|A Fairy Tale Never Lies
Author: teainapot PM
Four characters, four alternate realities, and four tweaked fairy tales merge into one. Ensemble : Conan, Ai, Kaito, Ran.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama - M. Sera & Ai Haibara/Shiho M. - Words: 12,372 - Reviews: 25 - Favs: 73 - Follows: 7 - Published: 07-12-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3041883
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: A Fairy Tale Never Lies.
Characters: Ensemble (Conan, Kaito, Ai, Ran)
Disclaimer: Detective Conan belongs to the genius Aoyama Gosho and its respective companies.
Summary: Four characters, four alternate realities, and four tweaked fairy tales merged into one as Conan and Haibara tell tales to each other to pass one sleepless night.
Author's note: The words in bold plus italics are part of the fairy tale narrative. The words only in italics could either mean a flashback or…something else.
Big Thanks to Astarael00 for her wonderful beta.
A Fairy Tale Never Lies
"You're not sleeping yet?"
"Sleeping people don't talk, Kudo-kun. That goes with earth's gravity in the list of widely accepted laws of nature."
"Normally you'd snore less than thirty minutes after the others do. "What's bugging you?"
"Nothing. It's just that the mosquitoes keep biting my neck."
"There aren't any mosquitoes in this tent, Kudo-kun, and you already applied that lotion anyway." Haibara paused and snickered, "Don't tell me it's about the match last night."
"Japan vs. Brazil. They lost the game, right?"
"Well, at least they had a chance to fight the big legend of soccer itself. That's better than let's say, being whacked by some random unknown national team." She shrugged.
"Now that I think about it," Conan said in teasing voice, "Higo was playing last night too. No wonder."
"That has nothing to do with…I was doing my research, okay?"
"Research, riiiiightt. That's why the barbecue meat for dinner was overcooked."
"Well, in all fairness, it still looks better than your effort last week. At least the color wasn't pitch-black and Ayumi-chan didn't have to look for the nearest public bathroom around the camping site."
"Look," she said "rather than pissing each other off, why don't we do something more substantial to pass the time?"
"Like what? Counting sheep?"
"That's not a really bad idea. A research in Geneva regarding that matter suggests that…"
"Please, Haibara." He rolled his eyes and turned his body, facing the other side. "I don't know. You can sing a hypnotic song or something if it could get both of us to sleep."
"Do you…do you think listening to fairy tales might help?"
"I don't know," he answered honestly, half-surprised by her suggestion. Somehow, fairy tales and Haibara don't seem to belong in one sentence. "What made you think it would?"
"When I was five or six years old, Akemi—my sister— used to read me one of those fancy books full of bedtime stories. Rabbits, fairies, dragons, and all that. Not that I remember much of it now."
"Your sister," he said solemnly, in a voice much unlike the usual arrogant sleuth Haibara used to hear. She knew where this conversation was getting into, and she didn't like it.
"You know what? Try to think of something boring. That math equation from Kobayashi-sensei's class last week might help. Good night!" She quickly pulled up her blanket before the nosy detective grew the nerve to poke into her personal issues again.
Too late, she thought. The detective shook his insomniac companion slowly, unwilling to drop their conversational topic yet.
"Um," Conan said hesitantly "I think fairy tales might be a great idea."
"You wouldn't get the essence of those stories, anyway. Fairy tales are all about lying to little kids that life's all dreamy and easy. You always want 'the whole truth, and nothing but the truth', right?"
"Funny." Conan said after a while "My mother once said fairy tales would never lie to its audience, kids or adults."
"Well—"Haibara turned her body sideways and looked at the pint-size detective with a pair of sleepy eyes, "I already gave you a fair warning. Pick one then."
"Alice in Wonderland," he answered instinctively.
Haibara suppressed a laugh, one that Conan did not fail to notice.
"Why?" he asked with an audibly insulted tone.
"Oh," the tiny scientist said, "there's so much irony in it that I don't know where to begin."
Alice in (Tropical) Land
Her name is Alice, and she loves to have fun. Riddles are her favorite toys. If you ask her why, she would shrug and say that she has always been curious. And then, she would be curious about why you asked her and why she should be curious that you asked her.
He's always been curious. Insanely curious. When he was seven years old, really seven years old, the wide-eyed boy broke into his father's study half an hour past midnight. He stuck bubble gum in the keyhole, making sure the dark mahogany doors wouldn't be sealed properly when his dad locked the room before bedtime.
Good thing his mother never thought about reading him bedtime stories. Those things were so—childish. Besides, Sherlock Holmes had a lot deeper, harsher voice in his imagination. His mother made the pipe-smoking, eighteenth-century detective sound like a wimpy poster boy. And he wasn't going to talk about the way she'd been dubbing Watson's voice.
It began with the top drawer. A bit of dad's old tricks he overheard when he was supposed to "sleep soundly" in the car, a little nudge here and there, and the drawers were opened, a whole new universe for him to explore. There's a lot of intriguing stuff people could find. There were a lot of intriguing things inside Kudo's mansion—once they got past the front gate. Why there hadn't been any burglars breaking into their low-security residence, the little boy could only wonder.
The only gadgets in his hand were a hairclip from his mother's dresser and a pair of tweezers he borrowed from their kind-hearted neighbor to complete a 'school project'.
Inspector Megure asked him once, out of casual curiosity, when was the first time life introduced him to the 'dark side' of mysteries and riddle-solving. The exact moment he stepped out of the sandbox and began to notice the hollow screaming of the trees, the dark shadows in the woods, and malicious grins of carved faces. He looked at the Inspector with his best blank look and a sheepish smile, telling him he had no idea.
Maybe it was those black and white photographs he found inside tightly-sealed brown envelopes, marked 'Confidential'. He remembered the quiet sensations of thrill and horror as he flipped through each picture; grotesque crime scenes, pale yellow skin, blue lips, red sparkling blood—all rendered in monotone, emotionless. He had seen dead people in movies, newspapers cuttings, and even the book jackets of his dad's latest novels—but nothing that real, that intimate. There's no dramatic music or Holmes barging in to solve the case in one neat conclusion. It was just a question mark, challenging him. He was no longer simply the audience.
Her name is Alice; and if you wonder how she finds her way to Wonderland, wonder no more. She would drag you to a rabbit hole where it all began. If you ask her how it feels to fall into something dark and unknown where monsters dwell, she would laugh and tell you that monsters do not exist. But watch her eyes. Maybe, just maybe, you will see a glint of fear behind those bright, blue eyes.
He should have backed out then. Closed the door, wrapped his body under thick layers of Snoopy blankets and prayed that he wouldn't dream of zombies and underworld creatures. Instead, he found himself opening the next drawer without hesitation; pulse racing as he scanned through every page, every line. A lot of medical jargon—words he couldn't understand. He climbed the ladder and took a thick, leather-bound dictionary from the top shelf, the one he often sees sitting on his father's table when he wrote his manuscripts. He wanted to know more, more, and more. When he woke up the next morning on his warm, comfy bed and the smell of burning toast; his father's laughter and her mother's sweet, chirpy voice, he knew he would never see the world the same way again.
His best friend always told him he had an unhealthy addiction to mystery. He frowned upon her remarks. When one talks about an addiction, it should be about an unhealthy, sinister substance that burns, corrupts, kills. Something that feeds one's lust and wrecks one's life at the same time. Surely his fondness for murder cases would not fall into the same category? After all, it was done for a worthy cause: shedding light into the truth, bringing justice to those who deserve it, saving innocent lives.
And somehow, it made him feel better, like he's improving something—like he's controlling the web of tales that he was trapped in. The tale began on the flight to Los Angeles, as he stood face to face with a fresh, wilted corpse, laying in the ground, red stains of crimson half-covering his face. He solved the puzzle and threw it far, far away from his mind, but it hadn't even passed twenty-four hours when fate dished him another challenge. He took it.
After all, he had never backed down from anything before.
Her name is Alice, and she might tell you not to sip any liquid you've barely known, even if the label instructs you to do so. 'Curiosity kills the cat', people say, but not before it tortures you in the worst of ways. Curiosity is a cruel monster.
People always say poetic things about death, describing each precious second as one's life faded away with melancholic words. They say every little moment in his life, happy and sad, his first steps on the earth, his first birthday, his first crush, and his first kiss, would flash by his eyes as he says his final goodbye to the yellow sunset and gives in to the darkness that wraps him in its embrace. And then he would no longer feel any pain.
Well, hello there, liars. It's painful right here.
He knew he shouldn't put much value on those descriptions. After all, those poets, authors, and filmmakers never feel the close kiss of death, do they? Well, maybe some have, he had to admit, not that it was important at the moment.
Pain sliced through his skin, and he wondered why there wasn't any blood dripping from his pores as he struggled to breathe even though his lung burned, everything burned, and he felt himself turning into ashes and evaporating along with other particles in the moist air, disappearing. He didn't remember any of those beautiful moments that made up the seventeen precious years of his life. What flashed through his mind in quick, rapid motion were those phone calls he never made to his mother, the gifts he should have given to Ran long ago, those times he wasn't able to accompany Professor on his fishing trips…
Her name is Alice, and sometimes, she might puzzle you. She often talks to herself, scolds herself, advises herself. You see, she used to love pretending to be two different people. If you ask her whether she still does, she would answer you with a grim, tired look: No. She just wants to be Alice.
Fate offered him another chance, but it came with a high price: Live a life of lies and risk losing the one he loved. He was tired of playing, but he took it anyway.
He just wanted to get out from the damn rabbit hole.
Her name is Alice, and you watch her as she bites the cake without any hesitation. You remember her warning not to put foreign things into your mouth, and you bend down to ask her why she changes her mind. She looks at you and says she believes in second chances.
And then she came to join his adventure. Like an elf in ancient folklores, the strawberry-blonde girl popped up without a warning, without much dramatic music or lengthy introductions or a lengthy introduction. One poof, just like that. Much like magical creatures do, she offered him a miracle, a way to get out of the rabbit hole. Only it wasn't as easy as a flick of her wand.
After all, she wasn't a real elf. She never believed in such things. He was sure she would have put him in a boiling pot full of harmful poisons should he ever call her one. And, he thought to himself, elves were supposed to be all adorable and cheerful. She was anything but.
Well, she was kind of adorable sometimes. When they sat together next to the bonfire in the middle of mountains, its warmth sheltering their bodies from the cool mountain breeze, he often watched her secretly. Her face was calm and peaceful as she watched the fire licking the wood, its tiny orange sparkles dancing in the air. Eventually, she would catch him watching her and tell him to snap out of it. He would respond with a polite yet mischievous smile and note to himself that she might be, after all, a disguised fairy.
Sure, the logic in fantasy universe might tell him that fairies, elves, and their fellow species are supposed to help rather than burden him, but how could he blame her? The monsters imprisoned her all her life, raised her on a dark stone cave without any sunlight penetrating its cracks, took away her family, and on top of it all, they wanted her blood too.
When he looked at her—red, sticky blood smearing her hair, her clothes, and her skin from head to toe as she laid across the Beetle's backseat, when he looked into her determined, unbroken gaze, it finally dawned on him. She was an elf, indeed. A broken, wounded elf, trying hard to hide the ripped wings on her back as she put on a brave face in front of other mortal beings. Not in a million years would she ever admit her need of help, not even when the raindrops started to soak her wings and tear the feathers apart.
He helped her to gather the feathers, one by one, as they walked together, leaving two pairs of footprints on the wet soil. She muttered a soft 'thank you' as they began their long ride together.
One day, they found the rabbit hole, fifty-feet high above the ground they were standing on.Soft, glowing sunlight penetrated the darkness, granting him a new hope that yes, this would be the end of his journey. She unfurled her wings and offered to carry him up there.
Her strength was only enough to save one of them, and they both knew it. He looked up, reminiscing about his old life, his parents, his friends, people who were waiting for him, and probably still are…
And he made his decision. After all, who was he to lecture her about fate if he wouldn't follow his own?
Her name is Alice, she says as she extends her arm to greet the white rabbit in the place where it all begins. The rabbit winks and asks her if she is really, really sure. She takes one last look at her old home and jumps into the hole, leaving everything behind.
She handed the pill to him and turned away without another word. He caught her wrist and looked straight into her eyes as she turned back around, asking if she thinks he would just run away and leave her to fend for herself. She responded in a cold, detached tone, telling him to stop being an idiot martyr. He let her go and she stormed out the door as fast as she could.
And then she heard the sound of the tiny, plastic pill as it hit the marble floor, rolled, and stopped just below her feet. The powder was scattered across the floor and mingled with the dust. She laughed then, not really knowing what to say or feel. She should be angry. It was the fruit of her hard labor in the last three months, the precious treasure she had acquired in exchange of her sleep, her own physical and emotional health, and her sanity. All for him; and instead of being grateful, he—
He flinched when she moved closer, their knees nearly brushing each other. Maybe she wanted to yell at him, smack him across the head, punch him, or she might even have a gun tucked inside her lab jacket, ready to blow his head off. Deep down, he knew he deserved some of that. What he didn't expect was the brush of her hair against his cheek and her tiny hands wrapping his shoulders in a warm, loving hug.
And suddenly, it didn't matter to him. Wonderland, Neverland, Twilight Zone, any other bizarre world they were trapped in, and the long road they still have ahead. It didn't matter to him that 'Happily Ever After' would never be scribbled on the last page of their tale.
After all, true love stories never have endings.
"Wait. Alice decides to stay in Wonderland?"
"Because she feels like it." She shrugged.
"That doesn't make sense!"
"Neither does a never-ending tea-party or a white rabbit that carries a pocket watch. You can't argue with logic when it comes to fairy tales. I told you, right? It's all about lies and suspending your disbelief."
"Although the shrinking poison hits pretty close to home, no?"
"…That's not funny, Kudo-kun."
"Sorry," he replied hastily, mind working fast, trying to change the subject as soon as possible. "Anyway, it's my turn, right? So, 'Scandal in Bohemia' or 'Red-Headed League'?"
"Those are not fairy tales."
"Well, they're both fiction works and bedtime stories, so…"
"I never met anyone who treats Holmes as bedtime stories."
"Then hello, you just met one of them." He grinned and extended his arm in mock-greeting, causing Haibara to roll her eyes.
"But since you're talking red, I'm picking 'Little Red Riding Hood' then."
"Nothing, I just need to verify a few facts. The villain is a wolf, right, not a hunter or a bear? And…is she visiting her grandma or her mother?"
Haibara blinked rapidly and stifled yet another laugh.
"I knew it."
"Shinichi Kudo, high-school detective extraordinaire, doesn't know a single thing about fairy-tales. At least now I know what to use for the next treasure-hunt riddles."
She tapped her fingers in her chin, her face scheming and studious. Out of corner of her eyes, she could see the boy blushing, pink creeping its way up onto his face. For a moment, Haibara wished she still stored her camera phone inside her jeans pocket instead of putting it in Professor's backpack.
"Don't bother," she said calmly. "You could change the wolf into a yakuza, a zombie, a vampire, a robotic monster with seven tentacles, or anything else and it would not hinder me from enjoying the story."
She paused a little while, then added, "Just don't change the wolf into one of the Black-cloaks. That might give me some nightmares."
Conan shook his head and glared at a pair of dark-blue eyes who stared back at him with feigned innocence.
"Now that's…," he narrowed his eyes, annoyed "that's not funny at all"
Little Red Riding Hood and Two Smoking Barrels
Her name is Red, and if you ask her why her pale skin is bathed in blood as vibrant as the color of her coat, she may only shrug and pass you by. If you ask the French, they will tell you not to wander in the dark or listen to strangers, or you'll end up a hollow ghost like her, a cautionary tale for the young ones.
Red, the color of the burning sunset, a symbol of passion. Red, the color of a blooming rose, a symbol of love. Red, the color of a virgin's lips, a symbol of lust. Red, the color of a living's blood…
A symbol of death.
When she laid her eyes on her parents' corpses, cold, rigid bodies as smooth and lifeless as mannequins, she remembered screaming and calling their names all night long. They told her, matter-of-factly, as they always did, that her mother and father had gone into another world.
Don't trust strangers.
She had laughed right then. Those adults, she murmured to herself, always think they could easily fool the kids. Of course they were lying. After all, if her parents were dead, there should be the red of blood anywhere on their skin. She didn't see any. Her parents were only sleeping, peacefully, painlessly.
For once in her life, she had been right. They just never wake up.
Red is striking, powerful, intense. Red is full of emotion, flamboyant, shameless. Red never blinks in the face of trials or insults. Red simply spits and fights back.
Red is everything that she wasn't, isn't, and could never be.
People say one tends to love the things one couldn't get easily. She wondered if that was the reason. Her life had always been devoid of red—or most colors, really. The hallways and laboratories inside the headquarters had always been white and grey, a blank slate of nothingness, a vacuum space without emotions.
When she was young and angry, she thought about buying some spray paint and scarring the flawless walls with long streaks of red. Later, she overheard two of them talking behind closed doors. They were discussing the best ways to eliminate a target and dispose of the body. She wasn't a squeamish kind of person, but the lengthy conversation nauseated her and she ran to the bathroom as fast as she could, emptying her stomach.
If she hadn't, she would have heard the name of the target. Akemi Miyano.
She wished she could have been there, right in that deserted warehouse, as her sister shed few drops of tears and many of blood. She wanted to see the flowing red as it trickled down her sister's lips while her sister smiled her last smile. She wanted to touch it, to stain her fingers in its crimson scent, let it smear her clothes like a mourning garb. Maybe, just maybe, it might make her feel better.
He had been there instead.
Her name is Red, and if you ask her who she really is, she might only answer you with a cryptic smile, bow, and disappear. French ancient folktale depicted her as an innocent little girl. Nothing more than a poor, clueless victim trapped in a wrong place, at a wrong time. As time goes, the quills begin to put her in a less favorable light. She is a seductress, one author says, and she lures the wolf into her elaborate trap. She is a vengeful killer, another says, and she cuts off the beast's four legs, devours its blood like honey milk. Of course, if you believe that a woman could hold more than a thousand facets, you will believe me when I say she is all of the above.
The only thing you could count on was her love for her grandma.
He was her Red. Bold, passionate, stubborn to a fault. Unpredictable. He wore his heart on his sleeve and when he was angry, she could hear the flame within his voice, acid lacing his tongue. And she was glad. For once, she didn't have to play mind-games or hide her tears.
When she met him for the very first time, she shed a few tears. It wasn't real. When she cried the second time, it was real, though she might never admit it. She wished the third time wasn't real at all.
His blood stained her palms, and her tears washed it all from her skin. Together, they formed a strange brushstroke pattern that traced from her wrist down to her arm. The red was vivid and beautiful against her pale skin, but she couldn't see the beauty.
Red also means danger.
She froze when she heard footsteps coming, thick-sole boots clapping small pools of dirty water on the wet asphalt. She saw the killer's reflection in the water and somehow, she didn't feel any fear as he cocked the gun and aimed it at her head. A strange calmness and peace washed over her and she clutched the dying boy in her arms even tighter, letting his last breaths resonate with hers.
Her shoulder tensed as two loud gunshots rang in her ears, breaking the silent air.
She opened her eyes slowly, half-expecting to see herself bathed in the warm embrace of red, taking her away from the chilling dawn and the cruelty of life. Nothing changed. In the rippling water, she could see the reflection of another man, not the killer. A man in silk hat and a pair of dark, preying eyes. He looked at her and the boy in her lap, and for a moment, they formed a silent bond in the name of loss.
Her name is Red, and if you ask her what happens to the wolf, she might hand you the Law of Hammurabi and whisper that those who kill, pay. If you ask her what happens to the hunter, she might tell you that the line between adversary and alliance is even more fragile than a morning fog. If you wonder why they both disappear at the same time as the tale ends, you might find your own answer.
They took the earliest flight to Los Angeles and she couldn't argue when the only seat left for her was one of the window seats. He offered to switch their seats without breaking his cool, icy façade just to save what was left of her pride. She refused politely.
The plane soared in the sky just as the sunset painted the sky in a burning red, like a stage on fire. He didn't say anything when she opened the window slowly and fixed her eyes unto the orange glow of the sun; its light reflected on her iris. When tears began to drop from her cheeks, he slid his hand into hers and didn't let go until she gave into her exhaustion and fell asleep.
"I never thought..." Haibara pondered.
"You could tell something other than deduction with a passion. But then, your dad's a writer, so some of his genes must have passed on to you."
"Is it just my ears—"he asked, finger digging into his left earlobe. "—or did you actually give me a compliment?"
"Hmm, that was pretty impressive, "she said, snickering. "Considering you blanked out right in the middle and had to improvise the rest."
"Well, I'm sorry if I had less than a so-called 'adorable' childhood, Hai—"he closed his mouth when the weight of his tactless words dawned on both of them. She flinched a little but quickly slipped her mask back into place.
"Sorry." He said, yet again.
"This is so not helping us sleep," Haibara muttered as she stifled another yawn and pulled the blanket up to her chin and closed her eyes. "I think we better give that counting sheep method a chance."
With those parting words, she buried herself beneath the thick blanket, leaving only her bushy, strawberry-blonde hair uncovered. Conan sighed and stared at the unmoving bundle, then steered his gaze towards the rest of the kids and Professor Agasa. They were all slumbering peacefully, and the young detective had no heart to wake them up by making further noise.
He lied down and shut her eyes, trying hard to imagine innocent, white, fluffy sheep jumping over a wooden fence in a dairy farm far, far, away. He began to count: one-hundred, ninety-nine, ninety-eight, ninety-seven ...
…Six, five, four, three, two, one, zero, negative-one, negative-two…
"Haibara," he whispered at the bundle of pink blanket next to him, desperately praying for an answer, "are you still awake?"
She opened her eyes and groaned.
"I was almost there," she said. "You're such a big baby."
"You're almost…where?" He asked her, wisely ignoring the second part of her sentence.
"Never mind." She shot back. "So, what story would you like me to tell you, little master?"
"Well, since I kind of woke you up from your blissful slumber…"he said with an apologetic smile "I'll leave the option entirely to you."
He nodded, trying hard not to pay much attention to Haibara's wicked smile. A moment after, their silence was broken by a familiar noise inside his stomach that surprised the detective and amused the scientist.
"You're hungry at this kind of hour?"
"Hey, this is soccer-watching time, okay? Usually I would be plopped down on the couch with a bag of potato chips at this hour. I'm sure you have your own snacks too."
"Me? Potato chips? With all that cholesterol fat, and artificial seasoning?"
"Right, right, dried-fruit snacks are more your style." He replied sarcastically.
"You won't give me that kind of tone when you read your blood pressure chart, Kudo-kun," she said with a snide grin, "Though it might be worth your male-bonding time with Mouri-san's father."
"Anyway," she said "since you're hungry, would you like to eat a gingerbread house?"
Gretel without Hansel, and her Gingerbread house
Her name is Gretel. With rosy cheeks and a pale, soft skin, she looks like one of those angels in Renaissance paintings. Flawless, ethereal creature who knows no pain or despair. However, if you look closer, you will find the cracks in her smile, the hollow gaunt below her eyes, the scrapes on her palms, and you will realize you don't know anything about her at all.
A lollipop is a sweet, colorful, and attractive piece of confectionary. In candy stores and carnivals, they would display seven colors in a row like a rainbow and kids would fall in love with the tiny, flirty candy. Too bad its sweetness never lasts too long. The more you lick its surface, the more it responds with a bitter taste.
The marriage of Mouri couple had been much celebrated by their co-workers and ex-classmates. A moment everyone had been itching for, they said. A reunion of two souls that would last a lifetime, until death did them part
She still remembered the sound of the roaring thunder and splashes of rain as it drowned the echoing screams and yells in the kitchen that night. She remembered the long silence that followed after; her mother's quick and determined footsteps in high heels as she grabbed her suitcase, slammed the door with fury, and hailed a cab, letting the rain disguise the tears that ran down her tired face. Her father stood frozen for a while, regrets and self-loathing evident in his face.
I didn't mean to hurt her, she caught him saying. It just comes out, he said again. The sharp insults, the self-defenses and barbed comebacks. The shards of broken glass and plates still scattered on the floor, a fresh wound of a fight that never truly healed itself, not even years later. I'm going to go for a walk and get a pack of cigarette, his father said. He warned her not to clean up the mess until he got back. He didn't want her daughter hurt. She appreciated the sentiment, but…
It was better to be in pain than to be numb, hollow, empty. She sat on the kitchen floor alone, watching the raindrops making jagged, intersecting lines on the windows. The sink tap wasn't properly closed, and tiny drops of water would fall periodically, creating strange sounds as it hit the basin. Tap, tap, tap.
Knock, knock, knock.
She brushed away her tears and checked her own reflection in the bathroom's mirror before she opened the front door. It was a habit she picked up from Eri Kisaki. Her mother, the great lawyer, had never entered the courtroom without her bright, confident smile; never mind if she just had a nervous attack or a trivial domestic fight an hour before.
He was wet from head to toe, water and dirty soil staining his oversized soccer shirt and shorts, even the socks that had just gotten off the laundry yesterday. She noticed a few scrapes on his cheek, but she stopped worrying about them a long time ago. Boys will be boys.
He murmured in a low voice, something about passing into her father on the way and getting a cold shoulder. Tears welled down from her bright, blue eyes before she could control them, and he gave her a spontaneous hug, one that lasted less than a second once he realized that he was still soaked in water and dirt. Your mother would have a field day with this, he snidely remarked. The words were choked on her throat but it doesn't take a long time to tell him the details of her parents' partings that night.
Later, they picked two pairs of gloves from a bottom drawer in the kitchen and cleaned up the mess, one by one. The scars might take a long time to heal, but at the very least, they had pulled the thorns out.
Her name is Gretel, and if you ask her who the smartest person in the world is, she might answer in a shy yet confident voice, of course, it is her brother, Hansel! Breadcrumbs and white pebbles, he could get them out of anything.
He helped her to crack the toughest equations and memorize the long list of dates and names in history exams and did all of them as if it was as easy as one swing of his hand. He laid out his deduction in front of Tokyo's finest police officers and she couldn't point a single crack in his voice, his chin held high even as his theories were shaken, torn to pieces. He made her believe that anything is possible, that everything could be easy if she just puts some faith in herself. In a way, he was the foundation to her faith, half of her identity and when they took him away…
Her name is Gretel and you meet her one morning as she sits in front of a grave in a secluded garden. If you ask her whose grave it is, she might tell you it belongs to Hansel. You contemplate saying sorry and patting her shoulder but when you look down a second later, she is already gone
She gave a long, heartfelt eulogy on his funeral, due to his mother's request. Everybody cried. She didn't. Not that anyone actually noticed.
Like mother, like daughter. It was only after the rest of mourners had leftthat she braced herself to kneel by his coffin and let streams of tears flowing from her eyes.
There was a long list of reasons she should hate him. He lied to her spectacularly, put her family in danger, and manipulated her father like a string-puppet. Although she had to admit that her dad worked much better as a marionette rather than a self-driven investigator. On top of it all, she hates him because…
He made her believe that it was easy to be noble. It was not, and never would be.
Her name is Gretel, and she hates the witch with all passion she has ever had. When she's sleeping at night, she would think of a thousand ways to kill the woman. Break the evil witch's neck with her bare hands—no, the witch has long fingernails and would not hesitate to scratch her tiny, delicate hands with their sharpness. Stab her when she's sleeping—no, the bedroom is locked. Drown her in a vat full of snake poisons—no, although the witch is as skinny like as a wilting flower, she wouldn't have enough strength to lift that evil woman up. Give her a taste of her own medicine—aha.
When her mother told her the news over the phone, she didn't know whether to laugh at its irony or shudder at the cruel nature of its joke. Although her parents were technically still married up until that day, her mother had kept her maiden name, 'Kisaki', with her professional clique. It made some sense, at least, as to why the big firm would fail to notice the link between the newly appointed lawyer for their elite client and her daughter's deceased boyfriend.
Being the daughter of a lawyer and a criminal investigator exposed her to the dirty sides of law and justice, things they never wanted her to know. She would press her ear against the door of her mother's office and silently she would listen to low murmurs and hushed conversations, the summary of proceedings inside the sealed courtroom that newspapers and television reports never got to cover.
It was easier to believe that criminals would never run free once they were proven to be guilty. It was easier to close her eyes and stand back, believing that justice would always win in the end. But then, he never taught her to take the easy route.
Her name is Gretel and she's standing in front of the oven, her palms sweating. The witch tells her to climb inside, but she has another plan.
One day, she told her father the nightmares never stopped. She told him someone was following her every time she walked home from school. She lied. Three days afterwards, she found a gun slipped inside a pile of old clothes in a cupboard drawer. He had always been predictable, and for once, it came to her advantage. Days after, she couldn't bring herself to look into her father's eyes. He might not be the smartest detective she ever knew, but he was still her father and she was still his transparent little daughter, even though everything else had changed.
She sneaked into her mother's office during lunch time and flipped the pages of a black-spiral phonebook until she spotted a name, phone number, and home address written in her mother's slanted handwriting. She snagged a picture of it with a camera phone and left as quickly as she came.
The house was huge and dimly lit, with intricate wallpaper covering the walls on long hallways. The carpet was as dark as the wooden staircases. She was amazed how much it fitted the place she pictured in her imaginations, a dark, gloomy place where sinners hide from the sunlight and beg for salvation.
What didn't fit the image in her nightmares was the man himself. The cold-blooded criminal mastermind she pictured was fierce and intimidating; cold, blue eyes and square jaws. A picture of greed and brutality. The man who looked into her eyes was anything but. His cheeks were hollow and his skin rotten by age and battle scars. He was nearly skeletal, like bones wrapped in stretched and torn leather.
Pushing her hesitation aside, she introduced herself as his lawyer's daughter and pulled some documents from her bag to hand to him. As she moved closer, she dug another hand into her pocket and fished her gun. The cold metal molded itself into her sweaty palm as she raised her hand, ready to pull the trigger.
Her name is Gretel and she hates the witch, really. But as she prepares to push the old woman into the heated oven, she touches her bony, wrinkly fingers. It reminds her of a wounded pigeon Hansel had tended with loving care, and her stomach churns. She pulls back for a moment, trying to clear her head. It's just a mere second of hesitation, but for a heartless devil, a second is more than enough.
But she couldn't move her fingers, not when she could hear Shinichi's voice echoing in her head, pleading with her to stop. She took a deep breath and tried to recompose herself even as involuntary tears began to blur her vision. Her eyes was so focused on the calm, unmoving target that she hadn't noticed another shadow that lurked in the background. The click of the gun was the last sound she heard before her world came crashing down.
Her name is Gretel, and that's about the only thing left of her, a name. The rest is scattered along with the ashes inside the furnace. The gingerbread house was empty by the time her father found out. He picks up his bow and vows to hunt the witch down and avenge his children at any cost.
The autumn was colored with red and yellow leaves, and Eri would have loved to stay there even longer if only it was another occasion. She knelt down and traced the name carved on into the grey stone with trembling fingers. It was her daughter's name.
A long time ago, she had to defend a man who was accused of murdering a pre-teen girl. There was no incriminating evidence other than the obvious motive and lack of alibi. She had convinced herself that the man was indeed innocent just as he claimed to be and worked her best to win the case. And she did. When she came out of the courtroom, a plump, fifty-something woman she quickly recognized as the victim's mother came to her and howled with rage. If only you knew how it feels to bury your daughter, she said, you would understand how I feel. That night, she hugged Ran tightly in her bed and hoped she would never, ever know what the woman felt.
A strong hand brushed her shoulder gently, and she didn't have to look up to know who the hand belonged to. She might have forgotten some details about their sweet and bitter marriage, but she would always remember the way his hand fits perfectly into her shoulder as they walk together under the rain.
He asked her if she wants to drop by for a while and takes a look at some of Ran's stuff; see if they could make some plans about…about everything.
They spent the last twenty years despising each other, too afraid to open up old wounds and end up hurting themselves even more. Afraid to let the most precious person in their life down once again. It was funny, she thought, for all their grand statements of hatred against one another, there was no dramatic explosion or such when they finally decide to live up to their vows again. It just sort of happened.
She came by in the afternoon and he showed her a stack of photo albums. Each page she flipped was filled with bright smile of their daughter and few candid shots of her yawning and yelling at either Sonoko or Shinichi. The last photograph in the album was a candid of Ran holding her adoptive little brother in her lap as they rode on the back of a truck, wind blowing into their happy faces. She looked at the photo for a long time and he slipped it inside her wallet quietly.
The next day, he gave her a call. One hour became two hours, and two hours became late-night talks as they revisited past memories and mulled over their plans for the future. She switched sides and became the prosecutor against their daughter's killer, and he gathered all the information to help her case. Sometimes, it meant dipping his feet into murky water— but they left the issues outside the door as she cooked dinner, and he enjoyed it with gratitude.
The mournful husband and wife cling into each other as the gingerbread house melts on fire, shattering the last piece of sweet illusions, leaving only a clean slate of unplowed soil in its wake. But those who fall learn from their mistakes. Now they build the house, brick by bricks, and the storm would never destroy it again.
When the verdict was read, Eri Kisaki never tore her gaze away from man inside the defendant box. Her associates might think it has something to do with her dignity as a lawyer. Such thoughts wouldn't surprise her; after all, few people could ever see her behind the façade of a tough, emotionless woman.
The husband and wife slipped out from the courtroom amidst the crowd, and he wrapped an arm around her shoulders protectively as they made their way into the front gate. She didn't say anything.
A week passed without any phone calls or visits, and Kogoro would pace the room restlessly, resisting the urge to dial her number. They both needed time to think and heal their pain, and he let it be. On the seventh day, early Tuesday morning, the ring of the bell woke him up from his slumber and he opened the front door to find the tough lawyer and at the same time, his sweet, adorable wife, standing on the front porch with two huge suitcase one each on her left and right side. He let her in and offered her some breakfast. Two soft-boiled eggs and soy sauce.
The eggs weren't cooked properly and he poured too much sauce on them. It wasn't perfect by any means, and neither was their relationship. He could revisit his favorite route of self-neglect and drink his way out of her love again. She could criticize him for all his flaws with her sharp tongue and bruise his ego on the process. The prosecuted could break free and hunt them down one day, making sure the couple would pay for all time spent behind bars.
But sometimes, imperfection accentuates beauty and fragility leads to strength. They have each other, and that is more than enough.
"So, let me summarize your story. Hansel's dead, Gretel's dead and…wow, Haibara, I never knew you're that morbid."
Haibara cocked her eyebrows and teased him lightly,
"What? I'm giving you nightmares?"
"At least the witch goes to jail. That sort of thing matters to you, right?"
"All I'm saying is, your story has too high of a death rate."
"Says he who meets dead bodies on a daily basis."
Two points for Haibara and zero for me, he grumbled silently.
"And you killed the grandma too, Kudo-kun, remember? Or perhaps a senior citizen's life doesn't count."
Make that three, he grumbled again.
"But he didn't kill the main characters! Children care about the main characters, and when you kill them, they will be sad and cry and have nightmares and they won't be able to sleep!"
One more point for me—wait, it wasn't my voice, Conan thought silently.
The two of them turned their heads in horror and stared at Mitsuhiko. The freckled boy was already up and sitting, his innocent eyes analyzed both Conan and Haibara intently.
"You two look like underage couple caught in action, you know." Mitsuhiko said in a tone much too mature for his own age.
"How long have you been listening to our ramblings?"
"Er… "Mitsuhiko said, intentionally dragging his answer as long as he could to torture the two annoyingly intelligent kids, "I remember something about bloody hoods and chopped legs and burnt houses…"
Uh, oh, Conan and Haibara exchanged a look. We totally ruined his childhood, didn't we?
"But Haibara…why you always call Conan-kun with that nickname?"
Neither of them was able to answer Mitsuhiko's question for a full five minutes. After a long, agonizing silence, Haibara spoke up,
"I'm hungry. I'm going to cook some instant noodles. Are you guys hungry?"
"No." Mitsuhiko said, frowning. It's always like that with Haibara-san, he thought. He would ask why the sky is blue and she would answer that the ocean reflects the light. Nothing ever made sense, and she never failed to make him feel stupid. And Mitsuhiko didn't like feeling stupid, especially not in front of a girl who…never mind.
"Haibara, you haven't answered my ques…"
The girl in question exited the tent as fast as the wind, and a moment later they heard the sound of the stove and boiling pan hitting one another.
"So, Conan-kun, about the question…"
"It's an RPG."
"The video-game character I'm playing, his name is Kudo. We…we just sort of carry it into real life sometimes."
"I see." Mitsuhiko nodded, and then continued in enthusiastic voice, "Can you show me the website once we come back to school? It seems very interesting!"
And, Mitsuhiko thought, perhaps Haibara would start calling him with secret names, too.
"You know what? I think I'm kind of hungry, too. I'm going to—"
"Just go back to sleep," Conan said "we will need a lot of stamina for hiking later!"
Conan tip-toed his way out of the tent carefully, trying not to hit Professor's head. Mitsuhiko sighed. As usual, he thought, the pot is advising the kettle.
The detective put on his slippers and began to walk through the wet, tickling grasses that covered the wide-open space. He scanned the surroundings; smooth slopes and green hills, large trees and thick bushes, green surface and purple skies of dawn. It was beautiful and perfect, save for one thing—Haibara wasn't anywhere in sight.
He hugged his jacket closer when the chill of morning air began to rub his exposed skin and sneezed. Hungry stomach, chilling weather, and anxiety do not make a good combination, so he started to look for Haibara all around the place. Chances are, she went to the nearest public restroom and his worry would sound ridiculous in her ears. But one of the default concepts he had in his life was that a missing strawberry blonde girl could only equal something very, very bad. True that you wouldn't find a pile of C-4 in the middle of a camping site, but there was still a five-foot deep river just a twenty-minute walk from their tent. With Haibara, he never knows.
"Add a slit mark to your neck, and you look like a mountain ghost with that expression on your face, Kudo-kun."
He found Haibara sitting below a large pine tree, holding a bowl of noodles in her hands.
"Why don't you eat somewhere closer to the tent?" he protested.
"Uh, so Tsuburaya-kun could barge in and ask another round of questions? I don't think that's a good idea."
"The sun will be up in less than an hour," he groaned, "and we haven't slept even for a minute."
"Complaining much, detective?" Haibara yawned and leaned her head into the branch. "At least the view of the sunrise is pretty clear up here." She said in a wistful voice, and he couldn't help watching her.
"Is that why you chose this spot?"
"I don't have an eye for aesthetics," Haibara answered. "I just figured if I have to open my eyes until the morning comes, I'd rather have a better view than your nostrils or yellow patches in our tent."
She motioned towards the bowl and asked, "Want some?"
A growling sound from his stomach answered the rest in a graceful manner. Haibara shoved the half-full bowl into his lap before he could form a protest.
"Just eat the rest. I've had enough of that Monosodium Glutamate, anyway."
"Thanks," he said sincerely.
"You're welcome." Haibara said, in a gentle voice that surprised both of them. "Anyway, you still owe me one more story."
"Yes," she said "though I would prefer a simple, peaceful story this time. No more rolled heads or chopped legs."
"I never said anything about chopped legs."
"You know what I mean."
"Fine," he looked at the green grass that covered the slopes and hills like smooth, emerald cloak and thought about a certain creature in green, "would Peter-Pan be all right with you?"
Peter-Pan through a Telescope
His name is Peter and one night, without any pronouncement, he knocks on Wendy's window and invites her to fly with him. The boy, nearly her age, wears a mischievous grin that enchants and intrigues her. A tiny flicker of light dances all around him merrily, its glow illuminating the darkness in her bedroom. She tells him she would not go with a stranger unless she knows who he is and where he comes from. The clock strikes twelve times as he tells her with a rueful smile that he doesn't know, but if she flies with him he could tell her what people think about him. She climbs out of her bed and says, 'Let's go, then.'
Kaito loved to read newspapers, but he was never a big fan of movie reviews section, and he certainly didn't want to know what kind of joke the fates played on him when Aoko asked him to read a review of a new movie, checking to see if 'Superman Returns' would be worth their money to watch. He was reading it out of boredom in the middle of Physics class when several consecutive lines hit him right in the gut.
Of course, red cape and blue tights are nothing but ridiculous fantasy of comic-book lovers who never grow up, the reviewer wrote. But it's such a sad fact that even most reasonable adults find themselves worshipping these cheap interpretations of a hero; a reflection of identity-crisis that exists in our modern culture. Even sadder are people who take advantage of this misguided hero-worship and don their own capes, feeding people with false illusion beneath their self-fulfilling agendas while drawing public sympathies.
"Like, say, Kaitou KID."
He felt a bitter taste in his throat as he slid the newspaper beneath his textbooks and refocused on the notes. It wasn't like it truly offended him and he never cared what people thought about him anyway.
Most people saw him as nothing more than a performer, albeit a sophisticated one—a David Copperfield to call their own. They loved him even more because he displayed entertainment for free, while others would have asked for an entrance fee. Some speculated he was a thrill junkie. Another said he was looking for the long-lost and much-treasured gem of a Duchess in Austria who, by the way, happened to be his great grandmother from his mother's side. One anonymous poster from an online forum even claimed to have possessed the gem for a couple of years—a gem which, by the way, rumored to hold mystical power as magnanimous as Kryptonite. Seems like the wilder the speculation becomes, the closer it gets to the truth.
And he didn't want to ponder what that says about his life.
Of course, with all the wild speculation around the country, between sharp-minded journalists, willful reporters and resourceful investigators, he found it mind-boggling that nobody ever connected the first Phantom Thief and the exceptionally talented magician, even though they rose and fell during nearly the same timeframe. The fact that someone took over the mantle eight years later—someone whose age and general physical description by police and witnesses matched his, the only son of that talented magician, should have made it painfully easy for anyone with above-average intelligence to sum the math and connect the dots. If they wanted to, that is.
But they didn't really want to, did they? It was much easier to enjoy his daring, sometimes dangerous stunts if they could see him as an object, a phenomenon to watch rather a real blood-and-flesh being who could be captured, hurt, or killed at any given time. As long as they could filter what they saw in him through a lens, a telescope, they could distance themselves from worrying about him. They have enough people to worry about in their personal life.
Of course, when it comes to the art of distancing oneself from personal feelings, he was the master.
His name is Peter and everyone else thinks he never grows up, still wrapped in the safe bubble of artificial joy and denial of a toddler, immune to the wrecking power of pain and grief. They see him floating above the clouds in a jovial manner and wish they could be just as fresh and innocent. Wendy watches his face as they pass the moon, seeing the look of longing to taste a parent's love, and she realized that innocence doesn't protect one from pain.
He felt himself floating above the clouds as he struggled to stay awake and move, but to no avail. He dug his fingernails into his palm, trying to snap himself out of the current tremor that traveled through his body, paralyzing him. The sounds of sirens he had been dreading came closer and closer and he pushed himself up, leaning against the rough wall and beginning to walk, one step at a time. He hadn't even reached a meter before the bullet wounds ripped into his flesh, tearing his body apart in razor-edged pain.
His body would have smashed against the hard concrete floor once again if not for two firm hands of a man holding him with calculated carefulness, so as not to inflict more pain on him and lowering his body to the ground. He caught a good look of the man's face through hazy vision and couldn't help but flinch when he saw the concerned look of a father in the older man's eyes, when he heard the voice telling him to hold on with sincerity that sounded painful in his ears.
The last thing he saw before he slipped into cool, blissful darkness was the familiar red and blue lights, taking him back to the night so many years ago…
Red and blue.
The patrol car's lights were visible through glass windows and thin layers of lace curtains in the dining room, its red and blue dancing in pitch-black sky. Normally, the little boy might be drawn to its vivid colors. Not that night. He just kept on playing with a pack of cards while his mind wandered elsewhere. In the kitchen, his mother peeled off potatoes in a rather mechanical manner while the television flickered in the living room like a play without any audience.
Ginzo Nakamori pulled a chair and sat next to the boy, trying his best to sound calm and casual even if he was fidgeting inside. There was something inexplicably terrifying about dealing with grieving children, and he certainly wasn't looking forward to this moment.
"Can you show me that trick?"
The small boy looked at Nakamori with a familiar and yet foreign gaze and he could see every layer of defense built like a wall of cards behind the pair of dark blue eyes. He could feel the boy weighing his options before his tiny fingers waved a deck of cards in front of his nose.
"Pick one," he said; voice clear and composed like a professional magician on a show," return it to me but don't tell me what it is."
Nakamori obeyed his instructions with a gentle smile. The child's lips curved upwards to form a calm, controlled smile that didn't really reach his eyes. Nakamori watched closely as Kaito arranged the cards with the ease of trained fingers, and began to wonder how a single blow of tragedy could alter a boy so drastically over a course of one week.
"Joker, right?" Kaito's eyes lit triumphantly as he picked up one specific card from the bunch and placed it between them. Heart Joker."
Nakamori contemplated ruffling the boy's messy-hair and saying something lame like 'smart kid,' but he decided against it. Instead, he treated him like a fellow adult as he gave the tiny magician his sincere salute.
That was the first magic trick the boy had performed exclusively for Nakamori, and also the last.
Joker, Nakamori contemplated, how prophetic.
His name is Peter and his foe is a ruthless pirate captain named Hook. Hook despises his bravery, envies his eternal youth, and most of all, Hook hates that cocky grin which never leaves the Lost Boys' leader. That grin, as if he is the king of the world who has the right to mock anyone, anytime he wants to. One night, Hook sneaks into the tree hut and watches the boy as he sleeps with the grin still carved on his face. And he wonders how someone could grin and shed a tear at the same time.
Nakamori stood still next to the sleeping boy, trying to his shocking discovery with every bit of logic that he had. The room was white, void, silent. The only sound to be heard was the slow and steady beeping of the heart rate monitor and the patient's soft, slightly ragged breathing. The paramedics had downed him with Heaven knows how many grams of morphine to help him rest without having to endure an excruciating pain post-surgery.
Outside, the hallways were in chaos. He'd assigned some of his subordinates to stall the wave of reporters from barging in, but it didn't stop the camera flashes. Phones were ringing from enthusiastic KID fans all around the country and the hospital had to keep denying that the elusive thief was indeed sleeping in one of their rooms. Since the infamous figure himself was still out of his consciousness and under a heavy guard, Nakamori found himself dealing with a thousand interview requests.
And yet, here he was, away from the crowd and the blitz. Nakamori watched the boy as he slowly regained consciousness; eyelids fluttering as he adjusted his pupils to bright surroundings. His eyes traveled from the IV drip in his wrist to the restraints in his hand, the heartbeat monitor, and finally to Nakamori himself.
"Welcome back." Nakamori said dryly. "You have been missed."
"Good to know." Kaito replied in a cheeky tone.
For a second, they slipped comfortably into their familiar roles; the determined law enforcer and his invincible rival on the opposite side of the law exchanging playful verbal teasing as they stood on the rooftop of various buildings. However, the shifting ground of their situation quickly shattered the masks apart, leaving only the bitter, inconceivable truth on their wake.
There was no smugness or seething hatred in Nakamori's face, and the only thing Kaito could hear in the worn-out officer's voice was regret and exasperation of a father. The young man was an actor, a character observer, and he knew without a single doubt what lay beneath the voice; and it pained him so much to hear it, to see the disappointed look from the man he'd known almost all his life. Kaito knew it wasn't him that Nakamori was disappointed with—it was his own failure as a father figure.
He wanted to tell everything; Pandora, his father, his mission to pursue those killers. There was a good chance that Nakamori would believe him, even if not completely. After all, the old man himself was probably the only person who understood the noble thief persona other than the thief himself, even if both parties would never care to admit it.
But, Kaito thought, if he did tell Nakamori the truth, and Nakamori did believe him, it would've crushed the old man even more, not to mention the danger the devoted officer's family would have to go through…
Kaito swallowed the bile in his throat and pulled his last performance as convincingly as he could, slipping the mask into place before he had to put it down forever.
"A magician never reveals his secrets, Inspector. I'm sorry."
His name is Peter and he loves Wendy, he really does. But see, here's the problem. Wendy's a normal girl, a blooming flower who would grow up, fall in love and have kids as time permits her to. Peter is anything but normal and time is his prison. Wendy belongs to her family and sunshine and all the people who long for love; and he belongs to Neverland and all his fellow abandoned boys.
"A magician never reveals his secret." Nakamori repeated the young boy's statement with a harsh voice then softened again, "Kaito…"
Kaito looked down and feigned deaf ears, hoping to arouse the old man's impatience. After all, it was easier to handle wrath than sympathy.
"I've said what I need to say," he said in a solemn yet firm voice and raised his eyes to meet Nakamori's again, "and I'll deal what I have to deal with."
Nakamori looked at him long and hard; pain from betrayal and the need to help apparent in his eyes. After a moment, he replied in a harsh, sarcastic voice.
"Fair enough, KID."
He took a couple of steps closer to the bed and stopped right in front of Kaito, his eyes dark and threatening. He leaned closer to him and whispered a string of words that stabbed the thief right in the guts.
"I'll send your regards to my daughter."
Seemingly satisfied with the pained look in Kaito's face, Nakamori left the room without another word, leaving the thief to ponder in his own pool of agony. The door closed with a soft click, shutting him from the rest of the world who'd continue to buzz about the legend of Phantom Thief, not knowing that the last curtain had already been closed.
He had destroyed Pandora just a second before the bullets flew in the air and nestled in his soft flesh.
His name is Peter and he believes in no happy ending. He says his farewell to Wendy and prepares to sail into the sky, to life of eternal longing and loneliness. A gentle voice calls him back and there stands Wendy's mother, giving him a soft kiss on his cheek, a maternal gesture of love. The taste is foreign and beautiful and nothing like he ever feels before, like a new life breathed into him.
It took Kaito a moment to notice a tiny, sharp item resting on the fold of his blanket just next to his right palm. The small object was gleaming under the light; its cold metal surface barely touching his fingers. The object, Kaito pondered, had no reason to be there at all, unless someone was passing it to him, giving him a chance to escape. The security was extra-tight and the thief bet there should be at least two surveillance cameras hidden somewhere within the pristine room. Therefore only one suspect had the opportunity to place it on his bed without arousing any suspicion.
He slipped the needle between his fingers in a subtle motion and paused for a while, thinking. No matter how ignorant they could be sometimes, the Tokyo Police Department wasn't filled with stupid people who couldn't add two and two together. If he took this chance, he would undoubtedly jeopardize the career of a devoted officer and family man. The word family brought a new apprehension to his mind and suddenly he realized why Nakamori was doing this. A sudden resolve rushed into him, and he began to unlock the cuff.
His name is Peter, and he lived in Neverland until the night he disappeared forever. Some said the remaining pirates take their revenge, killing him and hiding the body in the forest's underbelly, where no human would dare to enter. Some said the animals eat his corpse, leaving no single piece of flesh for the worms. Some said he falls to the ocean and turns into a thousand bubbles, just like mermaids do. Nobody ever thought he finally leaves Neverland for good.
Birds transmigrate from one continent to another with just a flap of their wings and nothing else to burden their backs. Nakamori wished he could move on just as easy. Three weeks after Kaito Kuroba escaped from the hospital, the department decided to transfer him into another division in a smaller province that would be easier to manage; their own polite way of saying 'demoted'. He didn't say anything to defend himself. Leaving the town seemed like a good way to erase the painful memories.
Piles of boxes and suitcases scattered in the small living room, leaving only a narrow path to walk through. He crouched down to glue the boxes with tapes and labeled them one by one; office documents, kitchen utensils, fragile items, electronic devices, and…
One cardboard box remained unlabeled. Somehow, Nakamori couldn't find a proper name to describe the bittersweet memories buried inside the closed box. He opened the lids and began to scan over the items, fingers touching dusty surfaces of photo albums and diaries, old clothes piled on the bottom, each of them reminders of two beautiful women that made up the story of his life. He picked up a small photo frame and wiped off the dust from its surface.
Looking back at Nakamori was a beautiful girl, full of joy and hope for the future, sliding her hands into his as they walked together in the amusement park, colorful balloons and a clear blue sky decorating the background. Kaito took the photo one Sunday six month ago. It was the last photo the father and daughter had together.
Aoko died less than two months ago, just couple of weeks before her high-school graduation. Lung complications, just like the disease that took her mother's life.
An echoing ring from the front porch pulled Nakamori out of his reverie. A postcard was slipped under the door and he picked it up. The postcard was stamped from Australian Post Office, but he didn't find any pictures of Kangaroos, Koalas, flamingo, or even Sydney opera house on the other side of the postcard. Instead, he found a photograph of clear, blue sky with palm trees decorating the edges. Nakamori felt a soft mist in his eyes as understanding dawned upon him.
Aoko, Blue Child.
Below the stamp, he could only find a short, scribbled handwriting that was slightly messy, as if written in a moving vehicle. I'm fine, the text began, thanks for all your help. One day, we'll see each other again. On the right-bottom edge, he found a familiar illustration of a grinning thief with his hat and monocle, and Nakamori smiled a little as he put the postcard into the box and closed its lid. Later, he stuck a white label on its top. A single word was written on the label.
His name is Peter and one night, a thousand or so years later, he comes back to Neverland to take care of the Lost Boys. When he finally takes his last breath on the warm grass of the whimsical island, he doesn't grin or cry, but smiles; the wise and sincere smile of a man who learns the sweet scent of love and the bitter taste of grief, and accepts them all with gratefulness.
"End of story," Conan said, satisfied. "Ah. Here comes the sunrise."
"Huh...?" Haibara jerked up and rubbed her droopy eyes.
"Hey, don't sleep yet. We already suffered all night long, at least stay for the reward."
"Unlike you, I watch the sunrise every morning, Kudo-kun. I think I have no problem skipping it once."
"But don't you want to know?"
"Why fairy tales never lie?"
The lack of an answer prompted the small detective to peek to his side, only to discover the scientist fast asleep next to him, her soft breath tickling his neck.
"Al—right." Conan blushed slightly, pink rose blooming on pale cheeks. "You just had to sleep when we were in the open space with all the wind and stuff, right?"
Gently, he picked her up and carried her back to the tent. It was already seven o'clock in the morning and the sun greeted them with its affectionate warmness. Haibara stirred slightly before closing her eyes again. In her dream, Akemi was holding her in a warm embrace, lulling her to sleep.
At least, Conan thought as he covered Haibara with her blanket, now I have a valid reason not to go with the rest later. Pillows, here I come!
Her name is Fairy Tale, and she's like a firefly living in your dreams, protecting your soul from nightmares with her light. What is covered in lies and sins would not be able to protect you from evil creatures that lurk in the dark.
Lies tell you to trust the easy thing and cower from the truth. Fairy tales tell you to believe in the unbelievable and stand fearless in face of trials.
A fairy tale never lies.