Monday, April 11th, 2023.
Fūchu Prison, Japan.
Hollow footsteps echoed in the hallway. A man took bold, leisure strides down the corridor, holding almost an air of slick elegance. The man, only appearing to be in his late twenties, wore a black suit. It was professional and neat, looking as if his destination was a business meeting. Covering his wrists, were the white cuffs of his rolled up white undershirt folded to overlap the darker overshirt.
Although his apparel was well-kept, the hair atop his head was a mop of jet black, slightly messy due to the fact he did not care about such things. His oblong chin, stiff yet refined, had small dark hairs sprinkled around. His eyes were a flaring, electric blue with hues and shades. They almost looked as if they were glowing. Over his right eye, was a scar that had not yet faded. The scar would stay with him the rest of his life, the damage was done without a chance of reverse. However, it was only eight months old.
It was thanks to that scar that he was there in the first place. His father repeatedly asking him to hire a bodyguard, even to the point in which he was willing to spare some officers to aid him. For goodness sakes, he was not a child. Being the son of the police chief, he has had years of experience in self-defense and awareness of his surroundings.
’It’s that thought that had gotten you to this point, Yanjīng,’ he recalled his father scolding just two months after acquiring the injury.
A stoic expression on his face, he stopped in front of a dark brown, wooden door. He shook his head dismissing his thoughts, and reached out towards the boundary, taking ahold of the brass knob and twisting it. Gently pushing it open, he peered inside.
“I was wondering who would be asking for me. Really, I should have known.”
Letting his eyes wander off to the woman sitting on the opposite side of the table, he analyzed her features. The woman had peach-toned skin, albeit slightly pale. Her hair was a golden strawberry blonde of slightly messy and unkempt hair, seemingly to end near her elbows. A small smile plastered on her face, her honey-amber eyes glistened. She wore a dark grey jumpsuit with long, baggy sleeves shielding her slim arms.
Yanjīng was silent as he closed the door behind him. He pulled the chair in front of him backward and sat in it quietly. There was a pause between the two before anyone had decided to talk.
“So…” The woman began. “What brings you here, Detective?” Yanjīng did not answer right away, folding his hands together on the table.
“I will not waste time and drag this out, so I will be blunt,” the man began. Despite the serious air, the convict only kept her smile and tilted her head in waiting. Keeping his composure, he continued.
“I want to hire you.”
The woman smiled wider.
“I respectfully decline.”
A heavy silence weighed in the air. The amber-eyed woman sighed. She shifted her hands, which were placed beside her, in her lap. Her smile fell and she averted her eyes to her hands, looking almost remorseful.
“Sorry,” she said apologetically. The lingering awkwardness began to leave the air. She spoke again, this time her smile a little brighter. “Although, that is quite a strange question to ask someone you just met.”
“Well,” he said. “I did say I didn’t want to waste time.”
The woman became quiet. “But, really? Me, of all people?”
She looked up at him, her eyes giving away a threatening, bright yellow gleam. It resembled an animal’s eyes glowing in the dark of night.
“You do remember I killed six people, right? I’m a murderer,” she told him. Yanjīng stood silent for a moment before answering.
“Of course I do…” His eyes flared up, mimicking and mirroring her expression with a blazing sky-blue glare. “I was the one that arrested you.”
The two remained at a standstill, resounding in a long, heavy silence. A quiet tension dragged out seemingly forever. You could almost hear a pin drop. The room’s walls, a plain and very pale grey, only seemed to add a tinge of gloominess. Yanjīng then closes his eyes and sighs.
“However,” he starts, breaking the tension. “I have reason to believe you have changed.”
She looked at him, bewildered and skeptical, for a moment. Another soft smile graced her lips. “Oh? Please, enlighten me.”
He waited a moment before slowly raising his hand. Pointing behind with his thumb, he drew her attention to the timber door he had entered from.
“For an example, the door behind me.” She tilted her head slightly in confusion.
“What about it?”
“Well, what do you know about it?” She sat silently, pondering on what he could mean. Due to his always stoic and blank expressions, the mind of this detective was unreadable. She narrowed her eyes in further puzzlement.
“It’s a door?”
“And the knob?” Her mouth creased into a thin line.
“Nothing notable...” She paused for a moment, further examining the brass object from her seat. That’s when she realized what he had expected her to say. “There isn’t a lock.”
He nodded. “Yes. When did you notice it?”
Truthfully, she had noticed it long before he entered. She just didn’t mention it because it seemed too obvious and insignificant.
“When I was told to wait in this room.” He placed his hands on the table, folding them together.
“That gives more evidence to my claim,” he says. The woman stays silent. She had shown no sign of wanting to speak, so he continued.
“With the door unable to lock. You could have escaped at any time, or at the very least attempt to,” he told her. The thought pondered on her for a moment. Her lips thinned in dismay.
“Even so, against your ability, mine is rendered useless,” she replies. He tilts his head slightly.
“However, you could have attempted to escape even before I arrived.”
“And cause panic and chaos over a simple breakout?” she asks. She shakes her head. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to be a bother, especially if I would be keeping a person waiting.”
The Japanese man looked over his thoughts for a moment, piecing together his words.
“You mentioned you did not want to cause a panic?”
She stilled and took a moment to find her answer.
“... Yes, I did,” she ended up saying.
“Well then,” Yanjīng began. “I’m sure an ex-murderer like you wouldn’t worry about causing a panic if you wanted to escape. Earlier, you also said you wouldn’t want to keep anyone waiting. That enough shows that you care about others. You’re trying to make yourself into a criminal.”
He paused again for a moment. “I don’t mean you aren’t one. You have made a grave mistake by killing, even if it was to justify the situation you had arrived in back then. I just mean you aren’t the cold-hearted killer you want me to see you as.”
She was silent, unable to concoct a reply.
“Then what kind of killer do you see me as?”
He tilted his head.
“Really,” he started. “All I see in front of me is a woman who wanted to protect someone close to her, just made an intentional blunder in the process.”
The woman could not answer. How could she, when he was absolutely correct? However, she cannot accept such a decision. She felt she had no right to. If she was allowed out into the world once again, what of the people she cared about, living their peaceful lives? What if they crossed paths, and just her presence alone reminded them of the horrible experience they had gone through? And what if… she met him again?
“However, a killer is a killer. If you think you don’t have the privilege to go outside, I understand. This is only an offer, the final decision is in your hands.”
She glances up at him. She takes notice of the scar over his right eye. She gnaws on her lip.
He looks at her.
She nervously glances up at him again, running through her thoughts once more. Does she really want to do this? She inhales long and slow, then sighs.
“I’ll consider it… under a condition.”