“I need him like I need a hole in my head,” Hikaru says with what he hopes is enough sarcasm in his voice to make Yabu change his mind.
He looks again at the person on the other side of the police station’s office, diligently unpacking his things at the empty desk beside Hikaru’s. Even from here, Hikaru can see a few wrinkles in the man’s suit. Careless, Hikaru thinks, can’t pay attention to details either. The guy’s few belongings are already a whirlwind of a mess around his computer and he looks a bit stressed out. Not suited for this line of work, Hikaru mentally scoffs but doesn’t voice the thought out loud.
“Maybe a hole in your head would do you good,” Yabu answers with equal amounts of sarcasm to Hikaru’s earlier comment. “It’d give your ego some more space.”
Hikaru shoots him an annoyed glare.
“We’ve been over this a million times,” Yabu continues. “The regulations require you to have a partner. I’ve let you work for too long without one. I’m sorry but there’s nothing else I can do. Live with it.” Yabu pauses to sip his coffee as he lets the words sink in.
Hikaru feels even more annoyed hearing these words from Yabu considering that he’s the reason Hikaru needs a new partner anyway. Almost eight years together, working side by side perfectly from the time they graduated the police academy, and then Yabu has to mess it all up and leave Hikaru all alone.
“Why’d you have to take this promotion anyway?” Hikaru grumbles, mostly to himself as he already knows the answer. The shiny nameplate that says Captain Yabu Kota gleams on the desk from the fluorescent lights overhead. It was still new enough to not even be smudged with dirt or dust yet. Yabu just gives him a look that says we’re not having this conversation again.
Hikaru glances at his new partner again. He’s taken a break from the unpacking to talk with another one of the detectives. The stress on the guy’s face lightens up a bit as he relaxes, smiling and laughing easily.
“Takaki Yuya will be a good partner for you,” Yabu decides to speak again.
“He’s a rookie,” Hikaru shoots back before Yabu can start spouting the virtues of his new partner. As far as Hikaru was concerned, the guy should still be directing traffic, not helping him track down missing people.
“Not everyone decides they want to join the police force right out of high school like we did,” Yabu says. He sounds tired and Hikaru tears his eyes away from his new partner to look at the new captain again. Yabu is sipping his coffee while flipping through some reports on his desk. For the first time, Hikaru notices the dark circles under his eyes and instantly he regrets complaining so much. This change wasn’t easy on Yabu either. Suddenly, Hikaru is itching for a cigarette but he doesn’t have time to excuse himself to the roof right now. He’s been stalling long enough. Time to stop bothering Yabu and finally go say hello to his new partner.
Yabu’s old desk—or rather, Takaki’s new one—looks like the site of a paper explosion. Hikaru’s not even sure why the new guy even has so many papers, but the disorganization grates on his nerves. He’s read Takaki’s file but he’s still not convinced this guy is cut out to be a detective. Not when he’s already using his police badge and a stapler and a tape dispenser as paperweights to secure his unwieldy stack of files.
Hikaru starts off with a simple “hi.”
“Oh,” the new guy spins around, caught off guard for a moment. He’s looking frazzled again and up close, Hikaru can see more wrinkles in his suit. “Hi, I’m Takaki Yuya. That’s Takaki spelled with two k’s and no g.” He chuckles quietly at his own introduction before concluding with the usual “nice to meet you.”
“I’m Yaotome Hikaru,” he answers back. “We’ll be working together.”
Takaki’s eyes widen as the realization sinks in. “Ah, my new partner! I’m looking forward to working together with you.” He bows and holds the position a few seconds longer than expected. Hikaru can appreciate the formality and respect at least.
“Sure,” Hikaru says as he sits down at his own desk, neatly organized down to the very last paperclip. Now that they’ve said hello, Hikaru isn’t sure how to continue. He wants to tell Takaki that he’s done perfectly well on his own the past few weeks and he doesn’t really need another partner, but he knows that’s rude. So he sits in awkward silence as he works on finishing up a report from his last case. He’s still itching for that cigarette but he tries to ignore it. He’s supposed to be cutting back anyway.
He gets engrossed in his work and so he’s not sure how much time had passed when Yabu’s voice interrupts his train of thought with “you guys have a new case.” A piece of paper is shoved in his face with details scrawled on it in Yabu’s messy handwriting—name of the missing person, contact info for the one who reported it, some bits about where the victim was supposed to be—and Hikaru leans back to take it from Yabu’s hand.
“Okay Rookie,” Hikaru begins as he gets up from his desk. He ignores how Takaki furrows his eyebrows at the rookie nickname. “Time to get to work. I’ll drive. You call the guy who reported it and tell him we’re on the way to talk to him.” He thrusts the paper into Takaki’s hands and doesn’t wait before he starts striding towards the door. There’s no time to waste when someone is missing. Every moment is essential because the longer it takes, the less likely it is that they’ll recover the person safely.
Takaki is already talking on his cellphone by the time they reach the hallway leading to the station’s front door. “Hello,” he begins, “is this Yamada Ryosuke? I’m Detective Takaki Yuya. My partner and I are on our way now to ask you some questions in regards to Mr. Okamoto’s disappearance. Yes, we’ll be there soon. Please remain calm.”
Hikaru bristles as the word “partner” comes out of Takaki’s mouth, but he’s impressed at least by the professional tone. By the time they reach Hikaru’s car, Takaki has already pulled up directions to Yamada’s house, saving him the trouble of looking it up himself. Hikaru has to admit he doesn’t have any complaints about Takaki yet, which annoys him actually. He finally gives into the urge for a cigarette and pulls one out as he puts the car into drive.
Takaki doesn’t say anything, but Hikaru rolls down the windows as a small act of courtesy at least.
Hikaru hopes, as he always does, that this case turns out to be a false alarm. Sometimes he gets lucky, but not always. And this time, he’s got a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach.
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