The office of one Shuichi Saihara, Private Detective, could be overlooked in a very major sense. Though being only twenty-three and having his own office could be consider prestigious, he felt any other than such. The room was partitioned by one half wall and another full wall, one room being Shuichi’s own room with a small futon and table, the other being his actual office, and the third and largest room being a sort of pseudo-waiting room/secretary’s office…
The last bit being a running joke that Shuichi had with an associated of his, considering that he had jokingly offered his services as one.
Shuichi’s office however was bare in comparison. He himself sat in a desk in the near center of the room, with a window off to the side, large enough against the wall to give him light, but small enough that it didn’t give him a place to see him himself in view. A gray wall coupled with a single dark wood bookcase filled with novels and old case files. Another wall had a small cabinet sitting in front with a radio emitting news.
“—of yet, there is still no mention on where famed traveler, Rantaro Amami, has disappeared too. Now making it two weeks after his boat was found near an Indonesia coastal town. However…” The radio personality continued to drone on about the disappearance of Rantaro Amami, a modern explore, in tandem with the pouring of heavy rain. A downpour had befallen the city, and was hitting Shuichi’s area the worst.
Shuichi didn’t really pay attention to either the radio announcement nor the rain, instead his mind was focusing on his laptop screen. A report in regards of background checks on people for a small local business, a subsidiary of the Togami corporation.
The “click-clacking” of his fingers on the keys foretelling that whatever he was typing, it was taking his entire focus on. So focused, that Shuichi didn’t hear the new sound of his door being knocked on until the twelfth knock. At which point, he had wanted to stretch his shoulders before hearing the knock on his door.
He quickly pressed the button on his desk to unlatch the door and allowed it to be opened by… famous Pianist Kaede Akamatsu?! Shuichi nearly fell out of his chair from pure shock at seeing the classical musician walk into his office; dripping wet, shivering, and wearing clothes that he wouldn’t associate with a high-class musician, but it was no doubt Kaede Akamatsu.
He has heard of her at least, he quite fond of classical music as opposed to pop songs and hard rock beats. Shuichi knew that the pianist was of a sophisticated crowd, high society gatherings and galas always asking for her performance; the Togami Corporation, Team Danganronpa, even Hope’s Peak Academy. The first and third being direct correlation with each other considering that the Togami Corporation’s head was an alumni of Hope Peak’s academy.
However, this begged the question; what was such a person doing in a rather obscure private detective’s office? It could not simply just be for investigation, if so why had Miss Akamatsu not gone to the famous Kirigiri Detective agency or even gone to the Detective Library! Shuichi himself wasn’t considered skilled enough to join, so he was not part of that gathering. Miss Akamatsu and Shuichi have never met before today, so there was no way this could have been a social gathering. Perhaps this was a case of mistaken identity or her being lost, she had simply ended up at the wrong room in the building; there were other business aside from his in the complex.
Shuichi however could tell by the pensive look on the pianist’s face that this was not a case of being lost for the pianist, that was the face of someone who had business with himself. Had someone he had done work for had some sort of connection with her? Shuichi knew he had no sort of high profile clients, at best it was middle level investigation of spousal affairs, location of missing children, or fraud. He’s done work for the police, but it was low profile cases, nothing major.
“Mister Saihara?” the Painist’s voice was chime like, light and soft. She was wearing a pink hooded sweatshirt and jeans however, no doubt to keep her identity hard to pin point in the event of journalists and other prying eyes.
“Ah, y-yes.” Shuichi coughed in an effort to make his voice sound less… Pitched than normal. First impression are everything after all, especially if the person in front of him had the potential of a job for him. “Yes, I am Shuichi Saihara. Would it be safe to assume that you are Kaede Akamatsu, the pianist?” A bashful color framed Miss Akamatsu’s face as she took the hood off her head. Wetted light blond hair was clipped down by silver music notes, all except a few strands which stood atop her like an antenna despite their apparent wetness. Even though she tried to smother it down with her hand, it proved to be a fruitless endeavor.
Shuichi in this moment was quite glad he kept his hat on.
The door shut behind Miss Akatamatsu before Shuichi lead her through the glass door into his office. He seated her down before asking if she wanted tea. She nodded mutely before verbally apologizing for getting his office and chair wet. He told her to not worry about it before Shuichi excused himself into his room, keeping the view of his bed out Miss Akamatsu’s by opening the door as little as possible. He quickly brewed up a quick pot of tea and located a small towel before bringing them both back into the office.
She spent some time trying to dry herself and in an effort to wait until the tea cooled enough for her to drink. Once both her hair and face were drier than before, her hands grabbed the tea cup and smiled as warmth radiated from it. When she drank it, a bit of color livened her pale features.
“Do you have a maid here that brewed the tea?” Miss Akamatsu joked. Shuichi colored a little but kept his composure by drinking the tea. “It is quite well done.”
“Uh, no. I did this myself.” A look of surprise crossed Miss Akamatsu face before it relaxed and she put her cup down, drained. Shuichi asked if she wanted another, but she waved her hand.
“N-No, I’m fine now, better in fact than in a long time.” A pained look crossed Miss Akamatsu’s face before Shuichi put down his cup.
“May I ask first how you’ve heard of me Miss Akamatsu?” Shuichi asked.
“Please call me Kaede, Miss Akamtsu is my mother, Mister Saihara.”
“Understandable Miss Kaede.”
“Then may I call you Shuichi.” The Detective nearly choked on his tea but easily smothered it down when he saw the smile that Kaede gave him showed no sort of ill intent. No one, well no woman, has ever had such an familiar tone with him.
“I-If that pleases you Miss Kaede,” Shuichi responded as he tried to bat away feelings of awkwardness at being called his first name. “Now I must ask, how have you heard of my office?” Kaede smiled nervously.
“Did you ever work for a Mister Otogawa?”
“I assume when you say Mister Otogawa, you mean Ryo Otogawa, the popstar Sayaka Maizono’s manager.” Shuichi knew what she was talking about. A while ago he was contacted by the producer of the Idol group Sayaka Maizono was a part of, and was asked to look into several suspicious letters that were sent to the group. The conclusion of this investigation lead Shuichi to finding a small collection of fans plotting to bomb an event held by the idol group, a short call to the manager proved to be a swift end to the case. Last he heard, all the members were facing serious chargers of both unlawful possions of arms and conspiracy.
“Yes. He is a known associated of my manager, and he referred me to you. He said you had a certain preference for subtly.” Shuichi nodded slowly. “The Kirigiri Detective Agency tend to have a bit more direct in terms of investigation.”
“It is hard to remain inconspicuous in investigations when you’re branded…” Shuichin noted. Miss Akamatsu nodded and Shuichi began to understand what sort of reason why she came to him. Whatever work she had, she did not want the media to know about the nature of the case. Shuichi knew these cases tended to be about delicate matters, or matters about the private life that shouldn’t be known. Kaede however seemed to not be the type to do such acts, but then again Shuichi didn’t know that a sex dungeon of that size could be constructed without the wife knowing her husband’s… “hobbies”.
“I take it you wish this case to be handled with a certain amount of… Delicacy?” Shuichi offered, to which Kaede nodded her head. “You have my utmost confidentiality that the information of your cases will not be divulged from my mouth.” A look of relief passed Kaede’s face and Shuichi could see that her shoulders visibly relaxed.
“I’m here about a missing person.”
“Who?” Shuichi was pouring a cup of tea for himself.
“My ex-boyfrined, Rantaro Amami.” Shuichi nearly dropped the tea kettle and his cup at the shocking information. Rantaro Amami, a contemporary explorer, had a relationship with the pianist; such thing was certainly not in any tabloid news that he’s had to unfortunately read.
“I can understand your shock.” Kaede’s voice pulled him out of his pondering and he saw the woman have a slight smile on her face. “We dated back in high school before either of us became, well, us. However, that relationship… Didn’t last.” There was some sort of history that came from pause in Keade’s sentence that Shuichi wouldn’t pry into yet.
“I assume you two however did keep in close contact despite the break up?” Shuichi reasoned. Kaede gave a nervous laugh.
“W-Well not really. Unless you count facebook and the occasional birth day message, we didn’t really “talk” much. I did go to a few gatherings where he was, but I was mostly there to be a performer.” Shuichi nodded along to Kaede’s explanation. She and Mister Amami weren’t “close-friends”, however they knew of each other through the years. However, why did she come to him to ask about his apparent loss of carbon foot print. The current media has speculated he was still travelling somewhere in the south pacific, his boat apparently found marooned near an island some weeks ago.
“He contacted me recently.” The look on Keade’s face made Shuichi reconsider whatever information the news had been spouting about Amami’s disappearance. It was a look of terrified fear. She brought a phone out from her pocket and played back a message.
“Kaede! Hey, I hope you remember me, you know, Rantaro Amami, your best friend since ever! I know we don’t really talk or anything anymore, but I just want you to know that any tabloids saying I’m missing aren’t true. I left my boat there, and using dad’s old boat so I could go a little incognito and… Well, look for Rinka! I have a feeling this time I’ll find her! If my mom calls you, please ignore her! I think she’s still thinking that we’re together. Bye!” The message cut and Shuichi could firmly say that the explorer’s personal boat marooned in the Philippines is no longer necessary evidence pertaining to this case.
“That was after they found his boat. I was about to panic after seeing the news, but he contacted me shortly after I learned.” A smile crossed Kaede’s face. “He’s always acted like that. Doing stuff without any care in the world, even if it seems really stupid, like looking for his lost sister…” She trailed off at the end before her eyes turned her hard and she pressed the next message. This one was dated a few days after the first.
“Kaede! Oh my God, you’re not gonna believe this! I found her! I found Rinka! She’s alive, after all these years, she’s alive! She was in an orphanage in Brazil! She’s comatose, she almost didn’t recognize me when I saw her! But it’s really her! She has some stupid looking tattoos, but the birthmark on her neck is still there and still even stupider than I remembered! I’m bringing her home right now!” That message was dated a week after the first message. Meaning that in that week after locating Amami’s boat, the Explorer had made it from the Philippines to Brazil. Personally, Shuichi found that astounding. The next message would quash any sort of surprise and turn it into dread.
“Kaede! I fucked! I really fucked up this time! Rinka, she—Oh God! I thought I finally found her! I should have known! Zzzt… Kidnapped, not lost! Now they have everyone! They have my family Kaede, all of them! Listen, don’t call me! Don’t call the police!” The phone was then thrown and sounded like it shattered as the message cut off in a crash. Shuichi felt his mouth go dry as Kaede’s face seem to grow equal in color.
“Th-There’s one more…” Kaede’s fingers mumbled flicked over her phone before going to one last message. This one came from a number that Shuichi recognized as being a common number for burner phones native to Japan.
“Piano Freak! Don’t trust anyone! They have eyes everywhere! I can’t tell you over the phone! Don’t tell the police! Oh god, they’re using kids! Fucking killing kids! Rinka got away, find Rinka!” The message ended and Shuichi looked up Kaede. His eyes were wide as the words from the last message sunk in. Then before he could think, Shuichi’s hands grabbed the phone and quickly pulled the battery out and tossed it out the open window. The battery lost in the rain, hopefully for good.
Using kids! Killing kids! He dropped the lifeless phone now, and his hands gripped the desk in an effort to steady himself from falling. Shuichi’s grip he had on his desk turned his knuckles white as he saw Kaede’s shoulders shake.
“P-Piano Freak is the nickname he used back in Middle school.” Shuichi noted silvery drops fall from the woman’s face as she gripped her tea cup, eyes downcast. “H-He still remembers that stupid nickname after all these years. I-Isn’t that funny?” Shuichi swallowed nervously before he was about to comfort the woman before the phone rang once more.
The room became deathly quiet as the phone continued to ring, not a one making a sound or noise as they saw the number come up on screen. “Redacted”, was what it was read. Kaede nearly scrambled to pick it up, but Shuichi held her back. His eyes wide and a finger to his lips, certain numbers could have their phone numbers be “redacted”, those with serious money and influence.
Don’t pick it up. He mouthed as he still held onto her. Eventually the phone stopped ringing and it clicked onto the automated voice message.
“Hi! This is Kaede Akamatsu! I’m not at the phone right now, probably either practicing or listing to music! Leave a message if you want me to contact you, kay?” The message clicked off, and it sounded much too chipper for what it heralded.
“Kaede Akamatsu, this is a direct message to you. If you attempt to investigate the nature of Rantaro Amami’s message, we will know. If you tell anyone about the message of Rantaro Amami, we will know. If you tell the police, the government, or the media, the public will never know. If you try to locate Rinka Amami, we will know. Any attempts at acting upon this information, and we will make sure you never see the light of day ever again.”
“We have power and influence beyond your comprehension. We will find you, we will find everyone close to you, and we will kill them. After everyone you know, everything you cherish is taken from you, and you feel the full brunt of despair, then will we finally kill you. This is not a warning, this a threat.”
The message ended and Kaede began to topple forward. Shuichi rushed to catch her, stopping her head from slamming into his desk. Gently as he could, he tried to keep her upright and felt her forehead. It was burning, no doubt the cumulated stress of the prior messages, the terrible weather, now this message from this mysterious number had been the final nail which was triggering a fever.
She began to sob and mumble incoherently as Shuichi made an executive decision. He carried her out of his office and into his room. Crying into his chest, her hands despite their delicate appearance, held fast and hard to the lapels of his shirt. He had to pry her fingers off his shirt before he began to rummage around his room.
A towel he ran in cold water was placed on her forehead as she lay with labored breathing on his bed. If it was a simple fevered headache, she would be fine in some time. If not… Well hopefully the hospitals were still safe to go too.
“This is not a warning, this a threat”. Shuichi grimaced at the nature of the message before standing and leaning out to stare at the pelting rain. He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket, he noted there was a text from Kirumi.
Cln? Short and succinct, just like the maid normally is, written in a way that wouldn’t require much time to compose a message. Shuichi quickly responded, fingers typing a quick response, though with more grammar.
Yes, I would not mind having you clean. However, could you also bring some fever medicine? A short pause lead into to another message being sent by the maid.
Y? Shuichi bit his lips as he wondered back to the words that Rantaro said. “Don’t trust anyone”, vague words, but dangerous in their own right. However, Shuichi trusted his judgement, and knew that Kirumi would be someone he could depend on.
Client came in sick. Might have fever, please check on her?
Ok. That short text was enough to relieve a bit of tension from Shuichi’s shoulders before the silence got to him. It felt stifling now in his office, more so that usual. The haunting message putting doubts in his mind he thought long ago he vanquished.
Out of habit more so out of need, he went to the cabinet where the radio still played, ironically it was playing Kaede Akamatsu’s rendition of Mozart’s Moonlight Sonata. Opening the cabinet, Shuichi found his gun harness. The Nambu M60 revolver resting snugly in the holster before Shuichi strapped it underneath his vest.
Shuichi pulled it out before checking it over. The cylinder was clear, the hammer oiled, and the barrel cleaned. It was still in the same condition when he first got it, even after he used. He loaded in five rounds just as there was a knock at the front door.
Shuichi knew it was Kirumi, and answered it, though his hand drifted to the side of his belt out of caution. He tried not look relieved once he saw the familiar prim and proper Victorian-era dressed maid starring at him with broom in hand.
"Any particular reason for why your hand is resting on your firearm, Shuichi-sama?" Kirumi's voice was neutral despite the apparent threat Shuichi possessed with his hand on the revolver. Visibly relaxing, Shuichi opened the door wider to allow the maid inside. She briskly walked in, shedding off her coat and placing it on the rack alongside Kaede’s own. She raised an eyebrow at the addition before the realization set in.
“Ah yes, you’re client.” Shuichi nodded at Kirumi’s astute assumption.
“She might be staying here for the perceivable future,” Shuichi explained. “Her case is… Serious.” Kirumi went to voice her widely held cautions about takings jobs like these, but Shuichi raised a hand to stop her. “I understand that I should prioritize my safety, however I am still a detective. I make it a point to investigate the truth, whether it wants me too or not.”
“I cannot tell if you like danger, or that danger happens to like you,” Kirumi sighed sadly. A small smile came upon Shuichi’s face.
“Danger and I happen to cross into each other time to time,” he laughed tonelessly. A forlorn look overcame Kirumi’s normally stoic features before she breathed in and her face returned to its professionalism. “Though secrecy is paramount, both for my client’s safety as well as my own. It’s quite dangerous.”
“More dangerous than the job that my master requested from you?” Kirumi’s voice was laced with a tinge of shock, however her slightly widened eyes served to tell Shuichi all he needed to know.
“If more so… Speaking of your current masters, how are they? I had been sent a card, but not an invitation to their wedding?”
“Would you have even shown if they had?”
“Perhaps.” Kirumi chuckled at Shuichi’s answer.
"Well, Yakuza certainly don’t like those who tend to investigate others for their living, even if they did locate the wife of their Oyabum. Both the Master and Mistress are fine, currently enjoying their honeymoon in Hawaii."
"For business or pleasure?" An inquisitive look overcame Shuichi's features, knowing exactly why the two were in Hawaii.
"Why Shuichi, you know I would never betray my master's confidentiality. I also know that Master Kuzuryu wouldn’t want your life to be in danger from any of his enemies." Shuichi tried to be not unnerved by the maid's icy smile, however there is a reason maid’s in the books he read tended to be under the most scrutinizing of gazes.
Kirumi was no exception to this rule, especially with the wide array of clientele she has serviced.
The rain grew even louder following the accompanying silence, to which avoid such prolonged silence, Kirumi set herself to work to "straighten up" an already pristine office. Of all her clients, Shuichi Saihara kept his spaces the cleanest.
It wasn't until she entered his own personal room did Kirumi find the reason for the odd request of fever medication. She quickly slipped back into his office with wide eyes and a pale face of shock.
"Shuichi-sama, isn't that Kaede Akamatsu asleep in your bed? What is the Pianist doing in here?" Shuichi looked up from his pipe before nodding. "Is she the--"
"Client? Yes. And I'd appreciate it if you do not disclose this information with anyone. When I say the severity of the case if high, I mean Prime Minister level conspiracy.” The hushed tone in Shuichi's voice was more than enough to convince the maid, as well as make her back stiffen slightly. She bowed respectfully to Shuichi before doing her maid duties of cleaning before going back to the troubled looking pianist.
Kirumi's face narrowed in concertation as she checked over the pianist before reaching into one of pockets of her dress. A box of medicine was pulled out before she gestured for Shuichi to leave.
"I would doubt Miss Kaede would have you watch as I undress her," she drawled, to which Shuichi slipped out of his room and near one of his office windows. He cracked it open before pulling a kiseru from his drawer, a gift from a close friend.
The events of today calling for him to find a way to find some sort of control over the situation, if that was harming his health then so be it. The wafting smoke drifted up and out of the cracked window, the pelting rain accompanying Shuichi's musings.
Rantaro Amami, dropped out of a high school and worked on boats instead. Began to sail around the seas at the age of a seventeen, media caught wind of this and named him a modern explorer. Can speak multiple languages, owns two houses, from a small rural town in the Kansai region. Blood type B. Has strong ties to many travel host shows, survival events, etc. Shuichi compiled a mental study of his victim, Rantaro Amami. Known associates: Hope's Peak Academy, Japanese Travel Association, Kaede Akamatsu, Team Danganrompa, and a close friend to fellow Hope's Peak alumni Mahru Koizumi the Infamous Media Photographer and Junk Enoshima the owner of her own fashion industry.
Last known public whereabouts, Indonesia. Marooned boat. Found sister in Brazil, Rinka Amami. Went back to hometown to see family, official home address last known in the Kansai region, somewhere in the Osaka prefecture--
A knock on a wall alerted Shuichi to Kirumi's entrance back into his office.
“She’ll be fine, only a light fever spurned on by the rain no doubt.” Kirumi smoothed down her dress before taking the kizeru from Shuichi’s hand and dumping the ash and tobacco into the ash tray at his desk, luckily is was still devoid of any cigarette buds. A glare on her face before she bit down on the oncoming lecture about his health.
“It must be bad if you’re smoking again,” she noted sadly. Shuichi gave her a sad smile before taking his pipe back.
“The less you know, the safer you are. Though, I might advise you to stay near the more volatile of crowds you work with, they have a less likelihood of being infiltrated.” Kirumi didn’t ask what Shuichi meant, but understood regardless simply by the severity of his words.
There was a vast conspiracy going on, and it seems Shuichi Saihara, a nobody, was caught in the midst of it. The quest for truth was never an easy or untroubled road, but for once, Shuichi felt like he bit than he could chew...