Disclaimer: Don't own Magic Kaitou or the characters.
Notes: This is a sequel to Heavy Silences, although it won't be nearly as long. If you haven't read it, this will spoil it for you. The first chapter should be up by Friday.
"Well, Inspector," says Superintendant Kamioka Masaru, the new head of Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Section Two. He's a small man with a pot belly that his dull suit does little to disguise, even behind his desk. His weak eyes stare at Nakamori from behind thick glasses while a scraggly moustache, obviously grown in a failed attempt at giving a dull face some character, twitches faintly. "Well, Inspector. I must say, you seem to have one of the most interesting portfolios in this section. It's certainly the longest running."
Nakamori, standing stiff in front of the desk with his arms clasped behind his back, says simply, "Yes, sir." Kamioka has a stack of files nearly a foot high on the desk beside him, plain evidence of his knowledge in this area. Or rather, of a heavy-handed attempt to convey it. Men who truly know a portfolio demonstrate it with questions and comments, not stage-props.
Kamioka has the same large south-facing office the former head of Section Two, Higashiyama, held until his quiet but hasty dismissal two months ago. However, it could have changed more. The glass-and-metal desk and matching modern furniture are gone, replaced by old oak and leather upholstery. The cold white blinds have been replaced by a warmer beige, and the bare linoleum floor covered by a dark blue carpet with subtle hints of a pattern around the borders. Higashiyama, who had a surfeit of personality, used his office to direct all attention to it and allow him greater control over his subordinates. Kamioka, who has none, is clearly using the space to create the illusion of it.
Had Kamioka been in another position, Nakamori would have been fatalistic. He's seen enough poor managers and witless administrators in his twenty years on the Force to be able to take another with equanimity. But the head of the second largest division in the Tokyo Metro is no place for a colourless puppet, and it's inconceivable that one could have gotten made it that far unless someone damn high up the food chain was pulling his strings.
That someone's leaning on Section Two is reason for concern, but Nakamori doesn't start to really worry until the Superintendant reaches out and uncovers a piece of paper from a shorter pile to his right and hands it to the inspector.
"Since your squad is so busy these days, you are being assigned a new officer. Lieutenant Iwada. Quite a strong officer, several impressive successes. I see – that is, he will be senior to your present lieutenant. Ookawa?"
"Oogawa, sir," says Nakamori, staring down at the paper in his hand with Iwada's particulars on it. He doesn't miss the Superintendant's slip, though, and wonders who drew up the report on this man. Wonders more strongly still who suggested he be moved to Nakamori's squad. "Thank you, sir. We can always do with more men," he adds, politely.
Kamioka looks mildly alarmed, and hurries to fend off future expectations. "Well, don't look for too many favours, Nakamori. This section isn't made of men, you know."
"Good, good. Yes, I think he will be a great help. It's time Kaitou Kid was behind bars."
The superintendent, Nakamori realises, is one of those men who can't seem to end an interview. Resisting the urge to sigh, he merely agrees. Kamioka eventually draws the interview to a vague conclusion, and Nakamori escapes from the stuffy office. Although he suspects Kamioka won't follow in Higashiyama's traditionalist objections to heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, it's unlikely the man's managed to find the requisition forms to install any temperature control in the office after only a week on the job. It's one policy that he hopes the new superintendent will change, but pessimistically believes the man will probably only bother dealing with it in his own office. The rest of them will have to wait until the building's blanket approval comes into effect in July.
Loosening his collar against the heat, he goes back to his section to inform the men of their new lieutenant.
Lieutenant Iwada reports for duty on the following Monday, in his street uniform. It's a tiny clue to the mystery of his appointment. Most men wear their formal gear for the first week or so of a new position. Iwada's not interested in making a good impression; he doesn't believe Nakamori will have any influence in his career. But Nakamori doesn't need to look at his clothes to tell that.
The inspector can read his attitude in the very first look the bulldog-faced man gives him. Bored, unimpressed, and malignant. Iwada isn't here to join the Squad. He's here for some other purpose entirely, although Nakamori's not sure what that might be. It would be easy enough to break up the Squad, or replace enough of its members to effectively create a new one. There's no reason to plant a single troublemaker. It's a mystery he's not pleased to have been handed.
Yamamoto comes to see his boss three days into Iwada's appointment, during lunch-hour when most of the men are down in the canteen or eating out of the building. His open face is unusually constrained, voice terse.
"Can I talk to you, sir?"
Nakamori, eating the bento Aoko made for him at his desk as always, looks up with a sausage halfway to his mouth and nods. "Grab a chair."
Yamamoto declines, but closes the door behind him and steps over to the desk. The man was one of the first recruits to the New Squad, and Nakamori privately considers him the best of the new bunch. Quick, intelligent and even-tempered, he also gets along well with the rest of the men. Team-work isn't necessarily a skill most coppers cultivate, but the Squad by its nature works closely together at all times. Considering the Old Squad was going for 12 years, Nakamori long ago learned the value of men who don't rock the boat. He lays down his chopsticks and leans forward to rest his wrists on the desk, listening.
"Some of the men have a small concern," he says, homely face careful. "Mostly Washio and myself," he adds, and Nakamori's brows draw together as he waits to see whether this specification is important. "It seems… we're wondering whether there are any changes being made. Whether… things are moving in another direction."
Nakamori has enough experience to know if the man had wanted to speak plainer, he would have. But still, he's not sure what's being hinted at. "I don't know of any change," he says slowly, waiting. Very few men in the Force, so rigorous in enforcing discipline and a firm line of command, would dare to complain outright to a senior officer about either orders or another man senior to them. If Yamamoto's come to do so, he's seriously worried.
"I know with the new superintendent some shifts are to be expected. It looks like we're in line for a little new support, which could be a lot of help, of course," hedges the sergeant. And Nakamori picks up the cue. Iwada.
"I haven't been informed of any changes," repeats Nakamori more firmly now that he knows what they're talking about. "That doesn't mean none are in store for us; we'll have to take what comes. But," he adds, considering Iwada's bulldog stare and Kamioka's vague blundering with narrowed eyes, "I don't intend to allow any of that pose a threat to this Squad."
Yamamoto nods, flushing slightly at his superior's conviction. "Thank you, sir."
Nakamori waves him off, and the sergeant goes off to his lunch. It's only later that he nails the connection between Yamamoto and Washio; the two men both served in Section One. The section with the sharpest, most dangerous cops. And the one dealing with the most brutal and deadly felons.
It's two days later that he works out simultaneously why Iwada's been assigned to the Squad and why they've been given a figure-head as superintendant. The answer arrives in a private letter from the head of the Tokyo Metro, written in an old man's crabby hand.
Tomorrow your squad's being awarded shoot-on-sight privileges with regards to Kaitou Kid. The formal order will come through in a few days. How you choose to handle that is your business, but half-measures have been deemed insufficient in this case. Whatever you do, I advise discretion.
Nakamori burns the letter at his desk, watching it curl into ashes and then crumble to dust in his ashtray.
He knows now that something is seriously wrong in the Tokyo Metro. He never thought he'd see the day he'd regret having more men, but Iwada isn't his man. He knows from the file and the man's behaviour that Lieutenant Iwada's driven, and an expert, and dangerous. And, as he outranks Oogawa, he's now in charge of a considerable amount of the Squad's affairs. And now the Squad is being given clearance – which means veiled urging – to bring Kid in using whatever means are necessary. Up to and including lethal force.
All this means that Kid has seriously pissed off someone pulling the strings of the Tokyo Metropolitan Department, and that someone has decided to bring all the power necessary to bear to swat Kid like a fly. That the potential scandal and the reaction of Kid's multitude of fans which would follow such a swatting are no deterrent means whoever it is is either confident his role in this will go unnoticed, or is confident he can cover it up. It's not Arakawa, and that means this has gotten political so fast Nakamori feels like he's got whiplash.
Nakamori will make it clear to Iwada he won't permit bloodshed, won't allow shots to be fired unless Kid fires first – which he never will – but he can see in the man's eyes he isn't there to follow Nakamori's orders; he heels to a different master.
Nakamori knows he's only been kept in place this long because it would raise eyebrows to remove him, and quite possibly because he could make a convenient scapegoat. Bumbling 20 year veteran causes death of moonlit thief.
Because that is what they want. Kaitou Kid dead. And Nakamori can't do a damn thing about it.
For the first time in his life, he dreads Kid's next notice.