The next morning, Ayako asks Mai if she's all right. Ayako and Masako realise that Mai probably woke up in the middle of the night and cried her eyes out. Her eyes were very puffy and she could barely open them. Mai admits that she'd hoped to be able to meet Gene in her dreams last night, but didn't.
Apparently after her conversation with Naru, she talked about everything to Ayako and Masako.
Ayako gives Mai some eye drops to use while Masako gives her a cold towel.
Mai: Hey, great romances in plays about tragedies sound so beautiful in words, but in reality it's quite unseemly, isn't it?
Masako? Ayako?: What are you doing speaking such nonsense? Are you planning on spending the day looking like that?
Ayako decides to make breakfast over with the guys so that Mai can make herself more presentable. She tells Mai she'll bring her breakfast down later and leaves the cabin.
Mai: Hey Masako"
Masako: "What is it"
"I thought this yesterday too, but you still have a chance, you know?"
I heard a light sigh.
"Just what are you saying...... There's no need to worry. I thought so myself, too."
"All I have to do is go to see him. It's not like I can't buy a plane ticket. Although the bigger question is whether he'd see me if I went to see him."
"It'll be fine."
"Yeah. Up until now... I'm sure Naru couldn't spare anything for his feelings. He was completely caught up in searching for Gene."
"It'd be nice if that were the case......"
Yeah. True there's still some uncertainty.
"I'm telling you, there's still hope. A long time ago, you'd take Naru's arm, right? He didn't shake you off, so I'm sure that must mean something."
I heard Masako sigh.
"I think that's different."
"It seems that's just Naru's personality."
"It seems he's extremely uncomfortable having someone cling to him like that."
"I think he can't figure out what to do. The first time I took his arm, he froze for about a minute."
I sat up. The towel fell and I looked at Masako.
A minute... would mean it's real.
"......Huh. But you often go and take his arm, right?"
Masako looked away miffed.
"I thought I was being a bit shameless myself, but he didn't understand in the least."
"Ahh, I see."
"I realised he was uncomfortable with it. Otherwise I did it a bit to bug him."
"That sort of warped manner of showing your interest isn't good."
"I know that. I haven't done it lately, right?"
"Good girl. Hang in there. If you don't hurry, I'll re-enter the war."
"Be my guest."
Whoa. Such confidence.
"I wonder if it'd be okay to become serious...? Any way you look at things, they do look the same."
"I won't let him go to someone with that sort of motive."
"If you intend to re-enter the war, you should do something about your face first."
She pressed the towel up against my eyes again.
"I'm going to go help out over there, so you make sure to cool things. If you end up crying again, you'll be quite the sight to behold. Your base is your base after all."
"You be quiet. Any way you look at things, I'm not as pretty as you."
"My, what are you doing stating the obvious at this point in time?"
I took the towel away from my eyes and thought about hitting her, but she was already out of striking range.
I waved a hand at that beautiful face.
"Yes, yes. Good night."
......I'm okay. I won't cry.
While there might not be any greater parting than this, it's not like my feelings were denied either. I expect I'll be depressed for a while, but I will get over it.
It hurts right now, it really hurts right now, but that can't be helped--because people can't always be happy-go-lucky. No doubt everyone has these sorts of painful experiences, and I think they managed to get over them. No doubt that's what life's about.
......Although my saying that might be a bit cheeky.
"I wonder what it was he wanted to tell me......"
That's the one thing that bothered me.
Gene's words that last time I saw him.
--There's something I wanted to tell you, but......
It's not like all the mysteries have been revealed. That might also be life.
If there are people who are leaving, in Japan, it's typical to hold something like a farewell party.
I don't remember who in the bungalow came up with the idea of a farewell party. But I do remember everyone quickly agreeing to it. To be frank the two who are being seen off hate festive to-do's. So this is a very affectionate something to bug them.
Normally they're not the sort of people we'd be able to make attend something like a farewell party, but this time we have Mori-san on our side, so our side's strong.
The day after he was found, his body was returned from the police, cremated, and his remains sent back to his home country. Naru's parents went on ahead returning to their country, and Naru, Lin-san and Mori-san were to follow soon after.
--On that day. We decided to hold the farewell party before those three set off for Narita.
I headed for Shinjuku quite a bit earlier than the specified time. The official reason being because I had a number of things I wanted to ask Mori-san. In truth, my ulterior motive was just because I wanted to see what sort of place secretive Naru-chan had lived in all this time.
The West exit side of Shinjuku was lined with high rises. In other words the city-centre. The place I was aiming for was a hotel ther and the place we'll be holding the party. I phoned from near the government buildings and asked Mori-san if it'd be okay to come see her. She said "let's have tea until the party" and I was half nervous and half excited as I headed for the luxury hotel's entrance.
When I looked in to the specified tea room, Mori-san looked up from where she was seated near the front.
"Hello. Have you finished getting everything together for your departure?"
"Yeah. Not to mention I don't have much luggage."
"I'm sorry, bothering you at such a busy time. It wasn't anything major, I was just really curious about this place"
Mori-san laughed when I said that as we placed our order.
"You're very open."
"Eheheheh. --Where are Naru and Lin-san?"
"They're probably still packing since there's still some time."
"They sound busy--"
After all, we only got back from Nagano yesterday. They probably haven't even had time to sleep.
"For now, they'll send what they can, and if they can't get everything packed, they'll take care of sending everything else later."
"Will they be coming back?"
Mori-san cocked her head.
"Hmm--. Most likely I'll be the only one coming back."
"Huh... I wonder what I should do then. I guess it wouldn't do to wait until then."
"What is it?"
"I want to know Naru's and Lin-san's addresses. I thought it'd be nice to be able to write them."
"Ah, I see."
"If I can't get them to tell me their address, I was thinking maybe if I could learn the address of the lab instead. If I have that, I can send them letters, right?
"I don't think they won't. Why don't you ask them?"
"I wonder if it'll be all right--"
"I'm sure it'll be fine. It's not like they're actually secretive in principle. --Although I think it's best not to expect any response."
I sighed. Mori-san smiled wryly,
"Lin-san's quite conscientious so he'll probably at least reply. ......But Naru......"
Well, I did know that.
"Come to think of it, have you heard what'll happen with the office? I haven't returned the key yet......"
The office hasn't opened at all. For now it's remained closed. I have some personal things there, but haven't had a chance to go get them.
"If there's something you want to know about, ask that person. Whatever they don't tell you, I'll tell you later."
Mori-san said that with a smile and pointed upwards.
"Off you go. Room 3212"
I followed Mori-san finger and looked up at the ceiling.
"......I wonder if it's okay for me to go"
I just get the feeling they'll be hard on me.
"If you hold back, you lose."
Mori-san said that and smiled.
"The trick to getting along with Naru is to be assertive. That child doesn't try to interact with people from his side, so if you hold back that tie will end up breaking."
"But if I don't it seems like he'll yell at me."
"There's actually not too much risk of that. He doesn't necessarily get angry when people gather at the office, right?"
......Ah, come to think of it...
"He gets in a bad mood, but I don't think he's actually gotten angry."
"Don't worry if he gets to be in a bit of a bad mood. If you watch his mood, you lose. If he really gets angry, he'll be very flat with you, so you're still safe if he's being sarcastic."
"So the one who's being assertive wins. If he complains, ignore it. If he's sarcastic, don't worry about it. If you do that, you'll be able to get along with him."
"As long as we keep relations with him?"
When I asked that, Mori-san laughed.
"Right. As long as we intend to keep dealing with him."
"Naru seems to have a really strong shell, but at the very end he gives in pretty easily."
......She might have a point.
"Come to think of it, I can win fights a fair bit. As long as I don't give in."
I looked upwards.
"In that case, maybe I'll try being assertive."
After a long elevator ride, I went along a hallway unique to hotels. I took a deep breath in front of room 3212. Any way you look at it, pressing the doorbell for that room needs as much courage as sticking your finger in a tiger's cage.
A chime rang inside, and the door opened immediately. When Naru saw me there, he looked at his watch.
"Is it that time already?"
"Nope. There's still a fair amount of time left. I wanted to ask some things and met with Mori-san, and she told me to ask you."
Naru frowned slightly in annoyance.
"Can you do that later?"
......his guard for private things is strong, after all.
Disappointment. ......ah, but giving in's bad, right?
"Can I help with something?"
"There's no need."
"You should accept other people's generosity more readily."
"If you help out, what needs to be taken care of won't get finished."
"That's not so. I'll be more help than a cat*. Leave it to me."
(*Japanese idiom to borrow even a cat's paw when you're short staffed; ie. use any and everyone possible regardless how useful they'd be).
"Like I said, there's no need."
"When you can take things easier, you should do so. There are some things I wanted to ask you, too. So it makes sense to ask while I help out. Right?"
I imitated Mori-san and smiled brightly.
......and then Naru sighed.
Whooaaaa. I won. I see, this is what I needed to do.
Naru opened the door wide and let me in.
It was a large and neat double room. The curtain were open on the large window and Shinjuku central park could be seen directly below.
I'm sure it was a good room, but it still felt rather stark. Thinking that he lived here for over a year and a half, I couldn't help feeling a bit sorry for him.
"Is Lin-san's room next door?"
There were a number of cardboard boxes made up in the middle of the room.
"Could you pack my clothes? Just fold them in there."
He pointed to the open closet that had been half packed away. I couldn't help smiling a little at the sight of seeing nothing but black clothes hanging there. Naru was packing away the files on the desk.
"Your home's in Cambridge, huh?"
"Can I have your address?"
"What do you want it for?"
"So I can write to you. Why else?"
Be assertive. Be assertive.
"......can you address it in English?"
What was that--?!
"I can do that much"
"I underestimated you."
He really is uncute.
Man, it's too bad. If Gene were alive and if by chance we ended up getting married, I'd have been this guy's sister.
"Your father teaches at Cambridge, right?"
"What about it?"
"What's he teach?"
"Does knowing that have anything to do with you?"
"Of course it does."
"It'll satisfy my curiosity."
Naru sighed deeply again.
Naru smiled wryly after saying that.
"Huh... Outside the "SPR"?"
"The SPR" is like an academic society. While it came to manage a research lab four years ago, he's not a research member."
Hmm... I don't really follow.
"You're a research member, right?"
"In Mori-san's lab. A fieldwork lab?"
"If you already know, then don't ask."
"Hey, what's fieldwork?"
Naru looked at me in contempt.
"You really don't know anything, do you?"
That's none of your concern.
"Actually going on site and gathering information. Investigating haunted houses. It's virtually no different from what we've been doing."
"After sending videos and data, the rest is another team's work. For example the video analysis team. After that the analysed data is then organised and integrated into existing theory-that's another specialised team's work. For what it's worth."
"For what it's worth?"
"I'm really a member on the theoretical side. Lin's specialty is originally in technical."
Did they come to work together in distant Japan?
"Madoka's the chief of fieldwork. And when she scrounged together all the people who could speak Japanese, this is how things ended up."
"Ah, I see."
It might just be like her.
When I indicated that I'd finished packing the clothes in the box, Naru tossed the packing tape to me. I caught that and sealed the box.
"What're you going to do when you get back?"
"Hold a funeral."
Who's asking about something that immediate in the future?
"I don't mean like that. You're a research member for the "SPR", right? Are you going to continue ghost hunting at the lab?"
"Naturally, that's what I intend."
"What're you going to do about the office? For what it's worth, I brought Taka's key as well."
"You can hang onto that."
I looked at Naru.
"Madoka will be coming back shortly."
"You mean the office is staying?!"
"Aren't you lucky not to lose your job?"
Yeah. --Or rather...
"What changed your mind?"
He'd said he was going to close it.
"A change in circumstances. Approval's been granted to keep the office."
"But you won't be coming back, right?"
"I'm the one who put in the request?"
"And again, why?"
"Japanese spirit manifestations are interesting."
"I think there might be something that makes conditions here good for spirit manifestations. That's why I put in the request to maintain the office."
......He really is a workaholic.
"But what're you going to do about uni?"
"I've been thinking about that. I could withdraw, or I could apply to study abroad."
"In that case, you won't be able to come back soon."
Naru smiled wryly.
"It won't be possible for a while."
It really won't be......
"All the other things aside, my parents probably wouldn't like it. So I'll have to stay with them for a while."
The remaining half of the twins they had. It's unlikely they'd leave him in such a distant country like this indefinitely.
"Umm, I heard they're not your real parents......"
"Right. I'm adopted."
"I heard you were orphans."
When I said that, Naru raised an eyebrow slightly.
"The same as you."
"Hey, is that maybe why you hired me?"
"What's the saying? People in similar classes should help one another out?"
"People in similar situations should help one another out."
"I'd heard from your school principal that you were an orphan. Although I thought your living conditions were much worse."
"Were yours bad?"
"The orphanage? It was bad. Not to mention I was a problem child."
"I see. ......Thank you. It really helped, truth to be told."
"That's good. --In any case, there was a lot of money left in the budget. And we really were short-staffed."
"The "SPR" has a lot of money."
"Not really in the research labs. I'm special."
"A certain individual's giving 100 000 pounds per year in a research grant."
"Hmm. How much is 100 000 pounds?"
"One pound's about 230 yen. Don't you even know that much?"
Dollars are one thing; most people wouldn't know for the pound.
"In other words $150 000 USD."
"One dollar's about 160 yen, right?"
Heheh, I know that much.
"That's right. ......And?"
"So $150 000 would be......"
Ummm, is there no paper? Paper?
"Y24 000 000. You really are dumb, aren't you?"
After I said that, I felt the blood rush away; the pain of being a poor citizen."
"Twenty-four million... yen?!"
"It's not that much."
"It is so"
"It'd be used up in buying just one camera."
"Your concept of monetary value is exceptional."
"Its use is at my own discretion, and it's not like it makes for living expenses."
Saying that I looked around the room.
"What about the expenses to stay here?"
"It's being covered by those who view me favourably."
"I want to see the faces of people who'd squander favour on you."
"There are some people who are good at judging things."
"If I tried, I might be able to get twice what I do now."
I couldn't help sighing; he'd said that in an oddly serious manner.
We finished packing by the time of the party, and when we got to the small room in the hotel restaurant, everyone was already there.
"Mai~. I heard."
Ayako waved her hand.
"They're keeping the office~?"
"Yeah, they are~."
"Isn't that great~. You don't have to worry about your living expenses."
"Aren't you lucky. Not having me leech off you."
"I'm not so poor that having some commoner like you leech off me would hurt me financially."
......Huh. You said it. Watch me leech off you then--.
Mori-san handed me a glass,
"I'll be the acting manager for the next while. Let's do our best."
Heheheh. It's going to be a friendly workplace for the next while~.
"What're you going to do, Lin-san?"
Lin-san was expressionless at my question.
"I'll be going back for a while."
"I see. Take care."
That's right. There was something I wanted to ask, so I should do it now.
"Umm......, we had a conversation before about how you hate Japanese people, right?"
"At that time, you said someone said the same thing I did. Was that Gene?"
Lin-san blinked a moment, then nodded.
It's true. Gene and I do think a little alike. Heheheh. That makes me really happy. While we were at the campground, I heard a lot about him from Mori-san, and came to like him much more than before. While there's no longer any hope, there's no chance of being rejected. So, come to think of it, he might be ideal.
I smiled foolishly and met Naru's look. He looked a little exasperated.
"You were thinking that I'm such a simpleton just now, weren't you?"
"How well you realised it."
Hmph. No doubt I'm just an amoeba.
"--Ahh, that's right. I almost forgot."
Naru took out a small package from the inside pocket of his jacket.
The thing that was wrapped in a men's handkerchief was business card-sized, a little thick, and hard. When I unwrapped it, I found the picture frame that Naru's mother'd had.
The photo inside was of Naru and... him smiling.
......My chest hurt. I was so happy. And so sad.
"......What's with this?"
Ahh... I don't even have a photo of him. I'd love to have a photo of him, even a group shot.
"Luella forgot it. I don't think it'll bother her if I tell her it got lost?"
"......I can have it?"
"I threw it away. I don't know what happened to it after that."
What, my hand's a garbage can?
......Well, that's okay. 'Cause I'm really happy.
Naru's a pretty good guy, after all~. Eheheheh.
"What're you grinning about?"
Bou-san grabbed me by the nape.
"It's a secret."
It'd be a waste, so hide it.
"Huh. I'd very much like to hear it then."
"Go on, say it."
"--Did you know that love continues for as long as you remember the other person?"
Bou-san blinked a moment then grinned.
"You're getting rather cheeky, aren't you?"
The pocket that hid the picture frame was warm.
It's possible to fall in love on one's own, so I won't cry anymore.
Whoa... by the time I finish off the final scene I want to translate, I'll have translated almost half this book. >.> My poor brain.