Halo Twenty-Four: Mari:
Mari sat at the computer, typing away.
Three of Aya’s other interns watched her as they stood around talking.
“She’s always working around here,” one of them said. “Doesn’t she have a life outside of this place?”
“Well, she has a boyfriend,” another one said. The two ladies stared at her with wide eyes.
“Are you serious?” a third intern said.
“Who?” the first one asked.
“Orihara Izaya,” the second intern said. The first one wrinkled her nose.
“That guy?” she asked. “Why would she want to go out with a guy like that?”
“Aw, he is kind of cute,” the second one said.
“Something is wrong with that guy,” the third one said. “He seems like he’s bad news.”
“But he is still kind of hot,” the second intern said.
“You’re weird,” the first one said.
“Excuse me, could you guys please be quiet? I’m trying to finish this coding on the computer here,” Mari said without turning around. “If you have enough time to stand around and talk about other people’s love lives, then you can do something more productive.” The interns drew their mouths closed and walked off. Mari sighed and closed up the code she working on.
This has to stop.
How many times had they played this game? They couldn’t keep doing this anymore. Mari realized this a long time ago. The inner circle refused to listen. She decided to take matter into her own hands.
However, she’s been a bit distracted this time.
Mari’s phone vibrated, but she hung it up. She sighed and rolled her eyes. Why couldn’t Izaya get the gist? She made it clear that they weren’t in a relationship. No phone calls. No dates. No meeting friends and family. She didn’t even want to be intimate with him. Even through all of that, Mari had to keep him close. The intern knew that his days were numbered. If she could get him away from Tandeki just in time…
Mari’s phone vibrated next to her again.
“Are you going to answer that?” a voice asked over her head. Mari looked up to see Aya standing over her with a stone-cold look on her face.
“No,” Mari said.
“It could be important,” Aya said.
“Then they’ll call back later.” Her daughter turned off her phone and shoved it into her bag. She went back to typing the new code.
“You sure it isn’t your boyfriend?” the psychiatrist asked with an eyebrow raised.
“He’s not my boyfriend, mom,” Mari said.
“Okay, sex buddy, whatever.” She looked at the computer screen.
“Did you want something?”
“What did you want, mom? You never come down here to talk to me.”
“Ah, yes. How is the code coming along?”
“Fine. I’m just about down with the last two of the day.” Mari glanced from the computer screen to see her mother narrowing her eyes at her.
“What?” she asked.
“I’m curious about something,” Aya said.
“How did Michiko-san know to ward the dolls and put them up around the city?”
Mari didn’t look up from her coding. “I don’t know. She’s been through the same time cycles we have.”
“True, but she’s never had the advantage over us like this before.”
“What exactly are you getting at?”
Aya lifted her daughter’s head from the computer. “I believe she had help from the inside.”
“And why are you telling me this?”
“Did you tell her how to hide the gates?”
Mari’s facial expression didn’t change. “Why would I do that?”
“You’ve never liked this game, have you?”
“My thoughts have no meaning to you and your colleagues, mom. Even if I said what I think, you won’t listen to me.”
“Look me in the eye and tell me you didn’t tell Michiko-san about the warded dolls.”
“No, I did not. Why would I tell her how to hide the gates and then show you guys the dolls afterwards? Can I get back to work now?”
Aya let go of her daughter’s head. “I will be checking.” Mari went back to typing the code as her mother walked away. The intern pressed her lips together. She already knew what was coming next. Two gates already opened and now Yui and Yuzuru were looking for the third one. Luckily, Michiko had found and marked the Heaven gates already.
Once she finished up the new codes, Mari shut down the computer, picked up her bag, and left. She didn’t turn on her phone until she was outside of Rampo Biotech. The intern frowned she looked at her screen.
Fifteen missed calls.
Can’t he take a hint? Mari sighed and dialed him back.
“You rang?” she asked.
“You don’t sound so happy to hear from me,” Izaya said.
“I told you not to call me at work.”
“But I’m bored! Namie’s dead and I’m so alone.”
“What do you want?”
“Are you doing anything this weekend?”
“I’m bored. I have nothing else to do.”
Mari sighed. “We can’t keep doing this. People are starting to talk at work.”
“Aw, what? Are you ashamed of me?”
“It’s not that.” Mari bit on her fingers. Every time she tries to warn Izaya about his impending death, he seems to ignore her. She can tell that he knows his fat awaiting him. But why doesn’t he try to run?
“Don’t you care about your life?” Mari asked.
“Of course I do,” Izaya said.
“Then why won’t you run! They we kill you once you are used up! Don’t you understand that?”
“I know,” Izaya said. His tone made it sound like this was nothing new to him. Mari’s face went pale.
“Izaya… how much of your memories do you have back?” she asked in a low voice.
Aya watched her daughter talking on the phone from inside. She glared as she had a guess who was on the other line. The psychiatrist had to break them up and dispose of Izaya. It annoyed her that she couldn’t act right away. Kitano didn’t want to draw unwanted attention to them and their activities. But she couldn’t stand Izaya seducing her daughter any longer.
“You can’t do anything about it, you know?” a voice asked behind her. “Mari-chan’s a grown woman.” Aya gritted her teeth.
“Shut up, Junko!” she barked. The nurse chuckled and walked in the office. She slapped her on the back.
“You might have to start calling him son-in-law,” Junko said.
“Over my dead body,” Aya muttered under her breath. She balled up her hands into fists. The nurse covered her mouth, giggling.
“Shut up,” the psychiatrist hissed. Junko was about to speak when their phones buzzed. The women looked at their phones.
“Ah, the third gate’s been found,” the nurse said. Aya read the text and looked back out the window. Mari was nowhere in sight.
Walking home alone, Mari looked at her phone. She forwarded the text to the number that she had kept in contact with ever since she realized out pointless this game was. The intern pushed up her red-framed glasses and resumed her walk home.
That still left Izaya like a weight around her waist and ankle.