Sakura sat in the visiting room at the detention centre. On the other side of the glass partition was Sumio Kodai. This was their third meeting, but the appearance of the room and Kodai's attitude were almost identical to the first time she had come here.
"I think this will be my final visit. I came to report that the advice you gave me was extremely helpful."
"You're faithful. I wouldn't think you'd get visitation permission based on a reason like that, though."
"You're right. I had to come up with a pack of lies to tell my instructor to get permission."
"You found your darkness?"
"I heard you were attacked by Jack the Ripper."
"I was. ...How much do you know, Mr. Kodai?"
"About my darkness, and the truth of Jack the Ripper."
"Hmm. I knew a woman named Ayame Shimohira. I know a few things about a man named Kamui Fujiwara, too. The rest is speculation on my part. Was I right, then?"
"I don't know exactly what it was that you speculated, but I do think you were mostly on the mark."
"Really. I'm honoured to have been of service," Kodai replied curtly.
"There's one more thing I'd like to ask you."
"Do you know what happens at the very end of the story of Pandora's box?"
Kodai was silent. Sakura continued.
"Afterwards, I looked through books. I only knew the general outline of the story, and had never properly read the myth. When Pandora opened the box, the world was filled with all of the evils within. But at the end, there was one thing left in the box. The last thing to come out of the box was a small, faintly-glowing spirit of hope. Did you know that?"
"I did," Kodai replied indifferently. "I purposely neglected to mention it."
"So you were making fun of me again."
"I knew you'd eventually find out the true ending to the story on your own, even without me telling you. It's no different."
"...Perhaps you're right."
"Have you stopped having the nightmare?"
"No, I still have it sometimes. Sometimes I wake up feeling even worse than before. I'm still anxious. But if you know the cause of the anxiety, it's already as good as half solved. You can face up to it. I know the cause now, so it's not as bad as it used to be."
"Those are very forward-facing words."
"Yes. Somebody told them to me once."
Suddenly, Minato's somehow timid smile flashed through Sakura's mind. What was the salvation he had sought? Whatever it had been, she hadn't been able to give it to him.
"...But the person who told me those words was the person who tried to kill me."
"Ah. But you still believe in those words, don't you?"
"Yes. Am I wrong to?"
"That's for you to decide."
Kodai quietly stared back at Sakura. She sensed no stirring of emotions in his face.
"I'll be going, then."
"Farewell. I don't expect we'll ever see each other again."
Sakura left the visiting room.
Sakura's assignment to the Heinous Crimes Unit had been decided. Now she walked down the halls she had walked as the witness in a crime, her face pitiful and covered with contusions, as a legitimate special agent. Alongside a rookie who was to be a colleague of hers, she knocked on the door to the Heinous Crimes Unit.
"I've been assigned here starting today. My name is Sakura Natsume."