Chapter 7: The Mystery Remains Unsolved
Shinobu slowly lead his roommate through the courtyard in front of Greenwood. He was met by a large crowd of students eager to know how Mitsuru had been brought to this state. Shinobu ignored them. At this point he was more interested in getting Mitsuru into bed so he didn't have to hold him up anymore. Shun seemed to pick up on it.
"Suka-chan! Help me take Mitsuru-sempai!" Hasukawa reluctantly took one of Mitsuru's arms while Shun relieved Shinobu of the other. The two younger boys slumped under the weight and Shinobu lead them up to his room.
"You had better put him in my bed. I don't want him falling out and breaking his neck."
Shun looked worriedly up at Shinobu. "What happened to him Shinobu-sempai? Is he going to be okay?"
"He'll be fine. Hiroku must have drugged him to make him like this. Hopefully he'll sleep it off and be back to normal in the morning."
"Sempai? We were all worried about Mitsuru-sempai, so we've been trying to get information about Hiroku. It was Furusawa-sempai's idea. I'm sure he could tell you everything they've found so far. I don't know if any of the stuff will help, but we did our best."
Shinobu gave Shun a rather stunned glance. He hadn't expected an outpouring of assistance like this. He smiled slightly at the two younger students, Hasukawa having finally succeeded in lifting Mitsuru into bed. He had lost consciousness about two blocks from Greenwood and seemed unlikely to regain it before morning. "We should let him sleep. Come on, you can help me find Furusawa."
Shinobu carefully latched the window shut, not bothering with more intense security since they were on the second floor, then ushered the other two students out of the room, locking the door behind him.
Hasukawa looked at him in confusion. "You have a lock on your door?"
Shinobu nodded. "I installed it when I moved in. I always keep it locked during the day in case Nagisa decides to ransack my room. There are things here that I would rather she not get hold of." His expression became rather dark. "Putting it in turned out to be more trouble than it was worth."
Hasukawa looked even more confused. He was about to ask whether Shinobu had problems installing it, but noticed Shun's expression. The long-haired boy seemed quite insistent that he drop the matter. His expression was one that Hasukawa found all to familiar. Somehow it had to do with Hiroku, and Shun didn't want him talking about it. He couldn't fathom how a lock could be such a source of stress, but confusion was overwhelmed by anger at being presented with yet another mystery.
Hasukawa mumbled something neither of the others could hear, which was probably for the best, and the trio silently walked off to find Furusawa.
Hiroku slowly opened his eyes. All he could see was white. There was a stabbing pain in his stomach, and someone seemed to be shouting at him. After a few moments his mind began to process information, and he was able to identify the white surface as the linoleum floor of the ice cream parlor. He pulled himself out of the fetal position and rolled over to face the ceiling. Standing over him was an angry, chubby woman in a frilly apron, who seemed to be the source of the shouting. He scrambled to his feet, attempting to apologize to the woman. She quickly cut him off.
"I don't want to hear it! All I did was leave the counter to get some more Fudge Ripple, and by the time I get back the place is covered with broken glass and passed-out teenagers! I don't want you in here destroying my property ever again! Get out, and take your friends with you!"
Not in any condition to put up a fight, Hiroku mumbled another apology and turned to his friends. Biizen was closest. He had a large foot-shaped mark on his forehead, but seemed fully awake. "Bii, why are you just laying there if you're awake?"
"It was easier to just lay here and let 'Jabba' yell at you instead of me."
"Biizen! She'll hear you!"
"What's she going to do? Ban us from the store again? I'm not afraid of that apron-wearing Tofu-Beast!"
Hiroku glared at the other boy. "Just shut up and help me, okay?"
They hauled Dyozo up from where he lay slumped against the counter. His jaw was purpling impressively, and the back of his head had collided with the counter with enough force to make a sizable bump. He didn't say a word, but once they pulled him to his feet he seemed fairly steady. They all looked around quizzically, not seeing the fourth member of their party.
A plaintive moan lead the group to the southern wall of the store, about 10 feet away, where Satto sat in a miserable huddle. As Biizen drug him to his feet he announced, "I never should have agreed to help with this. The whole thing was stupid."
Hiroku thought about defending his plan, but decided against it. He would worry about that later. Right now he was more concerned with the pain in his abdomen and the fact that his mother would be furious at him if she found out he'd been in a fight. For that matter, she would be furious that he had missed dinner. So, he simply said goodbye and headed home, not caring what happened to his friends.
Hiroku knew the plan had been a complete failure, but he refused to give up hope. He was convinced he could recover. Shinobu would suffer in the end, he would make sure of that. He attempted a maniacal laugh, but the movement hurt too much, so gave up and went to find some aspirin. Revenge could wait until morning.
Mitsuru stretched sleepily and began analyzing his surroundings. Light was streaming through the window, so it had to be morning. Turning his head he saw Shinobu at the desk, so he must not have missed school. "Shinobu?"
Shinobu looked up from a large stack of papers. "Yes?"
"Why am I in your bed?"
"I didn't think Hasukawa would be able to lift you up to yours. How do you feel?"
"How much of yesterday do you remember?"
Mitsuru sighed. "Not a lot. I remember everything up to band practice, but after that it's pretty much blank." He paused for a moment and thought. "I remember having a fudge sundae,... throwing a cherry at Hiroku,... and... Did I get in a fight?"
"Of sorts. They all thought you were fast asleep and were trying to carry you out of the store. When I woke you up, you attacked them. They were all down in less than 40 seconds, if it makes you feel any better."
"A little." He gazed thoughtfully up at the bunk above him. "So, he drugged me?"
"It looks that way. Do you know when he might have given it to you?"
Mitsuru shook his head in frustration. "I don't know. I know that I was getting tired before he showed up, but I felt fine in my afternoon classes. He wasn't anywhere around at lunch, and I only see him during second period."
The room was silent for a moment as they both thought. Shinobu looked curiously at his friend. "Do you clean your trombone before practice?"
Mitsuru immediately saw where Shinobu was going with this question. He made a noise which resembled a growl. "That little rat! I come straight from class so I clean it afterwards. My band locker doesn't have a lock, so he could easily have gotten in." He slammed a fist into the mattress, venting some of his anger. "I was pretty stupid, wasn't I?"
Shinobu looked critically at his friend. "I wouldn't say stupid. You may have been naive, but not stupid. And frankly, I'm amazed that Hiroku was smart enough to think of that."
"Still, I shouldn't have trusted him. I just..."
Shinobu sighed. "You might as well let it out now. It will come out next time you get drunk anyway."
Mitsuru smiled slightly, but the expression vanished quickly. "I don't know. I knew I shouldn't trust him, but I wanted to think he had forgotten about that stupid revenge thing. I mean, it's been a year, and we haven't had any problems with him until now. I thought, after that much time, maybe he had given up on it." He gazed at the bunk above him, seeming to have forgotten that Shinobu was listening. He sighed despondently. "Maybe people really can't change."
Shinobu nodded. "Maybe they can't. Nagisa certainly hasn't." He looked intently at his roommate. He had seem Mitsuru depressed before, and it was never pleasant. Best to calm him down before he broke anything. "I know what you're thinking, and I think you're right."
Mitsuru looked over at him in horror. "You do?"
"Certainly. When you were a child you were smart, friendly, and likable. During Junior High School you had a rebellious phase, but it wore off when you came here, because you couldn't change who you really were."
Mitsuru turned towards him. "That is an excellent theory. However, you left out attractive. I'm smart, likable, and attractive."
"I didn't think you needed reminding."
"Probably right." Mitsuru cheerfully climbed out of bed and began dressing, his bad mood apparently vanished already. "So, what was worm-boy planning to do with me?"
"That," replied Shinobu, "is what I am trying to figure out. Everyone spent last night gathering information, but I still can't piece together what he's trying to accomplish."
"That's what all the paperwork is?"
"Yes. They printed out all sorts of e-mail messages and took down notes on what people told them. I've been sorting through it for hours, but I can't fathom a reason for what he's doing."
"The problem is, you aren't thinking like Hiroku. It isn't going to be a plan you would think of. Unfortunately, in order to think like him you would have to subject yourself to harmful radiation for an extended period of time."
"I don't even want to attempt thinking like Hiroku. However, trying to figure this out is becoming increasingly irritating."
"Maybe I can help. After all, I definitely have an interest in this." Shinobu began the extensive process of explaining what he knew. The task occupied them until breakfast, with no end in sight.
Shun looked eagerly up from his breakfast. Seeing Mitsuru, he immediately jumped up and hugged the taller student. Mitsuru looked down quizzically at him.
"Shun was a little worried," supplied Hasukawa.
After a moment Shun released him and they both sat at the table, where Shinobu and Hasukawa were silently eating. "Are you sure you're up to going to school today Mitsuru-sempai? You were asleep a long time."
"I feel fine." His smile twisted evilly. "Besides, I wouldn't want to miss my tutoring session with Hiroku today." He laughed wickedly, then lunged for a potato on Hasukawa's plate.
Hasukawa sighed. He has definitely recovered.