Hello. Thanks for reading. This is roughly based on "Yesterday's Shadow is Tomorrow's Twilight", but happens before the events in the story, meaning, before Kenji joins them. Dedicated to XD, who had guts and a great story, who reminded me that yeah, that CAN happen, to Firuze Khanume, and to everyone who tried at least once to decipher the enigma that are these two.
Oh, yeah. This is also dedicated to Micro, Pharma, and Patho. The three subjects that drove me to such crazy thoughts as you are about to read. Completed in most of one day. Hope you like.
Something was wrong with my partner.
Now I know some people would say that something is permanently wrong with Yukishiro Enishi. But if you are like me and you see him day in and day out, you will know that there are days he is just not himself. This was one of them.
A whole day passed. I was not called a smiley, or a fool, or a smiling dunderhead. THAT, was very unusual of itself. In addition, he seemed very quiet on the whole. He never asked questions. When I asked the questions, he answered with a curt yes or no, and did not look at me.
Our life got tedious sometimes, I admit, but it was far from boring. We lived for the moment, and lived by the day. Our past did not matter, our present was what we made it to be. And we were legal! Well, sort of legal. Saitou-san gave us stuff to do, stuff regular police considered out of bounds, and he let us handle it ourselves. We did what he asked, he paid us. A simple life, but far from boring. This was how we served prison time. I couldn't complain.
But sometimes he did.
"What's the point of this life?" he grumbled yesterday, quietly and seriously. "Why didn't I just end it years ago?"
I looked at him. There was both a blankness and a terrible determination in his eyes. He did not hide behind his dark glasses.
"Think about it. We have no amenities, no perks, and I've seen all the thrills. I have no friends, no family, no stable source of income. I have nothing to hold me back. You can get a new partner anywhere, can't you?"
Well, yes, but I did not know what he was getting at. I did not answer.
"One shot, that's all it takes, you know," he said and sighed. He placed his index finger to the side of his head like a pistol, and motioned the firing of that pistol, with a bang. "One shot, and this would all be over."
Now I knew what he was talking about, but I did not want to believe it or understand it. I smiled wide. "Why are you talking like this, Yukishiro-san?"
"Just a thought, Seta. Interesting, though." He looked at me. "Would you stop me if I tried it?"
"Of course, I would!"
"If I did, Seta, do me a favor. Go to Kyoto and leave flowers on my sister's grave. Make a note. That's my last will and testament."
I kept a close eye on Enishi after that conversation. I didn't know what he had in mind, but I had a hunch that he would not be doing anything rash as long as he was never alone.
It started when we came back to Tokyo after a long trip in the mountains. We were immediately given a new job. A murderer was on the loose in town. He had already killed five by then. A combination of rich and poor people were targeted, and the police did not have any leads or connections. A new officer, Sakurai, was the head of the investigation. While he had managed to get much evidence and had deduced many possible motives, none of his efforts had been successful in catching the murderer. So Saitou-san gave it to us. Maybe we could do something about it, he said. Time was of the essence. The murderer should not be allowed to kill again.
We went through the police records about the murders that had already occurred, and even then I noticed that he was rather too somber.
"Obviously the murderer knew the people he was targeting. From the range of people, the man knows many in this town. But he would be inconspicuous, since no one could make any connections. Only a few professions allow you to know many people and still not be conspicuous. Especially if the person is lower rank. It's a simple case. I don't know why they passed it on to us."
He talked to me about the case, with a flat voice and a bored tone. That was not normal. He was usually excitedly thinking about all the aspects of a job or a case.
He walked around town. I understand he went to revisit the Kamiya dojo, as well as his old home. When he returned, I found the gloomiest face I had ever seen on him. He dropped into our cheap room's only chair, sighed, and said nothing.
He never brightened over the next few days after that. If anything, he got even darker.
He always seemed tired, not just of our everyday activities, but of life itself. He always sighed, always mumbled about going to his sister. Every time I asked if he wanted to talk about it, he only shook his head.
"What have I done with my life, Seta?" he blurted out once.
"The best you could," I answered.
"Was that enough?" he asked, and sunk his head into his arms.
All the more did I keep him in my sights, at all hours.
One day, we walked to the police station. He left his large sword at our room. Instead, I saw the lump of his pistol just underneath his jacket. I did not ask why, although the thought of that terrible conversation did come back to me.
He sauntered through the busier areas, then led me to one of the farthest rooms in the lower floor. A room used for old things and cleaning items.
He gave me a wild smile, and showed me the pistol. He looked at it for a few moments, and leveled it to the side of his head. "One shot. Just one shot."
"Have you gone mad, Yukishiro-san?" I screamed.
"Maybe," he said. "Who will miss me if I do this? You? Saitou?"
But if he really wanted to kill himsef, wouldn't he have just done it? Just shot the pistol and got it over with? He did not have to tell me. What was he waiting for?
"I see you're starting to understand, finally," he smirked at me. "Remember that discussion we had a few days ago?"
"Most of it, yes."
"Good. Find Saitou and Sakurai. Remember what we talked about."
"But…." I started.
He pointed the pistol at me. "Go."
I sped to the second floor where Saitou's office was. I told him that Yukishiro-san threatened me with a loaded gun to bring him and Sakurai to where he was.
"So?" He did not even look at me.
"He has that gun pointed at his head!" I added.
"So what?" he said. I could not believe the heartlessness of the man!
Then we heard it.
A shot. From the lower floor.
Despite what Saitou-san thought, he went and called for Sakurai, then followed me. But I did not wait for Saitou-san. I immediately ran back to Enishi. I pounded at my head. I shouldn't have listened to him! I shouldn't have left him alone, even for a minute! How could I have been so stupid!
My fears were realized. He was sprawled on the floor, the pistol he showed me in his hand, blood on the floor around his head. I shook him, I swear I did, desperately sought any kind of response, and got none.
I was slowly going numb. My, my partner had just left me alone. The only friend I had in the last few years, was gone.
But his nagging voice pounded on my head, to remember what we talked about. It was just about the inconsistencies of the information about the murderer we were tracking, and how he planned to catch the murderer. My logical brain told me there was something to all this, but my heart was screaming otherwise.
Why in the world did he do that, and leave this responsibility to me?
I took a deep, nervous, breath, and started asking Sakurai. "Could this have been done by that murderer we never caught?"
"That's, that's highly impossible!" came the uneasy reply.
"Why is that?" I asked.
"First of all, this is an obvious suicide," he said, and looked at my partner.
I tried to keep calm, but my hands shook, and I think, so did my voice. "But what if this was not a suicide, but staged? How can we be sure it was not him?"
"Well, the murderer would have used a silencer. He would never strike at the precinct, that would be too obvious! And, the murderer always struck at night." I could see the man getting more and more flustered. "He would not strike during the day, and he would never kill an unknown person such as this one. The murderer only dealt with people he knew. Creditors, annoying debtors, personal enemies."
I forced myself to smile kindly but triumphantly. "We didn't know that. About the silencer." That was it! We had our man!
Then I heard another voice in the room. One I was very familiar with.
"Got that, Saitou?"
I looked down at the man on the ground. He opened his eyes and grinned when he saw me. He then showed me a small packet, full of a gooey, pasty kind of paint. Even a seasoned policeman might have been fooled for a few minutes.
"Got it," and Saitou-san emerged from behind the door, as the officer's jaw dropped. "Not the strategy I expected, but effective. We finally have what we need." He flicked a finger, and two other men came in and cuffed Sakurai.
In the meantime, I faced Enishi. "You scared the life out of me, Yukishiro-san!" I told him with a screech. "Don't you ever do that again!"
"Well, I just might, some day," he tried to be sarcastic but it came out flat. He looked up wistfully at the sky. "And I won't come back. And you can't do anything about it." But it was slow, deliberate, as if he was thinking about what I just said.
"No point." He sat up and brushed the dust off his hair.
"But, but, why did you….."
"Elementary, my dear Seta," he smirked at me. "I got you to be with me all the time, so no one would think you or I were out, poking our noses where we shouldn't. It kept him off guard, until this moment. But because he knew we kept going here, he would be scared to rouse our suspicion. Thus, we kept the body count at five."
"You're dangerous with those copies of The Strand, Yukishiro-san," I shook my head at him. Whenever we were in Tokyo he would spend hours at the national library, in the foreign publications section, reading back copies of a popular British magazine for stories of a certain detective.
But he was pensive, and the smirk was sad. This was not just about the case. I shuddered to think what he really might have done if he was alone the last few days.
The officer squirmed and freed himself. "I will not be arrested!" the officer shouted.
The man took out his own pistol with shaking hands. Enishi fired at an angle and made the man drop the pistol. But the officer had already cocked and loaded it.
When the pistol fell, it fired.
The pistol fired, upward, by the side of my partner's head. He went down. The officer fired twice at him. The first missed and ricocheted, finally breaking the window. But the other sounded like it hit the target. Yet in the officer's panic he took out a small knife, charged, and tried to thrust it through Enishi. I managed to push the man away, but I could not stop the knife from connecting.
The officer backed up to the door, firing at the room from all points so I could not get closer to him, dislodging objects from all the shelves. He found the doorknob, opened it and ran. I chased after the man, and managed to trip him. Soon the other police officers surrounded him and kept him on the ground. I saw I was no longer needed, and let them handle it.
I ran back to the room.
It was a frightening scene that I returned to. Red was everywhere on and around him. I was alone in the room with my partner, assessing what I sensibly could, but not comprehending anything. I came closer, feeling the cold sweat on my forehead as I kept checking his jacket and his clothes.
"Stop that, smiley," he said slowly. "It's mostly paint. Look."
He pointed faintly up, to a shelf full of different cans. One said "blue", and another "green". One was on the floor. It did say "red". That was the stuff on his hair, and on most of the floor.
What I could not tell him was that I did feel something red on my hands, and it was not paint. It was blood. Evidently he did not have to be told. He felt over my chest, then reached over for my kerchief. He opened up his jacket, and I saw it clearly. A bullet had grazed him on the chest. A knife wound through the abdomen, not far, but it still trickled.
"A scratch. It will heal soon."
If that was what he called a scratch, I don't know what he considered a bad wound. And I know he was trying to keep it from me, but I saw a heavy trickle of blood on the back of his head. I tore off a piece of my hakama and stopped the bleeding there. But soon the cloth was steeped red. I was not getting it right.
"Mission failed," he whispered.
I started tearing more pieces of my clothes, getting desperate. "We have to get you patched up, Yukishiro-san! We have to get to the hospital! The clinic, at least!"
"No hospital. Get me bandages."
He fell back to the floor with eyes closed.
"Hurry up, you fool," he mumbled.
I did what I was told, and ran as fast as I could for several rolls. When I returned he looked worse than ever, and I hurried, laying pressure, stopping the bleeding, wrapping bandages around his head and abdomen. I tried to work as fast as I could, but still I saw him fading in and out. I checked him head to foot for other wounds I had not seen. Nothing else was wrong as far as I could see, but I was afraid there was something I was missing.. This was beyond what I could do. He really needed a doctor.
As I screamed out to anyone to find the nearest doctor, I saw him close his eyes again. And they stayed shut, one minute, two, three, four, five. "Yukishiro-san! A doctor's coming!" I kept pleading every few seconds. "Stay with me! Yukishiro-san!"
He opened his eyes, much to my relief. "I'm not going anywhere, Seta." He kept them open now, and stared blankly at me. "Hey, Seta."
"When my time comes, would I be ready?"
"Stop this crazy talk right now!" I was frightened at my own voice.
But he was not listening. "Would I have found what I was looking for then? When it happens? Or for all this, I would have nothing to show nee-san?"
"Now you're really giving me the creeps," I said. "It's not like you'll……"
"Would I find my answer?"
I did not know what to say. For one, because I did not know what he was talking about. Fortunately, I did not have to say anything more. The doctor had come with people behind him. Soon Enishi was carried away.
It did worry me, what he said, what he was trying to say. I knew just as much as he did that he would survive the hits. But what if he did not? What would happen if he died, whether by himself or by others? Would he die in peace? Or would he be as confused as he was right now? Would he have found his answer? His reason for staying alive?
It was a few days later when I saw him again, at Saitou's office. He was rather pale, made worse by white hair and white jacket. Otherwise, even I would not have known he had almost died. He would not let me visit in the hospital, I don't know why. But I did hear from the doctors and nurses that he was an irritable patient. Beside the usual doctor's concern, no one objected to his leaving the hospital earlier than he should.
"Your payment is cut in half," the officer told us. "It required that much for the operation and the various expenses. You know, it would've been cheaper for the department if you died instead. A plot and a coffin."
"Yeah," Enishi said, and cocked up his glasses. "Something cheap. No one will see me when I'm gone, anyhow." He sighed, and walked out of the room, in something like a trance.
I found him a few minutes later in the reception area of the building, his hands over his head and covering his ears. He was only like that whenever he did heavy thinking about himself. It was much easier to think about plans, strategies, and attacks. It was the things that did not make sense, the feelings he did not understand, that required more thinking.
He spoke to me without changing position. "If I really took that shot, what would you do?"
I knew that question was coming eventually. So I told him. "First, I would say that you took the easy way out, VERY uncharacteristic of Yukishiro Enishi."
He did not react.
"Then, I would tell everyone else, that I met a man who lived through pain and sorrow, as long and as honorably as he could."
"How dramatic," was all he said.
I kneeled by him, and patted his knee. I tried to give my happiest, most reassuring smile. "Hey. We'll find that answer, together, alright?"
"It's none of your business," he mumbled.
"Sure it is, Yukishiro-san. Because we're friends."
I must've said something right. He sat up, and looked at me. He gave me a harrumph and a grin. Just about enough thanks I was ever going to get.
"Who told you we're friends, Seta?"
He knuckled my head weakly.
"Saitou gave you the money, right? I'm hungry. Let's get some ramen."
And that was that. Everything was back to normal.
I guess he's right. It will happen someday. Something will happen, and one of us will be down for the count, and he won't come back. One of us will be killed.
But until then, I'll put up with him. Because no matter how much we refuse to admit it, we need each other. For reasons we don't exactly know.
I'll stay with him, until the end. Because he's my friend.
I tried to sound as close as possible to XD's Soujirou, which I realized only lately is slightly different from the way I characterize Jiro. I hope I did it right.
The basic idea I got from one of the many Sherlock Holmes cases (don't ask me which, it's been too long since I read them). The Strand would already be publishing the Sherlock Holmes stories around the timeframe I estimate Shadow/Twilight is placed. I tried taking Eni-chan's point of view, but it wouldn't form in my head, so it turned out this way. And I couldn't do it within the built story, for fear of messing up the characterization of all the Chinese people XD had made. ) I hope you liked it, and thanks for reading.