A/N: Whenever I write about X, I hear that X's theme from the anime running through my head. Anyways, have the final chapter.
---Chapter 12: Office---
"I must say, I'm a little surprised," Harukawa commented as he scanned through the papers just handed in to him by his student, "You actually finished all the work I assigned, Yako."
"Yeah," Yako mumbled, her head drooped, nearly touching the table in front of her. Her eyes were threatening to close for a couple hours any second. Said eyes had very dark bags under them. "So I pass, right?"
Harukawa straightened the papers and pushed away from the table. "We'll see." He stood and walked to the door, "Now then, I have some other business to attend to. I'll see you at the lecture tomorrow." The clicked shut behind him.
Once Yako was certain Harukawa was out of hearing distance, she said to herself, "Sure. Let's see if you remember to go." Her head slumped into the desk and her eyes were all too happy to take this chance and rest.
But the world had different plans. Kanae ran right into the room and 'patted' Yako on her back. "Wake up! Let's go celebrate or something."
Yako groaned. "Celebrate what?"
"Well, I was going to say for being vindicated, but that was already half a month ago. So how about for finishing all your work?"
"Sleep, please. I can't remember the last time I slept for more than 2 hours a day."
"So you're just going to fall asleep on this table?"
Yako gave her a thumbs up.
"Come on," Kanae pulled at Yako's brown overcoat, "You can't sleep here."
Kanae sighed. "And I was about to treat you to that udon place down the street too."
Instantly, Yako was wide awake. In a flash, she was out of her friend's grasp and walking out the door. "Come to think of it, I haven't eaten in a while too."
"…I knew that would work."
"Let's go!" Yako called, "I can hear my stomach screaming for food!"
"Fifteen bowls and still going. You're a monster," Kanae said as she watched her friend scarf down yet another bowl of the shop's Ultra-Super-Size udon.
"I've been practically starving myself," Yako protested between mouthfuls, "Only 3 meals a day and no snacks in between?"
Kanae shook her head. "I would hardly call that 'starving yourself'."
With a loud slurp, Yako finished off her bowl and stacked it onto the other finished bowls. "Another one, please!" She glanced at Kanae, "You did say you were treating me, right?"
"Sure, sure," she said resignedly, "But please put some limit on your appetite. I've only got 10,000 yen with me."
"Relax! It's just udon, I'm sure the bill wouldn't even reach 5,000." Little did she know, it had reached that some time ago.
Eight more bowls later, Yako patted her stomach. "Ah, I'm pretty full now."
Kanae looked at the bill. "And I'm broke," she muttered. After she paid, she said, "So what are you going to do now, take a nap?"
"That's good idea. A full stomach makes a person drowsy."
"Figures," Kanae surveyed the rest of the restaurant. "Not a single person staring," she commented, "Except at all those bowls. I'd say it's been hushed up pretty well."
Yako smiled faintly. "Yeah, and I'm glad it has."
"I hardly even heard any mention of your lawyer. The news was mostly fixed on the first appearance of Kaitou X. You'd think they'd want to know how the guy figured it all out."
"He said that he didn't, remember? There was something about another person tipping him off who he didn't want to reveal to the public yet." Lies in their finest forms. But hey, Neuro did say something about keeping a low profile, and she sure didn't want him raging at her for telling everyone he really did solve it.
"I wonder why."
"Anyways, I bet everyone wants him to be their lawyer now."
"I doubt it," she replied, "He's not even a real lawyer."
"What?" Kanae sat up very straight, disbelief written all over her face. "Then how the hell did those people let him become your lawyer?"
Privately, Yako bet on blackmail. "Who knows? They probably thought he was competent enough or something."
"Yako!" Kanae said, covering her face with one hand, "What were you thinking? You let someone who wasn't even a lawyer take the place of the one you had?!"
Who said I had that much say in it? "Well it worked out, didn't it?"
"It was hit or miss. You're lucky it was a hit."
"I know." Yako stood, "Thanks for the meal Kanae," she said, "I'm gonna head home."
"Want me come with you? Just in case you fall asleep or something and miss the stop?"
"No, no, no," Yako said, "I don't want to trouble you."
"It's no trouble, but if you don't want me to…" Kanae hesitated before continuing, "Yako, are you sure you want to stay in that apartment? I mean, half an hour's commute every day, and well…you know. It's not like you have to stay there, or even keep it."
"I guess you're right," she said softly, "But, I just want to stay there. I've grown up in that apartment, and well, I'd just hate to let it go."
"Whatever you say, Yako," Kanae smiled brightly at her, "But if you ever any trouble back in that area, my parents' house is still there."
Walking down the street was something Yako had dreaded a few weeks ago, but now, it seemed normal again. The stares were far in between and even then, it was out of curiosity. There wasn't any need to charge through the crowds with her head down anymore.
Now that Kanae had brought up Neuro, Yako began wondering just where he was. There had been so much work before that she was kept occupied and all other thoughts were pushed out. But now that she had time. "What do I actually know about him? His name and as far as I know, his personality." Everything else was a mystery. Not only that, but the more Yako thought about it, the stranger he seemed. His true nature, the sadistic side of him, was shown only to a few select people. Why? Only one answer could be given, and that answer could be used for any question: I don't know. He always referred to other people as 'you humans'. Wasn't he human? I don't know. He could somehow disappear without a trace and reappear from thin air. How? I don't know. Honestly, who was he? Yako immediately thought of X.
"I'm anybody and nobody, everywhere and nowhere."
"Monster," she said to herself. X was a monster, and somehow, Yako felt that Neuro was one as well.
"That's why I make red boxes, so that I can compare those insides to mine and get closer to my true self."
Well, she supposed that X should try taking apart Neuro then.
"You mean my disguise? Oh, he's been dead for a good 10 or so years."
Yako's hand twitched.
"Just get some rest; you'll probably need it for all those hearings."
"Yako, if you ever run into problems, just tell me."
He couldn't have been a fake. He couldn't have.
"The insides were boring."
"This guy walked in."
"…started screaming his head off."
But he was.
She gritted her teeth to keep a scream from escaping. Her head was bowed, making the ground receive every bit of her dark glares. People had to walk around her, and a few tried to get her to move again, but Yako ignored them. It was impossible to pay attention to them with all the thoughts running through her head. All that was possible to do was to stare at the floor. Her eyes watered, but blinking couldn't be done either.
"Of course, I had to make him be quiet."
"So I did."
Gone. Just like that. So easily.
There was a muffled, annoying buzzing sound. It wouldn't stop.
Didn't it know her head was too full already?
"I poured the insides of that guy I just killed into the fireplace and took the candle-lighter the family used to light up the birthday cake to start a fire."
The buzzing was louder, closer. They were words now, relentlessly forcing themselves into her already bursting mind.
Yako swiveled to face her tormentor.
It was Higuchi. He immediately jumped back, somewhat afraid. Her eyes were bright, too bright, and her pupils small, an illusion possibly caused by how wide her eyes were opened. "H-hey, Katsuragi."
Yako blinked several times, regaining a more normal appearance each time. "Ah! Mr. Higuchi!"
"What were you doing?" he asked warily.
"Just walking to the train station."
"Walking?" he laughed, "Katsuragi, you were standing in the middle of the sidewalk. Still are actually…" With that, he pulled her into a nearby Internet café. Both sat down at a small table where Higuchi opened up his laptop. "Now really," he said as his computer booted, "What were you doing? Was there something interesting on the floor?"
"No, nothing like that," she leaned back in her chair, "I was just…thinking."
"Remembering," she said quietly, "Although honestly, I'd rather forget."
Higuchi smiled darkly, "Oh, that kind of stuff? Yeah, I get what you mean."
For a few minutes, both were quiet. Yako sat and Higuchi typed away on his laptop.
"You bring a computer everywhere don't you?"
"It's practically my life," he said honestly.
"Really. If technology were to fail forever, I would probably be one of the first victims to be driven crazy by the lack of it."
Yako laughed. "Well, it's not like you would kill yourself, right?"
Higuchi's face grew sullen and his eyes glazed over. "Heh, maybe. But I knew people who would." He was silent for a moment before quietly adding, "And did."
Yako bit her lip, unsure what to say and a heavy silence fell again. A few minutes passed by with neither saying anything. Yako sat uncomfortably in her seat, wondering if she should just leave. A ring from Higuchi's cell phone broke the stillness.
"Hello?" he said.
There was pause as the speaker on the other side of the phone spoke. "Oh, hey Shinobu." Another pause and Higuchi straightened up. "Really?" he began to type away on his laptop, "Pfft, what else but blackmail of fear? I doubt that guy actually has any money."
"Are they talking about Neuro?" Yako wondered.
"Diamonds? He could buy me that computer he owes me! …he owes you a car? Wow, that's even—" Higuchi broke off, stared at his laptop screen, and then burst out laughing. "Ahahaha! How does he expect to attract customers with this? Haha! I-I'll call you b-back or something, hahaha!" He closed his phone and then turned his laptop towards Yako, an amused smile on his face. "Look at Neuro's new website's homepage."
Yako burst out laughing.
The page would not have looked out of place in an occult website. There was an ogre-like being standing there with a magnifying glass which had an enlarged eyes surrounded by tentacles ready to crawl out of the framing. The ogre-thing was smoking a pipe with smoke coming out shapes of footprints and question marks. Upon scrolling farther down, Yako was dismayed to see a person tied to a human shaped post. Not just any person, but her. Her smiling brightly as if she enjoyed being tied to a post. Above cyber-Yako's head was a speech-bubble reading, "Click wherever you like, and that part of my body will shatter!" Hesitantly, real-life-Yako clicked cyber-Yako's head. It burst with animated pieces of brain flying out in all directions. Yako twitched. Even when he wasn't around her, Neuro had still found ways to harass her.
"Look, there's even an address at the bottom. Guess he must've opened an office or something."
Neuro looked out of his new office's window at the street below comfortably from his chair. It really was a good deal he had gotten. The office was conveniently near the convenience store and the train station, only a five minute's walk from the latter, in fact. Plus, the entire wall facing the street was practically a panel of windows, allowing him a good view. Sure, the furniture was tasteless and he had found countless packages of drugs in a nearby room (which he had promptly disposed of), but the pros outweighed the cons. It was a good deal. He had paid nothing. The former (shady) occupants had…kindly given him the room.
The door opened. Neuro put his nice expression on and turned to face the guest. It was Yako. Neuro was a bit surprised, but after moment, his eyes narrowed and a taunting smile appeared to replace his sickeningly sweet one. "Well, well, well, you came after all."
"H-hey," she stammered.
Neuro turned his chair to face the window again. "What did you come for?"
"Well, I never really paid you or anything for solving my case," she said, reaching into her red jacket to search for something, "So I came to pay you back…and well, thank you." Smile.
"Oh?" He was amused.
"Yeah!" She walked until she was within an arm's length of him and continued to fumble in her pockets and bag for something. "Ah!" she brightened as she found what she was looking for, "Here!"
A twelve inch knife was pulled out. As she drove it towards Neuro, the silver metal glinted for just an instant.
Neuro twisted and grabbed her wrist, stopping the knife just a hair's breathe away from his forehead. "How disappointing," he said, "Only a knife?"
"Aww, how'd you catch me this time?" it said playfully, hair and skin already fading back into a deathly pale color.
"You can't hide you killing intent. The real Katsuragi Yako wouldn't have it. If anything, I always get the feeling she's hungry."
It clicked its tongue. "Man, now that I got caught once, I'm getting caught all the time."
"Oh no, believe me," Neuro snatched the knife and released X, "If it had been an average person trying to catch you, it'd be nearly impossible. You're cells' arrangement," with a flick of his wrist, the knife was twisted into a spiral, "Can be changed and look as though it had always been that way." He closed his hand around the knife, when he opened his palms, only silver dust slipped out. "This knife was a bad quality too. Were you honestly planning to kill me with this?"
"Is it bad? Ai said that it was pretty good. Ah well, I failed this time, I guess. But tell me," it smiled a deranged smile, showing its teeth, "You're not human, are you?"
It clapped. Clapped and jumped around the office. "Yes! You are a fellow it after all!" it said, overjoyed, "It's such a shame I couldn't kill you this time."
Neuro's mouth twitched upward. "This time? You have other attempts planned?"
"Of course!" it nodded vigorously, "This is the first time I've actually met a confirmed it, I can't just not see your insides!" X paced back and forth excitedly, "How about a gun? Can a gun kill you?"
"Not right now."
"A chainsaw? Maybe if I stab you in the heart with a wooden stake or something!"
"I already said a knife would do nothing, why try to kill me with a piece of wood?"
"Ooh, ooh! I could try to blow you up! Like BOOM!" it made an explosive gesture with its arms.
"You do realize it might be easier for you to kill me if you didn't tell me how you're going to kill me?"
"Right, right," it stopped its pacing in front of the windows and leaned back on the sill, "It's sad that this time was a failure, but that's alright. Just knowing that you exist is enough for now." X flicked its wrists at the glass, slicing it neatly wherever it came in contact its hands, "I suppose I'll have to quit for now, but don't worry," as the glass shards fell, it followed them, changing its form to a he, "I'll have a better plan next time."
Neuro cast a brief glance at the 'man' who was now walking across the intersection. Quite a few people were staring as that 'man' had just technically fallen from a window on the third floor. Neuro snickered. Him? Killed? That was quite impossible.
He'd have to be increasingly careful as time went on.
X's appearance had reminded him of another thing; Yako. He decided that he would go see her. It was about time for her to pay her dues.
That and he was bored. She had the funniest expressions when having damage inflicted upon her.
Yako had looked over the site with Higuchi for about a half-hour more before finally taking a train home. She had stayed that long partially because she was interested and very confused at the title of the site, and partially because he was nice enough to pay for all the pastries she ate during that stretch of time. Yako would've stayed longer, but then Higuchi began to check his stocks. It was normal at first, but slowly, a change took place. Higuchi's friendly smile was replaced a maniacal grin and the whites of his eyes got bigger as his pupils shrank. Add to that the fact that his pupils were scanning the pages so fast they went back and forth like pinballs in his eyes and his scratching (which got faster and faster), it was more than easy for her to decide that it was time for her to leave.
The train moved speedily towards its destination. Outside, trees and buildings went by in blur. So fast in fact, that Yako couldn't differentiate between a bare tree and a lamppost. She sat alone. Everyone else either sat with a group of two to three or alone as well.
She had been feeling somewhat strange ever since the case was resolved. It wasn't only X. True, it haunted her whenever she allowed her mind to wander, but even with that, 'ordinary' had returned. Sort of. Ordinary had changed. Or maybe ordinary hadn't changed, not really. Maybe only its home had. You see, 'out of ordinary' had occupied ordinary's home while it was away (ordinary had been chased out by the trauma twins). Out of ordinary liked things like things like confusion, excitement and apprehension for decorations and had hung them all around ordinary's home. At the same time, it had taken down ordinary's decorations like normal and content. But then out of ordinary left, taking along with it most of its decorations. A problem remained. It had still left behind some decorations that were stubbornly stuck. Ordinary immediately put back up its decorations and tried to cover the others, but it didn't work. Those decorations stayed and they were so flashy that they could call more attention to themselves even though there were more of ordinary's decorations. All at once, ordinary was plain. Boring. Bland. Empty.
Sure, ordinary was still welcomed, but it was now out of place in its own home. It had returned only to find that things had changed.
The feelings of fear and also excitement had filled Yako during the case. Now there was no reason for them to be felt. Content took up space, but fear took up more.
Yako almost missed Neuro for the strangeness he had brought. Had had caused fear alright, but at least it was better than sadness. Sadness takes up space too, just as much as fear does, except sadness is an emptier sort of feeling. Between sadness and fear, fear saves your life more often than sadness. And fear caused excitement, anticipation. Yako was bored.
The train stopped at the station to let the people who rode it off. It then went surely on its way down the tracks.
For dinner, Yako was going to eat that huge piece of fish she bought yesterday. She had had to fight for it with some middle-aged, homeless looking man who apparently loved fish. When she had finally gotten the fish, the man had walked sulkily way. The man took his poor mood out on another homeless man. He said (sorely), "Oh yeah? Well my cardboard house is bigger than yours!"
That fish was going to taste delicious with butter with soy sauce; the ultimate combination.
Yako opened the door to her apartment and walked in.
A vase nearly slammed in her face.
She had almost missed him. Almost.
"Did I ever get in?" he completed, "Well, I do recall I had asked you several times to change your lock, and you still had not. Picking that thing isn't exactly hard."
"My vase!" Yako wailed, crouching to pick up the pieces, "I demand for you to repay me!"
"Actually, that's the reason I came today," Neuro replied.
"You wanted to pay me back?" she shook her head, "Impossible."
"No, I meant for you to pay me for my services."
"How much money do you want?" she asked hesitantly.
"Oh, I'm not asking for money," he said chipperly, "My dear, dear, teacher."
Yako dropped all the pieces she had collected. "T-teacher?"
"Indeed. The press is getting very annoying. They all want to know how I found out the identity of X. And for the humble me," Yako snorted, and ended up with her head twisted around, "who wants to keep a low profile, I don't want them to think that I was actually the one who solved it. So you," he lifted Yako off the floor and twisted her to face him, "Will be my cover and take all the publicity and credit for this case and every other case I will solve."
"Don't I get a say in this?" Not that she didn't already know the answer.
"No. There's another choice, but you won't like it."
"Why not just ask Higuchi or Godai?"
"They each have their own things I need for them to do, but you're conveniently at hand. So," he threw Yako up in the air, "Congratulations! You're now a detective." He didn't bother catching her.
From her place on the floor, with her face in it, Yako groaned. Now the title that stretched across the top of his website made sense.
Katsuragi Yako's Demon World Detective Office.
A/N: And there it goes. Done. So, thank you to everyone whose ever reviewed, read, or even clicked the link to this story because really, I'm glad that someone out there looked at this. I'll probably go through with Ten Little Humanoids once I figure out the finer details of it.