The time was at morning where the sun still hadn't ascent to the peak. The cool and clear cold air felt pleasant on the skin, and the east sky that was starting to grow light was gently to eyes. The sound of human activity began to be audible from the townscape of old alley that was made from brickwork here and there.
Although, as expected there was almost nobody walking outside. The only living thing outside was only a doggy with its head plunging into a fastfood bag thrown nearby the garbage box that looked like old drum can.
That doggy suddenly lifted up its head with a snap. The paper bag attached on its snout looked like a mask that covered its head. The doggy hurriedly shook its head left and right to shake off the paper bag.
Right after that, the thing that made the doggy reacted――a single car stopped right beside the dog with intense breaking. It made *kikit-* sound from its break which caused the doggy to twitch and ran away in full speed.
「Doctor Grant, Mr. K. This way.」
The one who got down from the driving seat was Vanessa. Her movement had sharpness in it that was unthinkable coming from a person who had gunshot in her side even if it had been given first-aid already. Actually, a medicine from another world was smeared on her gauze which displayed quite the restorative strength……but the person herself didn't know that. She was only thinking that「Oh my, me. I am more sturdy than I thought……」, like so.
「……Heey, is that stubbornness or something? Or else is that harassment to me? How many times I need to tell you that I'm not Mr. K until you get it?」
Kousuke was piercing Vanessa with an extraordinarily reproachful gaze while getting down from the backseat. Mysteriously, no matter how much he appealed that 'I'm not that up-and-coming assassin-san you know!', Vanessa still addressed Kousuke as Mr. K.
In her own way, Vanessa also thought「By any chance, this is seriously the wrong person?」just a smidgen but……last night, from Kousuke's behavior that said「I'll become your strength」, she then changed her mind that 'just as I thought he is really Mr. K'. Surely he was simply hating that nickname Mr. K, but there was no doubt that he was a virtuoso hitman, she thought.
And so, she unconsciously called him Mr. K. But unexpectedly words that backed-up Kousuke against Vanessa who was like that were spoken out.
「That's right, Vanessa. After all Mr. K had finally taught us his name. Let's properly call him, Ko, Ko Ko, Kousuke okay.」
Emily who was also at the back seat with Kousuke got down, but for some reason she looked shy. She advised Vanessa to call Kousuke with his name while stuttering. Emily also had the same thinking like Vanessa, that Kousuke wasn't an average civilian. She thought that Kousuke had taught them his name that was concealed by the initial. That was why, she thought they should call him with his name after he had finally told them.
Emily had strangely taken distance from Kousuke since last night. Kousuke himself was thinking「……Now I've really done it. Just what is right-hand man of demon king. She must be creeped out. That was just nonsense there. The Lord inside me, it damned peeked out its face randomly like that……」, he believed that Emily was surely thinking him creepy and put some distance between them, so he was a bit shocked with this cover fire of Emily and he smiled widely in joy.
Seeing that, Emily behaved in a strange way. Her gaze was intensely wandering to empty air. And then, perhaps something in her heart had reached its limit, her cheeks reddened and her almond-shaped eyes glared fiercely while she threatened「Don't look here!」. Her hairs stood on end *fusha―* as though she was the great haughty cat itself. Her trademark side ponytail turned unruly.
Kousuke felt down. On top of having a younger girl putting distance between their heart (Kousuke was thinking so), he was also told「Wait, can the chuuni bastard not look at me like that? It's seriously gross!」(That was how Kousuke heard it). The mini Kousuke inside his heart was already going 'orz'. (TN: orz = Watch the shape, it's like someone on all fours.)
「Excuse me, our situation is comparatively urgent here, so if you two can put off your youth's springtime for later……」
「The, there is no youth's springtime here! What are you saying!」
Vanessa was sending a lukewarm gaze at Emily even while she scratched on her cheek looking troubled. The redness of Emily's face turned deeper. Her *fusha―* ratio also rose up. She might let fly her cat punch before long like this.
As though to say that she couldn't associate more than this with the other two, Emily flapped her white lab coat that she still didn't take off even now and entered the alley with loud and fast steps.
「It's not that way, but the next alley.」
Emily came to a stop still. And then she backed up without turning around before starting to walk with loud stomps to the left while she went red until her ears.
「Not the left one, it's the right alley.」
A high speed turn. Her lab coat stylishly flapped! However, the shame of the person was already at max.
Vanessa and Kousuke looked at each other's face and smiled wryly at each other before following behind Emily.
By the way, this was one of Vanessa's personal hideouts, so Emily wasn't familiar with the area. And so, Emily who was leading in the front set off into unknown place until three times after that.
In the end, when she finally noticed that she could just follow behind Vanessa, Emily had become a white ghost with her lab coat covering her whole body from the head. ……It appeared that lab coat had this kind of use too.Part 2
The wooden door opened slowly while making small sound *kii*. Vanessa's face peeked inside fully on guard from there. There was no sign of anyone inside the room.
Kousuke and Emily also entered into the room by Vanessa's urging. Inside the room, there were signs of someone living there quite much for a hideout. There was a table and a leather sofa that looked like they were often used, magazines were scattered randomly on the table.
「It seems my friend is away. Well, she is often going outside so perhaps this is natural.」
Vanessa who had just taken a quick look at the other rooms and bathroom returned to the living room while saying that. It appeared this hideout hadn't been discovered by the enemy.
「This is the room of Vanessa's friend? Isn't this a personal hideout that you created by tacit misunderstanding from security bureau?」
Emily tilted her head while recalling the explanation that she was give before this. Vanessa had lost her weapon. She was unarmed. After this she would need to do various things like contacting the headquarters and probed about the true intention of Chief Magdanese, but regardless of what she would do, first thing first she needed to procure weapon.
For that, they made their way to a hideout that Vanessa didn't report to even the bureau which she prepared based on the tacit understanding among the security bureau's staff.
「I am sharing this with my friend. She is a freelancer cameraman that is bustling about everywhere around the clock. We are sharing the duty for maintaining the room, so it works just right that both of us are similarly out often.」
While Emily nodded in understanding, Kousuke was taking a magazine on the table with his expression strangely convulsing.
「……I see. So the source of the prejudiced knowledge of Vanessa-san about Japan, is that friend is it.」
The magazine in Kousuke's hand who was whispering something like that. If it was a magazine that young woman read, then normally it would be something like fashion magazine. However, this magazine had this name written along with a picture of a girl that had colorful hair.
――Anim○e (TN: Animage)
When his gaze dropped further, every single one of the scattered magazines were things that were fully loaded with information of Japanese anime and manga he was familiar with. Inside the room there were several large bookshelves that were decorated with pretty cloth cover, but Kousuke obeyed his hunch and checked one of them.
As he expected, the content was packed full with Japanese comic and light novel and anime DVD.
「What do you think, Mr. K. My friend's collection is quite something right? By the way, the three bookshelves over there are my collection.」
「What are you hiding in your hideout……」
Emily passed with small run in front of the exasperated Kousuke and brushed open the cover of Vanessa's collection shelves. And then while saying「Hee, so this is Japan's subculture……」, she took a Japanese manga into her hand with deep interest. It seemed this was her first time seeing something like that.
However, it was an excessively thin book.
「Hinyaah. What's this!?」
Emily screamed, her face was bright red and she held away the book as far as possible from her face. The book's front cover, should it be said that it was immodest, or that it actually easily surpassed such expression, anyway the picture's skin exposure rate was too high, and on top of that there was the illustration of a girl making outrageous posture drawn on it.
「Aa, Doctor Grant. Please don't handle it so roughly like that. That's a treasure you know.」
「Wh, who cares about that-, pervert Vanessa!」
「Why do you even have doujin huh…..」
Emily swung around the thin book with her hand stretched out with all her might while moaning「Uu―」, doing her best so that it wouldn't enter her sight, but she didn't show any sign of letting it go. It was unclear whether she was simply handling it more or less carefully because it was Vanessa's collection, or perhaps there was some reason that made it hard for her to let go of it……
From how she was sending glances at the front cover, surely it was because of the latter. When she noticed Kousuke's awkward gaze, Emily made excuse「Tha, that's not it! I, I'm not someone like that!」while returning the book in panic to the bookshelves.
「Doctor Grant. If you have an interest to it, then after we take care of this case, I will lend it to you, so please be patient for now.」
「I'm not impatient or anything! I'm not a pervert! It's true okay? Kousuke, I'm really, really not like that okay?」
Kousuke who didn't know how to react when a younger girl was pleading to him「I'm not a pervert! Believe it!」could only nodded vaguely.
Vanessa sent a glance at Emily who was desperately making excuse for some reason before she suddenly approached one of the bookshelves. And then, she sent brief glances at Kousuke. She looked like a child that was going to show the toy she took pride in to her parents while saying「Look! Look!」.
Kousuke tilted his head while turning his gaze at that direction. After confirming that, Vanessa pulled at one book inside the bookshelves, a book titled『Chupacabra Encyclopedia』.
Right after that, the bookshelves was sliding. It made a half-rotation, showed its backside and returned to its original position.
「Se, secret bookshelves?」
Emily also turned her gaze at the bookshelves when she heard Kousuke's whisper. And then, her jaw fell down. There, many firearms were lined up orderly.
「Fufu, surprised aren't you? But, still not yet. It's still not over with just this.」
The very short haired beauty wearing black suits was making a triumphant look. While Emily and Kousuke felt complicated irritation to that face, Vanessa walked toward a bed that was inside a room and this time she twisted the lamp shade of the lamp beside it.
Right after that, the back of the bed sprang up and exposed the firearms stored behind it.
「What do you think? All these hidden armories were made DIY(Do-It-Yourselfer). I spent most of my holidays for this. I threw away all of the summer and winter bonus pay to prepare this prided arrangement of mine. Don't you two feel something seeing this?」
「Holy cow……. Vanessa-san, you, are really something.」
It was settled with this. Inside Vanessa-san's heart, there was a burning soul similar with Kousuke! The "Lord" inside Kousuke suddenly made a nihilistic smile. It came out a bit to the surface at Kousuke's act and speech, which Vanessa nodded at, her face looked like she understood what he felt for some reason. Emily was getting creeped out at the two of them!
Vanessa quickly chose her equipment and stuffed them into her holster and rucksack when she suddenly noticed something.
「……Come to think of it Mr. K. Are you okay with your gun? Like your bullets or the spare gun……」
That question came because thinking back really carefully, until now Kousuke didn't show any kind of firearm even once. Far from that, Vanessa who was able to decide whether someone was bringing weapon or not just from looking at the clothes' surface couldn't sense any presence of arms from Kousuke at all no matter how hard she observed. She thought that he was hiding his weapon really skillfully but……
「? No, I don't bring anything like gun though.」
「……Mr. K. Didn't you say that you will become Dr. Grant's strength? Its necessary for us to grasp each other's equipment. It's troubling that you are hiding your capability.」
「No, no, I'm not hiding anything. I'm really not carrying anything like a gun here. Or rather, I told you already that I'm a student in Japan. Please listen to what people said seriously. I'm not an assassin, that's why I don't bring any gun!」
Mr. K was an assassin that would corner all his targets into death with one shot to the head and one shot to the heart no matter who they were……. Vanessa was making a complicated expression, and not just her but Emily too.
Vanessa wordlessly approached Kousuke and began to pat all over his body. It seemed that she was performing a body check to confirm that he really wasn't carrying gun. Kousuke felt flurried inside his heart with the body touch that came from a pretty onee-san. For some reason Emily was hiding her eyes with both her hands saying「A, a, you even touch that kind of place!?」while in a cliched act she was peeking from her finger gaps.
「……You are really not bringing anything.」
「That's why, I told you that already.」
Vanessa took a step back while looking somewhat astonished. She made a difficult expression for some reason then she shook her head.
「I understand. You must have some kind of circumstance. I won't pursue it any deeper.」
「Oi, you. What are you doing convincing yourself like that as though assuming that I'm usually carrying it. I'm telling you that I'm never carrying something like that.」
「However, thinking of from here on, you also cannot be unarmed like that. I don't know what you are usually using, but please carry mine if you don't mind something like this.」
「……Like that it suddenly appear, this unnaturally natural disregard like I'm not here. I, know it. That on earth there is also an evil god like Ehito, and I caught his eyes when I was born.」
Kousuke made a dry smile at Vanessa who was giving him recommendation「Would you like Glock? Or would you like Beretta? Or else, would you like Desert Eagle?」while he averted his gaze.
「No, I don't need gun. It's meaningless even if I carry one. Firing them, well, I got experience before, but I couldn't hit anything at all with it. It's also dangerous. Seriously, that guy, just what kind of skill he got.」
It went without saying just who was "that guy" referred to. Kousuke recalled the time when he asked to be allowed to shoot a gun half playing around and he shook his head from the bad memory. After all at that time he got his face struck by the gun due to recoil, then the bullet that should be flying forward miraculously ricocheted and pierced his own buttock, the used cartridge that flew out in piping hot state entered into his clothes, and then when he tried to fire again and pulled the trigger, the trigger couldn't be pulled, but the moment he released his shooting stance to look for the cause, the gun discharged accidentally and it almost blew away his son on his crotch……
If there was a god of gun, then there was no doubt that he hated Kousuke as though Kousuke had killed his parents. Even that demon king warned him「You, don't carry a gun anymore. ……You are going to die, by self-explosion」with an expression that was a mix of fear and pity.
The confusion of Emily and Vanessa who didn't know about that circumstance was increasingly getting deeper. An assassin that wasn't carrying gun and made disgusted expression from the bottom of his heart when he saw a gun……. The words of Kousuke「I'm not Mr. K」raised its head high inside the two. However, at the same time, his confidence words「I'll become your strength」and his accomplishment of enabling them to escape before this forcefully pressed down that raising head with a single push.
Perhaps in subconscious level they were simply wasn't thinking that Kousuke wasn't Mr. K. If Kousuke wasn't Mr. K, then that meant that at that time, there didn't appear anyone that could save Vanessa and Emily who were surrounded by Kimberly's group, and that meant they didn't obtain the cooperation of the real Mr. K.
No matter how skilled Vanessa was, but she was someone who was still in the realm of newcomer, on top of that she lost all her reliable allies because of other ally betrayal. And in this situation where the organization she should rely itself was suspicious, she was also chased after by an organization of unknown scale. If in this kind of time what she thought as a trump card was actually just a throwaway card, then there was no way she would want to recognize that even though she understood that being optimistic was taboo in this line of work.
Kousuke put aside the bewilderment of Vanessa and Emily who were like that and spoke indifferently.
「Well, it will be fine. No matter what happen, I'll manage somehow. Rather than that, let's get going if you are finished with the preparation. Emily's house is really far from here right?」
Emily and Vanessa looked at each other's face after that urging from Kousuke to depart. Their bafflement still hadn't disappeared, but seeing Kousuke who declared that he had no problem being unarmed even though he understood that their opponent was an armed group, they decided to postpone their question for the moment. Or rather, it could also be said that they had no choice other than betting that Kousuke was the real Mr. K.
They had talked with each other last night, and they concluded that first they would head toward Emily's parents first. Securing and sheltering Emily's parents who were her weak point was an indispensable matter that had to be prioritized first.
However, Emily's home was a long way from their current position. It would take more than half a day using car. They would have to evade places with high possibility of being monitored like highway and so on. In that case, they would reach the destination around evening if they took taking rest into consideration even if they were taking their meal inside car.
「……You're right. My equipment is in order. Let's depart.」
「Okay. ……But, before that tell me. Vanessa, why are you bringing comic along?」
Vanessa excitedly finished her preparation, and then she returned the lovely secret bookshelves and secret bed back to normal. While she was at it, she nonchalantly pulled out several volumes of comic from the bookshelves. One she put into her suits' inside pocket, and the other were stored into the rucksack. Seeing that, Emily asked with her eyes twitching.
Vanessa's expression went puzzled as though to say「Eh? You don't get it?」. Both Kousuke and Emily got plainly irritated.
「Even if you asked me why……. After this, we will chanllenge an extremely difficult situation. So to speak, it's like a soldier heading to the front line.」
「Well, perhaps it's something like that……」
「Isn't that right? Then, it's normal to bring along comic right?」
「Why does it become like that!? I don't understand your thought process!」
Emily made a splendid retort at that incomprehensible logic. Seeing Emily like that, Vanessa made an expression that irritated Emily, as though she was a teacher facing a dim-witted student, and then she explained carefully and thoroughly.
「Listen, Doctor Grant. In movie or film, have you seen a scene when a soldier head to battlefield inside car or helicopter, they will take out bible and pray?」
「Ri, right. I've seen something like that before. ……Wait a second, in other words, those comics……」
「Yes. They are my bible.」
「Apologize to god! Apologize to the believer of Christianity!」
Emily howled. Grant family was also a believer more or less. And so, she couldn't help to make retort when someone talked as though bible and comic had same status.
Vanessa snorted「Fuh」at that retort mixed with protest from Emily and ignored it.「Why did you snort just now!?」Emily's cat eyes glared fiercely once more while she raised her voice, but Vanessa who was in perfect form left the room without breaking her attitude that seemed to say「The doctor is also still young huh」.
「……Shura no ○, Gra○ler Ba○, and then Na○to, to treat them as bible like that. In a sense, perhaps this is also Japan's karma.」(TN: Shura no Mon, Grappler Baki, Naruto)
Emily rushed after Vanessa with her side tail swinging wildly while saying「Hey wait-」. Kousuke was getting a bit of faraway look when he saw the title the comics that Vanessa brought before he followed behind them.Part 3
The sun went down to the west. By the time the sky was starting to be colored vibrantly with orange, the car Vanessa was driving was running through a road that was extending straight forward as though the car was gliding.
Inside the car, Emily and Kousuke was satisfying their stomach with burger and fried potato they purchased from a certain famous restaurant that they visited midway.
「……Emily, what's the matter?」
Kousuke suddenly asked. Emily was eating her fried potato bit by bit like a hamster while her gaze was directed outside the window. She then turned her gaze at Kousuke.
「What do you mean?」
「No, it looks like you are getting faraway look there. You are tired?」
「Aa~, no. I'm fine. It's just, I'm really familiar, with this area. Seeing this, it feels that I really have come home. But, even though I had a lot of story to share when I went home before, but this time……something like that.」
It seemed that when she compared the current situation with the time when she went home previously, it caused a deep and heavy emotion to stir up her heart. Just like how the orange color of setting sun aroused loneliness in people without reason, it seemed that Emily's heart was also aroused with indescribable feeling by the scenery of her home town and the orange color of the burning sky.
Kousuke who knew about the gruesome circumstances Emily went through in these few days, hesitated about what to say back. He thought that he should say something, but he could only let his gaze wandered unable to find any good words. In this time, he became envious of a certain agitator who could spun words smoothly.
Emily made a faint smile at Kousuke who was in such a state. She then gulped up the drink in her hand in one go before she said one more time「I'm fine」.
Vanessa who was watching through the rearview mirror at the exchange between the two at the backseat, opened her mouth tactfully, as though to be the replacement of Kousuke.
「Excuse me, Doctor Grant……」
「Geez. Vanessa too, don't worry about me. I told you I'm fine.」
「No, I really cannot believe that. Doctor Grant. What is called limit, is something that will come faster than what we thought.」
Vanessa's unexpectedly serious expression could be seen through the rearview mirror. Emily's words unconsciously got caught in her throat. Kousuke was thinking「As expected from an agent of the security bureau. She also know various things about how to care to a person who is dragged into a case」while sending her admiring gaze――
「Is your urinary bladder, really okay?」
「What kind of thing you are worrying about there!?」
Of course, it was a worry about the dignity of the peeing girl Emily-chan.
「At the restaurant just now, and also at the gasoline station before that, I noticed that Doctor Grant didn't go to toilet. And yet, you were drinking two large size coke and coffee. I'm extremely worried whether you will get more wound like this.」
「Tha, tha tha tha, that's-」
「However, I cannot believe that Doctor Grant who has already done a severe failure for twice already will be so easy-goingly take an optimistic action like this. Doctor Grant……」
Emily was already turning small into half her original size while her wariness and shame were in full display. Vanessa's eyes shined glaringly through the rearview mirror at such Emily.
「By any chance, were you awakened?」
「Wha, what does that mean?」
The pure Emily-chan couldn't grasp the meaning of that question. Of course the young man beside her grasped the meaning. Vanessa asked with determination.
「To the pleasure of urination.」
「ARE YOU IDIOTTT――――!! There is no way I'm awakened to something like that!! Do you want to make me into pervert!?」
World Unknown to Emily Part 2. There was no way anyone would feel good from wetting their pant in public! If there was anyone like that, then that person was a pervert without doubt!
Of course, there was no way Emily had awakened to overly special pleasure like that. And so, Emily turned at Kousuke with a fretful expression and pleaded「That's wrong! That's completely wrong! I'm not that kind of pervert! Believe me, Kousuke-」.
「Ca, calm down. It, it's not like I'm thinking that you are a pervert or anything.」
「Really? Really, really? Kousuke is――」
Emily was about to say something. However, carrying out a beautiful intercept at that timing was how Vanessa Paradis roll.
「So Doctor Grant isn't awakened to that……it's unfortunate for Mr. K isn't it?」
「There ain't no way that's true! Don't make me into a pervert so naturally like that!」
「Ko, Ko Ko, Kousuke!? Yo, you are aiming for my "that"? You are happier if I'm a pervert!? That……that's troubling for me!」
「There is no way that's true! Why are you feeling a bit troubled like that!? What do you mean troubling!? You need to deny strongly there at all cost!」
Chaos maker Vanessa. She displayed that ability of hers without sparing any effort, driving Kousuke and Emily into the crucible of bewilderment!
「Fumu. Great difficulty is waiting ahead for us. It's better to be energetic like this. Both of you are full with fighting spirit there.」
「You, just shut up already!!」
「You, shut up already!!」
The retort of Kousuke and Emily burst out in harmony. Vanessa made an expression that seemed to say「Incomprehensible」by herself.
Giving up on Vanessa who was scattering word bombs so naturally like that, Emily was making justification desperately at Kousuke, while Kousuke was desperately soothing down Emily. During that time the scenery of the surrounding was starting to change entirely.
They entered into the town. There was high construction, but most buildings were giving off retro atmosphere.
「Vanessa. Follow this path to go across the town center and head to the north. A river will come into view after some time. There is also a restaurant that makes delicious pie nearby there. You will understand right away because they have cute signboard.」
「Roger. This is the first time I come here but……this is quite the beautiful townscape.」
There was chic building with brick color, and there was also glass building. But, those two types of building didn't mutually harm the scenery. It was as though the new thing and the old thing accepted each other, giving anyone who watched a gentle impression.
In this downtown at the time where the sun was mostly sinking, the local people had calm expression. They were strolling with relaxed pace on the stone paving while holding bag that was stuffed with food. The sight had a comfortable impression where they could slowly feel the flow of time.
And that impression became even more striking when they left the town center and entered the suburb. There was more greenery, houses in the same color and same style lined up in order, forming similar shape of shadow. Somehow, it felt like even the light of sunset also became gentle.
Vanessa ran the car following Emily's direction. In contrast with Emily who was somewhat restless with this long time homecoming, Kousuke was tensing his body in moderation. Of course, he was considering the possibility of an ambush by other force waiting for them.
But, in contrast with his expectation, he couldn't find anything like black car or the like parking nearby. They could see children noisily playing with lot of energy, and the figures of fathers, mothers urging them to return home soon with wry smile. There wasn't any sign of conflict, the area really looked peaceful.
「Ah, over there. That house with white van parked! The light is on. It looks like father and others are home.」
Emily leaked out a relieved sigh. The white van was the car Emily's father, Carl owned. It was a car that was bought as replacement a few years ago so that the grandmother, Syla who was using wheelchair could also ride car. They still hadn't finished paying the loan for this car. There was also a blue light motor vehicle parked beside it. That was the car of the mother Sophie.
Vanessa stopped the car in front of the house. Emily was going to rush out right away, but Vanessa halted her back. And then, Vanessa observed the surrounding's situation carefully from inside the car while sliding out her gun from her breast pocket.
「Let's be careful. I'll stress this to you Doctor Grant, please don't separate from me no matter what.」
「Ye, yes. I understand.」
Vanessa's hand reached the engine key and she glanced at Kousuke. Kousuke's usual light atmosphere disappeared and he looked around with serious gaze, but before long his expression turned perplexed.
「Mr. K. What's the matter? Do you see any sign of something wrong?」
「…………No, there is nothing wrong. There is none but……that's exactly why it feels wrong.」
「? What do you mean by that?」
Kousuke didn't answer right away at Vanessa's question. He stared for a while at the direction of the house. Emily's expression was tinged with shadow of anxiety seeing Kousuke who didn't seem normal. Endo shook his head and then he spoke with reservation in consideration of Emily.
「……Inside the house, there is no sign of people.」
Emily tilted her head. Her parents' cars were parked, the lighting inside the house was also turned on. Those were the proof that the family was home. Despite so, there wasn't anyone inside. A bad premonition bloated up inside her heart.
On the other hand, Vanessa raised one of her eyebrows and her expression turned dubious. The "sign" that Vanessa mentioned before was something like any traces of fighting, or if there anyone peeking at them from the cover of building somewhere, or parking cars that looked out of place with this neighborhood, she meant about "human trace" that was visible to eye like that.
Just how did he know about inside the house that was out of sight…….
「Anyway, we cannot do anything from here. Let's try to enter. Perhaps they are only going outside a bit at the neighborhood.」
「Ri, right. Surely, it's like that.」
Kousuke noticed the anxious expression of Emily and so he urged them to quickly act. And then, he hurriedly got out of the car to move in the lead. Vanessa buried her doubt inside her chest from that action of Kousuke.
They crossed the lawn that was well maintained, went up the slope that was still looking like new from the renovation so that it could be passed through using wheelchair, and they arrived in front of the entrance.
Emily sounded the chime. And then she called「Father! Mother! Grandma! This is Emily! You there?」. However, as though to prove the correctness of Kousuke's words, there wasn't any reply coming from inside the house.
Emily too out a key of the house from her pouch, thinking that the door was surely locked if there wasn't anyone home. And then, she put in the key and was about to open the door……
The door wasn't locked right from the start. Even though this was a quiet neighborhood, it was impossible for the whole family to be out leaving the home not locked. Emily's cheeks spasmed.
「Father! Mother! This is me! You aren't here!? Grandma! Where are you!?」
「Doctor Grant! Calm down!」
Emily opened the door loudly and stepped into the house without being unable to contain herself. Vanessa hurriedly stopped Emily who was like that.
However, Vanessa's warning didn't enter Emily's ears. Her heart that was thinking of her family was in disarray from the abnormal condition of the house. She desperately supported her heart that felt like it would be crushed under unease and terror while running around the house. She did that while calling at her family. She wanted to say her usual "I'm home". She wanted to hear "Welcome home".
However, whether it was in the bright living room, whether it was in the kitchen where her mother was usually standing wearing her apron, whether in the bathroom, or in the second floor's bedroom, or even in Emily's room, there wasn't anyone at all.
「It, it must be a mistake. Everyone, they must be going out for a bit right now. Tha, that's right. Surely, they are going to Mr. McBurney's place, or at Aunt Hannah's place.」
「Wait, okay. I'll call them back right away. And then, I'll properly introduce Vanessa and Kousuke to them――」
Emily was about to go out of the house with a dry smile. But Kousuke called her name with a strong tone to stop her. Emily twitched and stood still before turning around with a stiff movement like a machine that hadn't been oiled.
Emily's eyes were catching sight of Kousuke taking up a table that was put on the living room's table. It was something that Emily overlooked before. But, that item was definitely not Grant family's property.
The reason was,
「It's addressed, to me……」
Yes, the name of Vanessa Paradis was displayed on the screen of the tablet that was left in turned on state. There was no way Emily's family who didn't know about Vanessa's existence could prepare something like that.
In other words, this home was entered just a few hours ago, by someone other than Grant family members, someone who knew about Vanessa……
Emily's face went white. Her body unconsciously staggered unsteadily. Kousuki swiftly supported her.
Urged by Kousuke's gaze, Vanessa touched the tablet.
Then, the table projected the image of a room somewhere. The room didn't look particularly desolate, it was a normal room. There was a sofa with cloth cover and a wooden table. There was no one there. It seemed that the tablet was just put in place to take video.
But, a beat later, the door at the corner of the camera opened. What entered from that door were a wheelchair, and an elderly woman sitting on it. And then, a man past forty that looked somewhat weak-willed was pushing on that wheelchair. A woman about the same age was holding on the hand of that man while looking around restlessly.
「-, grandma-, father-, mother-」
Emily's voice echoed like a shout.
The people in the video didn't look like they would be harmed. However, from their expression and gesture, it seemed that were taken away without really knowing anything. However, even so it still couldn't make Emily who was watching the video to have a peace of mind. Emily looked at her kidnapped family and powerlessly fell down.
And then, the video cut off and the display became pure black. And yet when they thought that was it, slowly an image of a clock that displayed the time of a few hours from now appeared, next, a map from aerial photograph was starting to get displayed. It was a show that was like the embodiment of the bad taste of the maker.
「That place……looks like a warehouse district. They are screwing around.」
Vanessa spat out those words. Beside her, Emily was turning small by hugging her knees and head. She was getting flashback of the chain of events that should be called as her trauma, where she lost her important people.
Perhaps, she would also lose her family……that terror pushed aside the mission she was entrusted from her big brothers and sisters, and pushed her off into an abyss of terror and despair. She wanted to cry while begging, that she would listen to whatever they say, so please don't hurt my family.
A voice spoke to such Emily. That voice was soft yet harsh, warm yet sharp, that kind of voice.
「Emily, it will be fine. I don't know who did this, but there is no sign of struggle at your house, and there is no sign of violence on your family. Those guys want Emily's cooperation, so even though they can use your family to threaten you, they cannot hurt them that easily. That's because they understand, doing that will only push Emily past despair and into hostility.」
Kousuke gently took the hand of Emily who was holding her head and softly pushed it down.
「Emily knows, the pain of being kept alive and let escape alone, and having something entrusted to you. If you stop here, then, surely the same thing will happen again.」
「No, I don't want that! Something like that, again-」
Emily raised her voice with her expression distorted in tears. Kousuke nodded「Right?」, then this time she pulled up her hand and made her stood.
「――"If there is a time where you must muster your all for once in your life, then now is exactly that time. Right now, in this time, blaze your soul"」
「That's a second-hand telling from a friend. But, in the past, when I was going through crushing defeat, I was able to stand up one more time from these words. I was able to risk my whole body and soul against bunches of monster as my opponent. Thanks to that, I can be here right now.」
Emily lost her words. That was just how "heavy" the words of Kousuke just now. They reverberated at the deepest depth of her weak heart profoundly.
Kousuke's sharp eye glint that looked like a veteran warrior pierced straight through Emily.
「For Emily Grant, surely right now is exactly the time to blaze your soul. Brace your legs, grit your teeth, and then yell until your lung burst. "Who is going to do anything that you say! Don't look down on me, you shitty bastard!" Like that.」
Those were passionate words like a boiling magma. Kousuke's gleaming eyes were still piercing through Emily.
Therefore, there was only one reply Emily could make.
Her soul that almost sunk into the swamp of despair, now, it blazed up once more. Emily strongly clasped back the hand of Kousuke that was clasping her hand.
「Kousuke, will also lend me your strength right?」
「Yeah. That was what I told you. I'll become your strength. Emily's family, let's save them for sure.」
Emily's eyes shined like a starry sky. The distance between the two was so close they could feel each other's breathing. It was as though that was the current distance between their heart――
「……Should I read the mood and go outside? Or else, should I cut in saying "Don't forget me, pleazeee"? That is the question.」
It went without saying how Emily leaped back from Kousuke like a nimble cat. And then, it also went without saying how she turned small from shame when she recalled how she was super close with a boy just now.Part 4
In a time when the curtain of night had fallen completely, the darkness of night of a warehouse district at the outskirt of town was cut apart by a car's headlight. The car that was carefully advancing slow and quiet soon entered a spot that was surrounded from four directions by tall buildings.
The headlight illuminated a black car ahead.
Vanessa, Emily, and then Kousuke got down from the car with the headlight still turned on. Vanessa walked at the front with Kousuke and Emily following behind. Emily was cluthing the sleeve of Kousuke's clothes tightly.
The black car at the opposite side turned on its headlight as though to oppose their side. A person got down from the black car in front of the vigilant Vanessa. The person's figure wasn't clear due to the backlight's backlighting, but Vanessa could make it out vaguely.
And then she thought. 「Aa, so it's like that just as expected」. At the same time, she also thought「It will still be better if it's Kimberly」.
「Agent Paradis. You really have put us into much trouble. By all rights you should get a disciplinary discharge you know?」
That figure walked with clopping footsteps and showed themselves. It was a reality that if possible Vanessa wanted to deny.
Chief of national security bureau――Sharon Magdanese, it was this person who appeared.
AN: Thank you very much for reading this every time.
Thank you very much too for the thoughts, opinions, and reports about misspelling and omitted words.
The next update is planned at 6 P.M Saturday too, desu.
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