Volume 5 Chapter 3

Chapter 3


file 03: yearning (TRANSLATION NOTES)




We found Takeda Shunsuke –

Miyagawa received that news at about noon . He moved to the wireless to give instructions immediately .

‘Report the situation!’

He yelled at the wireless . The other investigation team members who were still in the room gathered round as well .

The nerves in the detective room had peaked .

<Arai spotted him in the back of a building by the scene and is chasing him . >

The one who answered was the detective in command at the scene, Shimizu .

Shimizu and the team had received information from an eyewitness who had sighted Takeda and had been questioning civilians near the abandoned building . They had spotted him coincidentally .

'Were you able to confirm it was Takeda?’

<No, it isn’t clear…>

Miyagawa felt irritated by the vague response .

'Was there anyone else who saw him?’

<There was not . Only Arai did . >

'Weren’t any other investigation members nearby?’

<He had just happened to go elsewhere for a task and spotted Takeda then, so…>

Shimizu was being completely unclear . Well, fine . They’d give their undivided attention to catching Takeda now .

Miyagawa cleared his mind of his irritation .

'Where are you stationed?’

<He was sighted escaping northward on a prefecture road in 3-chome . Naitou and I are following after Arai . >

Miyagawa followed the location with his finger on the enlarged map on his desk .

He was spotted near this building, went onto the prefectural road and headed north – if it went well, they might catch up .

'I’ll send reinforcements . ’

When Miyagawa pointed at the map, the four investigation members by his desk ran out of the room .

If they went ahead and blockaded the escape routes, they would definitely be able to stop him .

'I won’t let him get away . ’

Miyagawa gritted his teeth .

<We will reach him soon . >

A message came from Shimizu over the wireless .

– I’ll finally be able to catch Takeda .

The event that took fifteen years would come to an end . When Miyagawa thought that, he felt exhilarated .

There was silence –

They might be able to secure Takeda before reinforcements arrived .

Sweat rolled down Miyagawa’s back in his nervous state .

<This is Shimizu . >

The hesitant voice made Miyagawa’s heart beat more quickly .

'What happened?’

<Er… That is…>

'What!? Say it clearly!’ yelled Miyagawa .

<It seems we have lost him…>


<I sincerely apologise . >

'You bastard! Do you know what you’re saying? You’re not playing tag!’

It felt like his head would pop like a balloon from his anger .

'Explain what you mean!’

<That is… Arai had been following him, and according to what he said, he suddenly lost sight of Takeda…>

Those words added oil to the fire that was Miyagawa’s anger .

Making such stupid excuses at a time like this!

'Come back here right now!’

Even after the transmission ended, Miyagawa’s anger did not abate .

He picked up a nearby chair and threw it with all his strength out the window .




After leaving Hata’s hospital, Ishii turned his car into the parking lot at the precinct .

He shut off the engine and leant back in his seat .

He had been working with no sleep or rest since last night . His joints were stiff . His body was heavy, as if he had become an old man . He felt like he would be drawn into sleep .

But he didn’t have the time to rest . Just by delaying the investigation, Gotou’s survival chances dropped . There was still a mountain of things to do .

Ishii forced his body up and got off the car .

What he’d heard from Hata was extremely interesting . The problem was how to use that as a foothold to level the case .

Investigating around with no purpose would just waste time .

It would be quickest to make a hypothesis like Yakumo and prove it .

However, he hadn’t constructed that crucial hypothesis .

A feeling of helplessness ate away at his body .

'Think, Ishii Yuutarou . ’

Just as Ishii was encouraging himself, his mobile phone rang .

'Ishii speaking . ’

<U-um, it’s Makoto . >

It sounded like Makoto was walking somewhere . Ishii could hear the rhythm of her footsteps .

'Makoto-san, what is it?’

<Ishii-san, you seem a bit different . >

Makoto laughed as she said that .

Even if she said that, Ishii didn’t feel like anything was different .

'Is that so?’

<Yes . It’s like you’re a different person from the one you were yesterday . >

The only thing that had changed was that he was determined now . More importantly –

'What is it?’

<Ah, that’s right . Actually, I was investigating the case and found something very interesting . >

'What is it?’

There was the chance that it would be timely help for Ishii, who had reached a standstill .

<It’s about the testimony of A-ko-san, the person who reported the incident . >

'Was anything suspicious about it?’

<Yes . Rather than suspicious, I can’t explain it very well . Ishii-san, where are you currently?>

'I’ve just returned to the precinct . ’

<That’s great . Actually, I’ve just arrived at the precinct as well . Shall we speak in person?>

– Arrived at the precinct?

Ishii turned around and looked at the front entrance .

He spotted Makoto there with mobile in hand .

'Ah, I see you . ’

Ishii hung up and waved at Makoto .

Makoto noticed Ishii too and walked toward him with a smile .


There was the sound of breaking glass from up in the sky .

What is it – Ishii looked up .

A chair was falling . Why was a chair –

The chair smashed right into Ishii’s confused face .

Blood spurted out of his nose into the air .




Haruka got off the Shinkansen at Nagano Station .

She passed through the gate . The moment she went out to the station traffic circle, she heard the short honk of a horn . Haruka spotted Keiko leaning out of the window of a white minivan and waving her hand .

Even though Haruka hadn’t given a proper explanation, Keiko had gone along with her daughter’s whim and even come to pick her up . Keiko’s kindness made Haruka lower her head .

She ran up to the car and sat in the passenger’s seat .

'Welcome back,’ said Keiko kindly .

Haruka couldn’t look at Keiko’s face properly .

'I’m home . ’

Keiko gave Haruka’s face a pinch when she replied without looking up .

'Ey, tha hurs, Mum . ’

Keiko ignored Haruka’s resistance and pinched her daughter’s cheek even harder, looking like she was having fun .

– It hurts, it hurts .

Haruka flapped about to resist and somehow escaped Keiko’s hand .

'Honestly, what are you doing all of a sudden?’

Keiko laughed as she looked at Haruka with a hand against her cheek in her protest .

'OK, OK . If you’re that energetic, you’re fine . ’

Keiko patted Haruka’s shoulder, put the car out of park and started the engine .

She must have been worried . When Haruka was troubled, it showed in her attitude . Haruka’s chest suddenly hurt the way it did when she told a lie .

'So why are you looking for Azusa-san all of a sudden?’

Keiko looked at Haruka while driving .

Haruka didn’t know how to answer the question, but she had to .

'I said that I go to the same university as Azusa-san’s son, Yakumo-kun, right?’

'Yup, you told me . What sort of child is Yakumo-kun?’ said Keiko with excited eyes .

Since he was the child of a friend who she hadn’t heard from in fifteen years, it was natural for her to be interested .

'Even if you ask me what sort of child he is…’

Haruka was lost for words . It was difficult to explain Yakumo in one word .

'Is he cool?’

Even though her mother was going to be fifty soon, she was acting rather like an idol-obsessed girl .

'Well, in a way . ’

'I’ve only seen photos of him as a child, but I thought he’d definitely grow up to be cool . Which Johnny’s[1] member is he like?’

'Why would you use Johnny’s as an example?’

'If you’re talking about cool, it’s Johnny’s, right? Korean groups are no good . I can’t bring myself to like them because they feel too perfect . ’

Haruka was the one who felt embarrassed when she looked at Keiko, who was as excited as a teenage girl .

She would have preferred it if her mother liked something more tasteful such as Ishihara Gundan[2] .

'He doesn’t look like anybody in Johnny’s . ’

Keiko covered her mouth and smiled when she heard Haruka’s refusal .

'Hey, can I say what I think?’


'The reason you’re looking for Azusa-san . ’

Haruka didn’t know what Keiko was thinking, but she seemed to be having fun .

Before Haruka responded, Keiko started talking on her own .

'Haruka, you and Yakumo-kun truly love each other and vowed to marry . ’

'What are you saying?’

Haruka objected loudly, but Keiko wasn’t listening .

'Well, just listen . You’re looking for Yakumo-kun’s mother, Azusa-san, so you can tell her about your marriage . Right?’

There was a limit even to delusions .

Haruka was so astonished by her own mother that she couldn’t say anything . Her head hurt .

'Of course not!’

Haruka said that angrily, but Keiko was nonchalant .

It was like Haruka was talking with Yakumo .

'But you like him, right?’


'Yakumo-kun . ’

Keiko smiled knowingly .

'I hate him . He’s a really unpleasant guy . ’

Haruka hadn’t been planning on responding, but it just came out of her mouth .

'Oh, is that so?’

'It is . He’s contrary and he’s always making fun of me . He says things like “Do you want to be clumsy or stupid? Make up your mind . ” He was really awful the other day too . He threw me into a pool . ’

Haruka objectively listened to the words that kept coming out of her mouth .

The more she said, the more hollow she felt . Like she was talking about somebody who was already gone –

She had been holding it back until now, but the feeling that she might never meet him again was spreading .

'What? So you really do like him, don’t you?’ said Keiko, sounding exasperated .

'I said I hated him, didn’t I!?’ said Haruka, in a voice so loud it even surprised herself .

– Why am I getting so worked up?

Haruka couldn’t find the answer to that question .

'I see…’

After Keiko murmured that, she parked the car by the sidewalk and turned off the engine .

The cars passing them sounded extremely loud .

Haruka had her hands in fists on her lap . Keiko laid a hand on top of them . It was warm .

Her mother accepted her . When Haruka felt that, she relaxed from the sense of relief and the check she had put on her feelings stopped working .

'I really hate that guy . He disappeared without saying anything . Don’t you think that’s horrible? Even though I believe in Yakumo-kun, he’s always alone . He’d be fine even if I weren’t there…’

Tears started falling from her closed eyes .

– I’m frustrated .

Haruka realised that . She was frustrated that Yakumo had disappeared without saying anything .

The distance between Yakumo and her had been much, much farther than she had thought . She had been forced to feel that anew .

'Did Yakumo-kun go to search for his mother?’

Keiko pulled Haruka closer to her by the shoulder and hugged her .

Haruka’s body relaxed and she nodded, resting against Keiko’s chest .

'And you’re searching for Azusa-san to find Yakumo-kun then?’

Haruka nodded again .

'Yakumo-kun might be dead . ’

Haruka gripped Keiko’s hand tightly .

'What are you saying? You’re searching for him because you haven’t given up, right?’

As Keiko rubbed Haruka’s back, Haruka could smell her mother’s scent .

It’s warm –

The anxiety she had held by herself until she had felt like she was going to burst was softening .

– I haven’t given up . I will definitely find Yakumo and give him a good punch .

Haruka decided that again while in Keiko’s arms .




Ishii sat at his desk and looked at the mirror he had borrowed from Makoto .

His glasses were cracked . There was gauze on his nose . A piercing pain in his nose made him wrinkle his brow . Even he thought he looked terrible .

'Are you really all right? You should go to the hospital…’ said Makoto, looking troubled .

'I’m fine . ’

Ishii returned the mirror to Makoto . He didn’t care about his appearance at all right now .

'Why did a chair fall?’

Ishii didn’t know either . It was an interesting mystery, but he didn’t have the time to concern himself with that .

'More importantly, could you tell me what you were talking about, Makoto-san?’

Ishii changed the topic while bearing his pain .

Makoto still looked worried, but she reluctantly opened her notebook .

'Actually, today, I met with A-ko-san, who was the one who reported the crime . She lives near the precinct . ’

I see, so that was why she called from in front of the precinct . But –

'Why did you meet with A-ko-san?’

For a moment, Makoto looked troubled by Ishii’s question, but she started speaking after licking her lips .

'Actually, there was a small contradiction in her testimony . ’


'Yes . According to her testimony, on the day of the crime at nine PM, she heard a scream from next door while she was watching a television drama . ’

'If I remember correctly, the dossier said that the report came in at twelve AM…’

Ishii’s lips narrowed into a thin line .

'That’s right . She claimed it was at nine PM, but actually, the report came in at twelve AM…’

'If what she said is correct, that would mean she reported the incident three hours after she heard the scream . ’

A distortion of time –

Ishii flipped through the files he had received from Miyagawa, found the page had A-ko-san’s testimony and followed it with his finger .

It really did read 12:07 AM .

– No, that’s wrong .

It had been written over, stamped with a thumbprint and changed . Before the change, the time had been written as 9:10 PM .

'The police pointed out that contradiction to her and in the end, she said that her memory might have been playing tricks on her and that it might have been at twelve AM, changing her testimony . ’

'She changed it…’

'But from how it felt when I was talking to her today, she appears to still doubt that . ’

'I see! So that’s how it is!’

Ishii stood up in his agitation . In A-ko-san’s testimony, there was the same distortion of time that had resulted from Hata’s autopsy .

'Ishii-san, what is it?’

Makoto’s mouth was agape as she looked at Ishii .

'Actually, I just heard something similar this morning . ’

'Something similar?’

'That’s right . The coroner, Hata-san, was told that the time of death he gave, seven to nine PM, contradicted with the scene of the crime and had had to change it to about twelve AM using a broad interpretation of the facts . ’

Makoto appeared to have understood the situation and put a hand over her mouth in her surprise .

Ishii could have jumped in his agitation .

'Now there’s no more doubt about it . The actual time of death was much earlier than twelve AM . ’

It was probably past nine PM –

'But how about the time of the report and the detective’s testimony? And even if the time of the murder was different, what would change?’

Just as Makoto said, even if the time of the murder changed, the situation wouldn’t change much .

– No, wait a second .

Ishii started diligently following the investigation materials with his finger again .

He found the passage he was looking for immediately . It was a log of Takeda’s actions from the day of the crime .

They hadn’t been able to get Takeda’s testimony, but the testimony of those around him had been collection .


Ishii hit the desk in his delight .

'What is it?’

Makoto looked at Ishii’s face in concern .

He wasn’t insane .

'Please look at this . ’

Ishii pointed at the passage as he showed Makoto the document .

As Makoto looked at the paper, her expression hardened before Ishii’s eyes . Then, her eyes went wide and looked up at Ishii’s face .

'I see . In this testimony, Takeda’s ex-colleague, C-san, was together with Takeda until about nine . Then, Takeda revealed that he was going to talk things out with Katsuaki . ’

'Which means…’

'That’s right . If A-ko-san did hear a scream past nine, like she said in her testimony, then Takeda has an alibi . ’

Even though Ishii had meant to express his reasoning confidently, Makoto looked depressed . She had a complex expression on her face, like the food she had eaten wasn’t as delicious as it looked .

'But why is there a difference in time? Why did A-ko-san report the incident to the police three hours after hearing the scream?’

It was just as Makoto said .

Nine PM and twelve AM . No matter which time they chose, it wasn’t consistent .

It would make more sense if A-ko-san had mistaken the time and they looked at the autopsy results with a broad interpretation, as the police ended up doing .

But there was another way of looking at it .

'What if somebody faked the time of death to pin the crime on Takeda?’

'Would that mean A-ko-san was an accomplice?’

'Yes . She gave a false testimony in order to cover for her accomplice . ’

– That was the only way this would make sense .

'But isn’t that strange?’

Makoto immediately denied Ishii’s suggestion .


'A-ko-san testified that it was nine PM . The police were the ones who changed that to twelve AM . ’

That was certainly true . Whichever time it was, it would be difficult to think of A-ko-san as an accomplice .

'Also, the detective met the culprit at the scene . It would make the idea that the time of the crime was faked suspicious . ’

It was just as Makoto said .

There was no point in faking the time of the crime if the culprit stayed at the scene .

Ishii’s theory went back to the drawing board . Dispirited, he organised the documents . His head felt heavy . He felt somewhat irritated . He wanted to have a smoke .

'I also thought A-ko-san’s testimony was unnatural, but I can’t think of anything beyond that . ’

'Right . ’

'If A-ko-san’s testimony is true, that would mean she heard the scream past nine PM, lost consciousness for about three hours and then called the police without noticing that .

Lost consciousness – ?

Something clicked in Ishii’s head, and the gears started turning .

The various information he had gathered up until now started coming together, leading him to one theory .

– What on earth? Is that how it is?

'Makoto-san! You’re a genius!’

In his agitation, Ishii leant forward, grabbed Makoto’s shoulders and shook her .

If the theory he had just constructed now was true, this was very serious .

'E-er . Ishii-san, what’s wrong?’

Makoto looked at Ishii like she was looking at something unpleasant .

Please don’t look like that . I mean, I –

'I’ve figured it out! The puzzle of this case!’

Ishii yelled that in a ringing voice .




Togakushi Soba <Ozawa> - that was Haruka’s home .

Her father Kazuhiro was waiting in the garden when they parked the car in the parking lot behind the shop .

He wore an apron and had his neck out like an ostrich as he looked about . It seemed he sensed something from his daughter’s sudden return .

However, he didn’t approach Haruka even after she got off the car with her luggage . Even though he had many things he wanted to ask, he didn’t put them into words . He was that sort of person .

'I’m home . ’

Haruka called out to Kazuhiro .

'Oh, you’re back?’ said Kazuhiro curtly . Then, he went back into the shop .

Fathers really were afraid of their daughters –

'Honestly . Why is he running away?’ said Keiko exasperatedly before entering the house through the backdoor .

Haruka followed after her .

She took the stairs by the front entrance, opened the sliding door and went into the room .

It was six tatami in size – a dreary room with only a desk and a dresser .

Still, being in her own house really did calm her down . The fatigue and anxiety that Haruka had had for so long seemed to dissipate slightly .

She put down her bag, hung up her coat and sat on the tatami .

'Sorry for the wait . ’

Keiko entered the room .

She had a bundle of envelopes held together with a rubber band . Those were the letters that Yakumo’s mother had sent Keiko .

Keiko sat across from Haruka and held out the bundle .

'There are a lot of letters . ’

'There are . I didn’t pity her because of what happened – I was just on the same wavelength as Azusa-san,’ said Keiko earnestly .

Haruka felt like she understood . If they had only met because of the case, the relationship wouldn’t have continued for so long .

Haruka and Yakumo were the same . Regardless of how they met, in the end, they seemed to be on the same wavelength .

'So I feel like I understand why you’d be charmed by Yakumo-kun,’ said Keiko . When she said it like that, Haruka didn’t want to admit it .

'Like I said, it isn’t like that . ’

'Big words for somebody who was crying like a baby earlier . ’

Keiko laughed as she elbowed Haruka’s arm .

When Keiko said that, unfortunately, Haruka could make no reply .

'Now, now, don’t be angry . You have to look for Yakumo-kun, right?’

'Right . ’

Haruka cleared her mind .

Just as Keiko said, she didn’t have the time to get angry .

'Azusa-san said that she had a lover,’ said Keiko .

Haruka also felt that that was a good thread to start from .

If Azusa had a lover, there was a good chance that that person might know where Azusa was if they could find him .

'Er, which was it…’ murmured Keiko as she checked the envelopes .

A question suddenly came to Haruka .

'Mum . ’

'What is it?’

'Why didn’t you look for Azusa-san?’

– Oh no .

After Haruka said it, she thought what she said had been careless . That was because Keiko suddenly looked regretful when she heard Haruka’s words .

'I didn’t think that Azusa-san was so cornered that she would lay a hand on her son,’ replied Keiko with sad eyes .

'That makes sense . ’

'She said that she was getting married, so I thought that somebody like me who knew her past would get in the way, so I gave up . That’s why I didn’t even think of looking for her . I was a bit lonely, but I thought there was nothing to be done…’

Haruka could understand why Keiko felt that way .

If Azusa hadn’t talked to the person she was going to marry about her past, it wouldn’t be unnatural for her to think of keeping a distance from the friends who knew her past .

'I asked something strange . Sorry . ’

'Don’t worry about it . Plus, Yakumo-kun went somewhere to chase his mother, right?’

'Probably . ’

'Which means that if we chase Yakumo-kun, I might also be able to meet Azusa-san, right?’

Keiko laughed pleasantly .

– Azusa-san might already be dead .

Haruka didn’t have the courage to tell Keiko that .

However, Keiko seemed to understand everything from looking at Haruka, who had kept silent, and she bit her lower lip as if vexed .

'I want to know too . ’

'Want to know?’

'Yes . Why did Azusa-san try to kill Yakumo-kun? A parent wouldn’t normally be able to think of killing their own child . There must have been a great reason for things to end up that way . ’

As Keiko said that, she looked troubled . Like Isshin, her emotions were probably divided .

Perhaps what Yakumo was looking for wasn’t his mother but the reason why his mother had tried to kill him .

Haruka suddenly felt that might have been the case .

'Oh, my hands have stopped . It’s a bad habit . I have to look through these quickly . ’

Keiko sniffled and went back to checking what was inside the envelopes . The ability to clear her mind so quickly was one of Keiko’s amazing talents .

When Haruka’s older twin sister had died, the first to smile again had also been Keiko .

It wasn’t that the sadness had left her . She had been thinking of Haruka .

Even under normal circumstances, Haruka had had a complex about her older sister Ayaka . And Haruka had been the cause of Ayaka’s death –

The sadder Keiko acted, the more it would make Haruka suffer . Keiko had known that .

'Haruka! Look at this!’

Keiko took a letter and a photo out excitedly .

Haruka took the photo and looked at it .

A child who looked to be one year old was sleeping on top of a cushion . He was sucking on his right thumb and looked happy .

His skin was pale like a girl’s .

'Could this be – ’

'Yup, it’s Yakumo-kun . He’s cute, right?’

Haruka unconsciously grinned .

She hadn’t ever thought that she’d get to see a photo of Yakumo like this . His cheeks were as puffy as marshmallows, and his expression wasn’t as harsh as it was now .

Even Yakumo had had a time like this . Somehow, it was strange to imagine it .

She took a look at the letter too .

<Yakumo is one now too . He cries when I’m not near him . He’s so spoiled – it’s troublesome…>

It’s different – Haruka felt that immediately .

The contents of the letter were incredibly different from the image Haruka had had of Azusa . Even in the short passage, her love for her child came through .

However, the only image Haruka had had of Azusa in the first place was the fact that she had failed in trying to kill Yakumo and had gone missing after that .

That had been such a strong episode that it decided the image .

Perhaps it was the same for Yakumo too .

His own mother put her hands around his neck – wouldn’t that vivid memory have erased all the other ones?

'Found it . This one . The three of them are in it . ’

While Haruka was thinking about the photo and letter from the past, Keiko found the photo she was looking for .

Keiko held the photo and was looking at it nostalgically .

– I want to see it right away .

Led by that impulse, Haruka moved to Keiko’s side and peered at the photo .

The photo was taken somewhere like a lake .

Yakumo was probably the one standing in the centre . If the photo was taken fifteen years ago, he was about six years old . Yakumo had been short then . His eyes were narrowed from how bright it was .

Azusa was on the left . She had almond eyes and well-defined features – she was a very beautiful person .

She did look like she was carrying some shadows, but it felt like that doubled her charm .

Yakumo resembled his mother .

On the other side was the person who would have become Yakumo’s father –


Haruka thought she would stop breathing from the shock .

'What is it?’

'I know this person . ’

– He is probably in Nagano .

It was the man who had shown up in Haruka’s room the morning before .

Haruka took out her mobile phone .




After Ishii parted from Makoto, he called Miyagawa through the internal line .

Even though they could have met in person, Ishii had experienced the attitude the detectives had towards him yesterday . He didn’t want to encourage that .

<It’s Miyagawa . >

He heard Miyagawa’s clearly displeased voice .

'This is Ishii . ’

<It’s you…?>

'I apologise for calling when you are busy . I would like to ask you something regarding the matter we discussed before . ’

<Did you find anything out?>

Miyagawa’s tone suddenly lowered . He was probably concerned about the investigation members around him .

'Nothing is certain yet . ’

Then don’t call . That feeling came right through the receiver .

Usually, Ishii would have been swallowed up by that feeling and hung up after apologising, but he was different now .

'However, I have grasped an important clue . In order to advance in the investigation, there is something I would like to confirm . ’


Miyagawa spoke after a silence .

'Were there any suspects besides Takeda in the case fifteen years ago? If there were, I would like to see the documents regarding that . ’

<What the hell are you thinking!?>

Miyagawa let out a loud voice all at once from the bottom of his belly .

'It is absolutely necessary . ’

<What you trying to do by investigating that now?>

Miyagawa lowered his voice again .

He had probably gathered attention because of his loud voice earlier .

'Even if you say that… it would take a long time to explain . However, it is definitely related to the search for Detective Gotou . ’

Miyagawa didn’t reply .

All Ishii heard was the quiet sound of Miyagawa’s breathing .

'Please . Please believe in me . ’

Ishii bowed his head to pray .

<I’ll go over there once I’ve finished up, so wait there . >

'Thank you very much!’

Before Ishii finished saying that, Miyagawa hung up . The strength suddenly left Ishii’s shoulders and he leant against the back of the chair .

He’d told Miyagawa to believe in him, but was his theory really correct?

To be honest, Ishii was unsure . If what he was thinking was wrong, he wouldn’t be able to find Gotou .

However, still, all he could do was believe and follow that faint possibility .

The mobile phone in his suit’s inner pocket rang . When he looked at the display, he saw Haruka’s name .

The events of yesterday passed through Ishii’s head and he hesitated before answering .

– This is no good . If I stop here, it’ll end up like before again .

He gathered his emotions and answered the phone .

'I apologise for the wait . Ishii speaking . ’

<Ishii-san, there’s something I would like you to look into . >

Ishii had been about to apologise, but Haruka had started speaking before he even had a chance to take a breath . He completely lost his chance .

Furthermore, it felt like Haruka had completely forgotten what had happened at Isshin’s house .

'Something you would like me to look into?’

<Yes . I will send you a photo of a person afterwards . I would like you to search for him . >

Haruka was speaking quickly .

– Searching for someone .

It was probably somebody related to the case, but it would be difficult to look for somebody with only a photo .

Putting aside whether he even had the time to search, he would at least take a look .

It depended on how much information there was besides the photo, but it could possibly work out if he asked Makoto to help too .

'What sort of person am I looking for?’

<The lover of Yakumo-kun’s mother . >

Yakumo’s mother had been in that video as a ghost . He didn’t know what role she played, but it was certain that she was involved in this case somehow .

There was a good chance that her lover might have some new information .

'Understood . I will do as much as I can . I’ll say my email address now, so please send it there . Also, please give me as much information about that person as you can . ’

After that, Ishii checked his email address while reading it to Haruka over the phone .

<I’ll message you right away . >


Ishii stopped Haruka, who had been about to hang up .

'I am truly sorry for yesterday . ’

Ishii held his breath as he bowed his head deeply .

There was a long silence –

Ishii silently waited for Haruka to reply . He wouldn’t mind even if she jeered –he was prepared for it .

<I’m sorry too . I said something awful to you, Ishii-san . >

What Haruka said was very far from what Ishii had expected .

– She’s going to forgive me?

'Something was wrong with me then . Let’s save Yakumo-shi and Detective Gotou with our own hands no matter what!’

<Yes . >

Haruka gave a firm reply .

Ishii closed his eyes in his happiness and grinned unconsciously as he imagined Haruka’s smiling figure .

Oops, he didn’t have the time to space out . Ishii came to his senses and started his laptop .

Since it was an old model, it took a full minute to load up .

He connected to the internet and opened the mail software to check for new mail .

It seemed Haruka had sent it from her mobile phone . The email had already arrived .

The subject was <This is the person> . The mail said <Yesterday, I met this person . I don’t know his name . >

There was too little information . He didn’t know how to search from just this . It wasn’t impossible, but it would take some time .

He opened the attached image .

The photo had probably been taken with a mobile phone camera . The image was small on the screen and difficult to make out . Ishii maximised it to fill the monitor .

’T-this man is…’

Ishii thought his chin would fall off from his surprise .

This man is Takeda Shunsuke –

Ishii immediately took out his mobile phone and called Haruka’s number .




Makoto met with the hypnotherapist named Hayashi in the booth that was sectioned off as a reception space .

He was wearing a casual suit with no tie . He was tall and solidly built, but he didn’t seem intimidating .

He had a gentle demeanour and seemed like a good listener .

He even listened seriously to Makoto’s crazy story .

That said, it wasn’t actually something Makoto had thought up . The crazy story was all Ishii’s theory .

Even Makoto had been surprised when she had heard Ishii’s reasoning . She had thought it was very removed from reality .

'I see . I understand what you’re saying . ’

After Makoto finished talking, Hayashi thought silently for a while, but then he rubbed his two hands together and spoke .

'First, regarding whether what you discussed is possible or impossible, it is possible under several conditions . ’

'Eh? It’s possible?’

Unconsciously, Makoto half-rose from her seat .

Since she had doubted Ishii’s theory, she was even more surprised .

'Well, please calm down . ’

After Hayashi pacified Makoto, she sat back on the chair with a red face . Hayashi waited for her to finish before speaking again .

'The person who thought of this method is very intelligent . They understand the characteristics of hypnotic suggestion and are using it effectively . ’

As Hayashi said that, he smiled bitterly .


'Yes . Many people misunderstand this, but hypnotic suggestion cannot be used to control people freely . ’

'Which means?’

'Those actions come from that person’s own intentions, so it is impossible to make somebody act in a way they do not want to . ’

Makoto also knew that hypnotic suggestion couldn’t control people freely .

On television, she often saw hypnotists making people fall asleep with a snap of their fingers and telling those people what to do, but those were just shows .

However, then there was a contradiction in what they had said so far .

'But earlier, you said that the method was possible . Isn’t it impossible to control people?’

'It is a little bit different . Even if you were hypnotised somebody and told to kill somebody once you opened your eyes, that would be absolutely impossible . ’

'Why is that?’

'Because their morals wouldn’t allow it . Actions that go against one’s morals will not stick . ’

Makoto nodded . She understood that much .

Even though they would be hypnotised, that didn’t mean their personality would disappear . Accordingly, somebody wouldn’t act if they didn’t want to, even if forced .

'Hypnotic suggestion must stay within the range allowed by one’s morals . ’

Under that meaning, the trick in the method this time hadn’t required anybody to directly kill somebody, so it could be said to be within the range allowed by one’s morals . However –

'Wouldn’t that mean anything was possible if it was morally acceptable?’

Hayashi crossed his arms at Makoto’s words .

'That isn’t exactly right . Being put under hypnotic suggestion is like being guided by one’s intentions . ’

'Yes . ’

'Rather than an order, it’s guidance . This is important . For example, what do you think one should say to tell somebody they could no longer lift their arm?’

Hayashi was good at explaining . Makoto was engrossed .

'Your arm will not go up . Saying that would be no good . There is a weight on your arm now . A very large and heavy weight . A weight that nobody would be able to lift, no matter how strong they were . That is the sort of image you would give . ’

By giving the brain a reason and making that an image, you could guide the actions .

'Then that would mean somebody was there giving hypnotic suggestion . ’

'That wouldn’t be necessary,’ said Hayashi firmly .

'Is it possible to put somebody under hypnotic suggestion from a distance?’

'This is a little different . The method of hypnotic suggestion is done so that the suggestion is triggered by something . ’


Makoto didn’t understand yet .

'For example, spin at the sound of a bell . If that were the hypnotic suggestion, the person who was hypnotised would spin at the sound of a bell even if the hypnotist was not there . ’

But Hayashi himself had said that even if somebody was under hypnotic suggestion, they were still conscious when hypnotised .

That would mean that they remembered being put under hypnotic suggestion .

'Wouldn’t there be no point if the person under hypnotic suggestion could remember what happened?’

Makoto voiced the question as it came to her .

'It is just as you say . Another point is necessary for hypnotic suggestion . ’

Hayashi held up his index finger .

'What is it?’

'That is to tell the person going under hypnotic suggestion to forget that they were under at the same time . It is called hypnotic amnesia . ’

'Hypnotic amnesia?’

'Yes . In short, people are conscious when hypnotised . They remember what they do even when guided . There would be no meaning to it then . That is why it is necessary to also give the suggestion to forget what happened under hypnosis afterwards . ’

Makoto could feel her heart racing as she listened to Hayashi’s explanation .

'Is that possible?’

'Yes, it is . ’

This was proof . Makoto had a real response .

Putting aside whether this actually happened or not, Ishii’s theory was possible .

However, if it was possible, did it really –

'That’s frightening . ’

Makoto said that unconsciously .

Hayashi’s expression had been gentle up until now, but it turned grim .

'I apologise . ’

Makoto gave an honest apology for her careless words .

'No, it’s fine . But I would like for you not to misunderstand – hypnotic suggestion comes down to how it is used . ’

'How it is used…’

'Yes . We hypnotherapists use hypnotic suggestion to treat the mind . We heal traumas that people do not know they have and relieve people of their psychological stress . Please don’t treat us all as criminals . ’

It was just as Hayashi said .

They studied hypnotic suggestion to heal people’s hearts . They weren’t using it for crime .

'It’s the same for surgeons, isn’t it? It is their job to cure people’s bodies with their scalpels . However, it would be incorrect to blame their scalpels because they could be used for crime . Everything depends on how something is used . ’

Makoto regretted her foolish remark and bowed her head deeply again .

It was wrong to reject everything because of one example of misuse . Even the medicine from hospitals would become poison if used incorrectly .

Furthermore, what happened this time had occurred from a number of coincidences and wasn’t something that somebody could do that easily .

Makoto had been doubtful at first, but now she agreed with Ishii’s theory and was certain that the true culprit of the case fifteen years ago was somebody different .




When Haruka heard the information about the man in the photo from Ishii, she was stunned .

Yakumo had probably realised everything from the very start .

That the woman in the video was his own mother, and the suspect for the crime that occurred where the video was taken was the man who was supposed to become his father –

The place Haruka had finally arrived at had just been the starting line for Yakumo .

Disappointment welled up within Haruka . At this pace, it didn’t seem like she would ever catch up to Yakumo .

'What’s wrong?’

Haruka came back to her senses when Keiko called out to her .

'This man’s name . It’s Takeda Shunsuke-san,’ said Haruka, pointing at the photo .

Keiko didn’t appear to understand the significance of that and replied shortly, 'I see . ’

'Takeda Shunsuke-san was the suspect for a murder case fifteen years ago and is on the run now…’


Keiko finally understood the situation and snatched the photo back from Haruka, putting it so close to her face that her nose almost touched it .

Even though the truth wouldn’t change even if she looked at it from close up or far away, Haruka understood why Keiko would do that .

She couldn’t believe it, nor did she want to .

If this is true, then what sort of fate did Azusa bear on her shoulders –

One day, she was suddenly abducted and confined, and she was assaulted physically and psychologically . She ended up bearing a child that she did not want .

Still, she forced herself to stand up again and live her life .

Then, just when she finally found a partner to support her and was about to embark on her new life, that person ended up being chased by the police as the culprit to a murder case .

She must have wanted everything to be a dream . She must have wished for that countless times . But the truth was mercilessly there .

A cruel truth that was everywhere –

If Haruka had been in the same position, she might have even given up on living .

'I can’t believe that this person…’

Keiko shook her head like she didn’t understand .

He didn’t look like the sort of person who would do such a thing . Haruka had the same impression . And there were other things she didn’t understand .

If Takeda was the suspect for a murder case and the police were after him, why didn’t the investigation go to Azusa –

She must have noticed .

'Mum, do you know how Takeda-san and Azusa-san met?’

'I do . When I got the letter about her marriage, I was so happy I called her . ’

Keiko smiled . Her eyes seemed to be looking far away .

She was probably recalling how she felt then . Being able to share one’s feelings with somebody was really amazing .

'This person was a newspaper reporter and called out to Azusa-san and Yakumo-kun when they were at the park . Asked them to let him take a photo . That was how they met . ’

'I see…’

Haruka imagined Azusa and Yakumo playing at a park .

What sort of expressions did they have on their faces then –

Takeda had chosen them for a photo, so they must have been smiling .

'They probably had a lot in common . They decided to marry a month after meeting . ’

'A month!?’

Haruka’s voice jumped an octave .

That was a huge difference from somebody who hadn’t been able to express her feelings for over a year .

Even though she did think that was fast, it wasn’t like it was impossible, and there really were people like that . Dating for months and years wasn’t proof of the bond between two people .

The short time period probably hid their relationship .

That was why Isshin and the police hadn’t found out .

That meant that Azusa had told Keiko about her marriage before her own brother, Isshin .

It showed how much she’d trusted her .

Haruka was even more confused now though . Why hadn’t Azusa consulted Keiko even once before she was so cornered she would lay a hand on her own son?

If she had, she might not have thought of trying to kill Yakumo .

Had she been unable to talk about it because she trusted Keiko?

– No . That isn’t it .

Haruka felt that something was off .




After Miyagawa left the room, he went down the corridor to the door to the <Unsolved Cases Special Investigation Room> at the very end, opposite the toilet .

When he went inside, Ishii was on his mobile . He said, 'I will call again later,’ hung up, and stood straight .

'Just sit down . ’

After Miyagawa said that, he sat at Gotou’s seat opposite Ishii .

'I apologise for asking for something unreasonable . ’

Ishii bowed his head, and he was sitting frankly for once .

– He’s had a good look these past couple of days .

When Miyagawa looked at Ishii’s face directly, he thought that keenly .

Up until yesterday, Miyagawa had just thought of him as a beansprout that only knew how to wail, but this case might have drawn out his sleeping ability .

Still, what was with the gauze covering his nose?

'What happened to your nose?’

'Ah, er, you might not believe this, but a chair fell down from the sky . ’

– Crap . It’s my fault .

'How unlucky . ’

Miyagawa didn’t think it was necessary to give his name, so he just let the conversation flow .

Ishii looked at Miyagawa like he wanted something .

It was like Ishii was telling him to take the documents out already . But Miyagawa couldn’t just hand them over without knowing what was going on .

'Why do you need documents about suspects for a case that’s already had a culprit determined?’

Miyagawa fixed Ishii with a strong gaze .

'Because there is the possibility that he isn’t the true culprit . ’

Miyagawa was so shocked he couldn’t even be angry .

'Don’t say something stupid with no basis for it . ’

'I do have a basis for it . ’

Miyagawa had planned on cutting Ishii down, but Ishii leant forward with a challenging gaze .

There might actually be something there if this coward was going to say this much . Miyagawa faltered .

'Try telling me . ’

'Yes . Just earlier, I received a report of confirmation from an expert over the phone,’ said Ishii, looking pleased . He was like a child who’d received a toy .

'Expert? In what?’

'Hypnotism . ’

This guy really did have a habit of deluding himself .

'Don’t make me laugh . You’re not saying that somebody was hypnotised to kill somebody, right?’

Miyagawa had sad that coldly, but Ishii still did not flinch . Where did this confidence come from?

'It is impossible to make somebody kill someone else with hypnotism . ’

'Doesn’t that not match up with what you’re saying?’

'The point is that case comes from the testimony fifteen years ago . ’

Ishii adjusted his glasses with his finger and declared that in a ringing voice before starting his explanation .

'A-ko-san reported the incident at twelve AM . There is no doubt about it . However, A-ko-san actually heard the scream three hours earlier at nine PM . ’

'The dossier says it was twelve AM, right?’ interrupted Miyagawa .

'That’s correct . However, A-ko-san first testified that it was at nine PM . ’

Ishii laid out the copy of the files that Miyagawa had handed over to him earlier and pointed at a passage .

Just as Ishii said, it had read nine PM, but it had been changed to twelve AM .

'Isn’t that strange? That’d mean that she heard the scream at nine and called the police right away at twelve AM . Did she use a carrier pigeon or something?’

Ishii laughed while clutching his stomach at Miyagawa’s light sarcasm .

It irritated Miyagawa since he felt like he was being made fun of, but he bore with it .

'Carrier pigeon? How amusing . However, that is unfortunately not the case . ’

'What is it then?’

'In short, this . A-ko-san heard the scream at nine PM . After that, somebody guided her into a deep hypnotic state . ’

– Was he serious?

Miyagawa glared at Ishii, but Ishii continued speaking, paying him no heed .

'Then, at some sort of signal, she woke up after three hours and reported the incident to the police . A-ko-san lost the memory of the three hours she was hypnotised for, so she thought that she had called immediately after she heard the scream . ’

'Isn’t that just your delusion?’

'It isn’t a delusion . I said this earlier as well, but I have confirmed this with an expert . The trick I just discussed is actually possible . ’

– Really?

If what Ishii said was true, that would get rid of the bumbling time difference they’d had up until now all at once . But –

'Is it really possible?’

'It is . It is called hypnotic amnesia . One is put into a deep hypnotic state and made to forget that one was hypnotised using a suggestion . ’

It wasn’t coming together for Miyagawa .

'I don’t get it . ’

'For example, when somebody faints, what was just a moment to them could actually have been many hours . It is the same sort of thing . ’

Miyagawa had experienced that himself .

Fifteen years ago, Miyagawa woke up in the hospital after having his head hit . It had been just a moment for him, but it had actually been six hours .

'But how about the autopsy? The time of death was said to be around twelve AM . ’

'I checked with Hata-san . The final time of death was decided based on the scene of the crime . He had taken a look at the situation and used a broad interpretation of the autopsy results . ’

'What did you say…’

'In short, Hata-san’s analysis put the time of death for the corpses from seven to nine PM . ’

Miyagawa stood up unconsciously in his agitation .

'Why would anybody need to do something so troublesome?’

'In order to change the time of the crime and give the culprit an alibi . ’

If the method Ishii discussed was possible and actually happened, it would be a great way to make an alibi .

However, there was something Miyagawa just couldn’t accept .

'I was the first at the scene then . I saw the guy who did it there . If he was trying to give himself an alibi, why’d the culprit be there? Isn’t that strange?’

Ishii’s eyes narrowed behind his glasses .

'Perhaps – this is just a possibility, but, what if he wasn’t the culprit?’

Miyagawa wanted to rebut Ishii’s words, but he couldn’t speak .

His forehead was drenched in sweat . How many years had it been since he’d sweated as unpleasantly as this?

Miyagawa had been hit in the head then and he’d fainted .

Because of that, he couldn’t remember the culprit’s face clearly, but the fear he’d felt then had filled his body .

He’d felt instinctively that that man wasn’t Takeda .

The reason was that Takeda was human . He might have had hatred and anger, but those were peanuts compared to what Miyagawa had seen there .

An oppressive evil . He didn’t believe in a god, but if he had to give an example, that had been the devil .

'Chief Miyagawa . Would you allow me to see the documents?’

Miyagawa handed the documents over to Ishii before replying .

The documents had the details for two names that had come up as suspects before the police had decided that Takeda was the culprit .

Ishii immediately started looking through the documents .

A number of things happened during that case and the police got the time of the crime wrong .

Was my testimony one of the reasons for that –

Miyagawa felt like his legs would collapse underneath him .

If what Ishii said was true, that would mean they’d been chasing an innocent for fifteen years .

But he didn’t understand . Why didn’t Takeda agree to be taken in for questioning?

He’d run off without agreeing, which had been one of the reasons the police had decided Takeda was the culprit .

'I’ve got it! I’ve got it!’

Ishii suddenly shouted and jumped up .

'Calm down!’

Ishii smiled even more at Miyagawa’s yell .

'I can’t be calm . I’ve finally found the true culprit . ’

'What did you say!?’

He determined the culprit from the two suspects? But on what basis?

Miyagawa wanted to ask these questions, but before he could, Ishii ran out .

'Where are you going!?’

'To investigate, of course,’ said Ishii, turning around as he did so .

He fell –




Haruka looked at the photo again .

– I can’t think of anything no matter how hard I try .

She hadn’t been able to question Yakumo when she’d noticed he sounded strange when he called her . It might have already been too late then .

The corners of her eyes felt warm . Tears were welling up . This was no good . She felt like she wouldn’t be able to meet Yakumo again if these tears fell .

Haruka bit her lip and gripped the red stone on her necklace with both hands .

– I can’t give up .

She spurred on her crumbling heart .

There had to be something she’d missed . Something very important –

'Haruka . You said you met Takeda-san, right?’ said Keiko, putting a hand on Haruka’s lap .

Haruka knew who he was now, but it was still a puzzle as to why he’d come to see Haruka .

'Yeah . ’

'What did he say?’

'He wanted me to save Yakumo-kun . And that Yakumo-kun was in Nagano . ’

'Why did he ask that of you? Hasn’t Takeda-san met Yakumo-kun?’

Haruka had the same doubts as Keiko .

And how did he know I was searching for Yakumo? Why didn’t he meet Yakumo directly?

The questions in Haruka’s head suddenly brought up a memory .

The day she went to the <Movie Research Circle> to search for Yakumo, she’d felt somebody’s gaze . That hadn’t been her imagination .

– Takeda was watching me .

Takeda must have gone to meet Yakumo as well . There, he saw Haruka .

However, that didn’t explain why Takeda hadn’t gone to save Yakumo himself .

'If what Takeda-san said is true and Yakumo-kun is in Nagano, doesn’t that mean Azusa-san is also in Nagano?’

Keiko proposed another question while Haruka was pondering .

The moment she heard that, the image from the video came back to her .

She felt like her head was being squeezed .

And then – she was led to a conclusion .

'That’s right, Mum!’

Haruka’s voice was close to a yell .

Keiko was taken aback by the suddenness of it .

Haruka had thought something was strange when she saw that video .

The moment the video became completely dark, she’d heard the faint sound of something like footsteps .

Isn’t that from two videos being edited together –

In short, the first half and second half of that video had been taken at different places and put together .

Which meant that the second half with Azusa – she didn’t know where it was taken .

No, that was wrong . She had to calm down and think .

Supposing that Yakumo realised that too, Yakumo searched for that place . Then, he arrived in Nagano –

She didn’t have any basis for it, but those two lines of thought led her to one place .

'Hey, Mum, Do you know where the incident with Azusa-san occurred?’

'Ah, er… I know the area,’ replied Keiko, a bit lost for words .

Keiko didn’t understand what Haruka was thinking and looked like she had been caught by a fox .

'Please, Mum . Take me there,’ begged Haruka as she gripped Keiko’s two hands .




Ishii drove his car quickly .

Urgency and exhilaration were mixed together, making his blood run wild .

There was no margin for doubt any more . The background and actions on the day of the crime of the two suspects had been in the documents Miyagawa showed him .

Ishii had realised immediately when he saw them . If his theory was correct, that narrowed the suspects down to one .

'Oi, you’re driving too fast!’

Miyagawa gripped Ishii’s shoulder from the passenger seat .

Ishii didn’t understand why Miyagawa had come along .

The moment Ishii started the car, Miyagawa had stopped him, standing in front of the car with his two arms spread wide . Ishii had thought Miyagawa would try to hold him back, but he’d sat in the passenger seat without a word .

The statute of limitations was almost up for Takeda, so who was going to direct the investigation of the scene? Ishii had that question, but he didn’t dare to ask .

'Even if you tell me that I am driving too quickly, I am in a hurry…’

'Stop whining! You don’t have the police siren on so obey the speed limit!’ said Miyagawa indignantly .

'Um, could I turn it on?’


'The siren . ’

The moment Ishii said that, Miyagawa raised his hand . However, he didn’t hit Ishii .

Ishii thought that Gotou and Miyagawa were very similar . There was just one thing decisively different about them . It was power . It was partly physical, but Gotou’s power to rush at something overwhelmingly exceeded Miyagawa’s .

This was one of those instances . If it were Gotou, he would have hit Ishii’s head without any hesitation .

For some reason, I feel like something’s lacking –

'And where are you heading in the first place?’

Miyagawa finally asked that question .

Ishii had been sure that Miyagawa had stepped into the car knowing that, so he let out a surprised 'Eh?’

'Isn’t it obvious that I’m going to the place where the true culprit is?’

'So where is that? There were two suspects, right?’

Miyagawa stamped his foot in his irritation .

There certainly had been two suspects . One was Uematsu Shouichi . He had borrowed money from Kanji . Then, he’d been asked to return the money and they had had a rather troubling dispute .

The reason for the loan had been a failed business . However, Uematsu claimed that the failure was Kanji’s fault .

The other suspect was Honda Yutaka . He had fought with the middle school Nanase Kanji was director of in court .

Honda’s daughter committed suicide because of bullying . Her father, Yutaka, pressed charges, saying that his daughter’s death laid with the homeroom teacher who had tolerated the bullying, Kanji’s son Katsuaki .

The case was Honda’s loss –

He hadn’t been able to prove positive proof that the school had tolerated the bullying .

Then, there was a reporter who had followed that case vigorously . That was Takeda . This wasn’t just a coincidence .

'It is Honda, of course . ’

'How can you be sure? Don’t you have to investigate both of them again?’

If thinking about it normally, Miyagawa’s opinion was correct .

'I have two reasons . The first is that the crime probably occurred past nine PM . It isn’t necessary to reinvestigate everything . All I have to do is see who doesn’t have an alibi then . ’

'And what’s the other?’

'Chief Miyagawa, I said this earlier, but in order for the trick with the lapse in time to be realised, there is an essential condition . ’


Looking confused, Miyagawa parroted Ishii’s words back at him .

'Knowledge of hypnotism as well as the ability to use it . ’

Miyagawa’s expression turned grim at Ishii’s words .

It appeared he understood . The suspect Honda hadn’t been able to stand up again after his daughter’s death and had been troubled by insomnia, so he had undergone hypnotherapy .

'But Honda had been treated as a patient with hypnotherapy . That’s different from being able to use it . ’

What Miyagawa said made sense . But there was also another way of looking at it .

'Patients undergoing hypnotherapy receive an explanation about the basics of hypnotism in order to remove any preconceptions . Mightn’t he have become interested in hypnotism because of that? He might have gone to lectures or taken an online course – there are countless ways he could have learnt . ’

'That vague theory’s just conjecture . ’

'But the other suspect, Uematsu, has no connection to hypnotism . ’

Miyagawa glanced at Ishii .

It was like he was saying he thought it was suspicious . Ishii didn’t care if Miyagawa didn’t believe him . To be honest, Ishii didn’t have much confidence in this theory either .

However, if he just stayed here, nothing would change .

In order to save Gotou, he would have to rush forward, knowing it was reckless .

'Do you think Gotou’s at Honda’s too?’ said Miyagawa, closing his eyes and crossing his arms .

Ishii nodded firmly . It wasn’t a bluff – he was confident .

Something caused Gotou to realise that Honda was the real culprit . That was why Honda had abducted him . To shut his mouth –

'You think Gotou’s still OK?’ said Miyagawa, looking out the window . It felt like he didn’t want to know the answer . However, Ishii knew .

'Detective Gotou is fine!’

Miyagawa looked at Ishii in surprise . His eyes seemed to be asking for an explanation .

'Honda is definitely keeping Detective Gotou alive . ’

That wasn’t Ishii’s groundless wish .

'Why do you think that?’

'It’s because Honda’s goal is to pass the statute of limitations . All he has to do is keep Detective Gotou until the statute of limitation passes . If he killed him, that would mean he would have to flee for another fifteen years . It wouldn’t be worth it . ’

Ishii and Miyagawa looked at each other and smiled silently .

Ishii knew even if Miyagawa didn’t say anything . Miyagawa had completely accepted Ishii’s theory .

'But what do you plan to do? We don’t have the time to investigate . The statute of limitations is up in a day . ’

Miyagawa looked at Ishii with searching eyes .

Just as Miyagawa said, they definitely wouldn’t make it if they went to get evidence now .

It would be so easy if they could find the culprit and prevent the statute of limitations from finishing, like in some detective drama .

In reality, after capturing the culprit, the police would write up a file, collect evidence and then send it to the prosecution .

Then, the prosecution would judge whether it was appropriate . If it was, then they would write an indictment, bring it to court, and then the first accepted accusation would be finished at court .

The time lag for that would be long .

If they had Takeda as the culprit, the evidence was already gathered . Sometimes the police would make the necessary arrangements with the prosecution so that they could present an indictment to the court immediately after arrest . However, that wouldn’t work if the culprit were anyone besides Takeda .

They would need to make the file and start with getting the prosecution to judge it . They couldn’t waste even a second, so there was only one they could do –

'I will meet with the person himself and make him confess,’ said Ishii clearly .

Miyagawa stared at Ishii’s profile .

The silence continued –

Ishii knew what Miyagawa wanted to say . The chances that somebody who had been on the run for fifteen years would confess to a detective who didn’t even have a warrant were close to zero .

To tell the truth, Ishii couldn’t care less about arresting the culprit . Even if the statute of limitations passed, he’d be satisfied as long as he could save Gotou .

In the end, Miyagawa didn’t say anything . He just opened the window and put the siren that had been on the dashboard onto the top of the car .

A piercing siren started to ring –

'Chief Miyagawa . ’

'Step on it . ’

'Yes sir!’

As Ishii said that, he floored the accelerator .




The car went down the dark road .

Even with the headlights on, it was impossible to see down the road, because of the way it wound . Furthermore, snow had piled up on the road, so it was also impossible to drive quickly .

Looking at the white road, Haruka felt like this road might not actually lead anywhere .

But all she could do was go down this road .

'I’m really sorry . ’

Haruka bowed her head towards Keiko, who had gone along with Haruka’s selfish request without even one complaint and was now driving the car .

Since they would need to drive on a snowy road, Keiko had even borrowed an acquaintance’s four-wheel drive .

'Ah, aren’t you being honest for a change? It’d be nice if you were always like this . ’

Keiko smiled at Haruka’s words, making light of them . Just from that, Haruka’s feelings lightened .

'You make it sound like I’m never honest . ’

'That’s how you are . You’re stubborn and not honest at all . That’s why you always end up with a broken heart . ’

She went straight for the things that bother me the most –

In Haruka’s opinion, it was stranger that someone could act so spoiled in front of the person they liked .

'Stop saying so much and just drive . ’

Keiko grinned as she looked at Haruka, who had forcibly changed the topic .

The way Keiko retorted was like Yakumo .

'OK, OK . We’ll be there soon . ’

After Keiko said that, Haruka leant forward and focussed her eyes on the dark .

However, all she could see were tall cedar trees on both sides and the snowy white road .

After driving further, Keiko turned on the hazard lights and parked the car by the side of the road .

'Are we there?’

'It’s been twenty years since then already,’ said Keiko, looking out at the road .

Haruka couldn’t even imagine what feelings were hidden in those words .

She didn’t have the time to think . Anyway, she had to go right now . Haruka took a torch and got off the car .

The air was so cold it hurt .

Her breath came out in white puffs .

The snow crunched underneath her shoes . Haruka carefully walked forward .

'Azusa-san collapsed right there . ’

Keiko came after Haruka and pointed at a point on the road with a hand in a thick glove .

It wasn’t as if there was some sort of sign there . Everybody would have passed the spot without noticing –

Haruka tried standing in that spot .

Everything had started in this place with nothing in it .

When she met Yakumo at the university, that had actually been the second time . Actually, they had first met here, both still in the bellies of their mothers .

It would be spoilt if she put it into words, but it really did seem destined .

We went the long way around to arrive here –

'Azusa-san suddenly burst out from that forest . ’

Her mother pointed at a narrow road between the trees .

Haruka turned on the torch and lit the way .

There were footsteps on the white road . Somebody had definitely walked down this road recently .

'Mum, wait here . I’ll be right back . ’

After Haruka said that, she made her way towards the road .

'Wait a second . ’

Keiko took off her gloves and gave them to Haruka . She would probably be angry if Haruka refused .

'Thank you . ’

Haruka put on Keiko’s gloves and walked through the snow .

Fwoop .

Her foot sank into the snow, but it wasn’t as deep as she imagined . Her ankle was still out of the snow . Though it was troubling to have the snow in her shoe, she could probably continue walking like this .

Haruka looked once more at the footsteps that continued down the white road .

She couldn’t see what was ahead, since it had been swallowed up by the darkness .

The place where Azusa had been held captive was ahead of her . Yakumo had to have gone there . These footsteps were Yakumo’s . Now, Haruka was following those footsteps .

She brushed aside the tree branches and proceeded down the road . It was difficult to walk, and there was a slope ahead .

She had to put her hands to the ground and crawl ahead . It was really a good thing that she had gloves .

Haruka cleared her mind and devoted herself to climbing up the road with all her efforts .

She was short of breath . Her head felt dizzy and she was sweating .

How far did this road go? It can’t go to the top of the mountain, can it –

She hadn’t made any preparations at all . She wouldn’t be able to camp out all night, and it could easily become a disaster if she wasn’t careful .

Plus, she had left Keiko alone . She was definitely worried .

Just when Haruka’s anxiety reached a peak, the road ended and she arrived at a flat, open lot .

There was a house there .

Surrounded by trees, it was a small, deserted house built like a hut . It was built out of logs – a log house then .

It appeared to have been abandoned for many years . The wood was rotten and the house was leaning .

This was probably where Azusa had been held captive .

What could be inside? Haruka didn’t know . Because she didn’t know, all she could do was go .

Haruka calmed her breathing and started walking again .




Honda’s house was at the outskirts of the factory zone .

It was three storeys tall and had a garage on the first floor – a house built during the bubble .

The lights were on . That meant he was home . Things would’ve gotten troublesome if he hadn’t been .

– Please wait . I will definitely save you .

Ishii put a hand to his chest and whispered that in his heart .

Ishii opened the door on the driver’s side, got off the car and went up the stairs outside of the house to the second-floor entrance .

'Wait a second!’

Miyagawa had run up after Ishii and gripped him by the lapels .

'What is it?’

'Don’t you say “What is it” . What are you planning on saying?’

That –

'I haven’t decided . ’

Ishii hadn’t thought that far . However, he didn’t think there was any way to go but from the front .

'You’re just a smart idiot . ’

Miyagawa’s shoulders fell in his exasperation .

'Chief Miyagawa, there is a contradiction in what you said . 'Smart’ and 'idiot’ are antonyms . ’

'That’s something a smart idiot would say . ’

Miyagawa clicked his tongue .


Ishii made a vague reply, but that didn’t mean he understood .

'Anyway, leave this to me . ’

Miyagawa forced himself in front of Ishii and pressed the intercom button .

'Who is it?’

A voice came through the intercom .

'Ah, excuse me . I am Miyagawa from the Setamachi precinct . There are a few things that I would like to ask,’ said Miyagawa, stooping to speak into the intercom .

After a while, the door opened .

A man in his fifties with a good physique showed up at the door . He had a long face with dark circles around his eyes, and he was pale and haggard .

'Honda-san, yes? My name is Miyagawa . I met you once fifteen years ago . ’

At first, Honda looked confused, but that was for just a moment . Perhaps he remembered, because he pointed at Miyagawa and said, 'Ah . ’

'As you probably know, the statute of limitations has almost passed for that case . ’

'Is that so…’

'There are a few things that need to be checked for that case before then . ’

Miyagawa scratched at his head, seeming apologetic . The conversation was flowing naturally . That was Miyagawa for you .

When Ishii tried to peer into the back of the room through the gap between the door and the wall, Honda shifted .

For a moment, Honda’s eyes met Ishii’s .

'If I can be of help,’ said Honda . He put on his sandals and stepped outside, closing the door behind him .

– Did he notice?

Ishii felt suspicious .

'Oh, it’s nothing important . We’re just confirming the situation . I apologise for the inconvenience . Are you alone now?’

Honda let out a short breath at Miyagawa’s words .

His eyes were narrowed, and he looked at Miyagawa and Ishii with a cold gaze . It was like he was saying 'It’s your fault’ .

'I am alone . Right after that case, I had a divorce with my wife . ’

'How about your work?’

'I’m still working . ’

'Have you been at home these past few days?’ said Miyagawa nonchalantly .

– It’s a bluff .

It implied that they knew everything .

'Yes, well, I’ve taken a few days off work . ’

'Why is that?’

Miyagawa pressed further .

Honda rubbed his palms on his trousers . He couldn’t calm down – his gaze was wandering .

'Well, a bunch of things…’

'What do you mean, a bunch of things?’

Miyagawa was disinterestedly but steadily cornering Honda .

'Er, well, I caught a cold…’

It was a weak excuse .

– Just one more push .

'Is that so? I understand . I apologise for bothering you . ’

Contrary to Ishii’s inner voice, Miyagawa readily ended the conversation .

Ishii didn’t understand Miyagawa’s true intentions .

'Please take care of your cold . ’

After Miyagawa said that, he pulled Ishii’s arm .

– The conversation isn’t over .

Ishii wanted to resist, but Honda had already disappeared through the entrance .

'Why did you stop? With only a bit more…’

Miyagawa covered Ishii’s mouth so he wasn’t able to finish his sentence .

Miyagawa pulled Ishii forcibly by the arm to the car he had parked on the road .

'Get in!’ said Miyagawa sharply, but Ishii just didn’t understand .

'I don’t want to . ’

'Stop complaining . The guy’s watching . ’

Miyagawa exchanged a look with Ishii .

Ishii took a quick glance at the house . Somebody was standing by the window and watching them .

'Hurry up . ’

Ishii reluctantly got into the driver’s seat at Miyagawa’s behest .

'Drive . ’

The moment Miyagawa sat in the passenger’s seat, he spoke, not letting Ishii ask his questions .

Ishii started the engine and drove .

'Honda’s definitely hiding something . ’

'I think so as well . ’

Ishii agreed with the words Miyagawa had said in an unpleasant temper .

'Check with his company to see whether he’d asked for the days off in advance or the day of . Then we’ll know if it was because of a cold . ’

Normally, Ishii would definitely have been agitated, but he wasn’t now .

Gotou’s life depends on this –

'That would be too slow . Honda is clearly hiding something . We should step in immediately . ’

'When did you start telling me what to do!?’


'We can’t do whatever the hell we want just because we’re police! Illegal investigations are useless in court! Don’t you know that much!?’

Miyagawa’s yell echoed through the car .

Ishii slammed on the brakes, stopping the car . It wasn’t because he was surprised . It was because he couldn’t agree with Miyagawa’s opinion .

'I don’t care about the court . I just want to save Detective Gotou . ’

'It’s the same for me!’

Miyagawa hit the side window with all his strength, baring his emotions .

Normally, Ishii would have yelped in fear, but he had a determination in the bottom of his stomach that would not waver no matter what .

'It isn’t the same . Chief Miyagawa, you only want to save Detective Gotou as part of the police . ’

'What did you say!?’

Miyagawa gripped the collar of Ishii’s jacket threateningly .

'I am different . I want to save Detective Gotou as a regular person!’ shouted Ishii, brushing Miyagawa’s arms aside .

'Are you prepared for that?’

– He had been prepared a long time ago .

Ishii took his police ID out of his jacket pocket and threw it against the dashboard .

Miyagawa looked at Ishii with a bewildered expression .

'What are you planning?’

'I’m not planning anything . I said this earlier . As a regular person, I can’t abandon Detective Gotou . ’

After Ishii declared that, he opened the door and got off the car .

Miyagawa didn’t try to stop him . Even if he did, Ishii wouldn’t have listened .

In order to save Gotou, he would drop his identity as a police officer with no regrets if it became a burden . There were things men had to do no matter what they would lose . This was one of those times .

– Detective Gotou . Please wait . I am going to save you now .

Ishii started to run at full speed in the freezing cold .




Haruka advanced through the snow and climbed up to the entrance to the log house .

Creak –

The floor was rotten . It felt like it could break at any moment .

The door was slightly open .

She tried to use her torch to light up the inside through the gap, but all she saw was a dusty floor .

Nervousness and fear made her heart beat so loudly it felt like it would burst through her chest .

– It’s OK . Calm down .

Haruka encouraged herself and slowly pushed open the door .

There was the unique smell of mould mixed with dust .

Right after she went in, there was a space that was probably the living room .

It was about ten tatami in size . By the wall, there was a shelf of the same kind she had at home . There was a large table in the middle .

The glass in the window was shattered, so all that was left was the frame .

Snow fluttered in, together with the wind .

'Yakumo-kun . ’

Haruka focussed on her shivering throat and spoke up .

The only reply was the howl of the wind .

– My reasoning might have been wrong .

Doubt passed through her mind .

– I can’t step down now .

Haruka shook her head to clear her head of bad thoughts .

'Yakumo-kun . Aren’t you here?’

As she called out, she looked around with the faint light from the torch .

She spotted a door in the very back of the room .

While confirming the feel of the rotten floor, she slowly walked to the door .

Scritch .

Something moved .


Haruka leapt back instinctively .

When she pointed her torch down, she saw a mouse running across the floor .

'Honestly, don’t do that . ’

She lit up the door again .

There was a hook-shaped clasp on it . She tried to undo it, but her hands were shivering too much .

Haruka herself didn’t know whether it was from cold or fear .

She took off her gloves . She clenched her fist and unclenched it so that she could make her fingers work the way she wanted them to . Then, she undid the clasp and opened the door .

Beyond it was a small room, like a storehouse .

There was only a large object in the middle covered with a green sheet .

Compared to how old the house was, this sheet was clearly new .

Rustle .

Haruka felt like she saw the object move slightly .

She hurriedly covered her mouth and swallowed her scream .

– Something’s in there . I’m scared . I’m scared, but I have to check –

Haruka shut her eyes and took deep breaths . She gripped the sheet with trembling hands .

Then, she pulled it off all at once .

She was so surprised she couldn’t speak .

Underneath the sheet was the person she had been looking for .


Yakumo was sitting on a wooden arm chair . Both his arms and legs were bound with rope .

His head drooped like a doll’s and he didn’t budge at all . There was a dark red stain on his red shirt .

It’s blood –

'Yakumo-kun! Hang in there! Yakumo-kun!’

Haruka embraced Yakumo and shook him while yelling with all her might .

However, Yakumo didn’t respond .

'Yakumo-kun! Please! Talk to me!’

Haruka felt like she was falling into a deep darkness .

A darkness that went on forever –

Her eyes welled up with tears .

– Even though we finally met up again . Why is this happening?

While crying, Haruka undid the ropes that bound Yakumo .

Because they were tied tightly, it wasn’t going well .

Her fingernails snapped and her fingers were bleeding . But she didn’t have the time to worry about that . She just wanted to get Yakumo out as quickly as she could .

Finally, she undid Yakumo’s bindings and was able to hug him .

His body was cold .

– Am I too late?

Why did this happen? Why?

No matter how she tried, Haruka couldn’t find the answer to that .

I wanted to talk to you once more . But . But –


'Yakumo-kun . Why?’

The hole in Haruka’s heart spread as she was overwhelmed by a variety of emotions .

Haruka hugged Yakumo as tightly as she could .

To the point it felt like his body was a part of her own . She hugged him with all her strength .

That was all she could do –




Ishii reached the intersection where Honda’s house was .

He hid behind a telephone pole and looked at the house .

If he tried to go in from the front entrance, he would probably be stopped .

He didn’t even think Honda would open the door for him . Then there was only one path Ishii could take . The first floor garage .

– Was this really OK?

Ishii asked himself that .

What he was going to try to do now was illegal trespassing . It was a definite crime . He was even going to trespass when the owner was on the property .

He’d be forced to quit if this got out .

But he didn’t care about that . He’d thrown away his ID earlier . He was saving Gotou as a regular person – not a police officer . He would save Gotou . That was all .

– I’m a man too . Do your best, Ishii Yuutarou .

Ishii looked around to check that nobody was there and then ran straight for the garage .

He pressed his back against the shutter door and caught his breath .

Ishii put his hand to the shutter door, but it wouldn’t open . It appeared to be locked .

Things wouldn’t go that easily for him .

He sidled along the wall to the back of the house .

He found a ventilation window . He could break in from there . He put his hand on it, but it also wouldn’t open . It seemed like he’d have to break the glass and unlock it .

Ishii looked around to find a handy rock .

He couldn’t make any loud noises . A small rock would be better .

'There . ’

Ishii picked up a rock the size of a marble and threw it at the window .

Click .

It made a small noise and bounced back .

No good . I need a larger rock –

How about this one? This time Ishii picked up a rock about the size of a basketball and threw it at the window again .

Because he didn’t put enough strength in his throw, it fell on his own toes .

'Agh . ’

Ishii gritted his teeth and endured the pain . He writhed on the floor, gripping his toes with his hands .

– This time .

Ishii picked up a rock the size of his fist and threw that at the window .

Clang .

The rock broke through the glass . It sounded like it hit something metal . It must have hit the car .

'Oh no . ’

Ishii crouched and lowered his breathing .

Silence –

Fortunately, it seemed like he hadn’t been noticed .

Ishii put his hand through the broken window and unlocked it .

He looked around once more to check that nobody was there before opening the window and climbing into the garage, using the window frame for support .

'Agh . ’

Ishii missed his landing and fell on his back, putting him in agony .

The garage was dark .

It was filled with the smell of petrol and dust .

Ishii took a penlight from his pocket and used its faint light to look around .

The trunk of the black sedan parked there was dented, and the rock was on top of it .

– Ah, I’ve really done it .

Ishii rolled and took the rock off the trunk .

It seemed like the lock of the trunk had broken from the rock’s impact, and the trunk popped open .

Ishii turned his penlight towards the trunk in his surprise . Inside, there was a blue vinyl sheet covering something large .

'It can’t be!’

Ishii frantically tried to rip the sheet away .

It was wrapped with vinyl tape, so it wasn’t going the way Ishii wanted it to .

'What is this…’

Finally, Ishii was able to rip off part of the vinyl sheet .

Underneath it was Gotou’s face . It was covered in black spots .

This was – blood . His face was ghastly pale .

'Detective Gotou! Please hang in there!’

Ishii slapped Gotou’s cheeks as he called out frantically .

However, there was no reply .

– Was I too late? I can’t accept that . Why?

The emotions Ishii had been holding back came up all at once .

Despondency and powerlessness made him lose his strength, and he fell to the concrete floor on his knees .

'Detective Gotou, I’m sorry . I…’

Interrupting Ishii’s words, the lights in the garage turned on .

The brightness made everything turn white for a moment .

Ishii blinked a number of times and looked up to see Honda standing there .

He had a golf club in his hands . A nine iron . He wouldn’t be able to do anything if he was hit with that .

Honda’s narrowed eyes made his expression demonic, as if he were possessed by something .

Honda held the hand with the golf club above his head .

– My fate will be the same as Gotou’s . That isn’t too bad .

That thought came unbidden to Ishii’s mind .




Haruka caressed Yakumo’s cheek as she hugged him .

'I’m sorry . If I had come sooner…’

She couldn’t say the rest because she was crying .

The cold and quiet made her sadness deeper –

What should I do now?

If I’d never met you – If I’d never known you – I wouldn’t have experienced this sadness .

But I found out about you .

And through the time I spent with you, I found out – about your warmth .

I can’t go back now –

What should I do? I can’t carry this sadness with me .

Haruka couldn’t stop the downward spiral of her feelings or her falling tears .

The howl of the wind sounded like crying .

People always understand how important something is after they’ve lost it .

How stupid –

'I… ha… ’

Suddenly, Haruka felt like she heard Yakumo’s voice .

Her ears hadn’t been tricking her . It had been faint, but his voice had definitely reached Haruka’s ears .

Yakumo’s eyes were slightly open .

Haruka put her ears to his purple lips .

Haa, haa .

It was weak, but she could hear the sound of breathing .

'Yakumo-kun . You’re alive . ’

She was glad . She was so glad .

Haruka hugged Yakumo with all her strength as relief spread out from a corner in her heart .

'It… hurts…’

Yakumo let out a groan .

She had been so excited she put a bit too much strength into her hug .

Yakumo was alive, but he had definitely sustained serious injuries .

'Yakumo-kun . Are you OK?’

'I’m not… You can tell… by looking, can’t you?’

After Yakumo said that in a faint voice, he started coughing .

He spoke like that even in a time like this . He really was an idiot .

'I thought you’d really died . ’

'Don’t just kill me off…’

Yakumo clenched his teeth as he spoke .

She didn’t care what he said to her now . He was alive . That was enough .

Haruka gripped Yakumo’s hand .

'Why are… you here?’

'Isn’t it obvious? Because I’m meddlesome . ’

Yakumo smiled slightly at Haruka’s words .

Just from seeing that smile, the hardships Haruka had experienced until now all flew away .

Nothing could replace being able to see Yakumo alive again .

'Aagh . ’

Yakumo groaned and bent over .

She couldn’t linger now . If she didn’t get Yakumo to a hospital right away, his life would be in danger .

However, it would be impossible for Haruka to carry Yakumo on her own .

She would get Keiko to come here and carry Yakumo with her . Haruka tried to contact her mother with her mobile, but it was no good . She was out of range .

Haruka would head back to the car and bring Keiko back here with her . It would take time, but it seemed like that was the only way .

'Yakumo-kun, wait . I’m going to get help . ’

Haruka hugged Yakumo again and whispered that in his ear .

Just as she was about to leave, a cold wind suddenly blew into the room .

The door was open, and a man stood in it . A slender, tall man in a black suit with long hair that went down his back .

Even though he was on a mountain in the middle of the night, he was wearing sunglasses .

Though he was just standing there, he had an oppressive presence . It felt like the space around him was enveloped in a dark and malicious atmosphere .

He smiled, showing his white teeth, and started walking towards them slowly .

Terror –

That was the only word that could express Haruka’s emotional state .

'Run . ’

Yakumo’s expression twisted as he said that .

Haruka didn’t know who he was, but she couldn’t stay here . She had to run . Haruka felt that instinctively .

Haruka tried to pick Yakumo up, but she couldn’t do it well .

She lost her balance and the two of them fell to the floor .

Haruka tried to help Yakumo up, but Yakumo brushed Haruka’s hand away .

Leave me here . He was probably saying that .

But Haruka couldn’t do that . She had experienced the sadness that came from losing Yakumo .

No matter what happened, she wouldn’t leave Yakumo .

Haruka became even more frantic in her attempts to help Yakumo up .

The man soon reached them .

'Your existence is not good for Yakumo . ’

The man’s low growl of a voice echoed .

– My existence is not good for Yakumo?

What did that mean? Haruka couldn’t think of the reply to that question no matter how she tried .

The man took his sunglasses off slowly, as if putting himself on display .

His two eyes glowed red like a blazing flame .

This man is Yakumo’s father –

The man smiled again .




The moment Honda started to bring the golf club down, something snapped in Ishii’s head .

He didn’t have the time to resign himself to his death so carelessly . This man had put Gotou in this state . Could he forgive that?

Even if they ended up stabbing each other, Ishii would definitely not forgive this man .

The club seemed to come down in slow motion .

Ishii bent down like a short-distance runner at the starting line and moved his head a bit to the left .

The impact missed the top of his head, but it grazed his ear and slammed into this right shoulder .

His bone might have broken, but he didn’t feel any pain in his anger and agitation .

Ishii rushed right at Honda .

They fell to the concrete floor .

Before he’d noticed, Ishii was on top of Honda .

The tables are turned –

He would never forgive this guy . Ishii tried to raise his right fist, but he couldn’t . He couldn’t feel it .

– If my right arm isn’t working, I’ll use my left .

Ishii’s left fist went down towards Honda’s face .

Thump .

There was a dull sound .

Ishii’s fist didn’t hit Honda’s face and slammed against the concrete floor instead . That put Ishii in pain instead . He bent back unconsciously .

In that one moment, when Ishii let his guard down, Honda thrust Ishii off of him . The back of Ishii’s head hit the car’s bumper .

Ishii’s head was dizzy . He couldn’t move, like he had received a concussion .

Honda stood up immediately and picked up the golf club .

'Don’t get in my way . There’s only one day left . Then I’ll be free . ’

As Honda said that, he started walking towards Ishii slowly .

His cheek was twitching and his shoulders heaved as he breathed . He’s scared – that was what Ishii felt .

When Takeda showed up again, Honda must have been terrified that he’d be revealed as the true culprit .

Honda stood in front of Ishii and raised the golf club again .

– Can I not even get revenge for Gotou?

Ishii’s eyes welled up with tears in his vexation .

That moment, someone came between Ishii and Honda .

He knocked away the golf club Honda was holding with his hand and then, with the same hand, punched Honda in the solar plexus .

It was all at lightning speed . It only took a moment .

Honda’s body went stiff, as if time had stopped . Then, he threw up and fell forward, his face buried in his own vomit .

The intimidating back of a man stood in front of Ishii .

– Could this back be…

'Got this, Ishii? You’re supposed to punch from your back . ’

As he said that, Miyagawa turned around .

'Chief Miyagawa… Why?’

'Don’t ask . ’

Miyagawa turned around again at Ishii’s words .

He sighed and shook his head .

'My bad . I wanted to save Gotou too . In the car, those were just the pathetic words of a guy in middle management . Forget what I said . ’

'No . ’

He wasn’t pathetic at all . Rather, he was cool . Ishii gazed at Miyagawa’s back in envy .

'How’s Gotou?’ asked Miyagawa .

That was right . Ishii came back to his senses and walked to the car .

Gotou was still in the trunk, wrapped up in the sheet .

'Detective Gotou… I’m sorry . If I had noticed earlier…’

The experiences Ishii had had with Gotou flashed through his head .

Feeling both regret and sadness, his snot and tears fell to the floor .

His heart was empty . His body shook .

– Even though I vowed to save you .

'Detective Gotou… I’m sorry . ’

'Ishii . ’

Miyagawa placed a hand on Ishii’s shoulder .


'Cry later . Let’s get Gotou out of here right away . ’

It was just as Miyagawa said .

They couldn’t leave Gotou’s corpse in this truck forever . Ishii sniffled and nodded .

'Let’s go . One, two, three . ’

At Miyagawa’s call, they tried to pick Gotou up out of the trunk .

However, Ishii let go accidently from the pain in his shoulder .

Thump .

Gotou’s head hit the concrete floor loudly .

'That hurts! You fool!’

Gotou’s eyes snapped open as he howled .


'Let me out of here already!’

Gotou was flailing about as he shouted .

'You’re alive…’

And energetic at that .

Ishii’s eyes met Miyagawa’s and they both laughed loudly .

'What the hell are you laughing at!? Are you the one who dropped me just now!?’

Gotou’s shouts echoed through the garage .




All Haruka could do was hug Yakumo tightly .

– I’m going to be killed .

Not just her body . Her soul was going to be broken into pieces and she was going to die . She had no basis for that, but that was how Haruka felt .

There was enough malice in that man’s red eyes to make her feel that way .

Even though they were the same colour, they were clearly different from Yakumo’s eye .

She wanted to get out of here right now, but she couldn’t leave Yakumo . Haruka shut away the terror bubbling up in her heart .

'If you weren’t here, Yakumo would have gone down a different path . Why did you get in my way?’

The man crouched in front of Haruka and looked at her as he said that in his low, echoing voice .

Haruka couldn’t respond, as she didn’t even understand what his words meant .

The man took something out of his inner suit pocket .

A thin silver knife . Its tip glittered in the faint light .

The man slowly flicked it about in front of Haruka’s eyes .

'The easiest method to make humans obey is pain . You understand, yes?’

The man quickly snapped his wrist .

The tip of the knife was on the verge of stabbing Haruka’s eye . She couldn’t even scream in her terror .

'Stop it!’ yelled Yakumo, straining his voice .

Seeming satisfied by that, the man smiled with his white teeth showing .

The man doesn’t want to hurt me but Yakumo . By tormenting me, he’s making Yakumo suffer psychologically .

That was what Haruka felt .

'First, let’s gouge out your eyes . Humans become doubly afraid when light is stolen away from them . ’

The man was making Haruka imagine the act on purpose .

He was making her afraid by doing that .

Even though Haruka knew his plans, she imagined that knife plunging into her eyes .

The intense pain and the flowing blood – and the world enveloped by darkness .

She could feel strength in her body .

'Next would be the legs . I’ll cut your Achilles tendon so you can’t run away . I wonder how much you will be able to withstand?’

There was no strength in her lower body .

It’s too late . I’m going to die –

Haruka was resigned to that .

But if I’m with Yakumo – I’m sorry . I came to save you, but it seems like it was no good . If I’m with you, I’ll be OK wherever I am .

Haruka hugged Yakumo tightly .

She was together with Yakumo . Just from that, she no longer felt fear .

She shut her eyes and resigned herself to the end .

But – nothing happened .

There was an uncanny silence .

Haruka timidly opened her eyes .

The man was still in the room . She was glaring at Haruka .

– No .

The man wasn’t looking at Haruka .

Haruka couldn’t see it with her eyes, but she felt that somebody was standing in the man’s way .

Somebody with a warm and strong will –

'Mother…’ murmured Yakumo .

So that was how it was . Azusa’s spirit was standing in front of them . That was why the man wasn’t approaching .

– Is she protecting us?

The man’s lips twisted into a smile, and he turned away silently .

Then, he walked away into the darkness .

– We’re saved .

The moment she relaxed, she felt Yakumo’s body suddenly grow heavy in her arms .

Yakumo had fainted .

'Yakumo-kun . Hey, Yakumo-kun . ’

Haruka shook Yakumo but there was no response .

She put her ear to his mouth . His breathing was faint .

'Yakumo-kun . You can’t do this . Wake up . ’

She had to bring Yakumo to a hospital quickly . Haruka frantically tried to pick Yakumo up .

There was no strength in her arms . What should she do?

– Please! Someone . Someone . Help me!

Haruka felt like she had been left all alone .

'Haruka, where are you?’

She heard somebody’s voice, carried by the wind .

It was Keiko’s voice . A flame of hope lit in Haruka’s chest .

'Come quickly! Yakumo-kun is! Yakumo-kun is!’

Haruka yelled as loudly as she could and tried once more to pick Yakumo up .


Keiko ran into the room .





– Please wake up .

Who was that? He was sleeping so pleasantly . When Ishii opened his eyes, he saw a nurse standing there .

It was a slightly chubby middle-aged nurse .

It appeared that he’d fallen asleep in the hospital waiting room .

'It’s troublesome for us if you fall asleep here,’ said the nurse without hiding her displeasure .

'Er, is Detective Gotou all right?’

Ishii came to his senses and asked that, gripping the nurse’s arms .

'W-why are you asking that all of a sudden? I don’t know . ’

The nurse backed away, perhaps feeling pressured by Ishii .

'Relax . Gotou’s fine . ’

Ishii turned around at the voice and saw Miyagawa walking towards him with his bowlegs .

– That’s great . Really great . My job is over now .

Ishii sat on the waiting room sofa in his exhaustion .

'He’s got some bruises and scrapes, but he’s fit as a fiddle . The worst injury is the egg on his head you gave him when you dropped him . ’

Miyagawa sat down next to Ishii while laughing .

'Ah, that’s…’

Ishii scratched his head . He couldn’t laugh at that joke .

'We found a stun gun in the shape of a pen in Honda’s room . He probably got Gotou with that . Gotou thought it was a gun . ’

'I see…’

Even Gotou would be helpless against a stun gun with thousands of volts .

'You’re much worse off than he is . ’

Ishii looked at his right shoulder .

Fortunately, it hadn’t been broken, but there was a crack in the bone . He couldn’t move it .

'How is Honda?’ asked Ishii, looking at his wristwatch .

It was already eleven PM .

The culprit for the case fifteen years ago had changed . There wasn’t enough time to put out an indictment .

Furthermore, it would be difficult to gather physical evidence, so if they didn’t get a confession now, the statute of limitations would pass .

'At first he’d been reluctant . Seemed to want to wait for the statute of limitations to pass . ’

So that really was the case . Then they couldn’t charge Honda with the case that occurred fifteen years ago . Even though they’d saved Gotou, Ishii felt regretful . His shoulders slumped .

'Don’t look so depressed . I said “at first”, didn’t I? He gave in . ’


Why would he suddenly confess?

'Article 225 . ’

Miyagawa grinned, perhaps sensing Ishii’s question .

'Criminal law article 255 – suspension of the statute of limitations .

If the perpetrator was out of the country or in hiding, it was possible to suspend the advancement of the statute of limitations for that period .

All culprits would hide, which would suggest that the statute of limitations could never pass on any case . People often thought that way, but in reality, it was necessary to prove that the culprit had been in hiding .

However, since the police hadn’t arrested him, all they could do was rely on the testimony of the culprit as to whether or not they had been in hiding .

Nobody would honestly admit that they had run in a situation like that . That was why it was impossible to prove .

'You’re smart, so think a bit . That guy was in America for a month for training . ’

'I see!’

Ishii stood up unconsciously .

If the culprit was out of the country, the statute of limitations would be suspended . Which meant that there was a month until Honda’s was over .

Was that why Honda gave in? Even if he could have lasted a day, a month would have been impossible .

'Fifteen years ago, Honda went to the Nanase household . Just as you said, it was nine PM…’

'As I thought . ’

'He lost in case, but what Honda wanted wasn’t money . He just wanted Katsuaki to apologise,’ said Miyagawa quietly .

Even though Ishii didn’t have children, he felt like he could understand how Honda felt .

The death of one’s child wasn’t something that could be cleaned up with money . He had probably wanted to say that .

'Honda hadn’t been planning on killing them at first, but when Katsuaki saw Honda asking for an apology, he’d laughed . To hell with your dumb daughter . He said that and laughed…’

'That’s awful . ’

'Yeah, he was a shitty guy . His family was watching then and they’d laughed quietly too . Seems he can’t remember anything after that . Then he was in a sea of blood…’

Miyagawa’s hands were in fists .

It was like he was crushing the personal anger in his heart .

Ishii felt the same way as Miyagawa . Having your daughter’s death laughed at was probably the limit for a parent .

'What he did is definitely unforgiveable . But Katsuaki can’t be forgiven either . ’

Miyagawa’s brows furrowed .

Ishii knew the motive now, but there was still something he didn’t understand .

'Chief Miyagawa, did Honda really not have the intention of killing them in the first place?’

Ishii voiced the question as it came to him .

'What do you mean?’

'But isn’t it the case? The alibi trick this time used hypnotism . It would be impossible if it wasn’t set up in advance . ’

'Which means…’

'Honda planned the murder from the beginning…’

Miyagawa stood up just as Ishii said the last word of his sentence .

Ishii thought that Miyagawa would get angry and put himself on guard, but Miyagawa just hit Ishii’s shoulder lightly .

It was his injured shoulder . Ishii cowered, pressing a hand against his shoulder .

'I see . There’s reason behind your opinion . I’ll look into it again . ’

'Thank you very much . ’

Ishii looked up at Miyagawa’s face .

'Why are you thanking me? That’s my line . I, er… underrated you a little . My bad . ’

Miyagawa bowed his head slightly towards Ishii, put his hands in his pockets and walked towards the exit with a bowlegged gait .

So cool . Ishii almost cried in his excitement .

Miyagawa stopped before he passed through the automatic door .

'That’s right . Gotou wanted to see you earlier . You should go there quick since he’s making a fuss . ’

'Y-yes sir!’

Ishii ran to Gotou’s hospital room without watching Miyagawa leave .

'Please don’t run in the hospital!’

Ishii heard the nurse’s voice, but he ignored it .




The sun is bright –

When Haruka opened her eyes, a pure white wall spread out in front of her .

– Eh, where am I?

For a moment, Haruka was confused, but she soon came to her senses .

This was a hospital room . She had fallen asleep on her chair .

She rubbed at her eyes . Her fuzzy vision became clearer . She saw Yakumo sleeping in the bed in front of her .

– It wasn’t a dream . I’m really glad .

According to his doctor, his left Achilles tendon had been severed, there were cuts and bruises all over his body, and he was severely weakened, but there was no threat to his life .

The doctor had made it sound like he had undergone terrible torture .

Haruka didn’t want to think of the meaning of those words . In any case, Yakumo was alive . That was enough for now .

Wouldn’t he wake up soon? She’d complain all she could as payback for everything up until now .

When Haruka stretched her arms, a blanket fell to the floor .

She hadn’t noticed . Keiko must have put it on her . Haruka really had to express her gratitude, since Keiko had accompanied her to the very end .

Haruka picked up the blanket and walked to Yakumo’s bed .

He was sleeping well . It was strange . His mouth was half-open . So this was the face Yakumo made when he was asleep .

A mischievous desire sprouted in Haruka’s heart and she pinched his cheek .

'Hey . Trying to steal his lips when he’s asleep? That’s a disgrace to women everywhere . ’

Keiko stood in the doorway to the hospital room and was covering her mouth as she laughed .

– This is the worst .

'That’s not what I’m doing!’ objected Haruka firmly .

'Getting worked up makes it even more suspicious . ’

Keiko was grinning .

Why was Haruka surrounded by people like this?

'It’s not suspicious at all . ’

Keiko ignored Haruka’s anger like it was nothing .

'Anyway, I told Dad about Yakumo-kun earlier . ’


What was her mother saying all of a sudden?

Haruka cocked her head .

'He got very angry and said, “Bring that boy here right now!” Dad might be coming now . ’

'Why is Dad coming?’

'He said he’d crush Yakumo-kun . ’

Keiko laughed again .

'Wait, Mum . What did you tell Dad?’

'That’s a secret . ’

Keiko poked Haruka’s nose with her finger .

Haruka could imagine the gist of what Keiko had said . Keiko had always been a bit too playful . Kazuhiro had known her for so long already; Haruka wished that he’d stop getting pulled along by Keiko’s pranks .

'You’re so noisy . I was sleeping so well too . ’

Those were Yakumo’s first words after waking up .

Honestly . He was the same as always . Haruka met Keiko’s eyes and smiled .

'Are you finally awake?’ said Haruka disagreeably .

'You must be very narrow-minded if you won’t even sympathise with somebody who’s been injured . ’

Yakumo spoke in his usual tone .

So he was going to be like this right after waking up? He would’ve been easier to deal with if he’d just stayed asleep .

'It’s nice to meet you, Yakumo-kun . I’m Haruka’s mother,’ said Keiko, looking at Yakumo’s face, which was still blank .

Even Yakumo appeared to be taken aback, and his expression stiffened .

'It must be difficult dealing with Haruka, since she’s duller than most . ’

After Keiko said that, she winked at Yakumo .

– What is she saying right in front of me?

'It’s true . She doesn’t listen to what people say and she trips all the time – it’s hard work . ’

Yakumo took advantage of the opportunity to complain more . Haruka didn’t even feel like retorting any more .

'Right? My daughter will trip even when nothing is there . And she cries easily too . ’

'That’s true . It’s baffling . ’

Why were the two being so frank with each other all of a sudden? And it was all badmouthing Haruka . It was the worst . She shouldn’t have saved him .

'Honestly, stop it already . It was hard work for me too . Yakumo-kun disappeared, and then Gotou-san went missing too…’

– Ah, I’m about to cry .

When Yakumo heard Haruka’s words, his expression turned grim .

He ran a hand through his messy bedhead and tried to sit up .

However, perhaps the pain had been too much, because he suddenly showed an anguished expression .

'Wait, don’t move yet . Your wounds will open . ’

Haruka tried to stop him, but Yakumo refused .

'I’m fine . More importantly, what happened with the case?’ said Yakumo, his expression still twisted . The case Yakumo was talking about was probably what Ishii had told her about last night .

'The true culprit was arrested . Also, Gotou went missing, but it seems he’s been saved safely . The case is settled . ’

Haruka thought that Yakumo would relax at her words, but she was wrong .

'Damn it,’ spat Yakumo, and then he forced his body up .

'Wait, Yakumo-kun . I said you can’t move yet . ’

'I have to go . ’

Yakumo tried to get off the bed .

'Wait, Yakumo-kun . Go where? The case is already over . ’

Yakumo looked at Haruka with sharp eyes .

'Nothing is over yet . ’

Nothing is over – what does he mean?

Haruka didn’t understand, so all she could do was stare, dumbfounded .

'Anyway, you just need to return to Tokyo, right?’ said Keiko in a proud tone of voice as she spun a car key in her fingers .

'Mum . ’

'I’ve come this far, so I’ll accompany you to the end . ’

Haruka thought her smiling mother looked reliable .




Gotou looked at the ceiling absentmindedly .

Can’t believe I was saved by Ishii – I’ve fallen .

At some time, I became unable to move as freely as I did before . Not just my body, but my heart too –

No . Can’t become weak at a time like this . Ishii was better than I ever thought he was . Let’s leave it as that .

'Please excuse me . ’

Ishii opened the door to the hospital room and came in .

'Hey . Sorry for the fuss . ’

The moment Gotou raised his hand, Ishii started crying, pulled Gotou up and hugged him .

It’s heavy, it hurts, and –

'That’s gross . ’

Gotou hit Ishii’s head .

Maybe he’d hit somewhere bad, because Ishii collapsed to the floor .

Honestly, this guy . He really was just a fool . Being saved by a guy like this was the biggest blunder of his life .

’D-Detective Gotou… I’m so glad you’re all right . ’

Ishii stood up while pressing a hand against his head .

'Of course I am, you fool! Did you think I’d kick the bucket so easily?’

'No . I believed in you . ’

Ishii straightened his spine and saluted .

Miyagawa had said that he’d been astonished by Ishii’s growth, but Gotou didn’t see it .

'But Detective Gotou, it is amazing how you realised the truth behind the case,’ said Ishii, sitting on the chair for visitors .

Gotou had heard the outline of the case from Miyagawa .

It appeared to have become something unbelievable . There had been another culprit to the case they’d been following for fifteen years .

'I don’t know what you’re misunderstanding, but I didn’t know the truth behind any case . ’

'You are as humble as always . ’

Ishii stuck out his lip in some form of pout .

'I don’t know the things I don’t know,’ said Gotou firmly .

'Then why were you abducted by Honda?’

'I don’t know!’

Gotou wanted to ask himself .

That day, at that house, he was shocked from behind . When he opened his eyes, his body had been bound and he’d been in the trunk of that care .

He’d been in that trunk the whole time after that .

When he opened his eyes, he’d writhe about to try to escape, but then Honda would come and shock him again with the stun gun . That just kept repeating .

Gotou himself didn’t know why he had been abducted .

The mobile phone on the bedside table rang .

Yakumo’s name was displayed .

'Yakumo, where are you, you bastard!? I had to go through a lot because of you!’

Gotou yelled the moment he answered the phone .

<Weren’t you abducted? Didn’t that allow you to go on a bit of a diet?>

Yakumo said that disinterestedly .

'You making fun of me!?’

<Well done; you realised . >

'What did you say!?’

<In the first place, Gotou-san, you were abducted because you were clumsy . It isn’t my fault . >

This guy . Did he call just to make fun of him!?

'It ended up like this because you wouldn’t help out!’

<Are you putting the blame on me? How childish . >

Gotou was grinding his teeth in his anger .

This guy really just got on his nerves . He didn’t want to talk to him anymore .

'You can just go die!’

Gotou tried to hang up .

<Gotou-san, I have a request . >

Yakumo suddenly spoke in a formal tone .

That contrary guy has a request –




The car ran down the highway .

Since it was lunch on a weekday, there weren’t many other cars . They could probably arrive in three hours if the situation continued like this .

Keiko didn’t ask anything and was focussing on driving, but Haruka couldn’t help but be interested .

She hadn’t been able to confirm what they were talking about, but Yakumo had spoken on the phone with Gotou for a rather long time .

What on earth was Yakumo planning?

'Hey, what are you trying to do?’

Haruka looked at the backseat and asked that question .

Yakumo was still in a hospital gown and had his crutch under his arm as he stared out the window .

'Returning the favour,’ said Yakumo expressionlessly .


'I was played like a puppet this time . Just being deceived would irritate me . ’

Yakumo turned his narrowed eyes to Haruka .

Was his red eye filled with anger or sadness? Haruka couldn’t tell, but she felt her chest tighten .

– Nothing is over yet .

The words Yakumo said earlier passed through her head .

Just as he said, there was still a mystery in this case .

Why did Yakumo go through that? Who had done it? And just as Isshin had said, she didn’t understand the connection to what happened to Gotou .

Isshin-san –

'Aaahh! Oh no!’

Haruka realised that she had forgotten something unbelievable and almost jumped up as she shouted .

'You’re so noisy,’ said Yakumo and Keiko at the same time .

'What are you so worked up about?’ said Yakumo, looking displeased as he ran a hand through his bird’s nest of a head .

It wasn’t an excuse, but so many things had happened that she’d completely forgotten .

'I didn’t contact Isshin-san to say that Yakumo-kun was OK . ’

'Isshin-san is Yakumo-kun’s uncle, right?’

Haruka nodded at Keiko’s question .

'What are you doing? Hurry up and contact him . ’

Urged by Keiko, Haruka hurriedly took out her mobile phone .

'Honestly, you’re as clumsy as usual . ’

Haruka almost said 'Sorry’ in response to Yakumo .

Wait a second? What was Yakumo sounding so high and mighty for?

Isshin had been so worried about him . Now that she thought about it, Yakumo was the one who should call .

'Yakumo-kun, call him yourself . ’

'I don’t want to . You’re the one he asked . ’

'What sort of tone is that?’

'And, because of certain circumstances, I can’t use my mobile,’ said Yakumo matter-of-factly .

Can’t use your mobile? You were talking with Gotou just earlier –

'Right . Haruka, hurry up and call . ’

Keiko spoke before Haruka could object .

Honestly, she hated these two!




Gotou switched into a suit and sat on the bench in front of the reception at the precinct as he smoked a cigarette .

His injuries weren’t that serious .

His back hurt because he’d been stuck in a small space, but he didn’t need to be hospitalised . Gotou ignored the doctor who had frantically tried to stop him and escaped from the hospital .

He checked his wristwatch .

Yakumo had contacted him to say he’d gotten off the interchange fifteen minutes ago, so he would probably arrive soon .

– But what is that Yakumo thinking?

Gotou couldn’t see Yakumo’s true intentions . He was made to explain what he knew in detail, but it hadn’t seemed like enough so he gave the phone to Ishii partway through and they’d talked for a considerable length of time .

– Isn’t the case over already?

As usual, Yakumo just gave out instructions without explaining the crucial bits .

'Damn, that guy is useless . ’

Gotou ended up saying that aloud unconsciously in his irritation .

'Who are you saying is useless?’

Yakumo was standing right in front of him .

He was still in a hospital gown and there was no contact lens in his left eye either .

Not just that – there was scratches all over his face and he had a crutch . It looked like he wouldn’t have been able to stand if Haruka hadn’t been beside him for support .

He was wounded all over .

'I’m obviously talking about you . ’

Gotou threw his cigarette into the ashtray on the side of the bench and stood up .

'Please do that sort of thing after looking at the reflection in the mirror . ’

Gotou thought Yakumo would be a bit quieter, but he was mouthy even in this state .

'Shut up – you’re injured!’

'You are as well, aren’t you?’

'You’re much worse off . ’

It was so strange Gotou ended up smiling .

'Still, Gotou-san, you look fairly unharmed for somebody who was abducted . Were you just skiving?’

'What’d you say!?’

Gotou gripped Yakumo by the collar .

– Making being tortured sound like work .

However, Yakumo was disinterested in Gotou’s anger .

'By the way, how is the favour I asked of you?’

'Ishii’s on it right now . ’

Gotou felt stupid for getting angry and let go of Yakumo .

'That’s good . Even you can do it if you try, Gotou-san . ’

When Haruka heard Yakumo’s words, she let out a laugh .

'You just keep saying whatever the hell you want!’

'Now, let’s go then . ’

With Haruka’s support, Yakumo used his crutch to walk towards the elevator .

'That guy really gets on my nerves,’ grumbled Gotou, and he followed Yakumo into the elevator .

'Gotou-san, I’m relieved to see you so energetic,’ said Haruka with a smile .

'Thanks to you guys . Anyway, I heard that you were the one who saved Yakumo, Haruka-chan . ’

'I was . Even though I went out of my way to save him, he started acting the same way he usually does the moment he woke up . ’

'What an ungrateful bastard . ’

Gotou snorted .

'He is . I kind of regret saving him,’ replied Haruka, her cheeks puffed out .

However, no matter what gripes she gave, Gotou could tell from looking at her expression . The happiness she felt from being able to hear Yakumo’s sarcastic remarks was written all over her face .

Haruka’s tenacity had made it possible to find Yakumo and save him .

The value Haruka had in Gotou’s head had grown a lot higher .

– Yakumo won’t be able to get away any more .

Gotou unconsciously smirked when he imagined the two of them married . Yakumo might unexpectedly end up under Haruka’s thumb .

'That’s disturbing; please don’t smile . ’

Yakumo glanced at him .

'Shut up,’ muttered Gotou, wiping the smile off his face .

They arrived at the seventh floor and the elevator doors opened .

When they went out into the corridor, Miyagawa was waiting there .

'You’re going to explain properly, right?’

Miyagawa approached Gotou with his bowlegged gait .

However, Gotou had just received the request from Yakumo – he didn’t know the details . He glanced at Yakumo to escape Miyagawa’s question .

'You must be Miyagawa-san . It’s been a while . ’

Yakumo hopped out to stand in front of Miyagawa and bow .

Miyagawa looked bewildered .

The last time they had met, Yakumo had still been in middle school . He had grown much taller since then, and his features had changed . It made sense that Miyagawa didn’t recognise him .

'This guy’s the brat who can see ghosts . ’

'Ah, from that case . You’re much bigger now . ’

Miyagawa raised his hand, perhaps to give Yakumo a pat on the shoulder at the long-awaited reunion . However, he changed his mind when he saw how his injuries were and ended up letting his hand dangle in mid-air .

'Could I ask you one thing?’

Yakumo’s eyes narrowed as he looked at Miyagawa .

'What is it?’ replied Miyagawa, sounding confused .

'Is it true that the eyes of the man you saw at the crime scene fifteen years ago were red?’

Miyagawa turned a sharp gaze to Gotou, as if to complain about his loose mouth .

Gotou felt awkward and pretended to fix his shoelaces .

'Just as you say . But what’s that got to do with anything?’ responded Miyagawa, sounding reluctant .

'If possible, I would like to talk about the situation with the suspect, Honda-san,’ said Yakumo .

Miyagawa looked like he couldn’t decide what to do and looked at Gotou for help .

'Please believe in him,’ said Gotou, his voice full of confidence .

Yakumo was an annoying guy, but when he tried to do something like this, he was never wrong .

This was how he’d solved the cases up until now .

Miyagawa crossed his arms . His face was wrinkled in thought .

In the past, he would have given his OK immediately, but his decision was delayed by the responsibility he had in his position of middle management .

'Got it . ’

Miyagawa’s expression changed – it appeared he was prepared .

'Thank you very much . ’

Yakumo bowed his head honestly .

'But this is completely off-record . It won’t be a walk in the park if people find out we let a civilian interrogate a suspect . ’

'I will forget that we met here . ’

Yakumo smiled .

'And I want as little people inside as possible . ’

Miyagawa looked at Haruka .

That made sense . Yakumo understood what Miyagawa meant immediately, gave his crutch to Haruka and hopped on one foot towards the interrogation room .

Yakumo lost his balance .

Gotou instinctively supported Yakumo from behind . Crap . He’d inadvertently saved him . He should have just let him fall .

Even though Gotou didn’t say that aloud, Yakumo turned around and glared .




The sun set in the valley of buildings, bathing it in its faint orange light .

In the driver’s seat, Ishii’s eyes narrowed as he lay down on the wheel .

He had stopped his car on the road in front of the newspaper agency and had started his stakeout . It had already been three hours .

– Why do I have to hold a stakeout?

Ishii didn’t understand .

Since Yakumo had asked, there must have been some reasoning behind it, but Ishii just didn’t understand his instructions .

At the hospital, Gotou and Yakumo had talked on the phone for a rather long while .

Because Yakumo wanted to hear the details of the case, Ishii took the phone partway through to explain .

Yakumo’s questions were very detailed – it had felt like Ishii was undergoing an interrogation .

– The case isn’t over yet .

Yakumo had said that at the very end of the conversation . Did he mean exactly what he said –

The case was dotted with questions .

But why would he need to stake out Makoto? Ishii just didn’t understand .

Was Yakumo saying Makoto had a part in this?

'There’s no way . ’

Ishii said that aloud to erase his doubts .

Makoto had supported Ishii when he had been about to collapse . She had cooperated with him – she couldn’t be the opposite .

Ishii believed that . But there was something that he was concerned about .

The other instruction Yakumo gave –

The investigation of the video company that made the video this time . It was simple . He only had to make one call .

It seemed to be a small company, since when Ishii called, the company president answered .

There were three things he had to check . Was a video taken at that house? If they had gone there, when did they go?

And then, the last question regarded the purpose of the video –

Ishii just couldn’t ignore what the president’s response .

His head was jumbled . It was really irritating . He wanted to take his mind off it, but he couldn’t . He felt like he sort of understood the feelings of a smoker .


When Ishii looked up, he saw the person he was looking for and unconsciously called out .

Makoto came out of the automatic door at the front .

Finally . When Ishii thought that, his heart started beating quickly .

Ishii followed Makoto with his eyes and started the engine .

Makoto went fifty metres forward into the fenced parking lot .

After a while, a red family car came out of the parking lot .

Ishii confirmed that Makoto was the one driving and started his own car .

He sped up to close the distance and then matched their speeds, following her from ten metres behind .

The success rate of tailing depended greatly on whether the person being tailed was on guard .

Makoto had probably never even imagined that she would be under surveillance .

Even at this distance, there was no need to worry about being noticed unless something extreme occurred .

– I want her to be unrelated .

Ishii wished for that in his heart as he continued following her .


After Gotou went into the interrogation room, he sat across from Honda .

Yakumo was in the seat beside him . Miyagawa stood in front of the door .

Normally, a clerk would be present for the interrogation, sitting by the wall to note down the testimony, but there wasn’t one now . This was going to be a completely unofficial interrogation .

However, it was great that they’d gotten so far, but how were they going to explain Yakumo to Honda? Gotou couldn’t think of a good way .

It would be all right with just the two detectives, but anybody would be confused if he saw a young man covered in wounds in a hospital gown sitting in front of them .

'Honda-san, the suddenness of this may surprise you, but this is not an interrogation, and I am not a detective,’ said Yakumo, scratching his head .

– Oi, oi, why are you telling the truth all of the sudden?

If Yakumo said that, Honda could refuse to cooperate . However, Yakumo continued speaking, ignoring Gotou’s concern .

'However, what I am about to say is not unbeneficial to you . Would you cooperate with me for your own sake?’

Honda made no reply . He looked like a child who was sulking after the teacher had yelled at him .

It appeared he was still confused .

However, there was no point chitchatting after coming this far .

'Yakumo . Explain already . ’

Gotou stuck out his chin .

Yakumo scratched the back of his neck and sighed .

'You abducted this blockhead of a detective, yes? Why did you do that?’

Yakumo pointed at Gotou .

'Oi . Am I the blockhead?’

'Is there anyone else here?’

'What did you say?’

'Could you please be quiet?’

Yakumo glanced at Gotou .

That was some nerve when he was the one who’d be picking a fight . Gotou snorted and crossed his arms .

'If what I am about to say is incorrect, please say so . ’

Yakumo turned towards Honda again . Honda said nothing, just furrowing his brows grimly .

'You knew that a detective was reinvestigating the case that occurred fifteen years ago . That was this blockhead of a detective . Then, you suddenly thought that that detective was coming close to discovering the truth, so you decided to keep him captive until the statute of limitations passed . Is that correct?’

Yakumo continued to talk disinterestedly .

'Honda testified to that . ’

Miyagawa replied for Honda, who remained silent .

Yakumo glanced at Miyagawa and nodded before looking to Honda again .

'Then I have one more question . Why did you think this blockhead of a detective was coming close to discovering the truth?’

– You don’t need to keep calling me a blockhead .

Gotou buried his dissatisfaction in the pit of his stomach and watched Honda .

There was a wrinkle between Honda’s brows . Rather than not wanting to answer, it felt more like he didn’t know how to .

A slight smile appeared on Yakumo’s lips . It looked like the smile of the devil to Gotou .

'You won’t answer this question . That isn’t because you don’t want to but because you don’t have the answer . Isn’t that right?’

Yakumo’s eyes narrowed as he said that triumphantly .

Honda’s expression changed . His mouth was agape and he was shaking .

Finally, he held his head in both hands . It looked like he was trying his best to remember something, but he couldn’t remember it . That irritation came through .

'Yakumo . Explain . ’

Gotou didn’t think Honda would talk, so asked Yakumo .

'You don’t understand?’

'I’m asking because I don’t . ’

'Honda-san was made to think that you, a detective he had never met before, might know the truth . ’

– I don’t understand at all .

Unlike Gotou, who didn’t get what Yakumo was saying, Honda seemed to realise something and looked up .

His gaze was wavering .

'Put it more simply . ’

'I will explain properly afterwards . Anyway, let us put that aside for now . ’

Yakumo changed the topic on his own .

'Is this really OK?’ interrupted Miyagawa .

Since Miyagawa didn’t know how Yakumo usually talked, that had probably been a nonsensical exchange to him .

However, that was just how Yakumo talked . Afterwards, they would understand what he had meant .

'It’s all right . I only have one more question . ’

Yakumo showed Miyagawa a composed smile .

Miyagawa’s cheek twitched, as if he was angry .

'Gotou, this brat…’

'Well, please just watch . ’

Gotou interrupted Miyagawa and urged Yakumo to continue .

– I’m really counting on you .

Gotou murmured that in his heart .

'This is my last question . What did you do with Miyuki-san, Nanase Katsuaki’s daughter?’

'I took her back and killed her… I think . ’

That was unexpected . Honda responded to Yakumo’s question .

But why’d he say something as vague as 'I think’? Honda had confessed that he’d done everything .

'Why did you kill her after taking her back?’

'I didn’t plan on killing the daughter . The child didn’t do anything wrong . ’

Honda looked down, pressing a hand against his temple .

'The child didn’t do anything wrong . You thought that, but you still killed her . Why is that?’

'She was noisy when I took her back… . so I killed her . ’

Honda gritted his teeth . It looked like he was withstanding pain .

His breathing was ragged, and there were tears in his eyes .

'How did you kill her? Where did you do it? And when was it? What did you do with the corpse?’

Yakumo used this chance to attack and asked all his questions at once .

'Uuugh… . ’

Honda moaned and hugged his head before lying on the table .

Yakumo looked at him with a serious gaze . He looked just like a scientist waiting for a chemical reaction .

Finally, the reaction he was waiting for occurred .

When Honda looked up, his expression was like that of a different person .

'It’s not true . I didn’t do it . I don’t know where the daughter is . ’

Honda leant forward and clung to Yakumo’s body . Gotou hurriedly tried to separate them, but Yakumo himself got the better of him .

'Honda-san, I understand . You didn’t kill anybody . ’

Perhaps Yakumo’s words had calmed him, because tears started rolling down Honda’s cheeks .

– What the hell is happening?

Gotou didn’t understand . Yakumo had said this to Honda: 'You didn’t kill anybody . ’ Was that true?

Gotou was just about to ask when his mobile phone rang .




The surroundings were completely dark –

Ishii continued to tail Makoto .

Makoto’s car passed the shopping street in front of the train station and started climbing the slope of a residential street .

There was only one road here, which few cars frequented . It was very possible that he would be noticed . Ishii slowed down and distanced himself further .

It made it easier to lose Makoto, but after coming this far, Ishii could guess where Makoto was going .

The top of this slope was the house where the murders occurred .

Ishii put his mobile phone on speaker and called Gotou .


Gotou’s voice was clearly displeased .

'This is Ishii . Makoto-san appears to be heading for that house . ’

<The house where the murders occurred?>

'Yes . ’

When Ishii replied, he heard something being said quietly . Gotou had probably met up with Yakumo and was now consulting him .

<Ishii-san, it’s Yakumo . >

Just as he thought, after there was the sound of something being moved, Yakumo’s voice came through .

<Is she alone?>

'Yes, she is . ’

What role did Makoto play in this case – Ishii was struck with the impulse to ask, but Yakumo didn’t give him the chance .

<How is the other investigation I requested?>

'It seems that the video really was filmed there . ’

<The contents of the film?>

Yakumo immediately asked his next question .

'Yes . It wasn’t a show following spiritual phenomena but a candid-camera show to trick dishonest exorcists . ’

<So that really was the case . >

Yakumo’s voice sounded constricted . Ishii understood how he felt .

If that was taken for candid camera, that would mean the reporter’s actions were an act .

The person who brought that video in was Makoto .

<I understand . I will call you again afterwards . >

After Yakumo said that, he hung up .

When Yakumo looked up, he saw that house on the other side of the front window .

It might have been because of what happened, but the air around the house felt stagnant .

Ishii was about to up the speed when his mobile phone rang .

Yakumo’s number was displayed .

Did he forget to ask something?

'Ishii speaking . ’

He answered the phone .

<Ishii-san, where are you right now?>

'I’m near the house…’

I just explained that – Ishii was thinking that as he responded .

<I see . We really were tricked by Makoto-san . >

Yakumo had been ambiguous before, but now he was implying that Makoto was related .

'Is that so? I can’t believe it . ’

<That is the truth, even if you don’t believe it . >

'No, but…’

<Anyway, we’re heading for that house now too . >

Yakumo interrupted Ishii’s objection .

'Ah, yes . ’

<Ishii-san, please refrain from doing anything forward . >

Yakumo’s words were unusually strong .

'Yes . ’

<Do you understand? No matter what happens, please do not do anything – wait until we arrive . >

Yakumo gave that reminder to Ishii again before hanging up .

Ishii couldn’t shake away the unnaturalness of the conversation with Yakumo . Perhaps Yakumo was mistaken about the case .

While he was thinking, Makoto’s hazard lights went on and the car stopped on the road in front of the house .

Ishii parked his car too at a distance from hers .

Makoto got off the car .

Yakumo had told him not to do anything until he arrived . Ishii knew that was the better decision to make . But –

– I want to check with my own eyes .

Led by a feeling close to curiosity, Ishii got off his car .




'Shall we go then?’

Yakumo put his mobile phone in his pocket and got up with the help of the table .

Gotou didn’t understand why Yakumo had called Ishii back with his own mobile .

That wasn’t all Gotou didn’t understand .

'Go where?’

'What a dull-witted person you are . It’s obvious that we are going to where Makoto-san is,’ said Yakumo, running a hand through his hair like he thought Gotou troublesome . Then, he left the investigation room .

– Oi, oi . Wait a sec .

Gotou hurriedly followed Yakumo into the corridor .

He saw Yakumo hopping down the corridor on one foot .

'What are you going to do with Honda?’

'I have no more questions for Honda-san . ’

Yakumo didn’t stop . In the end, Gotou had to run after him .

'No more questions? What do you mean?’

'I mean exactly what I said,’ said Yakumo, pressing the elevator button .

'You never explain enough!’

Yakumo raised an eyebrow .

– You annoyed? I’m one hundred times angrier at you!

'You heard as well, did you not, Gotou-san? Honda-san is not the true perpetrator of the case fifteen years ago . ’

'I’m asking why!’

The elevator arrived and the door opened .

'Oi, Gotou! What was that? Explain!’

Miyagawa burst out into the corridor, screaming . He looked like a demon .

It made sense . Gotou had asked him to help and suddenly run off without an explanation .

Yakumo didn’t pay any heed to the fuss and hopped into the elevator .

'Say something!’

Miyagawa let out another howl .

'I’ll explain later! Later!’

Gotou shouted and escaped into the elevator . Yakumo smiled like he was enjoying this and pressed the 'Close’ button .

What was so funny? This brat . Gotou was going to get yelled at again .

They got off the elevator and met with Haruka, who was sitting on the bench at the reception .

The three of them headed for the back exit and got in the unmarked car that was parked in the parking lot .

Gotou sat in the driver’s seat, Yakumo in the passenger’s and Haruka in the back – their usual positions .

'I won’t drive until you explain properly,’ said Gotou, glaring at Yakumo .

'Is it all right to say something so laidback?’

Yakumo smirked and looked at the rear-view mirror .

Led by Yakumo’s gaze, Gotou looked as well . Miyagawa was running at them at full speed . Just like a zombie –

Gotou pretended not to hear Miyagawa’s yells and quickly started the car .

This had become an unimaginable disaster because of Yakumo .

'Stop acting so high and mighty and explain already . ’

Gotou spoke up when he couldn’t see Miyagawa anymore .

'You really don’t understand . ’


'I said this earlier, didn’t I? Honda-san didn’t kill anybody . ’

'How can you say that? Ishii investigated and made sure that Honda was the perp . Honda confessed his own crime too . Wasn’t that the end of it?’

Gotou’s tone was wild in his irritation .

'Gotou-san, do you really think that?’

'I’m saying that because I do!’

Yakumo sighed mockingly .

'Honda-san was just made to think that he did it himself . ’

Oi, oi . He wasn’t Ishii . Did Yakumo watch too many sci-fi films?

'You saying somebody played with Honda’s brain and put in some new memories?’

'That isn’t possible . ’

'You’re the one who said it!’

Gotou was so agitated that he hit the handle .

Yakumo looked at Gotou coldly .

'Please listen properly to what people say . I said he was made to think that way . ’

– Isn’t that the same thing?

As if he had heard what Gotou asked in his heart, Yakumo shook his head .

'In Honda-san’s testimony, he headed to the scene on the day of the incident and got into an argument with Katsuaki . ’

'Right . ’

'Then, before he noticed, the four of them were dead . Don’t you understand that this is unnatural?’

'I don’t,’ spat out Gotou .

Nothing was strange . What was the problem?

'That’s incredibly unnatural . ’

The one who spoke was Haruka, in the backseat .

'Haruka-chan, what’s unnatural about it?’

Even if Gotou asked Yakumo, he probably wouldn’t answer, so he directed the conversation to Haruka .

Haruka looked a bit surprised at having the conversation turned to her so suddenly, but she started speaking, like there was no way she could avoid it .

'I don’t know the details, so I can’t say much, but that person killed four people, yes?’

'Right . ’

'Isn’t that a bit too many if he was just in a rage?’

Now that she said that, Gotou thought the same way .

It would take a lot of work and time to kill four people . It would be difficult to do that unconsciously .

'Almost completely correct . That’s well done for you,’ said Yakumo with a yawn .

'I feel like I’m being made fun of . ’

Haruka puffed out her cheeks .

'Well, to add a bit more, there were four people at the scene . If he had been killing in a rage, why didn’t anybody stop him?’

There was that too . But the same thing could be said even if the culprit wasn’t Honda .

'That doesn’t prove Honda didn’t do it . ’

'Then let’s return to the main topic . ’

After Yakumo declared that, he started his explanation again .

'First, Honda-san went to the scene that day and argued with Katsuaki-san . That is true . After that, Honda-san was led into a hypnotic state by somebody . ’

It had come up in their last case, so Gotou knew about hypnotic suggestion too .

Yakumo couldn’t be saying that Honda killed them because he was hypnotised into doing it, could he?

People often thought that hypnotism made people fall asleep, but it wasn’t true . They were conscious .

That was why it was impossible to play people like puppets even if they were hypnotised .

Furthermore, it was impossible to make people do things against their moral code no matter what suggestions were given to them .

'Honda-san, in his deep hypnotic state, was led to the corpses and told that he was the one who did it . ’

Gotou understood . Honda was shown the corpses in his hypnotised state and made to think he did it then .

That could be possible .

'Gotou-san was abducted in the same manner . Honda-san was put into a hypnotic state and told that there was a detective who realised the truth of the case fifteen years ago . ’

Gotou remembered the exchange that occurred in the interrogation room earlier .

– One day, you suddenly thought that there was a detective who was coming close to discovering the truth .

When Yakumo said that, Honda started behaving strangely . Honda was led into doubting himself by Yakumo .

Gotou understood the flow of the conversation . But –

'How can you be certain of that?’

Yakumo’s put his left index finger to his brow .

'First, I was talking from a theory . However, the testimony about Katsuaki-san’s daughter was decisive . ’

'His daughter?’

Honda’s testimony had changed completely then .

'Correct . Even if hypnotised, people’s memories cannot be fabricated . Honda-san saw the corpses himself at that house . That is why he ended up believing he did it when he was told that under hypnotic suggestion . However…’

Yakumo’s words faded out and he looked at Gotou with narrowed eyes .

'You saying he didn’t see the daughter’s corpse?’

'Correct . ’

So that was how it was . Honda had started doubting his own memories from what Yakumo said at first, and then, when asked about the daughter, the story had crumbled .

Making him think he killed her without seeing the corpse was the same as making a new memory, so it had been impossible .

The theory that Honda had been hypnotised by someone and made to think he’d done the act was coherent .

But that meant –

'Then who the hell killed those four people? Was it really Takeda? And where’d the daughter Miyuki go?’

'Takeda-san is not the perpetrator . ’

Yakumo declared that while looking straight ahead .

'Who is then?’

'Well, please calm down . ’

Yakumo yawned . He wasn’t nervous at all .

'How could I calm down!? I’ve got other questions too! Who did something so troublesome, and why!? And why was I abducted!?’

Gotou said that all at once, overwhelmed by his emotions .

More questions came up . His head felt like it would burst from confusion .

'We are going to solve that mystery now . ’

When Yakumo said that, Gotou couldn’t say anything anymore .

While that had been happening, they had arrived at the house .

There were two cars parked by the road . Both were empty .

'That fool…’

Gotou clicked his tongue .

Even though Yakumo had told Ishii to wait, it appeared that Ishii had followed Makoto .

'Gotou-san, please drive the car up to the premises . ’


Gotou tried asking .

'Obviously, it’s because I have an idea,’ Yakumo replied curtly .

– Of course .




Ishii was stooped over and taking care to walk quietly as he followed Makoto at a distance .

My forehead’s all sweaty –

If Makoto turned around, everything would be over . There was nowhere to hide .

He’d thought about hiding himself in the trees by the road, but, though it might have been possible in the summer, in this season, the leaves on the floor would rustle when he stepped on them and he would be found out .

He silenced his breath and just prayed that she wouldn’t turn around .

Makoto passed through the metal gates and went onto the premises . Ishii counted to three in his heart and then ran up to the wall all at once, plastering his back to it . He felt like a ninja .

After his breathing had regulated, he leant out and peered to the back of the premises .

Makoto stood in front of the entrance . She turned around, checking her surroundings .

Ishii immediately hid himself . It felt like his heart was being crushed .

When Ishii peered out again, Makoto opened the entrance door and went inside .

– Now what are you going to do, Ishii Yuutarou?

Yakumo had told him to wait . Ishii thought that was a good plan too, and he also wanted to wait outside because he was afraid . But –

It was because of his weak will that the worst had happened last time .

– I’ll check what happened with my own eyes .

With strong determination, Ishii jogged up to the entrance door, still stooped over .

His adrenaline was at a high, leaving him agitated .

Ishii tried to look inside through the keyhole, but it was too dark to see anything .

There were no entrances to this house beside the front entrance . It was very possible that he’d be found if he went inside .

'What to do?’

Ishii asked himself that question .

Why didn’t he want to be found anyway? He could just ask the person herself without dancing around like this .


A scream from inside the house interrupted Ishii’s thoughts .

The sparrows in the trees flew away all at once .

– Did something happen to Makoto?

Ishii opened the door before thinking .

A dark corridor continued in front of him . It was just like the path to Hades . He couldn’t go down it . He felt that way .

He remembered the spiritual phenomena he had experienced in the past, and a shiver went down his spine .

– Calm down . I have to go ahead .

The scream just now was definitely Makoto’s . If he stayed here, he would feel the same regret that he had felt before .

Ishii took the penlight out of his pocket and lit up the corridor .

At the end of the straight corridor, there was the door to the living room .

And that door was open –

Ishii slowly started walking .

That moment, he stepped on something and almost fell . He pointed his light down and saw a can .

There was the distinct smell of gasoline .

– Why here?

With that question in his head, Ishii headed down the corridor and stood at the entrance to the room .

He lit it up with his light .


He saw somebody lying face down in the centre of the room .

It was Makoto –


Ishii rushed towards Makoto .

'Are you all right? Please hang in there . ’

As Ishii called out to Makoto, he shook her body, but there was no response .

He tried putting his mouth to her ear . She was breathing . It appeared that she had just fainted .

'Please wait . I’ll call for help now,’ said Ishii . He stood up and turned around .


Somebody was standing in front of him . A woman –

– Who is that? How long has she been there?

The women held out a knife in front of Ishii’s confused eyes .

He was so surprised he dropped his light to the floor .

Ishii’s body stiffened, and he gulped . A cold sweat ran down his body .

– I really should have listened to Yakumo .

Ishii was hit with a strong wave of regret .

'Who are you?’

Ishii asked that in a hoarse voice, but the woman just smiled silently .

Then, his eyes adjusted to the darkness, and the woman’s face appeared in front of him, though obscure .

'You are…’

Interrupting the words Ishii was about to say, the woman went around Ishii, covered his mouth and put the knife against his neck .

If he moved even a little, his carotid artery would be cut and a lot of blood would floor .

– It’s too late . I’m going to die .

Ishii resigned himself to his death .

The next moment, a glaring light hit his face . Ishii’s eyes narrowed from the brightness .

The light came from a torch . Somebody was there .

It was Yakumo and Gotou .

'That was fairly quick . Were you waiting?’ said the woman .

'Would you let go of Ishii-san?’ said Yakumo calmly, as he entered the room with his crutch .




– What the hell is this?

Gotou couldn’t hide his surprise at the scene in front of him .

The moment he entered the living room with Yakumo, he saw Makoto on the floor and Ishii with a knife to his neck, held by the woman behind him .

However, Gotou remembered seeing the woman holding the knife somewhere .

'Yakumo . What’s going on? That’s the woman reporter,’ muttered Gotou in Yakumo’s ear .

'Correct . She’s the woman who was in the video . ’

'What’s she doing here?’

'Let me explain in order . First, her name is Nanase Miyuki-san . ’

Yakumo pointed at the woman with his crutch .

'That’s ridiculous!’

Gotou’s eyes went wide .

Nanase Miyuki was the girl who’d disappeared fifteen years ago during that case . What was she doing here?

'Oh no . So you really did find out . ’

The woman sneered at Gotou and stuck out her tongue like a child whose prank had been revealed .

– Is this really Nanase Miyuki?

'Explain . ’

Gotou muttered in Yakumo’s ear again .

Yakumo looked clearly displeased and waved his hand as if swatting a fly .

'Please don’t put your face so close to mine; it’s disturbing . You don’t have to say everything quietly . ’

'What did you say?’

'I’ll say it again . Please let go of Ishii-san . You can no longer escape . ’

Yakumo continued talking, ignoring Gotou’s objections .

Miyuki looked down, as if contemplating, but then she suddenly let go of Ishii and thrust him forward .

Ishii fell face-forward onto the floor but got up immediately and hurried to Makoto .

– She’s letting her hostage get away?

Gotou glared at Miyuki in his suspicion .

Miyuki didn’t appear to care . She put her hands on her waist and smiled . What a ghastly woman .

'Ishii-san, she’s fine . She probably just lost consciousness from being shocked with a stun gun . ’

After Yakumo said that, Ishii let out a sigh in his relief .

'Now, let’s explain the situation, to respond to Gotou-san’s request . ’

Yakumo cleared his throat . He sounded like a teacher who was about to start class .

'First . The true culprit of the murder case fifteen years ago is the person in front of you right now: Nanase Miyuki-san . ’

Yakumo’s words were so sudden that Gotou couldn’t understand them for a while . Ishii seemed to be the same – he just gaped at Yakumo .

’T-t-that’s ridiculous! Nanase Miyuki is Katsuaki’s daughter! She was just ten then! For her to have killed the four people in her family, that’s…’

'Possible . ’

Miyuki was the one who spoke .

With the gait of a model, she approached Gotou .

'But I didn’t kill four people – I killed three . ’

Miyuki flicked Gotou’s nose with her fingers . Gotou was frozen by this completely unexpected childish action .

'Why did you kill them…’

That was all he could say .

'You want to know why I killed them?’

'Yeah… Why?’

Miyuki nodded, seeming satisfied .

'That family was broken . You understand?’

'I don’t . ’

'I was really Nanase Kanji’s kid . Grandpa’s kid . My mum Fuyumi was Grandpa’s lover . ’

Miyuki said that proudly as she slowly walked around Gotou .


'Grandpa and Dad both knew . But they pretended they didn’t . ’

That really was broken . The titles of father, wife and family hadn’t been performing their proper roles .

They had pretended to know nothing . It was like some love triangle in a drama .

'That’s not all . My father on the family register – that is, Katsuaki – would rape me at night, maybe in some sort of revenge . I was only ten…’


A father raping his daughter – his young one, at that .

A child who had lost their home as a place to escape had nowhere to go . It was supposed to be the parents’ job to protect their children . But –

Rage boiled up in the pit of Gotou’s stomach .

'Grandma was my only ally . But Grandma broke too . ’


'Yup . She found out . She found out what was happening at home… I told her . ’

For a just a moment, it felt like a shadow passed Miyuki’s eyes .

'You broke her . ’

'Yup . That day, Grandma went mad and grabbed a kitchen knife . ’


Gotou swallowed his breath .

'What do you think the others did when they saw that? Everyone forced Grandma down and stabbed her . ’

Miyuki acted it out, putting her hand to her chest and looking up at the ceiling as if she were a singer in a musical .

Her gaze was so cold it sent a chill down Gotou’s spine .

'They didn’t just kill Grandma – they started to talk about how to hide her . They said bad things about her – it was awful to watch . That’s why I broke all of them . ’

She chose the word 'break’ instead of 'kill’ .

To Miyuki, her family excepting her grandmother were probably no longer people to her . But –

'There’s no way you could’ve killed the three of them by yourself . ’

Gotou shook his head .

She was just ten at the time . It was impossible .

'It’s simple . Kanji and Katsuaki left the room to get a cloth to wrap Grandma up and a saw to cut her . I cut Fuyumi’s throat then . ’

Miyuki’s eyes seemed to be in a trance as she looked at the tip of the knife .

'You’ve got some guts killing your own mother…’

'A woman who watched silently as her husband raped her daughter isn’t a mother!’

Miyuki’s shrill shriek reverberated through the room .


Gotou wanted to retort, but he couldn’t find the words .

'Next, I stabbed Kanji when he came back with a cloth . Then Katsuaki came back with a saw… A ten-year-old child wouldn’t be able to kill him . That preconception lost him his life . ’

Miyuki’s triumphant voice hurt Gotou’s ears .

'But even if you did kill your family, what did you do after that?’

Gotou looked at Yakumo .

'She wasn’t alone . ’

Yakumo had been silent until now, but he said just that .

– She wasn’t alone .

When Gotou heard that, information from the back of Gotou’s memories was suddenly drawn back out .

Miyagawa had said that a man with two red eyes had been at the scene –

'That man?’

'Yes . That man took care of the scene . It was a two-fold trick . ’

Yakumo ran a hand through his hair .

'A two-fold trick?’

'He didn’t just make Takeda-san seem like the culprit . He also made Honda-san think he was the true culprit . ’

'What for?’

'It was insurance for if Takeda-san was proven innocent . ’

What the hell . Takeda and Honda had just been incredibly unlucky . Which meant –

'Then I was abducted to…’

Gotou didn’t want to believe it, but no other thought came to him .

'It is just as you are thinking, Gotou-san . There was the possibility that his own crime would be revealed because of Takeda-san’s reappearance . He used you as insurance . He made Honda-san abduct you and led Ishii-san there . ’

So that really was how it was .

'Eh, then I…’

Ishii’s mouth flapped like a goldfish that wasn’t getting enough oxygen .

'Correct . Gotou-san was used to lure you out, Ishii-san – bait to lead you to Honda . In that sense, it didn’t matter which of you was abducted, though you might have been easier to lead . ’

Damn it . Using a guy as a lure . Gotou was furious .

'But why’s Ishii easier to lead?’

'It’s obviously because you’re an idiot, Gotou-san . ’

'You brat…’

He’d definitely punch him one day .

'Furthermore, when Honda-san abducted you, Gotou-san, that made him definitively suspicious . ’

It was just as Yakumo said .

Even if the investigation had led them to Honda, it would’ve been difficult to arrest him just from that .

The case happened fifteen years ago . There wasn’t much evidence .

However, since he’d abducted Gotou, that put all the suspicion on him .

– So we were completely played .

Ishii looked like he would cry at any moment . He’d tried his best this time, but he had actually just been being led around . When Gotou thought that, even he felt depressed .

It was mortifying, but now he understood why he had been abducted . But –

'Why were you abducted?’

When Gotou said that, Yakumo’s expression twisted, like he had eaten something bitter .

'It was very probable that I would notice the truth behind the case, so it was necessary for me to be taken away from the stage . That was why the video came about . ’

It had become clear from Ishii’s investigation . The ghost video had been taken as a candid-camera plan to set up the exorcist .

The video of Yakumo’s mother in the end had been added in later .

Disguised as a reporter, Miyuki had given the video to Makoto .

'Was that video bait?’

'Unfortunately, it is just as you say . When I saw that video, I noticed that the person in the video was my mother and acted on my own to chase that mystery . However, that was just a trap to lead me away from the case . ’

Even Yakumo lost his coolheaded deduction ability when faced with a picture of his missing mother .

And Yakumo’s mother had tried to kill him . Why did she do that? He had probably been looking for that reason too .

'She waited for me to show a chink in my armour . Then, when I arrived at the log house, she shocked me with a stun gun . ’

Though Yakumo’s teeth were gritted, Miyuki was smiling in her amusement, showing her white teeth .

She was probably happy to have hoodwinked him .

'However, the torture was unnecessary . If you had just let me sleep, I might have taken longer to notice who you were . ’

Yakumo glanced at Miyuki .

Gotou looked at Yakumo’s body again .

A cast on his leg . Cuts and bruises all over his body . She had probably been careful while hurting him so he wouldn’t faint .

Miyuki licked her lips . This woman was an incredible sadist .

'Amazing . No wonder that person acknowledges you . You really are excellent . You’re so excellent it makes me want to kill you . ’

Miyuki gave Yakumo a round of applause .

'It doesn’t make me happy to be acknowledged by that man . ’

Yakumo’s eyes were fierce .

'That might be the case for you, but it’s different for me . That man is my father – the person I love . He saved me from that hell of a house and gave me a new life . ’

Miyuki spread her arms and looked up as she declared that loudly .

When Gotou saw how intoxicated Miyuki look, a chill went down his spine . The person who was the most broken was Miyuki .

'Do you really think that?’

Yakumo’s one sentence made Miyuki freeze .

'What do you mean?’

'The incident fifteen years ago was only devised by that man to isolate my mother and corner her psychologically . You were only a by-product of that . ’

There was a wrinkle in Yakumo’s forehead .

– So that’s how it is?

When Gotou heard Yakumo’s words, he felt like he’d solved the many puzzles he’d dragged along with him .

When Gotou met Azusa fifteen years ago, her mind was completely broken .

– This child will kill people!

Azusa’s scream was as fresh in his mind as if he had heard it yesterday .

From her perspective, it must have been an unbelievable reality . She had overcome her suffering and had almost caught a chance at happiness when the man who had accepted her and her child ended up pursued by the police as the culprit to a murder case .

However, that man’s true goal had been Yakumo .

By confusing Yakumo’s mother, he caught up to Yakumo and tried to draw him over . Though Yakumo didn’t say it, he had also noticed .

'Shut up!’

Miyuki suddenly put her hands in her hair and crouched, screaming in a constricted voice .

'I know that! I know that even without you telling me! That person only ever looks at you! Is being related by blood and having a red eye so amazing?’

Miyuki’s eyes were bloodshot and as she shouted, spit came flying out . She was like a completely different person .

Envy towards Yakumo –

Gotou could feel it . The man she worshipped only showed interest in Yakumo . She resented that .

Yakumo and Miyuki might have had a relationship like siblings –

– Older sister?

The old wound in Gotou’s stomach twitched .

He looked at Miyuki’s face again . He’d seen this face somewhere before – so that was it!

'Yakumo, could she be – ’

'That’s right . Though she has changed her face with cosmetic surgery, this is the person who called herself my older sister in the last case . ’

So that really was the case . They’d finally met again . He’d properly thank her for the injury she’d given him . But –

'Why didn’t you say that earlier!?’

'I was sure that you would notice, Gotou-san . ’


'Didn’t you say when you watched the video that you remembered seeing this woman before?’

He had said that . But he’d completely forgotten .

'Your biggest mistake this time was leaving me alive . ’

Miyuki lifted her head the moment she heard Yakumo’s words .

'That’s right . I think that too . That man told me not to kill you – told me to leave you alive, but it really would be better if you died . ’

Miyuki brushed her hair back and smiled fearlessly .

That was quite some composure she had in this situation . Gotou would definitely not let him get away this time .

Gotou stepped towards Miyuki .

However, Miyuki leapt backwards with quick footwork to evade him .

Gotou wouldn’t let her get away . Just as Gotou readied himself to rush at him, Miyuki ran out of the living room and shut the door .

– You think that’s going to stop me?

Gotou rammed his shoulder into the door with all his strength .

However, the door didn’t even budge .

'It’s useless,’ said Yakumo .

Gotou looked at the door . Unlike last time, the door was metal . It seemed to have been changed .

– Have we been shut in?




– What on earth?

All Ishii could do was stare, dumbfounded by the exchange between Gotou, Yakumo and Miyuki .

Even though he had thought he’d found Gotou and saved him with his own determination, that had all been calculated .

He had completely been played . When he thought about that, he realised how small his existence was .

'Open up! Come on!’

Gotou howled at the door as he kicked it .

'Detective Gotou, it’s no use,’ said Ishii without thinking .

'What did you say!?’

'If the door’s shape warps, it will become even more difficult to open . ’

'Then what are you saying we should do!?’ said Gotou, kicking the door once more .

'Please calm down,’ said Yakumo with a nonchalant yawn .

'What are you acting all composed for? Come on – what the hell is this?’

'There’s nothing to it . Please think about this seriously . Why do you think she spoke so freely?’

A very unpleasant thought came to Ishii’s head upon hearing Yakumo’s words .

'She plans to gather us in one place and kill us,’ said Ishii with a shiver .

'Exactly . How clear-headed of you, Ishii-san . ’

Unlike Ishii, who was terrified, Yakumo spoke calmly .

'W-w-what did you say!?’ yelled Gotou .

Yakumo put his fingers in his ears to show how loud he thought Gotou was .

'Please don’t speak so loudly next to my ears . You really are easily unsettled for somebody of your stature . ’

'You idiot . How could I be calm now?’

Ishii agreed with Gotou’s opinion . Yakumo was the strange one for being so disinterested at a time like this .

Still –

'We’ve been completely trapped then,’ said Ishii with a disappointed sigh .

'Correct . Makoto-san was bait . She might have been told to return the video or that there was a new truth to the case . It doesn’t matter . Miyuki called Makoto out that way, since Makoto has a good heart, and drew us here . ’

Yakumo scratched the tip of his nose with his finger .

'But isn’t that strange? How’d that woman know Ishii was tailing the reporter lady?’

Gotou’s question made sense .

Miyuki had used Makoto as bait because she knew she was being watched .

Yakumo had been the one who told him to watch Makoto . Why was that necessary –

Yakumo held his finger in front of his mouth to quiet them .

Though Gotou and Ishii were confused by Yakumo’s sudden action, they looked at each other and then shut their mouths .

Yakumo nodded once more and then took his mobile out from the pocket of his pocket gown . He opened the cover for the battery and took out something that looked like a one-centimetre rectangular card .

Yakumo pinched it with his fingers, showed it to Gotou and Ishii . Then, he dropped it to the floor and crushed it with his crutch .

'Could that be a listening device?’

'Correct, Ishii-san . ’

Yakumo put up his thumb, looking satisfied .

'When’d you notice that!?’

'From the very start . That was put there when I was abducted . ’

Yakumo spoke indifferently, without flinching at Gotou’s angry yell .

– From the very start .

Ishii recalled the exchange they’d had when he was tailing Makoto .

In order to explain the situation, he’d called Gotou’s mobile, but for some reason, Yakumo had gone out of his way to call again from his own phone to discuss the same thing .

– We’re heading there now too .

That hadn’t been a message to Ishii . That had been to tell Miyuki they were going there now .

'But why did you act like you didn’t notice?’

'You understand as well, don’t you, Ishii-san? That woman is tenacious . If we didn’t face off in this manner, she would surround us with traps again and cut off our heads one by one as we slept . ’

– I see . So that’s how it was .

Yakumo took Miyuki’s trap and forced Miyuki’s hand .

However, in this situation, that meant his plan had also failed .

Ishii smelt something burning and lifted his head .

Smoke was coming in from the gap between the door and the floor .

'So she really is going to set fire to the house,’ said Yakumo, running a hand through his hair .

Ishii recalled the can he had stepped on when he came into the house . Though it was too late to realise that now –

'We’re going to burn to crisps here! That woman’s gonna get away! What the hell are we going to do!?’

Gotou stamped on the floor like a child throwing a tantrum .

'Honestly . I’ll make you stand in the hallway for being an unruly child . ’

'I’ll hit you, you bastard!’

Gotou raised his voice and yelled, but Yakumo didn’t pay him any attention .

'Please calm down . She won’t run . She must be making obstructive preparations so that the fire engines cannot arrive . ’

Ishii thought that Yakumo was right .

If fire engines showed up to put out the fire, her efforts would have been in vain . She needed to obstruct their arrival no matter what .

'That’s even worse! At this rate…’

In the middle of speaking, Gotou breathed in some smoke and started coughing violently .

The room was considerably filled with smoke .

At this rate, they would soon die of carbon monoxide poisoning .

Contrary to Ishii’s anxiety, Yakumo was the picture of calm . He seemed to have a secret plan to escape .

Yakumo used his mobile to call somewhere .

Even if he called the fire department, the fire engines would be obstructed . Yakumo had said that himself . What on earth was he planning?

'It’s me . It’s your time to shine… Calm down . It’s a simple job; just do it the way I instructed you . Press the accelerator down as much as you can and move the brake lever . That’s all . Got it?’

Yakumo gave out instructions in a flat voice .

Who was he talking to? Ishii had no idea .

'It’s fine . You can do it . Don’t forget to put on your seatbelt…’

'Yakumo, I got it . So that’s it? That’s why you made me park the car there . ’

Gotou clapped his hands together – he appeared to have realised what Yakumo was planning .

'If you get it, hurry up and move Makoto-san . The location she is in now is dangerous . ’

Gotou walked over and picked up Makoto’s legs . Ishii didn’t understand but he decided to just do as he was told .

Ishii lifted Makoto’s head, and at the count of three, they moved Makoto to the door .

After Yakumo confirmed that, he nodded .

'Now! Go!’

Right after Yakumo spoke, there was an incredible sound and dust flew up into the air .

A car broke through the wall and flew into the room .


Ishii shouted in his excitement and surprise as he saw this scene that seemed to have come right out of an action movie .

– But who’s driving that car?

To answer Ishii’s question, the driver, whose face was buried in the air bag, looked up while pressing a hand against her head .

It was Haruka –

How reckless .

'The walls are so thin that the house next door could hear the screams . Just as I thought,’ said Yakumo triumphantly .




Gotou ran out of the house through the broken wall and looked for Miyuki .

'There she is!’

He spotted Miyuki standing at the front entrance with a dumbfounded expression .

Their eyes met . Gotou thought she’d run, but Miyuki just stood there with a faint smile .

– Did she give up? No, I can’t let my guard down .

He had suddenly been caught from behind last time .

Gotou guardedly sidled up to Miyuki . However, Miyuki dropped her knife to the ground and put up both her hands .

'It’s my loss . ’

Miyuki winked .

– This woman’s challenging me . Just what I want .

Gotou took out handcuffs and quickened his pace, walking up to Miyuki .

'Not going to let you get away again . ’

'Right . Hurry up and arrest me . ’

Miyuki put her two wrists together and held them out towards Gotou .

– How honest . Did she really give up?

A doubt sprouted in Gotou’s mind .

'What’s wrong? Not going to arrest me?’

Miyuki cocked her head, as if she was confused .

'I’m going to do that even if you don’t tell me to . ’

Gotou reached out to handcuff Miyuki .

That moment, Miyuki slightly lowered her right wrist . Something like a black box slid out from her sleeve into her palm .

Gotou didn’t miss it .

– It’s a stun gun .

Miyuki thrust the pulsing stun gun towards Gotou .

'As if I’d be caught by the same attack again!’

Gotou twisted back and evaded the attack, grabbing Miyuki’s wrist in the same action .

'Let me go, you blockhead!’ shrieked Miyuki, twisting about violently . Her resistance was useless . Gotou wouldn’t lose in strength .

'I’ve a rule about not raising my hand towards women, but you’re an exception!’

Gotou ripped the stun gun out of Miyuki’s hand . He grabbed her hair and forced her to lean forward before kneeing her .

She responded appropriately .

Miyuki hugged her stomach, bent over and vomited .

'Have you finished?

Yakumo walked towards him, supported by Haruka .

Damn, this guy was carefree . He could’ve told Gotou that he had a plan . The chills had been unbearable .

’… If I had killed you . ’

Miyuki’s nails dug into the ground as she glared at Yakumo with a gaze full of hatred .

'No, that isn’t your only mistake . ’

Miyuki’s brows furrowed at Yakumo’s words .

'You underestimated her . That was the cause of your defeat . ’

As Yakumo said that, he gave Haruka a glance .

Rare for him, his eyes were kind .

Haruka really might have been Miyuki’s miscalculation .

Miyuki had misread what actions Haruka would take when it became clear that Yakumo was missing and how strong Haruka’s feelings towards Yakumo were .

Even Miyuki hadn’t expected Haruka to find Yakumo so quickly . She had been the biggest wild card .

More than that, her driving technique earlier had been pretty great . It was unexpected from her appearance, but the girl went at things with all her heart .

Gotou ended up smiling unconsciously . Yakumo saw that and ended up smiling too .

However, when Haruka saw their faces, she was sulking, like she didn’t understand what was going on .

'I’m going to kill you . I’m going to kill all of you…’

Even at this stage, Miyuki bit her lip and expressed her hatred .

– She’s as tough as a zombie .

'Gotou-san, she’s annoying . Please put her to sleep,’ said Yakumo .

Gotou agreed with Yakumo . He had his grudge from before .


Miyuki quickly picked up the knife from the ground and leaped towards him .

Gotou bent back to evade the attack and then pressed the stun gun against Miyuki’s neck and pressed the switch .

There was a zap .

Miyuki collapsed to the ground just as the house came burning down –




It was a very clear day –

The day after the incident, Haruka was being driven by Keiko to the place Yakumo designated .

Haruka hadn’t heard the details from Yakumo; he had just said that he was going to meet somebody .

In the backseat, Yakumo had the same sleepy eyes as usual . However, they looked a bit sad .

In front of them, there was just a half-demolished building with its concrete frame .

'Yakumo-kun, is this really the right place?’

Yakumo’s only reply was a short 'Yeah’ as he bit his lip .

Keiko parked the car a little bit ahead of the building .

After Haruka got off the car, she helped Yakumo out and walked towards the building’s premises as directed .

She heard Yakumo’s breath in her ears .

She’d heard from Gotou yesterday . This building was where Yakumo’s mother, Azusa, had tried to kill him fifteen years earlier .

– I wonder what Yakumo is feeling and thinking today .

'Oh, you finally came?’

Sitting on the road facing the building, Gotou was smoking a cigarette . He raised his hand and stood up .

'It is forbidden to smoke on the streets . How can the police set an example by breaking the rules?’

Yakumo’s remarks were sarcastic, as usual .

'Shut up!’

Gotou went onto the premises through the entrance, which had a leaning door .

Yakumo and Haruka followed him .

The abandoned building rose above them .

Yakumo looked up at the building’s roof silently .

'Will we really meet Takeda if we come here?’ said Gotou, putting his cigarette out in a portable ashtray .

Takeda Shunsuke –

In the murder case fifteen years ago, he was made to look like the culprit and was still on the run . He had also been Azusa’s lover .

He was the person who might have become Yakumo’s father –

Did Yakumo come to meet Takeda?

'He’s already here,’ murmured Yakumo .

Haruka looked around, but she couldn’t see him earlier . Gotou looked around in the same fashion but he didn’t appear to find him either .

'Where is he?’ said Gotou, sounding displeased .

'He is right in front of you now . Though he is already starting to disappear…’

– Oh, so that’s how it was .

From Yakumo’s one utterance, Haruka understood everything . It was a sad truth .

'You making fun of me?’

Gotou suddenly brought his face close to Yakumo’s . He didn’t understand yet .

'I’m not making fun of you . ’

'Then what?’

'You still don’t understand? Takeda-san is dead . He died fifteen years ago…’


Gotou finally understood and became lost for words .

Takeda was dead –

The person that had appeared in front of Haruka had been Takeda’s ghost . That was how he could break into a locked home .

Takeda, as a ghost, couldn’t save Yakumo, so he had asked Haruka to do it .

That was also why the police couldn’t find him no matter how they searched .

A number of people had seen him, but nobody had directly touched him .

'Takeda-san was killed immediately after that case and buried under a building that was under construction at the time . ’

Yakumo continued to speak as he pointed at the mountain of rubble with his crutch .

'But why now…’

Gotou furrowed his brow . Haruka had that question too .

'He was unburied when the building was demolished . If you look through the place where they have put all the scrap material, you should find the corpse . ’

Haruka looked at the mountain of rubble .

Takeda was sleeping in that mountain –

'I see . So nobody could catch him . Ishii said he’d disappeared, but I guess that wasn’t a lie . ’

Gotou took out another cigarette and lit it .

'Correct . When the corpse was dug up, his soul, which had been sleeping, was dragged out of the ground for the first time in fifteen years,’ said Yakumo, his head hung .

'I see . ’

'Nanase Miyuki knew that and feared that Takeda-san would contact me, so this happened . ’

'Because the truth would come out the moment he met you…’

'Yes . ’

'Takeda was frantic to prove he was innocent, huh . ’

Gotou spat out his cigarette with a frown .

'That isn’t it,’ said Yakumo, still looking down .


'Takeda-san didn’t care at all about his own crime . ’

'Didn’t care at all? What the hell are you talking about?’

Yakumo didn’t respond to Gotou’s question .

He looked up and stared at the mountain of rubble .

Haruka felt like, for a moment, she saw a man standing in front of that gaze . His eyes crinkled in a kind smile .

'Until the end, you cared about…’

Yakumo’s voice was so quiet it was nearly inaudible .

When Haruka heard him, she understood what Takeda had been trying to do .

To Takeda, there was something much more important than his proving his innocence or getting revenge on the person who killed him . That was –

Haruka looked at Yakumo .

Yakumo’s narrowed eyes were just a little bit wet .

'Hey, Yakumo-kun . Takeda-san was…’

'I know . ’

Yakumo shut his eyes and interrupted Haruka .

– That’s right . Yakumo knows much better than me .

Even if his eye was red and he wasn’t his own child, there was somebody in Yakumo’s past who had wanted to become his father .

Even after this person died, he still cared about Yakumo and Azusa .

Though it was only a month – they had only known each other for a short time – it had to have been a very happy month for Yakumo and Azusa .

Haruka hoped it was true .

– Oh no . I’m going to cry .

Haruka wiped her tears with her finger .

The wind blew . Though it was still cold now, it wouldn’t be cold forever . Spring would come in the end .

So –

'Let’s go,’ said Yakumo, looking up at the sky .

The cloud that had passed over the sun was blown away by the wind, and a brilliant light shone down on them .

That’s right . Let’s go .

– Somebody is waiting for us .



[1] Johnny’s Entertainment is a talent agency with music groups such as Arashi and KAT-TUN which comprise good-looking male idols . They apparently have an EnglishHOMEPAGE promoting their groups too .

[2] Ishihara Gundan is the pet name of the group of mostly older male actors in Ishihara Promotion, founded by late actor Ishihara Yuujirou . Their HOMEPAGE has pictures of the actors .