tarmachan: (chase)
[personal profile] tarmachan
Continued from chapter 3, here.


 
“So what’s your medical analysis on our victim, Kuro-science?”
 
“Same as the other three.” Ignore the stupid nickname... “Stabbed through the back with one precise motion, piercing the heart. Death was pretty much instantaneous.” He reclined back against the wall, scratching his head. “It makes sense that she’d kill them from behind, seeing as how there was a risk of them overpowering her if it was a frontal assault. Still, it’s impressive that she had the strength to do this.”
 
“Mmm,” the consulting detective offered as a vague agreement, though he seemed to be somewhere else entirely. He had that distant look in his eyes, like he was processing every bit of data obtained since the morning, checking and rechecking the facts, lining up the truth piece by piece. His fingers toyed with the ten inch long knife that he’d returned with, twirling it around so that it caught the light and scattered sunbeams into Kurogane’s eyes. He could tolerate a lot from the sleuth, all his subtle annoyances, but after a few minutes of this he was ready to snap. Marching over before he really lost his cool, he snatched the deadly weapon from the blonde’s hands and took it back across the corridor, resuming his position against the wall.
 
They were currently waiting outside of the late Kakei Green’s flat, whilst forensics rummaged around the crime scene, for Inspector Doumeki to come and join them. As soon as the man had heard about the murder, he called with strict instructions not to leave until he got there, and for Kurogane to “make sure that carefree consultant doesn’t move an inch”- his analysis was required, as always, and he couldn’t do that if he was off “gallivanting across the city”. Whilst he leant against the inside wall, his carefree frustration of a partner was opposite him, elbows now resting on the high concrete railing behind him. The sun was beginning to dip low in the sky, invading blue with broad swathes of red and yellow. If the inspector didn’t get here soon, there was no way that he’d be able to keep the smaller man from taking off; Fai D. Fluorite was not a man to wait around idly when there was a puzzle to be solved.
 
“So are you going to tell me why you have this, or do I have to hand it to the SOCOs?”
 
His question (my desperate stalling for time, you mean) managed to get blue eyes to meet his own, though the distraction was still evident. The setting sun lit up his figure from behind, turning the edges of the blonde hair into a fiery golden aura, and for a moment Kurogane could have believed that the man standing before him was some sort of supernatural entity, come down to earth to bestow knowledge upon the ignorant. He was almost beautiful in his cold radiance, as the corners of his lips turned up into a small smile, though he gave no answer.
 
Even though they were two paces away from each other it seemed there was a vast distance between them, a gaping abyss of understanding that he had no hope of crossing. That faraway look in his eyes lingered frustratingly, and suddenly without even really considering what he was doing he was stepping towards the smaller man, reaching a hand out to cup the unmarred face.  The skin under his palm was smooth, as his fingers brushed lightly over the sleuth’s cheekbone, and those eyes came out of a deductive trance and flashed up to lock their gazes.
 
“Sorry, Kuro-doctor, I was miles away. What, did you have a question, or did you just want to stare lovingly into my eyes again?”
 
The spell, or whatever crazy thing had caused Kurogane to act this way, was broken instantaneously, and he backed up in what he thought was a calm but rapid manner. To Fai, and to any other passing observer, it looked a lot like he had leapt back in fright. The colour creeping into his cheeks would be firmly denied by Kurogane later, but it was definitely there as the taller man hastily gathered his thoughts and stuttered a repetition of his earlier question.
 
“Do you reeeeaaaally want to know?” The blonde asked, smirking, moving closer to the flustered doctor.
 
Kurogane sighed, composure mostly regained. “Yes. Of course I want to know, idiot sleuth, now quit with the games and tell me!”
 
“But it’s a se-cret!”
 
Resisting the urge to strangle the other man for the umpteenth time today, he gritted his teeth and waited for a better answer. He knew better than to respond to the teasing, and chasing the blonde around with a knife was probably not a good idea with the police on the other side of the door to his left.
 
“She threw it at me,” the smaller man finally answered, fingering his hair where one of the haphazard strands had been shortened by an inch. “I almost got her, too. She was pretty fast, for someone in heels. ‘Why would she wear such impractical shoes for a murder?’ I hear you think, and indeed, it does seem strange... though if you consider that our criminal was smaller than Yuuko Ichihara, enough that she thought it might affect witness testimonies, then it makes perfect sense.
 
“I learned a great deal from that little chase, Kuro-inquisitive, including the fact that the woman we’re looking for had a childhood injury. Maybe she broke her leg, snapped a tendon or something, but it never fully healed, meaning that she favours her right leg over her left. It makes her run a little lopsided, though it wouldn’t be something anyone would pick up unless they were really watching her.”
 
I won’t deny that I’m impressed once again by his observational skills.
 
“Can I get your professional opinion on something?” the blonde consultant enquired.
 
Kurogane nodded in the affirmative.
 
“We’ve been on enough cases now for you to start picking up stuff about the bodies that tell you more about the details of the death. So, I want to know: what does the angle of the wound tell you about how it was done?”
 
“You mean apart from the obvious ‘it was a big knife’?” He asked in reply, and his partner smiled expectantly. “Well, it didn’t go in straight, which suggests that she only used one hand to do it, and she had to have held it with her fist upright, like this,” the doctor demonstrated with the knife, holding it so that his thumb was nearest to the blunt end of the handle. “That’s what the downward angle of the wound indicated, anyway.”
 
And...?” The blonde pressed him, eyes eager.
 
“As well as angling down, the wound also leans slightly to the left, which means that she used her right hand to do it.”
 
“Exactly, it’s brilliant!” Fai replied.
 
“Eh? Brilliant?”
 
“Yeah,” Fai said, knowing smile painted across his face. Withholding information from me, I see. Suppose I’ll find out what’s going on after he’s put me in the middle of something dangerous. Again.
 
“Alright, Kuro-useful, we’re leaving. I need you to come with me to pick up some bread and milk; your strong arms can help me carry it home!”
 
“What? We’re leaving a crime scene because you want to go shopping? Doumeki isn’t going to like that, and since when have I become your personal packhorse?”
 
“The bread is almost gone, and the milk smelled a bit dodgy this morning,” Fai continued, completely ignoring him, “-you don’t want to put gone-off milk in your coffee, right? And it’s not like you have anything better to do this evening, so it’s all right!”
 
Screw the police, I’ll do it so quick they won’t even notice...
 
“Besides, it sort of has something to do with the case, so...” The blonde trailed off, lips curving into the beginnings of a smile. Damn that bastard, he knows I want to solve this thing! Kurogane grimaced and lowered the knife, which had been making its way slowly towards his compatriot’s body.
 
“Alright, idiot sleuth, what could a supermarket possibly have to do with our case?”
 
“Ah, Kuro-curious, if I tell you we’re getting the items from a particular supermarket, whose location I will disclose shortly, then it has everything to do with our case.”
 
“The more you drag this out, the more holes I imagine I’ll shortly be giving you.”
 
“Fine, Kuro-impatient, no need to get violent! What if I told you that a certain person’s niece worked at that supermarket, and that I’d like to go check on her?”
 
“You want to visit the princess at work? That’s it?” Somehow that seemed suspicious. Really suspicious. When Fai took them on some seemingly meaningless errand it usually ended in serious consequences down the line. Like that time he had gained an ASBO...
 
“That’s it, Kuro-qualm!” Oh god, that was a full beam of a smile. This was definitely a lot more than just a simple trip to check on the girl, he decided, though he couldn’t see any immediate danger from doing so. He’d go along with it, for now. The sleuth’s sudden desire to visit the princess was bewildering at best, but Kurogane knew that there was some sort of great motive behind it, a deduction that his flatmate was holding close to his chest. That usually meant that he hadn’t quite ironed out the details yet, or he was playing it close to his chest because his pieces weren’t yet in position. Most likely the latter, he thought bitterly, wondering if he ranked any higher than a pawn in his flatmate’s eyes.
 
Gathering his cynicism he moved, quickly descending the stairs before anyone came to check on them, followed closely by the blonde.
 
“And do try not to have any arguments with inanimate checkout machines this time, Kuro-inept; you’re trying to maintain an essence of normality!” the blonde added, dashing away to find a cab before Kurogane could deliver a response.
 
Keep going, sleuth, and I’ll introduce your bread and milk to that foul stuff in the test tubes you seem to love so much...
 
Catching up with his eternal annoyance of a flatmate, Kurogane climbed into the cab and headed towards his own square in the sleuth’s great game.
 
*********************
 
The supermarket looked like every other one he’d ever been to, albeit a slightly more compact version: a space filled with rows of shelving, whitewashed walls and the signature colours of the store popping up here and there on signs, labels and the employee uniforms.
 
“Welcome to the store! Do you need some help today, sir?” A girl asked an elderly gentleman, long curly pigtails bouncing around. Kurogane quickly dodged around as she was occupied with another customer, completely not in the mood for any more unrestrained energy coming his way; it was enough to deal with the bundle of annoyance beside him.
 
It was bustling at this time of day, people milling around them with trolleys and hand baskets, some in more of a rush than others. Signs hung above each aisle, pointing customers towards each area of product; it was these he followed swiftly towards the two things he’d been ordered to buy, the blonde idiot trailing behind, neck craning to observe every possible detail his eyes could drink in. One of the female employees stacking tins onto a shelf watched Fai as they passed, her short messy locks failing to hide her longing stare, despite her efforts to appear nonchalant.
 
You can have him if you like. I’d stop losing years off of my life to stress, that’s for certain...
 
Acquiring the needed items, the smaller man making no offer to carry either one, he made his way towards the eight tills lined up at the end of the shop. He examined each one in turn, watching the endless motion as items raced towards the cashier on conveyor belts, the air filled with a cacophony of beeps and the occasional tutting as someone got away with sneaking eleven items into the ‘ten items or less’ queue.
 
“Alright, Kuro-basket, let’s just stand here for a little while. Try to look like you’re searching for the least busy till.”
 
“Stop ordering me around!” Kurogane snapped back, a little louder than intended. Some passing shoppers looked a bit intimidated, which wasn’t surprising given the doctor’s height and build, but of course they didn’t say anything. He almost thought he heard a tut from somewhere, but the offending person evidently didn’t want to put themselves in the firing line. Even the employees seemed reluctant to protest; a redhead skittered around the corner of an aisle and out of sight as his eyes passed over her unintentionally.
 
He was getting more and more annoyed with the blonde the more that they stood still. It had to have been more than two minutes now; looking for the till with the shortest queue certainly didn’t take that much of a decision period. We’re going to start looking like suspicious weirdoes soon, he thought to himself, and then the idiot will say something that makes me look even worse, which will probably end up with me somehow appearing in court again for another crime I didn’t commit...
 
“What the hell are we waiting here for, anyway?” He grumbled, patience wearing thinner by the second.
 
“Ah, I think she’s here now.” His partner replied, glancing over his shoulder briefly.
 
“Mr. Kurogane?”
 
He turned at the sound of the familiar timid tone, his gaze directed down at the girl standing before him. The uniform she wore may have been a simple shirt and trousers affair, but somehow it seemed to add an air of maturity that he hadn’t seen earlier. Maybe it was just because she was in work mode at the moment, but there was something in those emerald eyes, a glimpse of the emerging adult in the girl.
 
Her strange brown hair fluttered around her face as she jumped, the adult image was lost, and Kurogane had to remember to turn down the scary in his expression. He didn’t react well in general to people approaching him from his blind spot; too many adventures with his idiot of a flatmate had taught him to be wary of being assaulted at any moment. It was good for her that she’d spoken rather than touching him to get his attention, since she’d probably be pinned up against the international cheeses section next to them by now if she hadn’t.
 
“Hey, kid, how’re things?” was the only was he could think to start the conversation, despite having only seen her a few hours before.
 
“Erm, okay, I suppose. What are you doing here?” She glanced at the blonde on his left, who was beaming that ridiculous smile down at her.
 
“Besides the obvious, we came to update you on the case. This is my idio— er, partner, I suppose.”
 
“Fai D. Fluorite at your service,” he addressed the girl, bowing a little as he did so. “Well, Kuro-doc told me that you were cute, but I never expected such a pretty young lady!”
 
She flushed bright red, though not quite as red as the dark-haired doctor, who went the colour of a beetroot whilst vehemently denying any such remark. “I did not say she was cute!” He paled, seeing the girl’s face fall. “Not that you aren’t cute, it’s just that I- I didn’t say it and I just- ah, goddamn it...”
 
“Weak to women as always, Kuro-whipped!” The blonde chirped, dodging the reply swipe to his head.
 
If Sakura was shocked at this display, it didn’t show on her face. Instead she giggled a little, smile dazzling one passing teenager enough that he almost crashed into a promotional stand for a new lipstick range. Yeah, definitely gets hell from the boys. Quickly changing the subject before the sleuth could make him the subject of any more teasing, he moved onto their reason for coming. “So the update on the case we mentioned,” he began, silencing the continuing snicker of the blonde moron.
 
Her eyes lit up a little at this. “You’ve found something?”
 
“Yeah, we’re definitely on to whoever is doing this. We’ll be closing in on them very soon, I expect.”
 
“That’s great to hear,” Sakura smiled sweetly, relief flooding her features.
 
“Are you doing alright here, at your work, I mean?” Kurogane quickly asked, before she could move the topic towards the wellbeing of Kakei Green. He didn’t want to add another burden to her life just yet, so finding out about his demise could wait just a little longer, at least until they’d really cracked the thing.
 
“Yes, there are some really nice people here,” she replied, warmth creeping into her expression. “I have some great friends here, and they always make sure I’m alright. Thanks for worrying about me, Mr. Kurogane. And you too, Mr. Fai.” The blonde sleuth nodded in acceptance, though he wasn’t really concentrating on the conversation.
 
“Good to know, kid.” Kurogane replied, mouth turning up into the best he could do as a smile.
 
“Oooh, Kuro-awkward, there’s a good till over there! Let’s go pay for these while it’s not too busy.” His flailing left arm gestured at the checkout manned by a black-haired girl whose last customer was punching in their PIN as he spoke. He grinned at Sakura with the relish of one close to the answers. “We’ll contact you again when we have our woman- you shouldn’t have to wait too long.”
 
“Yeah,” she nodded, small smile still favourably painted on her face. “Thank you both!”
 
“Mm,” Kurogane acknowledged, leaving the girl to go about her business. Shopping for two things, a task made so much more difficult than it should have been by the antics of his infuriating flatmate, was proving to be even more stressful than he’d first imagined. Queuing up at the chosen till he placed his two items on the conveyor, watching as they moved gradually towards the checkout girl. Next time, he was going to have to get the stupid sleuth to do his own shopping; he could use a carrier bag like the rest of society. A threat not to buy any alcohol during his “I’m not going outside” episodes might just do the trick.
 
His purchases (because even though we’re sharing the food, it’s obviously me that’s going to be paying for them) beeped across the scanner in succession, sliding down the short slope on the other side to the bagging area, where the sleuth was being surprisingly helpful by preparing to put the food in a bag. His smile as he did so showed that whilst he was willing to do that, Kurogane was definitely still going to be carrying them home, but he supposed small actions like this were to be appreciated with a chronic hindrance like Fai. His enthusiastic assistance almost turned into disaster, however, when the condensation on the container caused him to fumble the four pints of milk as he hoisted it upwards. The cashier looked alarmed and tried to help save it, since it was heading towards her in quite an alarming (and bulky) manner, but he managed to loop his fingers around the plastic handle at the last moment, saving them both from milky doom.
 
Apologising profusely Kurogane quickly paid, grabbed the shopping in one hand and the collar of the sleuth in the other, and marched out of the shop as fast as his long legs could carry him, a trail of speed-related nicknames pursuing him.



Chapter 5...



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tarmachan

October 2012

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