Characters: Dee, Ryo, OC.
Setting: During the manga.
Summary: Crimes are like puzzles to be solved; you just have to figure out how the clues connect.
Word Count: 789
Content Notes: None necessary.
Written For: Challenge 98: Connection at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
In some ways, making connections was what police work was all about, gathering seemingly unrelated facts and clues, and figuring out how they fitted together in order to solve the crime and catch the criminal. It was sort of like doing a jigsaw puzzle without having a picture to work from, putting each piece in the right place so they would combine to form a recognisable image. Or like those connect the dots puzzles Dee used to love when he was a kid, following the numbers, joining each dot to the next, trying to guess what would be revealed before it was finished.
He got the same satisfaction from cracking a case as he had from completing a puzzle, and also felt the same frustrations when the clues wouldn’t fit together as when he couldn’t find the next number and spent ages staring at all the unused dots, trying to figure out where to go next. Thinking about it, solving crimes could be looked at as kind of a game, but it was one with very high stakes where, if you made the wrong move, a guilty person might get away with what they’d done, or an innocent person might be wrongly charged.
This case was a real head-scratcher. Murders didn’t always come equipped with an obvious motive, but some were just plain baffling. The victim was a waiter, single, with no enemies, or at least none that his friends and colleagues knew about. The motive hadn’t been robbery; his wallet, containing his wages and his share of that evening’s tips, had still been in his pocket. Everyone they’d spoken to had said he was well liked, a pleasant if unremarkable guy with a good sense of humour. A hard worker who was seldom late for his shift, he did his job without complaining, and his only apparent vice was that he smoked. He wasn’t the only smoker on the restaurant’s staff either, two other waiters shared his vice and the three of them took turns to nip out back for a cigarette, covering each other’s table for the few minutes necessary to satisfy their nicotine cravings.
Dee, with Ryo in tow, headed back to the crime scene to take another look around. It didn’t make sense! The victim had apparently been waylaid about a block from the restaurant, dragged into this alley and strangled with what the M.E. said was most likely a woman’s stocking. Why? Nothing untoward had happened on his shift, there’d been no problems with any of the customers, no complaints about waiting to be served, or being given the wrong meal. The restaurant was in a good neighbourhood, moderately expensive, and with an excellent reputation. It regularly gained rave reviews for both food and service, yet one of its waiters had been murdered shortly after the end of his shift for no obvious reason.
“This is ridiculous!” Dee said, exasperated with their lack of progress. “The only time he wasn’t in the restaurant was when he stepped outside for a smoke.”
“Maybe we’re looking for clues in the wrong place,” Ryo suggested.
“Where else is there? We’ve already questioned everyone who was in the restaurant that evening, both staff and customers.” Dee leant back against the alley wall, digging in his pocket for his cigs. All the talk about smoking had made him want one himself. He paused it the act of taking his cigarette out of the packet as something occurred to him, then shoved it back in, stuffing the pack into his pocket again. “Maybe…”
“The alley behind the restaurant,” Ryo said, the same idea occurring to him.
“Yeah. Other businesses back onto there too; maybe our vic saw or heard something when he took a cigarette break…”
“Or maybe someone just thought he might have and decided not to take chances.”
Seemed the pieces were starting to fall into place.
The restaurant shared its back alley with a high-end antique shop, a bookshop, and a jeweller’s which was closed for the holidays but whose rear door appeared to have been jimmied and the alarm system disabled. Bingo.
Now if they could just figure out who knocked over the jewellery store, and when, maybe they’d find the people responsible for the murder of an unfortunate waiter who’d decided he needed a cigarette at the worst possible time.
Dee frowned thoughtfully; looked like there was more than one way to die from smoking. Maybe he should take the hint and quit. Sighing heavily, he dropped his cigs in the nearest trash bin, wondering if this was really the right time to stop smoking. Life was about to get a whole lot more complicated now they had two connected crimes to solve.