Coming from the front door of the mansion, the minivan carrying us went down the slope to the gate.
We stopped at the gate and the big iron door opens remotely from the minivan.
Oh, Kudou-papa knows about the hidden switch on the minivan. Maybe Katsuko-nee told him.
When Mariko was coming into the mansion with her Rolls-Royce, Mana opened the gate since she’s watching the cameras. She’s already accustomed to the controls.
The gate in front of the car opens automatically, then…
Oh, not many cars are parked before the gate.
Only a single police car is on the lookout.
That’s because it’s established that Kyouko-san is in the Kansai area right now.
On the other hand, Kouzuki SS only has two cars parked as Misuzu and Ruriko are both in the Kouzuki house.
After the car passed through the gate…
We wait for the gate to close behind us to make sure that no strange person enters the mansion.
Meanwhile, Kudou-papa in the driver seat is showing a peace sign to the guys in the police car and Kouzuki SS cars.
「 I’m well known in both organizations 」
「 Err, where are we going? 」
「 Oh, here 」
I bend forward from the rear seat and hand over the list of the delicious bakery tour Katsuko-nee gave me.
「 Hmm. Let’s decide the order 」
Kudou-papa looks at the list and inputs them on the car’s navigation system.
「 Huh, Kudou-san uses a car navigation system too? 」
To be honest, I’m surprised.
「 I don’t ever use them most of the time. I’m familiar with all the roads up to Kanto and the neighboring prefectures, even the back lanes. Driving while looking at the car navigation is against my nature
「 Then why are you using it? 」
Mariko asks from the sides.
「 I want to check what kind of route they’ll show me. Since it’s an opportunity 」
「 Do you use it to identify if your target is using the route given by the car navigation system? 」
Haiji asks from the passenger seat.
「 Well, that’s it. I won’t let the chance of learning pass by 」
「 Still, if you’re from Kouzuki SS, don’t you have all the route presentation data for each manufacturer’s car navigation system? 」
If it’s Shou-neechan, each time the car navigation system upgrades, she should have it investigated already.
「 Big companies like Kouzuki SS does that but I’m just a one-man business 」
Kudou-papa steps on the accelerator.
The car speeds up suddenly.
「 H-Hey! 」
Kana-senpai clings to me as the car shakes.
「 Hyaaaaaa!! 」
Ai also grabs on her seat.
「 What are you? Are you not from the Kouzuki SS? 」
Mariko asks. Kudou-papa
「 I’m Kudou Yuusaku, a private detective 」
「 Private detective? 」
「 Yeah, that’s right 」
「 What’s with that?! Aren’t all detectives private? I never heard of a national and public detective at all 」
「 Yeah, private detectives do hide from the public eye 」
Kudou-papa smiles, looking at the rear mirror.
He lowers the speed and then he set the car to a stable cruising.
「 Kudou-san isn’t an employee of Kouzuki SS, but he has a contract with Jii-chan himself 」
「 Huh, with Kouzuki-sama? 」
「 Yeah. Well, his specialty is on the other side 」
「 It’s not like I sold my soul to the old man. I have a separate contract with him on each case. I never accept jobs that go against my principle. Well, how do I say it, I’m Agent Smith on special jobs 」
「 What? I understand the Agent part, but what “Smith”? 」
Mariko asks sullenly.
「 What? High school students don’t know about “Agent Smith” anymore? Then does that mean that you don’t know about Doctor Smith either? 」
「 What? 」
Kana-senpai asks Kudou-papa with a curious face.
「 Then, what about “I’m sorry Smith! I promised not to cry anymore but! Inazuma! Kyuuuuu!!” 」
「 Huh? 」
「 “Double Buster! It’s this!” “Welcome back!” 」
「 I don’t get what you’re talking about 」
Kana-senpai replied coldly.
「 Huh, what about you? 」
「 I’m sorry 」
Haiji replied coldly as well.
「 What about you? 」
「 Uuuuu, I don’t know 」
「 I’m not interested 」
Ai and Yomi replied.
「 Oh man, there are so many schoolgirls here and yet nobody knows about “Koi” 」
If it’s Edie or Nei, they might know what you’re talking about, but…
The people here have good senses.
「 Nobu, is he really Michi-san’s father? 」
「 Yeah, he definitely is 」
「 I finally understand the reason why Michi-san doesn’t talk too much 」
「 Yeah, she’s got a father like this after all 」
Kana-senpai and Mariko had the same opinion for once
「 Dammit! 」
Kudou-papa is frustrated.
She’s reading Kudou-papa and my thoughts.
Haiji ignores Kudou-papa and starts watching outside.
「 Haiji 」
「 W-What? 」
I called her and Haiji turned around.
「 W-What is it? 」
「 Don’t be mislead by the jokes. Kudou-san isn’t what Haiji imagined just now 」
I said. Mariko and Kana-senpai looked at me.
「 Kou, what do you mean? 」
「 What’s with that old man? 」
「 Oh, when it comes to you, the girls listen 」
Kudou-papa’s impressed by the state of my women.
「 Kudou-san also knows the same Kudou arts as Michi 」
「 However, I can’t sense any hidden strength from his one, unlike Michi-oneesama 」
「 No, his methods are different but the school is still the same 」
「 Kudou arts is about bending their opponent’s Qi, an art of counterattacks. Michi erases her presence to ward off enemy Qi, but Kudou-san’s method is like using a shotgun of Qi, chipping off their Qi using pressure. That’s his methods 」
I gradually comprehend it.
「 That’s why, that thought of “I can’t keep up with his excitement. I’m getting tired,” means that he’s able to dampen your Qi. Don’t take him too lightly. If you’re a bodyguard, then you have to be wary with people you think are “no big deal” 」
「 Oh, you’re right. Kouzuki-sama won’t send a useless man to Kou or me 」
「 Huh? His method is to make you think that he’s a useless old man? 」
Kana-senpai is surprised.
「 That’s right. Even in the car navigation system, it’s not actually an opportunity to test it out, the truth is that he already has the data. All he’s doing is watching us react if he does that 」
「 Oh, it’s to make us think that he’s not the kind of guy who gets his data from the Kouzuki SS 」
Mariko said. Kudou-papa smiled wryly.
「 Hey now, don’t expose my cards too much 」
「 You too, Kudou-san, you shouldn’t lead people to think that you’re an incompetent guy. This is why Michi and Haruka-san are…. 」
This is why Kudou-papa’s daughters don’t want to meet up with him that much.
And that’s also why they don’t talk about him to other people.
This is what he does and that’s why Michi’s mother cheated with her boss in Kouzuki SS and divorced him.
「 Well, it’s true that I lack skill. You know that I haven’t reached mastery of Kudou style martial arts, right? 」
「 Yeah 」
Kudou-papa had a shotgun wedding when he was young.
That’s why he worked on the other side while he’s in the middle of training.
「 If I had been able to get to the point where I mastered the techniques like Michi, I might not have ended up like this. But, I… 」
「 Kudou-san, that different method you use now…I believe that people should know how great that is 」
「 Stop that. I’ve done this for more than 25 years. If I was still young, then I could still change routes but at my age, any poor change is fatal. I’ll stay this way 」
Kudou-papa looks in front of him as he speaks.
「 You have to cherish your style you’ve built up for years. Any misjudgment will cause your collapse. Just like Yamaoka and Etsuko 」
Yamaoka-san, the security head of Kouzuki SS before.
Etsuko, the name of Michi’s mother.
「 A man who worked on a large company like Kouzuki SS, can’t do work on the other side. That’s expected, he’s accustomed to the methods on the surface 」
Both of them were dismissed from Kouzuki SS.
They were employed by the Yakuza but they got fired there too.
That’s all I know.
「 What’s going on with the two by the way? 」
「 It seems that they are living in a tourist hotel in Kyuushuu, I don’t know much about the details 」
As expected, they can’t do any job related to security.
「 But, they are still together? 」
「 After what’s happened to them, it’s probably harder to leave each other as they’re in a strange place and a lonely environment 」
「 Nobu, what are you two talking about? 」
「 Oh, we’re talking about my divorced wife. She cheated so she’s kicked out. Sorry but do tell Michi this; It seems that she’s doing well 」
I see. He wants us to tell his daughters about their mother’s state.
That’s why Kudou-papa came here as our driver.
「 Sorry. You’re taking care of not just Michi but also Haruka. Haruka’s match is coming next month, right? 」
「 No, the truth is we’re actually borrowing Haruka-san’s title as the high-school karate champion. Margo-san and Edie are both nameless in the martial arts society 」
Their objective is to promote their names to the fighting world and get accustomed to professional matches before competing in the United States.
Margo-san, Edie, Kudou Haruka, and Tendou Otome, who’s now Kendou Maria will be appearing in the Japan MMA tournament.
「 It seems that the TV documentary program and news coverage are already settled. The title is “Kudou Haruka challenges MMA! Schoolgirl aims to become a professional” 」
The plan is to use Haruka-san’s name while gathering attention from the world.
「 Well, it’s okay. You can use whatever. I think that it’s a good idea to make Haruka an athlete. That Shinichi must be watching after his training 」
Shinichi, that’s Michi’s brother. He’s working at Kouzuki SS.
Haruka-san and Tendou Otome are staying at the Kouzuki SS dojo to finish up their training.
Then, the big brother, Shinichi-san comes over to watch sometimes
As for why they’re doing a training camp;
Eri and Rie don’t like living together with Tendou Otome in our mansion.
Also, for Tendou Otome, she could use Qi skills but she skipped training in Karate.
Haruka-san squeezing it thoroughly, making her body ready for the match.
Kudou Haruka’s a Karate girl, she has an arrogant attitude and a bit dumb, but she’s serious about her training and is passionate about teaching her juniors.
Speaking of which, when I first met her, she’s accompanied by a lot of juniors in Karate. She’s that popular.
Seriously, she should aim to become a martial arts athlete instead of a bodyguard.
「 Kudou-san, do come to next month’s match 」
「 Nah. You cheer for my share too 」
「 If I’m there, Haruka won’t be in her best state 」
Kudou-papa said lonely.
「 Why? Isn’t it your daughter’s match? Why don’t you go watch it? 」
「 Mariko 」
「 You don’t know the small details so don’t say anything. Everyone goes through a lot 」
「 B-But… 」
「 You don’t have delicacy at all. Mariko-ojousama 」
「 H-Haiji. You… 」
「 Please have some modesty 」
「 Right. I also understood one reason why Michi-san is quiet 」
「 Let’s not ask too much about Michi-san’s family circumstances when she’s not present. Right? 」
「 Well, that’s true, but… 」
Mariko seems dissatisfied, so Ai;
「 E-Everyone, please get along 」
She mustered her courage and said.
「 Everyone. Please get along 」
「 I understand. You’re right, I’ve been thoughtless. I asked just to satisfy my curiosity. I’m sorry 」
She apologized to Kudou-papa.
「 Well, not that I mind. But, try to get along with Michi and Haruka. I’m asking as their father 」
◇ ◇ ◇
「 Okay, that’s the first shop. I’ll wait in the car, you all should go 」
Katsuko-nee’s first in the bakery list…
It’s located in a trendy shopping district next to an upscale residential area.
「 Wow, this is beautiful 」
Kana-senpai’s eyes sparkle.
「 I see. Isn’t this one a bit too much to aim for? 」
Mariko speaks her impressions.
It’s a large store designed to resemble a European house.
It’s not just a pastry shop but also a cafe. It has a lot of seats. It’s spacious.
「 Anyway, let’s get in 」
We get off the car and head to the store.
「 Hmm, this is a splendid looking shop. It’s hard to get in as high school students 」
「 That’s not true. Isn’t this one just ordinary? 」
Kana-senpai and Mariko’s opinions don’t match.
But, it’s indeed a high-class store in this upscale residential area.
The customers in the cafe are adults. Not many people of our age.
Mariko opens the door and everyone comes in.
「 Wow, I expected this much price 」
Mariko said after looking at a 600g loaf for 700yen
It’s much more expensive than sweet bread and even some ordinary bakeries.
「 Err, pick whichever you like. I’ll pay 」
If we want to taste, then we have to buy
Besides, I want to know what kind of pastry they will pick.
「 You say that Nobu, but… 」
Kana-senpai seems confused.
「 Just pick three each and I’ll pick mine too 」
「 Kou. Are we buying and eating here? 」
「 No. We won’t keep Kudou-san waiting 」
I feel sorry that we’re the only ones eating pastries and drinking tea
「 Uhm, we’re going to another shop after this, right? 」
「 You don’t have to think about that for now. It’s okay to have a surplus. We have a lot of people in the family. Anyway, pick three pastries that fit your interests or that you want to eat 」
「 Okay, if that’s what Kou says then let’s bring trays and tongs 」
Mariko takes the initiative.
I look at the whole counter.
The pastry variety is about 30 kinds.
Furthermore, it seems that they bake at separate times, morning, noon, and evening.
They’re baking at the back.
「 Still, Nobu, this store has a beautiful and elegant interior 」
Yeah, the decor is relaxed with plenty of wood, and red brick on the floor and walls. The walls have farmed paintings.
It has an elegant atmosphere, but…
It doesn’t have the same elegance you find in the western style rooms filled with history from the Kouzuki house.
「 It’s actually all appearance, what a bad store 」
「 They use German architecture outside and inside, but… This is just a regular reinforced concrete building with wood and bricks stuck to it 」
「 That fireplace over there is a fake. A real fireplace can’t be placed in that spot. If a European sees that, they’ll laugh at it 」
Oh, I see.
They created a good atmosphere but it’s fake.
The real sense is lacking.
「 That big vase over there should be actually two symmetrical vases. It’s just one piece over there, right? Do they not know? That’s the way it should be. The painting over there is the scenery of France. But, the bakery is projecting the image of Germany 」
It seems that it caught Mariko’s eye.
「 Who cares about that. I like it. It has a mature atmosphere in it 」
「 I don’t like that one 」
Haiji points at the cafe.
「 Since it’s a good looking store, they should’ve used porcelain on their drinks 」
They put the coffee and tea in a flimsy cup with lids, like fast food and coffee mass marketer.
「 Coffee in America is in fashion so a lot of stores use tumblers like that 」
「 But, I think Haiji’s right. You enjoy the coffee and black tea together with its container 」
That’s a subtly bad shop.
「 Yoshida-kuuun 」
Ai called me.
「 What’s wrong? 」
「 Uhm, this bread, they use good wheat flour 」
Just looking at it, you’ll understand.
「 But, none of them are hard to make 」
「 If it’s the pastries here, Ai and Yoshida-kun can make them 」