded. Hatori looked at Orchie in confusion and asked, “Isn’t Derrick an archeologist?”
“He is, but he’s also a clothes designer and a makeup artist,” stated Orchie. Hatori remembered Derrick’s facial reconstruction and wondered if his makeup skills had anything to do with it.
They headed out of the morgue and out of the Institute of Mura. Kurosagi boarded her bike and sped off as Orchie and Hatori went into the car. On the way to the store that Derrick owned, Hatori looked out the car window. He saw a group of elementary school girls chatting with each other in front of an ice cream parlor and began to wonder if Kurosagi ever went to elementary school when she actually was eight.
Orchie made a sudden stop of the car making Hatori hit his head on the glass of the car window. Hatori cradled his head as Orchie smirked to himself. Hatori didn’t need to be a detective to know that Orchie did that on purpose.
Orchie shut the engine off and stepped out of the car with Hatori. Kurosagi had already parked her bike as she headed to a store called “Whitman’s Arts”. Hatori went to Kurosagi’s side and asked, “Is this Derrick’s store?” Kurosagi nodded with a smirk. Hatori and Kurosagi stepped into the store ahead of Orchie. The store was filled with people of different races looking through an assortment of clothes each with a different style and makeup that were of the highest brand.
“Derrick’s merchandise must be very popular,” said Hatori as he looked at the people. Kurosagi chuckled and asked, “You remember that suit you were wearing when you first met me?” Hatori nodded.
“That was one of Derrick’s brands.”
Hatori gasped remembering how expensive the suit his late wife bought him was.
“So he’s a top brand maker?”
Kurosagi nodded. Orchie raised an eyebrow at Hatori and stated, “I’m surprised you didn’t even know.” Hatori sighed and admitted that he ignored brands when he bought clothes. Hatori suddenly felt someone holding the hem of his shirt and gasped, leaping back. A woman around the age of twenty was looking at him with her hands reached out to him.
“Those clothes you are wearing are well made and made from rich fabric, where did you get them?” asked the woman filled with excitement. Hatori saw the woman’s intrigued look and suddenly felt that his life might be in danger. As a defense, he picked up Kurosagi and held her protectively thinking that the insane woman might target Kurosagi too. Kurosagi pushed at Hatori’s cheek asking what he was doing. The woman saw Kurosagi and burst into a smile.
“You look exactly like the girl in the picture,” stated the woman in excitement. Kurosagi raised an eyebrow asking what picture.
“The picture in Mr. Whitman’s office. He is always smiling when he sees the picture.”
Kurosagi frowned making Hatori confused. Kurosagi managed to slip from Hatori’s grasp and asked, “Can you take me to see Derrick?” The woman blinked in confusion.
“Why would you want to see him?” asked the woman. Before Kurosagi could answer, the woman answered, “I bet you want to tell him about his childhood sweetheart.” The woman winked and offered to bring Kurosagi to the office. The woman walked ahead humming to herself. Hatori and Orchie stared at her back with nervous stares.
“She’s a strange character,” stated Hatori. Orchie nodded in agreement. Kurosagi crossed her arms and added, “She must be new not to know who I am.”
They followed the woman to the back where an office labeled “Derrick Whitman” was placed. The woman knocked on the door lightly.
“Who is it?”
“Ayumi Shureii, a trusty worker.”
“What do you want?” asked Derrick through the door in a frustrated tone.
“I have a surprise.”
“Can it wait? I have to finish this dress before tomorrow for an important client.”
“This can’t wait,” stated Ayumi as she looked down at Kurosagi.
“Fine!” exclaimed Derrick allowing Ayumi entrance. Ayumi opened the door and presented Kurosagi, Hatori, and Orchie. Derrick fell silent as he looked at them. Ayumi smirked and held a hand toward Kurosagi.
“She looks like the girl in the picture, so she might be related to your little sweet heart.”
Derrick dashed to hug Kurosagi in his bliss, but Hatori immediately lifted her up causing Derrick to hug air instead. Derrick looked up at Kurosagi, who was being held by Hatori.
“That’s new,” muttered Derrick. Kurosagi glanced at Hatori and said, “I could use the spray.” Hatori placed Kurosagi down ignoring her statement. Ayumi looked at Hatori and asked, “Are you this girl’s father?” Hatori fell silent. Derrick shooed Ayumi out of the room ordering her to continue her work. Derrick shut the door and looked at Hatori, Kurosagi, and Orchie seriously.
“I’m guessing you guys aren’t here to visit.”
“We need you to make an elementary look for Kurosagi for she can sneak into Ohtori Elementary School.”
Derrick looked down at Kurosagi and smiled as he noted that Kurosagi already looked so young. Kurosagi just gave Derrick a glare making him chuckle. Derrick glanced at an unfinished dress on a table.
“I’ll finish that dress later to work on your disguise.”
They all nodded as Derrick began to gather his supplies. Hatori glanced at Derrick’s desk and saw a picture of Kurosagi in a Lolita dress with a younger looking Derrick holding her shoulders with a bright smile. Hatori picked up the picture and asked, “When was this taken?” Derrick glanced at Hatori and gasped when he saw Hatori holding the picture. Derrick yanked the picture away and stuffed it in his desk drawer.
“That was back in middle school around the time when I first met Kurosagi, but you shouldn’t touch other people’s things, Hatori.”
Derrick’s cheeks were tinted red. Derrick gathered the last of his supplies and began to work on Kurosagi’s disguise. Kurosagi crossed her arms at Derrick and asked, in an annoyed tone, “Why do you still have that picture?”
“Because it is my favorite.”
“Then why did you show it to Shureii-San, when you promised not to show it to anyone else.”
“She only saw it by chance,” said Derrick in his defense. Hatori saw Derrick and Kurosagi have that small quarrel and found himself chuckling at the sight. The way Derrick acted around Kurosagi made Hatori believe that maybe they were sweethearts in the past.
Orchie frowned at the sight and muttered, “I really hate it.” Hatori glanced at Orchie wondering what he meant.
Derrick finished the clothes quickly and handed them to Kurosagi.
“See how they fit and then I will fix your hair.”
Kurosagi nodded and took the clothes. She went into a closet shutting the door behind her. Hatori looked at Derrick and asked how he knew Kurosagi’s size if he didn’t measure her. Derrick admitted that he made many disguises for her and already knew her size by heart. Kurosagi stepped out of the closet making them all look at her.
Kurosagi shirt was baby blue with light pink Sakura blossom designs around the collar and raining in the front. A Sakura branch design was just around the side of the chest of the shirt. The short skirt was white, but if you look closely there where designs of clouds that seemed almost mystical. The clothes fit her body structure perfectly.
“Perfect,” cheered Derrick happily. He then told Kurosagi to sit in an empty chair. As Kurosagi headed to a chair, Hatori stared at her, admiring her innocent look. Kurosagi sat in the chair and Derrick immediately began to comb her hair. Her hair looked messy at times, but as Derrick brushed it, her hair began to show its true radiance. Derrick placed a blue headband upon her head and nodded.
“That should do it. It’s a simple look but it is easy to get out of it and you look even younger than you did before.”
Kurosagi looked at her own reflection in a mirror and traced her fingers upon it. Her hair pulled back did make her look younger. Orchie cleared his throat getting her attention.
“Do you want to explore the school today before attending tomorrow?”
Kurosagi nodded and added, “I need you to stay clear Orchie, while I’m there.” Orchie nodded even though he was against it. Kurosagi then grabbed Hatori’s hand making Derrick and Orchie gasp and said, “You’re going to teach there, so you might as well come, Sensei.” Hatori nodded as he trailed behind Kurosagi with her holding his hand.
When they were out the door, Derrick looked at Orchie and asked, “Since when have they been so close? Why doesn’t she spray him with the road kill spray when he hugs her?” Orchie admitted that he didn’t know as he clenched his fist.
It didn’t take long for them to reach the school because it was close to Derrick’s store area. Hatori and Kurosagi stepped through the gate. Kurosagi looked at Hatori and ordered him to call her Emi Su when on the campus. Hatori nodded. They explored the school, which was relatively quiet. Kurosagi noted that the students were in class.
Kurosagi suddenly heard a cat meowing and looked up. On a high branch was a white cat meowing, while clawing at the tree. Kurosagi knew for a fact that the cat couldn’t get down by the way it was meowing. She looked at Hatori and said, “Please remain here.” Hatori nodded and watched her ascend the tree. Hatori wanted to help her up, but she refused his help.
“I don’t need monkey ashes to climb a tree like this,” stated Kurosagi. She grabbed branch after branch sending her higher. Hatori gasped when he saw that Kurosagi’s white underwear could be seen from the bottom. Hatori looked away to be polite and said, “No climbing trees when you start attending classes here.” Kurosagi looked down at Hatori and smirked.
“Not all boys are interested in seeing undergarments, Ogami-San,” stated Kurosagi. Hatori gulped wondering if Kurosagi knew how boys really acted. Kurosagi reached the branch of the cat and urged it to approach her. The cat stared at her and then rubbed against her hand. Kurosagi took the cat and hugged it against her chest.
Kurosagi flinched and looked ahead. From a window of the school was a brown haired ten-year-old boy wearing the school uniform and smiling toward her with a few others looking over his shoulder.
“Who are you?” asked Kurosagi mildly surprised.
“Aito Manabu, age ten and you?”
“Emi Su, age ten.”
Aito smirked and asked, “Are you a new student or just wanted to save the cat?” The others behind him giggled.
“I’m a new student starting tomorrow.”
The others behind Aito began to bicker wondering why a new student was coming. Kurosagi raised an eyebrow at him and the students and asked, “Aren’t you in class now?”
“It’s self-study time, but then I saw you climbing a tree and found you more interesting,” stated Aito. The others nodded in agreement. A small girl the same age as Aito peeked out and asked, “Do you know which class you’re in yet, Su-Chan?” Kurosagi shook her head.
“I hope you get into ours. You look interesting. By the way my name is Mako Kuran, age ten.”
Kurosagi nodded at her.
“Let me see too,” said a voice among the students. Kurosagi’s eyes widen when she realized that the voice sounded familiar. Out of the students emerged Yuki Hotohori, a boy she met in one of her cases. Yuki saw Kurosagi and Kurosagi prayed that he might have forgotten her. Yuki adjusted his glasses and asked, “Have we met?” Kurosagi shook her head and smiled.
“I don’t think so.”
Yuki scratched his head wondering if his mind was fuzzy. He sighed and said, “Well my name is Yuki Hotohori, age ten, and you are?”
Yuki scratched his head and said, “Even the name sounds familiar.” Kurosagi sighed realizing that she told him her secret name during the case as well.
“Who are you guys talking too?” asked another voice among the students. Kurosagi flinched realizing that the new voice sounded familiar too. Out from the crowd she saw a glimpse of blonde hair. Kurosagi prayed that it wasn’t who she thought it was, but destiny wasn’t so kind to her. Out of the crowd popped out Leo Anezska, who she met back in Russia. Leo saw Kurosagi and smiled.
“Who are you?” asked Kurosagi quickly. Leo gasped and asked, “You don’t know who I am?” Leo began to whimper. Kurosagi smiled and stated, “This is my first time meeting you after all.” Leo stared at Kurosagi with a raised eyebrow and sighed.
“Well my name is Leo Anezska, age ten, an exchange student from Russia.”
“My name is Emi Su, nice to meet you.”
Leo continued to stare at Kurosagi, but Kurosagi refused to spill the beans.
A small girl with short brown hair waved to Kurosagi beside Leo and announced, “My name is Hana Jiro, age ten, nice to meet you Su-Chan.” Kurosagi nodded at her and realized that her surname sound oddly familiar.
The other students introduced themselves one by one. They stopped abruptly when an angered voice of a boy emitted from behind them, screaming, “You guys are supposed to be studying!” Aito looked back in the room with a pout.
“Fine, fine, Chiri,” muttered Aito. Aito looked back at Kurosagi and said, “Because of grumpy Chiri, we have to go back in. Hope you get into our class.” Kurosagi nodded and watched Aito close the window as everyone headed back into the room. Kurosagi sighed in relief and began to descend down the tree with the cat in hand.
Kurosagi stumbled nearly making her fall, but Hatori caught her and placed her on the ground gently. Kurosagi looked at Hatori seriously making him confused.
“Is something wrong, Kurosagi?”
Kurosagi placed the cat down allowing it to run off and said, “When I transfer into the school and you happen to be my teacher, I want you to pretend that you don’t know me.”
“Do you remember, Yuki Hotohori?”
Hatori nodded. Hatori then became pale and asked, “Is he in this school?” Kurosagi nodded and added, “Leo is also in this school.”
“Shouldn’t Leo be in Russia?”
“He’s an exchange student.”
Hatori clasped his forehead and began to understand why the investigation was a secret. Russia would be angered if they learned that the new heir was enrolled in a school containing a murderer.
Kurosagi placed a hand under her chin and added, “There’s also a girl named Hana Jiro and I can’t put my finger on it but her name sounded familiar.”
“So be cautious around her too?”
Kurosagi nodded. Kurosagi then crossed her arms and stated, “It was good that we checked the school a day before transfer.” Kurosagi stared up at the closed window.
“Hopefully I won’t be in that classroom.”
The next day, Kurosagi and Hatori attended the school together. The bell of the school echoed through the halls as children of different ages raced to the classroom. Hatori held Kurosagi’s hand and said, “Stay close.” Kurosagi glanced up at Hatori and said, “I told you to pretend not to know me.”
“I know, but I am a teacher now that is just worried about a new student, so no worries.”
Kurosagi smirked and clenched Hatori’s hand gently. Hatori looked around the hall and grabbed the hand of a woman walking by. The woman looked at him and blushed. Hatori’s very being seemed to be surrounded by flowers through the woman’s eyes. Hatori smiled at her and asked, “Do you know where the principal’s office is?” The woman nodded with hearts practically in her eyes.
“I’ll take you there…what’s your name?”
“Hatori Ogami, I’m a new substitute teacher.”
“I see, well my name is Riri Kino, a teacher as well,” stated the woman with her eyes filled with admiration. Kurosagi noticed the woman’s behavior and chuckled.
Ogami-San is attractive.
Riri cleared her throat and began to lead the way to the principal’s office. Riri suddenly noticed Kurosagi and asked, “Is this your daughter?” Hatori shook his head.
“She’s a new student here. She needed to go to the principal’s office too, so I kept her with me.”
“How kind,” stated Riri, her admiration of Hatori increasing. Hatori didn’t quite understand, but he felt that he should avoid Riri in the future.
They soon reached the principal’s office. Riri bowed to Hatori and stated that she had to return to her class. Hatori nodded and wished her farewell. When Riri was gone, Kurosagi smirked at Hatori and asked, “Do you fancy that girl?” Hatori flinched and looked down at Kurosagi.
“I do not.”
“Well she sure fancied you.”
Hatori sighed and asked, “Can we just go inside the office already?” Kurosagi nodded with a smirk still upon her lips.
Hatori opened the door and jumped back when he heard someone yell, “Are you serious?” It was clearly a man’s voice. Hatori and Kurosagi peeked inside and saw a thirty-year-old man leaning on a large desk with the palm of his hands pressed firmly on. Behind the desk was a man around his forties sitting in a chair and staring at the younger man.
The forty-year-old man entwined his fingers and said, “I’m sorry Sohma-San, but with the complaints from parents and the falling grades of your class, I have no choice, but to put you on leave.”
“But I can’t be suspended.”
“My answer is final besides you hardly take a vacation, so this would be a good time for you to do so.”
The man, Sohma, turned away with a tight fist and scowl upon his face. He walked pass Hatori and Kurosagi not paying them any mind. Kurosagi watched the man walk off and could have sworn that she saw something dark surround his body.
The man at the desk took notice of Hatori and Kurosagi and smiled at them. He held his hand toward them and apologized for the ruckus. Hatori and Kurosagi walked in making sure to close the door behind them. The man shook Hatori’s hand excitedly.
“You must be the new substitute teacher.”
Hatori nodded and introduced himself politely. The man nodded in approval and then looked down at Kurosagi. The man knelt in front of Kurosagi and asked, “You must be the new transfer student, Emi Su, correct?” Kurosagi nodded and bowed deeply.
“Please take care of me.”
The man nodded and introduced himself as the principal of Ohtori Elementary School, Seoul Ohtori. Seoul handed Hatori a manila folder and stated, “This has a list of your students and the lesson plan.” Hatori opened the folder and read it silently to himself. As Hatori read, Kurosagi went up to Seoul and asked, “Is Ogami-Sensei substituting for the class of the teacher you were talking with?” Seoul nodded.
“I should fire him, but I can’t afford to do so,” stated Seoul. Seoul then ruffled Kurosagi’s hair and added, “But you shouldn’t worry, little one.” Kurosagi nodded. Kurosagi looked at Hatori and noticed how wide his eyes had become.
Hatori flinched closing the folder. He looked down at Kurosagi and said, “Looks like Emi-Chan transferred to my new class.” Hatori grabbed Kurosagi’s hand and said, “We should go to class together.” Kurosagi nodded as did Seoul. Hatori pulled Kurosagi out of the room nearly making her fall.
When out of the room, Kurosagi glared at Hatori asking what had gotten over him. Hatori handed the folder to Kurosagi with uneasiness written all over his face. Kurosagi opened the folder reading over the contents. Kurosagi flinched when she read the school roll. The names “Yuki Hotohori” and “Leo Anezska” hit her nerves like lightning.
“So I did end up in their class,” muttered Kurosagi. Kurosagi handed the folder back to Hatori with a sigh.
“Pretend not to know me,” reminded Kurosagi. Hatori nodded; the folder now under his arm.
They walked down the hall of the school all the way to their new classroom. Hatori heaved out a sigh and walked in with Kurosagi behind him. The minute the door opened, a dry eraser fell on top of his head followed by the laughter of children. Hatori removed the eraser from his head and looked at the culprits: his new students.
Hatori walked to his new desk and ordered all the students to sit down, but they kept playing around and chattering to one another. Hatori clenched his forehead realizing why their grades had plummeted. Kurosagi glanced up at Hatori and whispered, “You need to be strict.” Hatori nodded. Hatori then slammed his fist on the desk making all the students fall silent and look at Hatori. Hatori smirked.
“Now that I have your attention, I am your new substitute teacher, Hatori Ogami, but please call me Ogami-Sensei.”
Leo and Yuki gasped in surprise and exclaimed, “I know you!” Hatori flinched.
“His wife used to work with my father in Fuji Corporations.”
“He’s Kurosagi’s assistant.”
Aito stood up from his chair and asked, “Is he really Kurosagi’s assistant?” Leo nodded and added, “I can’t be mistaken.” The students, just as excited, began to rain questions about Kurosagi on Hatori. Hatori clenched his fist and exclaimed, “I quit being Kurosagi’s assistant not too long ago!”
“Really?” asked Leo in disappointment. Hatori nodded. Hatori cleared his throat and added, “Now then, I am your new substitute teacher and…”
Hatori held his hand to Kurosagi.
“This is Emi Su, your new classmate.”
Kurosagi bowed to them. The students looked at her and exclaimed in excitement.
“She really got into our class.”
“I knew she would.”
The noise of the students increased. Hatori slammed his hand on the desk again silencing them. He nodded and told Kurosagi to sit next to the window. Kurosagi did as told. Sitting on her right was Leo; in her front was Yuki, and behind her was a boy she had yet to know the name of. Hatori cleared his throat and said, “According to the teaching schedule, you guys were learning math, so please pull out your math book.” They all nodded pulling out their textbooks. Kurosagi did the same. She suddenly noticed that Leo look distressed and asked, “Did you forget your book?” Leo nodded. Kurosagi raised her hand getting Hatori’s attention.
“Can I share my book with Leo-Kun?”
Hatori nodded and suddenly came to the realization that he forgot to call out roll. He pulled out the roster and read out their names one by one. As he called roll, Kurosagi scooted her desk next to Leo’s and placed her textbook between them. Leo looked at Kurosagi and felt his heart race.
“Are you really not Kurosagi?”
“Isn’t Kurosagi older, Leo-Kun?” asked Kurosagi in an innocent tone. Leo blushed and looked down at the textbook.
After calling roll, Hatori began the lesson. As Hatori taught math, he began to frown. He looked at his class and asked, “Why doesn’t this book mention Domain and range?”
“Because this is elementary school,” pointed out the boy, Chiri Hori, who sat behind Kurosagi. The other students laughed. Hatori frowned and stated, “The elementary school I went to taught me Domain and range.” Kurosagi raised an eyebrow at Hatori wondering what school he had attended.
When it was lunch time, Kurosagi was surrounded by most of the students.
“So what school did you go to before?”
“Is your family rich or is it a scholarship?”
“Where do you live?”
The questions were endless and Kurosagi felt like she was drowning. Yuki noticed this and began to push the others away.
“Su-Chan is new, so give her space guys,” reprimanded Yuki. The others pouted and muttered that Yuki just wanted “Emi” all to himself. Yuki just scoffed and looked back at Kurosagi.
“Are you all right?”
Kurosagi nodded and added, “It was just a bit much.” Yuki chuckled and pulled his seat in front of her desk.
“So what did you pack for lunch?”
Kurosagi began to open her bento. Leo went to Kurosagi’s desk and said, “I want to see too.” Aito, Mako, and Hana were also eager to see Kurosagi’s bento. Kurosagi sighed wondering when contents of a bento became popular. Kurosagi removed the lid of her bento revealing a salad with no dressing and three large chocolate walnut cookies on the side. They all stared at her lunch with wide eyes.
“You have no meat dish?”
“I don’t eat meat.”
“Those cookies are huge.”
“I like cookies.”
Kurosagi reached out to one of the cookies only to see Hatori’s hand pull all three out. Kurosagi glared at Hatori demanding what he was doing.
“The salad is fine, but you need to lower your intake on cookies,” reprimanded Hatori. Kurosagi tried to retrieve the cookies but to no avail. Leo stared at them and asked, “If I remember right, didn’t you treat Kurosagi the same way before?” Hatori flinched. Leo smirked and yelled, “I got it!” Kurosagi and Hatori looked at Leo wondering if he figured it out.
“You didn’t quit, you were fired!”
Hatori fell silent. Leo crossed his arms with a nod.
“I bet you became a teacher when you realized that Su-Chan looked like Kurosagi. In other words, you are nothing but a stalker!”
Hatori became pale, while Kurosagi tried to hold back her laughter.
“Was Ogami-Sensei that close to Kurosagi?” asked Yuki. Leo nodded.
“He did carry her like a princess back in Russia when she was only wrapped in a blanket.”
“So he’s a pedophile?” asked Hana. Hatori gasped and shook his head.
“You got the wrong idea. I really did quit and I was just reprimanding Emi-Chan because of the cookies.”
“Suspicious,” they all said in unison. Hatori groaned with a hand against his forehead. Kurosagi finally managed to grab her cookies to Hatori’s displeasure and munched on them like a chipmunk. Kurosagi sat back down and ate her salad.
“Why don’t you eat meat?” asked Mako. Kurosagi wiped her mouth and stated, “I ate a chicken roast before and it turned out that it wasn’t fully cooked. After that, I never ate meat again.”
“Just because of that experience?” asked Aito. Kurosagi nodded and added, “If you were me at that time, you would do the same.” Hatori heard the conversation and remembered one of Kurosagi’s powers. Hatori covered his mouth to conceal his laughter as an image of Kurosagi turning into a chicken crossed his mind.
There was still some time left before class restarted, so Aito suggested that they study together. Mako pouted and stated, “But studying is boring.”
“Don’t say that,” stated Aito. Mako frowned. Kurosagi smiled and said, “I don’t mind, I do need to catch up with this class.” Aito smiled holding Kurosagi’s hand.
“Then let’s study.”
Kurosagi nodded. Leo frowned and yanked Aito away from Kurosagi’s hand.
“Let me study with you guys too,” said Leo with a strained smile.
“But don’t you usually study in your hotel room?” asked Hana. Leo looked at Hana and exclaimed, “I can study here if I want too!” Yuki smirked adjusting his glasses.
“Then let me join in this study group.”
Hana gasped in surprise as she looked at Yuki. She clenched her hands and said, “I’ll join the group too.” Aito chuckled and said, “So Hana, Yuki, Leo, Emi, and myself.” Kurosagi looked at Mako and asked, “Aren’t you going to join?” Mako shook her head.
“Like I said, studying is boring,” said Mako and then left the group. Aito frowned and said, “She’s always like this when it comes to studying.”
They began to study with the little time they had. Kurosagi felt someone staring at her and looked to her back. She noticed that Chiri had flinched and that the paper on his desk had moved.
“Do you need something Hori-Kun?” asked Kurosagi. Chiri flinched and asked, “Can I join your group?” Aito looked at Chiri and chuckled.
“I thought you liked to study by yourself.”
“Well I’m having…”
Chiri turned red. Kurosagi smiled and asked, “You’re having a problem with some of the equations in the book, am I correct?” Chiri nodded feeling embarrassed.
“No need to feel embarrassed, we are still learning after all, so come join us,” said Kurosagi. Chiri nodded joining their study group. Hatori noticed the smile on Kurosagi’s face and smiled himself.
I wonder if Kurosagi had friends like that in the past.
At the end of the school day, Kurosagi left the school grounds with Leo, Yuki, Hana, Mako, Chiri, and Aito. Hatori apparently had to stay behind to make a quiz.
“So where do you live?” asked Leo.
“In a clothes shop with my uncle.”
“A clothes shop, that’s neat,” stated Hana excitedly. They suddenly heard someone calling Hana’s name and looked ahead. Approaching them was a boy in a school uniform that Kurosagi recognized as a Tomoeda High School uniform. Kurosagi also recognized the boy approaching them: Kouryou Jiro. Kurosagi was glad that she was in Ikuto’s form when she met him before. Kouryou stopped in front of them and picked up Hana making her giggle.
“So how was school little flower,” asked Kouryou in a slightly higher pitched voice.
“Great!” cheered Hana. Kouryou looked down at Kurosagi and the others and bowed to them.
“Thanks for staying with Hana until I came for her.”
“No problem Kouryou-Nii-San,” stated Aito. Kouryou noticed Kurosagi and asked, “Are you a new friend?” Kurosagi nodded.
“My name is Emi Su.”
“Well nice to meet you Emi-Chan.”
Kurosagi sighed in relief. Kouryou bowed to them again and left with Hana in his arms.
I knew I heard her last name before.
Leo waved his hand in front of Kurosagi’s face bringing her back to her senses.
Kurosagi nodded. She adjusted her bag and said, “Well I better get going.” Kurosagi began to walk off, but Leo grabbed her shoulder and said, “You can’t go home yet.”
“I wanted to take you out for ice cream to welcome you to the class.”
Leo nodded. Yuki and Aito suddenly grabbed his shoulder making him flinch.
“You’re not planning to go without us, are you?”
Leo chuckled and claimed that he was getting to them. Chiri scoffed and said, “I’ll pass. I need to continue to study at home.” Chiri turned to leave, but stopped in his tracks when he heard Leo add, “I was planning on buying you cookie dough ice cream, but I guess I’ll give it to Emi.” Chiri changed his direction back to them.
“Just this once.”
The others chuckled. Mako pouted and said, “I planned to watch a movie today, so I’ll pass.” Mako ran off before Leo could even coax her in.
Kurosagi knew that she wouldn’t be let go, so she pulled out her phone and dialed the number of Hatori.
“Hello,” answered Hatori through the phone.
“Uncle I am going to get some ice cream with some friends so I’ll be back later.”
“Fine, but who are you going with?”
“Leo-Kun, Yuki-Kun, Hori-Kun, and Aito-Kun.”
“…What happened to the girls?”
“They went home.”
“You can’t go out with a group of boys!”
“They’re in elementary school so don’t worry.”
“But one of them already kissed you back in Russia.”
“That’s different, now bye.”
Kurosagi hanged up the phone before Hatori could say anything else. Kurosagi looked back at the boys and said, “Shall we?”
At the ice cream parlor, Leo ordered everyone ice cream. Aito got chocolate; Yuki strawberry; and Leo got himself vanilla with sprinkles on top. He looked at Kurosagi and Chiri and asked, “So what do you guys want?”
“Cookie Dough ice cream,” Chiri and Kurosagi said in unison. They looked at each other.
“You like cookie dough ice cream?”
“Of course, it’s my favorite,” stated Kurosagi as if everyone in the world had already known. Chiri found himself smiling. Leo frowned as he looked at them and then ordered their ice creams.
They sat at an empty table with their ice creams in hand. Yuki looked toward Kurosagi and asked, “Are you sure we haven’t met before like around Fuji Corporations?”
“I’m sure,” stated Kurosagi and licked her ice cream. Yuki clenched his head and said, “But you really do look familiar.” Aito chuckled and asked, “Are you hitting on Su-Chan?” Yuki blushed and shook his head.
“It’s not like that.”
Kurosagi chuckled at Yuki’s reaction. Kurosagi looked at her ice cream and said, “I wish Mako-Chan and Hana-Chan could have joined us.”
“Well Hana-Chan always goes home with her brother and wouldn’t miss it for the world and Mako-Chan just wants to watch her movies.”
As they continued to talk, they didn’t notice a man in the shadows in the opposite building staring through the ice cream parlor window toward them.
“They’re my students, my precious students, so please leave them alone.”
After eating their ice creams, they began to get ready to leave. Kurosagi grabbed the closest bag and realized that it didn’t belong to her.
“Sorry that’s mine,” stated Aito as he pulled the bag away from Kurosagi. Kurosagi apologized grabbing her own bag. They left the ice cream parlor going their own way. Kurosagi met up with Hatori around Whitman Arts and was lectured about how a girl should not take boys lightly. Kurosagi sighed wondering why Hatori was nagging. Kurosagi then looked at her hand making Hatori concerned.
“I’m not quite sure.”
It was raining the next day and Kurosagi got a call from the school that classes were canceled. Kurosagi hanged up the phone and looked toward Hatori and Derrick.
“I’m heading to the school.”
“But didn’t the school say that your classes were canceled.”
“Use your head, Ogami-San. School wouldn’t be canceled because of a light rain like this.”
“Do you mean…?”
Kurosagi nodded and added, “There’s another body.”
Derrick handed Kurosagi and Hatori two umbrellas before they headed out into the rain. Just halfway from the school, a police car pulled next to them. The window of the car rolled down revealing Orchie.
“So you already know about the new body?”
Kurosagi nodded and asked, “Do you know who it is?” Orchie sighed and said, “We haven’t identified the body yet, but it is definitely a student of Ohtori Elementary school.” Kurosagi placed a hand under her chin in thought. She then raced to the school making Hatori chase after her. Orchie slid his window shut and drove after them.
The Ohtori elementary school seemed silent except for policemen at the front gate. Kurosagi approached them gripping the handle of her umbrella.
“So where’s the body?” asked Kurosagi. One of the policemen looked down at her and then began to push her away.
“There’s no school today so go home,” stated the policeman. Kurosagi groaned. Hatori saw Kurosagi being shoved away and ran to her side. He pulled Kurosagi to him and looked at the policeman seriously.
“What gives you the right to mistreat Kurosagi?”
The policeman gasped and looked down at Kurosagi wondering if it was some sick joke. Orchie, who had reached the site, waved at the policeman from behind Hatori and said, “That girl’s Kurosagi so let her through.” The policeman nodded and moved to the side as did the other policemen as if Kurosagi was a ruler. They walked through the gates of the school.
Orchie led them to a back building of the school as the rain poured harder than before. Orchie pointed toward a covered corner and said, “The body’s there.” Kurosagi and Hatori went to the corner. Kurosagi lifted up the cover of the corner and frowned.
“I know who this is.”
Kurosagi lifted the cover for Hatori and Orchie to see. Hatori covered his mouth as tears began to fall from his eyes. With a red ring around her neck lay the body of Mako Kuran with blank eyes wide. Kurosagi placed her fingers over Mako’s eyes sliding the eyelids shut as best she could.
“Mako Kuran, age ten, in fifth grade class B.”
“So she was your classmate?” asked Orchie. Kurosagi nodded and added, “She was still alive right before I went to the ice cream parlor with some of the students.” Hatori’s hand was shaking.
“Who would kill someone so young?”
“That’s the thing with murder: anyone can die no matter what age they are.”
Kurosagi covered the body and said, “Please tell her parents of her death.” Orchie nodded. He brushed his wet hair back.
“It really does get harder with each case.”
Orchie walked off dialing on his cell phone. Kurosagi glanced at Hatori, who was staring at the covered body of Mako.
“Are you going to be OK?” asked Kurosagi. Hatori nodded.
“I’ll be fine as long as we catch this murderer.”
Kurosagi closed her eyes as she turned away from Hatori.
“You’re kind hearted, but don’t let it get in the way of your work, Ogami-San.”
Kurosagi was ready to walk away, but stopped in her tracks when she noticed something near a tree. She walked to the tree adjusting the umbrella in her hand. With closer inspection, she saw that it was white fur. She wiped away the mud and cringed. Before her lay the head of the white cat she had saved before. Kurosagi held her hand over the decapitated head and muttered, “Speak to me.” Kurosagi touched the head and felt the rush of heat enter her body. She gasped and dropped the umbrella onto the ground. Hatori gasped and ran to her side asking what was wrong. Kurosagi’s eyes became glazed as the words escaped her mouth.
“I don’t want to die. It hurts. I never did anything to you.”
Hatori yanked Kurosagi’s hand away breaking the connection. Kurosagi was breathing heavily as her eyes returned to normal. Kurosagi stared at the head of the cat and said, “I have a feeling that this cat has a connection with the murderer.”
Kurosagi clenched her hand with the water soaking into her hair.
“I can’t say until I get more proof.”
Kurosagi stood up from Hatori and picked up the fallen umbrella. She slid it closed as she began to walk off. Hatori stared after her in concern. Hatori then looked at the decapitated head of the cat and pulled out a camera from his coat. He took a picture of it and then returned to Mako’s body to do the same.
Kurosagi walked out of the gate dripping wet. She walked pass the policemen and down the sidewalk forgetting Hatori for a while.
Kurosagi flinched and looked up only to see Aito standing before her with an umbrella over his head.
Aito ran to Kurosagi holding his umbrella over her.
“Why are you walking around in the rain with a closed umbrella?” asked Aito in concern. Kurosagi smirked and said, “I was already soaking wet, so I thought ‘why not?’” Aito sighed.
“Just because school was cancelled today doesn’t mean that you have to get sick right away.”
Aito grabbed her hand and added, “My house isn’t too far from here, so let’s go there to get you dry.” Kurosagi nodded as she was dragged along. She looked back toward the school thinking that Hatori would be all right without her for now.
Kurosagi was dragged into a two-story house that stood behind a white picket fence. Aito closed the door behind them and dragged her to the second story. He pushed open a door revealing an extravagant bathroom. The toilet, bathtub, floor tiles, and sink were all made from real white marble and the handles looked pure gold. Aito opened one of the cabinets in the bathroom revealing stacks of towels of different dark colors. He pulled out the ruby colored towel and handed it to Kurosagi.
“Go ahead and take a bath and then you can dry up.”
Kurosagi nodded and watched Aito leave the room. The door closed shut and then Kurosagi removed her soaked white dress and white panty. She turned on the faucet above the tub allowing the water to run down. She placed her small hand under the running water waiting for the right temperature. As she did this, she didn’t hear the door open a crack.
Aito peeked through the crack and saw Kurosagi’s nude body. There wasn’t a scratch on it and her wet hair shined in the light of the bathroom. Aito blushed clenching the change of clothes in his hands. Aito shut the door making sure it didn’t make a sound clenching his chest. He leaned against the closed door breathing heavily.
Kurosagi finished washing up and wrapped the large towel around her body. She opened the door and sighed when she saw Aito sitting in front of it.
“Why are you here?” asked Kurosagi clenching the towel from the front. Aito flinched and looked at Kurosagi. Kurosagi’s half naked body caused him to blush madly. He closed his eyes still red and held the change of clothes to her.
“I forgot to leave these clothes in the bathroom for you,” Aito said quickly. Kurosagi took them, thanking him, and then went back into the bathroom. Aito sighed in relief when she was out of sight. Aito crouched down gripping his head.
Kurosagi examined the pair of red shorts and blue shirt and came to the conclusion that they were Aito’s own clothes. Without a second thought she slipped the clothes on and spread out her white dress and panty to dry. Her hair was still wet, so she placed the towel over her shoulders to prevent the shirt from getting too wet. She exited the bathroom and saw Aito crouched down.
“Are you all right, Aito-Kun?”
Aito gasped and nodded rapidly. He looked at Kurosagi and smiled.
“I’m glad my clothes fit you,” stated Aito. Kurosagi nodded and then held the hem of the shirt.
“I’ll change back to my old clothes when they are dry.”
Aito suddenly ran into the bathroom to Kurosagi’s surprise. Kurosagi looked back in the bathroom and saw Aito gathering the wet clothes.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to get them washed.”
“Well you can’t wear dirty clothes.”
“I guess that’s true.”
Aito nodded and ran pass her to the laundry room in the house. While he was gone, Kurosagi grabbed her bag that was sitting on the bathroom floor. She pulled out her phone and then dialed Hatori’s number on the phone. The phone rang on the other line and then Kurosagi held the phone away when she heard Hatori scream, “Where the hell are you?”
Kurosagi pulled the phone back to her ear.
“I’m at Aito-Kun’s house.”
“Why are you there?”
“I bumped into him by accident. He only took me here to get me cleaned up. Chances are that I’ll be here for a while until my clothes are dry.”
“I’ll pick you up, so tell me where he lives.”
“You’re not supposed to know me, Ogami-Sensei.”
“So you’re just going to stay in that house unprotected?”
“I’ll be fine, now bye.”
Kurosagi hanged up the phone and then placed it on mute. She couldn’t take the chance of Hatori calling her. Aito returned to her and said, “Your clothes should be done around three o’clock.”
“Why so long?”
“The dryer takes a while.”
Kurosagi smiled and then asked, “So what should we do while waiting?”
“Well we are going to have a test, so let’s study.”
“You really like studying huh?”
Aito turned away from her as if avoiding the question and said, “Let’s head to my room.” Kurosagi nodded as she followed Aito.
Aito opened the door to his room. His room had a king sized bed, a brown oak desk with a small velvet colored lamp, a shelf with different encyclopedias, and a dry erase board. Kurosagi looked around the room and said, “There aren’t any games here.”
“My mom doesn’t allow anything that doesn’t include studying.”
“She sounds strict.”
“She is, but she’s doing it so I won’t end up like my dad.”
Aito nodded as he pulled out one of his textbooks related to math.
“My parents are actually divorced. My dad was caught cheating at a night club, so my mom got everything in the divorce.”
Aito clenched his fist and added, “I really hate my dad.” Kurosagi placed a hand on Aito’s shoulder making him look at her.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to touch a sore subject, Aito-Kun.”
Aito smiled and said, “Don’t be and don’t add Kun to my name. Aito is just fine.”
“All right, Aito.”
Aito chuckled and said, “Now I can call you Emi instead of Su-Chan.”
“I didn’t say you could.”
Kurosagi frowned making Aito laugh. Kurosagi tackled him down in a playful matter and Aito fought back not putting much resistance. The door to Aito’s room suddenly opened revealing a woman that Kurosagi had never seen before. The woman’s hair was brown and tied in a bun. She wore black lenses that rested on the bridge of her nose and wore a brown business suit and brown heeled shoes. Aito flinched.
“You’re home early mom.”
Aito’s mom looked at Kurosagi and then back at Aito.
“I came home because the school called that your classes were cancelled. I thought you would be heading to your home tutor instead to study, but here you are playing with some new girl.”
Aito’s mother forced him to his feet making him give out a grunt. She gripped his arm and screamed, “Do you want to end up like your father? You have to study to have a bright future. Do you understand?” Aito nodded trying to hold back his tears. Kurosagi stood up and glared at Aito’s mother.
“He was only helping me because I was out in the rain. He was going to the tutor but because of me he decided to study at home.”
“Then who are you?” snapped Aito’s mother. Kurosagi stood her ground as she spoke.
“My name is Emi Su, his new classmate. We are studying the same thing, so it is OK to study together. Now please stop hurting him.”
Aito’s mother glared at Kurosagi and then released Aito’s arm. Aito’s mother marched out of the room and then said, “You two better study.” Aito’s mother slammed the door shut. Aito sighed in relief and looked at Kurosagi.
“You’re the first person who could stand up to my mom.”
“Well it didn’t seem right for her to be so rough on you.”
Aito smiled and grabbed his textbook.
“So should we study?”
Kurosagi nodded as she sat on the floor next to Aito. They studied what seemed like hours. Aito was amazed on how much Kurosagi knew about math and actually found it fun. Unbeknownst to them, Aito’s mother was watching through a crack through the door. She smiled as she watched them seriously studying.
Three O’clock had past and Kurosagi changed back into her original clothes. She stared at the clock and said, “I better head home before my uncle worries.”
“Are you sure?” asked Aito filled with disappointment. Kurosagi nodded.
“I know for a fact that he is going to lecture me when he learns that I was at a boy’s house.”
Aito chuckled and said, “He’s just worried.”
“I know, but I can take care of myself,” said Kurosagi. Kurosagi opened the door revealing that the rain had turned into a drizzle. She opened her umbrella and walked out into the rain wishing Aito farewell.
Aito watched Kurosagi as she walked off. Aito felt his mother’s hand on his shoulder and looked up at her.
“That girl is well educated, so you can be friends with her.”
His mother nodded and added, “Tell her that she is welcome in the house anytime.” Aito nodded and watched his mother walk into the kitchen. He saw an imprint of Kurosagi’s bare foot on his patio and wondered why she had no shoes on.
Kurosagi returned to Whitman Arts and was right about the lecture from Hatori. Derrick listened with a smile plastered on his face. Kurosagi sighed wondering why she had to take this from Hatori. Hatori cleared his throat after his lecture. He then handed Kurosagi a couple of photographs. Kurosagi stared at them and asked, “What are these?”
“Pictures of the crime scene. I thought that they would help out with the case.”
Kurosagi took them and examined each one of them. A smile formed on her lips and said, “These are good.” Hatori smiled proudly at himself. Kurosagi stopped on a certain picture, staring at it hard. The picture was the tree where the cat head was discovered. Kurosagi pointed it out to Hatori.
“When was this taken?”
“I took this picture after you left, why do you ask?”
Kurosagi looked back at the picture. Kurosagi chuckled and said, “I think I have this case solved.”
“What?” exclaimed Derrick and Hatori. Derrick pointed at the pictures and asked, “How could the case be solved with just those pictures?”
Kurosagi flashed the picture of the tree with a smirk upon her lips.
“Because this tree has shown me the truth through the darkness, so are you two ready to follow into the darkness with me to see the truth as well?”
Hatori and Derrick nodded.
The very next day, Kurosagi, in her uniform, walked down the street by herself, her bag firmly over her shoulders. She heard the running footsteps behind her and turned around only to see Leo and Yuki. Kurosagi smiled at them wishing them a good morning.
“Good morning to you too,” greeted Leo. Yuki adjusted his glasses and asked, “Do you want to walk to school together?” Kurosagi nodded. Yuki was suddenly hugged from behind causing him to gasp. Yuki looked back and saw Hana hugging him.
“I’m here too, so let’s go together!”
Yuki sighed and nodded. Hana cheered. Kurosagi looked at Hana and asked, “So where’s your big brother?”
“He went to school with Ikuto-Nii-San.”
Hana nodded and added, “He’s been friends with big brother for a long time. I’ll introduce you to him next time.”
“I’d like that,” stated Kurosagi, but hoped that she would not really meet him.
Kurosagi sighed when she saw Aito dragging Chiri behind him. Chiri smacked Aito away and yelled, “Don’t drag me along!”
“Well I wanted to greet Emi faster, but you were going too slow.”
Chiri gasped and yelled, “When did you start calling her first name without an honorific?”
“Yesterday,” stated Aito simply. Chiri was turning red. Kurosagi approached them and asked, “Do you want to walk with us?”
“Of course,” stated Aito happily. Chiri looked down and nodded clearly embarrassed.
Kurosagi walked with them to the school. Kurosagi glanced at each of them and sighed.
They soon reached the school and saw that the entrance was empty.
“I wonder if the other students thought that today was a holiday still?” stated Yuki in thought. Kurosagi chuckled and said, “Actually it is still six in the morning.”
“Then why were you already heading to school?” asked Leo in a mildly loud voice. Kurosagi scratched the back of her head sheepishly.
“Well Ogami-Sensei told me to come to school early because I had cleaning duty.”
“But you’re still a new student,” pointed out Chiri.
“I know, but that’s what Ogami-Sensei told me on the phone.”
Leo clenched his fist and said, “I get it. That pedophile is trying to take advantage of Emi by making her come early just because she resembles Kurosagi.”
“I don’t think that’s the case, Leo-Kun,” stated Kurosagi. Kurosagi then smirked and asked, “I’m here early for a reason, so why did you guys wake up early?” They all looked at each other uneasily.
“I didn’t look at the time, but I got a call to come to school.”
“It was the same for me too.”
“It happened before, but I never really listened. It sounded different this time, so I came.”
“I was curious.”
Aito nodded and added, “I got the same call.”
Kurosagi frowned and asked, “Did you recognize the voice?” They shook their heads.
“None of us would have come if we saw the time,” stated Chiri. They all nodded in agreement. Kurosagi knew something wasn’t right. Kurosagi shook her head and said, “Well let’s go inside the class to wait for the caller and you guys can help me clean.” They all nodded and then ran onto the school grounds.
They ran into the school building ignoring the other empty rooms. Aito slid open their classroom door and stopped in his tracks.
“Something wrong?” asked Chiri as he went to Aito’s side. Chiri peeked into the room and was shocked to see that the desks were already in order. The chairs were usually placed on top of the desks after school has ended and yet they were already in place in front of the desk as if class was about to start. Kurosagi and the others were just as surprised.
“Looks like someone came here before us,” stated Yuki. Aito chuckled and said, “Looks like we can already sit down and wait.” Aito walked to his desk.
“Aito, maybe we should find Ogami-Sensei first,” stated Kurosagi. Aito pulled out his chair and then froze in place. His face became pale as a ghost.
Aito let out a scream and ran back to them. He grabbed hold of Chiri making him gasp. Chiri tried to pry off Aito to no avail.
“What’s the big deal?”
“There’s a dead cat in my desk!” screamed Aito. Kurosagi ran to Aito’s desk. She peeked into it and cringed. Inside of Aito’s desk was the headless white cat. Kurosagi walked to Aito and asked, “Tell me Aito, is this the first time you have seen the body of a dead animal?” Aito shook his head.
“How many times have you seen a body in an unusual matter?”
“Counting this one, it would be six times,” stated Aito shaking. Hana nodded in agreement and said, “There was once a dead puppy in his shoe locker.”
Yuki adjusted his glasses and added, “If I remember right, there was a dead snake in his gym clothes.”
“There was also a dead bird in the fountain he always drinks from.”
Aito gulped and said, “I didn’t tell anyone this but there were two dead rabbits in my backpack once.” Chiri groaned and said, “That’s why I told you to tell a teacher. This is clearly bullying.” Kurosagi closed her eyes.
“This is an unusual question but did any of your friends disappear when you found the dead animals?”
Aito released Chiri as he went into thought.
“Now that you mention it, the same day the bird appeared, I learned that Ran Su had vanished. It was the same with the rabbits. When the rabbits came I heard that the twin girls I studied with had vanished. With the snake it was Susie and the puppy was Patty.”
Aito turned pale and asked, “Are their disappearances related to the dead animals?”
“Then who disappeared now?”
Kurosagi clenched her fist and said, “I heard that Mako-Chan had vanished.” All of them were stunned. Hana covered her mouth and asked, “Who would want to do this?” Hana looked at Aito and added, “And why give the dead animals to Aito-Kun?”
Kurosagi sat in an empty chair and asked, “Have you ever heard of a stalker?” They all nodded.
“Well Aito has one and that person will do anything to protect Aito even if it means to kill off his friends.”
Aito gasped and asked, “Are you telling me that they didn’t vanish, but were killed?” Kurosagi nodded.
Aito clenched his head and screamed, “Why would someone do something so horrible?”
“Those girls, what did they say to you at least once?”
“What does that have to do with…?”
“I need to know.”
Aito clenched his hand and said, “They told me that studying was boring.” Aito’s eyes widen.
“Is that why they were killed?”
Kurosagi nodded and added, “Who do you know wants you to always study?” Aito shook his head.
“It can’t be my mom, she wouldn’t go that far.”
“You’re right about that,” stated Kurosagi. Aito looked at Kurosagi bewildered.
“Your mother can see you any time she wants and she has no reason to leave dead animals with you. She doesn’t fit the profile of a stalker.”
“Then who would…?”
Aito turned pale. Kurosagi smirked and asked, “Do you understand now?” Aito covered his mouth. Yuki, Leo, Chiri, and Hana looked at Aito filled with confusion.
“What’s wrong, Aito-Kun?” asked Hana. Kurosagi pointed at Aito.
“Your stalker is someone who used to be a teacher in this school and was married to Kasumi Hime. Kasumi divorced him when she found him cheating and took full custody of their son and all the fortune. He could only watch you by sneaking in the school where he lives secretly. He’s always been watching you and kills off people who he thinks his ex-wife would hate to be with their son.”
Aito was trembling and muttered, “My dad?” Kurosagi nodded.
Kurosagi looked toward one of the lockers in the back and asked, “Isn’t that right, Manabu-San?” One of the lockers opened revealing the shriveled Takuto. His hair was a mess and his clothes were torn at each corner. Aito and the others gasped. Takuto stepped out of the locker. He smiled at Aito with yellow teeth and asked, “Is your mother treating you well?” Aito backed away.
Takuto looked at his hand and said, “Your mother is a strict woman. She also decides your friends and if they hate studying she gets rid of them.” Takuto smirked clenching his hand.
“So I did the same but in a way that they will never approach you again.”
Tears fell from Aito’s eyes as he backed farther away. The others did the same. Aito looked at Kurosagi and saw that his father was just inches away from her.
“Emi get away from him!” screamed Aito reaching out to her. Takuto looked down at Kurosagi and chuckled.
“I thought you were a good friend for Aito, but you are nothing but a liar,” stated Takuto pulling out a backpack strap from behind his pants. Kurosagi smirked back at him.
“So I was right that you were there when I came to inspect the body of Mako-Chan.”
Kurosagi flashed a picture of the tree to Takuto and said, “I saw your figure up in the tree where the cat was discovered in the picture. I had Terry zone in on your face and then had you identified. When Aito told me about the animals I knew that the murderer could only be you.” Takuto laughed and asked, “So that’s it?”
“I also discovered that the murder weapon was a strap from Aito’s bag. I remember back in the ice cream parlor that the straps on his bag didn’t match. You’re a sick bastard to use an object of your son’s to kill.”
Takuto smirked and added, “You really are the great detective Kurosagi.” Leo, Yuki, Hana, Chiri, and Aito gasped.
“So you really are Kurosagi?” asked Leo. Kurosagi nodded and said, “Nice to see you again too, Leo-Kun.” Leo smiled, but then it faded remembering their situation. Takuto stretched out the strap above Kurosagi.
“I would be doing my son a favor by killing you,” said Takuto. Takuto tried to wrap the strap around Kurosagi’s throat, but she ducked and ran to the others’ side. She opened her bag pulling out two vials labeled cheetah and gorilla. She flicked off the lids of the vials and poured the ashes within them into her mouth. Kurosagi smirked as Takuto glared at her.
“What are you up to brat?” demanded Takuto. Takuto ran at her, but Kurosagi leapt above him and slammed her foot behind his head. Takuto’s eyes widen when he felt the impossible force from Kurosagi’s foot. Takuto’s head slammed against the floor just in front of the others. The sound his head made against the floor sounded like a rock slamming against a wall. They backed away as Kurosagi landed on one of the smaller desks.
Kurosagi pushed a strand of her hair behind her ear as Takuto struggled to get up.
“You might have a concussion, so I suggest that you don’t move, Manabu-San,” warned Kurosagi. Takuto glared at her as he stood up. Takuto stretched the backpack strap with blood leaking from his forehead.
“Don’t tell me what to do!” screamed Takuto with the determination to kill.
Takuto heard a gun cock and turned around only to see Orchie with his gun drawn and pointed at him. Jonathan, Damian, and Mori were also present with their guns drawn. Derrick was also in the room and was trying to cover the other children.
Kurosagi nodded and said, “I needed to buy time for them to get here and I needed to get a confession out of you for them.”
“They weren’t here to hear it,” pointed out Takuto. Takuto saw one of the other lockers open revealing Hatori with a recorder in his hand.
“I recorded it all, so you can’t deny anything,” stated Hatori with a smirk. Takuto growled and looked toward Aito, who was being protected by Derrick. Takuto reached toward Aito and screamed, “I’ll be taking my son back!” Takuto was ready to run at them and Orchie was ready to pull the trigger, but Kurosagi landed between them. She pushed Takuto back with great force pushing him into one of the desks. Kurosagi held her hand at Takuto.
“You don’t deserve to die. School was the connection to the murderer, strap was the murder weapon, and study was the motive for murder. The connection has been made, now fall into the darkness, Takuto Manabu.”
Takuto screamed as he looked at Kurosagi’s red eyes. Takuto fell unconscious against the desks. Aito ran to Kurosagi and asked, “What happened to him?”
“He got what he deserved,” stated Kurosagi as she crossed her arms. Orchie and the other three policemen put away their guns as they went to Takuto’s unconscious form. Hatori went to Kurosagi and the other children and asked, “So everything went as planned?” Kurosagi nodded.
Kurosagi looked up at Hatori and said, “I thought you only called Aito.”
“I did,” stated Hatori. Aito looked at Hatori and asked, “So you called me?” Hatori nodded. Leo pointed at himself and asked, “So you also called me?” Hatori shook his head.
“I only called Manabu-Kun.”
Hatori looked at Hana, Chiri, Leo, and Yuki and then back at Kurosagi.
“Did you call them over?” asked Hatori. Kurosagi shook her head.
“There was no reason to call them for this plan.”
“Then who called us over?” asked Yuki as he adjusted his glasses. Yuki then looked at Kurosagi and said, “Now I know for a fact that I did meet you at Fuji Corporations.”
“You did,” stated Kurosagi. She then rubbed her chin and said, “I wonder who called you guys here.”
Orchie handcuffed Takuto and said, “We need to get him to the hospital first for this head injury.” Kurosagi smirked and apologized for the injury. Orchie shook his head.
“Nothing to worry about. How about you get these children back home?”
Kurosagi nodded and headed to the door with Derrick and Hatori behind her and the other children beside her. Before Kurosagi opened the door, she looked at Hana and asked, “So what did the caller say to you?”
“To come to class and play, it was really weird,” stated Hana. Kurosagi opened the door and gasped when she saw Sohma standing at the doorway.
“Sohma-Sensei?” the students said in unison. Sohma showed a crooked smile as he lifted up a bucket.
“The voices need to stop,” he muttered. Kurosagi stared at the bucket and caught a scent of something she was all too familiar with: blood. Kurosagi looked back at the children and screamed, “Get away!” Before the children could react, Sohma tossed the contents of the bucket at them. Blood escaped the bucket and splattered on all of the children including Kurosagi. All the children screamed as they tried to wipe the blood off. Hatori gasped and screamed, “What is this?” Kurosagi wiped the blood from her forehead cringing.
Sohma chuckled with the same smirk upon his face. Kurosagi was about to yell at him until she felt the temperature drop around her. She shivered and noticed that the others were shivering as well. Kurosagi heard a child’s laugh and cringed.
“This can’t be happening.”
“What’s happening and what’s that laugh?” asked Leo as he tried to rub the blood off his face. Kurosagi pulled out a pair of glasses from her bag and slipped them on. Kurosagi gritted her teeth. Within the room and hovering around Aito, Hana, Chiri, Leo, and Yuki were the spirits of children in tattered clothing. Kurosagi grabbed hold of Chiri to his surprise and screamed, “Get away from the children!”
One of the spirit children, a small girl, looked toward Kurosagi and grinned widely.
A force erupted from around Kurosagi and the children forcing the adults back. Hatori slammed against a small desk and then looked toward Kurosagi. Kurosagi and the children slowly began to vanish. Hatori ran to Kurosagi, but an invisible force prevented him from doing so. He looked at Kurosagi with desperation in his eyes.
Kurosagi tossed her cell phone at Hatori and screamed, “Call Miroku. I’ll find another way to contact you!” With those words, Kurosagi and the children vanished from the room. Hatori picked up Kurosagi’s cell phone and stared at the puddle of blood on the floor. Hatori glared at Sohma and screamed, “Where did they go?” Sohma laughed as tears fell from his eyes.
“I had to sacrifice them to stop the voices.”
Hatori’s whole form was shaking as the others stood up confused on what had happened. Hatori stared at the phone and hoped to God that Kurosagi and the children were all right.