Theme Five: In the Beginning
Follows Theme Four: The Golden Year
It’s just a flash of darkness and then it’s over. When he opens his eyes, they are heavy and his vision is blurry. Light comes through the window, but it is dim, casting everything in blue shadows. It’s that period between sundown and night, and as he moves to push himself up, he feels a chill around his shoulders and down his chest. He hastens to wrap the covers around his body, but even before he does so, he stops. He is cold, sore, and, he just notices, stark naked.
“You’re awake,” says a smooth, female voice, and as his vision clears, Kudo recognizes Haibara instantly as she steps out of the shadows in the corner of the room. It freaks the hell out if him. Then he is reminded of the fact that he isn’t wearing any underwear and that freaks him out just a bit more.
Haibara, who may or may not have seen him jump at the sound of her voice, has pushed up her tiny body up onto the bed and stands there on the edge, regarding him. He stares back just the same, but after a moment, he becomes acutely aware of the scrutiny.
“Uh, could you stop doing that?” he asks—or at least he tries to ask. His vocal chords are hoarse, but more importantly, the resonating sound is low and masculine. It is precisely the voice of one Kudo Shinichi, who disappeared from society more than a year ago. To be sure, Kudo has imagined this exact moment hundreds of times and his reaction has always been an undiluted joy at the thought of returning to his former life, his former prestige, and his former Ran. Now, it scares the shit out of him.
“What happened?” he tries to say, but instead he croaks it. Luckily Haibara seems to understand.
“You don’t remember?” she asks, although it is not a question. He shakes his head.
“It’s finished,” she says. She lets the statement sink in, her body slowly moving down to sit cross-legged down on the mattress as well.
She tells him in a voice as careless as the wind that he had been given the antidote two days before the invasion. Both the drug and the attack had been made through careful research from a computer with direct access to another used by an Organization biochemist too underprivileged and talentless to have earned a Name. His death would not be noticed. Their insider was professional. Hondou Hidemi always was, after all.
Only two drugs were made. One had been given to him as described and the other was to be given to FBI agents—
Here Kudo looks up from his lap to her face in alarm. Haibara smirks and gives him a haughty look. She couldn’t be running around shooting Black Organization agents as Sherry, could she? Actually, both of them were confined to a camouflaged van to help the Intelligence for the mission, but it wouldn’t do either way to assume adult size.
The other was to be given to FBI agents to be heavily protected, duplicated, and mass-distributed by CIA scientists. A paper copy of Sherry’s original work and her subsequent revisions were also attached to the final copy.
There was so much blood. The Boss had been prepared, somewhat. Kir’s duplicity was revealed a week prior, and she had been killed—information unknown to the FBI until a week after the Organization’s demise. Hidemi had been meticulous and the revelation had only led to her hurried execution, leaving the Organization without a clue as to how much information had been leaked. Still, the Boss had some vague idea of something planned on that day. The Boss assumed it to be another attempt at infiltration, which was true, but thought it at most to be another attempt to plant a mole. Regardless, a small handful of mercenaries had been waiting for them, with a larger group of Black assassins who ambushed them seconds later.
“You and I,” Haibara says, “being the type of people we are, couldn’t stand to let that happen, could we?” Holding the two other CIA officers in the van at gunpoint and handcuffing them to the car door, they had rushed towards the showdown. The two of them just had to see this through. They had both entered the building—the Boss’s highly prosperous company headquarters in Japan—and raced to the rooftop of the skyscraper. Kudo had gone pale, partly from all the energy he was using up, but mostly from the shock of having to sort the innocent civilian from the ruthless killer.
They would often part ways inside the building but somehow would meet up at the exit door to the next floor. Several of the Named were there too—Vodka, Vermouth, Gin (Haibara trails off, murmuring some various alcoholic beverages that he can’t quite make out).
She had rushed through the floors with incredible stealth, shooting only when needed. There had been two objectives in mind for her: firstly, to kill her sister’s murderer; secondly, to obtain copies of the biochemical division’s research and put an indefinite halt to it, if possible. She had entertained the idea of Organization’s downfall for the F.B.I.’s sake but privately considered the mission too grand. Regardless, for her, it was little more than suicidal.
It was during this second goal that things had gone wrong. Jodie, who, somewhere along the way, decided to burden herself with guarding the “children”, was surprised by Vermouth and Gin.
“I suppose,” Haibara remarks loftily, “Vermouth persuaded him to try and see the amusement behind watching prey squirm before they die.”
A second and third shot immediately followed the initial pull of the trigger. Haibara had instantly killed Gin and Jodie’s bullet left Vermouth with only a few seconds of life. The bullet she had shot—a farewell gift for Sherry—found itself in Kudo’s chest.
Jodie, alarmed, had hurried over to the fallen boy when she had been struck down, too. Vodka, as always, had followed his Aniki. The loyal sidekick pulled the trigger twice, but in the chaos, the bullets weren’t precise; they tore through her side and leg. The brevity of the entire incident allowed him to escape unharmed.
“Rather unbelievable, isn’t it?” she asks. “He vanished after that, but don’t worry too much. He’ll likely surface in a few years as the Yakuza Boss. Not particularly good news but the best one should expect, considering.
“I don’t remember much after that, just that when I woke up I was told I had a concussion and both you and Jodie were in critical condition. Her wound was much more serious, but after taking the antidote, your body was already weak and we couldn’t do anything to help you since we weren’t sure how your body would react…”
She trails off, looks at the bandage around his chest, and gives a gesture of finality. She’s still standing on the corner of the large mattress, and her form towers over him. His body, stiff from weeks of paralysis, refuses to comply with his desire to shake her for her recklessness. In the end, Shinichi can only stare. Haibara, though she must realize this fact, ever so kindly waits a moment for a response. There isn’t one, of course, and she takes the opportunity to avoid the things left unsaid.
“Well,” she says, sitting down on the mattress, “Mouri will be happy now you’re awake. She’ll want to ask a million questions later but she’s still mortified that she took a bath with you.” She slides off.
Shinichi retorts back incoherently, only just processing what Haibara implies. There are still many things he needs to know, but Haibara doesn’t pause to see if he’s satisfied.
“Welcome back,” she says in her light-hearted, airy voice, “Sherlock Holmes of the twenty-first century.”
Ran enlists Sonoko’s help to plan a party for his return a week later, and invites all his friends to a picnic at the park. Of course, Sonoko is blissfully ignorant of the circumstances and shoots him dirty glares when Ran is not looking.
Shinichi himself is not too bad an actor, and manages to be normal for once in his life, catching up with Hattori on the latest events, and even playing a game of soccer with Ran against Hattori and Kazuma. He’s about to make the winning goal when Kazuma makes a perfect steal—but kicks the ball out of the boundary line. Hattori starts to complain how it’s always Kazuma that makes the mistake in anything they do together—but Shinichi doesn’t listen. The ball has rolled over a root of a tree, coming to rest by a figure resting under the shade. It’s Haibara, obviously, surprisingly still in her child form. He didn’t even see her arrive with the others.
She stops reading in order to bring the ball back.
“Here’s the ball,” she says with the perfectly polite tone of voice every mother would hope her child would have, and with a perfectly child-like glance of curiosity for this Shinichi-person she’s never met before.
Ran notices the two of them and comes over. “You can still talk to—”
“Thank you,” Shinichi says abruptly, cutting Ran off. “…Ai, was it?”
The little girl nods. “For sorrow,” she says.
He nods, too. Then, he turns and walks away, not even stopping when Ran tells him to wait, not even when she apologizes to Ai and runs to catch up with him as well.
She watches the two of them walk away, and thinks: This is how it should be. She bites into an apple she’s pilfered from the picnic lunch—and discovers it to be rather…mushy. She wrinkles her nose in mild distaste.
Hattori sends her a curious glance; she bites the apple and raises one brow. He shudders.
That, too, is how it should be.
She marvels at the fact that he could not see through her, as he has done time and time again. Wasn’t it strange that it was all too convenient? That the Boss—on the top floor—would have waited for them to knock on his office door just like that?
The fact is Kudo Shinichi was never meant to be there. Haibara doesn’t even know how he found out or why he knew about the van and waited for her. He never asked about the two men tied up in the van, never bothered to explain that they were just children’s puzzle toys that could be un-cuffed in fifteen minutes, enough time for them to join the invasion. Even in her surprise, she understood that he needed this certainty as much as she did. Still, he was never meant to be there.
Of course, the bullet had been meant for her. Jodie, Gin, Vermouth, and she had all become entangled in a web. Her gun was pressed against Gin’s head, his against Jodie’s, hers against Vermouth, and Vermouth’s gun pointed to Haibara’s small form in a final, perfect stalemate.
She could only stare at that white-haired devil for three seconds with pure hate before Kudo unexpectedly rushed in, not even realizing the situation until Gin pivoted and fired the gun on the defenseless detective instead. It’s rather funny how fate works.
Vermouth had reacted quickly, but not in the way anyone expected. Even before Kudo fell, bleeding profusely from his chest wound, she moved with lightening speed and shot; Gin died instantly. Jodie, she supposed, was so ingrained with the need for revenge that she fired automatically, not even registering Vermouth’s turncoat kill. It might not have mattered much, not compared to the grander scope of things, but Jodie will probably wonder about Sharon’s last ten seconds for the rest of her life.
As for her, she’d kill Vermouth a hundred times over for what she did. Shiho wanted the damn bastard dead. She wanted the damn bastard dead. Finally she could release all those years of hatred and vengeance—and the moment she tried Vermouth pulled the trigger first. Was she denied the right to hate, too?
So she sits, cursing Gin and the Named—cursing and remembering her frantic sobs for a dying eight-year-old boy who promised to protect her once. And her own little pill she forced down his throat in hopes that it would save him (later the reason for his long coma). And the agents that later rushed in to reports of child hostages only to find a bloodied girl weeping over a wounded young man apparently also experiencing an epileptic seizure. And a soccer ball. And a new face next door.
It is just a few days after multiple murders have been covered up and she sits cursing Gin and the Named. She has spent seven days without sleep and she has been rewarded with a tiny gift in the palm of her hand. The circle is almost complete.
When they walk home from school, on a day when the Professor is away at a convention, Ayumi cries on the doorstep. There is no one to comfort the poor child and no one to scold the rude foreign girl for slamming the door on her tears. Ai makes sure they leave before she takes her clothes off and swallows a newly made pill she left on her dresser that morning. She drains her glass of water, sets it back, and faints as she feels the sharp pain that sends her body into convulsions. And when she wakes hours later and sees a face she had missed for a long time, she knows the circle is complete. There is even the wet stain of tears under her right eye—and this stain lets her know she had done what no Named One has: Shiho has reversed time.
She is now in a time where there is no little girl who tries to will herself into the shadows, there is no child-prodigy detective who is more than he seems. No, back then there was just a boy, his girlfriend, and a sister who suddenly felt incomplete. Her tears fell like this, too.
So she does what she had not done before: calls Jodie and enters Witness Protection. The car will arrive in less than half an hour. Meanwhile, she sits and calmly thinks of nothing.
She hopes his wound will heal.