Disclaimer: I do not own Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro or it's associated characters.
Animeverse, with some manga facts meshed in. Kanae's background was author's liberty. I saw the anime recently, and Kanae is present in the first half episodes, and I wondered: what does Kanae see?
Title: Tomodachi (Friend)
Summary: The mystery that is Yako. Kanae is an observer, she doesn't solve mysteries but she does notice things. Kanae on Yako and Neuro.
Kanae wasn't stupid; in fact her school was known to only take the best and brightest of the region. The advancement tests were referred to as the "Hospital Patient Factory" – the breadth of range and difficulty were so strenuous that students regularly broke under the pressure of endless studying and were sent to the hospital.
Only Yako would choose such a school to attend simply because of the cafeteria food. She didn't seem to care about her grades, as long as she managed to pass. Unlike the other students who all tried to get ahead of each other, with any means possible. Kanae had liked that about her, even when she had been shocked about how much Yako could eat, she had remained her friend because out of everyone around them, Yako was the one with no pretenses and hidden motives about using her for studying. Yako simply wanted someone to shop with, eat with, go to see movies and hang out with.
Kanae had missed that, as the top student in her local middle school she had experienced bouts of envy and jealously from other students, and though she had gotten attention from the boys because of her looks, that only made it that much harder to fit in with the girls. In the end, she had a very bitter and lonely middle school life.
That was why she had chosen this high school, even though it had a highly advanced curriculum and farther than some of the other local high schools, at least here she knew everyone would be of the same intellectual level. Girls wouldn't approach her, pretend to be friendly, simply to use to try and get closer to the boy of their choice or to boost their marks. Here, if someone approached her and wanted to use to her to boost their marks, at least she would know and expect it, and it would stop being such a betrayal every time. She would stop deluding herself with the hopeless dream of having real friends.
Then Yako had shown up. Yako had saved her, even if the piggish girl didn't know.
Kanae was astounded by the amount the tiny girl could fit into her body, but when Kanae stated such, Yako had only laughed and said it was normal for her. Yako never asked her for anything other than the occasional tutoring and a loan for food, Yako didn't request anything of her than her company. If Yako felt she could pass the test with her current skills, Yako stopped asking. Instead the little girl would smile and invite her to another restaurant or street stall with the latest treat. Her amber eyes would sparkle at the thought of new delicious food, and her face lit up at the prospect of going to a good buffet.
That was all there was to her, there were no insinuations and sly remarks, no dubious motives or concealed intentions. Yako was a cheerful, happy girl – sliding through life with a bright smile and easy laugh.
Then it all changed when Yako's father died.
The smile was gone and the light in her eyes died. Yako had been a horrible sight to see, floating through the days like a lifeless doll, eating only enough to push off starvation. She attended school to stare blankly at the text books, wandered the streets with unseeing eyes, until finally Yako's mother announced they were moving, to get away from the scene of the murder and hoping the change in surroundings would bring Yako out of it.
It did. Yako snapped out of the daze but everyone knew she was forcing herself, the cheerful girl's smile was strained and pasted on; it wasn't real like it had been. She forced herself to be merry and cheerful so others would stop worrying over her but Kanae watched as her friend ate and ate and ate. The amount she ate almost doubled. Instead of three servings at the okonomiyaki store, it was now five. Instead of two bowls of rice at the cafeteria, it was now six. Instead of triple scoops, it was now a seven-scoops waffle cone. Yako ate and ate and ate, as if she never wanted the warmth entering her body to end. Kanae knew what it was; food was well known as a means of comfort. And as much as it pained her to see her friend like that, there had been nothing she could do. Whenever she brought it up, Yako would laugh it off and changed the subject. If Kanae persisted, Yako would find an excuse to leave or avoid her for the next while.
She learned to offer nonchalantly to be there for Yako if she ever needed to talk, but did not push. There was nothing Kanae could do, she was helpless. It only got worse when Yako's mother went overseas for her job. She asked Kanae to look after Yako while she was gone, but Kanae had no clue what to do except make sure Yako went to school every day and invited her out to new restaurants.
Then one day, the Assistant showed up. That was how Kanae referred to him as, it was more a title than an actual meaning. Yako told her one day out of the blue she was starting as a Private Investigator, complete with her own Assistant. As much as he insisted on playing as an eager naive novice, he was too tall, intriguing, and confident to be someone's follower. His smile was always tinged with a hunger Kanae didn't understand and his eyes were dark with mysteries.
Yako got a little better. The amount of food didn't decrease and the look in her eyes was still painful to see sometimes, but there was always something on her mind now, always something she had to do, jobs she was hired for, mysteries to solve. Yako stopped dwelling on her grief in places others couldn't see.
When asked about him Yako's laugh was always a bit nervous or dry. She spoke about him with exasperation and sarcasm, and whenever she picked up the phone with a text or call from him, her eyes were a mix of shock, trepidation, annoyance, fear and hesitance. But she never waited long to run to his side.
Rather than being the subordinate, he seemed to have Yako at his beck and call. Although Kanae was thankful to him for helping Yako when she couldn't, he still made her uneasy.
Ever since he showed up Yako rapidly became famous, or infamous. The piggish little girl was always running around the city on the latest crimes, Yako never spoke to her about it or never made it a big deal, but Yako now ran with policemen, detectives, and serious criminals. Yako never took on the easy cases, whenever Kanae read about her in the news, which was a bit too often for a newly established agency, Yako was being criticized or thanked for solving a crime that impacted people around the country or the world.
Yako never let the fame to her; she didn't become bloated with ego or self-importance. Instead she was still desperately seeking time to spend with Kanae, latching onto her with a steel grip with tears in her eyes, thanking the heavens she would be spending time with someone normal. Though Kanae had worried quite a bit, Yako also never let the pressure and horror of the crimes affect her either, not visibly. Her smile was a bit wry and her gaze more mature, but she never broke down and cried, never withdrew into herself like before.
The Assistant would pop out of nowhere or call unexpectedly whenever he felt like it, doing whatever pleased him: gripping the top of Yako's head, fingers reaching around Yako's skull and squeezing her cheeks, a fist in the back of Yako's collar and shirt, palms settling heavily on Yako's shoulders, face leaning down to almost breathe into Yako's ears. Pulling Yako along, pushing Yako to wherever he wanted to be, throwing Yako into the Rookie cop, yanking Yako backwards, dragging Yako away from food, slapping a hand over Yako's eyes, leaning onto Yako casually like a standing stool.
Kanae had seen how he acted on scene and heard about his outrageous behavior through Yako's frustrated rants. Kanae saw.
Yako hadn't made many new friends or gotten to know a lot of people outside of the ones she needed to meet to solve a case. Kanae's own time with Yako had been shortened and often their outings were interrupted by a call from the Assistant. If anyone wanted to see Yako, they had to go to the office, and then they had first to pass through the Assistant. It was like Yako wasn't allowed to associate with anyone or spend time doing anything that wasn't approved by him.
The Assistant stood a half-step behind Yako, face titled, broad shoulders and lean form at angle, a taunting and satisfied half-smile, hypnotic green eyes absorbing everything about their surroundings, not missing a single detail, and then drilling into the slim back of Yako's figure.
In a country where casual touching was considered rude, name honorifics to be religiously followed, personal space respected, and correct distance to be venerated, he called her name without any honorifics, showed up wherever she went, touched her however he wanted to, and trailing eyes swallowed Yako whole. Though the thick headed girl had no clue, it was like the Assistant was staking a claim, declaring his territory, announcing to the world: this is mine.
Kanae noticed, and she was pretty sure that police investigator Yako talked about, Sasazuka-san, saw it as well. Yako was getting better at seeing though people and understanding the unspoken language, but the dense girl had a blind spot when it came to the Assistant and herself. Unsurprising, most people were blind when it came to speculating on their own immediate world.
Kanae wouldn't intrude, because she couldn't. There were a million questions on the connection between Yako and the mysterious Assistant, but it was a secret that the two of them protected with no room for other people to intrude in upon.
But Kanae wondered; how long the current status quo would last.
. : building a mystery : .