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Gut Instinct

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“He hasn’t called in.”

Shiratori looks at her strangely. “Takagi?”

“Yes, Takagi. He was supposed to call back after he followed up that lead. He hasn’t called in.” She knows she’s probably overreacting, but she can’t help it.

“He’s an adult,” Shiratori reminds her with an expression that tells her that he’s not sure he’s telling the truth. “And he mostly knows what he’s doing.”

She doesn’t answer. There is no use in arguing with Shiratori about this, because really it’s just a small thing. He’s probably right, too. It’s not like Takagi isn’t capable of handling a simple questioning. It’s routine. They don’t even have a suspect, yet.

But she has this weird feeling that she should be worried anyway.

***

When there is no sign of Takagi an hour later even Megure-keibu is getting sligthly suspicious. “What’s taking him so long? Have you tried calling him?”

“Twice,” she says tersely.

“He hasn’t been involved in a car accident, has he?” Megure says in a gruff voice, but he does look a little worried..

Miwako can’t imagine they wouldn’t have heard of an accident by now. “I’ll follow his steps,” she says, jumping up from her desk, full of uneasiness and pent up energy. Sitting around isn’t what she’s good at. “We still have no lead on the Nakayama murder. Maybe Takagi is following a lead.” If he’d been following a lead, why didn’t he call in at least?

“Check up on him, Satoh-kun,” Megure decides. “But be careful and do call when you know what’s going on.”

She nods curtly and makes her way to the car hastily, trying not to break into a run. This isn’t an emergency, is it? She’s only over reacting. Right? But Takagi just has a way of getting hurt...

***

She makes careful inquiries around the neighbourhood and two elderly ladies are happy to inform her of the “nice officer” who talked to them briefly, just an hour ago. Miwako is smiling politely while they recap what he has asked them. Both of them seem to be well informed about the goings-on in the neighbourhood and they have a lot to say on the deceased and don’t seem to be particularly shocked at the thought of a murder happening around the corner of their living quarters. It doesn’t particularly help Miwako to find out where exactly Takagi has disappeared to.

“It probably was that horrible man who came to see him every few weeks. He had this dangerous look about him. Tsuruki-san told me Nakayama-san had debts. A lot of money changed hands there...” one of the women gossiped excitedly.

Miwako gave her a polite smile and stored the information away to be checked later. She still didn’t feel at ease and she knew she wouldn’t calm down before she knew her colleague was all right.

“Nah, it probably was his lover. You know that woman.” The woman made a strange hand gesture that caught Miwako’s attention.

That woman?” she repeated.

“Ah yeah, his lady friend. She never seemed quite stable,” the other lady nodded enthusiastically.

“He had a lover?” Miwako took out her notebook. This information could be important later. After she has found Takagi.

“Lover. Mistress. Whatever they call it nowadays. They never moved together, probably because she isn’t quite right in the head.” Miwako frowned, but didn’t comment. “The other officer wanted to talk to her, too. Said that maybe she had an idea what had happened, who had it in for Nakayama-san.”

She felt her mouth go dry. “Did he ask after her address.”

“Yes, yes, he did!”

Finally. A lead on Takagi’s whereabouts.

***

She sees his car parking outside the flat where Nakayama’s lover is supposed to live. The motor, of course, is cold and there is no way of telling when it was parked there. Miwako makes her way determinedly to the door of Kanehara Mayumi, who lives in the second floor of the apartment building. She isn’t sure, why Takagi would still be there, but maybe she can tell her where he went off to. She rings the doorbell with determination and receives no answer. She knocks on the door twice and considers her options after there is no answer.

Her eyes fall on some dirt on the door handle. There are some smudges of it on the floor right in front of the door. She startles and stares, because this looks exactly like dried blood. Before she’s aware of any conscious decision she is making ready to kick down the door. This’ll mean trouble without a warrant, but her body seems inclined to make her decisions for her. And when the door breaks open, she’s glad for it.

***

She visits him in the hospital, after he wakes up.

“You were lucky,” she tells him sternly and he gives her a tired and slightly emberassed smile. “You’ve lost a lot of blood. If that woman had known what she was doing, you’d be dead.”

He shakes his head. “She didn’t want to kill me. She was just scared, I’d come to take her little daughter away...”

“We know that. We have her in custody now. But she stabbed you, you idiot.”

“I know that.” He gives her another rueful smile. “I didn’t expect her to do it. I was only there to ask about her lovers financial affairs. Didn’t know about the girl.”

“He’d threatened her to take the child away for some time now. She has a not so slight problem with depression and he was worried about the girl. It’s likely his child, too. When you came to her door and asked questions, she panicked.”

“So did she...?”

Miwako shakes her head. “Nakayama was killed because he took money from the wrong people. You were on the right track all along.”

He smiles again and she has a feeling the painkillers play a part in that. “I think you were the one who did the better job, actually.”

“I followed my gut instinct.” She explained softly.

“It’s pretty good, your instinct.”

He’d be dead if she hadn’t found him in time. “I know it is.” She pats his hand. “You’ll be back on your feet before you know it. I’m sorry I have to go. Crime doesn’t sleep.”

Takagi is already dropping off and doesn’t answer her. She is glad to have followed her gut, but she’ll not tell anyone how she had panicked when she’d found his lifeless body. There were things that she and her instinct had to figure out on their own.