Yo, mina-san! It's me again. Thought you were rid of me, weren't you? Haha. Too bad! I'm back with another installment of Ubiquitous. The last chapter was well received, and I truly appreciate all of your patience.
So I preordered the Attack on Titan part one today with birthday money. I'm so excited it's not describable with words. *squeals excitedly*
Great – Takagi is always my hero. :D He's my favorite character (besides KID). And I may just throw in that kiss. XD Thanks for reviewing, and enjoy!
Freefan1412 – Dropping hints all over the world? Well, my readers are intelligent group of folks, aren't they? Hehe, thanks for reviewing! Enjoy the update!
June2000 – I'm glad you decided to read it, too. ;) It means a lot, and it's always good to try something you think you won't like. So here's to hoping the next chapter is just as good. :) Enjoy!
Guest – Sorry I take so long; I do have a life outside of fanfiction (unfortunately. If I had the choice I would live this story every day of the year). I'll try to update quicker next time. In the meantime, please enjoy!
Fj – Wait no more! Enjoy! :D
Chapter 11 – In Which Takagi-Keiji Makes a Discovery
"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact."
- Sherlock Holmes, The Bascombe Valley Mystery
Takagi Wataru was tired. Hattori-kun's disappearance was weighing on his mind, and not even looking at Satou could cheer him up. The bags under his eyes betrayed his lack of sleep, and if that didn't then his slurred speech and distracted attention gave it away. His coworkers not on the Umbra case sympathized for him, but nothing they suggested worked, and the weary homicide detective was left to his own devices.
Takagi was currently seated at his desk at HQ, the map given to the detectives by Kudo-kun unfurled in front of him. The teen genius's crisp handwriting detailed the crime scene locations, a red dot in each country where a body had fallen. The crime scenes were indeed moving west, just as Kudo had said, and Takagi reasoned it wouldn't be long before someone was found in Japan.
Takagi scratched at his hair, closing his strained eyes for a few moments. When they opened again, he saw a cup of coffee being offered to him by none other than Satou-san, seated on the corner of his desk and smiling encouragingly.
"Satou-san," Takagi said, taking the cup gratefully. He inhaled deeply the scent of warm coffee, one cream and two sugars. His partner knew him well. "You're here early."
"Speak for yourself," she said, and took a gulp of her own coffee. "You've been here at seven every day for the past several. Don't you ever sleep?"
Takagi sat back in his chair, one finger absentmindedly stroking the warm Styrofoam. "I can't sleep," he admitted. "This case has got me baffled, and having worked with Hattori-kun before… it hits a little closer to home."
"Take it easy," the female detective encouraged. "There's no case we can't solve."
Takagi looked up at her, wondering how on earth she could smile confidently like that despite the circumstances. And then he realized that was one of the reasons why he loved her. She truly was something to look at, with her hastily combed dark hair and slim fingers elegantly bringing her drink to her lips. Her mussed and partially ungroomed physique made her look all the more beautiful in his eyes. Takagi had to suppress the urge to just stand up and kiss her. After all… he typically wasn't the one who initiated the kisses in the first place, and shouldn't he wear the pants in the relationship sometimes?
At that moment, Megure walked in and interrupted Takagi's thoughts. The younger detective must have had a strange look on his face, because Megure eyed him confusedly before speaking, his voice low with remorse. "Sato-keiji, Takagi-keiji. Umbra has struck again."
The rotund inspector may have been addressing two of the best on his force, but the moment the words left his mouth, the entire precinct went deathly quiet. A pen rolled off the table and hit the ground like a gunshot. Takagi nearly lost his grip on his coffee, while Sato's fingers tightened around her cup.
"Who?" Takahashi asked, breaking the silence as he joined Megure.
"Hannah Moore," Megure said gravely, "Age seventeen. American. She was found yesterday in Madagascar, off the coast of South Africa."
Takagi could feel the blood slowly drain from his face, making his entire body feel ice cold. When would this monster be satisfied!? He already had Hattori in his clutches; why? Why keep going after more detectives? In weeks before Hattori's disappearance, they had always found the previous body before another kidnapping occurred. Umbra was breaking his MO.
Unless Hattori was already dead and they just hadn't found him yet? Takagi didn't want to think about that, but he couldn't rule it out until he was absolutely certain the Japanese detective was alive.
Megure pinched the bridge of his nose. "I've called Kudo-kun, but he didn't pick up. I left a message and I'll wait for his response. In the mean time, go ahead and mark Antananarivo, Madagascar on the map Kudo gave us."
Takagi sucked on his bottom lip as he reached across the desk to grab a red sharpie. Uncapping it and bringing it toward him, he accidentally crushed his half-empty Styrofoam coffee cup between his chest and the desk, sending the lukewarm drink across the tabletop and staining his shirt.
Takagi jumped, snatching the map off the desk and saving most of it from the staining coffee. Sato scrambled for napkins somewhere, while Takahashi snorted in the background. Sato used paper towels from the bathroom to pat down the growing stain on her partner's shirt, not appearing to notice the red that suddenly tinted his cheeks. But the male detective was suddenly distracted as he stared at the map above his head.
A light red mark, probably left from his sharpie when he jumped up, stretched from Greenland to Nicaragua, near the dots that marked where the Spanish and Russian victims had been found. His eyes traced the line back and forth, his mind's rusted gears finally getting a nice dose from the oilcan. Takagi didn't know why he suddenly moved away from Sato, running to Shiratoshi's occupied desk.
Ignoring the protests from his superior officer, Takagi laid the map on top of the other's paperwork and thickened the line already there. He next drew a line from the dot on Mexico to the dot on Canada, then Canada to America, and America back to Greenland.
By now all the homicide detectives had gathered around, watching their colleague work with such an intense gaze, they didn't dare interrupt him. Even Shiratoshi closed his mouth and observed quietly. Takagi could feel their presence around him, but he continued to attack his task with diligence.
When he finished, hand aching, his coworkers gathered around to observe his work. "An 'M'?" Sato said, voicing everyone's thoughts.
A giant red M was drawn all across North and Central America, connecting the dots Kudo had placed.
"I don't understand," Shiratori murmured.
Takagi didn't completely understand either, but he did his best to explain. "When I jumped back just now, the red sharpie I had drew a line from here to here." Takagi pointed at Greenland and Nicaragua. "And then I remembered what Kudo said about the crime scenes moving from the west and going east. The first detective, Sung Wang Ming, was found in here in Mexico, and the second in around there in Canada. So why was the United States skipped until the third, even though it directly borders Mexico? Because then the shape would be distorted."
"Oh, I see!" Sato exclaimed, catching on. "Umbra is spelling a word across the map with the locations of his victims' crime scenes!"
Takagi smiled. He was glad his partner and caught on quickly.
"Shiratori!" Megure ordered. "Which detectives were found next?"
As Shiratori rattled off the names, Takagi connected the dots. Venezuela, Peru, Argentina and Brazil formed an "O" in South America. Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, and finally Madagascar created and enormous "R" across Africa.
"M-O-R…" Takagi muttered, drawing back his ink-stained hand. What could it mean?
Megure pulled out his cell phone, dialing quickly. "Please pick up…" he murmured deeply, and when the person on the other end answered, a sigh of relief swept over his features. "Oh, Kudo-kun! Did you get my last message? – Yes, good. Takagi made an important discovery – I don't know how, but – Yes. – Okay, I'll put him on."
Takagi took the cell phone gingerly, raising it to his ear. "Hello?"
"Takagi-keiji." Kudo Shinichi sounded winded, like he had just run a marathon. "Please, don't ask about me right now. What have you found?"
Takagi closed his mouth, his question of the teen's condition dying on his lips. He cleared his throat and reiterated everything he had explained before to his coworkers, about the coffee spill and accidental red mark, and how he connected the dots to form M-O-R. Shinichi listened without interrupting, and when Takagi finished, he let out a breathless laugh.
"You're truly amazing, keiji," he said. "Do you know what it means?"
"There's no way to know," Takagi said dejectedly. "There are seven continents. Europe, Asia, and Australia remain untouched. And with Hattori still missing, I'm almost certain that there will be more killings. And it will start in Europe."
"That's reasonable," Shinichi agreed. "We can assume there are three more letters in the word, assuming Antarctica is too desolate for a body to be found. I'm guessing Europe is next, since our killer is moving across the globe in an orderly fashion. Inform all countries west of Algeria first; it's logical to assume that Umbra will start again west to east. Any news on Hattori?"
Shinichi's breathing hitched for a second. "He's still alive."
"We can't confirm that –"
Takagi cast a worried look into the receiver, even though he knew Kudo couldn't see him. The boy's voice was strained and emotionally weak; clearly suffering the loss of his best friend. "You're right," the homicide detective relented. "Hattori's alive. And we'll find him."
"Well if that's all…"
"Wait, Kudo! I think Megure-keibu wants to tal –"
But Kudo Shinichi had hung up.
There was silence amongst the first division as Takagi explained what Shinichi had said while he returned his senior officer's mobile. The shock of Hannah Moore's death and Takagi's discovery had left them all dumbfounded and slow on the uptake. Finally, Shiratori took the initiative and phoned Super Intendant Matsumoto, relaying the most recent lead in the Umbra investigation.
Takagi found a spare chair against the wall and sat in it, finally registering the large coffee stain on his shirt breast. He picked tiredly at the cloth, but soon lost interest and leaned his head against the wall.
"Nice work, Takagi-kun," said Satou, sitting next to her partner. She put a hand on his knee reassuringly. Takagi was too tired to react, but he side-eyed her with a weary smile.
"You should get some rest," he said.
"And what do you think you're going to do?"
"I'm going to get another coffee and start figuring out what the last three letters are."
Satou furrowed her brow. "Like hell you are. Come on, I'll drive you home. Leave it to Takahashi or Shiratori. I think you've done your fair share today."
Takagi swallowed. He knew deep down that his partner was right, (and that she looked so adorable when she was worried) but he could just go home when there was more work to be done. But he was a slave to her eyes, and he finally allowed Satou to drive him home.
He shuffled to the front door, pulling the house key from his pocket. As he turned to say goodbye, he suddenly found Satou's face ridiculously close to his own, and before he could react, she pressed her lips to his cheek, and giggled at the red on his face. Takagi was used to such contact since he and Satou had begun going out, but he was positive he would never get used to how she could surprise him like that.
"Have a good nap, Tantei-kun," she smiled, and returned to her car.
Takagi jerked himself back into motion and let himself into his house, slipping his shoes off and collapsing on the couch. Within minutes, Takagi was snoring.
Hello! Thanks for reading! I hope everyone enjoyed/is enjoying their Spring Break, I know I am! Thanks for all your continued support, and don't forget to review! Remember, a minimum of five get you the next chapter!
Coming Up: Chapter 12 – In Which Shinichi Receives a Letter