Additional Characters:

Chiriko – Chiriko (Hikou's assailant)
Ashitare - Ashitare Aizawa (the leader of the Saizo drug ring that the Chief is trying to bring down)

Chapter 7

"Chichiri, good to see you man!" Tasuki's obnoxious yelling was the first thing that greeted me at the door. I was finally making my way into the office and everyone seemed to have the strangest expression of inquisition in their eyes. I was puzzled, but distractions soon overcame me as Tasuki proceeded to flag his arm across my shoulders. He seemed to be in quite a chipper mood.

"What's with the wide grin on your face?" I asked him. With my mind occupiedin scattered thoughts, I barely even heard his awaited reply.

"… and just as I suspected, that young girl just has to be innocent. Hey! Are you listening to me man?" Tasuki fixed his hug into a choke hold and ruffled the blue mess of hair that adornedmy head.

"So tell me something, why is everyone looking at me like that," I completely ignored his childish banter.

"Oh," he looked around at the peering eyes surrounding them before finally bringing some seriousness to his face. "Well…" he loosened his grip on my shoulder and urged me to listen. "…there's some gossip going around the office that you can't wait for your former partner to kick the bucket so you can jump into his wife's bed…"

"Chichiri," Tomo interrupted our chatter. "The Chief would like to see you in his office."

I never said one word. I left Tasuki and Tomo standing there unable to conjure something in my defense. Even though I would never wish death on my best friend, there was no denying the forbidden feelings that were growing towards Kouran.

"Mitsukake… I mean Chief… you wanted to see me?"

Mitsukake lifted his attention from his pile of papers and welcomed me to a seat near his desk. "Close the door behind you before you sit."

The atmosphere reeked of my nervousness and we sat there in silence before he finally initiated a conversation. "This is about Hikou."

"Listen... whatever everyone is saying within the office..." I immediately got defensive. "… it's not… I mean…"

"That's not why I called you here," he interrupted. The abruptness of his sentence commanded my attention. I gave him a chance to speak.

"We have finally managed to capture Hikou's assailant." My eyes expanded in excitement and he acknowledged my peeked interest. "He's currently in custody and is located at one of the holding cells within the precinct. He'll be held here overnight until he is released tomorrow morning on a five hundred thousand dollar bail. I want you to listen to what I say next very carefully." I leaned forward anxiously as he continued with the conversation.

"There's no way this guy is going to escape doing serious time," he continued. "The evidence we have against him is rock solid. His major downfall was leaving his weapon, which was a semi-automatic Beretta 92FS Pistol, close to the crime seen. Once in our grasp, it was only a matter of dusting for finger prints and matching the weapon to the bullet that pierced Hikou's chest.

A Beretta Pistol uses a .40 S&W cartridge and is commonly used amongst the armed forces. We have yet to figure out how he got his hands on one of those. But our major objective right now is to get him to lead us to the head honcho of the Saizo drug ring, Ashitare Aizawa. This could be our closest link yet to bringing that bastard down."

"So what's the plan?" I finally added a piece to the conversation.

Mitsukake sighed heavily and he rubbed his palm across his forehead. "Well, the guy in custody is named Chiriko. He's currently still under interrogation. And from the information we have been able to gather so far, we're lead to believe that he was just a rookie. His disposal of the gun was careless and it did not take him very long to crack under the pressure. You'll be surprised to know he's a very young man. He actually just turned eighteen."

"I want to meet him," I promptly interrupted. My butt had a mind of its own as it flew up from the chair.

"Not a good idea," Mitsukake cautioned. "I don't want your feelings disrupting your inner judgment." He stood up towering over me. "I already made some adjustments to keep you away from this case."

"What!" I slammed my palms against his desk in anger. My defiance surprised even myself as the bang against the wood echoed past the door. "I, out of everyone else, deserve a crack at this case to bring down the bastard who took a shot at my partner!"

"Lower your voice Iwata!" He quelled my harsh tone. "This is the reason why I forbid you. Your need for revenge and your anger will too easily overcome you."

I took my seat back in the vacant chair. I felt like I was being chastised for just wanting to do right by my friend. I heard his apology coming as he paced back and forth near the exit. "I'm sorry. But my orders are final." That was my cue to leave.

"Please excuse me," I mumbled.

"Wait Iwata, you didn't let me finish," he grabbed unto my right shoulder as I reached to open the door. "There are still some details surrounding our suspect that I want you know."

"Can we talk about that later?" I was exhausted from the confrontation. All I wanted now was to just be alone.

"Fair enough," he obliged. "But please, have no doubts Chichiri that this young man will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

I left the Chief's presence without adding another word. Outside, I was greeted by the stares of my nosey co-workers. They had heard the commotion. It was obvious. But their concern was the least thing on my mind.

"Chichiri," I could hear Tasuki calling out to me but for some reason I just couldn't be bothered. I needed some air so I decided to leave the office and I could hear Tasuki's footsteps behind me as I walked outside. "You okay man?" He managed to meet my pace and began to walk alongside me.

"I'm just so upset you know," I immediately confessed. "There is so much going on and it just seems like everyone is so goddamn selfish and inconsiderate."

"I understand…"

"And then someone would go as far as to have the nerve…" I continued. "… to spread rumors of Kouran and me within the office."

"Well - -" Tasuki suddenly ceased walking. "Actually – you're not giving them any reason to think otherwise." I turned and looked at him appallingly.

He braced his palms in front of him as a means of defense. "Don't get me wrong," he stammered. "I know you two are just friends. But in the eyes of another, a deduction of friendship would be thought as very naïve."

I wondered if I could trust my new partner with my feelings but decided to hold out a bit longer from telling him the truth. "It's still none of their business," I simply retorted. That response would have to suffice for now.


A/N: Technically this would have been all of Chapter 6 as well, but I thought it would have been too long. This early update is a treat to Bant and Everqueen.