“Ah, here are your books, Naegi-chan.”
“Thanks, Keebo.” Kiki smiled gratefully as she took the books from the robotic librarian and put them in her backpack.
“Ano…Naegi-chan…” Keebo began hesitantly. “Why don’t you want your parents to know about the books you’re taking out? The library doesn’t share that information without a records request anyway, but I am curious as to why you explicitly asked to keep the headmaster and vice-headmistress in the dark about the fact that you’re borrowing books on detective work.”
Kiki sighed, frowning as she glanced at her backpack. “It’s…not that I’m trying to keep it a secret, but I wanna be the one to tell them…and I just haven’t figured out how to do that yet.”
Keebo’s brow furrowed as he admitted “I don’t quite understand your logic, but I will respect your wishes.”
“Thanks, Keebo. Alright, I’d better go before…”
“Ah, Kiki, there you are.” Kiki nearly jumped as she spun around to see her mother walking up to her. “Are you ready to go? Your father’s waiting for us at the car.”
“Right, coming, Mom.” She turned to Keebo with a nervous smile and waved. “See you next week, Keebo!”
“Sayonara, Naegi-chan.” Keebo smiled as mother and daughter walked out.
Kyoko’s lips tugged into a slight frown as she noticed the nervous look in her daughter’s eyes. Why are you so nervous, sweetie?
“Tadaima!” Kiki called as she entered the house.
“Hey, Koto, Kiri, Moku! It’s good to be home!” Kiki smiled as she knelt down and hugged her siblings. “I missed you too, Hogo!” She giggled as her pet dog ran in and licked her face.
Makoto and Kyoko smiled at the loving reunion between their four children.
“Come on, Kiki, let’s go play some Smash!” Koto suggested.
“Kiki, let’s go play out in the backyard!” Kiri insisted.
“Onee-chan, can we read a book together?” Mokubo asked politely
“Woof!” Hogo barked.
“Alright, one at a time, one at a time!” Kiki giggled as her three siblings tugged her away by the wrist.
Makoto and Kyoko smiled in amusement at the bond their four children shared. “Makes me wonder how intense the reunions will be when she’s in college.” Makoto commented, causing Kyoko to roll her eyes.
“Don’t remind me; you’re making me feel old.”
Makoto laughed before his eyes flickered to a stray backpack on the floor. “Hey, what’s this?” Makoto pondered as he picked it up.
“…I think that’s Kiki’s backpack…It must have fallen off her shoulders when she was being tugged away.” Kyoko deduced as she took the backpack from her husband. “I’ll drop this off in her room.”
Makoto nodded as his wife walked off with the backpack to Kiki’s room.
“There.” Kyoko sighed as she placed the backpack on Kiki’s desk chair. “That should…” Kyoko paused as a light bulb in her head lit up. “I think I’ll put her schoolbooks on her desk for her…”
With that, she unzipped the backpack, frowning as she reached in. She furrowed her brow in confusion as her hand felt an unusually large number of objects within the pouch.
“What the…Kiki doesn’t usually bring home this much in her backpack on the weekends…so why these extra things?” Curious, Kyoko pulled out several books, confusing her. “Are these…library books?” She flashed back to when she picked up her daughter in the library, realizing “Kiki had a strangely nervous look in her eyes. Is this what she was nervous about? But why did she feel like she had to smuggle in library books? Wait…”
Kyoko’s eyes widened as she inspected the front covers and read the titles.
“The Detective’s Handbook? Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation? A Detective’s Guide to Interrogation Law?”
Kyoko paled, feeling her heart stop as she realized the truth.
“My baby girl…is trying to be…a detective…?”
Shaking the thought from her head, she quickly zipped the backpack shut. She then tucked the books under her arm, obscuring them from view as best she could before she hurried back to her bedroom to process her discovery.
“Gochisousama!” Everyone chanted as they finished their dinner.
Makoto smiled at his four children as he suggested “Alright, why don’t the four of you go wind down until bedtime?”
They nodded and stood up before they turned towards the hallway. “Not you, Kiki.” Everyone turned curiously towards Kyoko, who told her eldest daughter “There’s something we need to discuss.”
“O…okay.” Kiki nodded and sat back down, confused about why she was being requested to stay.
She looked to her father for clues, but Makoto looked just as confused as she did. Once Mokubo, Koto, and Kiri had disappeared from view, Kyoko stared intently into her daughter’s eyes, making Kiki gulp in nervousness.
“Honey, what’s this about?” Makoto asked, concern bleeding into his voice. “Why are we making Kiki stay behind?”
“Why doesn’t she tell us?” Kyoko returned as she reached under the table and plopped the three library books in front of her. Kiki paled as her eyes widened in shock. “I found these in your backpack when I brought it to your room.”
With a frown and a furrowed brow, Makoto started to inspect the books, making Kiki sweat. “Okay, so she brought home some library books. I don’t quite follow what’s so suspicious about that.”
“It’s true, that by itself isn’t suspicious.” Kyoko conceded. “What concerns me is her demeanor when we left the library. Her eyes were darting around in nervousness, which I now see is because she was afraid I’d find these.”
“Okay, but why would she be nervous? It’s not like she was bringing home pornography or learning how to make bombs or anything like that.”
“I have my suspicions, of course, but I’d rather hear them from her.” Kyoko narrowed her eyes in a scolding glare, making her daughter shake in her socks. “Kiki Naegi, why did you hide these books from us when we picked you up?”
Kiki sighed in defeat, mumbling “Okay…I was gonna bring this up anyway, I was just trying to figure out how to say it…”
“Kyoko…” The former detective turned to her husband, who stared pleadingly into her eyes. “This seems pretty harmless, so try not to be too harsh with her after she explains herself.”
Kyoko’s eyes softened as she nodded and turned back to her daughter, who took a deep breath. “I’ve been hanging out with Saihara-kun a lot, and sometimes he’ll tell me stories about his uncle’s detective practice. They’re…really interesting, and they remind me to the detective stories you sometimes tell me. So, I…I’ve been reading books on detective stuff…because…I’m thinking of becoming a detective after I graduate.”
Makoto beamed proudly as he commented “So that’s all it was. Kiki, that’s…”
“Out of the question.” Makoto and Kiki turned to Kyoko with shock in their eyes. “You’re not becoming a detective, Kiki.”
“But why not?!” Kiki demanded. “You were the Ultimate Detective when you were barely older than me, Mom! You were the best of the best!”
“And from that experience, I have a unique insight as to the risks and dangers associated with the detective field.” Kyoko fired back without missing a beat. “Kiki, being a detective can be life-threatening. I don’t want such a dangerous life for you!”
“But Mom, you caught so many bad guys and kept them from hurting anyone else! I wanna make a difference! I want to be like you!”
“Kyoko…” The former detective turned to her husband, who smiled softly at them. “Let her try.”
“Makoto!” Kyoko gasped in horror. “You’re not…you’re not actually suggesting…”
“Kiki wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps because she’s proud of you. She wants to be like her mom and continue the line of Kirigiri detectives.”
“Makoto, that legacy nearly destroyed me and got you killed!” Kyoko cried. “I don’t want any of our children within a hundred meters of being tainted by that creed!”
“She won’t be tainted, Kyoko.” Makoto assured her. “Your grandfather aimed to teach you how to be a detective without letting you grow as a person. But we’ve raised her differently. We’ve taught her to embrace her feelings. She has friends that she can rely on for support. All she wants is to be taught the skills to be as amazing as her mother was in her prime.”
“…It’s still dangerous…”
“More dangerous than what she survived in middle school?” Kyoko winced, realizing that for once, her husband had beaten her in an argument. “Let her try, Kyoko.”
Kyoko sighed and turned to her daughter, who stared at her with a pleading expression. “Kiki, being a detective isn’t easy. It can involve a lot of long workdays with very little sleep, and you’re a girl who likes being able to sleep in. Is that really the life you want to live?”
“Yes, Mom!” Kiki nodded fervently as her eyes narrowed in determination. “It’ll be hard, but I want to help stop people who would cause suffering and despair! I want to give them a reason to hope again!”
…You have your father’s determined eyes…when I see those eyes…I can’t help but feel inspired, like nothing will stop you from reaching your goal. Kyoko sighed, compromising “Let’s…talk about this in the morning, when we have clearer heads.”
Kiki opened her mouth to argue, only to be cut off by her father. “Kiki, you’ve made your case. Your mother just needs to sleep on things tonight. Let’s all wind down a little so we can all come to a decision that we can agree on without heated passions.”
“…Okay…” Kiki sighed before she stood up. “I’m going to my room…”
Makoto and Kyoko watched as she walked away. Kyoko sighed, looking down at her scarred hands as she processed what her daughter told her.
Kiki’s dream…is to become the next Kirigiri Detective…it’s not that I wouldn’t be proud of her…but I know full well the price of making inexperienced mistakes. Can I really prepare her to avoid the mistakes I made? Can I protect her from being scarred like I was if she becomes a detective?