Disclaimer: "Same as it ever was..."
Okay, one more time: I solemnly swear that this is my own original story. It's my story, my whole story, and nothing but my story (except for one line which I'll get to in the End Notes). Now, on to the finale!
"Choukuko's Dog" -- by MadPanda
Final Chapter -- "Cause and Effect"
The doorbell to the Hitsuji apartment rang, distracting Yukiko from worrying about Pirika and her aunt. A couple moments later, her mother led a well-dressed, middle-aged man into the room. "I'm sorry to bother you, Yuki-chan, but this officer wants to ask you some questions." Akiko turned to the cop. "Please don't excite her too much, she's not doing too well."
"I can see that - I think it would be best if we did this on the way to the hospital." The young man turned to Yukiko and smiled. "Hello, I'm Detective Hikarigawa. I guess it's safe to say you were involved in the fight downstairs, huh?"
Yukiko removed the nebulizer mask and nodded to the detective.
"Good. Now, I need to ask you some questions, and you need medical treatment for your wounds...and your asthma. I can get you checked out, and you can answer my questions on the way." He was a kind person, not the least bit forceful. Yukiko agreed despite her mother's protests, and they soon left the apartment.
"Excuse me, Detective," Yukiko asked. "Where is Piri-chan? Is she okay? And her aunt?"
"Slow down, kid," the man smiled. "If you mean Fukurou-san, she's in a squad car cooling off. We're gonna have to bring her in for questioning as well." Hikarigawa noted the sigh of relief the young girl gave, as well as the worry on her brow. "Her aunt...her name wouldn't be Kurasu, would it?"
"Yes! I called and asked to check on her. Is she okay?" The anxiety returned, but the detective tried to calm Yukiko as best he can.
"Well, we got a call from her as well, something about prowlers. I was surprised to see her address matched the one found on Fukurou-san.. I should be hearing some news from that one when we get to the scene, okay?"
"Thank you very much, sir!" Yukiko bowed and leaned against the elevator wall.
"We've been trying to get your friend to talk to us about what happened, but she's been a bit incoherent. Maybe you can help?"
"I'll do my best, Detective." Yukiko bowed to the man and followed him into the elevator.
Two uniformed officers had just finished taking statements from the onlookers, when one took a good look at Pirika. "Hey, did you see how she was dressed?"
The second cop looked in Pirika's direction. "Yeah...you know what that means, right? Kuma-san's gonna be down here in a heartbeat!"
"Aw, man! That won't be good! The BBCU will find some way to get her off!" The first cop shuddered as a brown sedan pulled into the crime scene........ "Speak of the devil!"
Out of the car lumbered a large man in a dark brown suit and matching fedora. His thick, coarse beard and hairy hands gave him a somewhat fearsome appearance. His badge read Akinori Hatasa, chief of the Bukumin Bias Crimes Unit, but most everyone called him Kuma-san - "Bear".
"So, what's the deal this time?" His voice wasn't meant for anyone in particular; he just waited for someone to answer him. The two uniformed cops got him up to speed on things, and he went over to take a look at the young girl who was scraped off the ground and placed on a gurney. He then looked at Pirika, and returned his gaze to Hiroko. "She did this by herself? Man, I wouldn't want to piss her off!" He then made his way over to the squad car.
"Oh shit, it's Kuma-san!" Hikarigawa groaned when he saw Hatasa. "Then again, this might work out better for you, Hitsuji-chan."
Yukiko looked at the man's odd expression. "What are you talking about?"
"You'll see," he said.
Pirika knew she was sitting somewhere, but it looked to her like she was in a movie theatre watching a crime drama. The flashing lights, the crime tape, the officers questioning the crowd...and the ambulance. She didn't see any recognizable actors, and also thought how strange it was that the movie seemed to be 360 degrees around her. 'No, this is real...what happened here?' She tried to turn to get a better look, but found herself restrained to the back seat of the car, and in handcuffs. Her brown attush top was stained with blood, and parts of her body had pain, but she couldn't remember why. The realization started to dawn on her as she saw the paramedics lift a gurney into the ambulance. 'Yuki-pe? No...she was upstairs...I told her to go upstairs. So that must be...oh kamuy kami! What did I do??'
The detective led Yukiko to the squad car where Pirika sat looking quite bewildered. "Piri-chan!!" Yukiko knocked on the window, trying to get her friend's attention.
'Yuki-pe? What is she doing down here?' Pirika's eyes grew wide at the sight of her girlfriend, and tried to call out to her.
"Please, sir! Can I sit and talk with her?"
Hikarigawa opened the door for Yukiko. "Get in. You talk to her while I talk to the big guy here," he gestured to Hatasa. Yukiko thanked the man with a bow, and hurried inside.
"Yu...Yuki-pe?" Pirika's voice returned when she felt the arms of her white-haired angel wrap around her. "What...what have I done? Did I...did I...?" She began to cry openly into her girlfriend's shoulder.
Yukiko rocked her, kissing her on the cheek. "No, Piri-chan. She's not dead...is she, Detective?"
"Close enough," the officer deadpanned. "Her face was smashed in, and she's probably got more than a few broken ribs. Your friend there is a hell of a fighter." He then continued his conversation with the larger man.
"She has to be," replied Yukiko. "She was protecting the people she loves." She felt Pirika nod and she smiled.
Hatasa gave the albino girl the once over, and grinned. "Three for the price of one. How convenient!", he said to the Detective. "About that. Witnesses say she had actually started the fight with you, Hitsuji-chan. Is that so?"
"Yes, sir," Yukiko replied. She let go of Pirika so she could turn and face Hatasa. She still kept one arm around Pirika, holding her close. "You see, Akiyama-san is our class representative, but she is also a bully. She disliked me for quite a while, and when Piri-chan and I became friends, she threatened us both even more."
"Did you say Akiyama? That wouldn't be Hiroko Akiyama by any chance?" Hatasa's face beamed when both girls nodded. "I didn't recognize her, with her face smashed in and all. Well, that explains a few things. Hikarigawa, take them to the hospital. I'll catch up with you in a bit. I have to check out something. Take care, Hitsuji-chan!" He then bent over to get a better look at Pirika. "Apunno oke yan, Fukurou-pe!" The man waved one of his large hands in their direction, then trudged back to his car.
Yukiko's mouth hung open. "Piri-chan...did he just...?"
"Yes he did, Yuki-pe...yes he did!" Pirika smiled as she watched the sedan pull away.
Hikarigawa moved to the driver's seat of the car. "Ladies, I think you've just earned yourselves a 'get out of jail free' card'." He ignored the questioning looks the girls gave him, and drove them towards the hospital.
The triage nurse tried to be as gentle as possible. "Please hold still," she implored while trying to clean Pirika's bloodied hands. The peroxide-soaked gauze pads hissed and stung as they touched her broken skin. "It looks like you put up a good fight. I hope you got him good."
"It was a 'she'," Pirika snorted, oblivious of the surprised look the nurse gave her. "And yeah, the bitch got what she deserved."
"Piri-chan! Don't let the police hear you say that!" Yukiko gestured to the waiting room. "Right now, it's self-defense. But who know how they'll turn things around, especially considering you're..."
"Yeah, I know," Pirika interrupted. "But she did. For what she did to you...for what she tried to do to Kunarpe...heck, I'm sure we're not the only ones would like to have taken her head off."
"You'd be surprised how many!" A loud voice entered the conversation, followed by its owner. The large man bowed to the nurse. "Please excuse us, ma'am. Police business." The nurse obliged, bowing first to the man and then to the two girls. Hatasa flashed his badge. "I'm sorry I didn't introduce myself earlier to you. Akinori Hatasa, Bukumin Bias Crimes Unit. I'm sure you can guess why I'm here, ne?"
Yukiko gave the man a curious look. "Bukumin? But we're not--"
"You are," Hatasa replied, holding one of Yukiko's snow-white pigtails in his paw of a hand. "You're different, and that puts you below everyone else. Higher on the social ladder than Fukurou-pe here, but still lower than the rest. And that puts you at risk. But then, you don't need me to tell you that, do you?"
Both girls blushed. Pirika tried to sort things out. "So your unit investigates crimes that involve..."
"The outsiders, the untouchables, the foreigners, those who the rest of society deems to be 'impure' or 'unnatural'. That's why I'm here!" Hatasa ended his speech with a flourish.
Pirika just ignored the grand display. "You must love your job, being that you're one of the very 'impure' people you defend, right Hatasa-san?"
Hatasa stared off into the distance. "Consider it my way of 'protecting the village'." He then turned his gaze to Pirika. "It's not a desirable job, Fukurou-pe, but a necessary one. Otherwise, folks like us would be tossed in the can for breathing the same air."
Yukiko watched the man's antics warily. "So, what will happen to us now, Hatasa-san?"
"Funny you should ask. Given this was more self-defense than anything else, and the fact that Akiyama has...shall we say, a 'history'...neither of you should be officially charged with a crime."
Yukiko left her seat and ran to hug her relieved friend. "Isn't that great!"
"Not so fast, Hitsuji-san," Hatasa warned. "I said 'should'. You both will still be questioned, as will your aunt, Fukurou-pe. Between her incident and yours, I'm sure there is enough evidence to indict Akiyama on charges ranging from aggravated assault to conspiracy. Hell, if I dig far enough, I can get some of her old menacing charges brought into play."
"You sure are full of yourself, Hatasa-san!" Pirika wasn't crazy about the big guy's boastfulness.
"Call me 'Kuma'...everyone else does!" Hatasa stepped closer to Pirika. "Look, Fukurou-pe. I know you're probably thinking, 'He's just the police dog sent to keep the other dogs in line'...but I'm not. I'm really here to help. If my grandiose attitude puts you off, I'm sorry. It's part of what got me here. As the saying goes, "To be important, you have to act important'. I do my job, and the show I put on gives people the impression that I do my job well...which I do. It's working for you as we speak, Fukurou-pe, so don't knock it."
Pirika thought about what Hatasa had said, and gave him an understanding nod. She then moved on to something else. "You said Hiroko had a 'history'. What did you mean by that?"
A cell phone rang in the man's long coat. He took it out, read the message, and then snapped the phone closed. "I'll tell you both when we get to the station. If you're both done here, we'll be off. Don't want to keep your aunt waiting, do we Fukurou-pe?" Hatasa left the room, calling for the nurse to finish her job.
Sirno sat nervously muttering to herself. The thought of some prowlers trying to break in to her home was scary enough; finding out they were actually sent to attack her niece and her friend, wall, that was almost too much. She was relieved to see Yukiko leave one of the interrogation rooms. "Yuki-pe!" She threw her arms around the small girl. "Where's Pirika?"
Yukiko returned the hug. "I'm so happy to see you're okay! Piri-chan's in one of the other interrogation rooms."
Sirno's happy look turned into a worrisome one. "Is this about the Akiyama girl? Will she get in any trouble?"
"I don't think so, Kunarpe-chan." Yukiko led the older woman to a chair, and sat with her. "Kuma-san...er, I mean Chief Hatasa said he will be here soon to sort things out for us."
The two of them compared notes about each other's events. After awhile, Hatasa came towards them carrying a large folder. "Hey, you two! You might want to come in here for this!" He beckoned for them to follow him. Yukiko helped Sirno out of her seat, and they followed Hatasa into the interrogation room.
Pirika nearly jumped out of her seat upon seeing Sirno's happy face. "Could you please remove these handcuffs, Kuma-san?" Her request was granted, and Pirika gave her aunt a big hug.
"Okay, enough with the reunion. It's story time. Please, have a seat." Hatasa sat across from the three women, and opened up the folder, laying it on the table. "So," he began. "Akiyama Hiroko caught my attention about the time you were attacked by her and her goons, Hitsuji-chan. Even though you got your parents to drop the charges, I looked into the case anyway, as well as her background..."
If there was such a thing as a model child, Hiroko Akiyama was it. She was pretty, smart, popular, and obedient--a far cry from the girl she is now. Her parents had a pretty good marriage, and they both worked, but not so much as to ignore their daughter. In fact, they spoiled her rotten, making sure she was never without.
When she was ten years old, her parents decided to move to a luxury apartment. The building manager performed a background check on their family histories. This used to be standard practice in the country; it ensured that pure Japanese would marry each other, get better jobs, and be allowed to live in better housing. Those who weren't pure Japanese (or were below a certain class)tried to find ways to keep their true backgrounds hidden as much as they can. Even if your great-grandfather was one of the "undesirables", it was a black mark on your current family. Unfortunately Hiroko's mother Hatoko was found to be of mixed blood. Her maternal grandmother was Korean--a fact that was kept from her.
When informed of this bit of news (and the subsequent rejection of the apartment), Hiroko's father Junichi immediately divorced Hatoko and disowned Hiroko, leaving them both penniless and on the streets. Hatoko tried committing suicide a number of times, but ended up in an psychiatric ward. Hiroko became a ward of the state, subsisting on welfare and living in a poorly-run orphanage.
Hiroko loved her parents dearly, so to have her father just abandon her and her mother try to kill herself was too much for her to understand. To her, she was Japanese, and they were Japanese, so it didn't make sense for all of this to happen.
The orphanage had records of all kinds of incidents involving Hiroko, ranging from property damage, to fights, to her own suicide attempt. Through counseling, Hiroko's physical rages and emotional outbursts were cut to a minimum, but as the years dragged on, Hiroko began to gain an understanding for why her father had left her mother. It was her mother's fault--she was impure, and so it was right for him to leave her. However, she still saw herself as pure Japanese, and agonized as to why her father never returned for her. She had made up her mind then to hate all those who were like her mother--who were "impure".
Hiroko eventually moved into a hostel, caring for herself and continuing to go to school. She wanted to prove to her father, should she ever see him again, that she was indeed Japanese. That she was strong, smart, and always did her best. Along the way, she would fight constantly, especially with foreigners or those who were even the least bit "different". She has gained a fearsome reputation, both in school and out. So much so that there were police incidents where she always seemed to be involved, but no charges ever brought against her.
Yukiko sank in her chair upon hearing that part of the story. She herself had been one of Hiroko's targets, and while she had been badly beaten, she begged her mother not for file a complaint, for fear that Hiroko would retaliate.
Pirika noticed Yukiko's sad demeanor and gave her a hug. "It's alright, Yuki-pe. I probably would've done the same thing if I were in your position."
"Thankfully, you're not!" Sino chimed in. She looked across the table to Chief Hatasa, the irony of the situation not lost on her. "Does she still not realize what she is, Kuma-san?"
Hatasa gathered his papers and gave the folder to Det. Hikarigawa. "Nope... Her mind has conveniently blocked that little tidbit out. I'm sure her lawyers will claim some kind of insanity plea, or emotional duress, or some other such crap. But the girl's a psychopath. Plain and simple. She's gonna kill someone one day--it's best to lock her up before that happens."
"When will she be put away?" Yukiko asked.
"Once she's patched up, they'll cart her off to the nearest mental facility--hopefully not the same one her mother's in. With the mountain of evidence against her and her goons, you don't have to worry about a trial."
"So...can we go then?" Pirika's hopeful expression brought a smile to Hatasa's hairy face.
"Yes, Fukurou-pe, you can go. Just keep your hands to yourself, okay?"
"Yes, sir!" Pirika nodded. Yukiko rose and stood behind Pirika, giving her a hug. "I'll make sure to keep her out of trouble, Kuma-san!"
"Good, good!" Hatasa laughed, before turning to Sirno. "Oh, and Kurasu-san...I'm sorry about your place. I know you had quite a few irreplaceable items broken by those kids."
"Don't worry about it,' Sirno waved him off. "They are only things, material items. What's more important is what we have here." She looked over to the two girls, who were whispering to each other. "They matter more than anything." She lifted herself from the chair and waved to the girls. "I'm sure they have more criminals to catch, so let's be on our way."
The three women thanked the officers, and exited the room.
Pirika sat under their tree in the schoolyard with Yukiko cradled in her arms. It was late and the yard was empty. "I'm gonna miss this place," she said fondly.
"I know," Yukiko whispered. "Maybe we should come back here for anniversaries, ne?"
Pirika nodded. "Are you sure you wanna do this? I mean, Hokkaido gets pretty cold in the winter, y'know."
"Sure. My father couldn't wait to turn me over to Kunarpe-chan. Mom put up a little fight, but not much. I guess she wanted to rid herself of her 'imperfection' just as much as he did." Yukiko turned away as tears began to well up.
"So, that's what Kunarpe meant. She said she talked to your parents, but she didn't say why. I thought it had something to do with the case." Pirika hugged her girlfriend tightly. "You're gonna be okay with us, Yuki-pe?"
"I'll be alright, 'cause I'll be with you! I'm sure you'll take care of me, so I'm not worried." Yukiko gave Pirika a big smile, and any other questions the taller girl had about what they were about to do went out of the window. "Sirno should be finished with the principal by now, let's join them." The girls got up and brushed themselves off. Pirika bowed to the tree, and gave a silent prayer to its god. Yukiko watched her, and also prayed to the tree itself, thanking it for its shade, as well as for bringing her and Pirika together. The two girls then walked off to the school for the last time, hand in hand.
-- END --