Notes: This is a fic of the Japanese drama Galileo, starring Fukuyama Masaharu and Shibasaki Kou. The original drama was quite lighthearted and humorous, and I enjoyed it very much, but as always I've wanted to take it to darker areas, so that's how this fic came to be.
M rating to be safe, mostly for violence and some profanity. This will probably be quite a lot darker than any other Galileo fiction you may have come across before.
The lab was like a furnace these days, even though it was in the basement. The air was completely still, doing nothing to lower the suffocating temperature of the room. The air conditioner was broken, and the fan seemed to be almost at the end of its life, as well. Even so, Yukawa Manabu had stayed to work late today, instead of retreating into the comfort of his air-conditioned apartment. He normally didn't sweat so much – he preferred heat over the cold – but now, just having a lab coat on was an agony. Creating two layers of clothes on his body did nothing to help him cool down. Yukawa had discarded his waistcoat a while ago; his dress shirt was damp with perspiration, and the lab coat insulated it. But there was not much that could be done.
Yukawa wasn't an individual who let his physical discomforts slow his thinking down, however. Besides, he enjoyed this solitude; no one would tell him off for becoming absorbed in his thoughts, like what frequently happened during university hours. He might as well enjoy the little time he had to himself, he thought, since he had told Kuribayashi to arrive at the lab as early as possible to set up for a lab session. 'Early' by Yukawa's standards meant well before daybreak. None of the students in the room had missed Kuribayashi's horrified expression when he had heard Yukawa's request. He'd probably be going to bed at seven o'clock so that he could get enough sleep and still manage to come to the lab by five a.m.
Yukawa conducted several experiments, taking care so that he wouldn't contaminate any of the equipment and reagents with the moisture that was streaming down his face. He then recorded the data, his fingers flying across the laptop keyboard, matching the speed of the whirring gears of his brain. For a few minutes, Yukawa put on his glasses scrutinized the computer screen, sucking on an ice cream bar that one of his students had left him. It was much too warm for instant coffee… perhaps he could try the stuff cold? With a sigh, he tossed the stick that was left from the ice cream into the garbage, and leaned back in his chair, clasping his hands over his head.
"It was too humid today…" When there was no one else around, Yukawa tended to talk to himself. It helped him clear and organize his thoughts. He would have to do several more trials of this particular experiment for more optimal results, perhaps next month, after the weather had cooled down. Meanwhile, he had no choice but to start a thesis from what he had…
As night fell, the heat of the room became a bit more bearable. For a moment, Yukawa paused and let himself drift off, staring out the window. He sighed again, listening to the sound of crickets chirping outside. He pictured the insects in the grass, rubbing their wings against each other to create the noise, attracting females… Normally, Yukawa wouldn't be thinking about bugs during the middle of his research. He wasn't feeling so simulated these days – life was so mundane, even more so than usual. The research he was being made to do currently failed to interest him. The papers he was to mark were dull and uninspired. Yukawa found himself almost wishing for a thought-provoking new case from the police for him to solve. But Utsumi Kaoru hadn't called him for several weeks now – it seemed like the police were coping well by themselves. Or perhaps there was a lack of crimes in Tokyo all of a sudden… He wouldn't know. But Yukawa did need some sort of exercise for his brain sooner or later, and he knew that this university wasn't going to provide it, if the past was any indicator.
He was feeling drowsy. Yukawa shook his head to clear it and spun around in his chair. Perhaps some coffee would do the trick? He stood, rolling his neck and shoulders to relax them, and went over to the sink. He poured himself some coffee mix into a relatively clean mug and boiled water in the kettle. While waiting, Yukawa checked his watch – only midnight. He added the water when the kettle began to whistle, then stirred. He took a sip from the mug and wiped his forehead with the sleeve of his lab coat. Ah, he already felt better…
Suddenly, the bleeping of a phone shattered the peaceful silence of the lab. Yukawa's brow immediately knitted in annoyance. Who sent text messages at this time of night? In particular, to Yukawa Manabu, who was known for not answering them? He strode to his desk where his mobile sat, picked the thing up and looked at the message. Utsumi Kaoru? Yukawa frowned, but felt a little thrill inside at the same time. A text from Utsumi probably meant a new 'impossible' case.
He punched in her name in his contacts list, and pressed 'call'. She picked up immediately. "Hello?"
"It's Yukawa," he answered. "Is there something I can do for you?"
"Oh, Sensei – I didn't mean to wake you– "
"It's fine. I'm still working." Yukawa cut her off. "I – "
"Oh, you are? This late? Are you still in the university?"
"Yes, but I wasn't expecting you to contact me at this time of night, either."
"I thought you'd see the message tomorrow morning at the earliest, so…"
"I'm assuming this isn't horribly urgent, then."
There was a sigh from Utsumi's side. "I guess not, but the faster we can deal with it, the better…"
Yukawa raised his eyebrows. "We?"
Yukawa could almost hear her annoyance and her rolling her eyes, from his end of the phone. "I'm sorry, Sensei, but I'm positive that this case will interest you. Besides, I heard things were getting boring for you over in Teito so I thought you'd appreciate something out of the ordinary to do."
Where did she hear that from? "I suppose you could say that." Yukawa chose to keep it short and simple. "So what is this new case you speak of?"
"Do you think I can come over right now? I know it's late, but I think it'll be easier to talk in person – "
"I agree. I'd like to save on my phone bill, as well. I'll be expecting you," Yukawa said promptly, and before Utsumi could reply, snapped his phone shut.
Utsumi arrived half an hour later. At her first tentative knock on the door, Yukawa answered, "Come in."
She was surprised that the lights weren't on in the lab, other than that of a small lamp on Yukawa's desk. She almost tripped over a stool as she made her way to him. "Sensei, what are you doing with all the lights off, anyways? Like a vampire," Utsumi grumbled. She would have flicked on the lights for dramatic effect but failed to find any near her.
Yukawa turned away from his computer, stood up, and came towards Utsumi with his hand raised. "Now, you're being illogical again, Utsumi-kun – just because I have the lights off, at night, for that matter, doesn't imply that I have vampyric tendencies. I merely believe that humans ought to be exposed to an appropriate amount of light and dark each day – "
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry," Utsumi waved her hand, shaking her head irritably. "I've got to run home soon, Sensei, so I'll just get straight to the point." Saying this, she took some files out of her oversized handbag. Handing one to Yukawa, she continued, "This isn't exactly an official case but I thought it deserves some attention."
"What made you think that?" Yukawa inquired, opening the folder. When his eyes fell on the photo clippings inside, he closed his mouth for a couple of seconds. Utsumi had no desire to see those again – they had sent Yuge to the waste bin even quicker than usual. They were snapshots of brutally mutilated animals, all differing in species and causes of deaths. There were small dogs, cats, birds, squirrels, even rats and possums. Some had been torn up into several pieces; others had been victim to even more unspeakable acts that had made even Jonouchi admit to feeling 'a little queasy'.
It seemed like the pictures had managed to land even the indomitable Yukawa a blow, as well. He studied them for the longest time before looking back up at Utsumi, who had been watching him with tightly compressed lips. Did he seem a little shaken, or was that just her imagination?
At last, he spoke - "So what are the details?"
Utsumi went on to explain that these animal corpses had been turning up in random places in the general Tokyo area – some in the streets, in alleyways, others in parks or in quieter areas of the city – for the past few weeks. At first, the police had turned a blind eye on them but when the number of animal victims continued to rise and rise, it was decided that they would look into it, but not as an official case, since it were not human casualties they were dealing with. But they had no leads at all – the scenes of the crimes, which outwardly appeared to be so messy, actually held no trace of anyone at all. They were extraordinarily well taken care of.
After listening to all this, Yukawa asked, "Then where am I supposed to come in? I don't see any aspect of the case that could possibly relate to physics; as a matter of fact, it seems fairly straightforward to me, if not unusual in the choice of victims. I understand that you're having difficulties locating a suspect but I'm afraid I won't be of help to you there."
"I know that – but Sensei, I have no idea where to start! My resources are limited as well because this isn't going to be a big enough case until we have a human casualty! And I mean, what sort of criminal attacks animals like this?" Utsumi shivered. "What can his motives possibly be?"
"Well, as I always say – "
"Yes, Sensei, I know you're not interested in motives…" Utsumi cut him off wearily.
"Yes. But," Yukawa pushed up his glasses with his forefinger, "looking at this case, the easiest way to go is to assume that the criminal's a sadistic bastard who thoroughly enjoys in engaging in this sort of activity. It's too illogical for me to ever understand, really – why anyone would go through so much trouble for hedonistic purposes – but that would be my guess."
"A sadist… yes, I've considered that." Utsumi murmured. "But why would he leave them on display in public areas like he does? He's just drawing attention to himself... Somehow I think there's something more behind this..."
"Of course, there may be other possibilities." Yukawa shrugged. "As disconcerting this case is, I have no way to help you. Not unless you come back with more data. Even if you do, it probably wouldn't be within my field of work, anyways." He put the file on his desk, went back to his chair and sat, spinning around to face the windows again.
Utsumi just stared at the file. She'd known Yukawa probably wouldn't provide her with much help for this one, but it was worth a try. Besides, it made her feel better to have conversed with him, at least. "… Sensei, can I have some coffee before I go?"
Without turning around, Yukawa replied, "Go ahead. You do look like you've been overworking yourself lately; I advise you to take it slowly."
Going to the coffee mix, Utsumi smiled. "Easy for you to say, Sensei."
"What makes you say that? You're making assumptions…"
For the next few minutes, the only sound in the lab was of Utsumi making and drinking her instant coffee at a lab bench (which, sadly, tasted just as bland as usual), and Yukawa's chair creaking as he rocked gently back and forth on it, still facing the window. The clock read one o' clock. It was quite peaceful in the lab.
It was one ten a.m. Outside, at the back gates of Teito University, a black van had pulled over, dropping off five figures before driving off again. One of them, a man of medium height wearing a dark jacket, put a clear plastic bag down against the gate. The other four seemed to watch; it was then something seemed to catch the attention of the man who had the bag. He looked towards the university, then made a motion with his hand to his companions. A moment's pause later, they entered the school.
If anyone looked closely, they would be able to see that the bag contained the messy remains of a small, furry animal, its identity unrecognizable in the state it was now in.