Surprised to see an update? You're not alone - so am I! But as I've said before, I want to finish this story by hook or by crook and this is my attempt to. Being stuck at home on a rainy night helps too...
I fixed some loopholes and timing mistakes in the previous chapters. I'm aware that this story is pretty flawed in terms of all the nitty-gritty details, especially regarding the sequence of events in the flashbacks. I'd really appreciate it if more are pointed out - so if you notice any, thank you and do let me know!
Too Into You
Chapter Seven: Dawning
Satoe had managed to shorten the suspect list once more by crossing off two more party guests – Natsuko and Hiroaki. Fortunately for both of them, they had perfect alibis. Hiroaki had gone to a bar with some friends after leaving the party early, while Natsuko had met up with a few close girlfriends. Furthermore, both of them had left the party early - way before the tragedy had taken place. Natsuko had offered the reason behind her early departure through flowing tears – she had been more than annoyed at her eldest son, and it caused her more grief than ever that that was how their final parting had taken place.
Saturday, 3rd May, 2009 – 5:21pm
Satoe held the report holding the results of the fingerprint testing in his hands, heading for the interrogation room where Yagami Taichi was waiting. There were a whole array of fingerprints on the key, as to be expected. The Takaishis', Yamato and Sora's, the staff – including Miyako and Daisuke, and many more... very bizarrely though, two sets stood out – that of Ichijouji Ken's and Kido Jyou's.
The two of them were guests at the party – well, the former was uninvited, which made it even more suspicious. Why would Ken's fingerprints be on the Ishidas' personal key? He was merely someone who had sneaked in for a one-night fling with the maid. Kido proved suspicious too - but then, he was a close friend. He could have held or touched the key for some other reason. Perhaps he had been in their room recently. Whatever it was, Satoe was determined to find out soon.
Entering the room, Satoe found Taichi staring into space, lost in thought. He cleared his throat and the messy-haired young man looked up, offering the officer a small smile as he stood up to shake Satoe's hand.
The initial questions were cleared smoothly. Satoe was glad to see a lack of bad attitude for a change – Miyako and Daisuke had really irked him with the way they had acted during their interrogations. He was really not looking forward to the upcoming one with Miyako's lover.
"Mimi and I left some time after Kido Jyou came back for his wallet," Taichi offered. "We were all helping him to look for it, and then we finally found it in the bathroom," he chuckled lightly at the memory. "Probably the most light-hearted moment of that night…"
"I heard, from one of the other guests…" Satoe looked straight into Taichi's eyes, "that you had a fight with Yamato?"
Taichi sighed, pushing back his fringe as he leaned back against his chair. "Yes. Yes, I did. God, it was stupid. I punched him in the face. Didn't take too long for him to retaliate. It felt just like High School…" A strange expression crossed Taichi's features in that instance. Was it nostalgia? "... except different."
"What was the reason behind the fight?"
"Yamato was coming on to my girlfriend," Taichi's voice took on an edge. "I couldn't believe my eyes. Yamato is – was – my best friend since High School. He may have changed a lot since then, but I never thought that he could do something like that. It was pure betrayal."
Satoe raised an eyebrow.
"Wait a second," Taichi looked up suddenly, eyes growing wide. "You're thinking that this provides a possible reason behind Yamato and Sora's murders, right? That's insane!" He shook his head vehemently. "I would never hurt Yamato to that extent. I still think of him as my brother, even after everything that has happened. You don't know how devastated I was when I heard the news! And Sora – why would I want to hurt Sora?"
"Please calm down, Mr. Yagami," Satoe placated. "Every single person on the guest list may be the killer. This is just standard protocol, so you have to bear in mind that we are just taking extra care to note down anything any of you say during these sessions."
Taichi was silent for a minute. Satoe looked down at his clipboard, another question ready on his lips, when Taichi suddenly spoke. "I have an alibi."
"You do?" Satoe looked up. If what Taichi was saying was true, this meant that they could narrow down the list of suspects even further - and get to the murderer faster.
"Yes, we do - Mimi, too. Tachikawa Mimi. We left around eleven, after Jyou's wallet was found, like I said just now. Only Jyou, Iori, Takeru and Hikari were left by that time. After that, we went to our favourite desserts shop. It's the one just across Odaiba Supermart – Amae Sweets Shop. We're regulars there and the shop assistants all know us by first name," Taichi drew in a breathe. "It's a 24-Hour shop; we were there until about 4am. You can ask any of them, they'll know we were there."
Satoe nodded in acknowledgement, having taken all these down. "Alright. One last question before you can go. Did you see anything suspicious there, Mr. Yagami? At the party?"
Taichi bit his lip. "Well, I hate to tell tales like this… but Koushirou – Izumi Koushirou, he seemed really down that night. He kept hanging around Sora that night - didn't socialize with the rest of us at all. Well - he's always been a bit weird."
"Weird?" Satoe cocked his head to one side in question.
Taichi nodded. "He's just always kind of… alone. All by himself. He's a bit strange around Mimi, too. He was hanging out by himself at the party, and I only saw him talk to Mimi and Sora. Plus, he seems really scared of Yamato. But who knows why? I'm not that familiar with the guy."
They had come to the end of the interrogation. As Satoe saw Taichi out, he knew what his next task was – to contact Amae Sweets Shop right away, and hopefully, be able to potentially cross two more people off the list.
One hour later, Satoe put the receiver of his phone back into the cradle, satisfied. He had dispatched two of his men down to Amae Sweets Shop for questioning, and it appeared that Yagami had not been lying. The two of them had been there the whole night. The attentive shop assistant had even offered to list out what the two of them had ordered – not like that would have been of much help, but it was always nice to meet such obliging and helpful citizens, Satoe mused. The staff would still have to come down for a more official questioning, but it appeared that he could potentially cross the couple off – potentially being the word. Satoe had been in the circuit long enough to know that anything could happen in cases like these.
Sunday, 4th May, 2009 – 1:25pm
There were many perks to working as a police officer. It was an exciting life. One of the biggest downfalls of his job, however, was having to work on weekends.
Ichijouji Ken – this guy was famous. He came from one of the richest families in Japan, he was smart, and of course it helped that he wasn't bad-looking. He had arrived at the station dressed immacutely, in a well-pressed light blue shirt and fitted pants. His expression was guarded and unreadable. Satoe had the feeling that the man was highly embarrassed and was trying not to show it.
"There's no point in telling any more lies, Mr. Ichijouji," Satoe said, sitting down in front of the indigo-haired young man. "I don't think it will help your case, especially given the very strange fact that you were in the Ishida household without being invited. What were you up to? Tell me everything."
Ken hesitated before speaking. His voice, even now, rang of confidence and certainty – he was someone used to things going his way. The slight tremor beneath it gave him away, however. For the first time in his life, Ichijouji Ken felt frightened and unsure. This was a situation that money would not get him out of.
"Miyako asked me to meet her that night. It was the perfect opportunity; we don't get to meet much, and everyone in the house was going to be preoccupied with the party so we could have the other rooms to ourselves," Ken sighed. "I waited near the house around 7.40pm. She finished her duties at around 8.15pm and went to fetch me. We sneaked in through the back door.
"Miyako decided on the broom cupboard and I guess it was the best place – inconspicuous, nobody would think of checking there. We were – well – we were just about to get started – " Ken reddened significantly but did not pause in his speech, " – when this guy walked in on us. Turned out he was just one of the staff. The head cook or whatever."
Satoe nodded the dismissive way Ken mentioned Daisuke, as though he was someone of no significance or importance.
"It was really annoying. I had been trying so hard to keep our relationship under wraps and now someone had found out about it! Miyako explained everything to him, I couldn't bring myself to… and that Daisuke guy turned out to be pretty helpful. He agreed to help cover for us and he even helped to sneak us out later on. He left us to it after his - er, interruption, and didn't come back until much later. I don't really remember the time but it must have been around 3am. He sneaked me out through the same way I came in – the back door, and I hailed a cab home." Ken looked up eagerly. "Hey, I remember the cab company and the name of the driver. That helps my case, doesn't it?"
Satoe nodded slowly. "It may. Provide me the details after this." Ken's explanation was detailed but there were still questions. How had his fingerprints gotten onto the key? Had he and Miyako really stayed in the cupboard for hours, never leaving until 3am? And importantly, Sora had been brought to the hospital at 3.35am. The hospital was a fifteen minute ride away, meaning that the timings were really close, since Ken had sneaked out around that time too. It was highly probable that the three of them could have seen something.
Satoe fixed a steely look on Ken, who shrank back involuntarily. "You are telling me the two of you stayed in the cupboard for five hours, never leaving? Am I supposed to believe that?"
Ken bit his lips. "It – it's true, Officer. We – we didn't just get physical. We talked too," Ken sighed. "Miyako wanted to talk about our future. She's hard to deter that way. And then she fell asleep. I didn't want to wake her up…" A small smile played across his lips.
Satoe looked at him intently. "The two of you seem close."
Ken looked up, startled, and something flashed across his eyes. "Um, well, we've broken up since." Then he stifled a groan, wondering what had possessed him to say that. What was he doing, exposing all his personal secrets to this unknown officer? This was definitely not helping his case…
"Back to the questions," Satoe said briskly. Without further ado he held up a ziplock bag which contained the key. Ken stared at it, his eyes widening. "This key has your fingerprints on it. Do you have any idea what it unlocks?"
Ken's mouth dropped open. The yawning silence lasted for more than a minute and just as Satoe was getting impatient, Ken nodded resignedly. "The Ishidas' bedroom."
"So you are saying you entered their bedroom?"
"N-no!" Ken's face reddened once more. "See, there was one detail I missed out just now. Miyako and I did leave the cupboard once…"
Satoe's eyes narrowed.
"I'm sorry! I…" Ken looked increasingly flustered. "It was a stupid idea. See, we thought it would be safer if we locked the Ishidas in their own room until I left. We went to their bedroom. It was scary, okay? What if they saw us? I've heard that the Yamato guy was someone you should NOT mess with. Anyway, we went to the room and the key was there, in the lock. I was going to turn it when we heard voices inside. Sora and Yamato weren't the only ones in their room. There were other guests inside too. They were saying something about how they should be leaving, and we heard footsteps approaching… and I just panicked. I…"
"Yes?" Satoe prompted coolly, wondering how it was possible that Ken had conveniently forgotten to mention this vital piece of information earlier.
"I pulled out the key by accident and Miyako was all like, 'Let's go, Ken! We gotta go!' So I just threw it on the floor and we ran off. It was a very close shave."
Satoe nodded. Ken was a convincing speaker, but like all the others his words were to be taken with a pinch of salt. The guy was a bit too much of a smooth talker for his liking. "Alright, one last thing. You say that you sneaked out at 3am. Did you not meet anyone along the way? As you should probably know, Takenouchi Sora was taken to the hospital at around that time."
Ken shook his head firmly. "No, Officer. I'm positive. We met nobody along the way. I left from the back door, though. Maybe whoever took Sora brought her through another exit?"
Outside the station, Ken leaned against a pillar, closing his eyes and feeling the brilliant sunshine on his face. He couldn't help feeling as though he had screwed up during the interrogation. He had never seen that look in anyone's eyes before. Officer Satoe had looked at him as though he was someone who should not be trusted. It unnerved him – heck, he was usually the one dishing out looks to other people, after all.
His hand closed around his phone. He was itching to call her, and he didn't know why. He really shouldn't. This relationship had been a big mistake to begin with. It was better off like this – ended.
He found himself dialling her number anyway.
Thursday, 23rd April, 2009 –10:45pm: Ishidas' Residence
"Keep in touch," Mimi whispered as she put her arms around Sora. The two shared a tight embrace before breaking apart, trying to ignore the fact that their partners were both staring daggers at each other.
"Come on, Taichi, let's go. Didn't you want some dessert?" Mimi beamed her biggest at Taichi, linking her arm through his. His gaze softened at once – her desired effect, the one she never failed to produce when she bestowed that smile on him.
"We'll see you out," Yamato said gruffly, apparently attempting to neutralize the tension. Mimi smiled weakly in thanks and Taichi merely nodded his acknowledgement, a muscle jumping in his jaw.
"Who could that be?" Sora frowned, surprised. She made for the door, but Yamato held her back.
"I'll get it," he said.
The door opened to reveal Kido Jyou standing at the doorstep, looking highly embarrassed.
"Jyou!" Sora exclaimed. "What brings you back?"
"This is really stupid, but I think I left my wallet somewhere in your house," Jyou answered as she led him in. "I must have left it on the couch. I'm really sorry. I'll just go grab it and…"
"It's no problem at all, Jyou," Sora told him as he hurried over to the chairs, patting the spot where he had sat on and turning over the cushion.
"It's not here…"
Yamato, Taichi and Mimi wandered over too, joining in the search-fest and turning over all the cushions there were on the couch. Iori, Takeru, Hikari and Takuya, who had been talking quietly amongst themselves in a corner, walked over too, looking bemused.
"Jyou's lost his wallet," Yamato explained, shaking his head at the bespectacled man with a smirk. "And I always thought you were the smart one!"
"We'll help to look," Mimi offered; Hikari nodded in agreement as she put Takuya down.
"I'll help too!" The little boy cried happily, earning chuckles from the small group – the atmosphere lightened almost at once, and Sora broke into a genuine smile, one of the very few she had given away that night. She touched Yamato lightly on the shoulder.
"We'll go look in the kitchen, and the bathroom, and of course the living room here. These are all the rooms Jyou have been to tonight, so it has to be in one of them."
Jyou gave a brief description of his wallet and everyone dispersed. Heading to the corridor that connected the living room and the main bathroom, Jyou kept his eyes on the ground, looking left and right, trying not to feel too embarrassed at the ruckus he had caused.
Jyou looked around, surprised. Takuya stood in front of him, staring at him out of his huge blue eyes. His fist was clenched tightly over something while his other hand scratched at his right leg.
"I feel itchy here," Takuya said suddenly, rolling up his jeans to show him his freshly-bandaged wound. "I heard from Uncle Yamato that you wanted to be a doctor but you gave up. Can you make it not itchy for me?"
Something flared inside Jyou, as it always did when he heard his name and the word "doctor" used in the same line of speech. He tried his best to quell it down. Takuya was a little kid. He didn't know any better.
Kneeling down so that he was eye to eye with Takuya, he pressed down on the sides of the wound. "Just press the sides, around the injured part, like this. Gently," he added. "Don't scratch, because it won't heal that way. Pressing does the trick. Got that?" He smiled as Takuya began imitating him at once.
"You're right! It feels better now," Takuya giggled, jumping up in delight. Jyou watched him with a smile. Children – free of troubles and burdens, full of dreams and fantasies. He felt a fleeting, sudden yearning for his past, a feeling he wasn't altogether unfamiliar with these days.
"What is that in your hand, Takuya?" Jyou gestured to the boy's fist.
A guilty look flashed across the little boy's face. "I didn't take it on purpose! I found it there," he pointed at a large door on their left and as he did so, something shiny fell out off his opened fist and onto the carpet.
Jyou picked it up, turning it over. "A key, Takuya? This belongs to Uncle Yamato and Auntie Sora. You shouldn't be taking their things without asking them."
"I'm sorry," Takuya whispered, "but it's pretty. I'll put it back. Can you please don't tell my mummy?"
As if on cue, Hikari's ringing voice reached their ears. "TAKUYA! Where are you? I told you not to leave mummy's side or you won't get ice-cream tomorrow!"
Takuya sprang up at once, their conversation a few seconds ago forgotten. "I'm coming, mummy! I'm coming!" He cried, his little legs carrying him as fast as he could to the source of the voice.
Jyou watched him run off, a small smile playing on his lips. Kids, he mused to himself, turning the key over in his hands. They don't know how lucky they are.
Isn't Ken annoying? Ha ha. Next chapter will be up... goodness knows. Hopefully soon! :)