I tell Tohko-san of the circumstance and have her protect Keita. She lets the boy who hasn’t slept since the night of the incident on her sofa and comes back to the office where Shiki and I are waiting. Tohko-san sits on her chair and Shiki is leaning against the wall. I am sitting at the sofa directly in front of Tohko-san. Finally calming down after Keita sleeps, they both tell me I am too good-natured. I take their words of criticism with a sullen face.
“I knew you guys were going to make fun of me like that.”
“If you knew, you shouldn’t have involved yourself in this mess. You’re easily taken advantage of by those kind of guys..”
“It can’t be helped. The situation was special.”
Tohko-san ponders to my response. She is using offensive words, but she did accept taking in Keita for protection. However, Shiki is against it. She might be really mad as she is glaring at me without saying anything.
“Special case, huh? I do admit this is an abnormal case but what are you going to do now? Are you thinking about looking for her and persuading her?”
“…… I’m thinking so. We can’t have him here forever and Asagami Fujino might continue killing people. I think I can only go see her and talk to her.”
“You idiot. That’s why we say you’re too good-natured.”
Shiki holds nothing back. She never does, but she is rather offensive today. She really is mad today.
“You won’t be able to talk to her, it’s too late. She won’t stop until she accomplishes her goal. No, I don’t even know if she’ll stop then. Her means and intention are reversed.”
“Shiki, you sound like you know her.”
“I know her and I’ve met her too. She was there with Azaka yesterday.”
I’m surprized. I wonder why Azaka would be with Asagami Fujino. They are totally unrelat…. I guess not. I only heard that she is a high schooler but it’s a different story if she is from Asagami Lady Academy.
“You’re pretty slow, Kokutoh. You haven’t investigated on Asagami Fujino yet?”
“Hey now, I only heard her name for the first time two hours ago. My purpose was to protect Minato Keita, so I didn’t have time to do such a thing.”
… But I have a bad feeling about this. It’s not that I’m worried that Azaka might be involved… it feels more like the impatience you feel when you are forced to think about what you’ve been avoiding.
“… Then is Asagami Fujino still going to school?”
“No, she hasn’t been home or back at the dorms since the night of the incident. She’s been skipping school too, she has completely disappeared. Azaka said she hasn’t seen her since yesterday.”
“Tohko-san, when did you research this?”
“Just a while ago. I received a search request from her parents. I heard Azaka was with Asagami Fujino yesterday from Shiki but it seems Azaka didn’t notice anything wrong with her friend.”
What an irony, if my promise with Azaka was a day later or if I found Keita faster, yesterday’s victim might not have been killed.
“So the protection of Minato Keita is not meaningless for us. If we cannot find her, we can use him as bait. It’ll get rough from there so you and Keita should stay here.”
With that, I finally understand… the reason why Shiki is here.
“Rough……? What are you going to do with Asagami Fujino?”
“Depending on the circumstance, we’ll have to resort to fighting. First of all, even the client is wishing for that. He doesn’t want her daughter reported as a killer. He told us to get rid of her before it all goes public.”
“What? It’s not like she’s commiting meaningless murders…! I think a discussion is possible.”
“Oh, that’s impossible. You haven’t heard the big truth. You don’t know the final blow she took when she killed them. I made Keita confess when I put him to sleep. I heard that his leader attacked Fujino on the last night with a knife. It seems she was stabbed. That’s what triggered her revenge.”
… Knife… so she was threatened with a knife even after being violated? So why would that be a reason she’s done for?
“The problem is right there. She was stabbed in her stomach on the night of the 20th. Shiki saw her two days later. At that time, she had no wound… she was completely healed.”
“Stabbed in the stomach……”
Hold on. Don’t think anymore. My mind tries to stop me but fails. On the night of 20th, student of the Reien Academy, stabbed in the stomach……
“I heard from Keita but she says on the phone that she cannot forget because the wound keeps on hurting. The wound that healed starts to hurt. Probably, whenever she has a flashback of the times when she was violated, the pain of being stabbed returns. The horrible memory brings back the horrible pain. I believe the pain is an illusion but it must be real for her. This is no different than a fit. Every time Asagami Fujino has a flashback of the pain that doesn’t even exist, she kills. Who can be sure that won’t happen while you’re talking with her?”
But that means we could talk to her if she doesn’t feel the pain. But before I could say that, Shiki speaks out.
“That’s wrong, Tohko. She really has pain. Her pain is still in her body.”
“That can’t be. Then Shiki, is it your mistake that her wound is completely healed?”
“Her stabbed wound is healed. There’s nothing like a piece of metal in her. Her pain really did appear and disappear. It’s already too late when she’s in pain but when she’s not, she’s too boring. I told you that I came back cause she wasn’t even worth killing.”
“Well, she would be already dead if a metal piece was still in her. But a wound that still hurts after it’s healed, huh?”
Tohko-san takes out a cigarette as if saying she doesn’t understand. I too can only wonder at Shiki’s words. It’s normal to be in pain until the wound heals. But why would a pain of a wound that’s already healed come back from time to time? That’s like having only the sense of pain remaining in your body.
And it hits me. It’s not an answer to her unknown symptoms, but I am able to understand why Keita called her weird.
“What Kokutoh, is it some new way of staying healthy by saying vowels out loud?”
… I don’t think anyone do such a thing even if it existed.
“No, about Asagami Fujino being weird.”
Tohko-san raises a brow. Oh, I only told her the summary of the story, so I guess I haven’t told her about this yet. I tell her about the strange condition of Fujino.
“Isn’t something strage? It was in the conversation with Minato Keita, but it seems she was unaffected by anything they did to her. I thought she was a firm girl at first, but I was wrong. She isn’t that strong of a girl.”
“…… You sound like you know her, Mikiya.”
Shiki glares at me. My instincts tell me ignore her. … I might put myself in the hole if I don’t.
“It’s possible… I don’t know that much about it, but I think she might be what you call pain insensitivity?”
Pain insensitivity is just as it sounds, a disease where one cannot feel any pain. It’s a very rare disease, so you never see it but if that happens to be the case, her strange symptoms might be possible.
“I see. Then that can explain some things, but there should be a reason. Even if she did get stabbed, if she is pain insensitive, there won’t be any pain to start out with. You also need to check if she was born with it and you also have to know if her nerves are dissociated. Well, even if she is pain insensitive, are there any reasons that might cause it to disfunction? Like hitting her back hard or taking lots of steroids?”
Hitting her back hard… it must be that.
“I don’t know how hard but I heard they hit her in the back with a bat.”
I say so unemotionally as possible. Tohko-san just laughs.
“I see. It’s them, they should have had a full swing. Then her backbone might have been broken. Even a crack is considered broken bone. And she was still violated even after her backbone was broken, not knowing what that feeling is. Geez, that’s the first pain she feels, huh? She must have not understood what her irritation is. Wow, I’m surprized you decided to protect Minato Keita.”
Tohko-san says so while making a grin. She has this bad habit of cornering someone with her words. I guess she likes to attack people mentally, and it usually ends up being me. I usually fight back, but I cannot answer right now. … I don’t have the confidence to answer. All I could do is look down and reject her response.
“… So Tohko-san, does the backbone and pain insensitivity have something in relation?”
“Yeah, your spine controls your nerves, right? When you have a problem with the sense of pain, you usually have something wrong in your spine. Do you know of Syringomyelia?”
… I would not know of such a technical medical term. Tohko-san lowers her shoulders in disappointment when I shake my head.
“Syringomyelia is the most known case of pain insensitivity. Listen Kokutoh, there are two types of senses. Superficial sensation that lets you feel such things as pain, temperature, and feeling. And there’s deep sensation that tells you of your body movements and general area. Normally, these two senses work at the same time. Do you know what it means to have no sense at all?”
“I can understand in words. You won’t feel anything when you touch, you don’t taste things even when you eat it, right?”
Tohko-san nods with a smile.
“That’s a natural response of a person with senses. You think they don’t have senses but has a body, so they are like you. But that’s wrong. To have no sense means that you cannot gain anything, Kokutoh.”
Cannot gain anything…? No way. They should still be able to hold things and talk to others. Then that would only mean that they cannot feel what they are touching. Why would that lead to not being able to gain anything? It’s not like they don’t have their body. I think it’s better than someone missing a part of their body or something.
Then I realize. …… No body. Even when they touch, they cannot feel that they are touching. They just look at it and confirm that they are “touching”. That is the same as reading a book. What’s so different about it from reading a book or imaging a story? Even when they walk, they are only moving their body. They do not feel the ground, but only feel their feet moving. No, even that feeling is barely comfirmed by looking at their own feet. To have no sense means not having a body. That would make them no different from ghosts. For them, all reality is what they see through their eyes. That’s the same as not being able to touch anything even if they could actually touch…!!
“So that’s pain insensitivity, huh.”
… That night, I met a girl who was unconfident about all of reality.
“That’s right. Let’s assume Asagami Fujino’s pain insensitivity temporary went away from being hit in the back. Then that would mean she knows what pain feels like. That sense she has never felt before must be her impulse for murder.”
Would that girl who found out what pain feels like hate the feeling of pain? No, it’s impossible for her to think so. … Since she is like a ghost, how happy must she have been when she found out the feeling of pain? She would have not understood the feeling of happiness either though.
“… Maybe the pain insensitivity went away temporary for her to feel pain and might have caused her to figure out the emotion of hate. The feeling of pain she finally obtained triggered her revenge…”
… What an irony.
“That’s the question. Fujino said she is taking revenge because her wound is hurting, but I have to wonder. To be more accurate, her pain makes her recall the violations done to her which makes her want to take revenge. I think this is how it is but it just doesn’t feel right. First of all, according to Shiki, she’s back to pain insensitivity, right? Then that would take her reason for revenge away. Her wound should not hurt since it’s healed.”
“That’s wrong, Tohko-san. To have no feeling must mean she has no sexual feelings too. So she cannot feel anything even when they rape her. For her, it only means that her body was raped. But… no, because of that, instead of her body hurting, her heart was taking the pain. I think her wound is not on her body but rather on her heart. That’s why the pain comes back with the memory, because her heart is in pain.”
Tohko-san does not answer. In her place, Shiki starts to laugh.
“That’s impossible. There’s no such thing as a heart. How can something that’s not there hurt?”
… If she says so, I can’t think of any comebacks. Surely, sentimental things such as a heart is not something you can prove it exists. When I am just standing there silently, Tohko-san disagreees with Shiki.
“But people’s heart, their minds, are easily broken. I don’t think you can conclude that it can’t be hurt just because it has no shape. In reality, some people die because they are hurt mentally. No matter how bad of a illusion it is, as long as it is true for the person, the illusion can be called “pain”.”
That’s a rather ambiguous answer for her. But for me right now, she is someone on my side. Shiki gets mad.
“What Tohko, are you siding with Asagami Fujino too? She not like that.”
“Yeah, I feel the same way about that. I don’t think Asagami Fujino would be that sentimental. She takes revenge because her heart hurts? I don’t think so. Because, if you’re pain insensitive, even your heart won’t feel pain.”
She instantly sides against me.
“Look, personality is medically defined as “a phenomenon of which a person reacts to outside force”. A person’s emotion… such things as kindness and hate cannot just come from within. It would not function unless something from outside stimulates it. That’s why there is pain. To not have pain means this cannot happen. People with pain insensitivity lacks personality. They do not think like you or have tastes similar to us. They do not understand common sense. That’s why talking with her is meaningless.”
She casually tells me the conclusion of the idea of talking with her. Her casualness seems rather like a last warning and puts me on the edge.
“… Please don’t say that when you haven’t even met her.”
I stand up from the sofa not being able to take it.
“That’s all under the assumption that Asagami Fujino is pain insensitive since she was born. This might not be the case.”
“You’re the one who said she might be pain insensitive.”
She says so coldly. … This person really does not care about others. How can she be so cold to Asagami Fujino when she’s a woman? Or is it that she can be this cold because she is a woman?
“Well, I do have things that I’m concerned about too. Asagami Fujino might be just a victim. The question is which was first.”
… What does she mean by “which was first”? Tohko-san starts to ponder and does not explain anymore.
“What do you think, Shiki?”
I ask her without turning around. Shiki answers exactly as I expected.
“Same as Tohko. But I can’t forgive Asagami Fujino disregarding what Tohko thinks. I feel sick just by thinking that she might commit another murder.”
“Hate for those like you, huh? It does seem true that your kind doesn’t like to form groups.”
Tohko-san hears Shiki’s words. I know why Shiki said so. … When will Shiki realize herself that she really does not like murder? Asagami Fujino and Ryohgi Shiki, I do think the two are alike. Since they are similar, they cannot forgive the crutial difference. If the two does end up fighting… would Shiki realize her true feeling? No, I cannot let the two fight.
“…… I understand. I’ll look into her information my way. Can I see any data on her if you have any?”
Tohko-san hands it to me. Shiki looks away telling me to do as I want. Looking at the information, Asagami Fujino was living in Nagano until elementary school. Her last name there is not Asagami as in “shallow top” but Asagami as in “shallow God”. Her father right now is not her real father, meaning that she followed her mother when she remarried. I guess this would be the place to start my investigation.
“I have to travel a bit far. I might not come back today or tomorrow. Oh, and Tohko-san. Is there really such a thing as supernatural powers?”
“You don’t believe what Minato Keita said? Asagami Fujino surely has some sort of power in that category. that. The term supernatural power is too broad so it’s not that accurate. If you want to know about it, I can introduce you to a specialist.”
Saying that, Tohko-san writes the address of this supernatural power-specialist on the back of her business card.
“Wait, you don’t know much about it?”
“Of course not. Magic is a study. How can we associate ourselves with something inherent without history or theory violating the rule? Those kind of powers only given to the chosen ones is what I hate the most.”
She really must hate it as she sounds like she has her glasses on. I take her business card and then speak to Shiki.
“Shiki, I’m going but make sure you don’t push yourself.”
“You’re the one pushing yourself. I guess it really is true that stupidity can’t be fixed.”
Shiki uses offensive words like that but then nods saying she’ll try. I leave the office with relief. It’s all right, I’ve never died but I was almost killed once. I haven’t told her that the one which almost killed me is Shiki herself. It’s because she forgot about that incident after she recovered from her coma. It’s fine if she does not remember. I will probably never tell her about it.