Halo Twenty-Five: Widow:
Mikado looked flopped back on his futon while the caller on the other line talked his ear off with more useless rambling. The founder of the Dollars frowned.
"You keep dodging my questions," he said. "There is something you are not telling me. Why do you keep trying to change the subject every time I ask about Tandeki or Angel Tadpole Heaven?" Again, the caller began rambling on. Mikado's eyes wandered around his room as he felt himself getting annoyed once again. His boss persona was about to slip out when a single note on his ceiling caught his eye.
"Do not answer this number: 03-4862-1077!"
Mikado looked at the screen on his phone. Low and behold, the number was 03-4862-1077.
"Uh… I just remembered, I have a homework assignment due tomorrow," Mikado said. "Bye!" He hung up before the caller could ask any questions.
Kitano's protégée stood outside an internet café as the little flakes of snow fell on her black hat and matching coat. She could see her own breath as she breathed out. Her cell phone rang, prompting her to answer with butterflies in her stomach.
"Hello, boss?" she asked in a high-pitched yelp.
"Calm down, will you?" Kitano asked on the other line. "You aren't in trouble." The protégée breathed to ease herself.
"I apologize, sir," she said. "I am just so nervous."
"I can understand since you will get to see Chirin again this morning."
She placed her hand to her chest. "Merry Christmas, boss. I wish I could've gotten you something this year."
"It's fine, I just want you to take in the joy of breaking the truth to him. Speaking of which, did you get my package I sent you yesterday?"
She about jumped into place when he asked her that. "Yes, sir! I have it with me in my coat right now!"
"Do you remember exactly how I told you to do everything?"
"Very good. I will send you his address right now."
His protégée's phone buzz and she ran her finger along the screen to read the text. She smiled as she read the address. "Got it," she said on the phone.
"Enjoy your present," Kitano said before he hung up. His protégée smiled as she looked at his text message.
"I most definitely will, sir," she said. She headed down the street to reawaken Project Tadpole.
Mikado opened the door when he heard someone knocking. He poked his head outside to see Masaomi with a memory stick in his hand. Judging by the grim look on his friend's face, it had to be something truly disturbing.
"What did you want to show me?" Mikado asked in a low voice.
"First, tell me if you can handle watching this," Masaomi said. His friend gave him a strange look.
"Masaomi…" he said.
"Please, Mikado. This is important!"
Masaomi lowered his shoulders. "Okay." Mikado moved aside to let his best friend inside. Masaomi closed the door behind him and walked over to the other boy's computer. He plugged in the stick. The leader of the Yellow Scarves took a deep breath and clicked on video file entitled, Tadpoles. Mikado took a seat next to him.
The same doctor from the Chirin videos adjusted the camera to straighten it. He backed to a row of full beds.
"Okay," he said. "My assistant, Etsuko, and I will begin the third wave of Project Tadpole. This this, we have corrected the formula and we are willing to give this project another chance." The doctor turned to a woman with short dark hair wearing a lab coat.
"Are you ready, Asato-sensei?" he asked the woman with a filled syringe in her hand.
"Yes, Kitano," Etsuko said.
"Good, then we shall begin," Kitano said. He pulled out his own syringe and the pair began injecting fifty-six patients in the beds. The patients groaned at the drug's reaction in their bodies. Soon of them started vomiting and screaming in pain. (The sounds made Mikado's stomach turn.) Etsuko turned to her boss.
"How long do we wait before we processed to the next step?" she asked.
"Three days," Kitano said. Fast forward to three days later. Half of the patients' bodies were shriveled up with their mouth open. (Mikado resisted the urge to throw up.
"We can stop if you want," Masaomi whispered. His friend shook his head.
"I can handle it," Mikado said. "I have to keep watching." Despite his unease, Masaomi took his hand off the mouse.)
"Count how many are left," Kitano said. Etsuko walked around and began her count. Her boss stood back, waiting. The other doctor returned after from her walk.
"Twenty-eight," she said. Her boss finally smirked.
"Excellent, now we can continue," he said.
-End of Video #18-
The boys watched through all of the videos about the Tadpole Project on the memory disk until sunrise. Masaomi kept asking to stop the videos, but Mikado wouldn't let him.
"I have to know the truth," he insisted. "Maybe I will find out who Chirin is." As if on cue, there was a knock on the front door.
"I'll get it," Masaomi said. He stood up and opened the door. Outside, a woman with dark blue hair dressed in a thick black coat and matching hat gave him a puzzled look. Masaomi blinked rather confused himself.
"Uh… can I help you?" he asked. The woman pulled out her cell phone and looked at the text from her boss. She looked at the address on the apartment and then at the text again.
"This is the right place," she said. The woman with dark blue hair turned back to Masaomi. "But… who are you?"
"I could ask you the same thing," Masaomi said.
"Masaomi, who is that at the door?" Mikado asked as he walked over. The woman's brown eyes filled with stars when she laid eyes on Mikado's face.
"Chirin!" she exclaimed. The founder of the Dollars froze when he recognized the woman sinking into a euphoric state outside. No… It can't be… He was looking right at Kitano's protégée from the Chirin videos.
The curvier former orderly from Chou Mori Institution frowned as she held her cell phone to her ear.
"No fair," she complained in an empty research room in Rampo Biotech. "Why does Yuka get the fund of revealing the truth to Chirin?"
"Yayoi, sweets," Kitano said on the other line. "You know how much Yuka wanted to see Chirin again."
"But I want to see him again too!"
"And you will once we wake up his memories."
Yayoi's heavy chest heaved as she began breathing heavily. "Project Tadpole is being reborn today?"
"Yes. Get everything ready in the lab. I will be there when I finish my rounds at my apartment."
"Oh, playing Santa again this year?" Yayoi asked.
"Yeah," Kitano said. "I should be there around three o'clock." Yayoi squealed over the phone.
"I'm on it!" she said. Yayoi hung and squealed again before jumping out of her chair.
Mikado backed up, shaking his head. "No, you must have me confused with someone else." Yuka giggled at the trembling in his voice.
"Oh come on now, Chirin-kun," she said. The protégée shoved Masaomi out of the while and walked up to Mikado. She grabbed hold of the boy's face, smirking. "I recognize those beautiful blue eyes of yours anywhere." Seeing that old fear that he felt being strapped down in bed at the mercy of Kitano and his staff in Mikado's eyes filled her with a delight that could be compared to sexual arousal.
"I spend almost all of Christmas Eve in an internet café just to find you," Yuka said. "Ever since Kitano-sensei had me do my first injection into your arm, I had to chase that high with you again." The protégée picked up Mikado's right arm as she remembered the first taste of corruption she experienced back in January. She swallowed back her drool as she remembered all of the experiments performed on Mikado close to a year ago. The boy tried to escape from her grasp.
"I never was a patient at Chou Mori Institution!" he exclaimed. "You're lying!" Flashes of Chirin's memories flooded his head. Mikado began to feel the needles going into his left eye, tongue, and arms. He tried to resist fainting as he smelt the overpowering scent of bleach.
"Mikado!" Masaomi shouted. "Get it together, man!" Yuka gave him a sweet, kitten-like pout.
"It makes me sad that you don't remember," she said. "But, the boss gave me a little friend to help rectify our little problem." Yuka reached into her coat and pulled out a bright red spray bottle.
"I believe you and your friend over there had a little taste of Mnemosyne before," she said.
"Mikado!" Masaomi shouted. The protégé pressed the flat head of the bottle. It didn't take long for the odorless mist to hit Mikado's nose. One sniff broke open the forgotten barrier in his brain.
He remembered a prison van pulling up to Chou Mori Institution in the early morning hours of October of last year. Mikado was walked up in chains to the building with the guards. The owner of the institution scowled at him as he walked by. The staff stripped the newly admitted patient naked and hosed him down with high-pressured cold water. The first day was in a blur until it was time to meet with his assigned therapist.
Mikado sat with his mind and eyes empty. He couldn't remember why he was here or how he was found in an alley outside of the city. The clock ticking on the back wall seemed to make time move even slower. If a fly flew into the Mikado's mouth, he wouldn't even know it. However, something did bring him back into reality.
(Mikado thought, when did this happen?)
Kitano walked into the room and closed the door behind him. He noticed something stir in Mikado's eyes.
"Good morning," Kitano greeted him as he took a seat. "How are you today?" Mikado didn't speak, staring at him as if trying to figure out what was going on right now. Things turned strange when Kitano leaned and asked him a simple question.
"If I take these cuffs off of you, will you behave yourself?" he asked. Mikado's eyes widened as he drew his mouth closed. He could hear his own heart pounding in the dead silence of the room. Kitano reached forward with to unhook the plastic cuffs on the Mikado's wrists.
Back in present day, Mikado sank to his knees, trembling. He moved his mouth as if to try and say something. Yuka stood over him with the smile of a hungry wolf staring at a deer.
"Now you see?" she asked.
"No…" Mikado murmured.
"Yes!" she said. Happy chills ran down her body. "Oh, those experiments were the best times of my job at Chou Mori! No matter that slut Yayoi wanted a piece of you. I don't blame her the more I look at you!" Mikado pulled his knees to his chest.
"I… I am Chirin?" he asked.
"Yes," Yuka said. "You are Chirin, Kitano-sensei's proudest work." Yuka took in the delight of breaking the boy. For months, she only had the memories of sticking the former patient with needles and running tests on his body. The timing for Tadpole's rebirth couldn't have come at a better time. She ran her skinny fingers through Mikado's short black hair. Yuka still hadn't delivered the final blow to the false, safe castle that they had created for their escaped tadpole patient.
"You want to know what the best part is, Chirin-kun?" she whispered in his ear. "Tadpole will be reborn and we are just beginning." Yuka licked Mikado on his ear.
"That's enough!" Masaomi snapped. The blonde-haired boy ran over and grabbed the protégée by the shoulder. He pushed her back so hard that she hit the floor. Yuka sat up to see Masaomi pulling Mikado into his arms.
"I don't know who you are!" he yelled. "But get the fuck out of here!" Yuka smiled as she put up her hands.
"Fine," she said. "I have class today, anyway." The protégé rose to her feet and turned to leave. When she made it to the door, Yuka looked over her shoulder.
"We'll be in touch again," she said to Mikado. The protégé blew a kiss and walked out the door. Masaomi had to stay with Mikado for the rest of Christmas.
Meanwhile, Anri received a text from Mika. "We need to talk. Where can we meet?" Those words made her freeze. Somehow, she had read this before. As she tried to remember what would unfold after this part, Anri began to type her reply.
"Would my place be okay?"
Mika typed back a reply. "I will be there in twenty minutes." Anri fell back on her bed as she had the feeling that the storm had already started and she and her friends didn't notice until now.
Kitano chuckled at his desk in his office.
"It's funny," he said. "You're the second person I told about my journey through the Land of the Dead."
"Why haven't you told the inner circle?" Izaya asked.
"They never asked me."
"Who was the first person you told the story about?"
"This patient right here." Kitano slid Chirin's patient file across the desk for Izaya to see.
"So that's what happened to him all those months," Izaya said. Patient's real name? Ryugamine Mikado.
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