Disclaimer: Never owned anything.
Well, here it is, folks. My third Detective Conan fic. To those who have read my last two ones, I know what you're thinking…*grins*. No, Shiho is alive and sane in this one.
About Here We Are, a lot of people complained to me in their reviews and emails that Shiho would never do something so stupid as to commit suicide. Well, it's not like I like writing out her psycho side or anything (heck, she's my favourite character in DC!) but my muse just wouldn't let me go until I write out something about her crush on Conan! And I thought, wouldn't it be interesting if I exaggerate those feelings a little bit and turn it into an obsession?
Anyways, *cough* I hope you'll enjoy this one. And don't forget to leave a review! ^_^
Kimi wa Mamoru
Ai Haibara suppressed a sigh as she glanced sideways at the boy walking beside her. As Conan Edogawa pretended not to notice, Haibara finally decided to speak up. She was tired of having him following her around.
Lately, it seemed as if he was over at Professor Agasa's house all the time. She just assumed he was there to look at Professor's latest 'invention' but whenever she stepped out of her room, she would find him perched on his favourite spot on the inner balcony, looking bored. If she asked what he was doing there, he would shrug and say, "Nothing!"
And he was even starting to walk her home from school. Considering the fact that Professor's house was pretty far from Mouri's Detective Agency, Haibara began to get suspicious.
"Look, Kudou, it's very sweet of you to want to be around me so much but I do like to see my latest guinea pig have a social life," she said sarcastically, lifting an eyebrow.
Conan rolled his eyes. "Don't flatter yourself."
Haibara had a witty comeback ready but a cough interrupted her and she quickly fished out a handkerchief from her pockets to muffle it. The weather was cold but Haibara knew that wasn't what was causing her mild illness. She had always fallen sick whenever she was feeling very disturbed about something.
And since a couple of nights ago, Haibara had been having nightmares. This time, it wasn't about Gin shoving a gun in her face. Instead, there was only a faceless figure in black holding Conan at gunpoint.
"I've got your precious Shinichi Kudou now, Sherry," the figure would say in a voice only distinctly familiar. But before the figure could pull the trigger, Haibara would wake up, breathless and sweating. She didn't scream. She wasn't the type. Or else, Professor Agasa would have one too many sleepless nights.
She knew it was just a meaningless trick her mind played in her state of growing anxiety but she couldn't shake the deep terror she felt when Conan was almost shot in her nightmare. She couldn't bear to think that it would be her fault if he died. She was the one that dragged him into this from the moment she first appeared in his classroom not long ago.
Even from then, she'd known it wasn't smart of them to be sticking together. They were both the targets and if the Organisation found one of them, the other is sure to be found too. But she'd sworn to make things right again. She'd sworn to help him finish the counter-agent to APTX-4869 and she'd stand by that. It was her retribution and—in a way—an act to gain his forgiveness.
Right now, Haibara once again recalled the nightmare as she stared at Conan. She remembered his calm face in the nightmare, looking at her as if telling her that everything was going to be fine. And his promise came back to her memory.
"Kimi wa mamoru."
"I'll protect you. I promise I'll protect you."
Conan raised an eyebrow when her gaze kept fixed on him. "Something wrong on my face?"
"Plenty. Unfortunately, the only way to correct them is through plastic surgery," Haibara muttered. She turned away and resumed her walk home. Snorting, Conan fell into step with her.
"You know, sarcasm is very becoming on you."
"Don't even start with me, Kudou," Haibara said wearily, muffling another cough. "If you don't like it, stop hanging around me so much."
"I'm worried about you, okay? You're not feeling well lately, are you?" Conan asked, his voice sounding slightly irritated.
"I'm always not feeling well. Worrying about when I'm going to be discovered by the Organisation isn't exactly good for my body, you know. Make no mistake about it because sooner or later, they will find me." Haibara held up a hand to stop Conan from interrupting and continued, "And now, I have to worry about them finding you too because you just refuse to leave my side!"
This time, Conan stopped walking. Haibara paused, looking back at him. He was frowning.
"I said I'll protect you. Will you please stop having these paranoid thoughts?"
"I'd rather be paranoid and alive than optimistic and dead."
"I gave you my word, Haibara. I'm not going to let anything happen to you."
Haibara turned away to hide the sudden colours on her cheeks. How many times had they had this conversation? Even so, it never failed to touch her heart when he said that.
But words are words and promises are easy to make. And a promise from a proud, cocky ex-high school detective wasn't what Haibara would have taken seriously. He didn't know what he was up against, didn't even realize the extent the Organisation was capable of.
Yet, it felt nice to have someone who cared.
"Kudou? You still there?" she asked, not bothering to check if he was still following her.
"Missed me already?" he replied from somewhere behind her.
Before she could reply, two voices talking caught her attention. She focused on the direction the voices came from and soon enough, two figures emerged from a road obliterated by a wall. Haibara recognized them at the same instant as they recognized the two children.
"Conan?" Ran Mouri said, her face knitted into puzzlement. Beside her was Sonoko Suzuki, looking surprised and even slightly suspicious.
"Ran-neechan!" Conan's whole demeanor changed. He smiled brightly at her and there was a hint of childish delight in his voice.
He's good at this, Haibara thought humourlessly.
"What are you doing here, Ran-neechan?" Conan enquired innocently.
"We were cleaning Shinichi's house. It has been horribly dusty since the last time we went there," Sonoko complained. Then with a mischievous smile to Ran, she added, "But Ran here can't bear to leave her husband's house dirty."
Ran blushed and nudged Sonoko in warning. She then turned back to Conan with a shy smile on her face. "Will you be coming home for dinner, Conan? Or are you going to stay over at Professor's house again?"
Conan hesitated and glanced over to Haibara. In return, she smirked and crossed her arms.
"I'm not sure, Ran-neechan. Haibara has not been feeling well and I—"
"She looks fine to me," Sonoko interrupted with a measuring look in the direction of said girl.
Haibara decided to ignore this. Instead, she trained her eyes on Ran's face, which had now turned into a disappointed frown. She might be too sensitive but there was something disturbing about the way Ran looked at Conan. There was tenderness in her eyes that one usually didn't show when looking at a child.
Her suspicion that Ran has already known intensified.
Not only had Ran stopped calling Conan 'Conan-chan', she had also stopped acting as the protective big sister like she usually did in Haibara's earlier encounter with her. Instead, she was like a teenager with a crush she couldn't confess around Conan now. And despite their efforts to hide the truth from her—having Conan and Shinichi appear at the same time—Ran's belief that Conan was Shinichi seemed to remain undeterred.
Haibara wondered if Conan had noticed.
"Well, are you going to stay overnight, too?" Ran was now asking.
"I have to see how things go first," Conan answered. "I'll call if I decide to, okay?"
"Sure, sure. I don't see you this worried when your other friends are sick!" Sonoko muttered.
Haibara almost laughed at this. His other friends weren't the ones developing the antidote for APTX-4869. That might be a good enough reason.
To her surprise, Ran suddenly knelt in front of her. She smiled kindly at Haibara and said, "I hope you get well soon, Haibara."
So you can have him all to yourself again? Haibara thought.
She knew Ran meant well. She even knew that Ran was genuinely concerned about her. But Haibara couldn't help the bitter dislike she seemed to hold against this girl whom in appearance was older than her. It was born from her envy and jealousy for this girl.
"I'll see you at home later, then." With a final smile at Conan, Ran left with Sonoko.
As their footsteps died down, Haibara finally opened her mouth. "I'll be fine, Kudou. I don't need you to baby-sit me."
"And you couldn't have told me this earlier because…?"
Haibara shrugged and glanced in the direction where Ran and Sonoko had disappeared to. Following her gaze, Conan sighed.
"Why can't you like her? Ran's never been anything but nice to you."
"I dislike her for the same reason that she's nice to me."
You, she added silently.
"For a famous high school detective, you sure are clueless, Kudou."
"I'm a detective, not a mind reader," he retorted.
"And let's all thank God for that," Haibara muttered in reply.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing." Her voice clearly indicated that this conversation was over. Wisely, Conan shut up and resorted to walking silently beside her, looking annoyed. The only sound between them now was Haibara's occasional coughing.
When they reached the front gate, Haibara stopped.
"You can go home now," she said sarcastically.
Conan regarded her in silence for a moment. Just when it seemed as if he wasn't going to say anything, he said, "You really should do something about that cough, Haibara."
"I'm touched by your concern, Kudou but I can take care of myself."
"Suit yourself. Don't say I didn't warn you. See you at school tomorrow then."
Without as much as a goodbye, Haibara slipped inside the gate and trudged along the dirt walk to Professor Agasa's mansion. When she finally glanced back, Conan was gone. Only then did she lean against a tree for strength.
She had been dizzier than she imagined. Only for the purpose of not letting Conan see the real state of her sickness that she had ignored the pounding in her head. Now it came back full force and with a vengeance.
Her legs felt like jelly and she found that she couldn't support herself anymore. Slowly, as in slow motion, she sank to the grown. Her vision was on the verge of blacking out. She knew she must get to the front door quickly before she loses consciousness but her entire body wasn't listening to her command.
And as the last threads of her thoughts faded away, she felt a gentle arm supporting her back before she could crumple on the ground.
"Why do you have to be so damn stubborn all the time?"
"You know, when you said you wanted to protect me, I didn't know that stalking me also falls under the same category," Haibara's muffled voice floated from the small bed she was lying on. Piles of blankets were on top of her and the only part of that was visible was her head.
She had just woken up from a two-day long sleep and was still feeling a little light-headed. Professor Agasa had told her that she had been delirious from a high fever and that Conan hardly ever left the house ever since. And now that Professor Agasa had left, Haibara was alone with Conan inside the house.
The first thing she told him was that she was grateful of his concern. Right now, she was berating him for not listening to her and just go home two nights ago.
"If I hadn't turned back, you would probably have died in the lawn. Professor was home late that day," Conan shot back from his position on a fold-up chair.
"I didn't faint," Haibara insisted, "I was just…passed out for a short amount of time. I woke up when you tried to take my clothes off!"
Conan's face turned red at this. Indeed she had. He still had that bruise on his back he got when she—none too gently—pushed him away in horror, resulting in him crashing into a table.
"I was trying to change them! It was wet and muddy from all that lying down on the ground you did."
"At least I'm conscious enough then to do it by myself," Haibara grumbled. She'd never lived with herself knowing that he'd undressed her. Without consent.
"Ran's coming over later to see how you're doing. I think she said she was bringing over some chicken soup for you."
Haibara turned her head away, suddenly feeling very tired. It had been so easy to forget that there's someone else in the picture when she was bantering with Conan this way. And that person just had to be brought up in the ten minutes that she was remotely sober after a forty-eight-hour long sleep.
Couldn't she just have a few more minutes with him before reality sinks in? Would that be too much to ask?
"Hey, Kudou…" she whispered. She thought she he didn't hear her. Maybe she didn't want him to hear her. She wasn't even sure if she wanted to ask this question that's been lingering in her mind for some time now.
Haibara glanced over to see a mildly curious look on his face.
"When you said you're going to protect me, was it because I was working on the counter-agent for APTX-4869?"
There was silence and Haibara feared that she was right. But wouldn't that made the unique friendship they've formed over the months…meaningless? Did he really regard her as just another stepping stone to getting his old life back? Was he really capable of being so…heartless?
"I promised you that because I failed to protect your sister. That time when you cried on my shoulder, asking me why I hadn't been able to save your sister…that was the time I decided I won't ever let the same thing happen to you."
This time, when Haibara looked, there was a look of firm resolve on his face. She smiled softly, knowing it was concealed behind the mouth cover she was wearing.
"Thank you," she whispered.
Conan nodded. "You should rest now. You're all flushed from the fever."
It's not the fever.
Nonetheless, she took his advice. A few minutes later, Conan tip-toed out of the room, leaving a sleeping Haibara inside. He was surprised to see Ran standing at the doorway, looking flustered.
"Ran-neechan, how long have you been standing here?" Conan asked in surprise. He wondered just how much she had heard.
"Um, I just got here. Is Haibara asleep? I, I brought some soup for her."
"Oh, yeah, she just went to sleep. Here, I'll take that. I'll make sure she gets it when she wakes up." Conan began walking along the underground corridor towards the main hall.
After a last glance in Haibara's smiling form, Ran followed suit.
A/N: It needs a lot of work, I know. As it is, this story turned out to be multi-chapter after all. Or not. I haven't a lot of free time lately and I guess I might continue if I'm feeling inspired.