Madoka crossed the pedestrian crossing at Aoyama Doori, heading for Nishi Azabu and entered Tsuushou Kotsu Tou Doori (real place – Literal translation is Popular Antique Street). The name of the street came from all the expensive antique and art shops that people could come to after lunch at nearby restaurants to window shop at their leisure.
From there the market that Madoka and her sister had come to several days before on that rainy day was before her. From there Madoka learned that Yamazumi Construction Company was participating in the construction of an apartment complex, and had just headed towards that residential street.
After that day Madoka had been unable to get Mishima Shuujirou out of her mind. After talking to Kyousuke about ghosts she couldn’t get it out of her head.
Speaking of Shuujirou, somehow she had put all of that behind her since his death, but the fact he might still be alive she couldn’t understand. Madoka was the type to stare reality right in the face. Unlike Kyousuke and Hikaru, living in a fantasy world or pursuing unrealistic dreams were not her style. Probably since she’s been separated from her parents from a young age, getting to the bottom of things was nothing else if not a way to protect herself and get the feel for things.
First, she checked the yellow pages for a “Yamazumi” Construction company. What relation the person who looked like Shuujirou had to this company she didn’t know. But the first clue was the name on the envelope he had been carrying.
There were 10 office of Yamazumi Construction in Tokyo. Madoka called each one from start to finish. She spent much of her work time making inquiries, but they weren’t able to give her much in the way of answers, and would suddenly cut her off. But Madoka is a student too, and once her mind was made up she wouldn’t back down in her search.
Therefore, choosing her timing carefully, she asked workers and people coming in and out of their offices if Mishima Shuujirou worked there, but because of privacy concerns (one would suppose) she was unable to obtain the information. But with various give and take she was able to obtain some precious information.
She called the Yamazumi Construction in Minato-ku. It seemed to be an old family-managed business. Not the best place to find a first-class business concerned with large-scale projects. However, it did get a lot of incorrect inquiries form those who thought it was the “other” Yamazumi Construction. A kind-sounding man told her about the main district office downtown. Their new office in an apartment building under construction might be of assistance. It would be found on a residential street off of Aoyama Doori. Upon hearing this, Madoka quickly understood.
She was sure that the man who looked like Shuujirou had inquired of Madoka the direction to Aoyama It-chome. Naturally somebody around the office or nearby might be around, so there was no reason someone wouldn’t know. Soon Madoka called the new office, having obtained the information from the other Yamazumi Construction.
This office was in the direction of Hokuri-ku. After Madoka had called, they sent her correspondence. Once Madoka was certain that this construction company was presently involved in the construction of the Tokyo apartment building, her heart began to pound. She took a deep breath and after many times of calling and not having any breath she finally managed to ask the question.”
“Is there a Mishima Shuujirou there?”
The middle-aged receptionist, without any suspicions about the situation, answered as if there were even more intimate. “Well well! You know Shuu-chan?”
The local kindness, from her viewpoint, redoubled her shock. Suddenly she felt light-headed. But the middle-aged receptionist seemed more excited and asked “Where do you know Shuu-chan from?
“Good lord, could you be his old girlfriend?”
Madoka, shaking as if possessed and shaking hear head heavily, politely hung up the phone.
Once Madoka had entered the residential neighborhood from Tsuushou Kotsu Tou Doori, a shrill sound cut through the dry air. A woman about her age, wearing a construction uniform, was directing traffic in front of the site. Although up until now this had been a man’s industry, lately the cause of young women has been on the rise.
Using up some of the day, Madoka got friendly with this brisk woman and then followed her directions through an alley, then was standing before the apartment building construction site.
The building would be square-shaped upon its completion. Opposite a surrounding fence and cover, a building you couldn’t get a complete view of soared above.
Madoka turned the knob in the door in the fencing. Then, nervously facing a past she had expected to leave behind, pushed open the door.
“Hikaru-chan? What? I can’t hear you!”
I pressed the cordless phone close to my ear and signaled my younger sisters (noisy, in their seats) to be quiet. To make matters worse, ABCB was crowded with lunchtime customers. In addition to Kurumi and Manami, adding Jii-chan to the mix made the clamor even greater.
Hmm? Why were we with Jii-chan?
Well, generation after generation of Kasuga men have enjoyed the company of women… ah… no… I mean that Jii-chan especially has a weakness for “perfect” young girls. Right now, by chance he was having lunch with Kurumi and her friends, engrossing them with mysterious divinations and making the scream with excitement.
However… The Kasuga Clan has long thought that divining the future of girls was easy. Truth is, it’s just the desire to hold the girl’s hand and prattle and hold on to them.
At the other end of the line Hikaru-chan had raised her voice.
“Anyway, Mishima Shuujirou was someone who helped Madoka-san and I when we were still delinquents.”
“Uh, yeah, no… I know it was from junior high school. I saw a picture…”
“Eh? What did you say?”
“Uh, eh, er, nothing, nothing.”
“No way Sempai – you always say that! Nothing, nothing.”
“Ah, no, ha ha ha.”
Hikaru-chan was cackling brightly. I always have felt a bit relieved to hear it.
After coming across the photo of Mishima Shuujirou by accident at Madoka’s place, after seeing the photo, I wanted to know Madoka’s selfishly-kept secret, yet at the same time… but… if I confronted her directly she’d say “How do you know about that!”, become very offended, and run away. (It actually says “Flee town” but that strikes me as an overreaction, even from Kyousuke).
Anyway, truth was, I just wanted to end my own suffering and understand it all… anyway… anyway what kind of man is Mishima Shuujirou… I didn’t know and I thought I wanted to.
But! If… I asked about the name that was written all over the Mac monitor, saying to Madoka “Hey! What are you doing? Who is this man?” or something like that, but I couldn’t act like a gangster or some sort of Yakuza.
How about… “Madoka… For our hearts, can’t we just forgive? Come rushing to my heart!” like that, but I can’t be as graceful as some trendy drama male.
On that occasion I had received that postcard… she had said it was okay not to answer.
But under the circumstances… About this one thing I might be able to ask Hikaru-chan about Madoka and this man named Mishima Shuujirou – and I thought that could give results.
But getting that result – calling Hikaru-chan – put me under a considerable amount of pressure.
Why? Because that summer of our last year of high school… after Hikaru-chan and I broke up, I had never called her since. That’s why I called her during the lunch rush at ABCB, even though it was noisy. I said, “I just remembered something I have to do…”
I was trying to come up with a casual way to begin the topic (besides, I didn’t want Kurumi and company to think I wasn’t there to eat with Jii-chan!)
“But Sempai? Why are you asking about Mishima Shuujirou now?”
“Um, well… it’s nothing… no, Madoka was saying that she wondered if Hikaru-chan was okay.”
“The she was talking about old times. She wondered if Hikaru-chan might remember a person named Mishima…”
“Madoka-san said that?”
“I don’t think so! I can’t forget him. Shuujirou-san was a great, great, great benefactor to me and Madoka-san.”
“Yep! For me he was a role model. For Madoka-san… For Madoka-san… he was…”
Hikaru-chan stopped speaking, he words seeming a bit sad.
“What’s wrong? Hikaru-chan? For Madoka he was… what?”
“Ah, er, um, nothing! Kya kya kya! (Hikaru screams) Senpai, are you jealous?”
“Huh? Ah, er, no… no I’m not…”
“It’s all right. It’s nothing to worry about. Madoka-san and I were kids. Besides, Shuujirou-san isn’t around anymore.”
“Isn’t around? You mean he went somewhere overseas?”
“Oh? You haven’t heard?”
“Wh… What did you say?”
“Right in front of us.”
I suppose it was sixth sense, a little like a memory clamoring at my chest. Madoka has… Madoka has gotten herself wrapped up in something unbelievable.
“Senpai? Kasuga Senpai?”
“Ah, hmm. I he.. hear you Hikaru-chan.”
“Humph. But what’s Madoka-san thinking? She didn’t tell Senpai that Shuujirou-san had died, did she.”
At that moment, suddenly, a loud sound began from the keyboard.
After 6pm at ABCB, Master’s friends would gather and the place would become a Live House. In the afternoon it was a normal café. But occasionally in the afternoon, when they could meet, when they had spare time form work Master’s friends would drop by and they would use the instruments already set up to play 2 or 3 songs.
The person who had started playing the keyboard was a man who worked for a nearby taxi company we all knew as Paku-san. Seems he had finished his lunch and was full.
“Can you hear me Senpai?”
I could only barely hear Hikaru-chan.
Although I thought I wanted to inquire more of Hikaru-chan, I was a bit scared to do so.
Madoka had met Mishima Shuujirou… no, his ghost, somewhere, I was certain.
And to now have Hikaru-chan seem to say that Madoka has some reason to not… not tell me.
“Sorry, Hikaru-chan, I really can’t hear you. I’ll call you back. Thanks.”
Because Paku-san’s keyboard now played the sound of an ocean and was quieter, I could hear Hikaru-chan. “Take care of Madoka-san,” she was saying.
I hung up the phone and nodded an acknowledgement to Master over at the counter. Master spoke while putting a plate of Hamburger Rice on the counter.
“It must take a lot of courage to call Hikaru-chan. Did that idiot Paku bother you?”
“It’s okay. Here. I’ll take that. I don’t have class today, so I’ll work off the cost of the phone call to Hokkaido.”
“Hey hey! Don’t be so formal with me. Don’t worry about it. Act like that around me and I’ll leave this town.”
Master gave me a friendly wink. I’ve known him since junior high. I immediately softened my expression and could see through his state.
“What…? You have something in mind, I’m sure.”
I laughed and took the Hamburger Rice Master had put on the counter and took it to a nearby customer.
“Now then, Kyousuke!”
When did Ojii-chan leave his seat?
“First of all you should take Master at his word when he gives advice.”
“Kyousuke. Madoka-chan saw that man’s ghost, I suppose.”
“Huh? Ojii-chan, you were eavesdropping, weren’t you.”
For a long time now the Kasuga clan has thought of eavesdropping as an interest. Ojii-chan’s power is very strong, so doing something like listening in on Hikaru-chan and my conversation would be simple.
“Special circumstance. Listen, Kyousuke. Suppose that ghost is real. If Madoka-chan speaks with it than there could be real trouble.”
“Huh? Tro… trouble?”
Ojii-chan furrowed his eyes. Then he began to say something amazing.
“If that ghost has something is cares about in the real world, it’s an Akuryou that can’t rest in peace… It might have been holding on to another person.”
“Hmm. Yes. An Akuryou is a spirit that wanders this world many years after it’s death under bad circumstances.”
“Kyousuke. Go search for Madoka-chan! An Akuryou that has a solid grip on this world doesn’t have the power to reach the next life. To reach Nirvana it must wrap itself up in a living person. Besides, there may be some deeper fate involved.”
“Wha… What did you say?”
“While Madoka-chan is trying to get answers from him, the Akuryou will certainly carry away her soul.”
Ojii-chan and I immediately called over Kurumi and Manami, then split up to search for Madoka.
Madoka turned around upon feeling a tap at her shoulder. A tall man in a company uniform stood there. Embroidered on his chest was the word “YAMAZUMI”. He must work at the same company as Mishima Shuujirou.
“Oops. I tried to tell you, but you weren’t listening.”
It seemed that Madoka hadn’t reacted for a long time, so apparently this young man had tapped her shoulder. Madoka had a good feeling about this simple young man.
“When you hear something, please notice, okay?”
The lunch break had just ended, and the sound of people operating machinery could be heard. If she would wait in the temporary office, the man named Mishima Shuujirou had left for a lunchtime appointment. Madoka turned down the offer and waited for Mishima in a corner. Although lunchtime was over, Mishima had not yet returned.
“You can’t wait here.” A luminous smile seemed to float on the man’s face. “If it’s all right, there’s a hotel across the way. Over there.” In the direction the man pointed was a hotel called Shitei Hotel (no bad puns, please).
“On the top floor is a café. If it’s all right with you, please wait there. When Shuu-chan comes back…”
“Don’t be. He’ll just be angry with me.”
“Ah… once a woman visited Shuu-chan and waited here. I got scolded.” The tall man bowed politely.
Probably Shuujirou would feel too conspicuous in a public place. The waiting Madoka bowed her head in apology, if she had caused any trouble.
Now Madoka was even more convinced that this Shuujirou was the right one. The man she knew was still the same one the young ones had admired and had come to rely on.
But the fact that Shuujirou was still alive; no explanation made any sense. If she remembered right, he had died right before her eyes.
Madoka remembered a science fiction novel that Kyousuke had read. It was about a newly married couple, the husband of which had been possessed by an Akuryou when he was a boy and the two held joint ownership over the wife, painted as black humor.
“Did you say something?”
The young man appeared before Madoka’s face. His sudden, silent appearance left Madoka flustered.
“It’s all right. Nothing.”
Madoka made an effort to smile and walked towards the hotel. She was starting to regret not confiding in Kyousuke.
“Kyada! Kyada! Kyada-----!” (gotta love how she screams)
When Hikaru-chan came through the entrance, she saw me and suddenly screamed.
“Kyada! Kyada!”s came in rapid succession, like a fist at my chest. (Oh, in case you didn’t know, “Kyada” is Hikaru-chan’s way of saying “Yada”). But Hikaru-chan’s surprise was justified. It must have been only two hours since I spoke with Hikaru-chan on the phone at ABCB that I was now visiting her home in Otaru, Hokkaido.
There was no mistaking Hikaru-chan’s “Kyada! Kyada~! <<heart>>!”
This was an emergency, so a quick explanation is due.
Me, Ojii-chan and my twin sisters quickly left ABCB. Kurumi went to search Madoka’s and my college; Manami to check Madoka’s friends; Ojii-chan to various shops Madoka frequented… I went to the studio and production places Madoka had told me she used for work, using the Kasuga family Power to warp (teleport) to each one respectively. Even though I’m always reminding Kurumi and Manami “Don’t use the Power.”
Now it came to good use while scrambling to contact her, desperately searching for Madoka.
But… even making full use of the Kasuga family Power, finding Madoka in such a big city was something we couldn’t make simple. So I received the following instruction from Ojii-chan:
“Kyousuke, it can’t be helped. You need to go to the past to make sure this Mishima died.”
“Make sure of his death?”
“Yes. How he died. I suppose you can ascertain that. In case he wasn’t able to go to the next life, understand? Warmly consign him to oblivion.”
“No… No way… Consign him to oblivion?”
“Idiot! Kyousuke, I told you a soul that can’t go to the next world will become an Akuryou. Do you think it’s okay for Madoka-chan to be joined to the world of the dead?”
“Bu… but what point in time should I return to?” As soon as I said it it occurred to me. Of course! Hikaru-chan!
If I were to take Hikaru-chan with me to the past, certainly we could go to where he was.
“Hey! Hey! Senpai. How did you get here from ABCB so quickly?”
The “Kyada! Kyada!” had settled down for the moment, typical Hikaru-chan (sorry I said that) and asked a realistic question.
“Hmm? Ah, well, I used the telephone line.”
“Ah, no no. A lie! A lie! Ha… ha hah… it would be great to have that kind of power… Not.” (just kidding).
“Bwa ha ha ha!” Hikaru-chan let out a huge laugh, an example of a pleasure-filled laugh. Anyway, far brighter than anything I had heard before.
“I don’t believe this! You were lying when you said you were at ABCB. Where? Where? What café were you calling from? There are some nice café’s around here, aren’t there?”
“Ah no, a haha.”
“Well anyway, welcome to Otaru. Welcome Senpai. Hey, you didn’t come with Madoka-san?”
“Hmm? Ah, no. That’s right. Not together. Hikaru-chan and I should search for her, you think?”
“Huh? For Madoka-san?”
“Yes. In the past.”
In the very next instant Hikaru-chan’s eyes became points, upon hearing this. (But not a sound!)
Anyway, now that I was here, explaining this and that couldn’t be helped.
With a grunt (“Ei!”) I concentrated the Power in my forehead.
I was able to make Hikaru-chan faint. I held her in my arms and flung ourselves into a gap in time.
To Part 3