My ability to identify a problem is not very high. If I’m told that there is a lie and asked what the lie is, that would be well within my area of expertise, but I tend to be unexpectedly weak at deducing the existence of a lie if it is hidden.
Even so, a strange feeling remained. The feeling that something was not right, that everything didn’t add up accumulated in my chest. This was almost entirely due to intuition, but it was nothing to be sneezed at. It was this intuition, as well as the trick question I’d asked about the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection based on that intuition, that made up the starting point for me detecting that Osanai-san had already known about her imminent kidnapping.
And now this same intuition was telling me once again that something was strange. I was about to say some words of reconciliation, but I closed my half-open mouth. Osanai-san, who was a little teary-eyed, looked at me quizzically.
“You can’t forgive me, right? As you said, it might have been better if I’d just told you everything from the start.”
Osanai-san’s voice sounded distant. It seemed that my concentration was starting to slip.
…The clearly strange thing about the facts of the case was this: Why did Osanai-san know that she would be kidnapped?
No… It’s how she knew.
Osanai-san goes out to town, of course in a disguise. She suddenly spots some faces she knows, so she sneaks around them. She pricks her ears, and overhears a kidnapping plan meant for herself. Troubled, she formulates a scheme of her own and writes up the Osanai Summer Sweets Selection to educate me.
That was a theory that explained everything too conveniently, but it was certainly not impossible. However, there was more. Osanai-san was not only aware of the existence of Isawa Hasemi’s kidnapping plot, but even had knowledge of the date and time at which it would be carried out, at least three days prior to the kidnapping. If not, she wouldn’t have been able to call me out. It would have been such a bad joke if the savior she’d spent so much effort educating happened to be soaking in a hot spring or something on the day of the crime.
I couldn’t imagine that she’d prepared a substitute savior. Three days ago, she’d called me, and kept emphasizing the appointed time of one in the afternoon, to the point that she was being really long-winded. From that, I could tell that she had a precise grasp of the group’s movements.
If she’d overheard their plan while walking in town, she couldn’t have known that much.
But was that such a substantial problem? In any case, Osanai-san had to foresee the existence of the kidnapping plan through whatever means. No matter her source of information, was it really such a significant discovery that would shake up the complete picture of her taking defensive measures against the kidnapping plot?
It certainly didn’t seem so, at first glance, anyway. But the feelings of doubt I had wouldn’t disappear.
There were no contradictions with the composition of that theory, so why was I thinking that something was strange?
I lifted my head. As I remained speechless, Osanai-san was staring at me with a somewhat cold gaze.
There lay the path to solving this mystery.
As I thought, this could be settled by believing in Osanai-san.
Now that I’d reconfirmed Osanai-san to be a wolf as I knew her to be, I could believe that she was indeed the person I knew her to be. I asked myself some questions.
Q: Is Osanai-san the type of person to incur the enmity of a drug abuse group?
A: Yes. Putting aside the question of whether she would do it now, she probably did so in the past.
Q: Could Osanai-san have made a system to continuously feed her information about that group?
A: Yes. Her ability to take action is certifiably good. I can guarantee that. It was probably a simple matter for her, too.
Q: Would Osanai-san, after knowing of Isawa Hasemi’s intent to harm her, build a plan to defend herself from that?
That’s not it.
What Osanai-san likes is vengeance. If she gets done in, the Osanai-san I know can’t help but get back at her enemy with a more intense strike. She wouldn’t stop at securing a method to call for help after knowing about their plans. If I’m to believe in her all the way, I would know that to be impossible.
Q: So, would Osanai-san be looking to take revenge on Isawa Hasemi from now on? Or has she already taken revenge?
I see. So that’s it… As I thought, there was something else hidden beneath.
As expected, Osanai-san could not be dealt with by ordinary means. I was even about to believe her apology. No, I couldn’t imagine that she wasn’t feeling guilty about it. Then again, she did use some particular words to stop my train of thought at “Osanai-san knew about the kidnapping beforehand, and set up a plan to get herself rescued.”
With a sense of satisfaction in my chest, I called out.
Clank! A hard sound rang out. Osanai-san had placed her cup of black tea on the saucer. The expression on her face had disappeared. She’d been acting as if she couldn’t look at me after reluctantly using me, but that atmosphere had been wiped clean off and she was now staring straight at me with an unfathomable, cold gaze. Affected by that gaze, I shivered. No, that is inaccurate. It was more like a warrior’s tremble of excitement. The real battle would be starting soon.
But Osanai-san replied with a calm voice.
“What is it?”
“I was just thinking for a bit, about you knowing of Isawa Hasemi’s kidnapping plan. I was thinking it over again.
“Osanai-san, your ability to take action amazes me beyond words. If I had to say, my personality is more suited to sitting and thinking, so that ability always makes me think that I’m no match for you.”
Still emotionless, Osanai-san cradled her head in her hands and shook left and right. What is she doing, I thought, but instantly realized that it was body language showing her embarrassment, which I promptly ignored.
“However, even you wouldn’t be able to get a complete grasp of the group’s information, down to each minute detail. That’s because you were constantly out on the sweets pilgrimage with me during the afternoons of this summer holiday. Yet you still had information about the kidnapping plan. Perfect information, down to the date and time. What does that signify?
“…It signifies the existence of an insider. You had someone inside Isawa’s group who was feeding you information.
“I considered eavesdropping as a method for you obtaining that information. But it wouldn’t work if you weren’t able to gather information in the afternoons, and I never heard anything about you walking out at night tapping into electronic signals. What I did hear when I went to your house was that during this summer, the number of phone calls you had at night increased.”
I could see Osanai-san’s lips subtly taking the shape of a smile. Was it one of mockery, or one of encouragement, signifying that I was on the right track? In any case, I licked my lips.
“I said it earlier, and although I don’t say it often, I believe Osanai-san. I believe that I understand you, your thoughts and your behavior. What does this mean?
“It means I know that after you gained an insider and the information that Isawa Hasemi was plotting to harm you, it is impossible that you would only seek to educate me as a way to defend yourself. You must have thought of throwing a counter punch. Am I wrong?
“Now, as a result of you getting kidnapped and being saved my me and Kengo, what happened to Isawa Hasemi? …She was taken away by the police. Not for an official reprimand, but for an arrest. She was witnessed by officers wielding a bladed object, and even injured a high school boy with it. It was a light injury not really worth talking about, but that fact still stands. Furthermore, she as probably further investigated for drug abuse, as a previous offender.
“And of course, the biggest charge would be abduction. Not to say that causing bodily harm is a light crime, but abduction is on another level. She wouldn’t get away with just moderate punishment. I don’t think the case would be referred to a public prosecutor, but I also don’t think would be released under probation, meaning that she would probably be sent to a juvenile home.
“Wouldn’t that satisfy you, Osanai-san?
“More than anything, you were so cheerful after you were released, as if your job was complete. You probably didn’t notice, but you weren’t like how you usually are when you’re about to have fun taking revenge on someone else. In that state, you seem to be immersed in a dark sense of pleasure.
“It can be concluded that your main objective was to get Isawa Hasemi arrested and punished as the primary conspirator of a kidnapping, so…”
I could feel that I was slightly grinning as well.
“…That means the kidnapping plot itself was induced by you.”
I peered at Osanai-san’s facial expression.
“Using that insider, you planted within the group a plan to kidnap Osanai Yuki. You even controlled the date and time when it would happen, and prepared an escape plan. Afterwards, Isawa Hasemi and her group were captured, giving you a great deal of satisfaction. And so we came to Cecilia for the tropical parfait so that you can celebrate and congratulate yourself. That about sums it up, doesn’t it?”
Now, how will you respond?
I’d been through this multiple times, but whenever it gets to the point where I ask the culprit about the validity of my deduction, I always hold my breath. Sometimes they get deeply agitated, sometimes they get angry, and some even burst into tears when confronted with the truth. There were also a handful of occasions when the person in front of me sincerely asked, “What are you talking about?” But what about Osanai-san?
…The person in question let out a short sigh. With slow movements, she drank just a bit of the black tea. After studying my face for a while, she finally broke into a smile.
“As expected of Kobato-kun. You sure don’t carry such a presumptuous slogan as ‘petit bourgeois’ just for show.”
“I thought you would be satisfied by successfully dealing with the kidnapping incident. That if I sent a strange email saying, ‘Come here, I’ll give you some candies’, you would instantly be interested. That you would decode the email, go to the scene of the crime, and come out of it with a full stomach.
“But that was a huge misunderstanding. Perhaps I don’t believe in you as much as you believe in me?”
Osanai-san spoke in a mutter, then pulled out her mobile phone.
“I wouldn’t want someone else to figure out so much of this situation. I’ve always thought that you’re amazing, Kobato-kun. I’m definitely no match for you in this ability to thoroughly investigate someone else’s thought process.”
“So you’re admitting it, right? That you were the one who caused Isawa Hasemi to kidnap you?”
Of course, I thought that she would nod.
But with a mysterious smile on her face, she shook her head to the side, by just a subtle amount.
“But Kobato-kun, you’re not a god. You were on the right track, and you got close. Really close… but I’ll introduce a guest. Wait for a while.”
Osanai-san said while maintaining her calmness and made a phone call. All I could do was watch the development unfold. She said only one phrase to the phone.
“Alright, you can come in.”
The glass door of Cecilia opened almost instantly. The waitress’ bright voice reverberated in the store, which only contained the two of us as customers.
The person standing in front of the door was a girl. She was wearing a black pair of jeans and a shirt with the words “NO RIGHTS” written on it. Her hair was bleached flamboyantly, and she had gentle facial features. She was probably around the same age as I was… but I didn’t remember seeing her before.
The girl walked straight to our table, took a glance at me, looked at the parfait glass in front of me, then haughtily looked down at Osanai-san.
“Is this the dangerous person?”
She pointed at me while asking that question. What a rude girl, to point at someone she’s just met. Strangely, Osanai-san’s tone became business-like, or rather, brusque.
“Yes, but we’ve already come to an understanding.”
“I see. That’s good, then.”
Moving her finger a little, Osanai-san pointed at me.
“I’ll introduce you. This is my acquaintance, Kobato-kun. I caused him some trouble with our recent plan.”
She then looked at me and continued.
“Kobato-kun, this is Kawamata-san.”
…Kawamata Sanae! That’s the girl Kengo had been trying to drag away from Isawa Hasemi. So the girl who had curtly dismissed Kengo’s persuasive efforts had joined forces with Osanai-san! I knew that there were connections between Kengo and Kawamata, Kawamata and Isawa, Isawa and Osanai, Osanai and Kengo. I see, so there was also one between Kawamata Sanae and Osanai-san…
There was definitely no coincidence that the two of them were acquainted with each other. I see, I understand the relationship structure now. This incident was borne out of the relationship among Osanai-san, Kawamata Sanae and Isawa Hasemi. The irregularity in all of this was Doujima Kengo.
“Hey, Yuki! Don’t tell him my name like that!”
Kawamata yelped in a shrill voice, then thrust her hand into one of the pockets of her jeans. What she pulled out was a tape recorder.
“Anyway, you take care of this, okay? From now on, the two of us are strangers!”
“I know. Goodbye, Sanae. I hope you stay safe.”
Kawamata snorted upon hearing Osanai-san’s words, then slipped past a waitress carrying two glasses of water and exited Cecilia with loud footsteps.
All that was left was the tape recorder, as well as Osanai-san, who was wearing a strange smile. She looked at the tape recorder and me in turn, then gave an uncharacteristic shrug.
“That’s how it is.”
Editors (Tier 2) : Joshua Fisher, _Maki
Assistants (Tier 1) : Definitelynotme, Rolando Sanchez
Thank you very much for all your support!