Chapter Fourteen | Tears of joy; tears of sorrow

Tohya Miho slowly opened her eyes.
<I must have passed out,> she thought. <This is the nurse's ward.>

She looked to her left, surprised at the sight that awaited her eyes.
<Oh, Miho-chan!> Ping exclaimed happily, her silver-grey eyes wet with tears of joy. <I'm so glad you're alright!>

Miho sat up and smiled at her friend, a tear of her own coming to her eye. <Have you been here all this time?>
Ping nodded. <Of course, you're my best friend!>

Miho put her head back on the pillow, closing her eyes once more as she said, <I'm so glad…that you're alright.>

All of a sudden Miho bolted up. The room was now empty and Ping was no longer there.

<Was that a dream?> she wondered, putting her hand to her head in an attempt to separate reality and fantasy. She had dreamt that she was at the train station talking to Sonoda Yuki, but was Ping's presence a dream as well? <Ping…I know her…she's supposed to be here…I know that, but…why?>

The door to the room suddenly opened, tearing Miho from her thoughts, with Nurse Sugawara walking in with another man that Miho recognized from somewhere, though she couldn't place her finger on it.

<Tohya-san, are you feeling alright?> the nurse asked gently.

Miho nodded, despite the truth.

<That's good to hear.> Sugawara smiled as she waved the man in the room forward. <This is Lieutenant Takama with the Tokyo Police. He wanted to ask you some questions about…the ordeal, if you're feeling up to it.>

On that note, Nurse Sugawara took her leave.

<Ah,> Miho said, finally recognizing the name, <how are you, Lieutenant? It's been a while.>

<Not long enough, it seems,> Takama muttered. Speaking up, he continued, <Are you going to cooperate or not?>

<Of course, Shinichi-san,> Miho said. She smiled at Takama's shock in the familiar term she had used. <But,> she continued, <you did get my father's permission, didn't you?>

<No, we haven't been able to contact him.>

Miho sighed at the incompetence the school and police continued to show. She turned to the other side of the bed and bent down to pick up her school bag at the bed's side. Picking it up, she reached inside and pulled out a cell phone. A few seconds later, she handed the phone to Takama. <It's ringing on his direct line, Shinichi-san.> Miho said, smiling mysteriously once again.

<Uh…thanks, Tohya-san,> Takama said, embarrassed that he hadn't thought of asking her for the number.

<Tohya Eiji,> the voice on the phone said. <Miho, is this an emergency?>
<Yes sir,> Takama said, <but this isn't your daughter.>
<I can tell. Who is this and how do you have her phone?>
<I'm Lieutenant Takama Shinichi with the Tokyo Police. Tohya-san has let me use her phone to contact you. We have a few questions we'd like to ask her, but we need her guardian's permission. That is you, correct?>
<Correct. Why do you need to question my daughter?>
<She was the lone witness at a crime scene.>
<What sort of crime?>
<Murder…twenty-two of them to be precise.>
<I'll be there in twenty minutes. You can wait until I'm there before you ask her anything.>

On that note, the phone went silent.
<He's going to be here in twenty minutes,> Takama informed Miho.
<Great,> Miho sighed, looking away from Shinichi. Takama noted that she definitely didn't look pleased by the development as he left the room.

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Ping sat on the futon, still crying, unable to make the tears stop coming. <This is ridiculous,> she said to herself quietly, <this is all part of the game scenario. The heroine's friend gets slain and she vows to avenge his life while protecting her remaining friends.>

She grabbed another tissue from the box she had grabbed from the other room and dabbed her eyes.

<But why can't I stop feeling depressed?>

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