What exactly is Kato Iwao up to with this whole story? And why is he so interested in Anna in the first place?
Chapter Seventeen: Evening Dinner:
September 14th, 1976.
The funeral went on until sundown. Seven-year-old Kato Midori looked like a little doll in her casket. Two days ago, she lost to months of illness. She was so young that it caused the whole village pain. Her father, Iwao, couldn’t perform the funeral ceremony. He had done funerals for years; the priest couldn’t do this one. Iwao tired, but it was just too much. He and his wife, Michiko, ended up in the audience. Her parents watched on helpless as the golden yellow flames feasted on the small child that night. Six months later, Michiko followed her daughter. Kato hadn’t been fine ever since.
May 20th, 2009.
Tsuzuki and Hisoka made a request to have a background check on Kato Iwao. They just didn’t trust that guy and it turns out they weren’t the only ones. The rest of Ju-Oh-Cho didn’t trust Kato either. Surprisingly, it only took an hour for something to come up on Kato. He had a profile in Meifu’s database. Everyone crowded around the computer to read. Turns out, Kato had a heavy file on him as well.
“Kato-san used to be a priest?” Tsuzuki asked in shock, “That explains how he had access to a Hell Stone in the first place… and how he knows I’m a Shinigami.”
“But what does he want with Anna-san?” Tatsumi asked.
“You think that Kato-san and Haruka are…” Watari started to ask. Everyone stared at him with silent caution before he could finish that question. Tsuzuki looked at Konoe.
“What is it, Chief?” he asked. Konoe thought about that for a brief second.
“You and Hisoka go out and get more on Kato,” he assigned, “I don’t like that guy’s involvement in this case.”
“Yes sir!” Tsuzuki and Hisoka both said. Watari gave them the address before they left. Kato lived all the way outside of the city in a run-down apartment. The boys appeared before apartment 217. Hisoka looked at the paper Watari gave him.
“This is the place,” he said.
“Ready to do this?” his partner asked. The boy nodded and the Shinigami teleported inside. Kato even had the binds closed too early in the evening. Tsuzuki turned to Hisoka.
“Where do we start?” he asked.
“Bookcase,” the boy answered. They walked over to the tall, black, dusty bookcase. The dim moonlight through the binds worked for them. At first, the boys just found old books, nothing special to be honest, just some holy books. Then along came a bigger surprise.
Tsuzuki found an old little book of photos. Kato was there as the main subject of course, but he was with a woman; a woman and a girl to be exact. Tsuzuki looked at each of the pictures closely. The woman looked very beautiful standing next to Kato. She looked about thirty with soft flowing plum-black hair to her shoulders. Hey pretty olive green eyes reminded him of Anna’s. Kato towered over her in every picture they were in together. The little girl looked cute herself. Her face was round with little fat, rosy cheeks. Her stringy honey-brown hair was parted into two long ponytails. Her eyes were of a shiny green glass color like a glass bottle. Her brightly-colored play dresses looked so cute. Tsuzuki looked on confused.
/What is this?/, he thought.
“Hey Tsuzuki,” Hisoka whispered, “Look at this.” His partner leaned over to see. Hisoka held a wedding anniversary card in his hand. “Thank you for twelve beautiful years together. Let’s have more happy ones to come. Love, Iwao” it read. Both boys looked at each other confused.
“That can’t be right,” Tsuzuki said, “He lives alone, doesn’t he?”
“Yes,” the boy said, “Since ’94.” Okay, this was weird. Was Kato shady and mental as well?
Suddenly, the lights flipped on. The Shinigami looked up to see Kato standing in the doorway. He stared his “guests” up and down. Hisoka studied him closely; with his empathetic powers, he could sense that Kato was cold yet lonely.
“Oh,” Kato said, “I wasn’t expecting any guests for dinner.” Tsuzuki and Hisoka looked at him confused.
“What?” they asked.
“Come,” he said, “We’ll talk over dinner.” Kato walked over to the kitchen. Tsuzuki and Hisoka looked at each other still confused.
The three gentlemen sat at the table eating grilled fish, rice, and udon. Well, Kato did most of the eating while Tsuzuki and Hisoka sat staring at him in silence. Kato paused and looked up at them.
“Come on guys,” he said, “Eat up! You’re food’s getting cold.”
“I’m not hungry!” Hisoka spoke up.
“Me neither,” Tsuzuki lied. The older man shrugged.
“Suit yourself,” he said, “Anyway, you had questions for me, I can tell. Okay, spill it. What’s so important that you had to break into my apartment for it?” The Shinigami didn’t speak at first.
“We heard you used to be a priest,” Hisoka spoke up, “Why did you stop?” Kato didnt look up as the other two guys waited for an answer.
“Yes,” Kato said at last, “I was priest years ago.”
“What happened? Why did you stop?” Tsuzuki asked. Kato lifted his head.
“Back in spring of 1959, I met a young woman named Hino Michiko,” the old man answered, “Me being young and naïve then, I fell in love with her. Michiko-chan was a bright and beautiful sweetheart. She came from a wealthy high-class family. I didn’t care about any of that. I loved Michiko-chan for who she was. There was a problem, however. I was a priest and wanted to keep my vow of chastity.
He lowered his chopsticks on his empty bowl. “I turned to another priest for help. He told me to act on my feelings in a pure way. He suggested to take it slow. I wasn’t sure at first. In the end, I asked Michiko-chan out on a date. She said yes. From there, we became a couple.
He sat back with a small smile on his face. “Four years later, Michiko-chan and I were married. We were a happy couple, yet Michiko-chan kept having the feeling that we were missing something. She didn’t know what it was for years. So one day, I wished that the answer would find her. Then in summer of 1968, Michiko-chan started feeling sick. I thought my wife had come down with a stomach virus. Turns out, my Michiko-chan was pregnant. She had finally gotten her answer. On February second 1969, our angel, Midori-chan, was born. Her mother and I loved her so much. You could say that we were an ideal family, but then it all went to pieces.”
“Did something happen?” Tsuzuki asked.
“A month after her sixth birthday, Midori-chan fell ill,” Kato went on, “At first, it was minor, but then, it just got worse and worse. The doctors couldn’t help her and Michiko-chan and I didn’t know what to do. All we could do was watch our daughter’s life slip away. On September twelfth, Midori-chan died when she was only seven. I couldn’t even do the funeral ceremony; another priest had to take my place. Then a month later, Michiko-chan became ill with the same disease Midori-chan had. Six months later, she was dead too.”
His hands trembled as he spoke. “It was as if after Midori-chan died, my wife had lost the will to live.” Kato shook his head as his eyes well up with tears.
“I have great healing powers,” he went on, “How ironic! A man with great healing powers and I couldn’t even save my own family from illness! After that, I lost interest in life. I quit being a priest after Michiko-chan’s death and have kept to myself ever since.” Tsuzuki and Hisoka stared on silent. Dinner was quiet for the rest of the night. Kato saw them out afterwards.
“Tonight was great,” he said as the boys went out the door, “We should have dinner together again someday!” The Shinigami said nothing as they disappeared into the night.