A lone police car sat on the shoulder of the road, waiting for some poor sucker to go fifteen over the speed limit so the great city of Tokyo could pay its bills. It was getting dark outside.
The windows were let down. Naeko Miike (a woman, despite the surname which closely resembles the Anglican "Mike") held a LIDAR speed gun in her hand while Yumi was sitting in the driver's seat, slowly drifting off to sleep.
Realising this, Naeko turned the radio all the way up. Yumi jolted upwards.
"You awake now?" Naeko said.
"Man, don't do that!" Yumi exclaimed. "You scared me to death!"
"Having recently lost the Osho title to Chikara Matsumata, Shukichi Haneda now heads back to the arena in order to re-claim all seven Shogi titles..."
Yumi looked at the car radio.
"So, you and Haneda-meijin spending a lot of time together these days?" Naeko asked.
Yumi shook her head. "Honestly, it's kind of awkward. There was actually a marriage certificate in that envelope? I mean, really? I mean, if we hadn't been separated for years and then he had me open it after that time he secured that Shogi title I might've said yes, but...we just recently got back together. I feel like if we start things back up too quickly, he'll expect us to get married, and I'd still like a few more years before I'm ready for that. You know what I'm saying?"
Naeko nodded. "Sounds like being in a relationship takes a lot of work."
"Speaking of which," Yumi said, "if you ever get the nerve to ask Chiba-kun out, I know what he enjoys doing."
"Really? What?" Naeko asked, practically standing up in the small police car.
"He's a total comic book nerd," Yumi said. "Ask him to take you out to some otaku convention in Akihabara, and maybe that'll be enough to..."
"Heeeeeh? How would you know that?!" Naeko demanded. "Did you used to date him or something?!"
...Uh, wut? Yumi thought with a deadpan look.
Suddenly Yumi's phone went off. She answered it.
"Yumi-kun! How far away are you from Beika Park?!" Megure asked.
"Uhh, about two blocks away," Yumi said. "Why?"
"We've just received word from that person," Megure said. "His latest victim can be found at Beika Park. Hurry before it's too late!"
Then he hung up.
There was a pale look on Yumi's face. She turned the key in the ignition and put the car in drive.
"What's wrong?" Naeko asked.
"He struck again," Yumi said.
"The Jiangshi Killer."
(Escape by Ling Tosite Sigure)
One day I'll decipher the truth behind this elaborate deception
One day I'll find the shining door that leads to the outside
The hidden eyes of this world which have been watching me for so long
Have no idea that now I stare back, more determined than ever to escape!
(Trying new things is refreshing to the soul! A fiend who drains the blood of his victims, and a race with Haibara to figure out his identity! Perceiving the one and only truth! With the body of a child but the mind of an adult...my name is Detective Conan!)
For years now I've tried everything to stifle my long-standing suspicions
My gut feeling that something was fundamentally wrong with the world
I convinced myself I that I was imagining it, laughing nervously as I talked
I played it straight, lived my life, and drank deeply of all this world had to offer
But I can't take it anymore, I don't know who and what is real anymore
I need to clear my head, to splash cold water on my face, but is the water real?
One day I'll make sense of the inconsistencies that pop up around me
One day I'll piece together this incoherent puzzle which is the truth
One day I'll decipher the truth behind this elaborate deception
One day I'll find the shining door that leads to the outside
The hidden eyes of this world which have been watching me for so long
Have no idea that now I stare back, more determined than ever to escape!
Deduction Contest: Conan versus Haibara!
It was early in the morning at Beika Park, and the weather was quite nice today.
Mitsuhiko had the ball at his feet. He kicked it as he ran, heading for Genta.
The Detective Boys had decided to play a game of soccer (or as non-Americans would call it, football). It was Conan, Mitsuhiko, and Nancy (the goalie) against Haibara, Ayumi, and Genta (the goalie). They were initially to play a game of boys versus girls, but they decided this was somewhat unfair, which is why Nancy and Genta went to play for the opposite teams.
Ayumi tried to catch up with Mitsuhiko, but she wasn't fast enough. Suddenly...
"H-hey!" Mitsuhiko said.
Haibara had taken the ball from him, and she was now headed to the other team's goal which was protected by Nancy.
Conan was catching up fast, though. He would be upon her in a matter of seconds.
"Ayumi-chan, catch!" Haibara ordered, kicking the ball as hard as she could.
Ayumi missed the ball, and it went out of bounds. She then went to fetch it.
Haibara walked up to Conan.
"You've gotten much better," Conan said. "Just how much do you come up here to practice?"
"Every day that I'm able to come," Haibara answered.
"Hey, wait a second, you aren't actually considering a career in football, are you?" Conan said.
"And what if I am?" Haibara answered.
"I mean, only a tiny fraction of all people who play end up going pro, and you're obviously knowledgeable enough and talented enough a chemist to land a prestigious job in pharmaceuticals or something."
"What are you saying?" Haibara shot back. "That the only thing I'm good at is making deadly pills?"
"I'm just saying!" Conan said. "Do you really want to throw away your promising medical career to play football?"
"To play alongside Ryusuke Higo, heck yeah!" Haibara retorted.
By this point the four other Detective Boys were simply watching them go at it.
"Stick with what you're good at, okay?" Conan said.
"I'm good at a lot of stuff!" Haibara said indignantly. "I could probably match your deductible capabilities if I put my..."
"BWAHAHA!" Conan said, not letting her finish. "Did you even hear what you just said? No way that'll ever happen!"
"Then why don't we find out?" Haibara said, a very teed off look on her face. "We race to be the first to solve a criminal case, and the loser takes the winner out to see a movie of his or her choice."
"I'd gladly accept, if it weren't for that one little thing," Conan said. "Criminal cases don't just appear out of thin..."
Conan was just as surprised to see Takagi and Chiba. "Ah, Takagi-keiji, Chiba-keiji! What are you doing here?"
"Actually, there was a murder here last night," Chiba said.
Conan, Haibara, and the other four Detective Boys were stunned, even though they had come across many murders in the past year. There was a moment's silence, and then Conan whispered in Haibara's ear "Challenge Accepted."
Takagi, Chiba, and the six Detective Boys were seated at a wooden park table.
"He calls himself the Jiangshi," Takagi said.
"Jiangshi?" Nancy asked.
"Yes," Takagi said. "Uh, in Chinese mythology a Jiangshi is a reanimated corpse which sucks the life from its victims. I don't think original accounts included draining of the blood, but due to the cultural influence of the Western vampire in modern times..."
"Blood?" Conan asked.
"All of the victims so far have been found drained of blood," Chiba said.
"Hey, you say the latest victim died at this park, right?" Haibara said. "Can you take me to where the victim was found?"
"Me too, if you don't mind," Conan said.
Takagi shrugged and got up. "It's over here."
They walked to the exact spot, a tree.
"The victim was found hanging upside down from this tree, his wrists having been slit," Takagi said. "His identity was Tadamichi Ueyama, age 32."
"Hold on," Conan said, taking a closer look. "There's no blood anywhere. Not on the tree or the ground. If his body was drained, you'd think that'd leave quite a bit, or at least a tiny amount. I can't even smell blood here."
"Yeah, and this perplexes our people in forensics," Chiba admitted. "A few drops of blood were detected on the ground, which we assume constituted residual leakage after he was thoroughly drained."
"The culprit must've done something to prevent any blood from getting on the tree or the ground while it was still flowing freely," Haibara said. "But why would he bother doing this, since the victim's body was going to be found here anyway? Unless..."
"You think the victim was killed elsewhere and then brought here?" Conan guessed.
"That would explain what we see here, or rather, what we don't see here," Haibara said.
"The police spent all of last night searching this park for a puddle of the victim's blood," Takagi said. "They didn't find anything."
Then the victim must've been killed outside the park, Conan and Haibara both thought simultaneously.
Conan sighed. "Well, I doubt we can solve this without more info. What say you, Haibara?"
She shrugged. "It's like you said."
Nancy approached Conan. "Uh, mom wants us to be home for lunch."
"All right," Conan said. "I'll be with you in a minute."
Conan gestured for Takagi to bend down. When the pale skinned police officer with a strong jaw did so, Conan whispered in his ear "If any new information on this case comes up, will you tell me?"
"Uh, sure," Takagi said.
Conan noticed that Haibara was whispering something in Chiba's ear, to which the fat police officer replied "Yeah, okay."
She's just copying what I do, Conan thought derisively.
Conan and Nancy sat down at the table to eat Eri's eggplant casserole.
"Where's uncle Kogoro?" Conan asked.
"Oh, I hear he's helping the police catch some serial killer," Eri said.
"Was it the Jiangshi Killer?" Nancy asked.
"So you read the morning paper too?" Eri said. "Yeah, that's right. He strikes once a month, and always on a Saturday, for whatever reason. He's had five victims so far. Of these, two died."
"Only two of his victims died?" Conan probed. "They were drained of blood, and yet only two out of five died?"
"Apparently he would call the police and tell them where his victims were," Eri said. "Because of this, three out of five were saved. Last night's victim was the second who died."
"The police can't trace the killer's phone?" Nancy asked.
"Of what Kogoro has told me, the killer always uses a phone taken from the victim," Eri said. "The phone is usually found later in a dumpster or somewhere like that. And no, fingerprints have not been found on the phones. It's assumed that the killer wears gloves. Frankly, we don't even know if the killer is a man. He or she uses this automated computer-y voice when calling the police."
She took a sip of her tea. "Anyway, how do you like the casserole?"
"Do you want an honest answer or a polite lie?" Conan said.
Conan reclined on his bed, a Detective Samonji book in hand. Nancy entered the room.
"Man, I can't believe she's sending me to my room for two hours over something trivial like that," Conan said.
"You should know by now how sensitive mom is about her cooking," Nancy said.
"I'm not gonna say that it's good whenever it's disgusting crap," Conan said. "That'd just be encouraging her to fix eggplant casserole again. You weren't all that great a cook either, but I much prefer your cooking over hers."
"I suppose I'll take that as a compliment," Nancy said. "So, why do you think the killer tells the police where his victims are?"
"There's a number of possible reasons for that," Conan said. "Either he has a conscience and doesn't want his victims to die, or he has some other reason. Perhaps he wants the surviving witnesses to confirm something about the killer that'll strengthen his alibi. Or perhaps he's simply playing some kind of sick game where the police race to save the victim in time. Any way you go, it's clear he's confident that his surviving victims won't be able to identify him."
"Oh, Ai-kun, you're home early," Dr. Agasa said.
"No time to chat, professor," Haibara said. "Kudo-kun could be in the middle of solving this thing right now."
Before he could get an answer, Haibara slammed the door shut.
She sat down in front of the very old desktop computer right next to that floppy disk that she had told Conan she didn't have.
Fifteen minutes later Dr. Agasa entered with a plate of rice and beef. "I figured you might be hungry."
"Professor, did you know that there's a condition called Clinical Vampirism? It's defined as an obsession with drinking blood, and it may cause some patients to resort to violent means to obtain blood from other people."
"You're talking about that serial killer in the newspaper today?" Dr. Agasa asked.
"Yeah," Haibara said. "I'm racing with Kudo-kun to see who can get to the bottom of this case first."
"You're competing with Shinichi?" Dr. Agasa said. "That's kind of unusual."
"There's one problem, though," Haibara said. "There's a number of diseases that can be transmitted through bodily contact with someone else's blood, such as HIV and Hepatitis B. Drinking it would be an incredibly risky endeavor."
"Perhaps the killer isn't concerned about that risk?" Dr. Agasa suggested. "He could be terminally ill, or he might be ignorant about the risks. Or perhaps he knows but the temptation is so great that he takes the risk anyway."
"There's another possibility," Haibara said. "Professor, I'm going out again."
"You aren't going to eat this plate of rice and beef I fixed you?" the Professor asked.
"I will when I get back," Haibara said. "For now please leave it in the refrigerator for me."
She got off of the Turbo Engine Skateboard, having arrived at her destination.
Beika Hospital, she thought. This should be the place, since the distribution of victims has so far been limited to the Beika area.
She went inside and walked up to the front desk.
"May I help you?" the receptionist asked.
"If I'm not mistaken, this hospital doubles as a blood donation center," Haibara said.
"Uh, yeah?" the receptionist said.
"Do you by any chance keep records of recent donors?" Haibara asked.
"Yes, but those records are not available to the public," the receptionist said.
"So there's no way of knowing who recently donated blood here?"
"Not really," the receptionist said. "Well, there is the Donor Wall of Fame."
"The Donor Wall of Fame?" Haibara repeated.
"Uh, yeah. People who give blood at this hospital once every three months without missing a sessions for two years or more are put on the Donor Wall of Fame. It has their names and pictures on it."
"Do you know where I can find this Donor Wall of Fame?"
The receptionist pointed. "It's right over there. You know, it's funny. Just a minute ago two men were asking about that very same thing."
What? Haibara thought. Surely he didn't...
She hurried over to the Donor Wall of Fame. Standing there was Takagi and Chiba. Takagi was on the phone.
"Your hunch turned out to be right, Conan-kun," Takagi said. "All five victims were regular blood donors at Beika Hospital."
"H-he got it first?!" Haibara said out loud, stunned.
"...Yeah, Ai-kun just got here. Huh? You want me to put her on the line? Okay."
Takagi handed the phone to Haibara.
"Sorry, evil-eyed yawny girl, but as usual, I was one step ahead of you," Conan gloated. "Call it quits now, admit that you'll never be on my level, and I'll drop the bet without making you pay up."
Haibara growled. "Why the heck would I do that?! I'm just getting started, you arrogant Holmes-wannabe!"
With that, she hung up and handed the phone back to Takagi, storming out of the hospital.
She got back on the skateboard and headed home.
Neither she nor Conan made any more progress that day.
The Next Day
Genta was the last of the six Detective Boys to arrive to class.
"Hey guys, watch this!"
Genta put his right hand under his left armpit and produced a farting noise.
"What do you guys think?" he asked. "I've been practicing all night!"
"Ew, Genta!" Ayumi said. "That's gross!"
"What a juvenile thing to do!" Mitsuhiko protested. "Nobody will take the Detective Boys seriously if you go around doing that!"
"Already nobody does", Conan muttered with a deadpan look.
Nancy smiled. "I remember when you used to do that. It drove me bonkers."
"That's why I did it," Conan said.
"You know, Ai-chan's being awfully quiet today," Nancy said.
"She's miffed because I showed her up yesterday," Conan said.
Haibara glared at him with a look that sent chills down his spine, a look that could intimidate even the bravest of men.
"Is that stupid deduction contest still going on?" Nancy asked.
"Y-yeah," Conan said.
"If I may have your attention, please."
Every eye in the room was now fixed on Kobayashi-sensei.
"We have a new student today," Sumiko said. "His name is Nobusuke Kawatomura. Nobusuke, would you like to introduce yourself to the class?"
A shy-looking boy walked into the classroom.
"Uh, hello," the Nobusuke said. He then walked to an empty desk in the middle of the room.
"Okay class, today we're going to continue going over..."
The bell rang. It was time for recess. The students got out of their seats and headed for the door.
One of the students tripped over the desk, forcing it sideways. Nobusuke, who was close behind, ended up bumping his leg against the chair.
He fell backwards and grabbed his leg in pain, trying to hold back a scream.
As they were leaving, the six Detective Boys saw Kobayashi-sensei tending to Nobusuke.
Conan took a football (soccer ball) out of his backpack.
They set the ball in the middle of the field and...
"Uh, if you don't mind, can I play too?"
Standing there was Nobusuke.
"Sure," Conan said. "You can be on Haibara's team. That sorry lot is gonna need all the help they can get."
Haibara just scowled, and Nobusuke joined her team.
The game that followed can only be described as intense. After having been cooped up in a classroom for the past several hours, the children were ready to burn off their pent up energy. Nobusuke was a decent runner, but he wasn't entirely sure what he was supposed to be doing. At the end of the game, Conan's team emerged victorious.
The seven of them decided to take a rest.
"Uh, listen," Nobusuke said. "I'm sorry if I stink at football, but I never played until today. My dad never let me play sports until recently."
"Uh, no, you're okay," Haibara said. "So, where did you go to school before you came here?"
"Haido Primary School," Nobusuke answered.
"Ah, I have a friend who goes to Haido Primary!" Ayumi said.
"Tell us more, please!" Mitsuhiko said eagerly.
"I'm sorry, but I'm not supposed to talk about that," Nobusuke said.
With that he got up and left.
"This is all your fault, Mitsuhiko," Genta said.
"What did I do?!" Mitsuhiko said defensively.
"I wonder why his dad didn't let him play sports," Nancy said. "It seems like he could be a pretty good football player with a little practice."
"Some kind of medical condition, I suspect," Haibara said. "Whatever it is, he's recently started undergoing treatments of some kind that are allowing him to engage in strenuous physical activity like football."
"I also wonder about his leg," Conan said. "It looked like he only bumped it lightly, and yet..."
It was raining pretty hard when the Mouris stepped inside of the restaurant/bar called Blackjack's. It was a dimly lit building with two pool tables, several TVs, and a bar.
"So this is that joint you've been raving about," Eri said.
"They have the best American burgers in Tokyo," Kogoro declared.
"But it's also a bar," Eri said. "Surely you didn't come here planning on having a drink or two, right?"
"Of course not!" Kogoro denied, chuckling as though Eri had just cracked a joke.
Well, I was hoping you might let me have a little, he thought.
"So, tell me about work," Eri said. "I hear you've been helping Inspector Megure track down that serial killer."
Kogoro sighed. "I really don't want to talk about work right now. It's just been one dead end after another."
And that was the start of a long-winded conversation that eventually shifted to the subject of getting rid of the rental car (since the car that Eri owned was much better anyway).
As Kogoro and Eri talked, two female employees were sitting at a nearby table snapping peas while trying to solving Sudoku puzzles. Conan could pick up bits and pieces about their conservation, such as:
"Don't you think that Isoroku guy is a total $$hole?"
"I know, right?"
"But don't tell anyone I said that about the owner nephew."
"I hear he nearly got into a fight on Saturday."
"Yeah, I think he was messing with that regular guy...what's his name?"
"Uh, you mean Kawatomura-san?"
H-huh? Conan thought. That name...
He got up and walked over to that table. "Uh, excuse me, but..."
"Oh, what a cute little kid!" one of them said.
"I just want to pinch his cheeks, don't you?"
"Eh, brat! Stop bothering those people!" Kogoro yelled.
"C-coming!" Conan answered. "Uh, listen, you just mentioned the surname Kawatomura, if I'm not mistaken?"
"Yeah," one of the two employees said. "He's this regular who shows up on Saturdays."
"Ehh? Do you know his first name?" Conan asked.
"Uh, I think it might've been...Shoichi?"
T-that's the name of Nobusuke's father! Conan realised.
"...Do you know what he orders?" Conan asked.
"Yeah, he always orders dark wine."
I see how this is, Conan thought with a grin.
Nancy got up from the table.
"Eh? Where are you headed off to?" Kogoro asked.
"The bathroom," Nancy said.
"Absolutely positive!" Nancy said. "He had that big grin on his face!"
"And what was he asking them about?" Haibara asked.
As Haibara listened to Nancy's explanation, she began to grin. She too understood what was going on. "Thank you, Ran-chan. Your cooperation will not go unrewarded."
Then Haibara hung up.
"Huuh? Why would Mouri-san want me to ask about that?" Takagi asked.
"He suspects this person may be the culprit," Conan said.
"Well, if Mouri-san requests it then I guess I'll ask," Takagi said, not noticing that, on the other side of the room, Chiba was also on the phone with someone.
"Thanks, Takagi-keiji," Conan said. Then he hung up.
He walked out of the men's bathroom.
"You're ready to go now?" Eri asked.
Conan nodded. "Mm-hmm."
As the Mouris were just arriving home, Conan's phone began to ring. It was Takagi.
"Mouri-san was right," Takagi said. "A man named Shoichi Kawatomura was pulled over three times on those particular nights, but they let him go each time."
"How was it stored?"
"Uh, one of the officers says he saw them in a bucket of ice," Takagi said. "Will that be all?"
"Yup, thanks, Takagi-keiji," Conan said in his childish voice. "I'll relay all of that to Uncle Kogoro."
"Wait, there's one more thing," Takagi said. "I think Chiba was also asking around headquarters about that same thing just now. Did you ask him too?"
Conan was silent.
"Eh? Conan? Are you there?"
Conan hung up.
But that means, he thought, that means that she's...
He rushed out the door as fast as he could.
As he was passing Dr. Agasa's home, he thought:
I only hope I'm not too...
Then he felt a pinprick on his neck. As soon as he realised what it was it began to kick in. All he could do was lie down so that he didn't simply fall over and slam his head against the hard pavement.
Haibara triumphantly stepped out from behind the bush.
"D**n you, Haibara," Conan said weakly before passing out.
"Sleep tight, Edogawa-kun," she said with a smirk. "This one's mine for the taking."
There was a knock at the door. After fifteen seconds Shoichi answered it.
He looked around and he saw no one.
"Down here, mister."
That was when Shoichi noticed the little girl at his doorstep.
"Uh, hi," he said. "Who are you?"
"I'm a friend of Nobusuke," Haibara answered. "May I come in?"
"Hey, Nobusuke! There's this girl here who claims to be a friend of yours!"
Nobusuke ran to the front door. "Oh, Haibara-san! It's you!"
And so, Shoichi let her in.
They entered the living room.
"Do you mind if I sit down?" she asked.
"Uh, no," Shoichi said, and subsequently Haibara sat down on the living room couch.
"First of all, I'd like to congratulate Nobusuke on his amazing recovery," Haibara said.
"W-what are you talking about?" Shoichi asked with a nervous chuckle. "If Nobusuke was sick, don't you think that I, his father, would know about it?"
"Oh, but you do know," Haibara insisted. "In fact, you are the mastermind behind his recovery, Shoichi-san. There is still one thing that I haven't figured out: what is the sickness in question? Some kind of blood disease, I'm guessing."
She could tell that she had struck a nerve. Both Shoichi and Nobusuke looked scared.
"G-get out of my house," Shoichi said.
"Oh, but I'm not finished yet," Haibara said. "Nobusuke Kawatomura was born with an illness that rendered him a very sickly child who wasn't allowed to play sports. In recent months, however, he's begun undergoing treatments."
"...You've get me," Shoichi said. "I wanted to keep quiet about Nobusuke's medical history so that he could be a normal kid, but truth be told he was born with Sickle Cell Anemia. Lately he's been receiving blood transfusions at Beika Hospital."
"Oh, but I wonder," Haibara said. "A transfusion usually occurs somewhere around the arm, if I'm not mistaken...So how come Nobusuke has been receiving transfusions in the leg?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Shoichi snapped.
"But dad, don't you think we ought to tell the..."
"Go to your room, Nobusuke!" Shoichi ordered.
His son reluctantly replied.
"I first noticed the sore spot on Nobusuke's leg on Monday," Haibara said. "However, it wasn't nearly as sore on Tuesday. That means the sore spot is temporary, and that he got his transfusion either on Saturday or Sunday."
"Y-yeah, he got it Sunday morning," Shoichi admitted weakly. "So what?"
"But don't you think that's a funny coincidence?" Haibara said. "The day before that, the man who calls himself the Jiangshi Killer drained blood from one of his victims. Most people simply assume that he drank it like some kind of vampire, but what if he was collecting it to give to someone else? Like your son, for instance."
Shoichi stood up. "I won't take any more of this nonsense! How dare you barge into my house and accuse me of being a serial killer? Didn't your parents teach you any manners?"
"So when logic fails, you resort to Ad Hominem attacks," Haibara said. "Quite sad, to be honest."
"You get out of my house this instant!"
"But what good will that do?" Haibara asked. "I mean, I would still know what I do, and if not you I might talk to the police instead. Aren't you curious about what I know?"
Shoichi reluctantly sat back down again.
"Your Modus Operandi is actually pretty straightforward," Haibara explained. "One Saturday of every month, you go out and find a person who is a regular blood donor and matches the blood type of your son. Then you use a stun-gun to knock this person out and you put them in your car. After that's done, you drive to a restaurant/bar called Blackjack's, where you order a bottle or two of red wine. So as to not look suspicious, you come every Saturday to buy wine, not just on the Saturdays where the Jiangshi Killer strikes. Anyway, after you've purchased the wine bottles you empty them completely of their contents and wash them thoroughly. Then you drive to some random place where your victim is to be drained of blood. All you need is a sharp implement of some kind, a funnel, and the emptied wine bottles."
"You proceed to slash your victim so as to draw as much blood as possible," Haibara continued. "So that none of it is wasted on the ground, you use the funnel to make sure that 99% of it flows into the emptied wine bottles. You do this until no more blood can be extracted from the victim without another incision. However, this is an extremely risky procedure, which is why two out of five of your victims died. Still, despite what you do you do have a conscience, so you try to make sure that your victims live. That's why you call the police and alert them to where your drained victims can be found. Anyway, you then proceed to put the wine bottles on ice as you drive home, so that the blood doesn't coagulate, which would render it unsuitable for use. This, too, is a piece of evidence that can be used against you, since any wine connoisseur knows that wine should never be stored at very low temperatures, since it might expand and cause the bottle to crack. But I suppose that the policemen who pulled you over didn't know that. All they saw was some random guy driving home with some wine bottles in the back seat on chill so that it could be drank cold as soon as he got home. If they didn't believe that it was wine, you could even show them the receipt from an hour or two prior. Then again, you likely picked a brand of wine that looks very similar to blood, so that after replacing the wine with blood the bottle wouldn't look any different. After you get home with the wine, you inject it into your son, and his sickle cell blood is thereby replaced by healthy blood, allowing your son to live a normal life until his next transfusion. Blood cells, after all, have a relatively short lifespan."
"Everything that you just said is idle speculation," Shoichi said. "First of all, I'm not a wine connoisseur, so by no means should handling wine improperly count as 'evidence' against me. Second, what's my motive? If it's a question of not being able to afford blood transfusions for Nobusuke, wouldn't buying a bottle or two of wine every week exceed the costs of that?"
"That shouldn't be a problem for you," Haibara said. "First, I imagine that you selected very cheap wines, so as to cut costs. Second, on normal Saturdays when you weren't victimising anyone, you could've re-sold the wine to teenagers and broken even."
Shoichi sighed. "There's no fooling you, is there?"
"I just have one question for you," Haibara said. "What are you planning? Do you intend on continuing this until Nobusuke becomes an adult? That's twelve victims a year, for the next ten years or so. And what about beyond that point? Will you continue to supply your son with blood in your old age? Or will you train him to obtain it on his own?"
"No," Shoichi said. "Eventually I'll move up the socioeconomic ladder, and then I'll be able to afford proper treatment for Nobusuke in a real hospital, with blood given voluntarily instead of by force. If this doesn't happen, then surely Nobusuke will one day grow up to be more successful in life than I am, and he'll afford treatment. In the meantime, I'll continually perfect my methods until there are no more fatalities."
He stood up and walked to the kitchen. "Now I have a question for you, girl. What concern is it of yours what I do?"
"One day somebody who I care about could fall victim to you," Haibara said. "That's why I came here, in order to stop you before that can happen."
Well, there's that bet with Kudo-kun too, she thought.
Shoichi then returned, a butcher's knife in his hand. On his face was an evil grin. "Well, that was a nice chat, but now I can't let you leave here alive. If I go to jail then Nobusuke's treatments will stop, and then he'll regress to being that sickly boy with a projected lifespan of 40-60 years."
Haibara smirked. "Do you really think that Nobusuke would still take blood from those bottles if he understood how high a price innocent people paid for it?" She bent over and activated the kick-enhancing shoes she was wearing.
"That high price is precisely the reason why he should accept it graciously," Shoichi said. "Now, enough chitchat. I hate to do this, but I'm a father first and a decent human being second. Goodbye."
Shoichi lunged at her with the butcher's knife in-hand. Haibara pushed the button on her belt and a soccer ball came out. She kicked it and it landed smack in Shoichi's face, knocking him backwards and out of consciousness.
A few seconds later, Haibara could hear the sound of police sirens right outside. Megure, apparently, had obtained a warrant to search the house. Haibara opened the door for them.
"A-Ai-kun!" Megure said. "What are you doing here?!"
"No worries, Inspector," Haibara said. "The culprit has been neutralised. If you find a wine bottle, it should be filled with blood, so check that thoroughly."
"You didn't answer my question," Megure muttered.
Haibara headed home quietly. While she had won the bet, Nobusuke would lose his father, along with his newfound good health.
(If I Must Fade Away by Aya Kamiki)
If I must fade away
Into the great nothingness that only God knows
Then I want to spend my last moments with you
Gaze deeply into my eyes and set my soul on fire
Let my last few minutes be like an eternity passed
Speak to me tenderly and truthfully, a deathbed confession
Tell me how well I lived, what difference my life made
Let me hear the voices of the people whose lives I touched
Let me hear them say to me, "Thank you" and "Farewell"
Let it be God has weighed the life I lived and found it good
Let His face smile upon me as I enter what lies after death
Hold me tightly, don't let go as long as life is still within me
As my senses go numb let your warmth be the last thing I feel
Above all, let not this heart of mine live its last moments in bitterness
But rather, let me be happy that I was alive, ready to let go with a smile
After some griping about how Haibara "cheated", Conan reluctantly agreed to honour the bet.
That was how Conan, Haibara, and Nancy ended up sitting in an almost empty theatre watching "Les Cousins Dangereux".
Haibara and Nancy were sitting on both sides of Conan, smacking loudly on their popcorn.
"Man, this sucks!" Conan protested. "How did I end up paying for BOTH of your tickets?! And popcorn?!"
"Shh, the movie's about to start," Nancy said.
"Anyways, I hope you learned something from all this," Haibara said.
"That you're a dirty cheater?" Conan said.
"That I can do a lot more than just create pills," Haibara said.
"...Yeah, I understand that," Conan said. "Haibara, I never thought of you simply as a ticket to restoring my normal body. You are a person, and you're free to choose what to do with your life. But why did you get so offended when I suggested that you stick with chemistry instead of becoming a football player?"
"...Kudo-kun, there's some things that I haven't told you before," Haibara said. "I already mentioned how the Organisation would've had me test APTX-4869 on Kiichiro Numabuchi. But...there were others, other people who I did indeed test the drug on. For some I personally forced the capsule into their mouths, watched them die, and casually recorded the results."
Conan was silent.
"You once called me a murderer," Haibara said. "You weren't wrong, not just because of what other people did with the drug I created, but because of what I personally did with it."
She began to cry softly.
"...You can't be held responsible for your actions then, Haibara," Conan said. "I imagine that you had no choice but to serve those men, and to do their bidding."
"In any case," Haibara said, "I would like to move away from my dark past. Something non-intellectual, like sports, would be a good way to do that. Shiho Miyano was a scientist, Ai Haibara is not, even if the latter person has scientific knowledge."
"I think you're being kind of silly," Conan said. "If you feel haunted by your past, the solution isn't to run away. After all that we've been through, you should know that. The only solution is to confront your past head-on. Haibara, as a biochemist you have the potential to develop new drugs that'll save lives. What better way is there to atone for the things you've done?"
Haibara was silent.
Nancy was too: a name that Haibara had just used stood out:
Why? Nancy thought. Why does this name?
And then she remembered. Just a tidbit, but it was something.
A man, dressed in all black. He had long, blond hair, but his face...Ran Mouri had seen that face before. It was the face of a certain man, a serial killer who had been captured and put to death during the past year. That man's name was Ki'ichiro Numabuchi.
She could never forget that day: the man was dashing towards her with a knife. Conan stood in his the way, the boy's sacrificial courage perhaps saving her life. She had always wondered why such a young boy would do such a grown-up thing, but now she understood it was Shinichi who saved her.
But did this man ever have blond hair, or dress in black, any of the times that Ran had ever seen him? So did she encounter him some other time, a time that she had forgotten all about?
When did Numabuchi ever point a gun at her head...and what happened after that?