Returnee 67

Chapter 67 Inescapable Fate

Edited by: Kanaa-senpai

 I caught sight of Kusunoki Seiichiro, and in that moment, I clenched my teeth tightly. My words from before, hinting at Kusunoki Seiichiro drawing attention from the police, seemed to have borne no fruit, leaving me with a sense of realization.

 Of course, I never truly believed Yasunaga would entirely withdraw just with that. When requested by a prefectural assembly member, refusing outright despite the risks posed a difficult choice.

 However, it’s not hard to imagine that Kusunoki Seiichiro’s investigation into the Satou Yuuki incident, which seems to have become a nuisance for the Satou couple, would prompt some action. There should have been some credibility to my warning about the possibility of police scrutiny. At the very least, back then, Yasunaga had judged it unwise to leave this matter entirely to Akuzawa.

 Yet, here we are now, despite my assumption that Yasunaga, if handling it, wouldn’t resort to such reckless behavior. Well, I do hold some responsibility for being complacent, thinking Yasunaga wouldn’t go to such extremes.

 In any case, it’s safe to assume that Kusunoki Seiichiro, through Yasunaga, has asked Akuzawa for a favor regarding the persistent investigation into the Satou couple.

 Could it be?

 Is it possible that my interference in Akuzawa’s business during the Kyouka incident is affecting things now?

 It’s not unthinkable.

 When Kyouka’s situation arose, Yasunaga pulled strings for me, persuading Akuzawa to back off. In return, he might now expect me to handle a different job for him.

 As I pondered these possibilities, Akuzawa, casting a fleeting glance my way as he passed by, discreetly disappeared into the back with Kusunoki Seiichiro.

 ――But let’s consider.

 What’s crucial for me isn’t the Satou couple’s issue, but Kyouka’s safety. So, at the expense of Sayaka, should I use this situation to put Akuzawa behind bars?

 Whether through blackmail or capturing evidence of Akuzawa engaging in criminal activities, if I anonymously deliver that footage to the police, it might prompt an investigation.

 If I do that, Akuzawa should have a criminal record and won’t be able to avoid a prison sentence. And while he’s locked up, Akuzawa won’t be able to lay a finger on Kyouka, so it’s a relief for me. In the end, the Satou couple will be resented, but as long as suspicion doesn’t fall on me or Kyouka, it’s fine.

 However, before that, I need to confirm what Akuzawa plans to do to the Satou couple. Depending on that, it might become difficult to push for his arrest.

 ”Sayaka-san. I have a little favor to ask, is that okay?”

 Pretending to be a perverted old man hitting on a woman he’s interested in, I leaned closer to Sayaka’s shoulder and whispered to her secretly.

 ”Yes, what is it?”

 ”The reason why Seiichiro Kusunoki came to this shop to talk about something related to Satou Yuuki-kun. I want you to sit at Seiichiro Kusunoki’s table and subtly eavesdrop on their conversation.”

 ”Understood. Leave it to me.”

 ”That being said, you don’t have to go out of your way to start a conversation. Akuzawa-san wouldn’t leak detailed information in a place like this, so even if you can’t grasp any information, it’s all right.”

 ”I’m sorry. The other day, it was all because I said something unnecessary.”

 ”No, I intend to somehow help the Satou’s couple, but temporarily helping might only lead to resentment from Akuzawa-san.”

 ”I see, for now, I plan to suggest forgetting about the unfortunate accident and moving to a different place or something.”

 ”It’d be good to heed that advice straightforwardly, but… after all, it’s about the child’s fatal accident that I’m deeply concerned about. Well, telling you, Sayaka-san, won’t change anything. Well then, Sayaka-san, please handle it in that way.”

 ”Yes, I understand.”

 Upon hearing my words, a little gray aura of [Anguis]’ briefly emerged in Sayaka’s expression.

 However, Sayaka swiftly regained composure and addressed me in a voice audible to those around us.

 ”Masuda-san. May I step away from the table for a moment? I’d like to extend my greetings to Kusunoki Seiichiro-sensei.”

 ”Ah, please feel free. In fact, I was just considering leaving, so it’s perfectly fine.”

 ”I see. I sincerely apologize. I’ll take my leave for tonight, but please do come again.”

 With those words, Sayaka stood up and made her way toward Akuzawa and the others.

 After seeing her off, I promptly left the cabaret club “L’OASI” and hurried to a nearby family restaurant.

 While I had entrusted Sayaka with gathering information, I had also considered the possibility of tailing Akuzawa myself if no useful information was obtained.

 However, waiting for Akuzawa to make a move like this was challenging. Still, going home quietly tonight was also an option. Moreover, if he made a move during the day, dealing with it would be tough for me as a student.

 Ideally, if only I knew when Akuzawa would act.

 No, it’s possible that it’s a problem from before. It’s conceivable that Akuzawa has already done something to the Satou couple. It’s been over a week since Kyouka was helped.

 It wouldn’t be strange if things have progressed during that time. And from the position of being a politician, Kusunoki Seiichiro would want to avoid contacting the anti-social forces like Akuzawa multiple times. In that case, is it reasonable to think that Kusunoki Seiichiro appeared this time for a post-report?

 If that’s the case, it would be better to go and hear the story from the Satou couple, but for now, I’m waiting for contact from Sayaka.

 While sipping coffee alone, my smartphone started ringing. It was an incoming call from Sayaka.

 ’Master, it’s Sayaka. Is it okay to talk on the phone right now?’

 ”Yes, it’s fine. I went to a nearby family restaurant right after that. Sayaka, is that location okay for you?”

 ’Yes. I’m outside the back entrance now. It seems like there’s no one around, so I don’t think anyone will overhear us.’

 Feeling relieved after hearing all that, I change my tone to the one I use when it’s just the two of us.

 ”I see. So, what happened?”

 ’Just a moment ago, Akuzawa-san and Kusunoki-sensei left. I’m sorry, I couldn’t get many details, but there’s something that bothers me a bit.’

 ”Something bothering you? What could it be?”

 ’Well, Akuzawa-san told Kusunoki-sensei that all the problems were resolved, so everything should be fine now. Also, although he didn’t mention any names, it seems like there was an incident involving a woman being taken to someone’s home.’

 It seems it’s too late after all. I didn’t expect them to resort to rough tactics like kidnapping, but maybe I was a bit too optimistic?

 ”A woman, huh? It’s probably Satou Yuuki’s mother.”

 ’Most likely. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to call the person in question and find out?’

 ”No, it’s better to hold off on that. If Akuzawa finds out about the relationship between Sayaka and the Satou couple, it could be problematic. Depending on the situation, it might even turn violent. But if that happens, wouldn’t her husband be the one causing a commotion?”

 ’Well… I heard from the wife on the phone the other day that she’s currently separated from her husband. It seems like they’ve been arguing frequently about Yuuki-kun’s accident, and their relationship hasn’t been going well.’

 ”I see. Perhaps her husband wants to forget everything already. Either way, Sayaka should probably avoid contacting them.”

 I felt the same way when I met the Satou couple at the hospital. While the father was making efforts to recover from the shock of their child’s death, I had the impression that the mother was still dragging it along.

 ’Understood. I will do as you say. However, if there is any danger to Master, you can forget about this conversation.’

 ”I am being pursued by the cult. I am experienced in handling dangerous situations. There’s no need to worry.”

 ’I-I understand. In that case, what should I do?’

 ”No, it’s already enough. I will take care of it somehow. Sayaka should pretend she knows nothing and go back to work.”

 ’I’m sorry. It’s a matter that has nothing to do with Master, yet I’m leaving everything to you.’

 ”Don’t worry. However, if Satou’s wife is really being taken to Akuzawa’s house, I can’t guarantee her safety.”

 ’I’ve already given up halfway on that. I’ve heard the bad rumors about Akuzawa-san as well.’

 ”Even so, we still don’t know the situation and how to handle it. We’ll have to investigate the state of Akuzawa’s house first.”

 ’Please take care of yourself, Master.’

 ”Yeah, I’ll contact you again later.”

 After saying that, I hung up the call.

 I quickly settled the bill and left the family restaurant.

 Using my abilities, I searched for Akuzawa’s location and found no sign of him moving by car. If he were moving by car, the direction would have shifted in a short time unless he was either moving straight away from me or straight towards me.

 That means if I start chasing him now, I should be able to catch up in time.

 As soon as I left the family restaurant, I entered the gap between buildings and took out the Mirage Coat from the Interdimensional storage, disappearing from sight.

 I’ve confirmed that the digital camera is inside the Interdimensional storage, and for breaking in, using the thief’s master key should do the trick. All that’s left is to capture a scene at Akuzawa’s house that could serve as evidence of a crime. However, that’s the part I don’t know.

 Akuzawa is skilled in persuasion. While pretending to offer advice, if all he did was bring someone home and engage in consensual activities, it can’t be definitively called a crime. On the other hand, regarding the mother, there seems to have been a dispute over Satou Yuuki’s accident, and she’s currently separated from her husband.

 In such a situation, if he were to say he could help and she fell for it, it wouldn’t be surprising. With the child’s accident and the marital discord, there should be plenty of opportunities to take advantage of a mentally distressed woman.

 Even as I considered such things, I hurried towards the direction where I could sense Akuzawa’s presence.

* * *

 In the viewfinder of the digital camera I’m holding, there was an image of a naked woman handcuffed. There were faint marks on her cheeks, as if she had been hit slightly.

 And right next to that, there was Akuzawa pouring a transparent liquid into a small bowl on the table.

 ”Let’s make you feel good right now. Hey, ma’am.”

 ”A-Akuzawa-san, please stop!”

 ”Huh? You were having a blast with mine during the day, weren’t you? Even screamed that you couldn’t get away from my thing anymore.”

 ”T-that’s because of some weird drug making my head spin…”

 ”It felt good enough for your head to go crazy, huh? To forget the unpleasant things. Since that’s what you wished for, I just shared a drug that helps you forget the bad stuff, that’s all.”

 ”No! I won’t talk to the police, so release me from here already!”

 ”What are you going to tell the police? This is all part of the play. Even the moment you willingly put on the handcuffs is perfectly captured on camera. How about it? Isn’t it about time you wanted this my thing to explore your v**ina thoroughly?”

 ”Gulp… W-well, that’s…”

 The scenery is familiar to me.

 The scene was almost identical, except for the fact that it was a woman, not Kyouka, who stood there.

 There is no doubt that I changed Kyouka’s fate.

 But now, at this moment, I finally realize that it didn’t end there.

 As I think about it, certain things come to mind.

 The fact that Shiori became the target of Sakaki and the others instead of Ayano.

 Or perhaps, even the fact that Satou Yuuki had an accident, could it be related to the fact that I saved Kaede?

 As the pieces come together, there is no doubt that everything is connected.

 Even if I manage to change the fate of someone I know, it only spreads that fate to another person.

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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.

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