|mirabella (mirabella) wrote in mirabellafic,|
@ 2010-06-05 10:18 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||arcadia, hikaru no go|
Shindou's phone rings at 3:02 on Saturday morning. Touya rolls over and fumbles on the nightstand where he's taken to keeping it, picks it up, and frowns at it, sleepy and bewildered. He thumbs the button and lifts it to his ear.
"You know what day it is, Touya?"
Touya sits up slowly, staring into the shadows, his mind racing. "Shindou?" he asks carefully.
"Yeah, it's me. I got you a birthday present. I guess you could say I made it for you."
"Where are you?" Touya asks.
"You'll find her at the warehouse at Yokahama North Docks, the one that burned half down ten years ago. Enjoy."
The line goes dead. Touya blinks at the phone, then turns to look past sleep-tousled hair into eyes as confused as his own.
"Who the fuck was that?" Shindou demands.
The soles of Touya's shoes are soaked in blood, and he has no idea what to say.
The MO is Shindou's. There are Go stones under the girl's skin, which is a detail the police have never made public. And yet; between the condition of the body and the testimony of two homeless girls and a night watchman they've managed to place the time of death between 9:00 PM and midnight, and Touya can't say At 9:00 I had Shindou backed into a single stronghold in the upper left and at midnight he was doing things to me with his mouth that made me believe in the Hand of God, so I know for a fact that someone else did this. All he can do is shake his head and find reasons to say It looks like Shindou's work, but.
Shindou is furious, and Touya can't blame him. He can't blame him for his first reaction before fury, either, which was stark terror.
He was the first thing I was ever afraid of, Shindou told him, his hands trembling on Touya's back and putting the lie to the steadiness of his voice.
Why do you think it's him? Touya asked, whispering the words into the sweet-smelling warmth of Shindou's hair.
Who else would know? Shindou answered.
It was one of the more surreal moments in what is rapidly becoming a rather surreal life, holding a serial killer in his arms in the dark and trying to soothe away the bogeyman with soft words and touches. Surreal, and another sign that one of these days the line between his duty and his feelings for Shindou is going to blur past Touya's ability to reconstruct it. And then, as the saying goes, he will be royally screwed. It's already too easy to forget what Shindou is, when he makes a move that takes Touya's breath away with its brilliance, or when he curls sleepily against Touya after sex, catlike and content.
And then this, blood splashed high on concrete walls in great plumed arterial gouts, police vomiting into the bushes outside, metallic stench and the buzzing of flies around human tissue broken apart and rearranged in some ritualistic joseki that has meaning only in the dark twisting of Shindou's brain; and Touya is shocked into feeling as if he's standing outside himself, split into two parts and unable to tell anymore which one is real.
"What do you think happened, sir?" a patrolman asks him. Touya blinks, brought sharply back to himself, and glances down at him. It takes a minute for his brain to delve in memory and resurface with a name: Shouji, relatively new to the force. Touya doesn't like him and can't quite put his finger on why.
Touya jerks his head for the patrolman to follow and moves over to where a small trail of smeared blood begins on the warehouse floor. "This is where the attack started," he says – another reason this isn't likely to be Shindou's work. Shindou can easily charm his way close enough to any woman to drop her in her tracks. Few of them are free and mobile long enough to fight back, let alone to run twenty feet while bleeding from a knife wound as this one did. "He cut her here first, but she got away. If it was Shindou, he was having a definite off night."
The patrolman looks… well, Touya supposes his expression must be disapproving, though it looks more sullen than anything else.
"Here he caught her and cut an artery – you see how the spray changes? Look at the footprints, it looks as if she almost got away again." Shindou hasn't been this clumsy since his first kill. Ridiculous as it is, Touya's starting to get offended on his behalf. Shindou would no more chase a woman around manhandling her like this than he would…
…what? Play an empty triangle? Hane at the head of one and a half? Shindou is brilliant at nearly every aspect of Go, but his great gift is for making apparent mistakes that come back in twenty moves to bite his opponent in the ass.
And yet. Touya came home from work well before this could have happened to find Shindou in his study, staring in unnerved awe at the walls full of photographs and newspaper clippings, making a slow circuit of the room and carefully touching his report cards, his medical records, his friend Akari's death notice, the report of his father's suicide. Forgotten on the desk was a brightly wrapped box; he'd brought Touya a birthday present, probably meaning to leave it and be gone before Touya got home. He hadn't even spoken when Touya came into the room, only turned to look at him, his eyes wide and dark with astonishment and something else.
Touya shakes himself and forces himself back to the task at hand. There's still a line, after all, and if he's going to play this game he can't cross it. Narrowing his eyes, he looks the crime scene over again, more carefully. It won't be enough to walk through the kill in the path left by the blood sprays. There are things here that he won't understand unless he keeps in mind that whoever did this meant to be taken for Shindou, and meant to be taken for him by Touya in particular. He starts again, talking out loud, retracing the dead woman's steps until he's crouched beside her with the smell of blood clotting the air around him. By the time he's finished, Shouji is looking at him with awe and Touya has a few more things to think about.
One way or another, this is someone who knows how Shindou kills but doesn't know it quite well enough to mimic it completely. Either it's someone close to the investigation or Shindou is right and it's the person who taught him to kill to begin with, who taught him the secret language that his rituals speak. Or – again, if Shindou is right – it's both.
Touya has never believed in ghosts. He doesn't have to; Shindou believes, and until now that has been all Touya needed to know. As he watches the men from the coroner's office carefully place organs into the body bag, he wonders if he's going to have to decide once and for all whether he believes Shindou or not.
"This isn't how I do things," Shindou says, his voice tight with anger. "I'm better than this."
Touya touches the photographs spread out on the bed. They're in a hotel in Akihabara and neon light spills through the window in a frenetic multicolored kaleidoscope like the lights of a club, scattered by the rain that trails in rivulets down the glass. "Do you still think it's Sai? Wouldn't he be less clumsy than this?"
Shindou goes a little pale. "He… in a way he would be," he says. "But he was a ghost, you know? He could show people what to do but he couldn't make them do it right. He could only make it so they'd only do it wrong once."
"Shindou," Touya says quietly. "Look again. The way this was done, does it mean anything to you? If it were a message Sai were sending to one of us, or both of us, what would it say?"
For long minutes, Shindou examines the photos. Then he shakes his head slowly. "I don't know. It just… isn't quite right. It's just things I've done, done over." He glances up at Touya, then turns away, looking torn. "I don't know. Maybe I just don't want it to have any meaning. Because if he could come back…"
Touya waits, watching closely.
"Why didn't he come back to me?" Shindou whispers finally, and his voice is lost and broken.
Touya gathers the photographs, slides them back into the folder, and sets them aside on the nightstand. Then he reaches out and cups Shindou's jaw. A tear slides over his thumb, glittering green and then scarlet as it tracks through the light.
"If he's watching from wherever he's gone, he knows you're not his anymore," he says simply.
Shindou looks up at him, blinking, an indecipherable expression on his face.
Slowly, Touya leans forward. "He can fight me for you if he wants," he breathes into Shindou's ear. "Let him try his luck with someone who isn't a frightened woman with half his strength. He won't like what happens to him."
Shindou's hands tighten convulsively on Touya's forearms. "Don't say that. You don't know –"
"I know I have a score to settle with him. I know he took something away from me that… that I want more than I've ever wanted anything."
Shindou makes a soft sound in his throat.
"Sai is gone," Touya whispers, laying soft kisses along the line of Shindou's throat. "This isn't him. It's someone who wants to be you but doesn't know how and doesn't know I can tell the difference."
Something about that thought nudges something in Touya's memory; but it slips away from him when Shindou whispers his name and pulls him close.
The light of the false dawn is flowing into the room by the time Shindou slides out of bed and reaches for his clothes, dressing with a tense preoccupation that Touya doesn't like at all.
"Shindou," he says, knowing it won't do any good. "You have nothing to prove."
Shindou doesn't answer, only bends to kiss him, slow and lingering. Touya wants to ask him to stay and knows that he wouldn't, and the same sick helplessness he's felt for the last five years settles coldly into his gut. In that moment, he's closer than he has ever been to arresting Shindou, or killing him; but Shindou's hand is soft and gentle where it laces in his hair, and the moment slips away before Touya can close his fingers around it.
Three days afterward, they find a vacationing Kyoto college student strung up from the Kachidoki Bridge by her own intestines, Go stones under her skin from navel to eyelids in a truncated version of one of the few games Shuusaku ever lost. When the phone rings this time, it's Shindou's voice; and all Touya can think of to say is, "You've outdone yourself."