Last Story – A Bouquet For Your Smile – Part 7

When I visited his office, Mr. Sasamine welcomed me as enthusiastically as he did last time. He ushered me to a room where I was served a cup of pleasantly fragrant milk tea. He sat in front of me, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sandals that were characteristically out of season, and looked at me with a big smile on his face and his arms outstretched.

“Yuma! I’m so glad you came! Have you learned anything new about Shindo since the last time we met? More or less, huh? I guess you already know what I’m gonna say. Anyway, what brings you here today? No, I’m not saying you can’t come here without a reason and I’d be happy if you really came for no reason, but did you come because of what I’m thinking? No? Too bad. So what part of my—I wouldn’t say small but—what part of my compact and sophisticated brain cells do you need today?”

He’s still such a stand up comedian.

Even though I was a little overwhelmed, I smiled wryly and decided to briefly explain my situation.

“It’s about Kyoko Kasuga. I wanted to know how you were able to resolve her lingering regrets. According to Senpai, this case would be a long-term battle—that my training would be over before it could possibly be resolved.”

Mr. Sasamine looked visibly disappointed and muttered, “Oh dear, so that’s how it is…”

“You know, you’re starting to sound like Shindo… I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing though. Even if agents have an attitude, well, I guess it doesn’t matter. I’m neutral with regards to that. In short, I don’t care whether you’re competent or not, or even if you’re dangerous or not. Anyway, so you want to know how I sent Kyoko Kasuga to heaven, right? Are you planning to use the same method? If so, then you’re missing the point. The reason I was able to send Kyoko to heaven was because she, herself, was the client. But this time, the client is Ko… Ko—what’s his name again?”

“Mr. Kobayakawa.”

“Right, Kobayakawa. And his girlfriend is Sana? I think that’s her name? Anyway, Kobakayawa, the client, wants to help Sana—if that’s the request, then I have nothing to tell you. I can even write you a referral, but only if the case was about Sana. If Sana was the one who passed away and she’s the client, then there’s a way to help her. But that’s not the case here. So, now that it’s clear, do you still want to learn how I sent Kyoko to heaven? Do you think it’ll be of any help?”

I got a little discouraged by what he said, but I still wanted to learn about what happened to Kyoko, particularly how she was able to resolve her lingering regrets and her relationship with Senpai and Mr. Sasamine, so I nodded, convinced that it wouldn’t be useless to know.

“Yes, I’d still like to know about Kyoko… No, that’s not quite right. I came here to ask you for some advice on how to deal with Sana. Perhaps it’s just for my self-satisfaction, but I came here to make sure I resolve everything before my training ends, so I’d like to know no matter what.”

Mr. Sasamine shrugged dramatically. “Even if it has to do with why Shindo hates me?”


Seeing me in shock, he laughed. Then he held up the index finger of his right hand and moved it back and forth as he continued.

“Shindo hates me. Without a doubt. But haven’t I already mentioned that? It’s nothing more than a grudge. If I had to simplify it, I’d say Shindo just wasn’t satisfied with the way I resolve people’s lingering regrets. Now then, here’s a question. As someone who was poisoned by Shindo, this may be a hard pill to swallow—though that in itself makes no sense—but would you still like to know how I sent Kyoko to heaven? Perhaps you will be forced to make a choice when you hear it? Will you side with Shindo and his heretic way or will you come back to me as a proper agent?”

I furrowed my brow. Mr. Sasamine’s tone of voice was a little off-putting, as if he were talking about something unspeakable. But whatever it was, I had to know.

—I’ve reached a point of no return. 

My gut instinct justified my resolve.

“Please tell me. How did you send Kyoko to heaven? And why does Senpai hate you?”

After looking into my eyes for a while, Mr. Sasamine nodded and said okay. 

And then, as though he was merely choosing what to eat for lunch, he told me something shocking.

“The answer is simple. I made Kyoko fall in love with me. I made her fall for me so deeply that she wouldn’t have any regrets about her life and then I cruelly dumped her. She fell into despair and said, ‘I don’t have any more lingering regrets in life.’ Don’t you think it’s such a clever idea? It’s what I call a first-class agent’s trick.”

—I was at a loss for words.

“No way…”

As though to berate me, Mr. Sasamine said, “But that’s what being an agent is all about, right? All you need to do is resolve the client’s lingering regrets and send them to heaven. We exist for that purpose, nothing more. Didn’t you learn that at the training institute?”

“But… But that’s too much!” Distraught, I almost screamed at him.

“It’s cruel, but that’s how you do it!” He shrugged.

“I guess that’s why I’m hated. Seeing you seethe in anger like this, I gotta say, I’m a little hurt.”

He played with the teacup, lined up three sugar cubes vertically and dropped them into his tea one by one.

Drop. Drop. Drop.

The sound of the sugar cubes falling into the tea resounded loudly.

“Yuma, have you ever thought about it? What happens to the human souls after they go to heaven? Even the greatest scholars don’t know of course, but I think—” 

He raised his index finger again and continued, “I think once they go to heaven, they will be purified and become nothing.

I was too shocked to talk, but he took a sip of his tea and continued, “And that’s why we were born. That’s right, we were born as the last hurdle for humans. As their thinking prowess evolved, they began to worry about what would happen to them if they died, and consequently developed a tremendous and uncontrollable fear of death. Humans can’t stand the idea of becoming nothing.”


Seeing that I didn’t react even after he finished talking, Mr. Sasamine picked up the pot of milk and a spoon and said, “Here, look.”

“Suppose this milk is ‘death’ and this spoon is ‘fear’. When death (milk) comes into contact with humans (tea), fear (spoon) is born at the same time. People try to escape from it in every way possible, but in the end, the milk—aka death—is stirred together with the spoon, making humans (tea) dance with ‘fear’.”

“And so,” he stopped stirring and took out the spoon from the milk tea. “We need someone to take out the spoon. It doesn’t matter how long you keep stirring it, does it? Death is absolute, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Once it comes, that’s it. So, at the very least, there must be someone to take the fear away. And that’s—”


“Exactly.” He smiled when he finally heard me answer.

“It is our job and our raison d’être to resolve the lingering regrets in this world and to remove the ‘fear’ from people. We take away the ‘spoon’ until they all reach heaven.”

Mr. Sasamine put the teacup to his mouth and gurgling sounds echoed from the back of his throat. 

“It’s empty.” He showed me the bottom of his cup. There was not a single drop of milk tea.

There was nothing.

“Isn’t it ridiculous? We’re practically babysitters.”

I was once again speechless at the sheer outlandishness of it all.

—Our raison d’être. The reason for our existence.

I turned pale and bit my lip hard, feeling overwhelmed at all this information suddenly thrown my way.

“Mr. Sasamine, that’s too extreme. It’s only a hypothesis.”

He muttered, “That’s right,” with a friendly smile.

“That’s right, a hypothesis is just a hypothesis. But perhaps other first-class agents also think that way? Including even Shindo, don’t you think? And I guess Shindo can’t deny my way of doing things either. After all, everything is the same once you are sent to heaven. Since it’s all the same, it doesn’t really matter how you do it. In short, it’s just a matter of knowing at what temperature milk tea must be drunk best. In my case, I like drinking it when it’s freshly made and hot. Because it tastes better that way.”

After he finished, Sasamine again poured black tea into a teacup and began to make milk tea.

“But… but…” 

I was about to rebuke him, but he simply said, as if to deliver the final blow, “Can you deny my way of things? I don’t think so. There’s no right method to begin with. It’s all pointless and meaningless.”

After saying that, he laughed merrily as usual.

“Well, it doesn’t matter what the process is. As long as it doesn’t bring danger to the living, I can clear the lingering regrets of the dead and send them to heaven. And that’s why I want to invest in you, Yuma.”

The true identity of the “first-class agent,” whom I had looked up to and desired to be more than anything else was…

Shocked beyond my wits, I shook my head several times until I was almost about to cry—

—But then I felt something inside me was breaking.

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