One More Day Above The Roses

His mother had been surprised when he told her about it, but Souji did get into the main study. Now he sat in the waiting room right after class, still kind of wondering exactly what this would entail. They’d sent more information. It just wasn’t something he knew much about.
Besides him and the secretary there was only one other person in the room. A high school student had come in right after Souji, sitting just a few chairs away. The young man hadn’t done a very good job hiding his stare either. It made Souji feel like the examination had already begun.
Five minutes passed. He couldn’t take it anymore.
“Is there something wrong?”
The secretary looked up sharply at the sudden sound. The high schooler smiled, exposing teeth that seemed almost too straight.
“Come here right after school?”
The smile vanished. “What do you care?”
Souji shrugged. “Just curious, I guess. It’s pretty dull in here.”
Okay. This was weird. The guy didn’t seem depressed, so what was with his answers? “This your consistent time too?”
“Guess we’ll see each other a fair amount then.”
“I’m Souji Seta.”
This kid was really getting on his nerves. “What school do you attend?”
“Why do you care?”
“Trying to pass the time.”
“Don’t bother.”
A nurse came out. “Naoki Kashima.”
The younger boy stood. “Until next time.”
“Uh, yeah.” How was he supposed to respond to that?
The boy, Kashima, gave a little wave as he headed over to the nurse. Weird.
Just a moment later a different nurse came out. “Souji Seta.”
“Here.” He stood.
“Are you ready for your appointment?”
“I think so.”
“Good. Follow me.”

Souji sat in the small room, sensors attached at various locations, and waited for Doctor Kishitani. They’d done a thorough brain scan and were examined it more thoroughly now. They would then record the conversation and his vital signals during it before scanning him again. Would there be any differences?
A small desk with a computer stood in front of him. The sensors were directly connected to that computer so Doctor Kishitani could examine them during the conversation.
Something moved. Souji shifted his gaze to the left. He could just make out the outline of what appeared to be a small boy wearing loose clothing.
“Hello.” His voice was oddly airy, but he was clearly a male child.
So why was Izanagi stirring? Then again, why was there a little kid here? The study examined mostly high schoolers and college students so he probably wasn’t part of that.
“Are you scared?” the kid asked.
“Should I be?”
A soft chuckle. “You are very foolish.”
“Who are you?”
“But can you reach out to your death?”
A knock on the door. The boy bowed slightly, revealing messy black hair. The door cracked open. The boy was gone.
“How are you today, Souji?” Doctor Kishitani asked.
The doctor stepped behind the desk. “You appear nervous.”
“Just tired of waiting.”
“I see. Do you get bored easily?”
“Not normally. Guess I just don’t like waiting.”
Doctor Kishitani smiled. “You really are still rather young, aren’t you?”
“Don’t worry about it. Guess I’m just feeling a little envious.”
“I understand.”

Souji lay in his bed that night, wondering about the boy he’d met. “Reach out to you death?” What did that even mean?
He reached out his hand. “Reach out.”
Naoto: How was it?
Souji: Alright. Not much yet.
Naoto: I found out more about them, if you’re interested.
Souji: Yeah.
Naoto: Besides the Kirijo Group, they also receive significant funding from SEBEC.
Souji: SEBEC?
Naoto: Saeki Electronics & Biological & Energy Corporation. They haven’t done much the last several years except some funding. Still, this apparently came in rather suddenly. Quite a bit too.
Souji: They must really want this research to go through.
Naoto: Yeah. Kirijo sounded rather intrigued by it. She’s looking into why her group is funding this too.
Souji: That would be great.
A different chat window opened up on his phone.
Yosuke: Heard about what happened at your apartment complex. Why didn’t you say anything?
Teddie: It’s beary worrying.
Souji: I’m fine.
Rise: No, you’re not. Seriously, why didn’t you say anything?
Souji: I’m not exactly on the top floor.
Souji shook his head. He always appreciated her blunt honesty, but she also tended to overreact.
Naoto: The police are investigating the situation. They just still haven’t found much.
Yosuke: You don’t think it Shadow related do you?
Souji was surprised by how quickly he answered: no.
Yosuke: Well, that’s good.
Yeah. That would have been, wouldn’t it? Naoto undoubtedly knew he was lying, but she didn’t say anything in the main chat. She switched to one between just the two of them.
Naoto: Is there a reason for this?
No. Yes? Maybe Naoto could offer some advice.
Souji: I saw it.
He was going to add what he saw, but just couldn’t figure out how to describe it. How do you describe a sentient being that can’t even begin to offer a description of itself.
Naoto: Senpai?
Souji: Broken. It said it’s broken.
Naoto: What’s it?
Souji: I’m not sure. It’s powerful though, and very volatile.
Naoto: I see you haven’t been completely honest with us.
Souji: Sorry. Had to sort everything out myself. Still have to.
Naoto: I understand.
Souji: There’s one more thing though.
He paused again. He didn’t like asking Naoto to keep secrets, but if anyone knew when a secret had to be revealed it would be her. Yosuke was great to talk to, but horrible at keeping secrets, and Teddie was even worse. She must have sensed his hesitation.
Naoto: What is it?
Souji: Don’t tell Kirijo or her friends. I think getting involved could be very dangerous for them. I’m investigating it right now and will let you know if I find anything else out.
Naoto: Are you sure about this?
Souji: Yeah. I think this thing, this shadow?, has something to do with them. I don’t think he’s after them, but an encounter could be bad. Really bad.
Naoto: I understand. I’ll let you know if we encounter any problems.
Souji: Thanks, Naoto.
Naoto: Of course.
He flicked off his phone, group messaging still abuzz, and lay down properly. He definitely felt better for at least letting Naoto in on it, even if only a little bit.


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