Secrets and seekers
Takuya lit a cigarette and inhaled. Then blew the smoke out. Leaning against the wall of the teahouse behind him, he smoked and stared at the reddening winter sky.
“Since when did you smoke?” A familiar voice questioned him from somewhere right of him.
“I blame Jinpei and Kenji for this.” Takuya said without turning.
“It’s unhealthy for you.”
“Well… It’s not like it is a habit of mine… I’m just a bit stressed… about everything.”
“I see… Shall be go inside?”
“Lead the way, Miyagawa-keiji.” Takuya stubbed the cigarette and dropped it into the nearby ashtray.
“Of course, Miyoshi-keiji.” His friend chuckled and entered the teahouse.
They settled into second floor balcony with tea and snacks between them. Takuya finally properly inspected his friend.
“You look good, Hiro.”
“Cleaned up nicely, eh?” Hiromitsu grinned back. He had grown his hair a bit longer, to frame his face, and shaved his stubble away. “I look just like Niisan like this. Though according to Tsubaki-obasan, he has a moustache now.”
“Yes, that stubble looked ridiculous on you. I have no idea why you let it grow after your graduation.” Takuya snarked back. “But at least like this you look subtly but noticeably different from… your undercover persona.”
“Ah… Yes…” Hiromitsu sobered but flashed a smile. “I never did properly thank you for saving me, did I?”
“No need.” Takuya waved the thanks away. “But do tell me why you’re using the cut-and-paste name Ayanokoji-keibu came up with.”
“Ah, that one…” Hiromitsu grinned. “Don’t you want to hear first how he came up with it?”
“Well, the first name is probably made up from my first name and Miwako-san’s family name. The family name… I just though he flipped Kagemiya’s kanji on each other’s place and then mangled the latter part to make it less obvious, thus changing the kanji itself.”
Hiromitsu shook his head slowly, grin on his face.
“No, he picked the latter one from a district in Kyoto, Miyagawa-cho, where a crush of his works as a maiko.”
Takuya snorted into his tea.
“I trust Tsubaki-obasan’s contacts.” His friend shrugged. “Speaking of which, I heard you found my phone.”
“Ah, yes. It’s currently in Wataru’s locker, waiting to be sent to your brother. Given the clues I found, I think Furuya left it there.”
“Since when have you called Date, Wataru? And Rei, Furuya, for that matter?” Hiromitsu frowned. Takuya glanced back at him before looking over Kamogawa and Misogigawa.
“…Ever since Wataru died and I realized I’d been left alone once more.” The brunette sighed.
“Last February. A hit and run… Natalie-san committed suicide the following night.”
“Oh…” Hiromitsu breathed in shock.
“I guess you already knew about Jinpei though?”
“Yes. The bombings were big news… And distracted me from seeing Hoshi-chan… Tsukiko-chan for a while.”
“She wants to be called that now. I guess, she will be Hoshi for the Alliance and Tsukiko for others… Just like I was Tsukasa for the Alliance and Hiromitsu for the rest of you.” Another shrug. “And now I’m Sakuya.”
“How is your cousin doing? I heard that Kagemiya Tsubasa-san relayed the news of your ‘demise’ to Tsubaki-san and thus both her and Hoshi – Tsukiko-san – think of you dead.”
“Tsukiko-chan was upset for a long time. I had kept visiting her for a bit less than a year and leaving her voicemails until March. Then after rehabilitation visited occasionally again and kept her distracted with music and discussions about her school… Then I had things to do in order to arrange my inclusion to Kyoto Prefectural Police Force, under Ayanokoji-keibu… and then Tsubasa-san visited.”
“And now you can’t see her anymore.”
“No. It runs a risk of being relayed to Tsubasa-san and eventually back to PSB.” Hiromitsu smiled pensively. “And I don’t want to go back there. Not after how it isolated me from everyone else.”
When Takuya watched the sitting silhouette of his last friend, he realized how lonely Hiromitsu looked like that.
“Do…” Takuya swallowed. “Do you regret surviving? That I got there in time to save you?”
Startled, Hiromitsu turned to stare at the younger man, his eyes wide.
“Never. Don’t… Don’t ever think I’m not grateful for being alive or that I regret living in hiding. You saved me, Takuya. From more than you might even know.” He said sternly. “And even if I have to hide from my best friend now and can’t spend time with my cousin, I still have you and Tsubaki-obasan and Ayanokoji-keibu.”
“I’m sorry.” Jinpei told Takuya two years ago. “Sayonara, Takuya. Ganbatte.”
“You might be police detectives but you still have only one life… Don’t lose sight of that, alright?” Wataru told him and Takagi.
“I still have you.” Hiromitsu smiled at him.
Takuya was crying again. He was such a kid.
Life went on. There was a particularly gruesome murder at Tropical Land before the high school detective Kudou Shinichi decided to swan off to somewhere and basically drop off the face of the earth. Takuya didn’t particularly care. Not even when Mai pondered whether or not investigate the matter. He had never worked with the kid and didn’t have any stories about him like Megure, Takagi and Chiba had. Takuya and Satou had usually either worked on different cases or had had stake outs or paperwork or something else to do.
When the bodies started dropping around Mouri Kogorou and the ex-cop rose to fame, Takuya did notice but didn’t particularly care. Frankly he was more interested in the kid living with them. Because the bodies rather seemed to drop around him… Since there were numerous cases where he had been present with some of his classmates and the professor from the 2nd block but no Mouri in sight.
The first time Takuya met the boy, Edogawa Conan, was when Kudou Shinichi apparently called the police about money counterfeiters in Daitoma, located in an old newspaper building and having a hostage doing the copying.
They arrived to the place to see a window having been shot and the robbers unconscious or in shock… With six kids in the place but no Kudou anywhere.
Apparently, the brown-haired girl had used the gun to intimidate the woman but what stuck with Takuya about the case was what Edogawa Conan told to the woman, ringleader of the Silverfoxes.
“Hmph… To be caught in such an easy case… What a disappointment… Well, you’ll have to confess everything to the police… about the big organization what’s behind you.”
“Don’t play dumb! You’ve also got one, right? A codename like Gin or Vodka.”
Megure brushed Conan’s words as childish fantasy game gone too far but Takuya called that very night to Hiromitsu to ask about it.
“Ah… I know those names. Gin was quite high up and Vodka worked as his partner.” Hiromitsu had answered.
“Did you also have a codename like that?”
“Yes… Do you want to know it?”
“No. No need. You are Sakuya now.”
“Ookini.” Takuya smiled at the Kansai-ben used. Hiromitsu’s speech had always been mainly regular Japanese but there were also remnants from Nagano and Kyoto. “But anyways, those codenames have appeared in Kyoto police report too. Ayanokoji-keibu and I covered it up to protect Tsukiko-chan but she saw those two and heard to codenames while on a way back to Kyoto from Tokyo.”
“The attempted bombing of the Shinkasen?”
“Yes. All names are doctored out from the report but I can send you a copy of it.”
Within the week, the report arrived via mail to Takuya’s apartment. Reading between the lines and looking at the passenger list, Takuya concluded that Edogawa Conan might’ve hear the codenames in that same moment than Tsukiko did. But why think that the Silverfoxes were related to them…?
Next time, Takuya saw Edogawa Conan in action, was when a gunman with accomplices took the National Stadium hostage during the Emperor Cup. The kiddie squad was with him too, like last time. They called themselves the Shounen Tantei-dan and even had badges to prove it. How adorable.
They were relatively helpful though, scouting the audience and keeping contact with each other via those badges.
But in the end, it was Conan that apprehended the final criminal.
That was spooky.
Takagi’s crush on Satou surfaced in adorable way. It had been painfully clear since day one but it fully bloomed when the kids came to MPD Headquarters to give their statements on another case and managed to verbally trap the man. It was also when Takuya got formally introduced to the kids for the first time.
“Ah, Miyoshi Takuya, detective of the Division One, Homicide Unit as well. I’m usually partnered with Satou-san.”
“Ah, you were there when we caught the money counterfeiters!” The girl in headband remembered. “I hadn’t seen a police officer with a ponytail before so I remember!”
“I see.” Takuya smiled back, fingering his ponytail. He should probably shorten it a bit. There was some leeway in personalizing one’s own style if you weren’t a uniformed police officer as long as it remained within the limits of good taste and looked tidy. Takuya took good care of his clothing and hair so he could get away with longer hair.
Though he did miss wearing the uniform sometimes…
Takuya went to deliver some of the paperwork but when he came back, Takagi and Satou were both gone with the manager of Touto Bank’s Haido Branch who had arrived to the station to give his statement from the robbery to his bank and when calling to his wife, they’d heard her scream. So the three had left to the manager’s house… with Conan apparently sneaking in.
“Miyoshi-kun,” Shiratori approached the young man. “Takagi-kun called for the Mobile Investigation Unit and the coroner. The bank manager’s wife was found dead.”
“Are we going there too, Shiratori-keibu?” Takuya asked the newly promoted Inspector.
“Of course. I’ve been given the command of the case.”
Takuya drove to the scene with Shiratori and once there… He had the opportunity to witness Edogawa Conan’s deductive ability. During the course of the case, little remarks the boy said, helped to shed light to the truth of the case.
It was terrifying. The way the boy just played the police and led them to notice all the little details that could’ve been overlooked.
Could’ve, because Takuya was certain that with time they could’ve reached the same conclusions too. If they hadn’t been prejudged since the beginning to think it was one of the robbers committing the homicide. Likewise, Takuya was sure that if one of his late friends had been present, they could’ve solved the case too.
As it stood, Takuya closed his police note book and pocketed it. The case was closed and it was time to get back to the station and then home.
He could mull over these things later.
Takuya put on a black suit with black tie and headed downstairs. Megure had gotten a tip off from Kudou Shinichi once again and informed the inspector of the possibility of politician Nomiguchi Shigehiko being killed during the Memorial Party of film director Sakamaki Akira which was being held at Haido City Hotel. While Megure and some others were going there in uniform and plain clothes, Takuya’s job was to be there as the heir of Miyoshi Corporation and observe the guests during the entire thing.
A disguised officer acted as Takuya driver while the young officer tied his hair back. He didn’t like using hair gel or sprays but this situation required a bit neater appearance than usual at work. Takuya only let some of his bangs hang on the left side of his face to conceal the earbud he was wearing.
Arriving at the hotel with an invitation actually sent to his father who had been a fan and supporter of director Sakamaki, Takuya strode to the reception, making good time before Megure and his men arrived. He tucked a green handkerchief to his pocket.
It was show time.
The murder was no way discreet. But it was very efficient and completely concealed the one who committed it. Takuya was reluctantly impressed as he looked down on the crashed chandelier in the middle of the room while Megure was questioning the guests closest to the scene.
And in the midst of confusion, Takuya saw Edogawa Conan and the brown-haired girl from the kiddie squad, Haibara Ai, talking with each other. Conan had a purple handkerchief with him and was explaining something to the girl who for some reason was wearing the boy’s glasses.
Why would the kid be here? And more importantly why would he have one of the handkerchiefs since those were only given to the invited guests…
Takuya lifted his hands to fix his cufflinks and in the same motion brought a hidden mike up to his mouth.
“Takagi-kun, I saw a kid pick up a purple handkerchief. Those were meant for an event at the end of the party. Please concentrate the search on guests who were given a handkerchief of that color to see if someone is missing one.” He muttered under his breath.
“Understood. I’ll relay the information to Megure-keibu.”
From his earpiece, Takuya heard the instructions being considered and that Kudou called with similar advice.
Seven guests. All of them interrogated one by one… And all of them had a handkerchief with them.
“Two culprits then…” Takuya mused, walking the corridor on the floor below and tapping a memo on his phone since notebook would be too noticeable. He had already given his statement to some officers who didn’t recognize him and then gone to bathroom with promises to return back straight away.
Then he stopped and looked up.
Two men dressed in black were walking past in the intersecting corridor.
“Gin is easy to recognize. Long silvery hair and long black coat.” Hiromitsu had told him when they were analyzing the Shinkasen case via phone. “Wicked smart too with too-quick trigger-finger. Leftie.”
A tall man with long silver hair? Check.
“Vodka in the other hand is dumber. Looks like your stereotypical mafioso with fedora, suit and sunglasses. Effective enforcer but basically Gin’s lackey.”
Mafioso-lookalike who wore sunglasses indoors during winter? Check.
Takuya quickly opened a camera of his phone and clicked a pic before the pair vanished behind the corner. Then he sent it and his memo as an email to Hiromitsu. He needed a second opinion.
Takuya made it back to the exhibition hall when the reply came.
That’s them. Stay
safe and keep your
Takuya pocketed his phone and joined with the rest of the guests that were still being questioned but not suspected. He was about to ask if he was free to leave after giving his statement when announcement rang out through the hotel’s PA system.
“A fire has broken out in room 604 of the old wing!”
All the other officers ran to investigate and detain the fire.
Takuya later heard that the suspect Masuyama Kenzou had died in that fire.
And next day the police found out that Nomiguchi’s family had disappeared and Masuyama’s house had burnt down.
This… organization, was apparently cleaning up their traces.
But subtle Takuya wouldn’t call them. Just widespread. Like rot.
He heard about Kudou Shinichi’s reappearance from Mai. There had been a murder at Teitan High’s school festival and the high school detective had solved it alongside one Hattori Heiji of Osaka.
A day later Kudou solved yet another murder framed as suicide before disappearing off radar.
With that, Takuya realized that Megure was covering up for the high school detective. That only he and Takagi knew about the boy’s involvement at Haido Hotel. That the case at Teitan High was hushed up and aside from people present at the restaurant Arséne, the boy’s presence was hushed up once more.
And for reason or other Takuya was among the few people that Megure trusted with this information.
When the call about bus hijackers demanding their boss being released came about, Takuya was among those staying at the station and trying to make sense of the bus’s route based on the reports of those deployed at field.
“This is Takagi at Position E! We see the bus!” Came through Takuya’s headset. “There are two suspects! Both are wearing ski suits! They’re wearing hats and goggles, so we can’t see their faces! What we can tell, they seem armed. What should we do, keibu-san?”
“The bus might pass by your position again! Stay where you are and keep an eye out!” Megure instructed.
Takuya made a mark on the map spread in front of him, fingers itching for his notebook. Now wasn’t the time though. All information needed to be displayed for everyone to see as time was of essence.
“This is Satou. The hijacked bus is passing through the Chuuou expressway and is headed for Ootsuki! It’ll enter the Kobotoke tunnel soon!”
“Keep following them! Don’t lose them! The bus is almost out of fuel! They’ll most likely release the three hostages they promised when they get more fuel! Get the Yamanashi police department’s help and put some officers at any parking areas the bus may stop at! The second they open the door is our chance to nab them!”
“Keibu! The bus has slowed down!”
“We’re entering the tunnel now!”
“Pity we don’t have a passenger list to work with… If we had one of those, we could make sure that the hostages released are surely hostages and not the hijackers in disguise…” Takuya mused.
“What did you say?” Shiratori asked. Takuya looked up and flicked one half of the headset off to hear the inspector better.
“I mean… We have no idea who the hijackers are. Takagi-kun also said that due the ski gear, there is no way to ID the culprits. Moreover, the bus is slowing down in a dark tunnel, buying time for them being out of surveillance… And I’ve been doing calculations based on average fuel usage of those busses and how long has it been since last refuel… Considering that the bus has been going on at constant speed without further speedups and stops, they should be able to go on at least other twenty minutes easily.” The younger man explained.
From the radio he heard that the bus had shot out of the tunnel but then abruptly stopped.
From the radio he heard about the bomb inside the bus.
From the radio he heard the bomb exploding with no causalities.
Takuya almost had a heart attack when he found out Mai had been inside the bus. He was definitely not pleased when he heard in the questioning that she’d almost remained inside the bus after the sudden break and had to be helped out by other passenger. He was also immensely relieved to see that apart from a couple of bruises, she was alright.
“Don’t do stunts like that ever again.” He muttered in his cousin’s hair as he clutched her close.
“This wasn’t any way my fault but… I’ll try.” Mai smiled weakly.
“Did you get coffee with the money I gave you?”
“Yes, it was very delicious.”
“I also thanked the man who helped me.”
“You can let go already, Takuya-nii.”
November of that year came way too soon. The third anniversary of Matsuda’s death and the seventh anniversary of Hagiwara’s. Takuya was on a surveillance stake-out the day of the parade when the postal office robbers made false bomb threats (but accompanied by an actual bomb) and Satou slapped Takagi for his… too on point disguise. Takuya had a picture of it. Takagi had sent it to him for opinion. It amused and hurt him simultaneously. But Takuya had sent his junior to the field in it anyways. They all needed to remain sharp on the day of anniversary and what better to snap them all into focus but a lookalike?
The countdown started anew with a bomb in Shiratori’s car. Satou, Takagi and the kiddie squad were there to witness it. Thankfully Shiratori didn’t die though he had to be sped to the hospital post haste. The new code… it was a tricky one.
I’m a fast and powerful major leaguer. Let the extra innings begin.
The game’s start will be signaled tomorrow at noon and the game will end at 3 pm.
Even if you prepared a good stopper, that’ll be in vain…
I’ll turn the tables in the end… If you wan to cancel the match, come to where I am…
I’ll be waiting in the steel batter box for you police bastards to climb the bloodstained mound…
The new riddle was longer and more complicated… But all the same, it had the same tone than the previous one. Takuya swallowed painfully and called Hiromitsu. He needed a familiar voice to ground him…
There were dummies in the Haido line trains. the kiddie squad was with Satou and Takagi, solving the code. Takuya read through his own copy once more. He had no idea what it could be. Neither had Hiro when he called. Time was running out. They needed to find the first bomb before tomorrow noon and… get the final clue to the next bomb location.
The young officer drew a shuddering breath. He couldn’t panic now. No matter the fact that there was a chance of losing yet another comrade to this bomber.
The bomb was in Tokyo Tower. Takagi and Conan were trapped inside the elevator with it. And given the way the previous bomb had been constructed (Takuya had questioned the explosive experts who’d put together the remains extensively about the matter), there would be many, many traps and no escape for the two.
Unless your name was Edogawa Conan and you could figure out the coded message while disarming the bomb.
Takuya banged his head against the wall when the message about the bomb being disarmed came through and that a squad was heading to the next location.
What had this world come to if a grade schooler could do their job better than people who’d been years in the force.
“I feel inadequate, Miyagawa-keiji. The kiddie squad is going to steal my job one day.” Takuya complained to phone at the end of the day when the bomber was caught and he was finally home. Everyone was home. And Takagi had almost kissed Satou. Good for him. Pity for Megure cockblocking them.
“Well, maybe in fifteen years when they are old enough to actually join the force.” Hiro-, Sakuya laughed at him. “And by then you would’ve been promoted a couple of times so technically it wouldn’t be ‘your’ job that they’d get.”
“You mock my insecurities, ‘kuya…” Takuya grumbled.
“Are you drunk?”
“Yes. At home though. Spending my time as a noodle beneath my kotatsu and enjoying a good glass of Bourbon. I’m unwinding now. A closure has been achieved and I hope to never revisit this mess.”
“I don’t suppose you’ve heard anything from Zero?”
“Nothing. Why do you ask?” Takuya swallowed another mouthful of the whiskey.
“Just… Reminiscing here too…”
“…” Takuya looked down on his tumbler. “Hiro… Was… Is Furuya’s codename Bourbon?”
“Yes.” Came the short and quite cutting reply. “I was Scotch and the person who worked with us the most was Rye.”
“A Whiskey Trio then?”
“Precisely.” Okay, now he was laughing at some inside joke. Takuya was no amused being left out.
He sighed and knocked back the rest of the liquor before setting the tumbler onto the table. Tomorrow would be his day off again. Megure had granted it to Satou and him so they could visit Matsuda and Hagiwara’s graves. They’d probably take Takagi with them too…
What the hell was an English teacher doing with a gun?! What the hell was she getting involved into a kidnapping plot instead of calling the police? Why was the karate champion of Teitan High and the entire Kanto area doing here? How had the other kidnapped who by the amount of different sort of ammunition had had with him at least a rifle, a shotgun and three pistols in addition to the one used for suicide, gotten his legs broken? And where were the rest of the arms?
Takuya wanted to tear his hair out. The car that had blown up matched by description and serial number to the one used by doctor Araide Tomoaki while the one driven off to woods belonged to the English teacher Jodie Saintemillion. Who in turn was after all an FBI agent on a holiday and teaching English just because?!
Didn’t anyone here care about the inconsistencies? About the bullethole at the edge of the shipping container right by the spot where the male kidnapper had been? That the bullet found did not match Saintemillion’s gun even though that would’ve made sense? That the female kidnapper had abandoned Conan in Saintemillion’s car in the woods and had been picked up by Agasa Hiroshi of all people? That both Conan and Ai who’d been targeted by the kidnapping attempt, hadn’t been in the end harmed in anyway and were way too calm and had way too similar statements? That there had been a latex mask looking like the little girl but had had Conan’s hair inside it? That there was a mask resembling Araide but had long curly blond hairs inside it? That no one present had been able to give a description of the female kidnapper despite the dock area having been quite well lit as was regulated. And what an earth had Mouri Ran thought when she’d hidden inside Saintemillion’s car trunk? Well, at least she had had the sense to call the police…
Takuya kept hitting his head against his desk. He didn’t like this case. He’d call to complain to Hiro the first thing at home.
“Masks and long blond hair? Sounds like Vermouth. I never worked with her. Whenever she was in Japan, she was with Bourbon… Zero. Keep your eyes peeled. If she is here to stay, she can be anyone. Oh, and if I were you, get rid of the masks before someone else does. They won’t spell anything good to the kids.”
Takuya had been the one to bag the masks and the wigs accompanying them so it was an easy job to go to the evidence lockers to remove them and any digital and paper information gotten from them.
If only he’d known that this wouldn’t be the last time doing things like this.
It was when Mai started her investigations that Takuya paid any attention to what had happened in Haido Park. That someone had shot the sprinkles to spout water to the skies. Takuya had a feeling that this wasn’t just casual sabotage…
It had been a busy couple of days for the Division One. There had been a food poisoning, gas attack and arson simultaneously at Haido area. Then there was a murder at New Beika Hotel. Nothing special… other than an FBI agent showing up as a suspect and Saintemillion appearing to be his girlfriend. Takuya had more pressing concerns.
Like car fire at Raiha Pass. Exploded car with a victim inside. And the FBI involved again.
“Where is the nearest desk I can hit my head against…” Takuya muttered while speed walking to the bullpen. He had the sketch of the possible victim at hand, drawn by artist based on Saintemillion’s description of the “nice man who she’d met at a roadside diner and who picked up her phone”.
“Takagi-kun, did the fingerprint analysis come out yet?” He asked the other man who joined him from other direction.
“Ah, yes. I just came back from informing Jodie-san… The prints of the body matched the ones extracted from Conan-kun’s phone.”
“I see. Good to know.”
In the end it was almost an open and shut case. There were no leads to the man’s identity and thus no leads to his possible enemies. The bullet had gone through the skull and thus either flown to the other side of the pass or fallen to the bottom. So, no leads on the ballistics front either.
“I hate cold cases…”
It was months later when Takuya had any inkling that his cases might be part of something bigger. When Mai called him in the middle of Saturday evening when he was destressing from the disastrous Tanabata case.
“Mai-chan, I’ve told you not to call when I’m at work.” Takuya answered his phone.
“Gomen, Takuya-nii…” Mai apologized. There was a bit of a wind at the background. She was outside. “But this is important.”
“Important or interesting? While those are not interchangeable in regular conversation, I know they mean the same to you…” He sighed. “And you wouldn’t call me at this time while I’m on duty unless you had a hunch of a strange case.” It had been a while since the previous case she’d worked on.
“You got me.” Mai laughed. “I was wondering if there has been any incidents or general chaos concerning the absence of the news anchor Mizunashi Rena in the last… April. That’s when she announced leaving after having been absent for a long time. No one does that for real.”
“Mizunashi Rena-san?” Takuya mused. There had been some rumours back then through interdepartmental gossip… But then the car case had come and consumed all of Takuya’s time. “I heard from my friend in Haibo department that there was a television footage running about her in Haido Central Hospital. In it she was saying that she was coming back to work soon…” And later inspection showed it had been doctored from a previous interview of hers. “And a bit before the footage there had been three simultaneous incidents around the hospital that caused an influx of patients.”
“Oh, I remember that too… A fire, a food poisoning and a gas attack, right? Those were even on the news.”
“That’s right.” Takuya nodded absently and rifled through the papers with one hand. He still needed to transcribe the witness statements from the robbery that had happened on the day before. Now where were those tapes…?
“When did this all happen?” Mai was asking again. Takuya paused in his search.
“Hmm… Not exactly sure…” He frowned but blinked then. Shibata had joked about it a lot. “No, wait! My friend joked about all the bad happening before the Friday the 13th so nothing was left to happen on the bad-luck day itself. He was wrong though. There was a murder in Beika and a strange car fire that day. I was the one to go and check out the latter.”
“Really? Could you tell me more about the fire? Please. This sounds really interesting.” Mai’s nose for cases was disconcerting sometimes… but what harm would come from humoring her? Takuya sighed.
“Alright then…” He flipped his notebook open. “It was some other officers who made the call. There had been an accident in the Raiha Pass earlier so they were on their way there when they happened to witness the car, a black Chevrolet 1500, go up in flames right in front of them. That’s when me and my partner were called in.” Momouma had come with him since Satou was investigating with Shiratori a break-in and homicide while Takagi and Chiba were tied up with Megure at New Beika Hotel. “It was an obvious homicide and the explosion had happened with a time device, most likely set when the sirens were heard. A male victim was laid inside the car. Very hard to get an ID on him but we had a stroke of luck on our side.”
“A stroke of luck?” Came the skeptical question.
“Yes, an acquaintance of the police, one Jodie Saintemillion-san, had me the victim in a roadside diner earlier that day and was able to provide us fingerprints on her cellphone and a basic description to us.” While Takuya himself was skeptical of the coincidental nature of the information, he kept his opinion out of this… report to Mai. He had never actually talked with the woman after all.
“Jodie Saintemillion?” There was recognition on the name. No wonder, the woman had been Mai’s English teacher after all for a good while.
“Yeah, I don’t know how exactly she is known to the police other than getting mixed in a couple of cases…” Lie… The woman had almost as pig a resume than Suzuki Sonoko…Well, not quite since Suzuki had some involvement outside Tokyo too. But Mai didn’t need to know about the kidnapping incident at Halloween. Suzuki and Mouri were the only ones from Teitan High to know and even that was because Mouri had been directly involved. “I heard Megure-keibu and Takagi-kun talking something about an FBI-agent on a holiday with a boyfriend in tow… and getting involved in their cases but I’m not sure whom they were referring to…”
“Hmm…Could you give me the description of the person in the car fire?”
“Sure…” And give Megure a heads up about Mai’s investigation like Takuya did every time she started to poke at things. At least the girl didn’t ask for the sketch…
Mai was really causing him some grey hairs. Or at least First she was in Teito Bank when a robbery happened there, and then she was at Teito Department Store when a bomb threat happened. And after both of them, she just cheerfully told him to have some more hints and clues to go on with her investigation. How an earth were those cases related in a car fire in Raiha Pass?
Well, at least she seemed to have made a friend though. Mai frequently referenced to a transfer student Okiya Tsukiko about whom she didn’t know that much though. Didn’t know where she had transferred from. Didn’t know why she had been hospitalized or where she’d been. Didn’t know how she could transfer so easily to Teitan despite apparently having missed a lot of schooling due the hospitalization. Did know she had an adopted brother. Did know that she apparently lived with Jodie Saintemillion for a reason or other…
“Tsukiko…” Could it be…
“Hoshi-chan wants to be called Tsukiko now.”
Takuya opened the photo Mai had sent him about her friends Okiya Tsukiko and Maki Namida. Tsukiko had blonde hair. Same color than… that creepy little girl. She was also wearing glasses and squinting behind them and thus the intensity of her gaze was less that Hoshi’s… The features in general were similar but not enough for Takuya to make a definite connection. And while he could’ve sent a message to Hiromitsu about the matter… It wasn’t pressing enough to warrant actual investigation.
Next few weeks were busy. Inspector Nakamori’s dulcet tones were heard across the floors and corridors when the man ranted about Kid and his new accomplice Red Moon who worked together and separately. While Kid seemed to be concentrating on actual stealing, Red Moon appeared to be in simply for the thrill of breaking and entering.
Other matter that popped up was the Hunter’s of Crows. Takuya was there to investigate Horake Yuuki’s murder and later that of Mizune Sonya. No traces, no clues, no one of their possible enemies had a lacking alibi… These two had clearly a connection. But one that the police couldn’t find. Frustrating.
First time Takuya met Okiya Tsukiko face to face was while investigating the murder in Haido Hotel. Uesumi Teigo had fallen to his death and Megure’s team had been called to investigate. Takuya tagged along Takagi and Chiba since the case was high-profile enough to require an extra set of hands. But before the blonde girl, it was the teenage boy that drew Takuya attention with the way he told his deductions…
“What!? There wasn’t anyone there? You’re saying that, besides this man who fell to his death, there wasn’t anyone at all in the hotel annex?” The boy introduced as Sera questioned Megure once they all were assembled on the parking lot. The amateur detectives, witnesses, police officers and bystanders alike.
“Y-Yeah… According to the guard who had been keeping watch over the stairs and the elevator, you all were the only ones to have gone in or out…” Takagi told him.
“And just who would you be, hmm?” Megure growled. Oh, yes… this was… second or third self-proclaimed teenage detective around, right? Plus, the kiddie squad and any adult self-proclaimed detectives. How nice…
“But then, why was this man there? He shouldn’t have been able to stay there, since the hotel annex was undergoing renovations…” The boy thought aloud.
“The deceased Uesumi Teigo-san was the son of the owner of this same Haido Hotel, you see… They made an exception and allowed him to use one of the rooms in order to avoid media…” Megure explained.
“By ‘media’, then…” Ran began.
“Is this person famous?” Sonoko continued her friend’s train of thought.
“More like infamous.” Takuya cut in with a chuckle. “Teigo-san was arrested in the past for being a ring leader of a money transfer scam. However, there wasn’t enough evidence to try him so for now he’s just person to find his way to the headlines of weeklies… Well, used to be that is.”
“In any case the media caught wind of it and it seems there had been a big uproar about it until last week.” Takagi continued. “With things like Teigo-san flying off the handle at his media interviewer, and breaking the window in the sixth-floor hallway using a fire extinguisher.”
“And because of that, the number of guests staying in the annex dropped significantly and even the hotel could abide him anymore.” The unnamed detective continued, turning his gaze back to his notebook. “But there are rumors that the renovations in the annex are being used as an opportunity to force him flee aboard.”
Then the victims/suspects explained how the body had fallen down right when they’d been backing up the car. And in general, what they were doing at the hotel. And Conan busted the theory of something having been attached to the car and making the victim fall.
That kid again…
“But it’s strange…” Sera stated then. “While I was waiting for the elevator with Okiya-chan… I’m pretty sure it stopped on the 6th and 2nd floors…”
“Ah, I remember that too.” Okiya Tsukiko agreed. “I thought it was strange too as there shouldn’t have been anyone in the annex besides this guy.”
“Was there really no one else?” Sera inquired.
“I-It stopped?” Takagi repeated in confusion.
“When was this?” Megure demanded immediately.
“There was a big commotion about a man having fallen and then this little boy brought the lady and the others to the elevator to go to the roof… It was right after that. The elevator went nonstop to the top floor but for some reason it took its time coming back down…”
“But if I remember correctly, there should have been two elevators.” Megure pointed out.
“Only one is at use at the moment since Teigo-san was the only one staying in the annex.” Takuya flipped his notebook shut and slipped it back into his breast pocket. “Though the investigators are searching the entire annex now… It’s entirely possible that they’ll find no one.”
Conan questioned Takagi about the surveillance cameras but got debunked due the victim’s… idiocy.
Time to investigate the annex then. And pay no attention to ghost stories.
Megure, Takagi and Chiba talked about the circumstances with some clarifying questions from Conan and Sera both. Meanwhile, Tsukiko hung around Takuya.
“Take a look out the window here…” Megure told the pair of wannabe detectives. “This is the opposite side of the hotel from the parking lot where Teigo-san fell to his death. Even if the culprit did use the wheelchair, they couldn’t have accomplished anything!”
“Not from this floor…” Takuya remembered from the information and flipped a page backwards in his notes. Ah, there it was. “M-Megure-keibu!” The young man called the inspector.
“What now, Miyoshi-kun?” Megure asked.
“The window that Teigo-san broke with a fire extinguisher in the sixth floor… It’s directly above the place where he fell, right?” Always double-check with other witnesses as well. Or with other people who’ve been investigating.
“Yes, it is.” Tsukiko smiled brightly next to him. “We should probably go to check that floor since it’s likely he fell via that window.”
Oh, she was a bright one. Takuya could see why Mai preferred her company.
“You are the one who memorized the floor plan of this hotel, Miyoshi-kun. You surely have already the answer even though you are asking me…” Megure grunted in mild irritation. Takuya laughed in embarrassment.
“Ah, Megure-keibu… What are you saying? I’m just confirming the facts from other sources too…” He rubbed the back of his head. Thankfully Megure just settled on shooting a glare at him before they assembled in the elevator to move up to the sixth floor. And if Takagi and Megure were surprised by the elevator doors opening on the wrong side, leading Conan explaining the structure of the hotel… Well, Takuya would take his petty little revenges where he could. Direct result of having had to deal with his friends at the Academy.
Megure’s glares were nothing on him despite the show Takuya put up for others. Only Satou and Shiratori were aware of it really. Ever since Matsuda and Date… It had been easier to fade to the background and defer to others. To let the promotions slip to others and pretend to be less competent that he actually was.
“It’s not my fault that you decided to lean against the doors…” Takuya muttered petulantly, earning a comforting pat on the back from Takagi. How nice, though naïve.
“He seems to be annoyed by something anyways. It’ll pass.” The younger detective comforted him.
“I know…” Takuya flipped his notebook open once more and began scribbling down his observations as he examined the sixth floor. The scratching of the pen filling the empty space was quite soothing.
“You surely are obsessed with your notebook, aren’t you?” Takagi chuckled.
“A bit… Maybe…” Takuya shrugged. It was easy to hide behind it.
“Excuse me… Miyoshi-keiji…” Tsukiko spoke up from behind them. “You don’t happen to be Mai-san’s cousin?”
“Ah…” How to address this situation? She was Mai’s friend indeed but at the same time she was connected to Raiha Pass if only via other parties involved. And in the midst of this all, she was possibly Hiromitsu’s young cousin Kagemiya Hoshi. And if she was, would she remember or recognize Takuya? “Yes, I’m Miyoshi Takuya. Are you friend of Mai-chan’s then?”
“A classmate. Okiya Tsukiko. Nice to meet you.” The girl offered a hand to shake which Takuya took. How Western habit. Ready shake hands instead of bowing…
“Nice to meet you too, Tsukiko-kun.” Takuya greeted. Her being a friend of Mai’s allowed Takuya a bit of leeway using her given name…
“Say… You are faking it, right? You just pretend checking details from your notebook while you actually remember them exactly as they are.” Tsukiko smiled when Takagi finally made his way to Megure and the rest of them who were looking around the scene and noting the window Takuya had mentioned. Takuya absently noted the dried paint in the wall below the windows and the paint cans scattered nearby, and wrote a short memo on them.
Takuya smirked at the remark.
“Ah, you are the first one…” He glanced at the quartet walking around. “But yes… I do conceal my skills at memorizing the best I can… Once I write the information up on my notebook, I remember it word to word. I just use this so other people wouldn’t notice it too. I rather keep quite low profile. Though Megure-keibu seems to have noticed. Or at least suspects something…” Half-truths… Half-lies… She didn’t need to know everything.
“I know that Mai-san has a photographic memory so I thought that just maybe… It seems I was right though.” Tsukiko grinned while crossing her arms.
“I heard from Mai-chan that you are quite a detective yourself too… Have you already figured out the case?” Takuya prodded the girl then. Mai would’ve.
“Have you?” The girl challenged with an arched brow.
Takuya let out a laugh at the boldness of the question. If it had been anyone else… and if Takuya had been some other officer, she would’ve been lectured about doubting the police and disturbing the investigation.
“Maybe… The wheelchair, the fishing line, the paint cans, the elevator and its stops… It all makes sense once you’ve found all the pieces.”
“And there’s only one person who went into the annex before the incident…”
“That Hirukawa lady!” Sera announced from the broken window. “She’s the culprit!”
Everyone turned to look at the tomboy.
“So, she has reached the conclusion too…” Tsukiko smirked. Takuya glanced at her and then looked at Sera again.
“She…? Oh!” Now that Takuya looked at the teen over the window and remembered the way they walked… While not overly masculine and the fact they used ‘boku’ to refer to themselves…Yes, they were a girl after all. Then Takuya glanced at Tsukiko again. She didn’t have much of hips either or… well, breasts, like Mai had, so maybe she’d been confused for a boy some time too in some other clothes. Currently she was wearing a skirt and a button-up with a vest that emphasized what she did have… but she still possibly had a bit of a head start to realize Sera was a girl instead of a boy.
“If you would please set things up per my instructions and bring Hirukawa-san over here?” Sera was telling Megure and Takagi. “Because this incident is already Case Closed. I’ve already solved it!”
“This is going to be interesting, don’t you think?” Tsukiko turned back to Takuya who nodded, trying not to look like he’d been checking her out.
“Yes… Definitely…” Damn teen detectives with confusing genders and overly curious manners.
Tsukiko helped Takuya and Chiba to set up the murder trick per Sera’s instruction. Takuya had to suppress a laughter when Megure and Takagi misgendered Sera out loud.
But then… What was that girl doing? She purposefully left the paint cans out of her deduction…
The wheelchair had been set in motion but mere moments before it reached the window, Tsukiko stopped it.
“Sera-sa~n… Aren’t you forgetting something?” The blonde girl asked innocently. The tomboy blinked before giving out a nervous laugh.
“Forgetting? What have I forgotten? You are the one interrupting the demonstration.”
“But you are so close… why didn’t you…” Tsukiko muttered in dismay that was a bit too exaggerated.
“Really now… Inspector, do you really trust these kids to take part in investigation?” Hirukawa Toshiko asked Megure. “They barely even agree with each other so how can you expect them to solve something like this. Especially accuse honorable citizens!”
“Really now, yourself woman.” Tsukiko stated before Megure could answer. Several people were shocked at her impolite way of addressing the older woman. Takuya himself noted earlier that she’d not bothered to address Uesumi Teigo with ‘-san’ suffix. Probably due his past crimes… “Sera-san almost got it, just forgot a little detail. I thought it was obvious so I didn’t comment at first. Even a person who wasn’t here could deduce this case after I called.”
Good save but…
“Who did you call?” Takuya asked curiously. The girl had been with him about all the time so when could she have been making any calls to anyone’s direction?
“Well, I more like requested a call… In any case I talked with Kudou-kun.”
Kudou Shinichi-kun? Did they know each other? Despite the Heisei Holmes being missing and Tsukiko arriving to Teitan high well after that?
“Ku-Kudou-kun?” Megure spluttered.
“Yes, I told Conan-kun to make the call and describe the situation, then I asked his opinion to what I had already deducted and he agreed with me. Do you believe me or do I have to make a call?” Tsukiko was already taking her phone out of her pocket with a confident smile on her face. Quite the actress.
“Alright, make the call.” Megure agreed.
With Tsukiko attracting everyone’s attention to herself, Takuya managed to miss Conan slipping behind a corner to receive the call from her. He did realize he hadn’t been paying that much attention to the kid during this case since he’d been making deduction on his own and Tsukiko had been interesting conversation partner… well, it was just one creepy kid. A creepy little girl having grown up to be less creepy though equally mysterious teen girl was much more interesting.
Case was solved with the help of paint cans and Kudou. Hirukawa confessed. Conan was glaring the two teens present for some reason while the two paid no heed to him. Takuya was just glad to wrap it all up.
Especially when the Hunters of Crows struck that night and killed Hanajima Masayoshi, the leading gossip reported in the Weekends magazine. And this time they took the man’s computer with them too…
Life went on. More murders happened. The FBI agent from New Beika Hotel got mixed up in another case, this time as a witness apparently. Mai managed to anger Tsukiko with her thoughtless actions. And then there was another exploding car case that Takuya got called in.
Takuya scratched his head with the tip of his pen as he thought over the facts they had. Tsukiko was standing right next to him, her arms crossed and a faint smile on her face. He had heard she did that a lot. Observed the people while looking like she knew something the others didn’t. But that wasn’t important right now. There was a murder to be solved. According to Tsukiko, no one had come past her from the parking lot when she’d arrived to the scene after hearing the explosion.
“Miyoshi, take the statements from the guests here.” Megure ordered him.
“Right away, sir!”
Well, he tried to get the statements from the first few people but everyone’s attention went to the no longer husband-to-be and the waiter of the restaurant. Waiter with tanned skin and blond hair… Takuya clenched his hand around his pen poised above his notebook.
“This guy’s been meeting with Hatsune in secret… He’s her lover!!” Raita Banba accused the other man.
“I-Is that true!?” Megure asked the waiter.
“Well, I have indeed met with her…” The waiter began removing his glasses. That voice… Takuya froze when hearing that tone and choice of words. It couldn’t be…
“After all, she employed me as a private eye…” The style of speech and the small gestures in behavior.
“I’m a detective, you see…” When the glasses were completely off of the man’s face, Takuya could barely breath. That man was just like Furuya. Too much like Furuya Rei, their Zero.
A pen clattered on the floor, having slipped free from Takuya’s slackened grasp. It snapped him back to the present. Takuya hastily bent down to pick it up. When he straightened up though, his eyes made contact with his… friend. Brown met blue. Takuya swallowed and let a blank mask fall in place. Takuya had learned it a long time ago. To not show what he was thinking and feeling. It had been useful back when he’d been dragged to fancy parties along with his parents and Mai’s family. Mingling with upper class people had been tedious but as long as you just agreed and smiled, everything went just fine. He and Mai both learnt it.
That man… had introduced himself as Amuro Tooru. No visible recognition was betrayed on either of their faces. They were mere strangers to each other.
But as the case progressed and Takuya heard more of the deductions that Amuro made, the harder it was for him to be in the same room. Everything was so similar to the way Furuya had conducted himself during classes and mock-cases. Frankly, Takuya was surprised he hadn’t already snapped his pen in half while trying to remain calm.
“Why are you showing your face now? Why after all these years?”
“Hey, you alright?” A voice next to him asked. Takuya looked up to see Tsukiko looking at him in concern, her long hair still damp from the rain. And black after the stunt Mai, Sera and Suzuki apparently pulled. “You look kinda pale.”
The concerned face at this close… With eyes so similar to Hiro and black hair framing them… How could Takuya not to answer?
“Ah, I’m fine. I guess I just need some fresh air.” Takuya gave out a short laugh that lacked feeling, looking away from the girl only to have that Amuro to catch his attention again. The girl followed his line of sight and opened her mouth a bit.
“Oh… I see.” What did she see, he’d probably never know since Takuya hadn’t thus far seen any signs that she’d actually he Kagemiya Hoshi despite his gut feeling. And even if she were… the Kagemiya were mysterious and weird so anything she saw… Was probably better that he didn’t know. “Just go and catch some oxygen. I’ll keep an eye on the things here.” Tsukiko smiled reassuringly. Weird turn of phrase but she probably literally translated it from whichever language her father used.
That was the opportunity he gladly took. Once outside, Takuya pulled out his phone and called Hiro. He needed this info asap… And at the same time Takuya could ask the other man about Tsukiko.
“Hai, Miyagawa desu…”
“I… I saw Zero.”
“You… Where is he? How did he look? Was he alright?”
“He is working under name Amuro Tooru at Restaurant Sundayrino where a possible murder happened. Apparently, the victim was a client of his as a private detective.” Takuya explained quickly. He didn’t know how long he had until someone came looking for him.
“Probably whatever he is working on for the organization, is requiring some undercover work among civilians as well…” Hiromitsu mused.
“Probably.” Takuya agreed. “He seems to be alright. Has copied my mask quite successfully.”
“Ah, yes… He did that years ago.”
“Other question I had… There is a girl named Okiya Tsukiko in Beika. She resembles your niece very much.”
“Yes. I heard from Tsubaki-baa that Tsukiko-chan had gone to Tokyo and gotten into an accident there. According to her behavior since, it’s likely she has an amnesia of sorts and…” Hiromitsu hesitated there. “…defaulted to her back-up identity.”
“Kagemiya thing. Don’t worry about that. But all the same… she doesn’t know anything Kyoto related at the moment.”
“Good to know… I need to go back now.”
“Call me again after the case is done.” No doubt there that the case would be solved within the next few hours.
Takuya hung up and went back inside. Tsukiko was there waiting for him.
“I heard from Mai-chan what she did…” The detective mused while keeping his back firmly turned towards the proceedings on the other side of the restaurant. “I have to say I’m not even remotely surprised.”
“So, you knew she’d… make me speak by getting me intoxicated?” Tsukiko frowned, obviously upset at the reminder.
“Well… Not exactly but let’s say that such action wasn’t a surprise. Mai-chan… she never had any proper friends before you and Maki Namida-chan. True, she had some… associates when she was young but they always were either intimidated by her bookishness or somehow scared away by her parents… This results that she doesn’t exactly know…” Takuya trailed off to listen the deductions being made on the background.
“She doesn’t know what?” Tsukiko asked.
“How to act. True, she has a lot of experience about situations in everyday life. She knows whom to trust and whom not to. As you have noticed in your school life, she is fine company if somewhat detached from the rest of your class.”
“However, comforting a friend is something she has never done. So, she went with what usually helps her. And while doing so decided to find out more about yourself. To be honest I’m surprised she has been able to date Ishihara Kouki-san this long… and in secret from her parents.” The mess and shouting match that would occur if Yuujirou and Satako ever found out about Mai’s boyfriend. In the other hand Ishihara Kouki probably did good to Mai. He was patient but could almost keep up with her intellectually. But honestly, for Mai to have used alcohol as a coping method while underage… Things were definitely bad at that household. Maybe with Kouki in picture, she’d stay off from alcohol…
“That she did…” Tsukiko muttered through gritted teeth. “But why wouldn’t she ask me without such underhanded tactics? We’re friends…”
“Exactly. You are her first real friend even if she doesn’t make it any big fuzz about it. Well, at least she thinks she doesn’t.” Takuya sighed before readying his notebook and starting to write down information once more. “I guess I need to actually do my job now. Can’t leave everything up to self-proclaimed detectives no matter how much weight Megure-keibu gives to their words. Besides… If my hunch is right, a very sad truth will be revealed tonight…”
Looking at the things revealed thus far by the information Amuro gave and Banba Raita told about himself and Kamon Hatsune… It was quite sad truth indeed.
Meanwhile, it was quite entertaining to see Tsukiko rip a new one to the blonde man. Wonder what he was thinking… With that face turned at him…
In the end it was Tsukiko that solved the case out loud. Takuya had given her the statements he’d gathered from the party guests which she read through quickly before the deduction show.
Good thing too, with Banba accusing Amuro of being Kamon’s lover and Amuro suspecting Banba for killing Kamon. And Haruoka Sanji, the detective hired by Banba didn’t make the matters any better either.
Honestly… By the end of the case Takuya couldn’t help but wonder… Even if Kamon Hatsune hadn’t killed herself… Even if she and Banba Raita hadn’t been siblings… Would they really have had a happy marriage? For both of them hire detectives to investigate the other…
But Takuya pushed it all aside and comforted the niece of his friend and friend of his cousin. Such a sad case indeed and sapping the energy of this girl.
“Come, I’ll give you a ride home. No need for you to go back to the rain.”
Mai moved out to a rental apartment with Kouki. Takuya helped her to be discreet with that.
And she gave him an old coffee can from which she asked him to lift fingerprints, specifically the ones she’d highlighted and compare them to those of the car fire victim… The one that Takuya had investigated and Mai picked up from there.
Okay, he could do that.
Takuya was coming back from the fingerprint lab. The results from the comparison had come quickly but he couldn’t afford anyone to see them. The prints and the results were sealed tightly inside an envelope which was between some folders he was carrying from the archives. Those files were something that Megure had requested him to get during the day. It was already after hours but Takuya knew he couldn’t get the results out of the building yet.
The coffee can had already been disposed of along with the records from the database of such a test being conducted on it. All things he needed to do against protocol. Whether it was confiscating evidence or conducting unauthorized analysis…
Takuya walked out of the office in brisk pace. The envelope was now safely tucked inside his desk drawer that was locked all the times.
On the way out, he met up with Satou, Miyamoto and Miike.
“Ah, Takuya-kun, still here?” Satou greeted him.
“Yeah, I realized I forgot my cellphone to the office so I had to come up again.” Takuya laughed, coming up with a reasonable excuse. “But I’ll be going now.”
“Enjoy your three days off work, Miyoshi-kun!” Miyamoto chimed in. She was such a chipper person…
“More or less… Maybe yes…” Takuya hummed absently. It was Date’s death anniversary just around the corner after all.
“What are you doing then?” Miike asked.
“Well… Today I’m going to take just for myself and tomorrow… Well, tomorrow I’m going to visit Wataru’s grave.” He shrugged.
“That’s right, it’s almost a year since Date-san’s death. I hope Takagi-kun remembers that too…” Satou thought aloud.
“Speaking of which, have you heard anything from him?” Miyamoto asked Satou and Takuya.
“Nothing.” Takuya shrugged. While he could guess that Takagi had taken the days off now for the same reason that he had, there was no confirmation from the other officer. “Well, I’m off now. See you then, Miwako-san, Miyamoto-san, Miike-san.”
“See you, Miyoshi-kun!”
Next day, when Takuya was visiting Date’s grave, he received a frantic phone call from Satou.
“Hello, Wataru. It’s been a year now…” The brunet mused while washing the gravestone. “I hope you are with Natalie-chan right now. She followed you after all. I hope you are happy… I still haven’t heard anything from Furuya. Well, I say that when in reality… I saw him recently while on a case… he went by the name 'Amuro Tooru' but he was unmistakably Furuya.”
Ring of his phone interrupted the nice solitude and peace of mind he hadn’t had for weeks. Stopping the washing of the gravestone, Takuya rocked back on his heels and dug out his phone. With a sigh Takuya answered to it. The news Satou delivered changed the brunet’s mood from slightly irritated into shocked in a matter of seconds.
“T-Takagi-kun is…?” Kidnapped, taken, threatened with a bomb and noose at his neck in freezing temperatures.
“Yes. And I know it’s you day off but you are close with him, right? Has he said anything to you of his plans for today?”
“Yeah… There was something but… I don’t know…” Takuya bit his lip. They had talked briefly due their similar reasons for taking days off but not in depth. “Do you already have some sort of lead?” Thoughts were already whirling in his mind. It was Wataru’s death day. Natalie’s was tomorrow. Takagi had Wataru’s notebook inside which was the engagement ring… Natalie’s message to her parents… The shared first name!
“This far we know that Takagi was looking at some old case files in the archives. About three suicides that occurred a year ago.”
“What files? Who died?” If his hunch was right…
“Tokugi Yuuko-san, Kuruma Natalie-san and Hikoue Kyoka-san…”
Takuya remembered Takagi asking him a couple of days ago if he was in any contact with Wataru’s relatives or acquaintances. He had answered a negative. After all Natalie was dead and Takuya had no reason to talk with Wataru’s parents anymore. The couple wasn’t exactly fond of Miyoshi Corporation and thus by extension of Takuya.
“Natalie-san… Natalie-san’s death day is tomorrow… Takagi-kun is probably somewhere in the Hokkaido…”
“Yes. She was Wataru’s girlfriend who made a suicide a year ago tomorrow. If I guess that… Takagi-kun wants to meet her parents to tell that Wataru died in an accident and didn’t dump her.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“After I heard that Natalie-san was dead, and you and Takagi-kun had given the investigation to the Jurisdiction I went to see her apartment… I found out about the mail to her parents that ‘Wataru wasn’t coming anymore’…” The thought alone pained him. Things needed to put right. And Takuya couldn’t stay away until Takagi was found and safe. “Say… I’m coming back. Maybe I can be more help at the station more.”
“Ah, alright… See you soon.” Takuya was about to hung up when Satou continued: “Thank you Takuya-kun.”
“… You are welcome.” The call ended. Takuya looked at the grave of his good friend.
“Don’t worry, Wataru. I’ll bring Takagi-kun back. He hasn’t even visited you yet. And if I happen to see Furuya again… Well, there is probably nothing I can do about him. But I can drag Hiro to visit you sometime soon.”
Takuya finished the cleaning and lit some incense at the grave before hurrying back to his car and drove back to the station, thus ending his vacation prematurely. Takuya did everything he could in order to find Takagi’s location. He couldn’t risk losing another friend. But watching the kiddie squad to figure out the location… It made the man doubt his own abilities. If a child could figure it out, why couldn’t he? He had thought he had gone far from the days in the Academy… when he relied on the help from his friends.
The surfacing self-doubt made him completely forget about the certain envelope hidden in his desk drawer.
During the case with flimsy alibies for the suspects: Froth, steam and smoke, Takuya met Tsukiko’s “brother” for the first time. Okiya Subaru… The man might’ve had a passing resemblance to the girl when she still had blonde hair and wore glasses on constant basis but not anymore. According to Tsubaki he was to be tentatively trusted if Tsukiko, a Kagemiya, relied to him that much. So Takuya kept his mouth shut but called Hiro later.
“Hm? Tsukiko-kun isn’t here?” Takuya noted, looking around. Okiya Subaru, Edogawa Conan, Haibara Ai… And of course, Takagi who had been with the trio when the victim fell. But no Okiya Tsukiko this time. Pity. She was nice and intelligent company.
“Ah, no… She was feeling a bit ill so she stayed home.” The man answered. “How so? Did you need to speak with her?”
“No, no…” The officer waved his hand dismissively. “Just recently whenever there’s been a case I’ve been called to, Tsukiko-kun has been there too with Conan-kun. And when I also take into an account that you, her brother, are here too…” Adopted brother according to Mai but that only made the past resemblance even weirder.
“I understand your way of thought. Tsukiko does indeed have a knack on getting involved in cases.” The strawberry blonde man smiled amicably. Takuya smiled thinly back. This man was giving him creeps.
“Okiya Subaru-san? Tsukiko-chan’s brother? What was he doing in there?” Mai asked during the night’s phone conversation. Takuya could practically hear a frown in her voice.
“He was giving a ride for the children. The rest of their group had already gone skiing. I heard they gave a ride for Takagi-kun to the crime scene after the victim fell.”
“I see… So, Tsukiko-chan wasn’t there then?”
“And Takagi-keiji solved the case then?” The girl was chuckling now. “Him?”
“Yes… He indeed did…” Although Takuya had a nagging feeling it had been Conan pulling the strings there once more.
“Well, how have you been otherwise?”
“Fine! I’m just fine.”
“When it concerns yourself… you are such a poor liar, Takuya-nii…” Mai sighed exaggeratedly but continued seriously then. “You are still bothered about what happened on Date-san’s anniversary, aren’t you?”
“Yes. I did talk with Takagi-kun about it… But my problems aside now. How are you doing Mai-chan? Adjusting well living with Ishihara-kun?”
“Oh, yes. It is wonderful. Kouki-san is a great cook so we take turns with cooking. Usually he handles the mornings and I the evenings. He is looking for a new job by the way. Thinks he’ll get a better pay at a restaurant…”
“And your work then? Have you found a job yet?”
“I heard from Ran-senpai that there’s a place open at Café Poirot for weekend workers. And I’ve talked with both Enomoto-san and Amuro-san who both work there and they both said they’d appreciate the help. With the Mouri Detective Agency being right above, the business is booming…”
“Yes, Amuro Tooru-san. I heard he is also Mouri-tantei’s disciple. Do you know him?”
“Ah, no… Just met in a case. He was a suspect. Nothing else…”
“I see… Ah, Kouki-san came home now. Got to go. Let’s talk soon, Takuya-nii.”
“Yeah, let’s. Bye.”
Takuya ended the call with a frown. So Mai would be in close proximity to Furuya now. Hopefully she wouldn’t remember that one meeting with the man years ago…
This was strange to say the least.
Takuya stared at the result of the fingerprint analysis he’d done a while back. That he’d forgotten about for a while.
“Mai-chan is never wrong. Meaning, it’s on purpose like this…” The young officer muttered and dug up his old police notebook which held all of his notes of the Raiha Pass car fire. Yes, he did remember the details by heart but it was always nice to confirm the facts and have little refresher in general. Good thing that he’d been the officer to investigate the case… Or that Mai happened to take interest on the case he’d been working on. This might be his first… and only solid lead on this case…
“T-This case…” The man paled. Nothing was making any sense. The bullet wound on the temple but the body lying down on the front seats. He got that the victim had been shot but didn’t killers usually want to see the light go away from their victim’s eyes? Temple shots were more usual in suicides while shots from the back were for after intimidation… Okay, people could be threatened from the side but then there usually was a reason why the killer didn’t stand in the line of the victim’s sight. Not to mention the body had fallen on its back instead of side… And then there were the prints itself. Right hand in fireproof pocket so by some luck those prints would survive to conveniently be compared with the prints that foreign woman brought? And the prints matched? But the prints Mai gave him didn’t? For some reason he was more inclined to trust the prints Mai provided than the ones from ‘roadside restaurant where one nice man picked up the phone’.
“What sort of elaborate body exchange trick is this?” Takuya muttered before freezing. Body exchange? That could make sense in a way… Someone people wanted dead had faked his death and the woman had been tricked into confirming the death. So most likely the woman – Jodie Saintemillion – was an associate of the man and also thought the man was dead. But where could’ve Mai have gotten the prints of this man? Because she wouldn’t give him prints to confirm without making sure of their connection to Jodie. This was most likely a confirmation for the theory she had and before it she couldn’t start searching for the man.
If that was ever her goal. She hated footwork. Like Mycroft Holmes. Maikurofuto Hoomusu. Mai. What a horrible pun…
But anyways, Mai wouldn’t move forward in her investigation before confirming facts even if at the beginning she’d worked based on a hunch. So, she must’ve met the man prior this car fire and gotten the prints somehow. And now she wanted to know if that man had been in the fire. Well, he hadn’t. But that still didn’t mean that he’d been the intended victim no matter what Mai thought. Or that’s what Takuya was telling himself.
“What did she ask me at first back then? ‘Has anything interesting had happened around Friday the 13th?’ Or something like that…” Takuya mused, pressing his palms together in front of his mouth. “’An FBI agent on a holiday with a boyfriend and getting involved with cases’?” The brunet muttered next and opened the casefile search. There weren’t too many cases from that day where Takagi had been called to…
After a bit of browsing, Takuya found a case from New Beika Hotel where one of the suspects had been a vacationing FBI agent, one Andre Camel. It didn’t take much to put two and two together and conclude that Miss Saintemillion, as an FBI agent as well, was working with the man. And for reason or other they had put up a cover of being lovers…
“I wonder…” The young officer typed the woman’s name to the search bar. It gave him a list of cases she’d been involved in, mostly as a witness, especially the Halloween kidnapping. Well, there was that one case in arcade, which was actually the first mention of her, where she’d been a suspect but…
One case caught his attention though. The bus jacking where Mai had also been in. Takuya clicked the file open. It had all the witness testimonies. But Takuya wasn’t paying much attention on them though. He reread the line where Mai told being knocked down but one other hostage helping her out of the exploding bus.
“I gave Mai money to buy one coffee can from the vending machine but she came back with two… She drank only one though… Where did the other one go?”
He went to read the testimonies again extra carefully to find any notion of his cousin. It was possible that Mai had bought the other can as a thank you.
“I need to start looking at the bigger picture…” Takuya was standing in front of an empty wall in his living room. He was going to start doing the same case mapping that he knew Mai did every time she had any larger or more challenging case at hand. Now there was the text ‘FBI?’ on one side with three photos beneath it: Agents Saintemillion, Camel and Akai. From Akai went a line to Raiha Pass case. After a bit of digging Takuya had found out that man had a black Chevrolet 1500A. Even more of an evidence towards the man being the intended victim.
“But what would there be in Beika and Haido that would need FBI’s attention? Because this is no coincidence.” The brunet frowned while tying his hair out of his face. “And why isn’t the police involved?” His eyes strayed on the Halloween kidnapping case. The case where nothing had made any sense and probably the only person that hadn’t lied in questioning had been Mouri Ran. Where Takuya had hidden evidence at Hiro’s urging. And other cover-ups having happened too… Especially when the body of a sniper had later disappeared from the morgue. Higher ups assured it was just moved to other location but for some reason there had been no notion about it. Same had happened again after the case on Tanabata where the man pretending to be Superintendent Matsumoto had been shot by some terrorists… The body had disappeared.
“Terrorists? Broken sprinklers in Haido Park creating rain?” Takuya remember Mai telling him about those. The sprinklers had been shot open according to the girl.
“And on that day Mizunashi Rena-san ‘disappeared’ only to appear again right before Raiha Pass…” Takuya tacked a post-it note with the newsreader’s name underneath the opposite side of the board from the FBI. Above the name came a paper with ‘Terrorists?’ written on it. More post-its marking the two missing corpses appeared next to Mizunashi.
“But where is the Japanese police? It’s not like them to let things like these to… go…” Takuya’s eye widened in realization. In two realizations actually. The first was that these terrorists were extremely dangerous and probably had infiltrated their way to some of the higher positions of Metropolitan Police Department. The second was that there actually was no way that Japanese would just let the things be like this. And if Hiro was urging for Takuya to hide evidence and keep his head down…
And he tacked a new paper in the middle of the board.
“Hiro and Furuya disappeared. Hiro almost died due blown up cover. So could it be…” With a shaking hand, Takuya drew a line from both ‘Furuya’ and ‘Hiro’ underneath the ‘PSB’ to ‘Terrorists?’.
“These cases… Unsolvable mysteries… Just like Hunters of Crows… but if I were to guess, I’d say these crows are part of the terrorists more or less.” There weren’t such things as coincidences. Not here. Not now. Not in this case.
Takuya turned his back to the wall and slowly dragged himself to the kitchen. He was in dire need of a stiff drink or two. He was about to open his liquor cabinet but stopped then.
“To hell with this. I’m going to bar.”
Meeting with Furuya at Blue Parrot went badly. They provoked each other all the wrong ways and Takuya was only glad that Jii hadn’t been present since otherwise he couldn’t have managed to pretend that Amuro Tooru was a mere stranger to him.
And it was less than a week and Takuya was becoming paranoid. He had a feeling he was being watched. He could feel the prickling of probing looks at the back of his neck.
“Either they are making sure I’m not going to babble and ruin Furuya’s cover or then they are making sure I’m not in any sort of danger due my digging around…” The man muttered when he made his way back to the parking lot. The day had been exhausting. Two murders and three assaults… Thankfully he’d been paired with Satou again. Not that Takagi or Chiba didn’t get the work done but Takuya had known her the longest.
Well, second longest. There was still Hiromitsu to whom Takuya had told everything he’d found out. The other officer (who’d been recently promoted to inspector, dammit) had taken the news gratefully and shed light to Akai Shuichi. The FBI agent had apparently been an infiltrator too. A sniper and Scotch’s mission partner. He’d also tried to prevent his suicide, going as far as to reveal his own real name and allegiance to him.
“Given the way things turned out though… I wouldn’t be surprised if Zero hated the man from the bottom of his heart.” Hiro sighed. Takuya wasn’t surprised.
“So… Haido City Hotel, Halloween kidnapping, whatever hell was going on with Mizunashi-san, Raiha Pass, Tanabata attacks… These bad guys of yours aren’t exactly subtle, are they?”
“I’d also count the instances where your cousin proceeded with her investigation. She did get inspiration to connect Raiha Pass to Akai after the bank robbery and bomb threat in department store, right?”
“Yes… Those were run of the mill criminals but… I wouldn’t be surprised if this organization was doing something on the background…”
“Or Zero at least. Knowing him, he was double checking Akai’s demise wasn’t a set up.”
Takuya glanced towards his bedroom where in a box underneath everything else, where the two disguises still in evidence bags.
“If this… Vermouth woman you mentioned remained in Japan after Halloween… Do you think she would’ve provided Furuya with a disguise too?”
“Most likely. Be careful Takuya.”
The Hunters of Crows struck in many places at once. In Osaka they took out five people in a bombing of an empty apartment. In Kyoto two businessmen were found shot to death. In Gunma, a woman’s body was found dumped. Later was found out that it was with her credit card that a rental car that blew up in front of prefectural headquarters last winter was rented. This wasn’t a problem for Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department anymore. An emergency meeting between the teams investigating was held. Inspector Miyagawa Sakuya was representing Kyoto. Takuya was part of Shiratori’s team while Toyama Ginshiro represented Osaka. Many people let out sighs of relief when Inspector Yamamura from Gunma had caught cold and couldn’t attend.
Evidence was shared. Thoughts as well. No actual leads surfaced. They knew the Hunters were a team. They knew they had some sort of hit list, victims of which they called crows. The methods of killing alternated, from strangulation and broken neck to getting shot or bombed. Sometimes the methods were merciless like with Hanajima Masayoshi, sometimes remorse was shown, like with Mizune Sonya. Even profilers couldn’t get a clear grasp on the mindset of the killers.
“I’m afraid they’re far from done.” They could only say.
Takuya finally delivered the results to Mai who was ecstatic for having her theory proven true. He was glad that she’d gotten this far but at the same time he was terrified of her safety. Good thing Tsukiko seemed to be on top of things and mitigating the damage Mai could do in her enthusiasm.
About a week later Takuya heard from Hiro that Tsukiko was remembering things. That she had visited Kyoto with her bloodbrother. The wistful tone in his friend’s voice made Takuya want to take a Shinkasen to the old capital right away and sit by him while reminiscing anything and everything.
Then he got recruited by PSB. That brought some mixed feelings to the game.