Song 13 Strange Insects (NOW we are Reiji again.) Yukari shakes me awake. Reiji: "Hunh? Ahh, it's morning...?" Yukari: "There's a phone call for you, Nii-san." Reiji: "A phone call... From whom?" Reiji: "The vice-principal...?" I wonder what it could be. Reiji: "Hello? Sorry to keep you waiting---" Saeki: "Yes, Tokisaka-sensei... I'm afraid something terrible has happened.." Reiji: "Vice-Principal? What's the matter?" I readjust the receiver and listen carefully. Saeki: "Well... Yesterday, Kuchiki Toko-san got into an accident..." Reiji: "What!? An accident...?" Saeki: "Yes... She was hit by a truck in front of the academy..." The bottom drops out of my stomach. Reiji: "And... How's her condition...?" Saeki: "It looks like she's survived. However, her injuries are severe, and she's currently hospitalized at the Kuchiki Pathological Research Institute in Nakano." Reiji: "...I see. Thanks for making the effort to contact me." Somehow, I'm able to keep my voice calm. Saeki: "...I'm heading over to the hospital right now. What will you ----" Reiji: "I'm going too. I'll see you later." I set down the receiver. Yukari's face is a mask of concern. Reiji: "It seems that Toko ---- That Kuchiki-san got into an accident." Yukari: "Kuchiki-san... was in an accident!?" Reiji: "Yeah, an accident. ... Not a murder." A traffic accident. She hasn't ended up like the others. Reiji: "...But in the end, I don't suppose it makes much difference." ... Right now, I'm worried about Toko's condition. Reiji: "---I'm heading out. Yukari, you're going to school." Yukari: "Okay..." I head for Nakano, trying to ignore the despondent look on her face. /// Saeki is already at the Kuchiki Pathological Research Institute when I arrive. Reiji: "Vice-Principal---" Saeki looks pretty composed, all things considered. (Image 2000) Reiji: "Hello, Kuchiki-san..." Fumiya looks haggard. He was probably here all night, since he's family. Fumiya; "...Thanks for coming all the way over here." Reiji: "Not at all----" I look over at Chizuru, seated behind him. She looks even worse than him. She hangs her head, staring at the floor. More like a soulles husk than a person. Voice: "Ah - Is Toko...?!" (high-pitched and upset voice - we know who this is) Her shoulders are heaving. She must have run all the way from the station. Reiji: "Mizuhara-san..." Reiji: "Calm down. ... It's all right. Kuchiki-san's just fine." As I say that, I look into Fumiya's face. He gives a slight nod. Fumiya: "---I'll go get my father now." Fumiya heads down the corridor. After a little while, Fumiya returns and leads us to the director's office. Slumped in his chair, Dr. Kuchiki looks as fatigued as his son. Reiji: "For the moment...?" Dr. K: "...Yes. We can see damage to a portion of her spinal cord. She'll probably be paralyzed in her lower limbs... In addition, she has fractured bones throughout her body, and treating those will be difficult." After saying that, Yasutada looks downward. Dr. K: "...She regained consciousness this morning, but---" Mizuhara, silent until now, raises her voice to ask a question. Dr. K: "She can, but... I'll have to ask you to make a promise." Toko2: "What is it?" Dr. K: "I'd like you all to keep quiet about what I've just told you regarding her condition." Toko2: "Eh...?" Reiji: "Toko doesn't know yet?" Toko2: "...I understand." Mizuhara nods.