Since the day we rescued Takagi’s friend, nothing significant happened. I guess that is what I wanted after a long time of something exhausting that doesn’t happen everyday. There’s still no news of Takagi’s friend so far, and the status is still unknown. This would likely mean that he had made a major decision to change himself and taking time to get used to it. Still, not knowing what he’s doing now is making me anxious.
My 8th (yes, eighth!) annual high school summer vacation is almost over, and Kotomi should be back any time soon unless she wants to hang out with her university friends for a graduation trip or something. Shouldn’t I have graduated from college by now? Why on earth am I repeating my entire high school education for the second time when my academic performance is more than enough to do well in colleges of a similar level that Kotomi went into? Moreover, why am I also a very important person to a particular large company that didn’t exist just 4 years ago just because my existence from an another dimension was forced into here? I didn’t found this company, an another me from there did, but I’m in a copy of her body.
Female voice: “Really?! Does that mean that moving my whole family to a town northwest of here and me working here was because the company I’m working for existed out of the blue? Including the people working for it? I could have sworn that I was working for it earlier than that. More importantly, if you’re our big boss, why do you look as young as my children? And, now that I know that you are that mysterious girl running around all over the company, why are you always wearing nothing but the same school uniform these days?”
Uh oh. It looks like she could either read my mind or I had unknowingly said out my thoughts. Looking at her, she’s the supervisor of Takagi’s division and was present at meetings where my presence is required. She’s known by the family name of Isaka, but I can’t tell if she’s the kind who would keep my secret, or leak it out to everyone else. I have to be cautious and assume the latter to be safe. Should I quietly run away?
Isaka: “You there! The girl in the Mizuho student uniform! I’m talking about you!”
Huh? Me? Is there anyone else…
Isaka: “Don’t look around: there’s no one else but you!”
Me: “W-What did I do?”
Her face was up so close to me now, but back out shortly.
Isaka: “This little girl that looks like a teenage schoolgirl that doesn’t seem know what’s going on is the exact same person as the most important person to Powell Research company? What’s with that outfit? Come to think of it, I’ve seen you running around several times and I though you have a parent working here. I was wondering who made up this strange rule of allowing a particular schoolgirl to run around the company, but it’s made just so you can walk around without being stopped every time. I mean, would a visitor that looks younger than the average staff wearing a supervisor-level staff pass itself look suspicious?”
No good. She has seen me before not only in here in my official attire, but also as what I am now.
Me: “You see… I can’t physically take it out for as long as I’m seen as a student there… You can try taking it out for me now and it would feel as if its a part of my body.”
She didn’t seem remotely interested about taking off my uniform. Possibly out of respect of my position to her.
Inami: “Now, come to think of it, my son has started living there because it’s a lot closer to his school than our house. For some reason, he chooses to send a message to me instead of a call at times he might be there. I’ve found a female uniform of his school once among his possessions, but I thought it belonged to my daughter, who is a year younger and goes to the same school, until I noted that it’s an extra set after counting them. On the inside has his name, or someone else with the exact same characters, near the size label. I haven’t told him or anyone else about this, not even my husband and daughter, besides you. What do you think about this? My two children looked alike and were close to each other until recently.”
It means that the “extra” female uniform you are talking about is what your son is wearing while in Mizuho. It’s actually a Mizuho outfit that looks like the female uniform of his school for non-Mizuho students there. Either way, if he heads to his school in the morning straight from there, he has to go somewhere along the way to take it off and turn back, but he couldn’t do that within Mizuho grounds, not even inside its accommodation. Finding a quiet place outside Mizuho in the morning with nobody around isn’t easy. Sometime I wonder if he actually turned up in school without turning back and everyone not noticing that he has been turned into a girl or them thinking he always has been one. I can’t know without following him around for some period of time, but I have better things to do than to follow him around.
Me: “I’m guessing that he might be stressed up. In ways I can’t explain, men wearing clothes meant for females might have them feel better if he surrounded with a lot of beautiful girls, but none outside the family are close enough to him. The adolescence stage in his life can make him feel confused about his feelings from time to time. Since you mentioned your two children looked alike when they were younger, he could be secretly be wishing to be like his sister but would deny it when asked.”
What on earth am I saying to the mother of the child in question? Is she going to get mad at me? My own body is still considered about 5-6 years younger than my actual age and is stuck in the adolescence stage, so my feelings and thoughts as a mature adult has not happened even though the time since my parents gave birth to me says that it should have.
Inami: ”I guess I shouldn’t be too overprotective about it. Forgive me for someone like me to ask someone superior like you about it, but I can’t help but to feel like it’s the other way around. Oh, and did you find Takagi’s friend?”
Should I mention anything about time-travelling or Hatsuya Research being involved? I don’t know what side she’s on or what she knows, but most Powell staff sees anyone working or has worked for Hatsuya as a traitor due to them seeing as their big rival, though Hatsuya sees them as nothing but a joke as they know that I, as one of their “most valued staff”, is their leader. They can’t deny the talent and seriousness the Powell staff have over Hatsuya though.
Me: “Yes. He seems to have been abducted and tortured in a little known area overseas since before he was first reported missing. I’ve found and rescued him, but he needs to adjust back and help him deal with some legal issues before he could talk to anyone.”
Inami: “Thank goodness that he’s still alive, though I’m even more surprised on what you went through to get him back and actually risked your life for him. Well, I should be going now. I got too excited on seeing you outside important meetings or as text on the messaging system.”
Phew! That was a close call. She looked as though she almost asked me on the more specific details of finding Takagi’s friend, where Hatsuya research staff and technology are involved. Still, I think it’s about time I reveal to everyone about myself as the next company meeting I’m supposed to be in is coming up quite soon, not long after Kotomi arrives back from her overseas studies. It’s been too long that most of my own employees has not seen me in person and the Mizuho uniform forces me to reveal myself since I can’t take it off, or wear my usual official attire over it (although Hatsuya’s winter student uniform looks almost similar, but still visibly different). I don’t really mind that, but what about my connection with Hatsuya? It’s strongly related to why I’m even made to study in Mizuho in the first place, and me not aging.
It wasn’t too long after the summer holidays ended where Itsuki has called me to say that Kotomi is literally about to board the flight from California back to Japan, this time with all of her things from the college dormitory. Itsuki won’t be picking her up due to the rushed schedule and the difficulty of getting out the Mizuho work uniform that Kotomi is not supposed to see him in. In turn, he has let me pick her up myself with my car, the car that is specially designed as an extension of me, but had not much opportunity to drive it myself since Itsuki always drives it. Itsuki has told Kotomi to wait at the drop-off point outside the departure hall, and Kotomi expects him to be already there when she arrives at the pick-up spot. The timing of her arrival means that I wouldn’t need to skip school just to pick her up.
The appointed place does not allow waiting, so I had to closely monitor Kotomi’s flight and drive the car at through certain routes and speed in such a way that I would arrive shortly before Kotomi is expected to show up there. Well, the car is doing the planning, so I don’t need to worry about it.
As planned, I saw Kotomi waking inside the building towards the pick-up point. She didn’t look in my direction until she got closer. Upon seeing me, her excited face quickly turned into a face that look that doesn’t seem happy. She was looking at me as though there’s something odd about me.
Kotomi: “Now Mamiko, where is he hiding this time?”
“Mamiko”? I haven’t been called by that name for a long time.”
Me: “Erm, call me Saeko instead, his younger sister. That’s what I’m known as here. Anyway, he’s busy at work and couldn’t come here. Since my school has ended for the day. He told me that you needed help to carry your luggage, so I brought my car along.”
After loading her luggage into the car, I programmed the car to get us to the Miyazawa household. Since it’s quite some distance away, I’ve decided to start revising my school work. It didn’t take long before Kotomi started yelling at me.
Kotomi: “Hey Saeko! The car is moving by itself! We’re going to crash!”
Me: “Relax, this car is specially designed so that I could just sit back and let the car drive me to where I want it to go, even if I don’t know the way. It seems to only work for me when I’m inside though.”
During the journey, Kotomi still seem uneasy on the idea of a car driving by itself to the point that she actually kept trying to shake me as it seems as if nobody was driving the car. Actually, I’m controlling the car without appearing to be doing anything since this particular car is like an extension of me as it has advanced features that only work with me. The standard controls are just there for people that are not me to drive the car and, in the current situation for example, not allowing the passenger to do a manual override over my control just because they scared from not being used to being inside a car that drives itself.
Kotomi: “By the way, what have you been doing these days? You don’t seem to have aged since I last saw you the night after my high school festival five years ago. You’re supposed to be of the same age as me as a matter of fact.”
I don’t know what to say to her. There are some things that I can’t tell others, but I’m starting to feel as if Kotomi is part of my family. I guess it’s okay to tell her about some things.
Me: “You see, my body seems to have somehow not physically grown older than 16. Well, almost 16. Also, I had been made to study in Mizuho right after graduating from Kamisugi high. They said that I was supposed to go to Mizuho immediately after Mihara, but preparations to accommodate me weren’t ready yet. Please, can you do something about this? I’m already starting to become sick and tired of learning the same things over and over. I’m already doomed to not be able to die, and they take advantage of that by wanting me to repeat high school from year one after graduating from an another without going to college?”
Kotomi: “Well, I’ll see what I can do, but I can’t guarantee that it will happen exactly as you say. By the way, I won’t be working with Hatsuya.”
I wasn’t expecting her to say that, the very person that is expected to take over her uncle when the time comes.
Kotomi: “I know you would be shock about this, but I’ve never worked with other companies before, and I don’t really know what it’s like. I mean, unlike you or Itsuki, I can just leave Hatsuya at any time I like. You know I’ve been working with them since Middle school, so it’s good that I would have experience working with others.”
Me: “As in forever? You mean you won’t be coming back to work with Hatsuya?”
Kotomi: “Well, if it turns out that I don’t like working with those other companies, I’m always welcomed back there. My uncle promised me that and a working position higher than when I left. If my uncle’s daughter doesn’t want to take over his role as the director, he would pass it down to me instead. I mean, I’m somewhat like him in terms of smartness.”
This sounded almost strange: her being in charge of the very same company she is (unknowingly) a human experiment of since as a baby. Doesn’t she realize that the gender and age gap of the children in the family, including herself, form a pattern? It’s not easy with two, but five is almost impossible without external interference. Oh, I just remembered of something.
Me: “Kotomi-chan, did you by any chance speak into my head when since we last met?”
She looked as if I was asking a strange question.
Kotomi: “Why would I do that? I had exam finals, graduation, and travelling around America with friends to even bother with that. Has Itsuki been hallucinating you with a voice synthesizer that sounded like me?”
Seems that the Kotomi that did it really came from further into the future. I know it can’t be Itsuki because the Mizuho work uniform he’s been practically been made to wear the whole time during Kotomi’s absence forces him to behave seriously to even bother with such things. Sadly, the Kotomi with me now isn’t supposed to know that Itsuki is working at Mizuho, and the scary truth about Kotomi that she herself doesn’t know about. The people at higher-ups told us that we aren’t supposed to reveal it to her until, due to the nature of it, have a strong enough reason to not kill herself over it. I mean, could you take it if your very own existence and everything you lived through were lies? This could take years.
As for me, I couldn’t take the fact I was deprived of the chance of getting married to Kotomi that I really loved as a man and forced to live as a high school girl, repeating back to the start of year 1, even after graduating at the end of year 3. I don’t mind Hatsuya assigning an android doing it and gathering information, but not with that being me! I don’t know how long I’m going to live like this, if I could even die at all, but I have the feeling that it’s going to be longer than I had lived as my original self. Someone has confirmed that my soul is that of an actual human and not an artificial intelligence. I’m not in a position to complain to the authorities because Hatsuya has told them that I am a “life-like android” of theirs “designed to behave and look like an actual person”, so they won’t listen to me.