Detective School Q Tantei Gakuen Q Fan Fiction ❯ Facade ❯ Facade ( Chapter 1 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

The rain beat against the window, little rivulets of moisture gently coursing their way down the glass. The smell of moist earth immersed his olfactory senses in a plethora of happiness and peace. The sight was, strangely, far from depressing: the grey skies seeming to cleanse the sky in its wake, promising days of golden sunshine and good weather. Without the rain, prospering was meaningless, beauty was meaningless. Without dark, light was meaningless.
Without suffering, life was meaningless.
The teenager sighed, running his finger along the glass, his body heat and the cold outside fighting each other for domination. His thoughts had grown more and more morbid and philosophical as the evening progressed; depression settled like a fog in his irises. Finally, they perked up, more from fear than elation, as he heard, over the pounding of the rain, the sound of a car pulling into the house garage.
The door opened; he got to his feet slowly, glacially, apprehensively.
“Dad,” he greeted the tired-looking police uniform-clad man who entered. His father nodded absently at him, making a beeline for the wash-basin at the corner of the kitchen, splashing ice-cold water on his face, rejuvenating himself after a long day at work. He deftly opened a tiny hidden cupboard behind the basin, pulling out a packet of cigarettes and a lighter. Soon, he had settled himself on the couch, enjoying long, slow draughts from his lit cigarette. His son cleared his throat.
“Um, Dad, may we talk?”
His father stared at him sternly over the cigarette. “Did something happen at college, Kinta?”
Kinta shook his head. “No, it's not about college. I --” Just then a plump, amiable looking woman entered the room. “I've just put the stew on the stove; it'll be ready in a couple of minutes. What is this about a talk?” she asked curiously.
The father gave an irritated snort. “You just have to know everything, don't you, woman?”
The amiability on the woman's face vanished, to be replaced by anger. “I'm your wife and his mother, you know.”
“Both nothing to be proud of,” the father muttered.
Kinta nearly flinched. Why did Dad have to be so darned cynical about everything? It was always `why did you do this, why did you do that'… he could understand the concern, even the parental apprehensions, but the utter lack of praise and the constant criticism… who could bear that? Definitely not him.
Not anymore.
Kinta cleared his throat once more to get his parents' attention. “Dad,” he said. “I've made a decision.”
His father leaned forward. “Did you, now? I hope it's drastically different from other decisions you've made: meaning, ever so slightly sensible.”
Kinta's brow knitted, while his mother shot her husband a warning look. The man ignored both. Kinta spoke again. “I've decided to go out into the world on my own.” He paused dramatically, and when his parents waited for further elucidation, he continued, “I've decided to leave this house, Dad. I've enough money from my part-time jobs to rent a small flat, and in fact…” he took a deep breath, “I've already done so.”
There was silence, before his father removed his cigarette from his mouth and gave out a long sigh. “I guess my hopes for some sense from you are crushed… again.”
His mother spoke up before her husband could get in another word. “You're not going anywhere, Kinta. What's wrong with this house, might I ask you? We've given you everything a child might want- a good education, shelter clothes, love… and yet you want to leave, you ungrateful brat? Besides, what'll you do out there? You can't survive on your own. You'll probably end up on the streets…”
Kinta sighed. He had expected this from his mother. “Look, Mom,” he said decisively. “I can survive out there; for Pete's sake, I'm 18 now, Mom, and I've got a good job… maybe not good, but it's still a steady job, and I can operate my bank account for academic expenses, you know.”
His mother was shocked into silence; his father spoke up. The casual cynicism was replaced by volcanic anger. “You may think you're 18, Kinta, but you've got the brain of a three-year old! Always I knew that somehow, you…” he trailed off, sputtering.
What did you know, Dad?” Kinta demanded forcefully. “What do you actually know of me, huh? Have you even cared to try knowing me? Has anybody?”
His father stood up, throwing the still-burning cigarette away into the crevices of the kitchen. “That's enough from you, young man, you will not talk to me like that!”
“Of course,” Kinta said, his voice dripping with acid sarcasm, “You never liked me talking in any way at all, in the first place.
His father fumed. “It seems that ever since you went to that Detective School of yours, your audacity has climbed by leaps and bounds! I usually hold that school of Dan's in great esteem, but now your class mates seem to be influencing you in a direction other than desirable…”
Kinta's eyes flared. “Don't you dare bring them into this!”
“Now why shouldn't I?” his father bellowed. “You're in no position to tell me what to do and what not to, son.” He spat out the last word.
This didn't go unnoticed by Kinta. “You know what, Dad? What I've been telling you facilitates what you just told me to do: not bother your life.” With that, he reached for a couple of stuffed duffel bags he had placed in a corner of the room. “Well, bye then.”
His mother let out an agonised wail and clutched at his arm. “Don't leave, Kinta, please!”
He shook off her arm. “I'm sorry, Mom, but I have to leave.” With that, he walked to the front door and opened it. His father's voice sounded, cold but with an undercurrent of agony. “You've been planning this, I see, leaving whether we say yes or no… well, thanks for at least telling us, son.” With that, the man sat back on the couch, leaning his head back and closing his eyes in utter exhaustion. Tears were slowly trickling down his mother's face.
Kinta swallowed, his soul suddenly painful… but no. He had made his decision and he had to stick to it. He walked into the night; the rain had stopped. His sneakers squelched against the moist earth of his garden, and then against the tar as he walked on to the road.
Just at that moment, an explosion behind him threw him forward. He landed sprawled on the road, immediately protecting his head with his hands. What…? He got up and turned, gasping as he saw his house… no, home, in flames. “Mom! Dad! Oh My God!!!!!!”
The thrown cigarette… the lit stove… he thought, frantically stumbling toward the house, only to be driven back by the flames. Tears cascaded down his cheeks as he realised that nobody could have survived that explosion; his parents were dead.
“No.” He dropped to his knees, his face upturned toward the heavens, the tears on his face glistening in the light of the flames and the serene moon. “No!”
Mom, Dad, I'm so sorry…
“Kinta! Will you please pay attention!”
The rough voice of Mr. Hongou brought Kinta back to the present, to the Class he was sitting in at the DDS. He had a vague remembrance of Mr. Hongou telling something about investigating suicide-like murder cases and the delicacy involved in the matter before his mind had slipped into a world of its own- into his fresh, dark and painful memories.
He stood up. “I'm sorry, sir,” he said quietly. The teacher's eyes narrowed for a second, before he nodded and gestured for Kinta to sit down. Kinta nodded back and did so.
And his mind promptly drifted away from the lecture.
He could feel a pair of eyes boring into his back with concern; he knew those to be of Megumi. Megumi had been just a little too concerned for comfort over the past few months, ever since the… incident… happened. Kinta knew he could handle it; hell, he'd been handling it pretty well for a long time now, hadn't he? He was faring pretty well in work and studying; everything was just okay…why couldn't she get off his case?
But then again, when she did get off his case, how would he feel?
Deserted, perhaps. Betrayed. That his friends did not even care about him anymore.
Either way, it was just plain agony.
Kinta gave a small sigh and ran his fingers through his hair. His feelings were in a complete tangle now, and if he didn't sort them out soon, Mr. Hongou would find himself reprimanding Kinta for day-dreaming much more than usual. A scowl suddenly twitched Kinta's lips. Like I really care what Mr. Hongou thinks.
But then, he did care about what Principal Dan thought, and for that, he was determined to pay attention.
His eyes roamed over the others in the class: Kyu was staring straight at the teacher, his own eyes a little glazed, his mind immersed in thought. Riyu was busy making notes, while Kazuma was listening in rapt attention. Behind him, Megumi's pencil also moved across her pad, though Kinta was not sure those were lecture notes she was writing, or some thing else.
They had all been so sympathetic after the accident, offering their deepest condolences and their help. Kinta had thanked them, and politely refused any help. He could take care of himself, thank you very much. They often commented now that Kinta had changed, that he had `gone into a shell'; that he was not like what he was before. Hell, Kinta often wanted to shout at that, he was just acting quieter and more intelligent, that's all!
They talked about sympathy, gave advice like they were superior beings, but did they really understand how he felt? No, of course not. Could they understand his deep guilt, that in the last moment of his parents' lives, all he'd caused them was pain and sorrow? Could they even fractionally perceive his grief and regret that he hadn't had time to understand his father better, and vice-versa?
They had always thought of him as the blundering fool, the muscle of the group, not capable of feeling such depth, or of intelligence. How could people like they, people who had solved cases that baffled even the best police detectives, think like that? If truly Kinta was what they thought he was, then how was it that he got into DDS, let alone the prestigious Class Q?
He may be hot-headed at times, may allow teenage hormones to overwhelm when a pretty girl was involved, but that did not mean he was less capable than the rest. Okay, Kyu and Riyu were exceptional in their reasoning capabilities; Megumi was legendary for her observing capacity and photographic memory; Kazuma for his computer skills, and Kinta… well, he was just the tag-along who used his muscles whenever the group needed it, right?
Everybody's brains were as vital to the group as the other, including Kinta's own. Their strengths complemented and balanced each other, forming a team, a team that worked best when working together.
Sometimes, of course, more like all the time, Kyu, Riyu, Meg and Kazuma's prowess overshadowed his own. And, of course, people took it that he was the fool of the team, when, actually, it was not so. It was now that he actually realised that fact completely. He could now assert himself in the Class, show what he was made of…
And yet…
He knew the team would be thrown off completely. Things were best as they were; the others need not know of his other side. Let them rest comfortably knowing only one side of their classmate, for the time being. Perhaps, one day, they would know…
But not now.
He snapped out of his reverie in time to hear Mr. Hongou pose a question to the class at the end of the lesson. “Would anybody care to tell me the features and factors that distinguish a suicide from a murder?”
Kinta's fingers itched to put his hand up and tell the answer. Contrary to popular opinion, he had gone through the text book the previous day, if just to stop thinking about the accident and other morbid thoughts. But he allowed Kazuma to spring up and rattle off the answer. He had to maintain the screen, the façade, for now.
The grey was over his life now, but he knew, bedrock knew, that the golden sunshine would soon break through.
Just then, the door opened and Principal Dan came in, in his wheelchair, followed by Miss Kataguiri. Everybody stood up immediately and greeted him.
Detective Dan nodded, and surveyed them through keen eyes. “I have a case for you, Class Q,” he said. “A murder case involving prominent bureaucracy. Are you up to it?”
Without hesitation, the class intoned, “Yes, sir!”
Principal Dan smiled. “You will come to my office now, for the details.” As the class prepared to stow their books away and follow Principal Dan, the man stopped them. “Wait, everybody, I have a few things to say before you start the investigation.” The class waited patiently as once more the keen eyes surveyed them.
“Mr. Hongou will not be accompanying you.” This drew a few raised eyebrows from the class and a start from the said teacher.
“Mr. Dan!” Hongou cried indignantly. Principal Dan ignored him and continued, “Instead, Kinta will be heading the investigation.”
Now, this drew a few gasps from the class, even from the unshakable Riyu. Kinta stammered, “But Principal Dan, you must have made a mistake; I'm not the person to actually lead…” he trailed off as Dan raised a hand. The great detective smiled kindly at the 18 year old. “No, Kinta, I've not made any mistake; you're going to lead the investigation.” Dan's twinkling eyes then grew serious. “I think it's time you dropped the façade, Kinta; you forget that I have never lost faith in you or your abilities.”
Kinta blinked in astonishment. How did he know…? The great man was even greater than Kinta had imagined, it seemed. Then, as the astonishment faded, enlightenment took its place. Here was the opportunity to actually show his true self; be his own person; make his father, where he was now, in the great heavens above, proud.
He grinned and bowed in consent. “Of course, Principal Dan.”
Dan smiled once again and nodded, leaving the room, the astonished class following in his wake. A gentle smile hovered over Kinta's lips as they made their way to the Principal Dan's office.
The façade had dissipated.
The sunshine had finally broken through.