Chapter 14: Deductions
So I’m guessing the only reason you haven’t figured out who your best friends in disguise are is because you respect them enough not to care.
Makoto couldn’t sleep. She cried until her thin pillow was soaked and then cried some more. All she could see were Hybrid’s big green eyes staring at her with an expression that made her feel like she were abandoning him.
You haven’t figured out who your best friends in disguise are.
She was smart. She was a good detective. Physically she was pretty lame but her brain was immensely useful.
Who’s to say she couldn’t figure them out without a word of research?
Hybrid had the ability to shape-shift from human to cat at will.
He had a voice modulator, which meant that he could be anyone.
He often smelled like a caveman. He was silent when he moved. His fight and uniform style were Japanese, but his abilities suggested that he might be from Dimension X.
He often shows up whenever she’s in trouble.
He had a brother called Crossfire who died.
He was assigned to be her bodyguard, apparently.
Makoto’s mind burned through lists upon lists of people. She even analyzed Chester just to make sure. Her brain worked like a machine working through a math problem. She inputted variable after variable after variable, searching for a solution that made sense.
And then like a whack to the head from an iron skillet, it hit her.
That very day she had psycho-analyzed him and reached the impossible conclusion that he was a cat. Of course she had been kidding but it was undeniable how cat-like he was.
He smelled like leather, Vortex cologne, and bad attitude. And hadn’t she smelled Vortex when Hybrid showed up earlier? Hadn’t the first thought that had come to mind been of Tadashi?
He was Japanese, which would make sense in terms of Hybrid’s uniform and moves.
He stalked her, making an appearance when she was about to get into trouble.
She couldn’t see any other answer. Tadashi had to be Hybrid. But it didn’t explain how Tadashi could be so much of a jerk with one or two cells of kindness if he was so set on protecting her from the smallest amount of pain.
She couldn’t understand how he could be two people like that. It was the only piece that didn’t fit into place.
Everything about him was also Japanese.
He worked with Hybrid.
He also had a voice modulator.
He had the ability to remove light from targeted areas. He’s always heading her rescue operations.
She’s already gone through every person she knew of when she was thinking of Hybrid. If she took that information and looked for comparisons between Tadashi and Ronin, that left her with...
Her father and Sakuza.
Makoto’s fists clenched around her pillow.
Yet again, the similarities were the pieces that weren’t falling into place.
Yes, her father should be the first one on the scene when she’s been kidnapped. If it’s not in the parenting handbook, it should be.
Absolutely, her father would assign her a bodyguard that he knew she was already acquainted with—one that could blend into her own every day environment.
Technically, Sakuza should too.
But did either of them ever give her the impression that they cared in the slightest? No. Not at all. Compared to them, Tadashi looked like a saint.
So was it flawed, biased deduction that led her to believe that her father—who would more likely than her currently imprisoned brother—and Tadashi were the crime fighters of Coral Cove Oregon? Or was the fact that both of them treat her like dirt her strongest piece of evidence?
Individually, they met the criteria for Hybrid and Ronin in many different ways.
But together, they were only connected by their cruelty and Japanese heritage.
Makoto let her tired eyes flicker shut.
How could she be so blind?
How could she never have noticed that the two people who spend a ridiculous amount of time saving her were two of the people that she spent a ridiculous amount of time with?
She stared at the cold stone wall and sighed heavily. Was it just her or was her world falling apart?
Three days later, Makoto finally let Zeke convince her to eat the food they provided. She’d been living off of sleep, insulin, and will power. It was only when she felt herself slipping into shock that she ate the plate of lasagna that was actually surprisingly delicious.
After a few hours she felt increasingly better, wishing desperately for a window. All she wanted was to be reminded that the whole world wasn’t that clammy room in a Victorian tower.
She needed perspective.
She was trapped in a large room with a dragon but outside that tower, everyone else was still living their lives. The world was still turning, people were still happy, normality was still the steadfast rock that kept some people grounded.
And, outside of that tower, her grades were dropping very quickly because she was absent.
And on that subject, her case was lying, completely forgotten, by the wayside.
If she was right and Tadashi was Hybrid, then he wouldn’t be bothering himself with her case. He would be trying to figure out how to release her from her imprisonment.
She hadn’t talked to Zeke about her ability to generate portals, and he was far too light a sleeper for her to sneak away in the middle of the night.
She didn’t feel comfortable enough with him yet, anyway, to tell him, so she remained locked in his care without a way out. She could have run from him at any moment and had the high likelihood that he wouldn’t be able to follow, but Christina would make good on her promise and she wouldn’t be able to protect them.
It took an entire two additional weeks for her to find herself falling into conversation with her captor, doing more listening than talking, still not relinquishing any information about the people that she didn’t want dead.
But he was okay with telling her that he had been captured from Dimension X from Christina while he was in a refuge city. When asked why he was in a refuge city, he begrudgingly told her that he had accidentally killed a man and had to flee from his kinsman redeemer.
Makoto had quietly processed his bible-times attitude without comment, wondering how she would have taken it if she had not already learned from Evonna and Tadashi that things were different across the dimensions.
She had, however, asked how he could be, as a dragon, so terrified of a snotty little woman.
Zeke had gone quiet for at least thirty minutes.
When she had exhaustedly returned to counting the bricks in the wall, ceiling, and floor, he had finally leaned back and continued speaking.
“She’s a Variant.” He responded, almost sounding embarrassed. “She could kill me with a single touch if she wanted to.”
Fear struck Makoto’s heart like a bucket of cold water.
Hybrid could rip through all of her gunmen and bodyguards if he wanted to. But the moment Christina dug herself out of whatever office she spent most of her time in, she could have him six feet under before he even got to land a blow.
She sank back against the wall, eyes closing in helplessness. She curled in on herself, her arms wrapping around her back as she felt a chill of loneliness.
She would be trapped there forever, with not a friendly face in sight for the rest of her life.
“Why don’t you just leave?” Zeke suddenly asked.
Makoto’s eyes slid open and she shrugged. “If what you’ve told me is true, then my being here is the only thing keeping them safe.”
Zeke gave her a careful look. “If you let me go with you, I wouldn’t tell anyone.”
She scoffed. “Yeah, no thanks. Not to be rude or anything, but I still don’t trust you.”
He nodded slowly. “I know.” A few minutes passed, and she was perfectly content to be silent for the rest of the evening, but then he spoke up again. “I’m not allowed to leave either.”
She met his gaze for only a moment, but averted her eyes before she could convince herself that maybe he could be trusted.
A knock sounded at the door, and she jumped, lurching to her feet.
Zeke slowly rose from the floor, reaching for the door calmly. Makoto’s eyes searched the room, but she already knew there was nothing but the chair to use for self defense.
But when the door swung wide, it was Hybrid standing behind it. He was in human form, covered from head to toe in black and red.
Zeke tensed and Makoto knew he was about to transform, so she moved forward quickly. “Zeke.” She called sharply.
He stilled, and she stepped carefully toward the door. It couldn’t be real. He couldn’t be there. Could he be? Was she dreaming?
But then Hybrid’s head turned in Zeke’s direction. “I’m not here to take her.” He said.
Zeke stepped away from the door, but watched stoically from behind Makoto.
The girl leapt forward, flinging her arms around her bodyguard. She couldn’t believe she was hugging Tadashi of all people—if it was Tadashi—but she had been alone for two and a half weeks with only a probably chronic liar for company.
Hybrid returned her embrace after a slight hesitation, taken by surprise by her attack.
“Are you alright?” He asked carefully.
She nodded quickly, afraid to let go lest he disappear. “How is my family?” She asked.
“Unharmed.” He responded.
“And Chester?” She leaned back far enough to look at his face, though it was covered.
“I’ve checked on him frequently. He’s healing and they have not bothered him.”
She nodded in relief, her heart relaxing a little. “And...” She had to ask. She had to ask to see his reaction. “And Tadashi?”
There was a slight pause as he cocked his head curiously at her. “He is fine.”
Makoto smiled carefully. “Thank you.”
His head turned slightly to Zeke again, before he pulled her back into a hug and promised her that he would come back for her.
“Just don’t get them killed.” She responded, and then she backed away from him and collapsed on her bed as Zeke shut the door.