Reclining on his bed, Fukuda idly whiled away the time, bored as hell without anyone to chat with. The last few days he and Narihisago had engaged in a few conversations. Among his favorite was a game they had come up with: real case or one of Sakaido's id well dives? He'd been shocked more than once at what the man had seen in real life. Now the truth was, that was a guy he wanted to understand. Not Sakaido, but the mind behind him: Narihisago.
What an enigma! Watching him from the cell before his coma was intriguing enough. The guy was calm as hell most of the time. Soft spoken when he did, slow moving, cooperative for the most part. But when he went off … whoa! That was an amazing sight. Reminded Fukuda of an old game where players removed stacked bricks from a tower, each move compromising the structure. Narihisago was rock solid, until someone touched that one brick. Then it all came down. But that wasn't the most puzzling part. What had compelled Narihisago to help those who held him as a miserable captive? There was no doubt his broken mind teetered toward the deviant edge. He was a far cry from a straight and narrow detective that it seemed he used to be. Outside of prison floor he'd had the chance to bolt and leave this place behind. Certainly, the front doors were rigged to blow, Fukuda had seen that with his own eyes, he more or less hadn't really the cared. Death was also a way out. The one who wouldn't let it happen was Narihisago. Somehow, through all that dark twisted shit he'd waded through, a sense of morality remained. And a strong sense of loyalty to the system that had condemned him to an abysmal existence.
Today had sucked. The lights went on with the usual rude wake-up call, and almost immediately Narihisago was taken out. Lunch had already come and still no cell block mate. He couldn't be in a dive. There was no way they'd taken him to the cockpit chamber in his condition. That meant something else was likely occupying his time.
At last footsteps echoed down the corridor. Fukuda closed his eyes and counted. Wait, something isn't right. One set of steps, two sets of steps … there should be a third. Two guards and Narihisago. There were always two guards, by protocol.
Opening his eyes, he glanced over to see them carrying something. A stretcher between them with Narihisago out cold. The door to his cell opened. They entered and with at least some consideration, they lifted him onto his bed, settling him on his left side.
What in the hell did they do to him?
As the guards exited the cell and closed the door, Fukuda sat up with a start staring at the bruises on his wrists and a rather dark concentrated one on the inside of his elbow. He knew what that mark was. From an IV. Absently Fukuda rubbed his own arm at the memories of years ago when he awoke in a hospital after drilling the hole in his own head. He shivered a bit at the waves of disorientation that came back to him. The strange, cold numb void left behind. All those voices asking him how he had come by such an injury … injury? At the time he hadn't been acting. He'd struggled to recall what had happened. The fog of the medications hampered everything. They never learned the truth. No one really knew the truth.
Except perhaps …
Alone in their cell block now, he cupped the hole in his own head and blinked at Narihisago. He'd seen his id well. He and Hondomachi, might possibly be the only ones in the world to have a clue about his own twisted psyche.
He sighed. Right now Narihisago was dead to the world. And by the looks of things, probably better off being out. Poor bastard. How long would that state last?
Lying back down, Fukuda closed his eyes and listened to his own breathing. Off in the distance he could still hear the ranting of that other crazed inmate who only seemed to shut up at night. He wondered why they didn't tranq his ass. Hopefully no one else was housed in the same block as that nut job. If they weren't crazy when they got brought down here, subjected to that noise they would be shortly.
Another handful of hours passed before Narihisago stirred. He moaned as his eyes fluttered open. Before Fukuda could even greet him, Narihisago rolled off his bed and scrambled for the privacy divider.
Holding his hand in the air in the stalled greeting, Fukuda cringed to the sound of vomiting. At least he seemed to have aimed right by the splashing.
A few minutes of gasps interspersed with dry heaving before Narihisago staggered to his sink and rinsed his mouth out. He was pale and unsteady, half out of it as he practically crawled his way back to collapsing onto the bed with a groan.
Resuming the greeting, Fukuda waved and offered a cheesy, "Bright side, buddy, now you know why they had you skip breakfast."
Narihisago flopped a hand over his face.
"Hey, man, sorry. Just trying to lighten the situation. You look pretty rough. You ok?"
He shook his head slowly.
Fukuda sat up, scratching his chin. "Let me guess, they triggered you."
Now he nodded.
"Shit, bet that was a nasty trip."
"They did it on purpose." His voice was hoarse, far more than the bit of puking should have produced.
"They find out anything?" Below the laid back surface, he bubbled with curiosity to know what made this guy tick. As much as he had poked fun at Sakaido … no one in the room had countered Narihisago's claim that he had been responsible for all the arrest's Kura had made. This man had an impressive ability to deduce … and a twisted application when he was compelled to. Why would they purposefully push his buttons?
Narihisago heaved a sigh and peered between his spread fingers. "I have no idea. They sedated me after I completely lost it." At length he lifted his hand and stared at the bruising. "Shit. I warned him about this."
"Well, the good news is you're back before dinner."
Resting his hand on his stomach he closed his eyes. "Not ready to eat. Jeez I hate sedation. Waking up from it sucks."
"Breakfast and lunch were actually pretty tasty today. Shame you missed it."
"That's the one good thing about this place. When they get it to us, the food's actually pretty decent. Not like elsewhere."
Fukuda shifted, he was talking again, maybe not even realizing how much. Got to keep him at it. "Oh hey, that's right. You were in an actual prison before here."
He nodded, eyes half closed. "Talk about monotony. You could tell the time of day by the meal. The same damn ones, same order, every damn day. Nothing ever changed."
"At least here there's variety from day to day. I swear I eat better here than I did before I was arrested. Instant ramen. Mmm mmm. Probably got enough salt to preserve my corpse for the next decade or so." He flicked a hand. "But still, regular prison for a detective. That had to suck."
"It did." He sighed, rubbing the IV bruise. "Almost never got to leave my cell. Nothing in there, except me. Didn't even have a bed."
Pushing against the mattress, Fukuda lifted an eyebrow. "Where did you sleep?
Narihisago pointed to the floor. "Winter sucked without any heat."
"Heh, yeah, I remember a patch when I lived in a joint without heat. Was squatting there. Surprised my teeth didn't chatter out of my head. Anyway, speaking of heads … "
"No. I'm not going to describe your well." Narihisago shut his eyes. "Nice try."
"Damn it! One of these days I'm gonna get that out of you."
Morning sunlight shown through the open door of the Momoki family mansion. Funetaro knelt in the beam before the shrine. A photo of his father in his prized uniform sat propped up, front and center. He folded his hands, staring lost in thought after a restless night.
All night he had tossed and turned, haunted by what he and Kokufu had witnessed yesterday. Narihisago's deranged screams still filled his ears accompanied by the doctor's grim analysis. He had echoed the technologist's real time observation. Never seen such a strange case. There was no doubt the core of Narihisago's problem was an entrenched case of PTSD, but there were other issues complicating things, micro-phobias, signs of abandonment issues, failing coping mechanisms. He was a maelstrom of emotional injuries stewing below the surface crippled by the fact that his brain chemistry seemed to reflect an addiction to the fight reflex. When triggered the drive activated the primal pathways and pretty much turned off any ability to reason. Effectively, with his impulse control stripped, Narihisago was left as a circumstantial berserker. And worse, sedation didn't stop it, it only internalized it. In a way it had made sense. With his incarcerated life, where could he direct the build up into any form of release. He had been left … with nothing.
The dives gave him purpose, but they also introduced new ingredients to the mixture.
The options were not looking great. Referencing the older records the doctor noted that most of the available medications had been tried without any appreciable effects, if there were any most were very bad ones. It was no wonder that Narihisago balked at the idea of pursuing this again. He truly had been through the wringer.
Staring into the photo, Momoki sought wisdom in his late father's eyes. "Dad, you knew him too. What should I do? I'm at a loss. I've never been a leader as confident as you. If you were here, I know you'd have an answer. Some approach to this mess I find myself in. God, I wish you were here."
His hand gripped the edge of the shrine's platform. "But you fell in the line of the duty before I even took the lead at Kura. Would you be proud of me out of the traditional force? I'm hardly handling things well at the moment, out of my depth. Then there's this place. I'm not sure I'm the one to hold this place down. Why did you leave it to me? It's more than I need or even want …" he bowed his head, taking in deep breaths, " … are you and mom happy where you are now? I hope so."
His phone rang. Absently he answered it. "Momoki here."
"There you are. Did you forget about our meeting?" Kokufu asked.
Looking at the time, he bowed his head. "No, I'm sorry. I had something that I had to attend to this morning. I'll be right there to go over the files."
"It's ok. Just not used to you being late is all. Got worried. Why don't I start weeding through things until you get here. See you soon."
Momoki hung up and heaved a sigh, eyes back on the photo. "Dad? Any advice would be great right now. Some sign? Something?"
At length, he lowered his head right before the picture. "On my own, huh. Ok. Hope I got this right for everyone's sake."
Days had gone by unbroken by anything. Narihisago had expected there to be something following those grueling tests. Part of him was relieved each day that passed without some threat of procedure. But another part of him grew stir-crazy staring at the same walls for hours on end knowing that there were killers out there to catch, and likely dives that Hondomachi was taking … if they had even fixed the machine. That might still be an issue, even if it had been a week since the EMP fried a good portion of the electronics. The guards had all been tight-lipped, no one told him anything, and he suspected there were standing orders for that.
Kiki hadn't performed any midnight kidnappings of his consciousness. He'd been entirely confined to his cell, physically and mentally. His only relief from boredom was the idle chats with Fukuda. That was something he hadn't had down here. Prior to this he had rarely conversed with the other inmates, outside of certain … undesirable … acts.
"Hrmm … that one has to be a well dive. That's seriously fucked up."
Narihisago laid his head back against the wall, he'd taken to sitting in the front corner of his cell when they talked. He shook his head.
Fukuda sat cross-legged at the front of his, gawking. "No way. That was a real case?"
"I assure you, that was a real old-fashioned desk case. Well, ok, not entirely desk. Momoki and I were out in the field, like an actual field, along with several buildings to solve the case. And we did have to take a trip out to the docks once they checked out my conclusion and found the actual crime scene. Erf, scenes. Technically I think that qualified as more than one. Anyway, I pitied whoever had to clean up that warehouse."
"Damn. How many corpses?"
Narihisago rested his chin in his hand for a moment, lost in thought. "Define corpses in this case... and that wasn't the worst part. It was the officers losing their lunches. That was a summer case, by the way, and there was no air conditioning in there."
"Gah! Now, that's a nasty thought."
"Yeah, the Stitcher was one of the more grisly ones we'd been involved with, mostly because of the volume. That was one hyperactive serial killer, who as usual, believed he had good reason."
"Uhhh, I gotta ask, what would possibly be a good reason for doing all that."
Narihisago was about to break down the twisted motivation when footsteps invaded their conversation.
A figure paused in between their cells. A man in a cardigan sweater, colorful enough it looked like a yarn basket had exploded on him, glanced between the two of them and smiled. "Good afternoon."
Fukuda cocked an eyebrow. "Uhhh you're new."
Indeed he was, this wasn't anyone that Narihisago knew. And this new guy was in the cell block presumably by himself. An official capacity of some sort?
Is he a … oh no.
"May I introduce myself, I'm Dr. Kenichi Hamamoto. Kura has consulted with me as a therapist."
Narihisago half lidded his eyes, hands behind his head he cradled it against the wall. "I hope you read your contract carefully. You do know what you're getting into, right?"
He laughed, a bit too cheerily. "Of course. It's ok, I have years of experience."
Raising an eyebrow, Narihisago stole a glance at Fukuda. "What level of facility?"
"Oh, out of my office as a private consultant."
Fukuda laughed. "Oh great, so a guy with a fainting couch is gonna chat with us about our parents." He did a mock impression, "Tell me about your mother."
Narihisago snorted. "Not much to say on my end. My folks were actually pretty decent."
"Ehh, well, you could say I once had a little daddy issue. But I fixed mine." Fukuda did an impression if pushing the drill through. "One little hole and—"
"Wait a sec … " Narihisago sat up, entirely ignoring Hamamoto's stunned reaction. "Don't tell me you drilled your own father?"
"Yup." Fukuda's pleased smile crossed his face as he raised a knee and rested his wrist on it. "Sure did. Was one of my first, once I tracked the sucker down."
Cupping half his face in a hand, Narihisago muttered, "But … none of the victims last names … " he paused, " … son of a bitch, you were abandoned. You didn't keep their last name."
"Bingo!" He pointed in triplicate.
Hamamoto cleared his throat. "Which one of you is Narihisago?"
With a wry grin he pointed across the hall. "Not the one with the hole in his head."
Turning, Hamamoto got his first real look and staggered backward. "Waaah! H'ok. Uhhh." He turned back to Narihisago, pressing closer to the cell pane as though this was the safer side. "So uhh, they wanted me to start with you. Why don't we start from the beginning."
Narihisago drew a knee up crossing his arms over it. "I am dead serious … did they honestly tell you what you're digging into here?"
"I am a professional. I doubt you could tell me anything that I haven't heard before." There was a confidence in that smile.
Narihisago glanced at Fukuda and shrugged a shoulder. "Well, ok … if you insist."
A knock at the chief's office door stopped Momoki mid-sentence. He turned and glanced at the door as Kokufu called out, "Come in."
A security guard popped his head through. "Sorry to disrupt you sir, but I figured you would want to know about this right away."
"That therapist you brought in and had us take to cell block one?" He glanced back outside the door. "I think he's done."
"Already?" Momoki started.
The guard shook his head. "No … I mean like, done done. We had to pick him up off the floor." He pushed the door open and another guard held up the shell-shocked Hamamoto. "He's conscious, but only babbling nonsense."
Kokufu's eyes widened. "Oh dear. What happened?"
"Well, what little I overheard before the guy face planted on the floor was Narihisago and Fukuda talking about id well dives … the particularly sadistic ones."
Tightening a fist, Momoki stood up. "Damn it!"
Kokufu waved a hand to the guards. "Bring him in, set him in the chair, please. Now it looks like Kura'll be footing the bill for his therapy. And he came so highly recommended. Wait Momoki, where are you going?"
"To perform an attitude adjustment!"
"Did you see his face right before he fell?" Fukuda nearly choked on his own laughter. "I didn't know anyone who still had a pulse could be that pale. That therapist was a real light weight. I mean, what the heck kinda patient was he used to?"
Narihisago still reclined against the wall. "Probably white collar workers with office problems. I mean, I did give him fair warning, right?"
"Oh, I heard it. He had a chance to back out. Too bad he didn't take the hint. Seriously, though. I had no idea half the crap you've seen. How many dives has it been over the past … what year?"
"Ehhh, over a year now. To be honest I'm not sure. I lost count some time ago. But it's been a lot of multip—uh oh."
Down the hall Momoki's cadence announced his fury. He came directly in front of Narihisago's cell and glared down at him with crossed arms. "What the hell are you pulling? I thought you wanted to be able to dive again! You have the nerve to torture the therapist we sent to help you."
Fukuda chuckled, "Who? You mean Rent-a-shrink?"
Eyeing him, Narihisago quickly drew a finger across his throat. They were already in enough trouble. "He said to start from the beginning."
"Your problems, Narihisago! Not the twisted mentalities of those you've tracked down. Do you think it's funny shell-shocking an innocent man?"
A bit surlier than he intended, he spat back, "Maybe you should have considered my perspective earlier, you know … before you triggered me out of morbid curiosity?"
"Damn it, we're trying to help you!"
Pounding a fist on the pane he snapped, "Do you want me to transfer you to another facility for treatment? One for the criminally insane where you won't have any allies to turn to? I could truly abandon you to the mercy of the system. Do you seriously want that?"
Narihisago hung his head, gripping his knee tight.
"I'm serious. Get with the program, I can't help you if you won't help yourself." The footsteps echoed off down the corridor, leaving them alone in an uncomfortable silence.
Narihisago swallowed with a throat that was too tight. It didn't matter, that therapist couldn't have done anything. They'd made a poor choice for starters. What he needed was someone who wouldn't shatter under the exploration. His stunt had proven that Hamamoto wasn't even close to being up to the task.
Slowly, Narihisago turned and gazed at the photos on the wall. Smiling faces captured in time. His family … but something more. A shadow that set his heart racing as he recognized it … acknowledged it for the first time.
Gripping his head he whispered, "I always talked about Muku … it was her death that started it all … but that wasn't it. I couldn't even really talk about it. That's why I always default to her. She didn't have a choice … "
Out of the corner of his eye he noted Fukuda sitting forward. "I'm listening."
He took a deep breath, if he said it, if he acknowledged it out loud … he had to tear off the concealing bandage. "Ayako … when I came home and found her dead … when she left me, suicide … from that moment forward … I was dead alive. Nothing hurt worse than that void left behind. And I should know now, after all the well deaths. If I'd been home with her I could have stopped her. She told me she was alright and I believed her." He gripped his shirt as the momentum continued to build into a torrent, his throat tightened, the words harder to force out of him. It was like squeezing the poison from a deep wound. "That's it … that's where it all lies."
"Let it all out, pal. I'm not a mind reader, you gotta say it."
He shook his head. "Fuck … all those years ago I was wrapped up in the case, distracting myself with trying to find the asshole who took my daughter. I missed the clues, Ayako didn't tell me." His fist trembled on his knee. "I never mourned their loss, neither of them. I'm still stuck on the anger. Anger at myself for not saving them." His throat almost closed off entirely. "Anger at Ayako for choosing to leave me!"
"Ehhh … " Fukuda held up a finger. "Will you permit me to offer perspective on that? From someone who knows?" He pointed to the hole in his head. "Trust me. It's not really a choice when it comes to that point. No one just decides to end on it a whim. I honestly didn't expect to live through this. When I did it I was reaching for relief, a release in death. No one was supposed to live through this. Surviving with the results was rather mixed."
Narihisago rolled his fingers across his knee, the words sinking in slowly.
"My guess is your wife couldn't take the grief anymore."
"I never made it that far … "
"She did, and it crushed her. She didn't want to worry you."
He huffed a wry laugh. "Look at me now. I wish she had worried me. Why didn't she tell me the truth? Damn it. If she had … "
"Could you have brought your daughter back?"
His head bowed.
"Where has this anger gotten you?"
Narihisago's eyes wandered around the cell, that question fully answered as he touched the prison bracelet clamped around his right wrist. He rested his forehead on his knee. "I don't know how to let it go. I don't even know how to begin to work through it. What I know now is that it's the reason why I do what I do … that loss, suicide … it's the most agonizing pain I know. The cost is the most dire. A feeling so deep and painful that death is the only relief. Standing on the precipice, I wished that the end would come. I've been there more times than I care to think about it."
Fukuda offered an empathetic smile, it looked odd on his uneven features. "Where to begin Mr. Anger Issues? That answer is obvious … why, at the beginning."
Narihisago shut his eyes tight. This well was deep … unfathomable … no, not a well. It was a vast, endless desert without a chart or a compass. The sheer scale threatened to paralyze him.
Sakaido wouldn't let it stop him. He wouldn't turn away. Narihisago held up his left hand, staring at the bare ring finger. "It shouldn't have ended up like this … it should have been different. Years ago when I was a different man … "
Author's Note: I am not done diving into the world of ID:Invaded. Next in the cue we jump back in time to a prequel. A time before Narihisago falls victim to Hayaseura's demented plan and becomes the pariah. Back when Momoki and Narihisago were homicide detectives ... when Akihito was a different man. I hope you will join me for the upcoming FILE: VIVISECTED