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to alter; savoir

Chapter Text

The first kill was too messy for his client’s liking.

The woman in white laid red on the floor. Multiple stab wounds on the back. The first one was the fatal blow so the other wounds either came from inexperience or from an extreme emotional response. No signs of struggle, so she was likely taken by surprise.

Her death wasn’t ordered to serve as an intimidation kill, so it was nothing less than inefficient to kill Wakaba Isshiki in such an excessive manner. Too much media attention with no benefits. The boy was scolded repeatedly (among other punishments) for this. He caught her off guard, but she still screamed, alerting her daughter upstairs. Despite that, there was little evidence left behind that pointed to the culprit and her case was closed cold.

“He has talent. Just a little polishing is needed before he becomes a sellable product.” That’s what the boy heard and he tried his very best to stop his heart from swelling.

This was the fate that he was born into. He’s the one the men in black has chosen out of all of those kids in the orphanage. There was no escape after that and at least this way, he’ll one day become strong enough to deliver his own brand of justice.

The next day, he entered the local seedy bar and asked the bartender to change the channel to that week’s episode of Featherman. The boy knew the bartender well and he was happy to oblige on a slow day. The boy was, after all, just a child at the age of 14.

“Number of kills is undetermined. Number of accomplices is undetermined. Number of culprits… undetermined.”

Naoto Shirogane is tired. Ever since she became a detective at a young age, she understood the importance of patience and good sleep, but the current case has too many variables-- too many mysteries in one. It’s a constant insecurity that plagued her mind ever since she got the case. Will she be able to find this culprit before any more victims arise? The past two years of murders had yet to cease and the Tokyo PD had recently let go of their pride to call in the famed Detective Prince (the epithet stuck, even after her true gender was revealed) for the job. There were a few murders that had enough evidence to (probably) confirm that they are probably connected, but that’s about it. It’s this case that changed the landscape of crime and everyone seems to have complete faith in her… if she can’t, no one can.

Naoto took one last gulp of coffee. That’s it, she internally promised. That’s all she’s going to drink for the rest of the night.

She looks at the clock besides her. 12:14 AM. Earlier than she thought it was. Perhaps she should wait until 1 AM before going to bed, she thought. She had already reviewed the few (again, probably) confirmed cases over and over again. The sole link between them is the weapon or rather, the fatal wound that resulted from said weapon. The cooperation of coroners have determined the approximate shape of the murder weapon-- a long blade with a serrated edge. Most murder weapons tend to be either easily obtainable objects or common items that are used specifically for killing like guns or poison. However, a blade like this has likely been commissioned, created by the murderer himself, or an antique of some sort because of the peculiar shape. Naoto remembers the blacksmith back in Inaba, but no matter what location, carrying weapons like that in public would catch anyone’s eye. Although the motive behind using this specific weapon is unknown, there’s no doubt that this person is skilled. What’s even more concerning is that more and more cold cases are occurring by the months and and less and less of those can be easily tied to the case at hand. There’s no way to be sure, but Naoto is convinced that there’s a good chance that the murderer is not only continuing their crimes, but improving as well.

There is also the victims themselves to consider. Most of them are seemingly random. Some were poor and some were rich. Some made headlines while others fade into irrelevance. What each murder hadn’t failed to do is cause some sort of change outside of the grief they caused, particularly in the political world. Even if the person’s murder didn’t make it to the news, their deaths influenced some other piece of information to be revealed. For example, the murder of Misaki Hiroyama, a normal woman living in Tokyo, wasn’t particularly brutal or shocking compared to some others, but the investigation revealed that she was having an affair with one of the Diet members, and that was enough to catch attention from the media.

The fact that the reason why her death wasn’t even a big deal to the public compared to the scandal because of the number of murders that had already happened is much more than just concerning. The people who fear death had already moved out by this point, and the rest are desensitized. Her death was about important as a footnote to society.

Right, the one saving grace from all of this-- the murders are limited to the Tokyo area. As far as she knew, the increase in murders is limited to the Tokyo area. It isn’t hard to deduce that the murderer themselves lives in the area, though that’s just scraping the bottom of the barrel.

There are many theories flying around at the police department, most of it being idle speculation. The current theory that Naoto holds is that this is a work of an assassin or hitman. It makes sense, considering the murders’ influence in politics. She has considered looking through a list of those who benefitted from the incidents, but frankly that list is too long, not to mention it’s a theory lacking in evidence to deserve a warrant, and it gets even more complex when you consider that most don’t fit strictly into that category. Every single politician took some sort of blow to their reputation at some point, whether it was a direct or indirect effect. They all gave out their thoughts and prayers-- all of that stuff. Whoever their supposed client is, it’s one who is remorseless and is too dangerous to influence the government.

That, or the murderer just wants to see the world burn.

Naoto sighed. Maybe she should just sleep and think about the case more carefully when her brain isn’t solely running off of caffeine.

“Why the long face, Akira?”

It was a lonely, lonely night for Akira. It’s not in the sense that he didn’t have company; Chihaya is good as a friend as any other, but one could say that he’s seeking more… warmer pleasures. He has been, for like, the past year or so.

“Romance. Why is so difficult?”

It’s cold out here, Akira thought to himself (despite it being 15 degrees Celsius). Chihaya isn’t making it much better, as she quietly chuckled. How many times had Akira asked for romantic advice from the cards? It’s not that Chihaya’s predictions were wrong, but….

“Didn’t your date go well?”

“It did, like you said, but like, uh.” Akira pinched the bridge of his nose. “I didn’t exactly expect to get a text saying we have to break off because my date’s mother got on his case the next day.” Akira let out a deep sigh. “Cowards. All of them.”

“I can only predict what comes to me. I’m not omniscient after all.”

“Seriously, I thought the curse was lifted when you said something positive about my love life for once, but I was betrayed by the wheel of fortune once again! What does the fates have against me? Why can’t I enjoy my sweet, summer romance?!” Akira is literally crying at this point. From all of Chihaya’s experiences, Akira always had a penchant for changing fate in ways she couldn’t foresee. It’s why they’ve been so close; he taught her that fate isn’t as strictly defined as she thought.

And yet, here he is, all caught up in fate’s little finger over silly romance. Love truly is war, isn’t it? A truly special thing, indeed.

“Oh, Akira. At least you had a good time.”

“It’s pretty sad that it was one of the best dates in a long time. Chicken dinner and an awkward cuddle while watching Bruce Lee movies upside down. No kiss though. It was amazing. I’d rate that an 11/10. Best animu ever.” Chihaya couldn’t help but to internally agree with Akira. Well, assuming he wasn’t serious.

“Uh, maybe we should try again? You’re a good man, so you’ll find the perfect one soon enough.” Fate can’t be that cruel, right?

“Yeah… that’s why I’m here. I don’t think I can take anymore heartbreak. I’m gay and I’m sad. Wake me up from this nightmare, wake me up insiii--” And there goes Akira in his dramatic glory. Well, Chihaya will gladly churn out as many fortunes for Akira as he want after all he has done for her. Also, she’s getting kind of sick of seeing Akira rolling on the ground groaning every single time this happens. She’d never thought she would ever get so desperate to get someone else laid. Now that in itself is proof of how fickle fate could be.

“Let’s see… let’s try two readings. I’ll look at your love life in general first and what we can do about it.” Sometimes, Akira would point out that the tarot cards feels more like a formality than part of the actual process. Chihaya is indeed a psychic and technically, she didn’t have to use the cards, but it helps be more accurate and who knows when these powers of hers fade away. If her predictions don’t line up with the cards, then clearly, she’ll probably have to look for a different job.

Three cards are put down. Alright. Chihaya flipped the cards left to right. With the skill of an experienced psychic, she flips the cards with grace. Upright Lovers. Reversed Devil. Upright Justice. Huh, this is actually really good, Chihaya thought to herself. She already has her prediction in mind by the time she opened her mouth.

“This is better than last time somehow. Love is about to become one of the most important aspects of your life, so you’re concerned of how it is going to go. However, the restraints that you perceive to be chaining you to a ‘single-hood’ likely an illusion, so the problem that you have will be easy to overcome if you put your mind into it. As long as you stay true to yourself and be honest of what you want, I foresee positive upset in your love life. Your next relationship might be the one!”

“Chihaya, Chihaya.” Akira gets up from the floor, still as groggy as ever. “Don’t get my hopes up. Watch there be some loophole in the whole thing and the illusions that chain me takes over my heart. I’m a prisoner in the deepest rungs of fate, as I beg for a handsome, dashing thief to steal my heart as the midnight clock rings. I sit still, dreaming of a day when I will once again achieve both freedom and--”

“Okay, okay,” Chihaya interrupted. “At that point, that’s on you, isn’t it? And I think you being the thief is more suitable for you rather than the other way around. You unironically called yourself a ‘sexy deviant’ too many times.” Oh, the things Chihaya would do for Akira. “Anyways, let’s look into your next partner. How will your relationship as a whole turnout? Specific questions are my specialty after all.”

“Yeah, it worked out sooooo great last time.”

“Shut up, Akira.” Chihaya puts down another three card spread. Remember, this is for Akira’s sake. Once he gets a stable boyfriend, he’ll stop moaning and finally get his life straight, Chihaya thought. It’s what a friend would do, right?

Flip. Upright Star.

Flip. Upright World.

And one more. Reversed Justice.

“Oh my god, Akira.”

“What is it?”

“Oh my god,” she repeated. “It’s clear to me.”

“What is it? What is it?” Akira is practically drinking up the suspense of the moment.

“The connection between you and this person is powerful. Really strong, but you have to be careful, alright? It’s dangerous territory you’re getting into.”

“Dangerous as in… something spicy?”

“Uh, no. More like you’re on a tightrope or pulling off a heist. One wrong step and you’re gone. If you make it through, big rewards, as in, an amazing boyfriend. The best boyfriend. Whatever.”

“Really?” Akira finally perked up. Chihaya has given hopeful fortunes before, so maybe it’s the thrill of a possibly all-or-nothing relationship? Or the amazing boyfriend part? Both. Probably both, she thought.

Chihaya slams her hands on the table, startling Akira, albeit not out of frustration. “Yes, the cards have made it clear to me. You will meet this person very soon, perhaps tomorrow or so. You will be immediately attracted to him and he in turn will benefit greatly by getting into a relationship with you in ways that even I cannot comprehend. However, the connection between you two rests on a thin string. Keep in mind is that the most important thing you can do is to be yourself. Your relationship with this person hinges on how transparent your identity is and if you break that trust, the consequences will be brutal.” Chihaya left out the part that it’s the same for the other person as well, but as a fortune teller, you’re only supposed to focus on the customer and what they can do. Akira worrying about his partner’s transparency on top of what he already has to deal with is a bit much. Chihaya figured that if there was something to worry about that, Akira would know.

“If he has such big expectations, then I’ll probably do something right to earn it then.” Some people would say that setting the bar high is the norm, but Akira isn’t exactly the most picky person at this point. It’s a little worrying and yet, strangely refreshing to Chihaya. She can’t speak for everyone, but people with high standards tend to be hard to calm down when things don’t go their way. She knows that from experience, especially after the number of people with teary eyes coming to her for one specific reason.

“Mmm. That’s why the connection is strong-- you have more potential with this person than any other.” Chihaya wasn’t joking about this point. This is the first time where she’s genuinely curious about a person outside of her customers because of a simple prediction. “Just-- try your best. I don’t like seeing you all depressed.”

“I’m touched.”

“I’m simply doing what’s right as a friend.”

“Doesn’t stop me from being grateful.”

“I sure hope you are.”

Akira and Chihaya exchanged goodbyes as Akira headed home for the night. There are a lot of thoughts going through his head. A potential soulmate, huh. Akira knows he shouldn’t get his expectations too high, but he can’t help but to imagine. Let his mind wander as he stares up into the ceiling.

What is his ideal type? Akira never really thought about it. It was always the kind of thing that he’d needed to experiment with before knowing for sure. Sure, there’s basic things like kindness, intelligence, and whatever, but that’s just things that anyone would like, he thought. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that he didn’t have a type, just like what he told his friends one night during the school trip to Hawaii. There were just some things that he just wouldn’t know unless he sees it for himself.

Bah, in that case, there’s no use thinking about it. Morgana pounced onto Akira, as if he was agreeing with that thought. An encounter that will happen soon… Akira isn’t sure if he’s prepared, but thinking on the fly is one of the few things that he’s all too familiar with.