Chapter Eight: Who was Nakata Rieko?:
The investigation was underway. First, they needed to learn more about the victim. Rieko was a sophomore at Kyoto University with problems. However, who was she really? What's real and what's a rumor? First place to ask would be the school. That was a sea of information there and it turned out to be mostly nasty.
"So is there anyone who would hurt Rieko?" Tsuzuki asked. The students candidly told him all.
"Ha! Who wouldn't want her dead?" her former roommate asked.
"She was such a slut!" a senior girl told him with a snort.
"Somebody's wife probably had the Eda-Kimoto kill her," a senior boy suggested.
"She was psycho,” the gay friend of the roommate said.
"We're better off without her," a freshman girl said as she trembled.
"Bitch stole my boyfriend," another senior girl complained.
"The guys only wanted her because she was a slut," a graduate girl said as she rolled her eyes.
"She was even sleeping with some of the professors,” a second senior boy explained in a whisper after he glanced around him.
"I'm surprised they didn't kick her out of school,” a junior male said with a shrug. Tsuzuki took it all in and nodded.
"Okay, thanks. I guess…" he muttered as the last person he interviewed headed to class. Damn and that was only the students talking! Tsuzuki found himself at a dead-end. He sighed as he looked out the window of the art building. If only there could be one…
"Excuse me," a small voice spoke up behind the shinigami. Tsuzuki turned and saw a young man standing in the doorway of the club room looking in. He seemed to be in a hurry with his schoolbag on his left shoulder. Tsuzuki looked him up and down with a puzzled look on his face.
"Can I help you?" he asked the boy. The younger man didn't speak at first.
"Are you digging into the Rieko case?" he asked. Tsuzuki looked at with a full interest.
"Why?" he asked, expecting more mud to be thrown on the victim's name. The boy shuffled in place for a little bit. He gritted his teeth as if to make himself try to and talk.
"She was my sister," he admitted with a hint of shame in his voice. Tsuzuki's eyes widened.
"What did you say?" he asked. The boy nodded at him.
"Yes," he said. Tsuzuki's attention was full and open now.
"Okay," he said, "Who are you and what do you know?" The boy swallowed to keep down his stomach as if he really needed to get this off his chest.
"My name is Nakata Masayuki," he said.
"Okay, Masayuki. What about your sister?" Tsuzuki inquired. The boy quickly looked around before he walked in a little closer. The shinigami observed his behavior rather curiously. If he didn’t know any better, he would say that this boy was hiding something. He wasn’t sure exactly what yet. Masayuki’s eyes looked down at his feet.
"She's not as bad everyone makes her out to be," he said in a quiet voice.
"Is that right?" Tsuzuki asked.
"Yes," Masayuki admitted in a low voice. The shinigami became even more puzzled.
"Then…who is she really?" he asked. The college student dropped his shoulders and shook his head.
"She's just…" he murmured.
"She's just what?" the older man pressed. Masayuki paused and shuffled his feet.
"She's just misunderstood, you know?" he broke down and admitted.
"Not really," Tsuzuki said, shaking his head. The boy tried to put his words together as he spoke.
"She's a messed-up girl,” he tried to explain. “Rieko-chan had many problems growing up. Her mother…" Masayuki shook his head. "Mom is just like everyone else at this school. They all just quit and wrote her off." He gritted his teeth. "Damn them all! They could've stayed to save her, but they turned away instead!" Masayuki tried to calm down in vain. Tsuzuki patted him on the shoulder. The boy looked up to see the shinigami giving him a gentle smile.
"You really did care about her, didn't you?" Tsuzuki asked.
"Yes," the college boy said with a sigh.
"There, there, I'll find out who did this to Rieko," the shinigami assured him in a whisper. Masayuki looked at him with big eyes.
"You promise?" he asked.
"Yes," Tsuzuki said with a nod. Masayuki straightened up as if a weight had been lifted from him.
"I thank you," he replied. The boy bowed and hurried away. Tsuzuki watched him with his faith in this case restored. Good that he found someone who truly cared about Rieko and didn't talk bad about her. Maybe, Masayuki could lead them to whoever's connected to the Eda-Kimoto in the university.
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