Living and the dead

Chapter 17

As he aligned his glasses, a slight smirk formed in his lips. If all of these have an accurate answer then it wouldn't come down to this. Not that he didn't know how to do something doable, it's just that ... he couldn't do it or he might not able to do it.

That creature is listening. No. He's more than listening. He was under his watch and everything he'll do that out of their plan would surely going to waste.

Was he running out of option? Of course not! Did he have to follow the flow? Definitely not! If there's something that can counter the flow then he has to search for it, with that, many options will unfold in front of him and it's up to him how to use everything as an advantage.

But surely, whatever he does comes with a price. After all, you can't possibly gain your goal without giving something in return.

Kurogane Kagiri's smirk widens as he eyed the two gentlemen approaching his building.

"So ... How should I greet my guest?"

It's not bad to wear different clothes. But for Dr. Oliver Davis, wearing a suit with a tie complemented his sour mood very well. If there's something Naru hates, it is wearing too formal clothes. He chose efficiency over style after all.

Earlier that afternoon, Madoka, his ever enthusiastic mentor insisted that he wear formal clothes when she found out about his appointment with the Kurogane Hotel International president. According to her, he needs to look more professional and daunting. But for Naru, he didn't care about his looks. He's not having a competition whatsoever.

"Here." Lin handed him a pair of glasses. "You'll need it."

He smirked. "Do you think I'm disguising?" He took it though. He wears it and looked up the tall building in front of him.

The thirty sixth floor building was standing tall at Minato-ku. Its black color was perfectly polished, purposely to let the sun do the job of showing its beauty. There's a five step stair that leads to the entrance and exit of the hotel. A not so high ramp was place on the either side for the convenience of those who have a very big luggage.

Oliver and Lin walked toward the building passing through the automatic glass door heading straight to the lobby. Not like the grand hotels in England, this hotel's lobby was just simple. The floor was made of bluish marble that has a big red carpet on the center. Yellow dim lights go well with the big crystal chandelier. It has ornamental plants scattered everywhere and was neatly designed.

Naru admit that this Kurogane have a good taste. It's not as grand like the hotel he already gone to. But its design is well enough endowed.

The receptionist gave Lin and Oliver a flashy smile. She then bowed at them saying their standard greetings.

"We have an appointment with Mr. Kurogane Kagiri." Lin said to the blushing receptionist.

The receptionist nodded and reaches for the phone. She talked to the person on the other line for a moment while glancing at them every now and then.

"I'm sorry sir, what is the name again?" She asked in a polite tone.

"Ming Wei Lee and Oliver Davis." Lin replied.

After a moment of talking to the phone, she turned to them. "The president's assistant is on his way." The receptionist said. "You may wait at the couch for a while sir."

Lin and Oliver wheeled and head to the couch. There are a few clients already seated, the two girls whispered at each other after putting them under a brief scrutiny.

"What a handsome foreigners." The girl with a curly hair said.

"Did you see the boy? He's beautiful isn't he? I'm sure he's a rich kid."

Oliver smirked and glanced at Lin. "You have a very good taste in name. I didn't know you have it in you."

"I just thought of that. It came from the movie I watched the other day." He said.

"Ming Wei Lee. Is that name come from Kung Fu Panda?" Oliver asked.

"There's no such name in that movie." He told him.

"You've watched Kung Fu Panda."

"The movie was interesting."

He gave Lin an amusing look. "Now, I wonder what else you do in your free time."

"You don't have to know."

"I'm a scientist. Curiosity is a part of my personality." Naru said, somewhat amused but his face remained indifferent.

After a while of sitting on the couch, the assistant came.

He bowed before talking. "I'm Yamaguchi Akira, the president's assistant. President is already waiting in his office, if you please follow me."

The three of them rode the elevator. Yamaguchi pushed the up button then the number 35. The thirty sixth floor must be the penthouse.

A minute pass and the door opened, they got out at the wide hallway. The first thing Lin noticed was paintings and jars neatly aligned at the hall way, the floor were very well furnished and the curved ceiling with red velvet colors gives a very sophisticated yet eerie glow. He can't stop himself from thinking that everything is just an illusion. There's no doubt the whole place is real and does exist however, at the back of his mind, he wanted to dispatch his shiki to find out what was wrong in the place. It must be the aura or something that lies in here.

The three of them stopped at the two door room located at the end of the hallway. Yamaguchi opened the door and gesture for them to go in. The man stride to where Kurogane was, he bowed again before he speaks.

"President, Dr. Oliver Davis and Ming Wei Lee are here." He said.

The man with a silver hair stood up and gave them a half smile. "Welcome. Dr. Oliver Davis I presumed." He said looking at Lin. Naru kept himself from smirking.

"I'm sorry." Lin said. "But I am merely an assistant of Doctor Oliver Davis." He laid his hand in front of Oliver. "This here, is the young doctor Oliver Davis."

"Oh." He gazed at Oliver. "My sincere apologies, I didn't know that a doctor could be this...young."

Naru's face remained apathetic.

Quickly moving forward, Kurogane motioned for them to follow him on the other side of the office where a mini living room is located. He sat before them and crossed his legs with a swift move.

"You've traveled so far, I supposed you're both exhausted." He turned to his assistant. "Yamaki, prepare us some refreshments."

"Right away sir." He said bowing before leaving the room.

"I'm really surprised to have a young doctor here in my office." Kurogane said, placing both hands on his lap. "It's a bit hard to believe that a young person like yourself is already a professional. It's not every day I have a guess of your caliber."

But Oliver is not a delighted to be in front of this man. He could feel a faint atrocious aura coming from him, an aura that could put uneasiness on someone in front of him. He took a secret glance on Lin. The man was sending Kurogane a pointed gaze. Certainly, Lin felt it too. And by the looks of his assistant, whatever that aura is, it's not from Kurogane himself but from someone more evil.

"Many people judge a person by their looks. So your previous reaction was already expected." Oliver said.

Kurogane stared at him, smiling bitterly. "So it seems I haven't stopped judging people by their appearance. Everything still depends on how I view things in my perspective, I wonder if it'll change."

"You're clearly implying that I'm just a child in your perspective." Oliver smirked. "But at this age, I already achieved what others are still trying to grasp."


The door opened, letting in the assistant, pushing a tray toward them.

"Your black coffee President." The man said, placing a cup of black coffee in front of Kurogane. He then wheeled and gave the two other guess a ceramic tea cup with a steaming tea. "This is the best tea, served only for our finest guess. Please enjoy."

After putting a set of sweets on the table, Yamaguchi stood beside Kurogane.

"So, Oliver Davis-sensei, I've heard that you want to talk to me about something. Might I ask what is it?"

From giving the tea a suspicious look, Oliver shifted his gaze to Kurogane. "Kurogane Kagiri-san, have you heard about the rumored mysterious disappearances happening here in Tokyo?"

He shook his head. "I'm afraid I have not heard that rumor."

"I see." Naru cleared his throat a bit and took the tea cup, swirling the content of the cup with gentleness. "Two years ago, someone dear to me came here to study about this country's different culture and different way of exorcisms. I'm a paranormal researcher and this someone was my friend who helps me in my researches. However, this person is missing for a year now."

Lin frowned and glanced at Oliver. He couldn't figure out what was he talking about. The young man has something up his sleeve, yet Lin failed to notice that he would go this far. Oliver is no inspector or prosecutor, but he is clearly luring some words out from that man. Did he want Kurogane to admit that he's the one who took Mai?

His scowl deepens. No. Oliver is already certain concerning Kurogane being the primary suspect and he wanted him to tell him using an indirect message.

'He's avoiding something.' Lin thought.

"How unfortunate." Kurogane remarked. "But might I ask again, what has this got to do with me?"

"I doubt that my friend's disappearance was somehow connected in that mysterious rumor..." Oliver slid his hand in his inner coat pocket and took out a picture.

Kurogane frowned and looked closely at the picture when Oliver placed it on the table. A girl with a black hair was happily smiling while holding a grey cat.

"Kashiwagi Mayura. Twenty one years old. She was last seen in Sapporo Hokaido." Oliver said, looking at him. "Before the disappearance, a call requesting for an investigation was received and I learned that you are the owner of the wide strawberry field in that place where this person went."

Kurogane's brow knotted. "Indeed is, but I knew nothing about her and I didn't request for a paranormal investigation. I assure you Davis-sensei, my place is not haunted."

"Is that so?" Oliver stopped playing at the tea cup and looked at it. "Kurogane Kagiri-san, do you believe in the saying 'Dead men tell no tales'?"

"Of course." He replied. "Once a person dies, it's would be impossible for us to talk to them."

"I beg to differ." Naru said firmly. "Once a person dies, the body also dies but the soul lives. There are people with gifts that can talk to them and have the ability to help them."

"I'm still confused as to where this conversation is heading. If you don't have any business related things to say, I'm clearly wasting my time." He said. "And I hate it when people waste my time, yet I do hope that your friend is safe. Mediums these days are rare, it's not a usual job I must say, not to mention, dangerous because they have to deal with souls."

"You have given me the impression that you don't believe mediums can actually talk to human souls, yet you say something precise about them, how peculiar."

"It's only basic knowledge." Kagiri said. "Japanese people love paranormal events and its ridiculous how they blame almost everything on something they couldn't fully understand. They say it's a curse when in reality it's a disease, they say it's a work of ghost but actually just a wind coming from a hole on window. And given that my work is managing a hotel I have to be cautious in those kinds of things too. But that doesn't mean I believe it."

"I see, from what you just said, it seems that you seek help from mediums when in need all the same, am I wrong?"

"… … No, you're not wrong." The man replied as if realizing something. He said something he shouldn't have, seems like there's no turning back now.

Oliver's eyes narrowed. That's it...Kurogane Kagiri had taken the bait, hook, line and sinker. Did he not know that he's making a fool out of himself? He could be a very nice actor.

"There are only few people who have such ability. That's why each person who has that kind of gift is precious to us." Oliver said, taking a sip on his tea.

Kurogane's smile broadens. Oliver davis ignored what he says. "I understand." He said. "We are no different after all. As a businessman, I also intend to keep every excellent employee that can contribute in my company."

All the proof Oliver needed is already placed in front of him. Even without attacking the center, as long as he plays off the cards well ... He would surely bait him out.

"Kurogane-san, I did tell you that I'm looking for someone, however, I didn't point out that person's gender nor did I say the person's job was." Oliver said eyeing the man in front of him carefully. "So, what made you think that I'm searching for a medium?"

"It's just a wild guess." He says smiling.

"A wild guess." Oliver stated, unimpressed. He lowered down his tea to the table. "You didn't even ask me about the picture. You seem sure that this girl," He pointed the picture. "Is the person I'm looking for."

'Very nice play, you even got me there. You're a very interesting person Oliver Davis.' Kurogane thought. 'Why didn't I think of the possibility that Kashiwagi Mayura was the person he was referring to when he asked me about the saying?'

"That's nothing but a weak assumption." He said, still smiling.

Oliver smirked at him. "If I were you, I'd rather tell something more convincing than a weak assumption."

Kurogane's seething face reflected on the quiet cup of coffee in front of him but he masked it under his smile. "You said something about people having gifts and abilities. So I assumed that she's a medium."

"Let me tell something to you then." Oliver said. "In my world, mediums were not the only ones who can talk to ghost. There's a miko, a monk, a priest, an onmyouji and special people with gifts. And since you live here in Japan and knew basic paranormal knowledge, I thought you knew about that."

Kurogane remained silent.

"And let me revert back to what I previously said not while ago." He continued. "A call requesting for an investigation was received. However, it is not concerning the paranormal. It is a request to investigate a suicide case regarding Kashiwagi Mayura."

Kurogane chuckled. "Were you lying to me when you said that you're looking for someone?"

"Whether you consider that a lie is up to you." He told him. "But your wild guesses and weak assumptions was accurate to the rumored case, yet you said that you knew nothing about it. . . If you're lying for self protection, then you're not doing a good job."

He's not planning to make him commit something because he knew he won't, but as they speak though not telling it, Kurogane Kagiri said things that already gave him away.

"I get it. . .I get it. You came here because you're clearly suspecting me being involved on that rumor, am I correct?"

"No." Oliver quickly replied. "We do have some information regarding the rumor that appears to be certainly happening. And I came here to let you know what I already knew... ..."

"What are your reasons in thinking that somehow I'm involved in that incidence?"

"There seems to be a misunderstanding, I'm not thinking that you're merely involved in the incidence." He gave him a piercing look. "You're undoubtedly the one behind all of these disappearances."

"How sure are you?" He asked, raising a brow.

"One hundred and one percent."

"To think that I only have ninety nine percent versus one hundred and one to prove myself innocent," He chuckled. "So you basically decided on it already. Then if you are to suspect me Oliver Davis-sensei, investigate me as much as you want." He said as he aligned his glasses. "After all, you can't put a person into jail without any conclusive and concrete evidence. But I'm telling you Doctor, you won't get anything from me."

Oliver stood up and gave Kurogane an insulting grin. "Is that so? Too bad Kurogane Kagiri-san, I already got what I want from you."

Kurogane bit his inside cheek and glare at Oliver.

"As much as I'm interested to investigate you, that job is already out of my jurisdiction. I'll let the authorities do their work. This concludes our business." He bowed. "Thank you for having us today."

"It's a pleasure. . .to meet you as well." Kurogane motioned for his assistant to escort his guess out.

In an instant, Yamaguchi was already opening the door. Oliver and Lin were about to head out when they heard Kurogane spoke.

"Oliver Davis-sensei." He called then got up. "Do you know why I prefer black coffee over tea?"

Oliver didn't answer. He just waited for him to talk.

"Because black coffee is bitter the first time you tasted it. But if you're going to get used to it, slowly, you'll grow to love the taste." He put his hands in his pockets while eyes flashing a dangerous glint. "It's almost the same when someone kills for the first time. At first it's scary, but the frightening thing about killing someone is being used to it."

Oliver smirked. "How would I know? I don't drink coffee and most of all ... I don't kill people." He said. "Even so, the only consistent thing in this world is change. No matter how you love the taste of that bitter coffee, your preference might still change. It's almost the same in life."

Kurogane chuckled. "I'm playing a game and I'm sure it would be a lot interesting if you would join." He said.

"Murder is not good, killing isn't even fun and you're playing a dangerous game, however, no matter what you do, it might not play out the way you intended. I'll make sure of that." Naru sent him a cold and icy pointed glare. "Keep in mind ... you picked the wrong opponent."

"Heh, don't give me that look, I'm basically trying to be friendly." He then smiled sweetly at Naru.

Naru did his best not to shake his head. "Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victim he intends to eat until he eats them. You're the perfect example of that animal."

For a moment Kurogane was silent. He was taken aback by Oliver's caustic remark. "You know ... it annoys me knowing that I can't say anything back." He then chuckled that soon turns to laughter. "It's not surprising that I'll be soon finds out, however I didn't expect it to be this soon."

"If you see me as someone who would fall in the palm of your hands so easily, then your eyes must be somewhere behind your back." Naru told him.

"Really now?" Kurogane said. "I was under the impression that you'll be a willing piece, but I think it's more exciting if there's at least one who would put some interesting twist on the game. I wonder ... why do things never work out the way you want them in life."

Naru lifted his chin a little and looked at Kurogane. "Though I admire your hard work I also pity you from the bottom of my heart for living so miserably. You should have quit when you had the chance, now escape is only a part of your dream."

He grunt. "You talk as if you know something about my life, what do you even know?"

"I don't. But you know, your suffering won't bring back the dead, no matter how hard you try everything won't go back to the way it was."

He can't totally blame him for wanting to bring his brother back, he also had the same thought in the past. But thinking about it now, it was absurd.

Naru also thought of avenging his brother and find the person who killed him, but whenever he sees his parents, his thought would vanished into thin air. He can't afford to betray the people who took care of them and for sure, Gene wouldn't want to see his younger brother suffering because of him.

What's the use of getting revenge if the people he wanted to be happy will be taken away from him. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. For sure, Kagiri's brother must be hurting a lot seeing what kind of person his brother has become.

Kurogane is still silent that Naru decided to finish their conversation with a warning.

"And before I forgot, I informed some prosecutor about this meeting. So if something bad were to happen to me, whether it's an accident or on purpose. . .you are most likely going to be the primary suspect." He then turned his back on the deceitful man and head out with Lin in tow.

A loud crashed reached Oliver's ears when the assistant closed the door.

Kurogane was breathing fast and heavily after he smash all the ceramic cups using his bare hands. Blood dripping from his hand made his heart swell. The beauty of the crimson colored liquid excites him to the point that it made him sick.

"Now, Oliver Davis-sensei. What will you do? The game has already ended before it actually begun."

"Well done on the insult." Lin spoke to shatter the uncomfortable silence. "Mentally you have won the battle still, I'm deep in thought."

He didn't respond.

"You didn't tell him what you knew." Oliver heard Lin say.

"I didn't." He replied. "I think it's already unnecessary to mention what I know. That person had said exactly what I thought he would, and we did exactly what he thought we would. The meeting was merely an act of confirmation."

"You're mad." Lin stated.

"I am." Naru responded in a grim voice.

Boxing his emotion was essential but some of it was hard to contain. He kept on biting his tongue just to prevent himself from saying nasty things towards that deceitful man.

"There's something wrong with him Noll."

"Yeah." Naru responded and glanced at his assistant. For a moment he saw an emotion on Lin's face. "What do you think?"

"Kurogane Kagiri is ... ... already dead."

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