There were few truths to be found in the world. Ironically, this in of itself was one of those rare truths. What was another one of these truths?
Naoto turned her gaze to the approaching figure, raising her brow when their eyes met. The figure had an air of familiarity around him, and it didn't take long for the sleuth to recall the specifics. The silver hair was a clear indicator, even if she had only spared the individual a glance during their first meeting. The individual in question was a young male, probably a second or third year student at one of the local high schools. She remembered seeing him was at the Tatsumi Textile shop exactly three days prior.
"Yes? Is there something you need?" Her tone was not aggressive, but it was blunt. She was not one to mince words. Her candid tone seem to catch the young man off guard, if only for a moment.
"I- Yes, actually. You spoke to Kanji Tatsumi recently, didn't you?" His words had a polite, formal tone to them, every word enunciated with careful wording after the minor hesitation. "I was wondering if I could ask you about him?"
Naoto's stare nearly betrayed her, but she kept it even and unflinching as her mind created questions and possible answers. This individual obviously has some sort of ulterior motive. He could be benign. Could be a detriment to my own endeavors. Hm. To acquire knowledge, sometimes it must be given, she thought, her mind racing in the mere moments before she spoke.
"Very well, but in return, I'd like you to answer a question of my own."
"Oh?" The silver haired boy seemed cautious, but his lips turned into a smile as he nodded. "Sounds fair. I wanted to know if you noticed anything interesting about Kanji when you spoke to him outside the shop."
Not trying to hide the fact that we've already met or that he knows I spoke to Tatsumi already Hm. I doubt it was mere coincidence he was there... "In return, I wish to know why you are so curious about Kanji Tatsumi."
The smile on his face never left. It was there as he spoke, it was there when he finished. "Fair enough. I'll answer yours first. I'm a transfer student, new to this town, you see."
"Oh?" He seems confident. He obviously thinks this answer will justify his question.
"I saw Kanji on the news a few days ago. My uncle is an officer, he told me about Kanji's past, about how he used to beat guys up and is part of a gang or something. I wanted to know if the rumors were true. Is he really as tough and rude as it says on TV?"
The young sleuth's controlled gaze turned into a scrutinizing stare as she closely inspected the silverette, noticing and jotting down mental notes as he spoke. His answer was simple, logical, in a sense, and he stated it in a calm, orderly manner. Despite her stare, the strange boy continued to smile politely. The fact that he wasn't nervous or anxious just confirmed Naoto's suspicions. He was hiding something.
"Hm. I see. When I spoke to Tatsumi, I did notice something out of the ordinary in regards to his character. It was something I felt when I was with him." She caught the slight twitch his brow gave. Discomfort? Interest, perhaps? "I stated outright that he seemed to be an odd person. His expression changed dramatically. I found the sudden change perplexing."
It sounded like he spoke simply to show he was still listening, rather than offering any sort of input. Naoto continued. "I believe his actions were somewhat forced, even unnatural to himself. I felt it throughout my time with him. He seemed constantly off and anxious. He may have some sort of complex or personal issue, though I have no proof of this."
"I see," he repeated. "Thank you, Shirogane-sama. Your help has been most appreciated," he remarked, nodding his head before turning away. It only took a moment for Naoto to realize the full impact of what he had said.
He knew my name... Hm. I'll have to watch out for him. If he reappears in regards to the case again, further investigation will be necessary. Naoto's mind clocked away, examining possibilities and theories as she went her own separate way. She failed to catch the silver eyes watching her walk away.
Naoto Shirogane despised Yu Narakami.
The Shirogane Estate was too far to reasonably stay at while investigating the case in Inaba, thus Naoto was forced to take care of herself. This was not a difficult challenge for the Detective Prince, nor was it something she was unaccustomed to. She enjoyed the quiet sanctum of her own apartment room, and she could follow instructions and cook quick, simple meals for herself without problem.
All the same, going to Junes was still an annoying chore that she found herself doing. Naoto walked through the aisle with a simple list in hand, examining the shelved items. She didn't need much, just simple ingredients. She heard footsteps behind her, but didn't think anything of it at the time. This was a grocery store after all, other customers were to be expected.
The voice caught her attention, tugging on a memory as she turned to face him. She found a familiar, silver haired boy standing directly behind her. The smile on his face, previously polite and casual, now had several nuance differences to it than her acute vision picked up on. If she had to reclassify the smile, she would go as far as to call it arrogant, perhaps even conceited.
"You... You were the one asking about Kanji Tatsumi, correct?" Her voice was calm and controlled, maintaining a strict tone to it.
"I am," he replied. In contrast, his voice was playful, yet smooth, without a single stumble or a second of hesitation. His smirk remained on his face, but from what he saw, she seemed almost disinterested with him. She almost didn't catch the twinkle of his predatory grin.
"May I help you?"
"Yes, actually. I'm looking for something sweet to eat."
"I believe the candy is closer to the cashiers..."
"You misunderstand, Naoto Shirogane," he sang, enunciating every syllable in her name. His eyes glistened in the light and for a moment, just a moment, she found himself captivated by the silver pearls. It was all he needed as his fingers slithered under face, around her chin, and gently lifted her up to face him. "I would like your company. There is nothing sweeter than that."
The Detective Prince found herself in an unfamiliar battlefield. True, she was no stranger to the flighty fascinations of young, dim-witted girls, even the unwanted attention of male suitors, but this? The spark in those metallic eyes caught her, almost hypnotized her. A shamefully bright blush formed on her face, for only a moment, before she recomposed herself. She slapped at his hand, forcing it away and pulling back from the taller boy.
"I-I ask that you refrain from such childish coquetry. I have absolutely zero interest in whatever 'act' you must be selling."
His smirk wavered, and he seemed bemused by her retort. He crossed his arms in front of her, grinning once more as he spoke. "Act? What act, my dear Detective Prince?"
The way he says my title... such arrogance! Such self-righteousness! Naoto had realized something was off about the silverette since their first encounter, but now? Now he revealed his true colors: egotistic philanderer.
"Your act of superiority and your blatant regard for social etiquette is insufferable," she sighed. "Please, refrain from speaking with others in such a way." She turned on her heel, basket in hand, and began pacing towards the cashiers. She could hear his echoing footsteps following after hers. "I will not-"
"I like you."
The compliment only struck a long-harboring nerve of Naoto's. She stopped in her tracks and turned her head, her steel-blue eyes glaring daggers at the boy. "You do not know me, thus, you cannot say you like me. You are merely admitting to liking the 'me' that you've fabricated within your own perverted imagination. Likewise, I have absolutely zero information as to who you are. As such, I do not like you, though I will admit, from what little I have seen, I can tell you that I am beginning to detest you."
Without another word, she left him behind. If she had spared him a glance, she would have seen his stunned face. He was floored by her verbal attack, it seemed. If her glance had lingered, she would have seen his arrogance return as his lips curved. "Ooh. A challenge."
Naoto had exited the store with her purchased goods in hand. Her every step was harder, heavier than it should have been, but the weight of embarrassment and irritation weighed them down. She hadn't walked ten paces out before she heard his footsteps racing behind hers. "Naoto!"
"You have absolutely no right to refer to me in such a manner," she sighed. Were her hands free, she would be rubbing the bridge of her nose in exasperation. "Please, leave me alone. I do not have time for anymore of your inane flirtations."
"Inane?" He laughed at the insult, brushing it off with practiced grace and style as he walked beside her. "You have a wonderful way with words, dear detective."
The dark haired girl rolled her eyes at him, disregarding the silverette and attempting to walk ahead of him. He proved himself easily capable of keeping up with her.
"My name is Yu Narukami."
"Congratulations. Please, leave me alone."
"You said you didn't know me. Now you do."
"I know a name, and a person, even one as shallow as you are, I imagine, is more than a name."
"Thank you for the compliment, my dear," chuckled Yu. Naoto's face had a tinge of red to it, but she refused to give it another thought. She walked in silence as Yu accompanied her. "You said that I do not know you? Well, from what I've seen of you on TV and online, I'd say you are an intelligent, if young, detective, with beautiful, cerulean locks and the most amazing cobalt eyes I have ever been graced by."
She kept walking, and when she heard only her own steps, she was left thankful, but confused. His voice still sang into her ears, as arrogant as it ever was. "I hope we see each other again, my Navy Sweet. I can't wait for us to learn more about each other."
She stopped walking, pausing to consider another verbal attack towards the silver haired philanderer. The bluette just sighed and kept walking, leaving Yu Narukami behind her without another thought.
When she arrived home, she acted as she normally did. She stored most of the food away, leaving out only what she needed. She placed the meal inside the microwave and sat down as the machine hummed and beeped. Normally, her mind would be on her latest case and the details she had so far acquired.
Instead, something else polluted and sullied her thoughts.
"Yu Narukami." She spoke the name for the first time, and a sense of vexation immediately followed.
"I hope we see each other again, my Navy Sweet. I can't wait for us to learn more about each other."
Despite the boy's imprudent actions, she found herself curious. He lacked tact and proper manners, but there was something about him that caused her intuition to call out to her. Perhaps it was his questioning about the Tatsumi case. Perhaps it was the way he almost seemed to hypnotize her with his voice and the light in his eyes. Perhaps it was merely a question of how someone like him could think so highly of himself...
Regardless, she had the unfortunate feeling in her gut that she'd see him again over the course of her stay.
"Arrogant louse," she sighed.
4/24/16 - This was a very different story when I first started. Today, I did some more major re-editting in hopes to make this chapter better fit with the tone of the story. New opening, and new ending, with some changes to the center too. I'll be re-editting a lot of older chapters to make a better, more coherent story. Onward to the next chapter!