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Caution & Distrust

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Akamatsu Kaede opened her eyes.

Immediately, she felt a wave of fatigue cloud her consciouness, as if it was just waiting for her to regain it. She realised that her body was held up straight by the tightness of the walls around her – otherwise she would have dropped to the floor a long time ago.

What surrounded her was darkness, but there were some holes in front of her eyes, letting air and some light in. She reached out her hand and ran it over the wall.

The outline of a door.

It's not a wall.

On the contrary, it appeared that she was inside something resembling a locker. Or a coffin.

She had a few options, but letting herself stay there and rot away wasn't one. She clenched her hands into fists. There wasn't enough space in the locker to take a proper swing. She could only hope that the door would give out easily – it didn't seem very sturdy anyway.

He fist hit the door and apppeared to dent it.

That counts as progress, she figured.

She raised her leg as much as she could before kicking at the door with all her strength, blowing it open at last, causing her to fall out of it onto her knees.

Akamatsu was free. Or, at least, she was more free than before.

Coughing and wheezing, she gasped for air, trying to get up from her knees before looking around.
Indeed, the box she was stuck in before was a locker, one in line of many. A similar cluster decorated the oppposite wall as well. She shuddered, remembering the all-to-recent feeling of claustrophobia. While it was easier to breathe now, she still felt concerning numbness in her head, as if someone had punched her brain.

Upon closer inspection, the room she was in appeared to be a rather dusty classroom. She guessed it hadn't been cleaned properly in a while. It was unremarkable, but it made her realise something perhaps rather crucial. She knit her eyebrows tightly, deep in thought.

Akamatsu couldn't remember how she got there, that much was obvious. Presumably she was kidnapped and drugged to avoid a struggle, so any gaps in memory were quite understandable. She tapped the pocket on her vest. Her phone was gone, of course. Her backpack – her trusty old friend – was mostly empty as well. She couldn't find her wallet, or any of her school supplies. The only items she could find were hygiene products – thankfully, she supposed.

Pausing her attempts at regaining her memory, she perked up cautiously. There was somebody else in the room. She could hear their muffled breathing. Her heart began beating faster as she held her breath and looked around again.

In the opposite corner of the classroom, hidden from her eyes by a shadow cast by the lockers until just then, was a pile of dark fabric that was undeniably a human body. Akamatsu gasped and walked towards it, almost tripping over the desks on her way. She kneeled in front of it. Whoever it was, they were still breathing, she concluded with relief.
Then, their eyes opened.

Akamatsu stifled a scream and held out her hand, offering to help the person up. After a few seconds of hesitation, they grabbed it and let her help them up, followed by the two dusting themselves off.

Now that the figure was out of the shadow, Akamatsu could see that it was a boy around her age, dressed in dark colours from head to toe. The only light point of this entire gloomy creature were the eyes, so hazel they apppeared yellow. Although, it would be more accurate to say 'eye' – since the other one was hidden behind his bangs, pushed down by a hat, so black they almost appeared blue in the light.

She concluded that he appeared to be the polar opposite of her. From experience, she knew that opposites can either attract or get on each other's nerves – she had yet to see which it was going to be. So far, she had many questions she wanted to ask her fellow kidnappee, who was awfully quiet, and seemed tense.

She was going to get everything out of him anyway, though.

'Hey, are you okay?' she asked, looking at the way he was stroking his arm. He flinched and screamed under his breath.

'Oh, sorry, didn't mean to startle you,' she added apologetically, 'I guess I should introduce myself first? My name is Akamatsu Kaede. Nice to meet you,' she informed, holding out her hand. He shook it weakly, his hesitation slowly beginning to fade.

'Saihara Shuuichi,' he introduced himself, watching her carefully. She felt tempted to call him out on being so suspicious, but decided against it – they were strangers after all. She just had to try to get him to warm up to her.

'I didn't notice you at first,' she remarked, 'were you here from the start? How long have you been awake for?'

'I woke up when I heard a loud noise, I think, a few minutes ago,' he answered, looking away. 'I was too weak to move, and I couldn't see where it came from, so I...'

'So you played dead?' she tilted her head, knitting her eyebrows. It seemed kind of ridiculous, but she didn't want to offend him. Not yet, at least. She sincerely preferrred to try getting along with everyone.

'You can call it that,' he admitted, clearing his throat nervously. 'But I don't know how long I spent unconscious, or why we're both here. I can't help with that, sorry.'

'I see,' she hummed, poking her cheek. 'Man, you got a much better deal than me. I had to get out of one of these,' she complained, nodding at the lockers. His eyes followed hers and widened.

'That's what the loud noise was, I assume,' he remarked.

'Yeah, doesn't take a detective to figure out that one,' she said with a sarcastic undertone, before her amusement turned into confusion when she looked at his face. She could have sworn he went pale the instant she said that. 'Anyway...' she cleared her throat. 'So you have no idea how and why we got here. What's the last thing you remember, though?'

He rubbed his temples, trying to remember. Clearly, they were both suffering from memory loss. She wondered if his was as severe as hers.

'I' he said at last. 'I got accepted for a scholarship I think...but I never made it there. At least I don't...don't remember.'

'Wait,' Akamatsu interrupted, her eyes wide, 'that's the last thing I remember, too. I was supposed to enrol into this fancy school that wanted me for my piano skills. Sounds like we found a common link, but I don't know what to make of it...' She looked around and shuddered. 'This can't be the school, can it? That would be a huge scam, if you ask me.'

'It's possible,' he said cautiously

'I guess it is,' she sighed, 'but that makes me wonder...' she paused, looking at him curiously, 'do you think we're the only ones here? They wouldn't kidnap just two people, right?'

He shrugged slightly. 'I woudn't know. I haven't left this room yet.'

'We should! If we can, I mean.' She walked towards the door and grabbed the doorknob. 'I don't think it's locked, we should be good to go. C'mon, let's go see if there's more of us here! Let's say hi to everyone and see if anybody remembers anything.'

'What is this 'we'...' he said nervously, taking a step back. She resisted the overwhelming urge to grab him and shake his shoulders. 'I mean...'

'...Would you rather stay here forever?' she asked with confusion. 'C'mon, we can't be so antisocial.'

'I don't want to stay here, but we have no idea what's outside. We might run into someone dangerous. I'm not sure if we're prepareed for that.'

'I can understand that, but we don't even know if there are any other people to begin with. And I guarantee everyone else would be just as nervous. Even I am, believe me. It's not just you. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Actually,' she narrowed her eyes. 'I never asked why you got the scholarship. What's your skill?'

'I...' He sighed and took a step forward. 'I'm a detective. It's not as big a deal as it sounds, though.'

'Not a big deal? Are you kidding? You might be the key to getting us out of here! That's an amazing talent!'

'It really isn't...It's pretty useless unless someone dies.'

'First off, let's hope nobody dies, okay? Second off, that's not true. You can figure out why we're here... and who kidnapped us...but in order to do that, we have to investigate. This entire thing reeks of illegal practices, especially if we really were kidnapped.'

'That's true,' he admitted, looking her in the eyes. 'I, um...I guess it's my duty.'

'Exactly,' Akamatsu nodded, opening the door slowly. 'Let's go.'