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My Dangerous Partner

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When Aizawa Eriko had started her job at the Shinjuku Police station, she’d known what she was getting into. She didn’t have any romantic notions about being a detective in a city like Tokyo, although her family and friends seemed to think that was the case. But when she was finally introduced to her first real partner on the force, she was beginning to think that maybe she really had been naive.

Iida Kyôya was a mystery to her.

She didn’t know what to think of him at the best of times. But she had a feeling she could trust him. He tended to act on his own, tended to ignore the law if it got a case solved, but he had saved her life when she’d been in danger and he still looked out for her even now – without making it obvious that he was. Eriko was beginning to understand that his cold, matter of fact way of dealing with people didn’t mean he didn’t care for the people around him. Or at least she thought he did. She couldn't be sure.

“He’s dangerous, that one. If I were you, I’d ask to be assigned a new partner.”

She turned to stare at the man who’d called after her. Serizawa had been with the Shinjuku police force for years and even Eriko knew he didn’t get along with her partner. “What makes you say that?”

“Ever looked at his record?” He let out a short, unpleasant laugh. “His partners never last long. They either get killed or leave. There’s a reason for that, don’t you think, Missy?”

“Thank you for your... insight, Mr. Serizawa.” She excused herself with a casual bow. Listening to gossip had always felt wrong to her and she wasn't going to let her judgment be influenced by idle talk.

***

“He's dead.”

“I can see that. You were nearly hit by a car,” she pointed out. Iida had stopped a fleeing Yakuza by throwing himself into harms way to get a better shot at the car. How can you be so calm about it? she thought, still shocked at what had happened.

“It was the quickest way to stop him. Did you want to see another bloodbath, Aizawa?”

“No. Of course not. I’m just not sure that throwing yourself in front of a car was really the only option.”

“It wasn’t,” he answered coldly, but his lips had curled into a smile. “It was just the quickest way to stop him.”

***

The sun was shining and most of her coworkers went outside for their lunch break. Iida had been called away a while ago by chief inspector Narita and Eriko found herself stuck with the paper work of their last case. She looked out the window with sigh. Would it be permissible to just leave all of this for a while and follow their colleagues lead and enjoy the sunny weather?

After all she wouldn’t go far and her partner could call her if anything needed their immediate attention.

She reached for her bag and made her way to the corridor, where she quickly told someone where she was going. On her way to the Shinjuku Central Park she bought some Sandwiches in a little convenience store and wondered distantly weather it was possible to see Mt. Fuji today from the Government Building’s Observatories. But something caught her eye on the other side of the street.

Her boss and Iida were standing right in front of the Park’s entrance, talking to a woman dressed in black. Eriko stopped in surprise and watched in fascination as her partner bend down to look into the baby carriage the woman had with her. Iida had never shown any interest in children - or people in general. Did he have any connection to this child?

It was Narita who spotted her and waved her over. Iida was wearing the same neutral expression she was used to. “This is Kyôya’s new partner, Aizawa Eriko,” Narita introduced her.

The woman gave her a sad smile. “I see. I’m Yamaki Yukari. Glad to meet you.”

Yamaki. Eriko made the connection immediately: Yamaki Tsuyoshi had been Iida’s last partner and had died on the job. She didn’t know what to say that wasn't intrusive. Awkward, that I’d think she’d have a different connection to Iida, she thought. Narita and Mrs. Yamaki didn’t make it hard on her, though, and started a lighthearted small talk. Iida didn’t join in, and Eriko would have been surprised if he had. He didn’t seem uncomfortable, just indifferent to their chatter.

“We should head back,” Narita said firmly.

“Let Aizwawa enjoy her lunch break,” her partner said gruffly.

“Yeah, yeah,” the chief inspector said with a shrug. “Yukari, it was a pleasure to see you again.” He turned to head back, but waited for Kyôya to follow him.

“And you, Mr. Narita.” Mrs. Yamaki told him, looking at Iida who nodded at her.

“He’s grown quite a bit since I last saw him,” he remarked, looking at the baby.

“He’s going to grow up into a strong man, of course.”

“Of course,” her partner agreed and shared a small smile wit Msr. Yamaki and followed the chief inspector, excusing himself with another brief nod. Eriko had a feeling that there was more to the small exchange, but didn’t feel she had the right to pry.

“He’s quite something, isn’t he?”

“Mr. Iida?”

“Yes. How’s working with him turning out for you?” No trace of bitterness, just curiosity.

Eriko had to think about it. “I think it’s working well.” The words of Serizawa came back to her, the strange smile on her partners face after nearly getting killed. He’s dangerous, that one.

“You think?” She laughed. “Not easy to understand, is he?”

Eriko nodded. There was no need to deny it. “He’s not an average person.” She’d been contemplating that fact since she'd met him and wasn’t any closer to knowing or understanding him than she had been the first day they met. Some of his actions just didn’t add up. But maybe this was her chance to ask some questions? “You know him well?”

“I don’t think that would be the right description. I’m just the widow of a former colleague after all.”

That couldn’t be the whole story. Eriko was sure there was more, and following her instinct she asked: “How did your husband die exactly?” The moment she said it, she wanted to take it back. This wasn’t an interrogation. She wasn’t talking to a suspect, but a woman who had lost her husband and didn’t know her at all.

“Is that what you’re worried about? He wasn’t even there, you know? If he’d been there maybe it would have been different. Maybe not. It was an unlucky day.” She looked at her little boy. “He was at the wrong place at the wrong time and tried to do the right thing. Iida had nothing to do with it and he did everything he hat to do to get the killer. I’m glad he did.”

Eriko nodded in understanding. She had never looked at the file and she was not going to do it now. It wasn’t her business to look at things not related with a current case. But what this woman said seemed to sum up her partner's character. “He’s like that. Focused on closing cases.”

“My husband said as much. He saved my life once. I guess he was also the one to blame for getting me in trouble in the first place. Yelled at him for it,” she said with a bitter smile.

“Why?”

“He killed the boy who held me hostage. Tsuyoshi was sure it was the right thing, that the boy would have killed me, that he was beyond reasoning. Much later he tried to explain to me once that he had seen Iida act like that before - and that however often they argued about their differing methods he trusted Iida’s instinct in situations like this. He shot because I was a breath away from being killed. That’s what my husband said. I’m still not sure. But I’m alive. I’m alive.” She stared at the baby again. “I still think I should have hit Iida, though. Maybe that would have penetrated that that thick skull of his... Scaring me like that.”

***

It took another month for Eriko to understand that her partner was indeed a dangerous man for everyone who dared cross him. Not because he was a danger like Serizawa had implied. No, Iida did go out of his way to protect innocents at times. But he had his own set of morals and he would go a long way to bring down the most dangerous criminals even at high costs. He also wasn’t particularly concerned with his own life.

That was what made him dangerous.

She didn’t know what had made her partner into the person he was, and now that she was getting to know him at least a little better, she felt it wasn’t important, not for their work. The present was her only concern on the job. Like Mrs. Yamaki’s husband she found that even if she did disagree with Iida’s methods, she did trust him.

When she made her way to her office that morning Serizawa was talking to Iida in the hallway and it was obviously no friendly conversation. Iida walked away with a smug smiles, leaving the fuming Serizawa behind. When Eriko got closer, Serizawa asked in an angry tone: “You still with him?”

“Of course. You shouldn’t argue with him, you know? He’s dangerous.” Eriko took care not too smile and look as serious as possible. The man only stared back at her open mouthed.

Partners should have each others backs, she thought. Even if one of them was the epitome of a lone wolf.