Author's Note:

Canon compatible, expanding off the world in the same feel as the episodes, filling in gaps. Builds off of prior work called FILE: ABDUCTED. Not essential to have read, but will get more if you have. MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING: If psychological disorders and suicide are triggers, DO NOT read! ID: Invaded gets heavy into this and I am writing to the feel of the series.

FILE: MEASURED

Chapter 1

What the heck is with this place? Where am I? Who am I?

His gaze focused on a girl in a white slip dress—strangled by piano wire suspended from a treble clef. It struck him like jolt of electricity.

Kaeru! Her name is Kaeru, and by knowing that I know I am Sakaido. I am a Brilliant Detective. My task is to solve her mur—

A gracile hand clamped on his shoulder. He spun, forced to look up at a blue-haired man sporting a lazy grin, who shot finger guns at his chest in triplicate. "Time to short the reverie, Akihito Narihisago."

That was a bucket of ice cold water. Memories returned in a torrential flood, too much to take in a single train of thought. In fact, it was rather like being hit by a train itself—something he had experience with, unfortunately! He staggered backward, doubled over and holding his head. Narihisago, an ex-cop, a murderer, a veritable monster, imprisoned for life … the Kura—a brilliant detective—Sakaido!

"Haha! Look, Hondomachi! He's still standing. Shit, that's a relief. Looks like I don't have to piggy-back him after all."

Standing? Wait, what is he talking about? Am I injured? He patted himself down, everything seemed ok.

"Good thing too." Hijiriido grinned wickedly. "He'll need to move for this id well if we're gonna break that pain in the ass code. And by the way, Anaido," she poked his chest hard enough to make him wince, "it's Miyo Hijiriido in here!"

"Aww, come on, but you know who you really are!"

"I don't care. In the dives I am Hijiriido."

"You're such a pain."

Speaking of pain, it came back to him—when they'd initiated this dive Narihisago had still been healing from an injury to his ankle, crushed in a car accident before being taken hostage and tortured. Erf, he'd take an id well to that experience any day. After a lengthy stint in the medical ward, he'd been unable to walk without the aid of crutches. What did that mean here? He stomped his left foot to discover it was painless. A slow grin crossed Sakaido's features, that was something he'd never quite get used to—being self-aware in a dive. "Alright, we're on the other side. What do I need to do?"

Anaido thrust a hand over his shoulder three times. "Hope you're good with music."

Confidence abandoned him. He swallowed as a chill ran down his spine. We're fucked.

In an endless landscape of pulsing colors, a surreal world presented itself like a strangely themed jungle gym locked in an eerie silence. All around them stretched the five bars that made the musical staff, that almost spread like a wide ladder. He had to look up to see the top. In multitude they crisscrossed in every direction with notes hanging from them as well as other various symbols well beyond Sakaido's knowledge.

I haven't the foggiest what any of this means. That thing looks like a hashtag symbol, but in music it means something else … but what? Crap, I don't know this language. Why did they possibly think I'd be useful in here? The most familiar I am with music was memorizing one song at Ayako's request. Shit, all those hours I wasted spent looping the damn thing just get every word and note. Fat lot of good an old pop song I can't even finish singing will do here.

His eyes widened. Oh shit! The Wellside team can access my thoughts!

~ID~

"Sir, as usual nothing from Anaido's thoughts." Togo held her tablet.

Momoki folded his arms, shaking his head. "Don't worry, we've wasted enough time trying to figure that out. I suspect we'll never get access to those thanks too how his brain healed."

Her eyebrow raised. "We are, however, getting an amusing thought thread from Sakaido. Something about singing a pop song?"

Everyone topside darted to the railing. Wakashika snorted a laugh. "Wait, you telling me Narihisago can sing?"

Eyeing him, Momoki smirked. "No, he actually can't. But he tried—once, to humor Ayako. She got a good laugh out of his efforts. When she asked him to memorize 'Forever Memories' she figured he wouldn't do it." He couldn't fight the smile. "It was early in their relationship and she didn't know him well enough at the time to be aware that he'd take it as a challenge."

Togo stifled a laugh. "It seems that someone told Narihisago about the thought threads."

"Of course I did. I take it he just reflected on that?"

Wakashika glanced back at his screen and the images of a blushing Sakaido surrounded by the other two. "And it seems he's a bit embarrassed about that."

Over the speaker Hijiriido's voice crackled, "What's wrong, Sakaido?"

"I uhh … nothing. I'm fine." Sakaido cleared his throat, resuming his serious tone of voice. "So, no one has told me what we're doing in here. Clearly the owner of this well has a thing for music."

"No kidding, Sherlock." Anaido gazed up at Kaeru strung up on the clef. "I wonder what could have possibly given that away?"

Heaving a sigh, Momoki pinched the bridge of his nose. "Come on, Fukuda, just get with the program and play nice for a change."

~ID~

Sakaido rolled his eyes. "Do I really need to state the obvious?"

"Let's discuss the clef in the room."

"Anaido, enough with the lame jokes." Hijiriido tugged on her deer stalker cap. "We spent more than enough time climbing all over the messed up jumble of staffs. There's no point in going through this again. Let's just show him what we found."

He tossed his hands in the air. "Just spoil the fun. Why does Sakaido get to benefit from our hard work?"

"Because in case it's escaped your attention, this dive isn't for our amusement. We're on a timeline here. Remember, people are dying."

Anaido snorted, shoving his hands in his pockets. "Yeah, that's why we're here. If this person hadn't killed anyone there wouldn't be a well in the first place. Why should we let—"

The scathing expression on Sakaido's face silenced any further words.

Anaido held his hands up. "I forgot we're in the company of the workaholic. Ok, alright. Fine I get it. Not even a word of thanks for waking you two up. Nope, you just push me around like—"

"Hijiriido, why don't you show me what we need to do while someone throws himself a pity-party for one."

"I would, but this is going to take his help as well."

Tugging on his suspender's, Anaido rocked back and forth on his heels. "And that's why you guys owe me. You know, you really have to give this killer's mind a bit of credit. The décor in here is kind of nice. The color palette in the muted hues, and all these notes in reflective chrome." He knocked on one of them, letting it reverb as it broke the silence. "The aesthetics are rather soothing. I could take a nap about now."

Sakaido grabbed his collar pulling the lanky man off balance so that he staggered in a sloppy limbo-esque form without the bar. "No you don't. We have a job to do."

"Sheesh! What is it with you two and the whole job thing? You like never take a single moment off."

Hijiriido tapped her foot. "Really? Both of us were recently abducted and spent time in recovery. We only just got back to active duty and you think we'd want a break?"

"Not hardly." Sakaido gestured to Kaeru. "And certainly not when we have a case to solve."

"Duty duty duty." With each word Anaido wagged a finger.

"Never mind him, Sakaido. I remember where we need to go. He can follow along when he gets with the program. Follow me."

Threading through the maze of constricting musical staves Sakaido had a vague feeling of a sense of order to this chaos. And yet to him at the moment the intersecting bars with the squiggled notations made little sense. This just wasn't something he knew a lot about.

"No sign of our old friend." Anaido interjected.

"Why would there be?" She didn't even look back. "He's been confined in your well by us."

Sakaido fought the urge to correct her … and lost. "While that is true, remember that the id well impressions are not locked into a linear time frame. That means that if we were to go back into a well, say Sonoda's for instance, a reflection of John Walker would still be there."

"Point taken." She paused at a junction of staff lined corridors and considered the directions before turning left.

"Hey Sakaido,"Anaido remarked, "I always wanted to ask. You ever get tired of being a know-it-all?"

"Do you ever tire of being annoying?" He shot over his shoulder. "Besides, I didn't know about Hayaseura being John Walker until Hondomachi told me."

"Hijiriido! What is it with you two?"

Her irate rebuff brought Sakaido to a complete, stiff as a board, halt.

Slapping him on the shoulder, Anaido laughed. "Nice going, slick! And we're off to a great start on this whole uhh … teamwork thing."

Onward they pressed into the mess of music notations marked with signature and key changes, notes and rests. Behind Sakaido the occasional tone hung briefly in the air brought about by Anaido randomly striking the notes on the staff. A self-satisfying grin on his face as he plodded along.

For the first ten minutes Sakaido attempted to ignore him, but the cacophony of rogue notes continued to build in his wake as he followed Hijiriido. At the cascade of a full measure of notes, Sakaido glared over his shoulder. "Are you enjoying yourself back there?"

Unabashedly, Anaido lifted a shoulder and let it fall. "Not really. But I'm about to." He came to a halt and his eyes traveled up accompanied by an amused gaze.

"What are you look—" The moment Sakaido turned to spy the immense tower countless stories high his jaw dropped. The thing was comprised of all manner of over-sized instruments precariously stacked on one another. Strings, woodwinds, percussion … it was like an entire orchestra reaching into the shifting pastel sky. As he squinted he spied a set of tubular bells hanging near the top from a bridge of another instrument.

Hijiriido reached up and covered the hole in her head with the deer stalker cap, a sly smile on her face. "We figured out what we have to do. The problem was, we couldn't do it with only two of us."

"Dare I ask what we need to do?"

Anaido grinned, "Well, detective, how do you feel about percussion?"