Don't forget to vote! (it's a new poll)
You can find the time for phase change here: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/ ... 15&p1=1440
By now the pile of take away food boxes and other delivered items has filled up most of the room except for a tiny corner you've somehow managed to keep clean.
It's hard to decide what's worse, the stench of the surrounding trash or the horrifying smell of your own body. You'd pretend to care, but honestly it doesn't really matter anymore.
What's the point when he's not there anyway...
'He could have been alive!' The little voice in your head keeps telling you. 'It's your fault that he's gone. If you hadn't cancelled on him the night before he'd be alive right now.'
Part of you wants to scream at the little voice. Tell it it's lying. That there's nothing you could have done.
Of course you know better; If you hadn't pushed yourself during training that morning things could have gone a lot differently.
Whether or not that difference would mean that he'd be alive or you both would be dead right now you don't know yet.
Either way it doesn't matter.
Part of you knows you're getting sick of this mess however. You'd never been one to wallow in self pity before and after a month of doing so it's been slowly getting to your nerves.
It hadn't been bad enough to do something about it before, but for some reason today feels different.
Getting up you groan at how stiff your legs feel before somehow making it to the bathroom through the mountain of trash you've created. The water still seems to be working, though you're pretty sure you didn't pay your bills at all.
Somehow the miracle of working plumbing gives you enough energy to actually wash and shave yourself for the first time in ages.
Once you're done you look up into the grimy mirror, a pair of emerald greens staring back at you.
You sigh, rubbing your face before staring at the pile of laundry that consists of every item of clothing you own. Well... except for the ones you're wearing maybe.
Clearly you're going to have to start taking care of yourself again, especially if you ever want to face reality again.
Glancing over the size of it, though, you feel slightly intimidated.
With another sigh you decide on just getting some clean clothes from the store down the road today. The cash in your bank account should be plenty to get you something for a few days until you've gotten your... mess... sorted a little.
As you exit the bathroom your eyes fall on the envelope left on your stove top.
Until now you've not been able to face its contents, but you know full well that running from it won't be an option for much longer.
The thought feels daunting, but as you pick up the envelope and slip out the card inside it, eyes scanning the poem on it that you admittedly know a little too well by now, you know that you can't avoid it any longer.
Perhaps today... You should visit his grave. Akira's grave.
Stuffing the piece of paper in your jacket pocket you stumble to the front door, slipping on a pair of crocks you got from your sister to remind you how much she actually cares.
Despite the gesture they are actually quite comfortable to walk in, but of course you'll never tell her that. Shaking your head you push open the door, only slightly ready for what lies behind it.
Had they always been there?
Getting to your destination you quickly flee outside only to be pushed around by the crowd of other passengers trying to get to the exit. Despite the onset of a headache you follow them outside, knowing full well that this is the only way to get to where you wanted to go to begin with.
Now, outside the train station you exhale slowly, your breath forming a cloud in the cold air. You'd always considered winter to be fairly pleasant, jogging outside on cold autumn and winter mornings a favourite pastime.
Now, however, the air just feels chilly.
Rubbing your hands together you make your way across the street, staring up at the darkening sky as you head to the address listed on the card you'd taken from your stove earlier that day. Part of you doesn't feel like facing what you'll find there, but a larger part of you is done with waiting around to avoid the inevitable.
Either way you know it isn't far from here, and focusing on the dark sky above you you let your feet carry you there slowly.
Once at the graveyard you allow yourself to look down again. In the darkness it's almost impossible to see the family names engraved on them, but little by little you slowly make it up the stairs towards the only working lamppost in the area.
It's there where you see the silhouette. The sight of a figure at the graveyard makes you pause temporarily, surprised to find someone here at this time of day, but soon surprise is replaced with disbelief as you realise you recognise it.
Could it be?
Stumbling forward you try to quickly climb the stairs only to slip and fall with a loud dull thud and oof, the dirt and wooden stairs scraping your hands and arms. The stinging makes you quietly curse at your carelessness, but before you can move to get up a shadow falls over you. Glancing up you see an outstretched hand and an oh so familiar smile.
'Are you ok?'
The voice breaks your illusion, and as you look better you can tell that it's not Akira you're looking at, but instead his younger sister.
A wave of disappointment hits you, but you still reach out, taking her hand to get back on your feet again.
'I'm alright.' You mumble, not sure who you're trying to convince as you look at your feet and then her face again.
She's still smiling at you softly, a way he often used to smile when he had his mind set to something.
You guess it runs in the family.
'Do you want to sit down?' She says, beckoning at a bench not far from the two of you. You nod out of politeness, not sure what to say.
As the two of you sit down her smile falters, your eyes both falling on the grave opposite from you.
Right away you decide you prefer to see her smiling.
'I still can't believe it, you know?' She says, her voice trembling. 'That he's gone... I can't believe he...'
'He wouldn't.' You respond, more sure of yourself as you stare at Akira's final resting place then at the sister that looks so much like him. 'He'd never kill himself.'
She stares at you silently, and before she can respond you continue.
'I... I promise I'll find out who did it... Find out who really killed him. And when I'll do... When I'll do I'll make sure everyone knows.' Taking her hands in yours you look her straight in the eyes, brown like her brother's, and promise yourself you will protect her from all this somehow. 'Promise.'
As she looks back at you her faint smile returns, eyes uncertain as she nods.
As soon as you've managed to drag yourself out of bed you set to putting everything downstairs, which is more easily said than done. A month of sitting still has absolutely destroyed your condition and once everything is done you drop back on your bed completely winded while wondering if you'll ever get back into shape.
It was kind enough of your coach to give you off till now, but being as out of shape as you are you wonder if you'll ever get back into shape in time for the next big baseball tournament coming up...
Would it even be any fun without him? The only reason you ever got this far playing the sport was because you had Akira to catch up with, but with him gone the reason to like playing had more or less gone away as well. The realisation makes you feel shallow, but despite that you make a note to yourself to exercise.
For now you have more important things to do, however.
Looking around at your room and the remaining trash you'll have to take out on later dates you slowly get yourself to finally clean the place. The end result is a slightly less smelly apartment, but you guess it's a start.
Once the washing machine is working on the first part of your laundry you turn to your to do list. It is quite extensive for something written in a sleepy stupor, going all the way from visiting his apartment to somehow getting your hands on the casefiles. You're not quite sure how you'll do the last thing yet, and looking over the points figuring out where to start feels quite daunting.
The first point it is then, you suppose.
The thought is slightly painful, and clenching your fists you take a beep, shaky breath before forcing yourself to walk in through the automatic sliding doors into the main lobby.
Inside you look around hesitantly at the immaculately cleaned area, eyes glancing at the window of the concierge's office that has a small 'Out until 12:00' sign hanging on it. Part of you had hoped you'd find mister Amano sitting there, the man seemed to always have an air of calmness around him that you couldn't quite explain, but you know full well he has his own life to worry about.
Still, his absence makes the already silent lobby feel all the more empty.
Ignoring the the feeling you press on to the second locked door, using your key to get in and to the lift which you use to get to the 30th floor, and once you're there it doesn't take long to find his room, number 3010.
Standing in front of it the memories of that morning instantly flood back into your mind. You'd shown up early to apologize cancelling on your guy's night out the day before with a bottle of his favourite wine. You'd rang the bell downstairs and upstairs multiple times, then you'd knocked until your knuckles were sore while shouting through the door it was you.
You remember thinking it was weird you'd gotten no answer, but figuring he was still asleep or in the shower you'd let yourself in only to... Find him lying on his floor in a puddle of mostly dried blood. Knife near his right hand...
Everything that came after that was a blur, and thinking back carefully you only vaguely remembering you dropped the wine bottle, then the hours of interrogation before you'd finally come home and locked yourself into your room swearing you'd never come out again.
But, here you are, standing in front of the door you are now afraid to open, scared of the thought of what you'll find behind it.
Before you can stop yourself and turn away you quickly shove the key into the lock and, eyes closed, push the door open. With the knob still in your hand you stay still for a while, but hearing nothing you slowly open your eyes again to take in what's in front of you; An empty hallway, door to the living room open like it was that day, his shoes still neatly put out in the corner now covered in a slight layer of dust.
He's not there anymore...
You close the door carefully, hands shaking as you take off your shoes and walk in, all the while fixating your eyes on the spot where he lay. You're not sure what you expected, after a month there's no way he could still be there, but standing in the middle of the room you realise it's more than that.
The atmosphere feels different, stiffer and emptier than it used to.
Being here had always made you feel... Welcome. Whether he'd been here or not, you'd always felt at home here knowing he'd be back eventually. Now with him gone that feeling had left as well.
You're not sure how you feel about that yet, but you know you don't have time to dwell on that.
Forcing yourself to focus you look back at the location where his body had been lying. You hadn't gone in far enough to actually see the scene, but you remember the knife near his right hand clearly.
They'd ruled it a suicide, but you know that if he'd ever kill himself using a knife would have not been an option.
You kneel down and gently brush the floor with your fingers as if to reconnect to the events of that morning, trying to sort the memories of your friend as he'd been when you were still in high school.
He'd absolutely hated blood... Even when he'd first hit you in the face while playing catch ball with Hotaka the sight of the slight blood drop trickling down your face had put him of. You remember him holding out his left hand to you while awkwardly looking away that first fateful day you'd met, wind gently toying with his dark hair. It'd taken you another full year to understand why he'd avoided looking at your face when he'd passed out after someone had cut himself on the fencing during practice.
He'd never chose to cut himself willingly.
And... Then of course there was still the fact he was left handed while the knife had been near his right. Of course he could have dropped it in a panic and that's where it had ended up, but the part that doubts that is too large.
In the end you sweep the apartment, but aside from finding it quite clean you find nothing there but old memories of the past, and somewhat disappointed you head back home, deciding to put that disappointment into clearing out your room more. Once everything smells slightly better and you've put the second round of laundry into the washing machine you drag yourself to your bed and fall down on it exhausted before setting another early alarm for the next day.
Then, already wearing sports clothes, you jog to the gym several blocks away from your apartment. The familiar exercise makes you feel a bit more energised for a little while, but after a street your lessened stamina becomes noticeable and by the time you've reached the gym you're completely exhausted again.
Panting next to the front door you wonder if you'll ever get back into shape, and after buying a bottle of water from the vending machine near you you sit down, feeling slightly defeated and tired.
Maybe you're pushing yourself a little too much after so long...
You shake your head at the thought, and taking a big sip from your water you head inside the gym. You don't have time to sit still.
Only fifteen minutes later you find yourself on the gym floor. Already prepared for exercise you didn't need long to change and with a workout machine already in mind you set out to start training. Following a set of work outs you're already familiar with you end up filling a full two hours using various machines while pushing past your point of exhaustion. Then, after a short ten minute break, you get yourself on the treadmill for a final run, your legs feeling like lead as you set it to medium speed.
Medium might have been a little too much however. Tripping over your own feet you soon find yourself hitting the floor, a light chuckling erupting from around you as you roll onto your back with a groan.
'Hatano?!' The familiar voice makes you sit up, wincing slightly as you rub the back of your head. On the treadmill next to you a familiar face is looking down while still running.
'Endou?!' The two of you stare at each other as he lowers the speed on his treadmill, a grin spreading on his face as he glances at your predicament.
'Look at you, having a date with the floor. I didn't notice you with that gloom on your face!' Endou proclaims loudly, chuckling at his own joke as he does before his look gets serious. 'Guess you needed to get over losing your guy sooner or later.'
Getting up you glare at him for that comment before carefully getting back on the treadmill and slowing it's speed to match your old friend's.
'Are you still on about that? Akira and I were just friends you know.' You comment, turning your eyes away to avoid his grin.
You, Endou and Akira had been an inseparable group all throughout high and middle school, and especially throughout high school Edou had been absolutely convinced you had a crush on your shared friend.
The thought was... Ridiculous, to say the least. You were great friends and that was all.
'Sure, sure!' Endou laughs, then takes a serious look at you as you walk alongside each other. 'Seriously, though, you look awful. Are you ok.'
'Gee thanks.' You roll your eyes at him as you say that, 'I'm alright, just tired...'
'Pushing yourself huh?' He glances you over a bit more as he says that, a habit he had even in middle school that always annoyed you. 'I get you've been off the field for a while, but he'd hate seeing you like this you know... I stil can't believe..'
'He didn't...' Cutting him off you stand still only to end up back on the floor, feeling annoyed both at him and yourself.
'Oi oi... Are you going to keep doing that?' stopping his treadmill Endou turns to look at you, slightly bemused.
'He didn't kill himself!' You say again, getting up angrily.
Endou stares back, slightly befuddled now. 'T-the police rapport said... though.'
You cut him off again, grabbing your stuff as you prepare to leave. 'Well, they were wrong!' Putting off your treadmill you face him one final time, feeling betrayed and annoyed at someone who used to call Akira his friend too.
'And I'm going to prove it!'
With that you storm off and out of the building, not even bothering to get a shower.
You remember the last time you were there all too well, locked in a room with cops trying to convince you you'd been the one holding the knife. With the evidence and a solid alibi on your side, however, they had eventually let you go.
The thought they even considered you a suspect still makes you shudder, but you decide you won't focus on that today.
More importantly you need the evidence. The question was, of course, if you could even get your hands on their files, but you don't really have an option. With the crime scene already cleaned up and Akira's body turned to ashes they're all you have to solve this.
And so, nervous and exhausted, you stumble inside to the officer behind the front desk; A young woman in summer uniform busy with computerwork as she greets you without looking up from the screen.
'How can I help you sir?' She says, eyes briefly glancing at you before returning to the screen in front of her.
'I'm looking for...' You frown lightly trying to remember the name of the guy you're thinking of, the young officer now turning her attention to you. 'Inspector Ishigawa! Is he here today?'
Your look down to meet her stare which, despite her kind smile, seems fairly impatient.
'Inspector Ishigawa is not here today, sir.' She responds flatly, a smile still plastered on her face. 'If you need to speak with him I'd advice you to come back tomor-'
At the loud voice booming from behind her the young officer jumps up, eyes instantly filled with horror as she quickly salutes. 'Sir!'
Turning around to see the source of the voice you spot a large bulky man approaching the front desk, his gaze falling on you briefly before turning his attention to officer Watanabe.
'Manners, Watanabe, I don't want to have to tell you a thousand times! Understood?'
'Y-yes sir!' Watanabe responds with a shrill voice before quickly gathering her items and then turning her full attention to you. 'I-If it's important you could talk with any of our other officers?'
'Ah..' You mutter, stunned by the spectacle. 'That's ok, I'll be back to meet him tomorrow...'
Before you can walk away, though, the bulky man steps in front of you, his piercing black eyes staring you down. Man... You probably look like a mess to him.
'Hatano, wasn't it? If you need anything from my subordinate you can come with me. My office is this way.' Before you can object he's already walking away to his office, and somwhat flabberghasted you follow him.
Before you know it you're sat inside the man's office, who soon identifies himself as chief inspector Miyamoto Hisao as he takes a seat behind his desk and folds his hands, still staring you down with his incredibly dark eyes.
The name sounds vaguely familiar to you, but you are too intimidated by the man to ask questions.
'Well then, mister Hatano, what brought you to visit inspector Ishigawa today?'
'I...' You hesitate, unsure of the response you'll get if you're being honest to him but sure that lying will get you nowhere.
You sigh reluctantly. 'I was hoping I could see the files of the Akita case... Sir. I... I don't think he killed himself.'
You look at the chief inspector to see his reaction, but instead you get a blank stare, his hands still folded as he looks back at you. Nervously you mess with your collar.
'Is that so?' His tone is unwavering, and as he sits back in his chair his gaze remains fixed on you. 'Does that mean you think we did a bad job?'
'With all respect, sir...' You swallow, knowing how bad your remark sounds to a man in his position. 'Yes.'
'Very well.' He stands up, walking to the window calmly to look outside, arms now folded behind his back. 'I could look the other way, and I might, but on one condition.'
You look at his back, surprised at his words. Did you just actually hear that correctly..?
'One condition... Sir?'
As you say that he turns to look at you again. 'Fix yourself up, Hatano. Get your life back on track. If you do that I might consider... Losing the case files in the park across the street.'
With that he takes a seat again, opening a drawer to pull out some paper and a pen to write a quick note. 'And stay out of trouble, too. You'll need this to talk to the inspector...'
After writing down his name on the small piece of paper he holds it out to you, and you quickly take it from him.
'Yes sir...' You say, before getting up quickly and bowing to the man. 'Thank you!'
Miyamoto shakes his head at you then motions for you to leave the office. 'Just go home, Hatano.'