June 25th, 2005 at 2:49 pm
I was not surprised at all when Akito summoned me to her chambers this afternoon. No doubt she was wondering why I took a two-day vacation without any consultation or permission. One day off was more than enough, but two?
I couldn’t possibly tell her that yesterday’s disappearance happened completely against my will. If I did, I would have to name names, and then Ayame would get involved . . .
But, Ayame – I soon found out – was never really in any danger. Nor were the details of yesterday even brought up. Instead of going off into one of her moods (as I had assumed she would), she asked me a simple question.
Hatori . . . Will laughter make me better?
I admit that I didn’t know how to reply. Laughter caused by immense happiness is not exactly a remedy for bodily health. It is a good form of therapy, however. But that is beside the point.
Akito asking of something like this was very . . . unusual. I was pretty sure that someone had planted the idea into her mind. I frowned. A certain dog must have visited while I was away . . .
â€œLaughter will probably help you feel better,â€? I said, â€œbut it will not make you physically stronger.â€?
She hugged her legs close to her body, and placed her chin on her knees. Seeing her like this reminded me of the child she had been. The child untainted by the burden forced upon her by fate. Ever since that time, I had felt somewhat responsible for her . . .
Laughter does feel good, doesn’t it? Real laughter, I mean.
Then, as if remembering something, she smiled. I never thought I’d see that smile again. The tiny, contented smile she used to flash when she was amused by something. It was replaced by a smirk before I realized it. What could have possibly elicited such a response from her? Her next words made me wish I hadn’t asked.
You look good as a detective, Hatori.
In that mere instance, I felt my mind collapse upon itself. That photo that was taken in Ayame’s shop . . . The one of me in one of Ayame’s ridiculous creations . . . She saw it? One word, emblazoned in a deep, dark red burned itself into my mind: Shigure.
That sick fool. He would pay dearly.
I excused myself and left, thinking dark thoughts of vengeance.
I was able to see a glimpse of the part of her that she always hides, though. It made me . . . happy to see that it hadn’t completely gone away.