CHAPTER 4 Act 4
My voice actually erupted, and I yelled madly at Ms. Shine, who was holding Zei. As she stares back at me, I can sense her ferocious rage seeping through her eyes.
"What's the wrong with you? You slapped someone out of nowhere."
I came close to them and took Ms. Shine's hand. I tightened my grip on her to ease her down and bring her senses back.
"Ms. Auguron, stay out of this. This is a matter between me and this woman."
Her hands were trembling, not because she was guilty, but because she was restraining her rage.
"Did you see what you're doing now? It's assault."
"How funny. I thought you were not on the side of justice since you used anything to force Ms. Hunt out of her place. But, no one can substantiate your allegation."
She is well aware of her position in this dire situation. We were the only ones present at the scene, and she could reason anyway she wanted to avoid being suspected.
"If you're willing to strike Zei, that's a sign of evidence."
"If people believe what you say, Ms. Auguron; too bad, no one believes something as reckless as that."
In some ways, she was correct. Nobody will easily believe in a story like this.
She had the audacity to do this while no one was around. Seriously, what's wrong with her? Why did she abruptly put up a fight?
Being a representative ensures that your reputation is kept at its finest. Regardless, there is a limit to everything we do, so we must remain vigilant in our actions. But Ms. Shine's actions were quite shocking given her image as a reticent woman. And we all know that, as representatives, we don't behave as rashly as this.
"Of course, you have something to say since you're here."
"I told you to keep out of this. You and your Organization aren't involved here."
She let go of Zei and shoved my hands away. At the very least, she calmed down a little after that extreme outburst of emotion.
"It's fine. I'm here to testify."
Nevertheless, my irritation eventually faded. I have to keep my composure and pay attention to what she has to say.
"Whatever, it's all meaningless."
Ms. Shine ignored me and focused on Zei.
"Hey, Ms. Wyte, how dare you betray your own Organization?"
"...I didn't, though. Instead, I'm assisting them in getting rid of those folks who are utterly useless."
Zei looked aside without changing her tone. She retained a straight expression and remained calm.
"What? Is that how you manipulate people? You create so much tension within our Organization. You even sell all of your shares to other Families and trade them with information. How infuriating. Most importantly, you sell information about Mr. Seid and his family. Do you think the Light Family will stand by and observe all of your actions?"
"You've said too much, Ms. Shine, but I don't care. Kick me or kill me if they want. It'll solve a lot of my problems."
"You...! How could you say that? Light Family embraces and adores you. It is truly your home."
"Not any more."
"What a nightmare; they've made a mistake by keeping you."
"What else can I say?"
Ms. Shine and I were both out of words and stunned by Zei's remark. I feel lost every time Zei speaks with a cold-hearted response.
Is this all true?...More likely.
To think Zei is a little... frightening.
"Now, why are you here? Just to hit me? Does it please you?"
"Of course not. To be honest, that's not enough. This is just getting started. I'll repay you with a present."
"Hm? What exactly is it?"
Ms. Shine immediately closes her fist and attempted to strike Zei once again. My body didn't respond in that split second since it was so fast, but Zei managed to stop it with her own hands.
"That surprises me, Ms. Shine."
"That is to be expected. Is it correct that the first one was intended to make me feel guilty? In any case, I'm here to let you know that I hold you in high regard as a person. You're deceiving me—no, you're deceiving us. I'll let you know that this is the point at which I'll forsake your sheer existence."
"You're a loyal subordinate, aren't you?"
"No, I don't think so. I'm basically being selfish."
"Hoh, that's great for you."
"...The fifteen organizations are in disarray right now, and they haven't dared to make a move. I'm curious how you gathered such vast amounts of information in such a short period of time."
"What exactly do you mean?"
Ms. Shine pushes Zei's hands away.
"Stop behaving ignorant! You sell information to trade money. After that, the money is then circulated in order to purchase the data that you need. What a brilliant scheme, and now you're using the money to pay us and leaving us in trouble?"
"Hm, I wonder whether that's true..."
According to Ms. Shine's words, Zei had planned this not long ago in order to acquire money and abandon her family. From the looks of things, this is a massive mess, and the Light Family was in big trouble.
This may be the result of Zei's harboring grudge and contempt towards her Organization.
"Oh, Ms. Auguron, let me tell you something interesting."
Ms. Shine unexpectedly called out my name.
"Do you know why you're a Representative? Because of Ms. Zei. Light Family gave me some specifics about how she engaged with Ms. Hunt's situation back then. Ask her for the details if you like."
She gave Zei a blank and direct stare.
My head is a complete mess right now. I stared at Zei, but she was totally silent.
"...I-Is it true?"
I asked both of them to clarify things.
"Who knows. As I mentioned, it's best if you question the person directly—"
"Ms. Shine, you're talking too much. I didn't realize you were such an exasperating and nosy person. If you say any more than that, I'll make sure your life is buried after this."
"See, Ms. Auguron? She was threatening me."
This... can't be...
"Are you here to waste our time, Ms. Shine?"
"Oh, Ms. Wyte, it's simply a fortuitous coincidence."
"Are you now satisfied? This occurrence really was a lot of coincidence. Are you that upset at me? You were absolutely fine at the meeting."
"After the meeting, I went to the Light Family's office, where they provided me with documents detailing how you accomplished your plan flawlessly."
"Sure, they're acting as if they're planning to kick me out, but are you going to trust them no matter what?"
"Probably. I have confirmed everything after meeting with you today."
What should I do?
I felt terrible, and afraid... of Zei after knowing she was connected to Ms. Hunt's case and mine.
She's like a bomb, waiting for the right moment to annihilate all that surrounds her.
"Ms. Auguron will ultimately distrust you after hearing that, won't she?"
Ms. Shine cast a look at me.
What's the matter with her, really? Suddenly attacking Zei and severing us.
I didn't respond, but I looked at Zei, who was still not facing my direction.
'Tell me, Zei, do you still believe in me...?'
"I don't know who was telling me the truth, but as of now I want to believe in Zei."
For an instant, they both reacted and were surprised by my statement.
I need to relax my mind and trust in myself. True, I have my doubts about Zei, but that doesn't mean I don't trust her completely.
"What a wonderful friendship you had there, Ms. Auguron. I appreciated your bond, but sooner or later you will learn something."
She then tried to leave the Library, but she came to a halt and said a few things.
"Ah, I'm sorry for hitting you, Ms. Wyte. It was my mistake. However, I won't forgive your misdeeds."
And then she left us as if nothing had happened.
"What was it all about, Zei?" I demanded firmly.
Zei was not looking at me as usual, and she was seemingly serene and calm.
"I'm not sure of your genuine aims or objectives, but I need to question you so that I know. As you mentioned before, I need to ask—"
"Let me ask you first, Esper, what is your opinion here? Do you believe in everything she blathers about?"
Zei had fully turned the tables on me. Basically, she refused to answer my question.
But when she said that, it was almost as if she were acknowledging Ms. Shine's assertions.
"...So, it was absolutely true after all, Zei. What did you do during your concealment? And, more importantly, don't tell me you're the reason Ms. Hunt..."
"I heard you're interested in that position."
"Position? So it was you all along!"
My voice raises, and I can't stop my tears from falling. I can't think clearly right now, and I'd like to hear an answer from her own mouth.
"Zei, tell me!"
She turns her head and looks into my eyes.
"If that's your conclusion, will you forgive me?"
"You know what, Zei, I just realized that you were incredibly earnest and fully open when you looked at me directly. But how did you manage to strip Ms. Hunt from her position, not knowing her feelings? My feelings? Did you think I'd be grateful for that?"
"I had no idea. It was a great opportunity for you as well—"
"Then why? Did you think I could handle that event easily? Until now, my heart has been torn apart every time I recall the incident, especially when Ms. Hunt killed herself."
"There's nothing we can do. Please accept my apologies."
Her tone didn't change a bit.
"You feel sorry for what...? Until now?"
"I've said what I needed to say. Now, Esper, do what you need to do."
Now I understand. She had planned this out already.
"Are you pushing me away? Is that what you want?"
"Did you hear what I just said? You need to take care of the things that need to be taken care of."
"...Then I'll leave."
When I open the door, the sky appears remarkably darker and sullen. It looks like anytime soon, the rain will start to pour out.