God, do I hate early mornings. They're nearly unbearable if it weren't for caffiene, I swear. If it weren't for coffee I would honestly be dead by now. Being a Private Investigator and all, I'm my own boss. But I don't go by my convenience, I go by the convenience of the public. Crime doesn't sleep. Period. And if I'm asleep when there's a case to be cracked then what the hell is the point of me even having this job? Sometimes I think that's the only reason why I still do what I do. I've been in the practice for about three years now, I'm still pretty young but I'm a pro and no one is going to question that; go ahead and ask.

This morning wasn't much different from any of the others. My alarm clock went off at three forty-five, as usual. The shrill beeping was soon smothered by my fist, and all sounds ceased. Now, this would be an opportune time for me to just lie there and sleep a few minutes extra, but I'm more responsible than that. So I slide out of bed, get dressed and grab something to eat on the go. The practice is "open", if you will, at four thirty sharp. You're late and you get a pay-cut. That's how it goes for everyone, me included.

I purchased my car as soon as I got to Portland, that had to be at least two years ago. Its a decently sized Saturn sedan, sleek in black. Tsuji and I always use my car rather than his; still being in his early twenties he doesn't exactly have the classiest of cars and it wouldn't look good for us to show up in an old beat up Ford Pick-up. The pilgrimage from my apartment to the office is a good thirty minutes and I suppose I'm lucky since traffic could be a lot worse. I don't even want to know how long it takes for Tsuji to get to the office.

By the time I got to the office, I found Tsuji already there leaning against his ugly, beat up, brown truck. He was dressed crisp for the occasion, wearing a black suit, a white dress shirt and a simple red tie. I don't really understand why we dress so formally. As for me, I just wear a women's buisness suit (the one with the slacks, mind you), but I'd much prefer to wear different clothes. But that would make us look "unprofessional"; what a load of bull.

Tsuji grinned, blowing unruly black bangs from out of the view of his brown eyes as he did so. I don't know how the kid does it, but he always manages to start off the day with a smile. Its almost endearing, but sometimes I find the whole "heart on your sleeve" crap to be just a bit peevish. Tsuji is the ideal partner for several reasons. For one, he doesn't let his testosterone get in the way. Secondly, he never gives his input unless asked for it or he knows that something has been overlooked (I let him slip sometimes). And lastly, he gives me a wide berth when he knows I'm angry or upset. It didn't take him all that long to figure out that one. Some say I was foolish to hire someone so young, but I know better. I started out the same way Tsuji did, and if I didn't give him a chance now, no one else would have either.

"You locked me out again," he said with a wry chuckle, finally standing up to his full height. I find it somewhat irksome that he's a full head taller than me; it bothers me when I have other people towering over me like it gives them some excuse to think they're more qualified to do my job or something retarded like that.

"No, I didn't lock you out. You just forgot your keys," I corrected, waving a scolding finger at him while rummaging through my pockets with my other hand to find the mess of keys I had hooked onto one keychain.

Finally reaching into the corner of my pocket, I triumphantly pulled out a jumble of keys and sorted them out to find the office key. It took a little bit of fumbling, but I finally found the key to the office and inserted it into the lock. The glass-paned door opened without any trouble and I walked inside with Tsuji trailing only a step behind me before the door shut closed behind us both.

Our practice has always been on a tight budget. As Private Investigators, or Private Eyes, as Hollywood puts it, we don't work with the government persay. Therefore, we don't get the same benefits and sometimes our business really suffers.

"We really need to hire a secretary," I mumbled, making my way to the front desk to check the answering machine.

Tsuji only smiled, preparing to brew a new pot of coffee in the nearby kitchen-like facility we had in the office. He strolled back to the desk with his hands delved into his pockets. "You and I both know we can't afford that right now. Its hard enough to get by with Dev, you know." He always seemed to refer fondly to our forensic scientist; what with using her nickname constantly and all. But it was obvious that nothing would happen between them. They were mere friends and nothing more.

Of course, he was right, and I wasn't about to argue. It was difficult enough to be able to support ourselves. Business seemed to be going slower at this time of year. That has always been the downside of being a Private Investigator. You don't work unless someone asks you to.

There was only one message on the answering machine, and I was hoping that just maybe this would be a big break. Good cases were scarce, so it seemed and I was in desperate need of some action. Anxiously, I punched the play button with my index finger and waited to hear the message with baited breath. I was satisfied to hear the gruff voice of a police chief emanating from the machine's speakers.

"Ahh.. So, this is the office of the infamous, Miss Anzuru, I presume? Well, have I got a case for you. We've just been called in for a murder down here in Los Angeles. Apparently a well-known and loved model has been assassinated during an award procession. The suspects got away and we hardly know where to start. Since your record is near flawless I think this sort of case ought to suit you well enough. Call me back if you're interested, you know the number."

I really couldn't help but grin with satisfaction. The case sounded good, and no doubt the pay would be high. We really need to roll in the dough. I looked at my partner, and he looked at me. The feeling we shared was the same.

"I say we take it," Tsuji said, his nonchalant tone hiding the excitement I knew was floating about just below the surface.

"I concur. We'll call the Chief back now."

"Fukachi! Hand me that address book on the corner of my desk," I ordered, my voice taking on a commanding tone. My partner knew it was time to get down to business.

Nodding his head, he obediently tossed me the small three by six inch black book. I caught it pancake style, clapping my hands together with the book crushed between them.

I flipped through the book, barely skimming the pages in my search. It was towards the middle where I found the Los Angeles Police Chief's number. I mouthed a "thanks" to Tsuji as I punched the numbers into the phone and pressed the reciever to my ear, holding it between the crevice of my neck and my shoulder.

It rang a few times before the Chief himself answered the phone. I held my breath for a mere moment before I began, "Chief! Its Metsuki Anzuru, you called?"

There was a brief silence on the other end, as if the Chief was carefully selecting his words. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it had better be good. It surprised me when the Chief chuckled softly. Considering the circumstances, I didn't find the situation all that amusing. A man is dead and this guy is chuckling like its better than doing his job. There's nothing that annoys me more than people that think they can loaf around on their jobs. People like that need to be slapped several times in the face and be set straight.

I sat there at my desk waiting for the idiot on the other line to desist his chuckles and I'm not exactly sure when he did, but he cleared his throat before he continued gruffly, "Yes, I did call. Look, this is a real important case. The model's name is Ferdinand Yager, perhaps you've heard of him as he is one of the most famous male models to ever meet the industry."

No one ever told me I was supposed to keep up with the latest models. It was my turn to chuckle, "No, I haven't heard of him until just now. He sounds like a fruit though. German, I presume?"

The Chief sounded surprised for a minute, I'm not sure if it was from me not knowing who the model was or if it was because I knew he was German; not that that actually matters or anything. "As a matter of fact, Mr. Yager is German. Or he was German. Anyway, I need you to fly down here as soon as possible so we can get some work done on this case. We already have some detectives at the scene of the crime, but they don't seem to be getting anywhere."

This was rather curious. I was already starting to doubt the Chief and his Police Force. It seemed to me that they lacked any profession at all. But surely they had at least come up with something. "So what exactly have they come up with?" I asked, only half interested.

More silence. There is honestly something wrong with that Chief. I don't know what exactly is wrong with the guy, but he barely talked. People like him are the kind of people that shouldn't be in the positions they're in. They simply don't deserve it.

"Well, they think-I mean they know from where the suspects shot the victim."

"So they know there's more than one suspect? Or is that just surmise? I need details, sir."

The conversation hardly seemed informative. I'd be better off talking to a fly that witnessed the murder than the flake I was on the phone with right now. Whenever I asked a question he seemed to pause and think before he said anything. I swear, when I get down there I am going to knock some sense into that unprofessional moron's head.

"Well, they're pretty sure. Once you get down here you can check it out for yourself and decide whether or not the victim was shot from the building we suspect he was shot from."

I couldn't believe how minimal the information was. At first the case piqued my interest, but now I wasn't so sure. I could take the job and see what happened, but with such little information it sounded like a real waste of my time. For a while I just bit at my lip, weighing out the possibility of taking it or not. Solving this case might add to my reputation. And not just mine, but Tsuji's as well; he really needed a good rep, that sort of thing is crucial for him so early in his career. However, taking this case means I'd also have to deal with more ignorant and uninformed policemen. I hate it when I have to work with people that don't know what they're doing.

Tsuji was watching me carefully from where he sat on the far corner of the desk. He seemed to be watching my every move, studying my body language. We hadn't been working together for very long but he already seemed to know when I was feeling discontent. Frankly, I'm not sure how I behave when I'm in such a mood, but I guess he had nothing better to do than to study my movements. Then again, that's probably a good thing. Its best to have a partner that knows you well when you're on the job.

My brow rose in question, silently asking him on whether or not we should take the job. I was skeptical on the whole matter, but I could tell he was eager to accept the case. There was just something brimming up in his eyes, like an intense, passionate flame. It was then that I realized how cruel it would be for me to reject the offer. Tsuji needed this opportunity, and for me to deny that chance from him was surely a sinful thing to do. The kid deserved this, and I wasn't going to deprive it from him.

"Look, I'll take the job. My partner is coming along with me, naturally. We'll take a look at the flights and see if we can squeeze in for tomorrow. I'll call you when I get there."


There was nothing else I really had to say to that man. He lacked prowess and that was a real pity. I mean, really now. You'd think the Chief would at least be a little more charismatic and down to business than that nobody I had just spoken with. To simply put it into perspective, I was disappointed and Tsuji knew it.

He stood up, his arms gently wrapped over his chest, and walked up next to the swiveling chair I was sitting in. The guy seemed grateful, and it made a slight smile twitch at my face. There was no doubt about it; Tsuji's a good kid.

"Thanks for taking the case. I know its a bit trying on your part to have to work with people you dislike, but thanks. I really need this job right now." The sincerity behind his words was clear and unmistakable. It was times like these that I couldn't help but feel content with myself.

"Hey, its no problem, Fukachi. Just don't mess up." There was no way in hell that I would reveal my innermost emotions, and especially not to Tsuji because he already knew. There was this soulful kind of look he had about him. You know, the kind where a person seems to know more than what they're revealing? I liked that about him.

I'm not sure how obvious it was to him, but I'm positive he knew that I was doing this for him. I appreciated the fact that he wasn't being outright with it and remained subtle in thanking me. It was still enough to make me feel good about myself at least.

"Alright. I need you to look up some flights for me. We're headed to the City of Angels. You know, that name really pisses me off."

Tsuji just shook his head good-naturedly, coursing a large, adroit hand through his mess of hair and walked off to his own desk to start up a search on flights. Neither of us knew how this case would go. We both hoped to solve it successfully; we both needed the money. But somehow something didn't seem right. I couldn't explain it, but something just wasn't right. Was it the lack of thorough information the Chief gave me or it was something else? All I know is that I have a bad feeling, and when I have a bad feeling something is most definitely awry.