Chapter 20: Rehabilitation
She woke up in a plastic bed, covered by a blanket. She sat up slowly and groaned, pain spiking through her. Her head was light, either from pain or pain-killers—she had no idea.
But then the door opened and she realized that she wasn’t wearing much more than a hospital gown. She pulled the blanket up to her chin, blinking against the pain.
“Easy kid. It’s just me.” Uriel’s Southern drawl soothed as she walked in, drying her hands with a dark purple towel.
Makoto relaxed, relieved. “You did this?” She gestured to the bandages that were under her clothes, out of sight.
Uriel knew what she meant anyway. “A spy’s got to know what she’s doing. Weapons, martial arts, speed, agility, medicine.” She shrugged, pouring water into a glass, and handed it to Makoto.
Sure would be nice if a detective knew all of that stuff.
Suddenly realizing how thirsty she was, Makoto grasped the silver cup. “You trying to sell me a job or something?” She grunted, leaning forward to take a drink. She was afraid to even knit her eyebrows for fear of making her cheek bleed. Who wanted to walk around with a bleeding face but no wound?
She wondered how good Uriel had guessed at the positioning of the wounds for stitching.
Sighing through a raw throat, Makoto finally looked around. She had no idea where she was. She wasn’t used to being totally in the dark. It was rare that she couldn’t glean useful information merely from translating her senses. But in that room she was totally lost. It was unsettling. “Um...”
“You’re in the med bay at ENIGMA. Anderson thought it best that we didn’t carry your blood-soaked body across campus. The people around here are more used to that type of thing.” Uriel explained.
“Ah.” Makoto said slowly, dizziness washing over her. “Would you do me a favor and thank Tobias? Tell him I’ll—” She broke off, coughing so violently she spat blood into her hand. “—Pay for his dry cleaning.”
Uriel smirked. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Miss Akari—Agent Adams,” A man’s voice blared through the intercom.
Makoto flinched in surprise at the loud, commanding tone shouting into her ear.
Uriel’s smirk widened at her response.
“Please make your way to Room 47.” The voice finished.
Uriel reached over to a button on the wall and pressed it. “Yes, sir.” She responded strongly.
Makoto reached up to run her hand through her hair, but was stopped by crippling agony from her stomach. She growled to herself. She was in pain, utterly exhausted, and killing herself every second.
Uriel placed a stack of clothes on the chair beside the bed. “You can get washed up. I’ll help you change.”
Makoto stood, more pain arcing through her. She bit her lip and reached for a clear plastic bag that sat on the top of the pile. ‘Makoto’ had been scrawled on top in Chester’s messy handwriting.
A toothbrush, hair brush and bands, as well as tooth paste had been stuffed inside. Makoto found a mirror and gingerly set to work brushing her teeth and pulling her hair up.
Uriel helped her dress as promised, and even saved her the affliction of tying her boots.
As soon as Makoto started walking around, she wanted to lay down again to relieve her core. “How long was I out?” She mumbled.
Her wound was a serious through-and-through. It easily could have killed her.
It probably should have killed her.
“You were in an induced coma for three weeks. Don’t worry, I kept your dad updated.” Uriel nodded towards the door.
Sighing, Makoto clutched her stomach and went to it, opening it. “Great. More school to catch up on.” Standing straight and walking quickly, her pride allowed her to show no weakness. It was a hazard of growing up with her prideful father.
The first familiar face she saw was Tadashi’s. He was standing by the wall down the hall from her room, his thumbs hooked in his belt buckle. He turned his head and saw her, straightening and dropping his arms to his sides. “How are you?” He asked.
How to answer him? He’d been the world’s biggest jerk and then he was her masked crime-fighting bodyguard, and finally he was being nice? Yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts.
“Recovering.” She said quietly. “Thanks.”
Tadashi raised an eyebrow, dismissing her words. “Are you sure you’re okay?” He touched her arm as she wavered, steadying her.
“I...I’m gonna have to lay down for an hour.” Makoto said, equally dismissive.
She turned and followed Uriel to Room 47.
Chester was already there and was at her side instantly. “You did great out there.” He told her quietly.
Makoto rolled her eyes at him. “You mean three weeks ago when I got stabbed? Yeah. Thanks, Chess.”
“No,” He argued. “Three weeks ago when you held your own until someone got you when your back was turned. You did better than I’d thought you were going to do, and while you still have a long way to go, I want you to know that I’m sorry for what I said.”
Makoto nodded with a light smile. “Thank you.” She winced in agony as he draped one arm over her shoulders, placing added weight over her core.
The door slid open, and then the five young adults were joined by two older people—a woman who must have been thirty, and a man who was at least three years her elder.
Both Uriel and Tobias instantly stood at attention.
The newcomers wore identical dark purple and deep gray uniforms with strange symbols of rank stitched onto their shoulders.
Based on their air of authority and the way the two ENIGMA agents snapped upright, Makoto guessed that they must have been in charge.
The man bore a deeply-set frown that hardly looked intentional. The woman looked serious but pleasant.
“I’m Olivia Patton—this is Chase Barton.” The woman introduced themselves to her and Makoto bowed her head slightly to them.
“We’re running ENIGMA at this point. We wanted to personally apologize for the injury you’ve procured, caused by your involvement in our assignment.” Olivia said.
Makoto smiled slowly. “All due respect, ma’am, but this case was mine and Chester’s before you got involved.”
Chase smirked, amused. “Christina Redding is in the wind for the time being. You may resume your lives until she resurfaces.” He told them.
Not long after that announcement, they both left the room.
Makoto grunted raggedly as Chester dragged her into a hug. “We need to talk.” He whispered to her privately.
“I don’t want to.” She argued into his shoulder. He’d want to know about her time in captivity and accuse her of having Stockholm Syndrome after hearing about Zeke. He’d want to know about her diabetes. She’d have to tell him about her portal abilities.
All she wanted was to go back to bed.
“You can’t stand against my interrogation tactics.” He was teasing. He meant it as a joke.
But as Makoto stepped back, she couldn’t help but feel a flicker of panic. Sure, Chess, pull out an interrogation joke after she was just kidnapped by a homicidal psychopath.
He nodded her toward the door. “Come on.” Chester said. “Uriel and I are taking you home. You’ve got homework.”
Makoto moved toward the door, nearly doubled over in pain. She gasped as a hand grabbed her arm. Tadashi was beside her, gingerly lifting her arm to rest across his shoulder. “Keep your back straight.” He said quietly.
“But it hurts that way.” She whined.
He took the position of a crutch, supporting her through the door and down the hallway. “Stay bent over and you’ll heal as a hunchback.”
Makoto heard the others following, quietly talking amongst themselves. She ignored them and glanced sideways at Tadashi. “If you’re going to use this against me, then I don’t want your help.”
“I’m not going to use it against you.” He told her, not sounding exceedingly reassuring. They hobbled together all the way down to the parking garage.
Tadashi helped her into Chester’s car, and then stepped back. “See you tomorrow.” He said, and then he was off toward his own car.
What a weirdo.
Chester climbed into the driver’s side and Uriel got in the back. Makoto turned to him immediately. “Did you find them?” She asked eagerly.
Chester reached over her with a small grin and popped open the glove compartment. Then he pulled out a heavy, thick wad of cloth and placed it in her lap. “Open it,” He instructed.
Makoto readily peeled back the folds of cloth and then laughed excitedly at the contents. Nestled within the layers of the blanket or scarf or whatever it was, were two glowing coins and a magnificent green malachite belt piece with places for all four coins to be inset.
“You found them.” She breathed. Her wide eyes turned to him in astonishment. “How?”
He pulled out of the parking garage and shrugged. “I followed the clues you left me. I went to the floor of the hospital that used to be the morgue. In the back, I found a plaque on the wall that marked Aleda Cartwell’s grave. I did a little property damage and found her casket behind her ‘story written in bronze.’ The pieces were right where you thought. That coin was smashed and the pieces were the jewels in the crown that Aleda’s body was wearing. The other coin was on a chain around her neck.”
Wondering who Aleda was, but saving that question for later, Makoto fingered both coins. “And the malachite?”
He glanced at it. “Slightly harder to find—it was embedded under three feet of concrete, dead center of the same room.”
Makoto raised an eyebrow. “But how did you know exactly where?”
“There was a note in Aleda’s hand that said ’15 back, 3 down.’” He responded. “I took 15 steps back and dug down 3 feet.”
Somewhat impressed that he’d done so much damage to the hospital, Makoto braced for his next question.
“How did you leave me those clues, by the way?” He asked, as if he had read her mind and spoken the very words that she was dreading.
“I opened a portal to your hospital room and left you the notes.” She explained quietly.
Chester was silent for a long time. “That explains the portal in the library.”
Makoto breathed a sigh of relief. He was taking it well. “That was an accident. I didn’t know what was happening. I couldn’t escape the Tower or wait long enough to speak to you. I was risking Christina’s wrath as it was. I’m sorry, Chess.”
“Don’t apologize—you did nothing wrong.” He responded lightly.
“Wait—you finished your case locked in a tower with no outside investigation?” Uriel questioned, sounding surprised.
“Really it was just solving a few riddles, but yeah.” Makoto said.
Uriel laughed softly. “Awesome.”
“Thanks. Who’s Aleda Cartwell?” Makoto asked, glancing back at Chester.
He shrugged. “No idea. She was the only one in there and she was buried with a crown so she must have been important.”
Back at the mansion, Hiroshida practically carried Makoto up to her room. She sent a panicked, desperate pleading look back at her friends just before they disappeared out the door.
How could she completely forget how much her father would baby her? She was in for pure torture until she healed. How could he see her as someone who needed to babied? Was she that weak? After all she’d survived?
Makoto almost wished Christina had just taken her again instead of letting her face her father. And then she instantly retracted her thoughts. She never wanted that.
She sat in her room, busily clicking all four coins into their malachite frame. It was a beautiful piece as a single unit. Deep, vibrant colors of red, amber, purple, and crystal offset by the varying shades of green made it an extraordinary thing without being too loud and wild.
Makoto wanted to research where it came from, but found zero conclusive results online. She would have to track down the owner in Angelika’s things.
She was rifling through the box when the door swung open. Thinking nothing of it, Makoto kept looking.
“Mind if I come in and join you?” Uriel asked.
Makoto jumped at her voice. Relief flooded through her and she nodded readily. She’d thought it was her father.
Uriel closed the door behind her and sat cross-legged on her floor and pulled her tablet out of her bag.
“You here to make sure I don’t pop my stitches and bleed out?” Makoto questioned sarcastically. She met Uriel’s smirk with her own, clamping an arm around her waist.
Uriel shook her head lightly. “Actually I’m here because I’m your bodyguard, first and foremost. And in that position, I’d kind of like to make sure you don’t get dragged through your bedroom window by some know-nothing who deserves what’s coming to him.”
Makoto grinned and turned back to her work. “Aw, thanks, Uri, you are so thoughtful.” She teased.
After a while of working on their own projects in silence, Makoto decided to take Uriel down to the garage to show her Hiroshida’s workspace.
When they stepped out of the stairwell, the 3D computer screens in the middle of the enormous room were all on and displayed a slideshow of pictures that portrayed Japanese nature.
Three 3D computer screens belonging to Makoto sat in the back corner, dusty and rarely used. She went over to them, running her finger along the dirty monitor and wishing she’d had the good sense to appreciate her father’s wealth before she missed it.
“This is incredible.” Uriel breathed, staring around. A shiny red sports car was parked along one wall, Sakuza’s blue motorcycle parked next to it.
Other various pieces of technology lined the room, but Uriel looked more impressed than envious. “You ought to be able to get a whole lot of good research done down here, huh?”
Makoto glanced to the corner of the room where Uriel stood next to a mounted 3D projector. “Yeah, I ought to. Before I was kidnapped and given a different perspective, I didn’t really care about any of this.” She nodded at her computer station. “Now, though, I’m more than grateful for my resources.”
She sat at the desk and powered up the monitors. She told Uriel that she could set up at one of her father’s desks.
Not long after they were both settled in, Makoto’s gaze flicked up to the blonde. “Adams?”
“Hmm?” She was already busy at her computer and was beyond distracted with whatever she was doing.
“You’re not going to let me go fight with you guys anymore, are you? In the field, I mean.” Makoto asked.
“It’s not my call.” Uriel said slowly, looking up at her. “But I doubt Savannah is going to let you risk interrupting the healing of that wound. So yeah, I assume you’re getting the bench for the foreseeable future.”
Makoto turned a saddened gaze to her. All she wanted was to prove her worth to her friends, and she’d ended up in a coma for three weeks. “I’m so tired of this.” She muttered, catching Uriel’s attention. “I’ve been kidnapped and attacked so many times and I’m obviously no closer to being able to help myself. I don’t even know what to do.”
“Don’t worry about that, Makoto. I told you I’d help you.” Uriel said quietly, offering the Japanese woman a careful smile. “All you need is training. You’ll never get anywhere by never going anywhere.”
Makoto rolled her eyes and turned her music on, leaving the volume low. “Thanks, Fortune Cookie.”
She settled deep into her chair, trying to retrieve her muscles. She didn’t understand. She didn’t understand that Makoto had been working toward self-defense for years and still was nowhere close.
She didn’t understand that Makoto was a lost cause.
Nearly an hour later, Uriel put her tablet away and crossed her arms over her desk, watching Makoto carefully. “What are you working on?”
“I’m trying to track down the owner of the Quarter Piece. It’s extremely difficult considering it was created in Dimension X.” Makoto explained.
“Sounds like it.” Uriel responded. She didn’t seem like the type to search for useless conversation, which meant that she probably was going after something suspicious.
Makoto kind of dreaded whatever it was she was getting at.
But Uriel either didn’t realize or didn’t care. “So Tadashi was acting peculiar today.”
Makoto raised an eyebrow. “He’s always acting peculiar. So what?”
“So he walked you to the car like a civil human being.” Uriel responded, as though the other woman should automatically understand her meaning and jump on it.
“Yeah, believe it or not, it’s possible. He’s surprised me a couple of times.” Makoto responded deliberately.
“Not many people can crack his icy exterior. Ever think it might have something to do with you?” Uriel wondered slyly.
Makoto’s hands fell away from her keyboard in shock, turning to face Uriel with an astonished look on her face. “What are you saying?” She asked, genuinely shocked.
Uriel shrugged and twirled her chair as though it were nothing. “Oh, I don’t know. He just seemed to think you’re special.”
Makoto narrowed her eyes. “Yeah, bullies have been known to pick favorites.”
Uriel was nearly gaping. “Bullies? Tadashi? He’d never—”
Growing impatient and not at all appreciating the topic of conversation, Makoto fixed Uriel with a severe glare. “We’re not going to talk about this.”
Uriel was about to fire back something sassy when Makoto suddenly gasped and winced, pain spiking up her abdomen.
Uriel paused. “You alright?”
Makoto bit her lip and straightened, hugging herself. “I’m fine.”