Chapter 1: 36° - Dennis, the Menace
Subaru closed the library door quietly behind himself. The curtains had been pulled back and most of the spacious room was flooded by daylight. It wasn't bright but sufficient. He put the folder onto the table beneath the window and took a seat on the edge of the armchair in front of it. The folder was actually a document map, one of those voluminous things with rubber straps over the corners to hold even loose content. He opened it tentatively.
He hadn't expected a neat documentary of the kind the Sumeragi house produced on investigations, but what he found in the coffee-ring adorned folder labeled cryptically "NM > MMI!" still had him blink.
The top sheet was a photocopy of a novel page, actually two pages -- 109 and 110 -- copied as one, with some of the lines marked in blue. "Atheists, agnostics, and Church of England vicars fail to credit the creative powers of the human subconscious." stood there, "Second Law of Thermotheology", and "enough sentient beings concentrate these sub-belief particles into one particular form the new god appears".
He turned the page in search of a source for the nonsense and found a novel's cover being photocopied on the back: ~Matthew Thomas 'Before & After - A novel about exploding sheep, Nostradamus and the end of the world'~
An elegantly curved handwriting on the edge of the copy read: "Sei, read it twice! It's horribly funny -- and you're nuts! N." Left to the note was a doodle: a penguin showed its tongue to the note.
Subaru shook his head, put the copies aside and turned to the next page. It was covered in the daring yet precise handwriting he knew was Seishiro's.
See: Dionysios Exiguus (trans.: Dennis, the Short)
A scribbling commented: "Dennis, the Menace!" The listing continued with
- Scythian monk prepared chronology for Pope Saint John I puts
- Christ's Birth: 25. Dec. 753 Ab Urbe Condita (Foundation of Rome)
- Year 1: 1. 1. 754 (Day of baby Jesus' circumcision)
- Death of Herod: 750 AUC (validated, fix. See: Roman Archive)
> either: 75 % of New Testament are wrong (Herod's babyhunt!)
> or: Jesus was at least 4 years old at Christ's Birth
Another side note said something along the line of "circumcision at the age of four without local anesthesia is likely to cause severe mental trauma in child"
>> gives at least -4 to the year!
>> New Millennium before 1996/7!
What followed were mostly copies from history books about the Shimabara Rebellion, a few notes and comments about previous "turn of the centuries" and the on-going arguments between "99 > 00" and "00 > 01".
Chapter 2: Family Matters (after chapter 12) - Like Fishwives
The sound of the entrance door closing, the rustle of a coat being hung up, followed by faint steps up the stairs, and Seishiro sauntered into the kitchen. "Hello Subaru-kun," he crossed over to the counter, pouring himself a coffee as if not the whole kitchen table was covered in Sumeragi case files, as if not the second kitchen chair was occupied by a messenger of Subaru's grandmother; a clearly displeased messenger, Subaru noted, not really surprised. Cousin Orito was a worse liar than he.
"Subaru-sama, these are internal clan matters. It would really be better if he left."
"You want me to leave my own house?" Seishiro pulled the stool from the kitchen counter over and sat at the front end of the table, sipping from a large, psychedelically colored coffee mug. "I don't think so."
"Seishiro-san, this is Orito-san. He comes from my grandmother."
"I figured as much." Seishiro didn't grand the visitor as much as a nod.
"Did your case went well?" Subaru asked.
"So he's dead?" A straight question in a flat voice. Orito in front of him winced.
"Only if he walked in front of a bus." Seishiro shrugged. "He may be spiritually gifted; he may be of a different opinion than the government in certain... aspects, but a threat to the state? Only if he invades North Korea and takes Kim's throne." He grinned. "I'm going to take that risk."
"Good. May I have a coffee, too?" Subaru pointed at his empty cup. Seishiro reached over and poured it.
"Subaru-sama, please, the cases..."
Subaru frowned at Orito's interruption.
"Looks like a lot of work," Seishiro commented, sipping from his mug again.
"The work of the Sumeragi is hardly of your concern, Sakurazukamori." Orito blistered. "Sumeragi-dono informed me th--"
Seishiro eyed him incredulously. "Keep that tone in my house and my work will be your concern." He scanned the files on the table again. "How many are that? Six?"
"Eight," Subaru admitted.
"To be done until when?"
"Subaru-sama, I really recommend--" Orito began.
Subaru ignored him. "Wednesday."
"I am bound by my duty to the family. I have to--"
"Eight on one day? I don't think so. One."
"--shouldn't have offended their problems to begin with!"
"It is my obligation to--"
"Impossible!" Subaru leaned forward, running his hand over the documents, finally pulling a pale yellow folder from the troubled stack. "I think I can postpone the one about the knitting grandmother in Shibuya."
"Subaru-san, your duty--"
"You stay out of it." Seishiro told Orito, and to Subaru: "Just how many members does your clan have? A hundred? More?"
"Two-hundred-and-forty-seven." Subaru answered. "Excluding distant relatives."
"And you're the only one with the gift?"
"Of course not."
"Then why don't you get them to work?"
"Kagimaru can take the one in Shibuya, and Tono the children in Kamitakada. Everything else would be irresponsible. They aren't as strong as I and as clan head I'm responsible--"
"--not to work yourself to death!" Seishiro snapped, and Orito found himself suddenly in the unwelcome center of attention. "Is there a deadline?"
"Then why do you want him to do all at once?!"
Orito winced. "The ministry--"
"--consists of a bunch of people parking their backsides in chairs a number too large for them!" He turned back for Subaru. "Do them over the week."
"But the cases are to be addressed immediately!" Subaru protested.
"Immediately for the government means a legislative period!" Seishiro snorted. "Two at most. And we have dinner together!"
"I can't possibly come home in between. And five--"
"Three. We meet at the restaurant!" Seishiro stood. "And he'll be--" he nodded at Orito. "--footing the bill."
"What are you up to?" Subaru asked him after the door closed behind Orito and Seishiro immediately reached for the yellow pages.
"Finding the most expensive restaurant of course. Somebody else is paying for dinner."
The next day in Kyoto.
"Why did you think I told you not to talk to him when that man is present?" Grandmother Sumeragi sighed.
"But they were bargaining like fishwives!" Orito shuddered. "And Subaru-sama--"
"How many?" Grandmother asked calmly.
"How many of the jobs will be done per day?"
Orito colored. "Three," he admitted. "And..."
"And we're to settle the restaurant bill for dinner."
Another sigh. "Subaru-san's getting better at it, it seems."
"Orito-kun, he talked me down to one."
Chapter 3: Family Matters chapter 17 - Hotaru's caterpillars
"You seem not very welcome in your own kitchen," Seishiro commented the surprised looks they got from the passing servants.
"They probably wonder why we're here. This is where students failing in their tasks are served reduced dishes as punishments."
"Given their surprise, you didn't have to eat often here."
"Once. In Hotaru's caterpillar spell." The door beside them opened and Rumiko appeared with a tray with simple breakfast and a white china coffee cup.
"Hotaru's?" Seishiro raised a doubtful brow at him, while Rumiko sat the tray onto the small table between them.
"I lost my concentration," Subaru retorted, giving him a dark look. "Hokuto-chan dropped a caterpillar down my shikifuku."
Seishiro laughed out loud, startling the servant who set a white china cup down on the table before him.
"Don't laugh!" Subaru protested. "It squiggled."
"It sure would," Seishiro agreed. "I certainly would squiggle, too, if I were dropped down your clothes... though probably for a different reason," he added with a wicked smirk.
"Don't you start!" Subaru warned, nodding towards the servant, who bowed and went back to her kitchen work.
"You know," Seishiro said thoughtfully, stirring sugar into his coffee. "I had two theories regarding Hotaru's caterpillar spell in my youth. First, that it doesn't work and Hotaru knew it. So he wrapped it into a hundred-and-twenty pages of the most boring Japanese prose I've ever encountered -- and that includes the Genji Monogatari in high school," he added, giving Subaru a long, suffering glance. "So that by the time, anybody can attempt the first, most simplified version of the spell every plant infested with caterpillars would be gone and nobody noticed his goof-up." Seishiro raised a second finger, appearing as if he gave the Victory-sign instead. "The second theory is, that it was never tested in the first place."
"Because you have to endure said 120 pages of the most boring Japanese prose for it, of course." Seishiro snorted. "Collecting the caterpillars manually off the plant is a lot faster and the real test is whether or not you think of doing it!"
Subaru gave up on not laughing. "Not everybody has as little tolerance for boredom as you."
"Little tolerance?" Seishiro actually managed to look horrified. "It's Hotaru! Compared to his prose, the phone book is positively thrilling!"
"Oh yes," Subaru said dreamily,." All those names and addresses... the advertisings... they guarantee sleepless nights!"
Chapter 4: Family Matters chapter 17 - checking out
He eyed the tub and shower room longingly, but there wasn't enough time left for a soak, so he cranked the water in the sink to hot, splashed two hands of water into his face, then reached for his tooth brush.
"Don't forget to wash behind the ears," a calm, amused voice said behind him. Close.
Seishiro turned abruptly. Yue, not solid enough to get wet by the spray of the shower head pushed to the upper end of the wall fitting. "What do you want?" he bit off.
"Checking your derriere?"
"Visiting Yomi soon?" Seishiro suggested sweetly.
Chapter 5: Family Matters chapter 20 - Comparing sizes
"What's that between you and Su-chan right now?" Seishiro asked, narrowed eyes following Takamura.
"That's not your concern," Subaru said.
"I beg to differ." Was there a growl in his voice? Surely not!
No!" Subaru snapped. "Forget it! If you actually have to compare sizes, I won't have a part of it!"
"And what sizes do you think we compare?" Seishiro asked, all fake innocence.
"I'd be interested in that one as well," Imonoyama joined them.
"Your egos, of course!" Subaru left them where they were, heading back to the house, a quiet room, a stiff drink, a double dose Valium-- No, he wouldn't go there, either.