MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING: If psychological disorders and suicide are triggers, DO NOT read! ID: Invaded gets heavy into this and I am writing to the feel of the series.
This one follows some time after FILE: HUNTED. Though my stories are all stand alone, I tend to link them in a single headcanon that is canon compatible. It is not essential to read them all but you might get more from doing so as I like subtle links, foreshadowing and calling back ... and I also enjoy Easter eggs!
I hope you enjoy my take on ID: Invaded.
Damn, was I ever that young? Narihisago blinked as the old Metropolitan police station locker room played out before him. He'd gotten used to the strange, disembodied feeling watching reruns of portions of his life … some with rather questionable filtering. He cracked a smile at the spiky haired twenty-something standing in front of his locker changing out of his beat uniform. It'd been eons since he'd been in that uniform … well, on a regular basis.
The locker room looked the same as he remembered it. Flaking paint on the walls, dented metal lockers, crowded conditions with the echoes of idle chatter at shift change. But everyone went through this if they wanted to get anywhere on the force. It was where mettle was proved—or not.
Alright, which day was this? Oh, there's Momoki. Heh, short cropped hair under that ridiculous department cap. We sure didn't make the uniform look great. Neither one of us was particularly well suited for this particular duty. Man, I don't miss those heel blisters! We look pretty worn out, common for hoofin' it all around the division's beat … so why this day?
Around the door of the locker, his younger self peeked making sure no one else in the crowded room as listening. "Uh, hey, Funetaro, you … got any plans?"
I'm so nervous my voice was cracking. Ok, what the heck was going on?
Funetaro pulled out a pale blue button-up shirt focusing more on feeding each button through than his reply. "Not really, Akihito. Why?"
"I was hoping you'd have time to go to the bar, you know, for a drink? I really need to ask you something." Akihito tugged on the collar of the shirt he'd just buttoned up, his purple striped tie still hanging undone.
"Why not? After today I could use a little something to loosen up. Still can't get over that old lady, talk about a temper! Couldn't get a word in and we were just trying to help." He glanced up. "Got a place in mind?"
Akihito finished sinching his tie and nodded. They both grabbed their jackets and wandered out of the locker room.
Like magic the bar materialized into one of their favorite beat-day haunts.
Bellied up to the bar, Akihito and Momoki sat on stools waiting for the bartender to deliver their beers. Nothing special, in fact it seemed as though Akihito was entirely distracted by something. His hand absently toyed with something in his pocket.
Wait a second … was this when—oh God!
"You wanted to ask me something?" Funetaro took a sip of his beer only to look over as the bar fell into utter silence.
A very awkward silence as Akihito held a small jewelry box in the palm of his hand between them. At that moment everyone, including some of the guys from the force, looked their way.
Funetaro grinned and whispered, "Well now, I didn't know you felt that way about me."
"Relax." Picking up his beer, he laughed. "Jeez, I've been waiting for you to ask me about this for months now. Come on, you just want to know if Ayako will like what you picked, right?"
Her engagement ring. I was so nervous I nearly fainted right there. Of course the entire 'getting the wrong idea' didn't help.
Akihito handed over the box, practically gnawing off his fingernails. "I had no idea what I was doing. It's the best I could afford and still have something to live off. But that's not even really what I'm worried about." He pulled his beer over and took a deep gulp, resting his forehead in his hand. "What if she doesn't say yes?"
Studying the glittering ring, Funetaro laughed and clamped a hand on Akihito's shoulder. "That's what you're worried about? Wow, you really are a terrible reader when it comes to this, buddy. If you think she's going to refuse you … hahaha! My father would sooner curse in public than the chances of that happening."
Akihito spat out a mouthful of beer. He glanced apologetically at the bartender before reaching over to grab a towel and mop up the mess. He turned back Funetaro. "How do you know?"
"Be serious! I know my little sister."
"But," he held his hands wide, "look at me. Your family is so distinguished. Your father is a police commissioner, a local legend. Compared to … well, I came from out in the rural sector of the Fukui prefecture. It's not like my parents are anything special. I'm just not a good match."
"What is it with you and over analyzing everything?" He pushed the beer closer. "Take a few more swigs, loosen up a bit. Why can't you realize what an achievement it is to make it through the academy on your own like you did? You came to Tokyo without much of anything, and look at you now."
His shoulders fell. "I live in a tiny apartment. Not a family mansion."
"You think she cares about that? All I hear whenever I'm home is Aki this, and Aki that. Do you have any idea the number of people whose names Ayako shortens?"
He shook his head.
Funetaro poked him in the chest. "Just yours. You have nothing to worry about. She's gonna say yes. And that ring? I couldn't have advised a better pick. She wouldn't have wanted a gaudy bauble for her delicate hands. This is a perfect gem. You just have to be yourself. She already loves you, pal."
Releasing a full breath, he smiled and picked the box up.
"Not just her. The whole family has taken to you too. My father even calls you by your given name." He threw an arm around his shoulder tugging him closer. "I can't wait til you're officially my brother." They clicked a toast, setting the glasses down as a shadow cast over them.
Annnnd it goes from awkward to … well … yeah, that was my bad luck back then. I also couldn't say no, and I really should have, especially since the engagement was the next morning.
A hand clamped on each of their shoulders. "If it isn't my favorite boys!"
Akihito scrambled to grab the ring and conceal it in his jacket pocket, but his fingers fumbled the gesture. Funetaro rolled his eyes and forced a smile. "Hey Dad."
Commissioner Momoki, the only guy I ever knew who could simultaneously make you feel welcome and intimidated in the same exact moment. The man was a legend on the force, after all.
"And what do we have here?" He caught the little box before Akihito could squirrel it away. Opening it, his eyes lit up. "A toast is in order. Bartender, a shot of sake for my future son-in-law!"
Akihito blanched, pointing frantically at his beer. "Sir, I uhh … I already have … "
"Nonsense, this is a moment to properly celebrate." He sat down on a stool beside Akihito, still holding the open ring box. "I've been waiting for months for you to get up the courage to pull the trigger, boy. This is a huge step and you are about to make my daughter very happy." He pressed the shot of sake into Akihito's hand and took is own.
Funetaro smiled and held up his sake. "Dad, let's not drink him under the table. Narihisago's a light weight. Tomorrow is his day off, and let me guess … morning picnic?"
Akihito buried his face in his hand.
"You got this. You know her as well as I do. This is a sure bet no matter what happens."
I sure did, before the sake burned my throat. If only it had been just one shot. But no … Commissioner Momoki wanted to lecture me on the finer points of marriage. That's all I remember of that night, his start. The rest is a sake-scorched blur. And the next morning? Heaven helped me or else I never would have made it out alive.
Ayako sat on the blanket casting her glance at Akihito. "Are you alright? You look a bit green."
Akihito couldn't be certain if it was butterflies in his stomach or the stale liquor.
"Wait a minute." Ayako narrowed her eyes. "Did my father take you out drinking last night? He came home a little tipsy and kept winking at me."
Bowing his head, Akihito's hand caught on his pocket as he tried to pull the case out. It let go with a tug, and tumbled across the blanket, falling open into her lap. The citrine topaz gleaming up at her in the sunlight, sparkling the color of her eyes. Instantly she froze, staring at the ring in its cushioned cradle. "Oh, Aki … is this … does this mean … you … me ?"
Tongue tied, he nodded. At last stuttering out, "I mean, if you want to … ACK!"
She tackled him in a snug embrace rolling over the blanket and kissing him.
Both of us were spazzes back then. I just didn't want to be wrong … I didn't want to blow my one chance, even when everyone else was certain it was a sure thing. After all, humans are prone to making mistakes ...
The dream faded replaced by water lapping against his ankles. He stared down at his toes submerged beneath the surface. A tear dropped in the water leaving behind its telltale ripples.
Kiki's warm hand touched his shoulder from behind, her voice soft and timid. "Did I restore that one right, Akihito?"
He shuddered, realizing what had happened. "I … I can't be sure. I already told you, I have no way of knowing what I recall correctly and what's been tarnished by … my condition."
Sliding her hand along his collar bone, she came around in front and met his downcast gaze. There she was wearing the strange sensor embedded bodysuit. Not that he looked any more normal standing barefoot in his prison uniform, the one he'd fallen asleep in. Her hand brushed through his hair. "One day I hope I can be sure about your truth."
He clenched his eyes tight struggling with if he should even dare utter it. "Kiki … I appreciate you intentions … but please, I wish you … wish you wouldn't do this."
Her touch withdrew.
Damn it, I just hurt her.
He shook his head. "No … it's ok. I just … I just would prefer it if you would ask me before messing around with precious things. Some of this … it's memories that I'm not sure I want to dwell on at the moment. That's all."
She wrung her hands. "I want to help you."
"I know you do." He opened his arms, inviting her to come into them if she wanted, knowing a semblance of physical contact was one of the reasons she brought him into her consciousness in the middle of the night when he should be sleeping. Well, he was used to insomnia, so the hours she stole from him for a bit of contact didn't change much really. She couldn't reach anyone else like this, only him for some strange reason.
Kiki folded into his embrace, resting against his chest like a child would her father. It felt like Muku. He borrowed that little moment and filed it away for himself. Unlike him, Kiki couldn't wake up from her state. She knew she remained locked in stasis. But the increase of her powers, and Momoki's incomplete resetting of the controls, allowed her access she didn't have before. A way to breach the loneliness. To Narihisago's detriment she took full advantage of it, like a child secretly playing a video game in the middle of the night.
"I promise I'll find a way to fix you."
He chuckled. "Well, if anyone can it's you. Just try not to break me any more than I already am in the process, ok? Momoki needs me to be functional in the cockpit."
She studied his eyes. "But, you're always so sad."
He sighed and smoothed out her hair. "I know that you think bringing those memories back is … is a good thing. How can I put this? Sometimes that makes things worse. You know when you were released from here?" He gestured to the facsimile of her stasis chamber. "How tasting freedom, what you can't actually have, made it hurt more?" He glanced at his left hand, missing the wedding band that used to be there. "Well, Ayako's not alive anymore. I just have to accept that, as much as I don't want to. My life … it simply … no longer exists." He cast his eyes down catching his somber reflection. "There's nothing left for me."
"That's why I want to restore the memories, so you can have it again."
His heart fractured a bit at her innocent words. "That's … not the way this works. But … thank you for trying."
"Akihito?" Once more she clung to him, shivering in his embrace. "I don't want you to go. When you are here they can't come."
"We're not having this talk again. I told you, I can't stay in here. For one, as miserable I am I really don't want to die, and if I do stay I would probably starve to death or something equally as … unpleasant. Besides, Momoki needs me, not comatose. Something tells me that the Mizuhanome would probably malfunction with me rattling around down here with you."
"But … "
"No buts. That was the deal. You have to let me go back so I can do my job. So we can both do our jobs."
She tilted her head back, gazing at him. "Will you stay a bit longer?"
Damn it, I still can't say no.
Staring up at the dimly lit ceiling, Narihisago heaved a weary sigh. Another rather restless night. Not that he could really blame Kiki. Did she even have a sense of timing anymore? What was a circadian rhythm to someone who never really obtained full consciousness? Probably about as reliable as someone confined to the internal corridors of a building who only recently saw real sunlight for the first time in years because of an unexpected stint in the medical unit. So far she'd been pretty good at nailing night hours, however the first couple times had been a bit dicey. He'd gotten shaken awake by a pissed off guard more than once. Still, when he was with her it felt rather close to a dive, albeit a far less energetic one.
He sat up with a sight groan, rubbing his eyes. In the night-time lighting he glimpsed the pale flash when he looked down. In the middle of his shirt there it was, the damnable reminder. Reaching down underneath he poked his finger through the fraying hole.
What was this? Some kind of sick joke? Why hadn't laundry thrown it away? Sure, by some divine miracle they got his blood out. But was the budget so damned tight they couldn't afford to ditch the shirt he'd been wearing when Hayaseura shot him?
Bastards. Of course it was a joke. He'd always been the inside joke of this whole place. It takes a psycho to catch psychos.
His fingers worried at the loose threads before he noticed the activity. Loose threads, things to tie up, to make neat. Leave nothing hanging. A virtually lifelong obsession of his in every possible form, that's what made him a good detective. He forced himself to stop, tugging up the offensive shirt to glimpse the divot of skin where the removal incision from the bullet wound had healed just below his rib cage. It didn't really hurt much now. But the fact he would bear this scar for the rest of his life … well, that left an impression.
Out of sight, out of mind. He pulled the shirt back down and leaned over his drawn up knees, curling his toes against the rumpled bed sheet. Was it even worth trying to go back to sleep? Without a window it was impossible to gauge how close it was to dawn, if that was even when they turned the lights on. A clock would be nice. But hell, inmates didn't get much of anything. Not even the option of more than one set of clothing at a time! He huffed a breath.
He looked to his collection of family photos scattered on the wall like leaves on a growing tree … only this tree had stalled, forever frozen in time with all its moments.
The one thing he had to hold onto. Even if he couldn't clearly recall every event … the photos captured them for him. Reminding him at one point it had been real.
"Hey, look who's awake."
Narihisago stiffened, his gaze inching over through the clear panes to the cell across the corridor. Fukuda sat up on the edge of the bed, a lopsided smile on his scared face as he waved lazily. Ignoring the gesture, Narihisago rammed his chin on his folded arms staring straight ahead—at the toilet. Not his best move. That didn't exactly lift his foul mood. The talk around Kura was how everyone seemed pleased they had discovered a method to reverse the comas. The joke was on them. Their little treatment hadn't done a damn thing. Kiki'd learned a new trick, discovering their dormant consciousness and carefully filtering them back into their waiting bodies.
Fukuda continued in that slow drawl of his. "Have a bad dream or something? I mean, you were talking in your sleep."
I was? Shit! What did I say? No. I can't ask him. Shut up and maybe he will. Wait, that has yet to work. Argh!
"You know, I used to count sheep when I was a kid but that turned out to be a bad idea. It just kept me awake as the damn things multiplied by the flock. You'd think they were rabbits leaping through the field. Big, wooly bunnies exponentially increasing as far as the horizon."
Narihisago side-eyed him, grating his teeth. Flopping onto his right side he grabbed the pillow and rammed it over his head. But it only muffled the voice, failing to block it out completely.
"There's a few other things that are supposed to work. Something about counting when breathing." He laughed. "But yeah, I just sort of kept going and forgot to breathe again until I passed out. Guess you could say in hindsight that did work, sort of. You know, if passing out counts as falling asleep."
"I liked you better in a coma." Narihisago growled from under his pillow.
"Oh ho! He does speak! That only took me, what, three days? Err, nights? Close enough that I'll take it, thank you very much. Has anyone told you you got a bad attitude?"
His grip on the pillow only tightened. I swear, I'm not going to do it … I swear I'm not going to end him! Please get me out of this before I do!
The lights turned on in a series of deep thuds. Narihisago whimpered softly beneath his pillow. There would be no sleeping now. He no longer had the excuse of healing and the guards always had been sticklers for schedules just because they could.
"I gotta wonder if it's just that you take everything too seriously. Or maybe you just need a new perspective. That's it. I bet that's what you need."
Still under his pillow, he grunted, "Gee, maybe I should try feng shui in my cell. If only I knew which way north was."
"Now you got the idea, brother."
Edging out from beneath his refuge, Narihisago fixed him with a venomous glare.
Fukuda's eyes widened briefly before he held his hands up wide. "Ah heh. I thought we were just talking is all … you know a conversation between … friends?"
"What gave you that inane idea?" His voice dripped with acid.
"Ok, jeez, someone woke up on the wrong side of the id well today."
"Are you going to just talk all damn day again? That's all you've done since you woke up."
"Making up for lost time." Fukuda stretched his arms above his head, joints popping in the process. "I gotta admit, I feel rather well-rested."
With a grunt, Narihisago remarked, "At least one of us does."
"Have you tried meditation? They say it's supposed to work. Didn't do a thing for me, I just couldn't quite clear my mind."
Covering his face with his hands, Narihisago's fingers formed claws. I can't take another day of this! I seriously thought the unending silence in solitary with the ringing in my ears was bad. But it was nothing compared to his incessant droning. Wait … incessant droning? Now .. there's an idea.
Narihisago spread his fingers enough that it didn't muffle his voice and started in a monotone, "Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall. Ninety-nine bottles of beer. Take one down, pass it around. Ninety-eight bottles of beer on the wall … "
Fukuda's eyes twitched. He slowly sunk back on his bed, clutching his knees to his chest before Narihisago made it out of the nineties.
That'll teach him.
Footsteps echoed down the corridor. There were only two places they could be headed, after all this block only held Fukuda and him. Either way … it could be relief, or breakfast. But there were no squeaking cart wheels. That meant only one thing …
"Alright you, get over here."
Narihisago peered between his fingers. The pair of guards were looking in his cell. "Oh thank God. Someone is trying to kill somebody."
The guard's expression darkened. "Man, you got a real screwed up sense of humor."
"I wasn't trying to be funny." He slipped his shoes on and wandered to the doorway, hands out in front of him as he reached the transparent barrier.
Fukuda stood by his own door. "Oh, come on, guys! Give me a chance. I haven't been in a well in a long time. Take me."
Cuffed, Narihisago stepped out into corridor and flashed him a scowl. "Why would they pick you? They want to actually solve the damn thing. Not watch a looped suicide run."
Flattening his palm on the pane, Fukuda whined, "No fair. At least tell me what it was when you come back."
Closing his eyes he half smiled, "Not a chance."
The guard pressed his shoulder blade. "Alright psycho, let's get a move on."