"Kurogane Kagiri is ... ... already dead."
At this Naru frowned. He got shocked for five seconds and soon fell in deep thought. There's a limit on how well he can take unexplainable things around him and at this point he will gladly admit that what Lin was saying is beyond what he had expected. Just what in the world is this complicated case?
"I'm sure somehow, you got an idea how's that possible." He stated. Since Lin noticed the weird aura surrounding Kagiri, being an onmyouji, Naru was certain Lin knew something was done to make this thing possible.
"Indeed. But I myself am not certain of what method Kagiri used to bring himself back to life or rather make himself escape death." Lin sighed. "However there's one ritual that comes to mind."
Naru looked at him and didn't say anything.
"That is ... deceiving a god."
"I heard what happened." Saki said to Hirota while dropping a pile of papers on her desk. "That Shibuya Kazuya is really something, isn't he? Confronting the suspect like that." She turned to Hirota.
"You knew how he is. Talking to someone like Kurogane Kagiri is not something he would do with a second thought especially when it's for someone important to him."
Saki gave Hirota a confused look. "What do you mean?"
"Nothing." He said. "We should go now Shibuya-san is expecting us."
Saki watched Hirota Seigi as he walk pass the door with a file tucked under his left arm. She followed and walked beside him. "But you know I'm glad that we became a team. It's a pleasure working with them and thanks to Shibuya-san we already have a suspect for this case."
Hirota looked down at his shoes. "It's kind of embarrassing on my part but I'll agree with you on that."
He worked hard to pass the civil service exam. Since his grandfather as well as his father was policemen, Seigi wants to continue within their field of work. But luck was on the other side. He was assigned on the Zero Group. A group that doesn't concern even a tiny bit of what he had prepared for. It's like saying 'Move out of the way! Let the police do its work' or like 'You're much suited on that job because you lack the capability'. How could a prosecutor like him charge a suspect if the incident was more blurry than a broken television?
Hirota sighed. Well it's better than having no place at all.
Saki decided to speak again when they're already outside the building. "There's just one thing that bothers me Hirota-kun." She said.
"The suspect has the ability to erase one's memories, right? Then Mai's memory had been probably already obliterated."
"Shibuya-san knew it might be like that. Nevertheless, Taniyama-san's life is more important. They couldn't care less if they found Taniyama-san with or without her memory. What of it? If it's totally forgotten then the only choice they have is to build new memories with her."
She smiled. "So you noticed, huh? SPR is not just a team. Their relationship is far from being simple acquaintances. A family. An odd one at that."
"I have a responsibility to protect the people who work for me and I find it really displeasing that one of them is about to become a tool for some outrageous exploit." Was Shibuya's answer when Ruri asked him why he worries so much for Taniyama Mai.
She almost laughed at his answer but Ayako spoke, making her hope crashing down straight to the ground.
"You always say that when someone asked you the same question." Ayako told Naru. "It wouldn't hurt if you admit that you really are worried. You worry for Mai because you cared for her."
Naru lowered down the file in his hand and shifted his gaze to the miko. "Stop saying foolish thoughts out of your imagination." He said.
Ayako pouted in annoyance. "You say that yet your act says otherwise."
"Hey, Naru-chan!" Takigawa called out from the kitchen. "Why the heck is your fridge OFF LIMITS?" The monk opened the fridge and he was surprised to see a whole lot of tea. "Oh! There's tea. . .tea and oh! More tea! When did you guys became afraid of drinking water?"
The monk is about to get a bottle of tea when Lin grab his arm and hold it taut.
"Takigawa-san, don't drink that." Lin said, giving him a warning look.
"Why?" He asked, confused.
"Boss will probably kill you." Yasu answered.
"Takigawa-san, I would really appreciate it if you're going to leave that tea alone." Naru said.
Takigawa raised a brow at Naru even though he wouldn't see it. What's so special about those teas that made Naru act like that? He scratched the back of his head and decided to walk back to the couch.
"Ano. . .Shibuya-san," Ruri called him. "A famous clothing line is holding a fashion show in Tokyo Prince Hotel the day after tomorrow. I was just wondering if you can come with me at the after show party to be my escort?"
"N-No?" Ruri's expression became sad. "I, I understand."
Takigawa patted the girls head in consolation. "Don't look so down, Umina-san. Boss-chan is not fond of social gatherings and he likes it more when he's in his coffin while reading a book."
"Really? Then Shibuya-san, let's just have a private date!"
Oh, she's not really going to give up that easily huh? Ayako glared at Takigawa. So much for giving the kid a consolation.
"Sorry for the intrusion!" Saki greeted with a cheerful voice, followed by Hirota at her back.
"If you understand that you're intruding, please leave." Naru said, not minding the two new comers. Madoka, John and Hara-san have not yet arrived. He wanted to finish this as soon as possible so he can get his peace and quiet. But that might not be possible.
"Shibuya~saaan! Still grumpy as always!" Saki commented. "It's almost dinner time, what do you want to talk about anyway?"
"Lin, where are the others?" He asked his assistant.
"They're on their way. Hara-san has been caught up on traffic with Brown-san." He replied.
"Let's wait for them a little longer." Takigawa suggested. "But for now, I would like to know why those teas are off limits? It's not possibly poisoned isn't it?"
"Naru wouldn't stuff a poisoned tea inside his fridge. Despite being a stoic person, he is completely sane." Madoka said, making her way inside the office. "That tea must be very special, right Naru?"
"I refuse to answer such question."
Madoka's smile broadens. "I knew it! It is indeed special!" Lin told her about their encounter with the ghost Mai and how Noll ordered her to make tea. She couldn't help but laugh while listening to Lin's story. She sat down on the couch next to the typing Lin.
A moment more Hara Masako arrived with John. They were both at the church when they received a call. It seems Masako was researching about purification and exorcisms. Being a medium doesn't mean that she also approve with the method of vanishing the spirits existence. Sometimes, the best way to make them move on is to reasoned with them.
"Since all of you are here, I will begin." Naru started. "The meeting with Kurogane Kagiri went without uncertainties and our suspicion has been confirmed. Kurogane Kagiri is without a doubt the suspect behind all of the disappearances, also the one responsible for Mai's abduction."
Takigawa wipe the sweat on his forehead. He didn't like what he have heard from Naru. "That person. . .did he kill those mediums?"
"He did." Naru replied. He remembered what Kurogane said before he exited the man's office.
"Do you know why I prefer black coffee over tea?. . .Because black coffee is bitter the first time you taste it. However, if you're going to get used to it, slowly, you'll grow to love the taste." He put his hands on 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."
Naru had become disappointed. He couldn't count that man as an unworthy opponent anymore. To him he was just a person with a distorted personality. A person that's already lost in his own heart's darkness.
"But...the reason of his killing is yet unclear." Naru continued. "Kurogane Kagiri is a smart person and judging by his acts earlier, he won't be swayed by the fact that I knew about all of his crimes."
"What do you mean about that?" Asked ayako.
"Boss's life is in danger." Yasuhara answered for Naru. "Boss decided to use his real name Oliver Davis when he meets up with Kurogane Kagiri."
"But why did you do that?" Hirota asked, brow in a frown.
"Though not personally, Kurogane Kagiri had sent a message that he knew our every move but it's clear as day that he lack the knowledge about Oliver Davis."
That's right. Naru was sure that the schedule of the conference was not tampered. He confirmed it personally when he called his father. Probably, Bou-san, Matsuzaki-san, John and Hara-san's schedule was somehow moved to match the days of his absence. That must be the reason why Kurogane Kagiri mistook Lin as Oliver Davis and to delayed Kurogane from finding out who the person they're looking he had gone far as to expose himself to his enemy.
"But Kurogane already knew your face." Madoka said. "He could have dodged your questions, yes?"
"Certainly." Naru replied. "But try recalling the incident in Aoyama Cemetery."
His team cringes at the not so pleasant memory of battling with ugly monsters at that cemetery.
"He tried to fool us with those straw dolls and I am merely giving back the favor. I shuffled the questions I was about to ask to confuse him a little before relying the original message."
"Message?" Masako inquired, looking a bit perplexed.
"It is only a common courtesy to fight back after what he had done." Naru said cooly and without any emotions.
Everyone's action faltered and it seems even their breath is caught up in their lungs. Silence covered the office that makes every breathing sound loud in ears.
"I gather all of you here to let you know that I'm not the only one in danger. Excluding Umina-san and Hara-san, all people in this room might become a target of Kurogane Kagiri. Being extra cautious is vital."
"Noll, you are telling us to be careful but Kurogane probably set his eyes on you. You're the one who's in real danger." Madoka said with a worried face.
"In any case, I know how to handle him than any of you." He answered.
Everyone except for Ruri and Lin sweat drop.
"What should we do now?" John asked. "Are we going to put that Kurogane under our watch?"
"That's not gonna work. He's an onmyouji and I'm sure he will figure out that we're following him." Takigawa said, turning to Hirota. "What do you recommend we do?"
"We don't have any conclusive and solid evidence to issue a search warrant on his house or any of his property." He replied. "But we could do a preliminary investigation on Kurogane Kagiri. The man may not have any holes in his businesses but I'm sure we can find something. For the meantime, I'll dispatch someone who can watch and observe him. It will be a good idea if I'll send someone who's seemingly unrelated to us since most of us are in danger."
"How about making false evidence?" Naru suggested, earning him a surprise look from his fellow acquaintances.
"Noll!" Madoka protested. "That's a very dangerous suggestion! What if the authorities find out that it was just made-up evidence? You dear boy will fall in a more deep danger. It's not different from framing up someone."
Naru looked at Madoka indifferently. "Do you think I'm stupid to put myself in that kind of jeopardy? Of course, the evidence we will be using are the evidence we have in hand. We just have to make it a concrete evidence for us to make a move."
"It's possible." Saki said. "Anyhow, Kurogane Kagiri is the suspect and it makes no difference if we are going to make false evidence out of the original ones. He can deny the accusation but he can't avoid the investigation."
"I'll leave those works to the both of you." Naru said to Saki and Hirota. "I'm not familiar with this country's law moreover I'm not a prosecutor. My team and I will be the ones to prove that this case is connected to the paranormal while you two on the other hand, find a way to catch that killer."
"Fair enough." Hirota said. "Since Nakai and I don't know how to handle those kinds of things, it would be best to leave it to those who really knew how to deal with it."
"It's settled!" Saki exclaimed. "Then let me show you some good information I found." She snatched the folder on Hirota and extended it to Naru. "Here! That's the further investigation on Nabunaga Arai. I'm having the impression that he was not just a simple victim who got caught up in the situation. That boy was also one of Kurogane Kagiri's target."
"There's more?" Bou-san asked. The whole thing was confusing enough and he have no idea how Naru can keep up with all of it. Every time they found something new it'll only brings them into another set of mystery. It was like they're having a journey down a never ending spiral staircase with uncertain end.
"Technically yes." Saki responded with a smile. Well, this isn't the first time she encountered a case so complicated and every time she get a chance to be a part of one she couldn't help but to be hype! "Here's some fresh helpful information. Nobunaga Arai's father named Nobunaga Jun was killed fourteen years ago and the suspect was ... Kurogane Kyosuke."
"Kurogane Kagiri's father." Naru added, reading the rest of report inside the folder.
"Kurogane Kyosuke-san was under the influence of alcohol when the victim attacked him all of a sudden. It was clearly self-defense on Kyousuke-san's part but since he was drunk the court didn't accept what he says and so he was imprisoned. His wife suddenly disappeared with his two sons and their whereabouts remains unknown up until now."
Yasuhara aligned his glasses and cleared his throat. "Everything is starting to connect. The mystery of the missing mediums is still unclear but we might learn the root of all these. This is only a theory but if Kyosuke-san's wife suddenly disappear with their sons and Kurogane Kagiri and Chou was adopted by a taoist priest in mount Negoro then their mother abandoned them."
"Are you saying that all of these happen because of their mother?" Masako asked.
"It could be that way, or ... there's a deeper root."
"If we are to view the whole case in a different angle, the possibility of Kurogane-san's mother being involved is high. The probability of these mediums connected to his mother isn't impossible." Hirota seriously said.
Naru sighed and put the folder on the table. "I'm glad that the case is gaining progress, but our main objective was not to solve and know what happened in the past right away. What we need is a location where Kurogane Kagiri confines Mai."
John nodded in agreement. "You're right. Even if we learn about the past of this case, it's useless if we can't find something about Mai's whereabout."
"Hey! Are you saying that what we're doing is all for naught?" Hirota asked with an annoyed look.
"No." John replied, worry apparent on his face. "We both have our own shoes to fill and I'm just feeling a little disheartened. Hirota-san already gave us too much information that could help us to solve the case, yet we couldn't provide any locations that could point the exact location of our friend."
At that, Hirota calmed down a little. "I'm sorry ... I was just ..." He looked down. He was embarrassed at the sudden burst of his temper. He can understand what John-san was trying to say and it also frustrates him that he failed to find some places that can give them any hint.
"If only Mai is here. She could give us a hint." Ayako said with a sigh of sadness.
"Wait." Naru said, putting a hand under his chin. "I instructed Mai that she could take a written request and certainly she wrote something when she interviewed Kurogane Kagiri."
"That's right!" Yasu exclaimed. "It is after all a written request. I'll search for it right away boss."
"No need." Naru stopped Yasu from standing up. "I might know where it is."
All of them looked at Naru when he stood up and walked toward Mai's desk. He picked up the only pen on the pen holder and started opening it. He saw a small white paper rolled inside. He pulled it out
Ayako, Bou-san and Yasu gasp.
"How did you know it was there?" Asked Ayako.
Naru sighed. Guess there's no helping it. He needs to tell the team about his encounter with Mai's ghost. As much as he could, Naru wanted to keep it between him and Lin. But his assistant surely already told Madoka about it, hence her teasing about the tea.
"It's beacause Mai-chan paid Naru a dream visit." Answers Madoka.
Naru gave Madoka a questioning look. His mentor just winked at him.
"A dream visit?" Bou-san asked. "Man! That's unfair! Why did jou-chan visit you? You're her boss and I'm her father figure!"
"I'm glad she didn't" Naru said.
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean, Naru-bou?"
"It means, Mai-chan wouldn't see your stupid dreams you stupid Monk." Ayako said, grinning at Takigawa.
"Why you old-"
"So, Shibuya-san, what was written in Mai-san's note?" John asked. His timing was to stop the monk and the miko's banter before it begin.
"The clients name was indeed Mikoku Junko. He was requesting for a paranormal investigation in his mansion. . .in the outskirts of Tokyo." Naru frowned after noticing what's written at the bottom of the paper.
NOT GOING TO TAKE THE CASE. . .
THIS PERSON IS DANGEROUS... ...THERE'S AN UNMISTAKABLE AIR OF DARKNESS. . .
MUST NOT TELL ANYONE. . .
"Idiot. . ." Naru uttered in pure annoyance. "What a complete idiot."
"Noll?" Madoka inquired.
"She knew that this person is dangerous and prevented herself from getting involved yet. . .Kurogane already locked his target." He explained. "Yasuhara-san."
"There's some information I need you to get as soon as possible. Find out if Kurogane Kagiri has an estate in the Outskirts of Tokyo." He ordered.
"Yes boss! I'll work on that right away."
"Although I want to know everything about this case, our top priority is to have Mai back. We can deal with solving the entire case once we ensure her safety." Naru said firmly. "Matsuzaki-san, John-san and Takigawa-san, follow me in my office, you too Lin."
Ruri didn't budge in her sit. She keeps glancing at Shibuya. His name wasn't Shibuya Kazuya but Oliver Davis? She clenched her fist. it only shows that she didn't know a thing about him. Does Mai know his real name? Sighing, Ruri decided to find something about him.
"So, what are you really planning?" Bou-san asked when they're settled in Naru's office. He was sure that their young boss is planning something.
"Drastic times calls for drastic measures." Naru replied. "When you are extremely desperate you need to take drastic actions. We need some preparations."
"By that, you mean?" Ayako inquired with a knitted brow.
"A fight is inevitable."