Why was she so fond of him?
She sat at the table in the empty dining hall, smiling at Mikado. “Does it still hurt?” The wolf girl drummed her fingers on her right cheek.
The boy rubbed his arm. “Yes.” He winced as the liquid disappeared into his body.
Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Uzuki reached out and poked him on the arm.
“Ow,” Mikado murmured. The wolf girl drew back her hand.
“Sorry,” she said. The patient winced and rubbed his arm. This would be the last day for the IV treatments. (He hoped.) Uzuki tilted her head.
“What?” Mikado asked.
“I don’t get it,” the wolf girl said.
“What are you running from?”
Mikado gave her a puzzled look. “Running… from?”
“Come on, nobody really wants to be here. I mean myself and the others can’t leave if we wanted to. You’re not dead, but no come here without any trouble. So what are you running from?”
The boy sat back and began to think. “Well…” How long had he been in Chou Mori? Months? Years? Mikado didn’t count how long anymore. What was the point? Time was irrelevant to patient in Chou Mori. Uzuki leaned her head on her arm.
“But why here?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Mikado said. They looked around at the empty dining hall. All of the other guests were elsewhere in the hotel. Why here indeed? He had gotten used to his soul leaving his body during some experiments. But it always ended up in weird places.
He noticed the dreamy way Uzuki looked at him right now.
“What?” he asked. The wolf demon giggled as she shook her head.
“You are so cute,” she said.
“Uh… Thanks, I guess,” Mikado said. Uzuki smiled. She seemed to be hanging around him a lot lately. The other guests began to notice it too. The wolf girl started smiling more. Today, she had on make-up and a little perfume.
“Hey, Uzuki-san,” Mikado spoke up.
“Hm?” she asked. The boy looked around for a beat.
“What actually are you?” he asked. “If you don’t mind me asking.” Uzuki leaned back and chuckled.
“I told you, I’m a fairy,” she lied. Mikado frowned.
“You’ve told me that before,” he said. “But what are you really?” The wolf girl had her eyes locked on him.
“I’m a wolf demon,” she said. All flirtation and lightheartedness was gone from her tone. Mikado shivered.
“The question is, what are you?” she asked.
“What?” he asked.
“What exactly are, Ryugamine Mikado?”
“I am human.”
“Hm…” Uzuki leaned in closer. “You sure about that?”
“Yes! Why would I be anything else?”
“Hm…” The wolf demon tilted her head.
“What?” Mikado asked. She began sniffing on him.
“What are you doing?!” he asked.
“Do forgive me,” Uzuki said ever so ladylike. “You have this rather peculiar scent around you.” Mikado smelled his own shirt. The wolf demon waved her finger back and forth.
“You can’t smell it yourself,” she said. “I can’t exactly describe it. It’s not exactly, but not non-human either.” The boy broke into a cold sweat.
“What do you mean?” he asked. Uzuki tried to think of her words.
“Those drugs they’ve been putting in your body,” she said at last. “What exactly are they?” Mikado shook his head.
“I see…” Uzuki said. She narrowed her eyes as the wheels turned in her head.
“What are you talking?!” he asked as he leapt to his feet. “You’re scaring… Ow!” Mikado grabbed onto his arm.
“Easy there,” the wolf demon said. “Your body still has that IV in its arm, remember?”
“I’m so sorry,” he said. Mikado sat back down.
“No, I apologize for upsetting you,” Uzuki said. “It could be all just nothing. I’m probably just thinking out loud.” The boy gave her a strange and worried look.
“In fact, let me make it up to you,” she said. “Come with me.” Uzuki got up from her seat. Confused, Mikado got up followed behind.
“Where are we going?” he asked. Uzuki smiled to herself.
“My favorite place,” she said.
“Huh?” Mikado asked.
Outside felt calmer. The sunlight nearly blinded Mikado as he tried to cover his eyes. He had never seen a place so green before in his life. It startled him to hear birds singing again. Uzuki took in the soft grass at her feet.
“What is this place?” Mikado asked. Uzuki whirled around and held up her arms.
“My favorite place,” she said. “Welcome to the Valhalla Gardens.”
“Vallhal… what?” the boy asked. The wolf demon giggled as she twirled around.
“It’s fine if you can’t say it now,” she said. Uzuki walked over to a giant tree near a stone wall and sat down in the shade. She patted her lap. At first, the patient looked at her with a clueless expression on his face. The wolf demon at had to clear her throat.
“Wait…” Mikado said. “You want me to…”
“Yes,” she said. “Put your head on my lap. Come on, I won’t do anything to you.” The determined look on her face made Mikado shrug his shoulders and walk over. He placed his head on Uzuki’s lap.
“Yes,” she said. “Cozy, isn’t it?”
Mikado stared up at her. “…”
“Good, good. Your arm isn’t hurting, is it?”
“Good.” Uzuki stretched her neck around. “Close your eyes.”
“Please do it.”
“Okay…” Mikado drew his eyes closed.
“Very good,” the wolf demon said. “Now, picture somewhere really warm. Someplace soft.” Mikado opened his mouth, but Uzuki gently covered it.
“Don’t talk,” she said. “Just picture it and listen.” The patient slowly closed his mouth.
“Good,” Uzuki said. “Now imagine yourself slowly floating away into the soft, warm place. Drifting away into that happy place awaiting you with open arms. Drifting, drifting, drifting… Nothing really matters. It’s so calm and warm.” When she looked down, Mikado was sound asleep in her lap. Uzuki resisted the urge to giggle. Instead, she leaned down to his face with her hair hanging down.
“You really shouldn’t be here, Mikado-kun,” she whispered. “I can’t keep sending you back. Either you have to die or control where your soul lands.” Uzuki broke into a little smile.
“Still,” she said. “I’m happy you came back again.” The wolf demon kissed him on the lips.
Why was she so fond of him? Even Uzuki didn’t have the answer for that.
She just was.
Mikado awoke back in his room in Chou Mori to see Etsuko standing over him, taking notes. She paused when him mumbling caught her ear.
“Oh, you’re awake,” she said. “Good.” The doctor disconnected the IV from the patient’s arm. That was the last one, but there was going to be more experiments on the way.