(Michiru, why aren’t you picking up the phone?)
Honoka was in the taxi racing towards the Mikados’ resort, calling Michiru over and over again. She sent a few messages, but never got any replies.
She placed the phone by her ear, her gut almost ripped apart. Seated beside her was an uneasy looking Yū
Koremitsu called regarding Michiru in the evening, and then, Yū anxiously called.
That was when Honoka learned of Shioriko being abducted.
That was the reason why Koremitsu stammered, asking if there was anything strange with Michiru.
Honoka gasped a few times as she heard Yū’s words.
Koremitsu was saying that Michiru was with Shioriko. In that case, did it mean that Michiru abducted Shioriko?
She could not believe that the ever serious Michiru would ever do such a thing!
Koremitsu told Honoka to wait quietly, but the latter just could not do so. She decided to give chase after Koremitsu, and Yū too requested the same.
Honoka found it strange that she was working together with her love rival Yū. However, she was a lot more relieved that she was not going alone.
Honoka heard from Yū that Koremitsu went off to the Mikados’ resort, so she gave a call to Tsuyako, but could not get through. Thus, she could only give calls to the students at school asking for the address.
They took the train to the location, and then got on the taxi they had arranged for beforehand.
The car was bumping about on this road that was not practically not paved at all. The windshield was dampened by the rain, and the front was completely dark.
Suddenly, she saw an orange light in the darkness.
Only a section of the riverbank was lit, and Michiru stood there, wearing her school uniform, showing a faint smile. On a closer look, Koremitsu too was holding a torchlight, standing in front of Michiru. The ruffled red hair was soaked by the rain, sticking onto his face.
Koremitsu shone the torchlight at Michiru, glaring at her. Two women in raincoats were standing behind him, seemingly leaning upon him.
Honoka then exclaimed to the driver,
“Please stop the car!”
♢ ♢ ♢
Koremitsu scowled as he glared at Michiru, inquiring,
If it was the usual Michiru, she probably would be flustered and answering shrilly once Koremitsu glared at her. At this point however, she gave Koremitsu a bewitching smile,
The only things shining on each other was merely the torchlight both parties have. In the glaring light was Michiru, soaked all over in her blazer, pleated skirt and kneesocks, grinning away.
Before he came to this place, Koremitsu did receive the message from Asai, notifying him that they found Shioriko’s whereabouts.
Shioriko probably would be saved by Asai and the others, unless Michiru had an accomplice. In any case, Koremitsu could not forgive her for involving the elementary school girl Shioriko.
And so, his voice got sterner as he asked,
“Why did you kidnap her?”
“Did I not say it already? To revive Lord Hikaru, of course.”
Hikaru, standing beside Koremitsu with a grim face, was pained so much, his face was writhing. The rain was slightly abated, permeating through his slender body, and the tender hair strands swayed silently in the rain. Such a scene was really fleeting, empty, and Koremitsu again realized that Hikaru was a ghost.
“How is it impossible? Is Lord Hikaru still not on this world? Living inside your body, Mr Akagi. It is useless to try and bluff me. I do know. Lord Hikaru can hear this, right?”
Michiru spoke with a sickeningly, sweet voice, shocking Koremitsu.
Hikaru too widened his eyes.
(She’s able to see Hikaru, for real? She just called me ‘Hikaru’, right? No, that’s impossible. If she can’t see, she’ll probably ignore me and talk to Hikaru himself.)
It was likely that Koremitsu, who was supposed to pass on Hikaru’s words, caused Michiru to think that Hikaru had possessed him. In fact, Hikaru could not leave Koremitsu, so in a certain sense, she was right.
But if Koremitsu was to admit to this, the situation will get complicated. Surely Fujino and Mikoto, watching from behind, would be completely confused.
And so, Koremitsu spoke seriously,
“So what do you want? Calling the dead back? Didn’t you already bid farewell to Hikaru?”
The smile instantly vanished from Michiru’s face.
She lowered her head, her eyes showing a gloomy shadow.
“Yeah, Michiru said it. But I have not.”
That sight of her unnerved Koremitsu.
“If you aren’t Hanasato, who are you?”
He asked, and she slowly raised her face.
The damp skin showed an alluring gloss, and the lips curled into a confident smile, the pale flames flickering in the eyes.
Koremitsu’s heart immediately shrilled.
The embodiment of the spider that was worshipped in the garden of the Udates, having devoured the husband and his mistress.
Michiru blurted from her lips the woman’s name that horrified Tsuyako, whom Kazuaki worshipped, with a malicious smirk on her face, and that caused Koremitsu to be dumbfounded.
At that moment, a familiar yell was mixed in the rain,
The one running towards Michiru in jacket and thigh pants in the cold rain, tumbling in the mud and nearly falling over was Honoka, who should be recuperating at home
And Koremitsu immediately told off Honoka, whose pants were covered in mud, running towards them,
“Shikibu! How many times must I tell you to stay at home and wait! Ack, even Yū’s here!”
Koremitsu saw Yū’s long hair as she walked silently behind Honoka, soaked in the rain. He widened his eyes. Yū’s long skirt too was soaked, sticking to her legs.
“…Sorry. I-I was worried about you, Mr Akagi…”
“Yeah, how can I just sit by and wait!? Michiru’s my friend!”
Honoka insisted, shaking her damp hair aside.
Suddenly, a sarcastic voice could be heard.
“Friend? Is Michiru Hanasato not simply a foil to Hono?”
Michiru gave Honoka an icy glare, and Honoka’s face immediately froze.
“Michiru, what are you saying?”
“Michiru Hanasato is so stupid, so plain, a poor lackey everyone calls ‘rep’. That’s why you pretended to help her, to indulge in that superiority of yours, right? Just pretending to protect Michiru, and everyone will think Hono is one with a strong streak of righteous, a good person who cares for her friends, right? ‘Why’s it that Honoka’s is with that useless girl of a class rep’ ‘probably because Honoka’s enthusiastic about helping others, and couldn’t leave her behind, I guess. She’s feisty, but she’s kind at heart’—You know that everyone else in class is saying that, don’t you? You know, right~~~?”
Honoka was speechless. However, she immediately clenched her fists, yelling,
“If I did, I would have sent them kicking! I didn’t become friends with you for such reasons, Michiru—”
“Ah, shut up already! I don’t want to hear your pretentious kindness! You’re an eyesore, Hono!”
Michiru shouted like a child making a tantrum, and again shot an icy glare,
“If only you had died in the fire.”
She muttered with a sweet voice.
Both Honoka and a scowling Koremitsu, listening in on their conversation, were dumbfounded.
“I set the fire, and you got saved.”
Fear appeared in Honoka’s eyes, and she asked Michiru.
“That was…caused by you, Michiru?”
One could hear from Honoka’s trepidating voice that she did not wish to believe. However, Michiru naively answered,
“I am not Michiru. I am Rokujō. Mr Kazuaki wished to frame Yū Kanai in the name of the Poppy, so I decided to use the chance for this. I felt that if I could inform you of this, Hono, you will definitely interfere.”
“So you telling me that Shikibu taking photos of Yū was deliberate!?”
While Koremitsu glared, Michiru answered,
“Yes. I suppose Hono will be devastated to learn that the one she loves is doubting her. I said I love you to torture Hono. The bracelet you picked up at the stairs was placed by me too. That was not the bracelet Hono dropped from the veranda, it was a similar one Michiru has. Michiru is scared of wearing the same thing as the ‘cool Hono’ would wear, that she will be compared with Hono again, looked down upon. That is why she never wore it.”
Koremitsu recalled the silver bracelet.
The bracelet was placed at the steps Hiina fell from. He thought that definitely was Honoka’s, was rattled as a result, and questioned Honoka.
Yes. Michiru did say that she too bought a bracelet similar to Honoka. That was actually left there by Michiru!
The smirk on Michiru’s face intensified.
“The reason why Hono lost the bracelet was because I knocked her.”
Honoka’s face was contorted, and she was utterly confused as she yelled,
“You’re lying! Michiru isn’t that sort of person!”
“She is that kind of person. It is simply that everyone thought of Michiru as a fool, and never did notice it. That was why they got careless, telling her everything, including their secrets. Even if I am to do something harmful, I just have to play dumb so that nobody else would have noticed it, right? The fire alarm that triggered on the day before the culture festival was one such instance. I did say that I actually touched it, and you believed it, no, Mr Akagi? That was deliberate too.”
Koremitsu let out a suffocated voice. Michiru glanced aside at him, looking intoxicated, saying,
“I want to make you isolated, Mr Akagi. Just like how Lord Hikaru was isolated because of his issues with the girls when Michiru was in elementary school. Back then, I was really delighted to have Lord Hikaru rely on me for the first time. I even stole his recorder and art box. Once I found those things back for him, and bought new ones for him, Lord Hikaru would thank me.”
This time, it was Hikaru giving the same reaction Koremitsu did.
When Hikaru was in the elementary school, he declared an oath of love to 5 different girls in the back garden, a ripe place for confessions. After that happened, Hikaru was neglected for a few days, and at that moment, a kind girl sent letters of folded white flowers to him.
Hikaru called her Miss White Flower, and back then, he talked about that temporary moment of exchanging letters with that girl with that tender smile. He said, “Someone was willing to encourage me, and retrieve my stolen recorder and art box”.”
The culprit harassing him was actually that White Flower herself.
Michiru was not ashamed in the slightest, even raising her eyebrows regrettably,
“I really wished you did rely on me back then, Mr Akagi, that you will end up liking me more than you like Hono. You actually solved everything yourself however, and I am disappointed. In that case, I could only pretend to support Hono and obstruct her.”
Honoka’s mouth was half-opened, but it seemed she could not say anything as she curled her lips painfully again.
Koremitsu too finally managed to eke out a voice,
“…So the one who placed the umbrella and the blade in Yū’s room…was you?”
“Yes. I did tell the big sister at the hospital counter. That big sister wanted to be Mr Kazuaki’s lover. To her, Miss Kanai is a huge eyesore—so she was very willing to help me in bullying Miss Kanai.”
“So the one who sent those messages to Saiga and Aoi in the Poppy’s name, and taunted them, was you!?”
Koremitsu was so infuriated his head was about to explode.
“It was me.”
His ears were hot, before they finally cooled off quickly. On the day of the culture festival, Koremitsu acted as Michiru’s boyfriend for one day, and accompanied her around school. Back then, she was so delighted that her cheeks were red. They fed each other takoyaki and cotton candy, and at the back garden in the elementary school, Michiru were the Cosmos ring Koremitsu made for her, smiling weeping as she said
The difference between that Michiru and this smirking Michiru was way too different, and caused a migraine in Koremitsu’s head.
“Didn’t…you give that nice smile at the culture festival when you bid Hikaru farewell? Was that an act?”
Michiru’s face suddenly turned serious.
“No. She really was delighted. Michiru was delighted that you took Lord Hikaru’s place to be her boyfriend in the culture festival and made her as Cinderella, Mr Akagi. Later, when she met Hono, the frustration within her never disappeared.”
Honoka’s shoulders shivered.
“When she was wondering “Huh, something is weird”, Rokujō. She said fulfilling Michiru Hanasato’s promise is not going to cut it. She said that there is still a promise yet to be fulfilled. The promise between Fujino and Hikaru—”
Michiru’s eyes again flicked a bewitching glint.
The rain pelted upon her cheeks and forehead, the droplets dripping from her chin and eyebrows.
Fujino probably was standing together with Mikoto behind Koremitsu, yet she did not say a single word.
Why was it that Michiru’s frustrations with Honoka was related to the promise between Fujino and Hikaru? Koremitsu was left flabbergasted.
Hikaru too remained silent.
“Why did Rokujō suddenly talk to you?”
“Well, it was not sudden at all. It started from a long, long time ago; Rokujō was already in my heart back then. When I was younger, I attended a party at the Udates, and met a woman dressed in red at the shrine. She was the one who told me the way to obtain the one I love. She said that I just need to devour the ones in the way.”
Michiru’s words shocked Koremitsu. Hikaru too looked dumbfounded.
Did Michiru see the shrine in the Udates?
One had to wonder whether her meeting with Rokujō was just a delusion when she was young, or something actually happened that caused her to think this way.
But the existence of Rokujō was ingrained in Michiru’s heart back then, showing on her from time to time, seeding calamity.
It started when she was very young—in elementary school, in fact.
Now that Hikaru died, Rokujō still remains alive!
Koremitsu was thoroughly soaked by the rain, and by the time he realized it, he found his mouth to be dry.
“So the chain messages titled as ‘Women around Lord Hikaru’…were sent by you, right?”
Michiru slowly raised her lips.
The white face shown by the torchlight was innocent, yet at the same time, showcasing the alluring charm of a matured woman.
“That is because Hikaru does not need any flower other than his dearest~~~~his garden only needs that prettiest flower.”
She was smiling, but the icy hatred, malice, bitterness and frustration spread in her eyes. Those were the dark emotions targeted at Hikaru’s beloved.
Hikaru was staring at Michiru. He was shivering in fear, yet he could not look away from her—
“What Hikaru really wants is that purple Wisteria. Nobody knows. They thought they were loved by Lord Hikaru, and got gleeful as a result. I have to let them know no matter what. All of you are replacements. Her Highness Aoi was wreaking havoc at the funeral, and I had a feeling she would self-destruct, so I started from Miss Kanai, whom Hikaru visited every night.”
Yū, standing silently beside Koremitsu, shivered slightly, her petite face looking terrified.
Michiru’s hair was sticking to her face.
She never did sweep it aside, and hissed with a vengeful voice,
“Michiru Hanasato will only wait for Hikaru to take an interest in her, but I am different. I want to uproot all the flowers other than the Wisteria dearest Hikaru, and I shall be that wisteria. The Wisteria standing there is the one that sinned.”
The one that sinned?
Hikaru was about to shout.
But Michiru was faster, the frosty light in her eyes flickering with intense emotions as she gently raised her hand, clearly pointing at the one behind Koremitsu.
“That Wisteria killed Hikaru.”