An Open Book

Summary: Just when he thought everything in life was almost blissfully perfect, a short trip to the supermarket forces him to think twice.

Disclaimer: I don't own Library Wars/Toshokan Sensou. It belongs to its rightful owner. Also, the events in this story are all made up, and not based on anything else.

Chapter 4: A Frightening Coincidence

"-about the attack as well as the recent chain of missing people in the streets of our city." The news anchor spoke grimly as she looked into the camera. "Yamamoto-san, why don't you elaborate on the details?"

The screen switched to a news reporter standing outside as floods of people rushed back and forth behind him. "Thank you very much, Kobayashi-san," he said before speaking to the audience. "As you can see, tons of people pass by this spot every day. However, at night, this area is significantly quieter, which is why crimes can occur without anybody noticing." He gestured to his left, and the camera followed his movements, revealing a park area that was blocked off on all sides with police 'do-not-cross' tapes. Dozens of policemen and figures of authority were present.

"The victim this time, a 24-year old woman, was believed to have been lured into the area and stabbed sometime last week. Strangely though, she was seen entering her apartment afterwards while injured, and later disappeared. The weapon used in the attack was hidden under a bush, and nobody discovered it until last night. Although the police refused to disclose any vital information…"

Iku stared at the screen in a daze and was still holding the remote in her hand. Behind her, Shibasaki sat comfortably sipping from the fresh cup of tea she cuddled within her palms. On an ordinary week day, the two would wake up at around 6:00 am, and turn on the television as they prepared for work. However, on this particular day, the news was already full of reports about the recent string of strange events happening in their city. For several months, many people had gone missing, but this was the first time a person had been confirmed dead. As pictures of missing people appeared on the screen, Iku scrunched her eyebrows together.

"Really, I wonder what's going on…" The whisper was quiet, but Shibasaki's sharp hearing picked it up.

She continued to nonchalantly sip her tea, checking the tip of her nails while doing so. "This has nothing to do with the Library Force. Leave it to the police to figure it out." For once, she didn't seem to have an interest with the things going on in the world.

Iku turned to her roommate. "It's rare of you to not want to get your hands on all the information you can…aren't you curious at all? Or worried about your own safety when you go out at night? I mean, it did happen in a neighbourhood close to this area." Although observation was not her forte, she focused her eyes on Shibasaki in an attempt to decipher every expression she showed.

"Shouldn't you be worried about getting yelled at again?"

Catching a glimpse at the clock out of the corner of her eye, Iku whipped her head to look at it clearly, hoping, no, praying that what her eye was telling her was wrong. It wasn't.

"You're going to be late if you don't leave this minute, Kasahara."

"What about you?!"

Shibasaki was still sitting down and looking extremely relaxed. She grinned as she watched Iku scamper around their room and mutter to herself. "I have a day off, remember?"

As Iku randomly dragged out work clothes from her messy wardrobe, her mind was filled to the brim with all kinds of punishments she'd have to face if she were to be late again. What is it going to be today? Extra laps during training? A hundred push-ups? Knowing Doujou, he wasn't about to let it go that easily.

The weather seemed especially chilly as she stepped through the entrance of the dorms. The wind was so strong it caused her to falter in her steps as she wrapped her scarf tighter around her neck. It wasn't unusual for the weather to suddenly change within a couple of days, but Iku frowned when she remembered how strong the wind was the week before. That morning, Shibasaki had come extremely close to finding the letter that Tezuka Satoshi had so cheerfully written to her. In a state of panic, she grabbed it from her and slipped it in the pocket of her jacket, stuttering something about it being the letters from her parents and brothers.

After work, she realized that she had forgotten to find a new hiding place for it. When she reached inside her pocket, it was gone. Maybe it fell out of my pocket on the way to work, and the wind blew it far away where no one will ever see it. But even as she consistently told that to herself, she knew it was a slim chance of that happening. Iku had spent an hour in the dorm searching high and low for the letter, only to be disappointed in the end. She would've invested more time in looking for it if she didn't already have plans that night.

The sight of civilians starting to enter the library reminded her that there was no time to worry about other problems. She broke into a run.

Iku opened the door to the office just a crack, enough for her to check if Doujou was in sight. What she saw was a group of the task force members gathered in the middle. They seemed to be discussing something serious. Even Komaki, who often has a smile on his face (especially when planning out a prank for other members) was looking especially grim. Wonder what's happening here?

"Exactly how long are you planning to stand there, Kasahara?"

For a second, she thought it was Doujou from the tone of voice. But when she turned around, she came face to face with Tezuka, who was in fact looking quite annoyed. She breathed a quick sigh of relief.

"Go-good morning, Tezuka!" She grinned a bit nervously.

He looked at her strangely, as if he was trying to figure out what was happening in her head. It only lasted a couple of seconds, and he shrugged as if he couldn't care less. "You're blocking the entrance."

"Oh, sorry!" She quickly shifted out of the way to let him through. After looking around to check once again if Doujou was in sight, she followed Tezuka inside.

"...I can't even let my daughters out of the house without feeling worried anymore," one of the task force members were saying. The others nodded in agreement, each looking more anxious by the moment.

"The police are saying that they'd have more people patrolling the neighbourhoods around here more often, but I really wonder if that'll do any good."

"How long will the investigation continue, anyway?"

"There are a lot of strange things about that news report too."

"Just watch. The media will put the blame on books again."

Iku completely forgot about being late again when she realized that the group was discussing the events on the news this morning. Even her co-workers were worried about it. Why wasn't Shibasaki? She didn't have time to ponder over that thought when Major Genda and Doujou entered the room. She quickly stiffened, waiting for the usual bark from Doujou about her tardiness. Surprisingly, it never came.

Instead he directed a question towards the group. "The attack last week…where was it?"

It was Komaki who answered. "In Hizashi park, near the playground area I believe."

Iku's eyes widened at the name. Hizashi park….that's where I met up with Takashi last week. It was...when was it again? She remembered she sent a text to him that day as she was leaving the dorms. Quickly reaching into her pocket, she bit her lip anxiously.

Behind her, she could hear Doujou continuing to ask questions about the news. "It was at night correct? When was the woman attacked?"

Iku opened the text messages inbox and clicked on Takashi's name. The last message I sent him, let see, it was on….the twenty-thir-

Komaki answered, "On the 23rd."

Author's Notes: For some reason, this chapter was a bit hard to write, so sorry for the delay! Please review~