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closure for the dead

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Show nothing; be nothing. 

The mantra repeats in her head as she examines Kujou Naoto, cuffs around his wrists and smile on his face, as he gazes at her from the other side of the table. She isn't Tachibana Kaoruko, the fashion-oriented, messy sister of Tachibana Chizuru; she is Tachibana Kaoruko, a lead detective at her police department and the interviewer of murderer Kujou Naoto. 

Show nothing; be nothing. 

Kaoruko avoids clicking her heel against the floor. Something's hollow and rotten and swollen buried deep within her chest, resting between her ribs, but she'll deal with it later. It's Kujou Naoto's fault to begin with; it's the fault of the interrogation she signed up to participate in for the investigation's sake. It's her own fault too. When it's all over, perhaps the heaviness dull in her chest will fade away, but not til' then. But there's an hour til' then, and she can't spend her time thinking. 

Kaoruko sighs, then picks up the pen to write down key information she already knows. Better to suffer than to languish. 

"Hello, Kujou Naoto-san, correct?" 

"Kaoruko-san... Hello, it's good to see you again." Naoto says, eyes wide. The shock of seeing her dulls in split seconds, and the obvious emotions he displays mellows into a peace and blanket of calm that emanates in waves from him. 

"As well, Naoto-san. Kujou Naoto-san, correct?" Kaoruko asks once more, watching his face ever so slightly morph into surprise — then, as if it never happened, mellow into dreary calm.

"Correct," Naoto responds, then laughs deep, "you've met me before though, Kaoruko-san. Isn't that unnecessary?" 

On a bridge, they'd exchange the most intimate of words— he pretended as though he wanted her, and she was enamoured with the illustrious, lovely Kujou Naoto. Yes, it's unnecessary; she was going to marry him, and he was going to be her fiancée. 

"Well, it's just confirmation. I don't have control over procedurals." Kaoruko answers with a laugh, flipping through the tiny notebook for the sample questions and the other questions segwaying into it. 

"I see," He hums.

Before the silence can blanket the room thickly, Kaoruko clicks a heel against the floor, filling the room with a sound, then asks herself what to ask.

"So, Naoto-san, what would you like to discuss?" Kaoruko asks, voice pleasantly chipper. 

"Let's see..." Naoto hums, closing his eyes in thought. His throat vibrates with the noise, lips pressed in. Kaoruko spares a glance, then discards the notion of his beauty. 

His eyes open.

"You," Naoto answers, the dim light caught in his eyes.  His eyes crinkle, something akin to affection as he smiles with his eyes.

Kaoruko blinks and points at herself, then  to Naoto, then back at herself— and to her credit, she does nothing more. Her stare does not waver.

"Me?" Kaoruko softly repeats, and when he nods in confirmation, she stares down at a hand for a moment. "Well, alright. What would you like to discuss about me?"

"How you feel."

He shifts.

"How I feel? I feel fine; my day has been decent... my life is good, so I suppose I'm good." Kaoruko answers, attempting to leave the negatives out. She'd be better without Naoto there — the memory of him ever so often plagues her mind — but she could be worse. 

He processes it, and Kaoruko proceeds to ask another question, voice growing stronger.

"How do you feel about that?"

Naoto stares, back at full length against the steel chair, legs crossed. He still stares at her like the moon is above them, as if he's saying it's beautiful. It hurts, sure, but Kaoruko's shoulders are too strong to waver— she won't fail herself now. 

"I'm... happy you are well." His lips open before Kaoruko utters a single word.

"But I'm shocked that you even want to be in a room with me, Kaoruko-san. Considering what I did to you--" Naoto continues, words cut off by brisk words.

Kaoruko leans forward and — smirks — smiles, teeth showing. It isn't authentic, but not everything is. After the end of this is to come, she'll be a much happier woman; the sooner it ends, the sooner Naoto becomes another chapter to be forgotten about. There's as many stars as men; Kujou Naoto is simply one of the tragic ones.  

"Considering what happened? Well, you didn't kill me." Kaoruko replies, scribbling kanji down the paper, "That's enough in my book."

"No, I didn't. But I said quite the things," Naoto nods, "and what happened shouldn't have happened." 

The people didn't deserve to die; she didn't deserve to be hurt. 

"No, it shouldn't have." Kaoruko echoes; she isn't about to disagree with him, "but what's done is done and nothing changes that. Give closure to the people left behind and hope it's enough."

Naoto knows to mark it in his heart and to spend the rest of his days regretting it; and yet, he has no shame when speaking. No remorse glimmers in his eyes, no looks askew plague his figure— if she were an expert, she'd say he isn't remorseful about the murders. She isn't, though. Kaoruko only has the facts and her intuition: he murdered mentors, close almost familial relations; she's seen more than many of his gentle, malicious kind to not know. 

Perhaps he regrets hurting her, but not them. Kaoruko doesn't know for sure, but her intuition does. 

Then, Naoto nods to her words. His eyes flicker down to her hands, a ring noticeably absent, her age rising as her chances dwindle. 

"Do you need closure, Kaoruko-san?" He asks, and his voice lilts teasingly. His words flow like melted silver, but she won't fluster as she once did. 

She isn't surprised how the interrogation flows smoothly; the detectives are listening to her very instruction outside — temperatures, heat, and the answers she recieves are succinct and blunt with meaning. Kujou Naoto is a smooth-talker — charismatic and entertaining, and perhaps that is the appeal of his pull. He was a flagbearer of Noh, a minor celebrity in his own right worthy of speak and praise; and even now, in jail clothes and nothing more, he speaks charismatically.

Her fellow detectives almost fall, but she doesn't. 

Kaoruko merely laughs behind a hand.

"Closure is for those who need it." Kaoruko answers, "but who can you give closure to if you have no one left?"

The silence stretches. Naoto doesn't speak, and the glow of power surges through her veins.  

"So, Naoto-san, what would you like to discuss next?"


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