Tea Leaves and Gold Pins


Match Nineteen: Amanojaku:

Kiku hadn't been himself since he got that phone call last spring. His hands became pale and he didn't seem to know how to get them to stop trembling. He didn't remember when he had a good night sleep in the last few days. Every time he ate, he would feel like throwing it back up again. The sound of footsteps never left his head. Kiku had to turn and look many times to see if anyone was following him. The man ended up spending most of his time locked up in his office. He had some clue where this all started.

"Kiku-kun?" his wife asked one night. "Are you feeling okay?" He nodded at his desk.

"I'm fine," he lied. Sena didn't buy it. She knew her husband too well by this point. She can't force an answer out of him at times. Best to try and ease the man into talking to her little by little. Sena sat down at the doorway.

"Looks like it's going to rain tonight," she started up. No answer. His wife looked at his back.

"Are you hungry right now?" she asked. He didn't answer her again. Sena frowned to herself. This clearly wasn't going anymore. She slapped herself on the knees.

"Okay, I'll cut the crap!" Sena said. "What's on your mind?" Kiku paused with his paperwork. He can't tell her the truth; she won't understand it.

"Nothing," he lied. Sena frowned at him.

"Don't lie to me!" she snapped. "You have not been yourself lately! You haven't been eating or sleeping. All you do is stay in your office all day long! What the hell is going on with you?!" Kiku paused with his pen. Sena strained to listen as he mumbled something under his breath.

"What did you say?" she asked. Kiku sat up with his back straight.

"Akuma ga watashi o shutoku sa sete wa ikenai," he repeated a little bit louder. Sena stood there, blinking.

"Don't let the devil get you?" she asked. "Kiku-kun, what are you talking about?" Her husband didn't answer. He rose to his feet and tried to leave the office. Sena refused to move out of the way.

"Kiku-kun?" she asked. Her husband shoved her straight to the ground and kept walking. His wife got up and grabbed onto his gi. He didn't even turn around.

"Kiku!" his wife yelled. "What the hell?! What has gotten into you?!"

"Get off me!" he barked as he shoved her down to the ground. Sena fell to the ground and hit her back against the wooden door. She let out a loud yelp. Loud enough to snap Kiku back into his senses. He blinked in horror for a long moment.

"Sena-chan?" he asked. She looked up at him, bewildered. Kiku found himself trembling as he came by her side.

"I am so sorry," his voice, crackled. "Forgive me!" The man fell to his knees in front of his wife as she panted in pain.

Moments later, both sat in the darkened hall. They wouldn't even look at each other.

"And you don't really know what happened there?" Sena asked him. Kiku shook his head.

"Do you remember anything?" Sena asked. Her husband pressed his lips together.

"I wish that I didn't," he said. He pulled his knees to his chest.

"Tell me again. What exactly led you up to this point?"

"Do I really have to?"

"Yes! It'll make not want to punch somebody."

Her husband drew in a breath. "Alright. When I was still in the hospital, I had a strange dream."


"I encountered this mute and blind man from Ikebukoro."


"He was still alive and wanted to reach out to me. I gave him water and then he panicked and said that was someone was trying to kill him."

"Go on."

"He sent me away running and then I woke up."

"Is that it?"

"No, there's more."

"Then spit it out already. I'm still pretty pissed here."

Kiku readied himself to say the rest. Not easy, but anything to stop his wife from getting arrested for another violent riot. "Days ago, I got a weird phone call."


"Excuse me?"

"When did you get this phone call?"

"On the day of the party."

"Who was it?"

"I don't know."

"What did they sound like?"

"A childlike woman."

"Childlike how?"

"She was trying to sound like a little girl."

"And what did they say?"

Kiku took a long pause. His wife clinched the hem of her pajama shorts.

"What did she say, Kiku-kun? You're making me mad again."

"Don't let the devil get me."


He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. "You don't believe me, do you?"

"No, I believe you. I just still pissed off at the moment."

Further down the hall, a pair of little glowing yellow human eyes silently watched them talk the whole time.

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