|Good Luck Charms
Author: Jedexa PM
Naoto returns to Inaba to find that not only the town changed, but herself too. She struggles to find her identity once more, with help from old friends and one special guy. However, five years of life, love, and darkness are catching up to her, and the consequences of her actions are both kind and bittersweet to her fate. *NaotoKanji/"MEMENTOS" sequel, but can be standalone.Rated: Fiction M - English - Friendship/Romance - Naoto S. & Kanji T. - Chapters: 15 - Words: 120,379 - Reviews: 47 - Favs: 33 - Follows: 44 - Updated: 08-24-12 - Published: 05-25-12 - id: 8149656
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Good Luck Charms
The "Mementos" Sequel
Author's Note: I've gotten such a surprising demand for a "Mementos" sequel, so at long last, finally, here it is! I was so surprised! I've been thinking about it for a while (since 4/14/2012, actually... it doesn't feel like that long ago!), and I'm still not that confident in how I portray the characters, but I've been looking forward to writing this—and I know a few who have been looking forward to reading it! So, enjoy!
Also, on a side note, I've decided to go with the protagonist's anime name, Narukami Yu, for this fiction. And I've tentatively included tidbits of the "Persona 4 X Detective Naoto" novel, though it hasn't come out yet. I'm really excited and looking forward to it though!
And, you might also be happy to know this is not a oneshot! (Though I don't know how long it's gonna run… yet.)
Disclaimer (because I keep forgetting to put these in!): Persona 4 is not mine.
Summary: A charm, a watch, and five years. Time went by so slowly. One could only wish for more, time, however… for there was once a bullet, a hat, and not one more year. Time went by so quickly.
Chapter 1: Five Years on the Phone
"Welcome to the News at Six! I'm here this evening, live, with the detective who caught Secretary Hosokawa's murderer, Shirogane Naoto!" The cheerful brunette newscaster said, leaning forward in her armchair. "Welcome, Detective Shirogane. It's a pleasure to have you here."
"It's a pleasure to be here, Nanami-san." Naoto said politely, giving a small smile as she leaned back in her chair, crossing one leg over the other. She seemed completely calm and collected, relaxed instead of stiff—but she was as formal as ever.
One certain viewer watched the broadcast from his apartment with an amused smile. Naoto-kun certainly has changed, hasn't she.
"Tell us, Detective, how does it feel to have caught the killer?"
"It is… relieving, I suppose," Naoto looked thoughtful, "I'm just glad that Hosokawa-san's family are put at ease now, knowing that the murderer is behind bars."
"Do you get that feeling every time you solve a case?" Nanami asked.
"Yes," Naoto nodded, "My goal is always to find the truth—because while it may be unsettling, knowing the truth puts your heart at rest when you have questions with no answers."
"Has it always been that way?"
"Yes—my family has always sought to unveil the bloodiest truths. I am following in great footsteps here, but I myself was once a person whose heart was lost without the truth. It took a very special case for me to find it again, and it certainly put my worries at ease. Having known this feeling, I hope the same feeling will be felt by my clients, the victim's loved ones, and all of those who might be involved—even the other policemen, whom I know have had many frustrations with this case."
"That kind of philosophy is what makes you popular, isn't it, Detective." Nanami smiled widely. "You seem emotionally connected to your clients, I hear."
"Yes—it seems so," Naoto chuckled, "When I was younger, I used to think of only finding the murderer—time has wizened me, for I now realize that closing a case does not only mean bringing justice onto that murderer, it also means making sure the family feels as if justice has been brought. They are the ones seeking closure—as a detective, I feel that it is my job to give them that closure. It's a very relieving feeling, if you've ever felt it."
"I don't think I've ever heard any men say that before," Nanami laughed.
"Perhaps, but they do not take the same cases I do." Naoto smiled knowingly. "But you are right—most men do not say or think that. Perhaps it is in my advantage that I am a woman, then."
"Didn't you use to pretend to be a man, though?" Nanami motioned with her hand, lifting an eyebrow, "You used to be known as the Detective Prince!"
"That I had been. But in pretending to be a man, I thought like them too—though, now I know better." Naoto didn't seem embarrassed at all by Nanami's implication, her eyes twinkling almost mischievously, "But, we are not here to discuss my past, am I right? Shall we move on to the matters for which you have really called me here today?"
"Yes, yes—let's cut straight to the chase! The murder of the Secretary! How did you do it? Hosokawa-san's murderer was totally unexpected!" Nanami asked excitedly, "The chief said in a press release that Hosokawa had an illegitimate son, and he was the one who did it? Is that right?"
"Correct," Naoto nodded, smoothing her white dress shirt and folding her hands in her lap, "The method of murder aside, since that has already been broadcasted, yes? That aside, the motive seems to be what you are really interested in, so I shall quench your curiosity." Sharp gray-blue eyes looked directly at the camera, "Among the suspects that we had apprehended, I found a strange incomplete truth. The wife had been a suspect because, as a friend of hers confirmed, she had recently found out that her husband cheated on her some twenty years ago. When I searched through the evidence and Hosokawa-san's belongings, I found out that he had still been in contact with the woman. The identity of the woman will not be revealed, but I will allow you the knowledge that she had recently died in another town."
"Did you find anything else?"
"Yes—you see, in his financial records, I found that he transferred money to that woman every year, supposedly to keep her quiet—but it was odd to me, so upon further investigation, I found she had had a child, and the money was for child support. Now, that would seem to be enough motive for the wife to have done it, but there was another clue that she was not the murderer. The name of the illegitimate child was Hatsuzaki Kouji."
"How is the name of the child a clue?"
"Nanami-san, do you have a piece of paper?" Naoto opened her eyes, leaning forward with a little smirk.
"Uh, yes, here." Nanami handed over a notepad and a pen.
"This is how Hatsuzaki Kouji is written." The blue-haired detective wrote the characters large enough for the camera to catch it, "Do you notice something odd?"
"Hmm…" The reporter looked thoughtful, "Ah! Wait, wasn't the name of the murderer Takahachi Hikaru, though?"
"And do you know how to write that name?" Naoto still smirked knowingly.
"Oh, I see! The two names were written with the same characters! You noticed it and you unveiled the identity of the illegitimate son! But did that make him confess?"
Naoto put the notepad down, shaking her head. "No, it simply pointed me in his direction. After I found out the Secretary's intern was his son, I investigated their relationship—it seemed that Hosokawa san did not know that Takahachi—or rather, Hatsuzaki-san, was his son. It was easy for Hatsuzaki-san to slip by unnoticed because no one realized the spelling of his name, and he was able to get close to Hosokawa-san and kill him."
"But how did you find out it was him? You didn't even have any proof!"
"I have always trusted my intuition," Naoto leaned back again, "And it drove me to find the proof that I needed—namely, a poison-covered handkerchief forgotten in a jacket pocket. He had used it to clean up the crime scene, and didn't touch it again in fear of getting it on his own hands. But that wasn't all—he kept a diary, in which he wrote to his deceased mother, detailing his anguished feelings about being abandoned by his father. After I presented the proof, he confessed. It was all an act of petty revenge and anger."
"Was it really petty?" Nanami asked, "Wouldn't you be upset if you never had your father around?"
"No. It wasn't that he wasn't around. Hosokawa-san sent money every month—it was obvious he still cared for Hatsuzaki-san and his mother, even if he had never met the boy. But Hatsuzaki-san's mother did not take the money Hosokawa-san sent—she had wanted nothing to do with him. She had a feeling more akin to, 'I would rather have you here, not your money'. Hatsuzaki-san was upset because his mother was still in love with Hosokawa-san, and he couldn't have cared less—he had not even attended her funeral. Hatsuzaki-san had killed Hosokawa-san because he wanted Hosokawa-san to feel all the hurt his mother had felt for twenty years."
"That's… a little sweet." Nanami seemed awed. "But, to resort to murder…?"
"Humans are complicated beings, Nanami-san," Naoto sighed, "That is simply what I have learned to solve this case—the only one who knows the depth of Hatsuzaki-san's pain is himself."
Naoto and Nanami blinked, and Naoto frowned, taking out her cell phone. "Now who could—" She stopped, seeing the caller ID. "…I'm sorry, I know it's rude, Nanami-san, but I must take this call."
"Ah! It's no problem at all, we'll wrap it up here." Nanami nodded in understanding, "Is it the chief?"
"…It's something of a client." Naoto smiled, standing up gracefully.
"Oh, you're on a new case already?"
"Yes. I'll be leaving Kyoto tomorrow." Naoto bowed politely, "Thank you for having me, but I must go now."
"No, thank you for your time!" Nanami nodded, and Naoto walked off the set, leaving her to close up. "That was our exclusive interview with Detective Shirogane! Next on News at Six—"
"Hey, are you busy?" It was a straight, poker-faced voice. Naoto knew it all too well.
"What the hell, sempai!" Naoto laughed as she answered her phone, "I was in the middle of an interview!"
"I know," chuckled the deep, soft voice on the other side, "I was watching."
"Then why did you call if you knew?" Naoto demanded, leaning against a wall in the studio.
"I wanted to see if it was really live."
"…You moron." The blue-haired detective couldn't help but laugh, and he could hear her smile. She shifted, moving through the studio. "What did you want?"
"Well, it's simple, but since I'm a client now, I guess I'll call it a case." He grinned, "I have a job for you."
"Oh?" Naoto's tone told him that she already knew what he was going to ask her.
"Go to Inaba. I'll see you there in two days." He smiled.
"Inaba, huh…" Naoto grinned to herself, and he could hear a shuffle as she gathered her things to leave the news studio. "Will I really be seeing you there again? Honestly, sempai, you said that when you told me to go to Tokyo two years ago. You weren't there."
"School had me busy." He shrugged, leaning back in his seat, "But I promise, you'll definitely see me this time. And everyone else too. You haven't returned to Inaba in five years, right?"
"…Yes. I'm looking forward to it." The jingle of keys, and the pip of a car being disarmed.
"One more thing, Naoto-kun."
"Yes, sempai?" Naoto perked up curiously.
"Stop calling me sempai. I'm not your sempai anymore." He laughed in his charming way, "It's Yu. I think we've been friends long enough for you to call me Yu."
"…Heh. Understood, Yu-san."
March 19, 2018.
Naoto read the Nara newspaper idly as she waited for the barista to prepare her coffee—with extra cream and sugar, just how she liked it. Her eyes scanned the top articles—she had made the news again. It was talking about the interview she had done just the night before in Kyoto. News sure did travel fast that she had solved the murder of the particularly nasty politician—she didn't like the man, but as despicable as he was, he didn't deserve to die. That was the reasoning she kept in her consciousness ever since that day, six years ago, when she—they decided not to throw a certain deliveryman to his doom.
Had six years passed already? Tomorrow would be the anniversary—the day they had truly solved the case and the man who had changed her life left it to return "home".
Home… it was a powerful word, she thought as she thanked the barista and folded the newspaper, heading out to her car. She was finally returning home—after five years, she was finally returning to her friends… her family. She couldn't wait to see them again.
There was still one more day, though—one more day of life, one more day of waiting—at least there were no more stupid interviews she had to go to. She sighed as she sipped her coffee, put her keys in the ignition, and started the car.
"Again? Is it sem—Yu-san…?" Naoto looked at her phone. She smiled, blushing a little. She put in her Bluetooth and backed out her car, hitting the answer button on her phone. "Hello, Kanji-kun."
"Hey! I saw your interview yesterday," came the gruff but relatively friendly voice on the other side. Naoto wondered if he had gotten cuter in six years—judging by his tone, he seemed to speak a lot more nicely, at least. Last time they had called each other, he had been working with the local elementary school to give some kids little toys, so he had definitely improved with his people skills.
"You always do," Naoto played with the plush blue bear on her car keys, looking at her watch. It was still morning—she had a whole day's drive before she got to Inaba.
"You're as amazing as ever, noticing the little details like that." He chuckled.
"Thanks." Naoto paused, watching the traffic lights, "Kanji-kun… As much as I like it, can you skip the small talk and get to the point? I know there's something else you want to ask me."
"Err… you can always tell, huh. You know me too well." He laughed nervously, "You said you're leaving Kyoto on the interview. Where are you headed now?"
"Home." She smiled, amused. He always asked where she was going…
"…You sound like you're smirking. I'm guessing you don't mean your estate." Kanji sounded confused, "Are you really…?"
"Yes," Naoto kept driving, looking around cautiously. It had become a habit for her to be extremely careful in traffic, especially right after solving a murder. Ever since she had started driving, that had been her habit—driving made her nervous. She didn't like it.
"…Sorry, are you driving? You seem distracted… and you sound different. I'm guessing Bluetooth."
"Yes," she answered again, "I apologize if I'm not very talkative."
"Nah, it's fine, focus on the road," She could hear Kanji nodding against the receiver, "But, uh, I'm glad you're coming home."
"Yes… I got a surprise call during the interview. It seems I've got a job there." Naoto smiled knowingly.
"Oh. So it's not 'cause you wanna…" He seemed a little disappointed.
"Hey, Kanji-kun. You know what my job in Inaba will be? It's to see all of my friends again." Naoto wondered if Yu had called everyone else too. Or maybe he was going to surprise them—Kanji sure didn't sound like he knew Yu was coming too. "Of course I want to! I can't wait to be back."
He laughed—yes, that had certainly cheered him up. "I'll round up the gang then."
"Last I heard, Hanamura-sempai was appointed manager at Junes. So he's back too, right?" Naoto asked curiously.
"Yep. Kuma sure was glad to have someone to crash with again." He laughed, "Kuma's doing fine too… he's kept his world pretty nice. I don't go in, personally, but he seems happy there."
"That's good to hear. I look forward to seeing everyone again." Naoto smiled.
"Yeah. Hey, be safe driving, you hear?" He said in concern, "I'll see you at the station tomorrow morning?"
"Tonight." Naoto grinned, "Actually, if you don't mind… I have not had time to set up accommodations yet…"
Kanji went silent. Naoto waited for him to say something, wondering how red his face was. Yes, she knew he blushed like mad at pretty much everything she said—some times, more madly than others. This was one of those times.
"What time will you be here?"
"About eight o'clock. I hope that's not late." Naoto shrugged, making a right turn, "I might not be taking the train, but there aren't that many places to park near your place, aren't there?"
"I'll have a room prepared by eight then. I'll see you then." Kanji sounded like he was pacing nervously, but he was happy.
"Yes, I'll see you then." Naoto nodded, even though it was nervous, "Thank you, Kanji-kun. Goodbye."
Five years had been a long time to only see Naoto on the news—to only hear her voice over the phone. Kanji leaned back in his chair, scanning the Kyoto newspaper, staring at the picture of Naoto's interview from the previous night. She hadn't changed much from the last time her picture showed up—but she had certainly changed a lot from the sixteen-year-old cross-dresser who had left Inaba.
He was one of the only friends Naoto kept in constant contact with—she would always call him to see how her favorite sleepy town was. He would always call her to see where she was headed next, so he could keep up with the news in that place and maybe see her in the headlines. Though, it was rare to see anything but her name there.
That was the only place he really ever saw her—on TV and in the newspapers. She was always so elusive, though—just like when she was a teenager, she found interviews to be nothing but a source of gossip and entertainment for the audiences, and she didn't like her face being shown so publicly. Kanji knew that six years and the Midnight Channel had made her slightly paranoid—but he also knew that she didn't like being on TV for the same reason she didn't like driving.
Being a detective was a scary thing.
He sighed, shaking off his worry. Naoto was fine—she was always fine. She was strong and she could handle herself—so why was he so concerned? Well, they were friends. That's what friends did—they worried. Besides, Naoto had been away from home for five years, making her name on her own and living in temporary houses and apartments with no one but herself. He couldn't imagine how lonely it must've been.
Sometimes she had called him just so she didn't feel so lonely, after all. And he had done the same on many occasions.
He sighed, folding the newspaper and putting his feet firmly on the ground as he pushed himself up. It was almost eight o'clock—time to go pick up Naoto.
The roads outside were dark except for the tall streetlights. He grabbed a umbrella, remembering that the forecast said it might sprinkle, and carefully locked his house before he left, stuffing the keys in his pocket as he walked over the sepia-dyed sidewalk. The station wasn't too far from the textile shop, so he could easily walk there. In a matter of minutes, he came to the steps that ascended to Yasoinaba Station, and he sat down, watching the empty parking lot.
He looked at his watch—not to check the time, but to see the tracking display.
"Out of range"… she wasn't there yet.
He looked up again, smoothing out his hair nervously. Did he look alright? He should've prepared more. Gosh, he hoped she could recognize him. While he had seen her in the news, she had not seen any of her friends' changes save for Rise, who was constantly in ads and having concerts and the like. He wondered what it would be like to return home and see that a lot of things had changed—himself included.
But… he was also nervous because even if he had seen her interviews and photos in newspapers, seeing her in real life would be so different. He knew it would be—he remembered seeing her on Tokyo News three years ago, and he had been so surprised at how much she had changed. She still wore her hat, of course, but her hair had grown out and she had gotten a little taller—and she didn't quite dress like a boy anymore. She had never been comfortable dressing like a girl, of course, but she didn't hide the fact that she was one—and it was actually kind of hard hiding that fact now.
He blushed a deep red at that thought, shaking it off. He looked at his watch, and his eyes widened. It read, "15m".
Bright headlights were slowly making their way closer. Kanji shielded his eyes, squinting to see the figure behind the wheel as the car came to a stop in the parking lot. It was dark blue—of course it would be, blue was Naoto's favorite color.
She got out of the car—and he saw a young woman with long blue hair and her signature blue coat. Kanji blushed—despite how much Naoto had changed, she was still as cute and beautiful as ever.
Naoto's thoughts of five years past pooled an anxious feeling in her stomach. She played with the blue plush bear nervously, glancing at the face of her digital watch. "Out of range" blipped into "15m", and the numbers slowly decreased as she came closer and closer to Yasoinaba Station. She could see the train tracks beside the road, the dim lights on the inside of the aged station—and as she pulled up to the parking lot, her headlights caught a figure sitting on the stairs. He had short brown hair and a brass-colored bullet hanging around his neck, and he was clad in a blue yukata. Her eyes widened for a moment—for she swore she was looking at a ghost from her past.
She parked the car and got out, her eyes locking on the man who was now standing on the steps. Yes, it was definitely the boy she remembered from her past.
Smiling, she grabbed her luggage and shut the door to her vehicle. After she locked it, she walked over to the man. When she stopped, the face on her watch read "1m".
"…Good evening, Kanji-kun."
"H-hi, Naoto-kun… Uh, you got taller." He looked at her, blushing, "Err, is that a new car?"
She shrugged, adjusting her hat, "Taking my motorcycle on an eight hour drive from my estate did not seem very practical. It was only logical." She put her hand on her hip in that overly-formal manner than Kanji had always thought made her seem too stiff.
"Uh, y-yeah. Good point. I didn't think of that—you always think ahead, huh." Kanji grinned kindly, trying hard to keep the stutter out of his voice. "I guess that's one thing that hasn't changed, huh? Look at you, you've changed so much."
"You too—you've changed a lot. I see you've stopped bleaching your hair." She looked up at him, "Though, shouldn't your hair be a darker brown?"
"The bleach kind of messed it up…" Kanji rubbed his head, feeling conscious, "It was a phase… you know, when I thought I had to do stuff to seem manlier…"
"Yet you still wear piercings." Naoto noted, chuckling.
"That's a personal preference." He seemed to relax, "Anyway, come on—I know you remember the way, but it's kinda dark out here." He looked out to the street, then back at her. "And, erm, uh—here, let me take your bags."
"I'm fine," Naoto shook her head, and after some insistence, Kanji took the larger of her bags and they began to walk. "I hope everyone else hasn't changed as much as you have."
"No, they haven't changed a bit." He grinned at her. "You'd recognize them right away."
"I wonder." Naoto looked thoughtful, "Anyway… thank you for accommodating me, Kanji-kun. Did you tell everyone else I was coming?"
"Yeah. Yukiko-sempai even offered you a place at her inn, but it's kind of the busy season, you know? I told her you would've insisted not to bother her too much." Kanji shrugged, looking up. It was beginning to sprinkle…
Naoto nodded in agreement to his assumption, then tilted her head up to the sky. "…Rain tonight, huh…"
"Midnight Channel doesn't work anymore," Kanji said quietly, knowing all too well what she was thinking. After all, the next day was the anniversary of that time.
"I know. Tried it back in Tokyo… and Yagokoro… and Hokkaido… and Beika… and Kyoto… and every other place I've been…"
"Looking for a reason to come back?" The brown haired man asked hopefully, opening his umbrella and holding it over the both of them.
"Maybe," Naoto shifted her gaze, cobalt eyes piercing his dark grey ones, "But… there was also something like a feeling of relief, whenever it didn't work… It made me feel safe, you know? Like we had solved that mystery, and it was for good… but I don't know. It was unsettling to know that world still existed on the other side, and human nature might cause another serial murderer to appear."
"Yeah, I know. I checked it too. I guess… it's a habit." Kanji sighed, "And maybe… a bittersweet memory."
"The worst part is, checking it even though we know that the things that appear on the screen are what we want to see, not what will actually be…"
"…Did you see something you wanted to see?" Kanji asked gently, stopping.
"I wanted to see home." Naoto gave a sad but relieved-looking smile, "I never did."
"You're seein' it now, Naoto-kun." Kanji, pat her head playfully, "We're here."
Naoto blinked, looking up at Tatsumi Textiles. Kanji led her to the side door that led to the private half of the shop, going inside after he unlocked the door. She stood at the indoor porch step, drying what little sprinkles managed to wet her hat. Kanji closed the umbrella and put down her duffle bag, taking off his shoes and putting on his slippers as he went inside.
"Come on in."
Naoto nodded, taking off her shoes and thanking him politely as she put down her suitcase at the front, following him in. They were at the back of the textile shop, which served as the living quarters of the Tatsumis.
"You had a long drive, right? I know you like coffee, but I'm pretty sure that's not good this time of night. How about some tea?"
"Yes, thank you," Naoto nodded, looking around as he motioned her to sit down at the kitchen table, "Is your mother home?"
"She's asleep," Kanji motioned upward, implying the rooms above the shop, "She's getting older lately, you know? So I'm watching the shop and stuff for her more…"
"I know," Naoto said, "It's good to know she's getting plenty of rest, though."
"Yeah," He looked over, placing a steaming cup of green tea in front of her, "…So, how're you holding up?"
"Hm?" She looked over at him, holding the cup to warm her hands, "Well, the long drive wasn't all that tiring, if that's what you mean… It gave me a lot of time to think."
"I meant, your grampa died last year and you've been buried in case after case without a break ever since." Kanji sat down across from her, "You should've come home sooner, you know. We could've been there for you."
"I'm fine," Naoto sighed, sipping the tea, "I've had a year to get over it. I promise you, I'm fine."
"…" He stared at her intently, then sighed heavily too. "Must've been hard, though."
"Of course it was." Naoto said calmly, not in the least bothered, "I do miss him, and there was certainly an overwhelming sense of loneliness after he died, but… it's not something I haven't gone through before. I got past it."
"At least he died peacefully in his sleep." Unlike my parents.
"Yeah, you must be at ease knowing he lived a long and fulfilled life." Kanji looked up at the ceiling, frowning as if he could hear her unspoken thoughts. "…But, you know, like you said when you left… your grampa's a part of you—and you're never really alone because of that. And… if you ever do feel lonely, you're home now. Just… call for us, yeah?"
"I will." Naoto smiled.
"By the way," Kanji looked over at her, smiling, "Welcome home."
"Good to be home."
Pik pik pik pik.
The rain hit the window softly, creating a rhythmic and soothing sound. Naoto stared at the small, old TV set in the guest room, just as she had been doing for the past half hour. She didn't know if it was midnight, but she didn't bother to turn on the light to check her watch.
She waited and waited, her fingers entwined in a bridge and her chin resting upon it, her eyes never leaving the screen. She was sure it was midnight now—but nothing showed up. She sighed, watching for a little while longer, her thoughts wandering.
It was only for a moment, but the screen flickered with a static white light, and then fizzled out. She had only caught her reflection in the dim and nonexistent light—she knew it was just wishful thinking and her imagination that had turned it on for that brief second.
Nothing had shown up—yes, the only thing she had seen was herself.
She smiled a little, then crawled into bed and let slumber take her.
Naoto was nineteen when she was finally recognized as the fifth generation of Shirogane detectives. She had always been slightly reckless when it came to finding the truth—and just like the time she appeared on TV to prove that there was still a killer in Inaba, she had gotten herself kidnapped again to lead herself to a murderer's lair.
This particular murderer liked to kidnap young girls—and occasionally boys—and kill them in obscure ways before letting their bodies be found. By the time they were, the murderer himself was long gone. The victims had no connection, except that they had been very beautiful before their deaths. Naoto had enough mind to realize the pattern, pinpointing who the killer was with the clues she was given, and put herself up as bait to get the proof she needed.
Of course, this is where being a girl worked to her advantage, and much to her chagrin, she had to dress the part if she wanted to be caught. So she talked to one of the detectives helping her on the case, and had his wife put makeup on her face and lend her a nice dress. Naoto had been reluctant at first, but she knew there wasn't any other way to catch the killer and convict him for all of the murders.
So Naoto went to the place she knew the killer would be, and acted like the way most of the victims did before they died—she went to a party, awkwardly mingled, and left alone. He fell for it—Naoto was a little thankful that she was shorter than most people her age, so she was able to pull off being a fifteen-year-old better than anyone else at the department. Her suspicions had been correct—the murderer wasn't a "he", but a she! A very ugly woman who had gone insane and mutilated the face of others out of a twisted sense of jealousy and anger. If she deemed someone too beautiful, she would kidnap them and mutilate their faces and bodies, and then leave them so people could see how "beautiful" they really were.
The serial killer did not realize she was a detective, and she had been able to trick her into thinking the chloroform cloth had worked on her. Naoto acted unconscious, though she was fully aware that if she made a wrong move, she would be killed right away. With the first chance she got, she pulled out her gun and surprised the woman, calling for backup before the woman could run away. Thanks to her hunch, the police were not too far away, having been directed to stay around the corner in case she did try to make a break for it.
By the time the policemen got there, Naoto had managed to use her Midnight Channel experience to subdue the killer and tie her up, and she was rightfully arrested and put on trial. Naoto was declared a hero for her self-sacrifice, and the department thanked her for helping them. Many people whose loved ones had been killed came out to thank her personally, and she had felt an overwhelming sense of pride in being able to help them all. It was such a wonderful feeling, and she knew that putting herself in such danger was worth it.
But regardless of if it was worth it, the whole thing had still scared her like nothing else. And she was still scared—she was still a girl, after all, and she had been forced to keep her cool with a knife pointed at her face that night. When she was finally given a moment alone, she pulled out her cell phone, dialing the number of her closest friend.
He was the one whom she had called when she was having frustrations about this case—actually, she always called him when she was having any sort of frustration, regardless of if it was related to her work or not. She had spent years getting used to hearing his voice on the phone and imagining his face when she spoke to him. The last time she had called, he had wished her luck in solving the serial murders, so the first thing she wanted to do was inform him of her success.
Certainly, his best wishes had gotten her through it. She smiled shakily to herself, playing with the knitted blue bear that she used as a phone charm. Anxiously awaiting the ringing to end, Naoto breathed a sigh of relief when she heard her friend pick up.
"I did it."
"Really? You solved the serial murderer case?"
"You won't believe the night I've had, Kanji-kun."
A/N: Here's what I originally wrote on my profile (posted 4/14/2012, and it was taken down as of 5/25/2012)
Full Summary/Original Drabble: It had been almost five years. Five years that Naoto had spent away from "home"—it was five years too long to be away from "home", and it was not something Naoto had intended. Five years spent chasing criminals—thieves, murderers, arsonists, whatever case she could find—had certainly made her into a well known, well practiced detective. Somehow her status as a woman was now working in her favor too—something that would have never happened if she had not met them. And so now she was returning to them, returning to "home" at long last. Five years was a long time for her to only hear their voices over the phone, and five years was a long time for them to only see her on TV or in the newspapers. Five years had made her mature, successful, famous—and it had made her enemies. Well, thus was the life of a detective—it was a despicable occupation to those whose lives she ruined. And she thought about this as she made the anxious drive home (she never did like driving), idly playing with the plush good luck charm on her keys, occasionally stealing a glance at the toy watch on her wrist, waiting for the numbers to decrease.