Second Story – “Somehow Connected” – Prologue
It was 7:30 in the morning. The rays of the sun created a serene atmosphere. It was the kind of morning where breathing the fresh air felt refreshing and purifying. The chirping of birds echoed from a distance. The weather has been gloomy lately but it looked like it was clear today.
However, these days, knowing the cruel reality that’s about to come, it felt a bit depressing being unable to express my feelings in this line of work.
As Senpai approached, I thought of the question I’ve been wanting to ask.
Sometimes, it’s better not to know. But I couldn’t help thinking about it.
“According to the Information Department, Asuka… It looks like Miss Asuka Shiina’s life is going well.
She is a junior high school student with a cheerful personality and a lot of friends. She also gets along well with her family. She seems to live an enviably happy life.”
“Mm,” Senpai responded to my report with a tone clear of his unwillingness to continue. He scratched his head and complained, “The intel from the Information Department is always too vague. And it always happens to be a tough job. Providing such generic information, how do they expect us to get moving? Can you work on this job by simply sitting on a rocking chair and expect the solution to come? Don’t you think so?”
Even if I was also dissatisfied with the Information Department, there was nothing I could do.
“But are we really doing it this way? I don’t understand. If we tell the truth, the hole in the client–Ms. Yayoi’s heart might deepen more.” Trying to ignore Senpai’s words, I expressed my uneasiness.
Senpai directed his gaze at me. “Apprentice.”
“Apprentice, don’t lump truths and facts together. Even if there’s only one fact, everyone has his or her own truth. And that’s what’s more important.” Senpai corrected.
I don’t understand what he meant.
I gave a non-committal reply and let the words hang in the air.
We’re in front of the small but elegant two-storey home of the Shiina family, waiting for Asuka since early in the morning. The curtains in her room on the second floor have been open for about 30 minutes now so she should have already woken up and started preparing for the day.
“It should be about time for her to go to school. As always, the Information Department is unreliable!”
Just as Senpai mumbled his complaints, the front door opened. “I’ll be going,” a cheerful voice called out.
Her maroon hair was a bit messy but her round face was charming. Wearing a slightly old-fashioned dark blue uniform that suited her well, she was an attractive girl. Her liveliness was characteristic of the typical energetic and diligent junior high school student.
“Senpai, there’s Asuka. The person herself.”
“Well then, let’s go.” Senpai said but I hesitated. “Is it really okay?”
Senpai dismissed my anxiety with his nonchalant attitude.
“I may not be the best in this but I think it’s better this way. If you don’t want to come, then just leave.”
“W-wait! I’m coming!”
I hurriedly followed after Senpai.
Asuka walked along the road to school with light steps. We’ve been waiting ahead and came into Asuka’s field of vision. She looked slightly shy seeing us blocking her path. In contrast, Senpai had his usual nonchalant expression.
“You’re Asuka Shiina, right?”
“Huh? Yes… And who are you?” Asuka asked in confusion.
“Sorry to visit you early in the morning. I’m Shindo and this is Nikaido. Actually, we came here to tell you some bad news. Will you give us a moment?”
Confusion was written all over Asuka’s face as she tried to make sense of the situation with these strangers.
Senpai tried to show empathy with a painful look on his face as he delivered the bad news.
“Asuka, your ‘real’ mom has died.”
“Huh?” Asuka answered with a look of confusion on her face.
I still don’t know Senpai’s intention in doing this. I just can’t see how this will lead to a good outcome. As I stared at Asuka, whose mind was in a muddle of confusion, I kept my silence.