e Nathan, Neto? Everyone loved him,” Yuto asked curiously.
Neto shook his head in disgust.

“There isn’t anything specific that I disliked about him.
He was just extremely unsettling.
I can’t explain it..”

Yuto was impressed by Neto’s sharp instinct.
Perhaps he had an uncanny sixth sense, like an animal in the wild.

“You’d be the only person Dick would take along if he were to break out of prison with someone,” Neto added.

“Wow, Neto.
Are you psychic or something?” Yuto laughed.
Neto turned to him in surprise.

“Did he invite you along? Why didn’t you go with him?”

“I wanted to, but I said no.
I want to walk out of the front doors of this place with my head held high.
I don’t want to live a life in fear of being caught by the police.
Anyway, there’s a chance I might be released.”

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Neto’s face glowed in elation.

“So you found the guy you were looking for?”

“Yeah, but I don’t know what’s going to happen yet.
It’s a fifty-fifty chance.”

“You’ll be fine.
Look, Yuto.
There’s a swallow.”

When he glanced to where Neto was pointing, he saw a single swallow gliding across the sky.

“Look at him go.
Must feel nice,” Yuto murmured with envy and admiration.
Neto reached over and ruffled Yuto’s hair roughly.

“You’re just like him.
Soon, you’ll be free to fly to your heart’s content.
Keep believing.
Fate sides with those who believe in her.
Give up, and all the good luck will leave you.”

“I guess you’re right,” Yuto said to Neto’s words of encouragement.

Neto was indeed right.
The power to believe was connected to the power to live.
The future was something you had to grab with your own two hands.

As if to look his own future in the eye, Yuto gazed intently at the swallow spreading its wings in the blue sky and ingrained the sight into his memory.

Two weeks later, Yuto Lennix was released from Schelger Prison.
He was able to leave through the front doors, just as he had wanted, but it was not because he had been able to strike a deal with the FBI; it was because Paul McLean’s actual murderer had been arrested, proving Yuto’s innocence.

Mark Heiden insisted that FBI’s thorough re-investigation of the case had led to the arrest of the true murderer, acting as if Yuto was somehow indebted to the FBI.
However, Yuto suspected that the FBI had always had an inkling of who the actual murderer was.
It was more than likely that FBI had held on to the truth to use as a trump card.

Still, promises had to be kept.
Yuto wasted no time in providing information to the FBI.
He described Corvus’ appearance and characteristics, his history as a leader of a cult called White Heaven in the past, the fact that the warden of Schelger Prison, Richard Corning, was suspected of helping Corvus escape, and so on.
Yuto divulged everything he knew to the FBI, excluding parts that would give away Dick’s personal information.

As a result, the unthinkable happened: the FBI offered to recruit Yuto as a special agent.
Apart from his track record as a competent DEA investigator, Yuto was the only one who had come directly into contact with the mysterious Corvus.
The FBI aimed to make use of Yuto as a valuable resource in their investigation.

Yuto knew that, behind all of this, the FBI also had the personal motive of not wanting to be outdone by the CIA.
Nonetheless, Yuto decided not to return to the DEA but to join the FBI instead.

After being released from prison, Yuto spent just three days in Arizona enjoying his time with his family.
His stepbrother, Paco, took time off to come down to LA.
Leti and Paco, along with Leti’s sister and her family, were genuinely overjoyed at Yuto’s release.

On the morning of the third day, Yuto soothed his tearful little sister, Lupita, who wanted to spend more time together, and got into Paco’s car to head to the airport.

Yuto was scheduled to enrol in the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia to undergo training to become an agent.
Although it was a mere formality, he had to undergo the training in order to obtain the qualification.

Once they arrived at the airport, Yuto and Paco shared a fierce embrace.
They parted ways with a smile, and before long, Yuto was in the air.

Yuto had a strange dream on his flight.

Dick was standing on a beautiful beach wearing a white shirt and jeans.
He was holding his sneakers in his hand and was slowly walking along the shore, paying little mind to the water wetting the hem of his pants.

Dick noticed Yuto and gestured for him to come over.

“Come join me, Yuto.
The water’s nice and cold.”

He nodded and was just about to break into a run when―

“Excuse me, sir.
I’m sorry to wake you.
We’re preparing for landing now.
Please fasten your seatbelt.”

Yuto was awakened from his dream by the flight attendant.
He felt wistful, but remembered how peaceful Dick looked in his dream.
He was happy that he had at least been able to see Dick in that state.

An expanse of blue sky and white clouds spread outside his window.
As he gazed outside, he finally felt it hit home: he was free.

As long as he was chasing after Corvus, there as a chance he might see Dick again.

That day, Yuto had thought that the thread connecting him and Dick had been broken, but it was actually still intact.
Yuto had been handed a huge opportunity.

He felt like their future paths, which were never meant to cross again, were instead drawing curves that stretched on forever.
He wanted to give this coincidence a chance.

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His heart was a mix of anxiety and anticipation, but there was no fear.

His belief would build his future.
His wishes would carve out the path of his destiny.





Yuto’s new life was about to begin.



Hello, and for first-time readers, nice to meet you.
I’m Saki Aida.
Thank you very much for picking up this book.

This is the fifteenth book I’ve written, and my first one with the Chara Bunko.
And for my first work with this publisher, I ended up writing a story set in a smelly, messy prison.
I was given many pages to write an afterword, and I took that as a message from my editor to explain myself (give an excuse) on why I decided to write a prison story.
I’ll do my best to share everything with you.

So, prison stories.
For some reason I’ve always loved them, especially films.
I remember the first prison film I got hooked on was Midnight Express directed by Alan Parker.
A young American man travelling in Turkey gets arrested for trying to leave the country with marijuana, and is put into a Turkish prison.
The film is based on a true story, and its sheer darkness and ruthlessness left a huge impact on me.

On the other hand, I also love prison break movies with an exhilarating ending, like Escape to Victory (this one’s a prison camp, though) starring Sylvester Stallone.
Whether the protagonist works together with a group of friends, or is a proud lone wolf who devises a plan by himself, either way, the exhilaration of overcoming hardship to achieve success and claim victory is like no other.

This one isn’t a film, but I also enjoyed the manga masterpiece Sukeban Deka (Delinquent Girl Detective) by Shinji Wada, especially the Ryozanpaku arc where the protagonist, Saki Asamiya, infiltrates a mysterious juvenile training school.
The worm bath brings back memories.

I’ve seen many films that are set in prison, and generally I think there is no such thing as a bad prison film.
I think the compelling aspect of prison stories is that there are many conflicts laid out from the very beginning.
Justice and evil, crime and punishment, trust and betrayal, despair and hope.
I feel like because it is such a closed-off and isolated environment, various things are more condensed and concentrated, which makes for a naturally-intense human drama.

An extreme world, full of only men.
Not only that, it’s like a jungle where it’s eat or be eaten, there are no rules (laugh) and it’s the survival of the fittest.
In a world with no way out, the men are given no choice but to take a good look at themselves and at others head-on.
They’ll make enemies, but also friends.
Sometimes they’ll harbour hatred, or on the contrary, feel a budding friendship.
Maybe sometimes they’ll trip up and end up falling in love.

The sight of these men – desperately trying to protect their dignity even while being humiliated, and stubbornly trying to stay true to themselves even after being faced with one setback after another – is something I find very attractive.
I love men as fighters.
It’s oddly sexy to see a powerful man being battered and bruised in a fight, isn’t it?

Last year, in autumn or so, I wrote an essay about how much “moe” I had for prison in the magazine Shosetsu Chara.
I got carried away in a passionate rant then, too, but I still have so many more things I want to say.
“Moe” is like a bottomless swamp that you can never crawl out of once you fall in (laugh).

Anyway, after telling my editor about how much I loved prison settings, I was given the opportunity to write this book.
I’d always dreamed of writing a prison novel, so I am very happy that it came true.

However, despite how glad I was, I had quite a difficult time actually writing the book (of course).
I started writing around spring of this year.
I was so excited and pumped going into it, but once I started writing, it was so difficult that it took me longer than it ever has to complete it.

I had a lot of uncertainties, since this was my first novel that I had to write with a sequel in mind, as well as my first story set overseas.
Furthermore, I ended up writing more than my allotted pages, which is rare for me (I always have to add more later because I end up short).
This work has become the longest I’ve ever written, but I still feel like I haven’t written enough.
“How obsessed are you with prison stories??” I almost want to chide myself.

I’d like to give a huge thank you to M, my editor.
I caused you so much trouble in my first time working with you, and I am nothing but apologetic.
The entire time leading up to handing off the complete manuscript, I felt so guilty that I thought I would get a stomach ulcer.
But thanks to you always encouraging me with kind words, I was able to work full steam ahead without giving up.
I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart for your checks and sound advice.
Please don’t let this experience discourage you, and please let me continue to work with you.

To Yu Takashina, who drew the illustrations for this novel: I swooned at your phenomenal illustrations.
The beautiful and alluring depictions of the characters, and the photorealistic backgrounds.
They were incredible.
I’m sure there are many readers who will pick up this book who aren’t necessarily interested in prison stories, but were drawn to the beautiful illustrations.
Thank you so much.
I’m looking forward to your work in the next volume as well.

Lastly, my readers: I crammed all the prison tropes into this book, Deadlock.
How did you find it? I hope you were able to enjoy it even a little.
Please feel free to send me your thoughts.

The direct translation of “deadlock” means “standstill” or “stalemate”.
In IT, it is a processing standstill that occurs when multiple processes are waiting for each other to release the resources that they solely own.

Yuto and Dick were going after the same man, but were impeded by each other’s existences and were unable to achieve their goal.
This book ended with them parting even though they were strongly attracted to each other, but in the next book I’ve planned for them to reunite again.
Now that their relationship has moved to the outside world, how will it change along with the search for Corvus? I hope you will be there to see Yuto and Dick’s reunion.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
I can imagine how passionate their reunion will be, and I myself cannot wait to write it.

Next time, I hope they will be able to confirm their love anew on a nice, clean bed (laugh).

September 2006
Saki Aida

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