Chapter Twenty-Three: Grandfather:

Ever since they picked up the Eda-Kimoto case, Tsuzuki had on nagging question he couldn�t ignore. Where was Kimoto Akio? Earlier searches on him turned up nothing. Tsuzuki lied awake in the guest room. His mind started to play the �what if� game.

What if Akio�s dead and no one reported it? It seemed possible; the last time anyone saw him was the twenty-eighth of February in 1967. He and his wife abandoned their children for two years that night. Tsuzuki remembered the question Daisuke asked on one of his tapes.

�Who�s Kirika-chan�s father?� he asked. Tsuzuki began to wonder the same thing as well. It made sense; Haruka could�ve seduced another man and got pregnant. The shinigami frowned at that possibility. It didn�t seem like Haruka.

Wait, Tsuzuki thought. There is Aki. Ah yes, Aki, Haruka�s kitsune. He already knew of the seductive power kitsune have. Tsuzuki cringed as he thought of the Mother again. He made himself get back on track. It was possible with Aki to seduce a man in Tsuzuki�s previous scenario. But what of Akio? That�s when another thought crossed his mind. What if Haruka murdered her husband? Tsuzuki bottled straight up in bed. He needed a little help on this quest.

When work hours started, the shinigami headed over to Ju-Oh-Cho�s library. He made his way to the front desk. Older Gushoshin glanced up from the computer.

�Can I help you?� he asked. Tsuzuki prepared the best way to ask this.

�Uh� I�m looking for somebody,� he spoke up. The bird-like creature narrowed his eyes at him.

�May I ask who?� he asked. Tsuzuki leaned in closer for his answer.

�Kimoto Akio,� he whispered. Gushoshin�s jaw dropped.

�There is no information on him,� he was quick to say.

�Oh come on,� Tsuzuki insisted. �There has to be something.�

�There isn�t,� the bird-creature insisted.

�Not even a death certificate?� Tsuzuki asked.

�We don�t know if he�s dead or alive,� Gushoshin argued. The shinigami already had his counter-argument ready to go.

�What if Haruka killed him?� he offered.

�But his soul�s not registered in Meifu, at all,� Gushoshin said shaking his head.

�Aki could�ve eaten it,� Tsuzuki pointed out. �The tsukai are desperate to live after all.� The bird creature eyed him oddly.

�Do you have any proof of this?� he challenged that accusation. Tsuzuki had nothing to back up this claim. Akio had never been found for years, he had no record of his death, and no way to examine his body.

�No, I don�t,� the shinigami answered. �But I have to know what happened to him. The question is driving me crazy.�

�There isn�t anything there,� Gushoshin repeated. �We�ve checked many times. We�re still checking now.�

�Are you looking hard enough?� Tsuzuki asked. He went into innocent puppy mode at that question. Gushoshin frowned at where this was going.

�Yes,� he said. �We�re looking as hard as we can.�

�You sure?� the man asked.

�Tsuzuki�.� the older bird creature grumbled.

�Please?� the shinigami pleaded. �I have to know!� The bird creature narrowed his eyes at him.

�You won�t give up otherwise, will you?� he asked. Tsuzuki shook his head innocently. Gushoshin sighed and rolled his eyes.

�Fine,� he said. �We�ll get to it, again.� Tsuzuki felt like dancing.

�Thank you, Gushoshin,� he said with a bow. The bird creature frowned.

�Right,� he muttered.


However, Tsuzuki wasn�t the only one with a burning question to ask. Konoe sat with Hakushaku for tea. The latter lowered his cup.

�I�ll get to the point, Konoe-san,� he said. �Enma-Daioh feels that Tsuzuki�s gotten too close to this case.�

�Yes sir,� Konoe agreed. �We didn�t expect him to fall for the Mother�s vessel, let alone marry her.�

�This is a problem indeed,� the invisible man said. �Which is why we will take him off this case. I will hand it over to sector five.� Hakushaku took another drink of his tea. �Tell me,� he said. �How is that leak investigation going?�

�We�re still looking,� Konoe answered. �We have a couple of leads so far.�

�And the surveillance?� the invisible man asked.

�No changes,� the other old man answered.

�Good, good,� Hakushaku said. �Let�s just keep it that way for now.�

�Yes sir,� Konoe said before taking a sip of his own tea.