DISCLAIMER: Not mine. :sniff: Despite that, I absolutely refuse to call it Case Closed!!! :glares at whoever decided to Americanize a series that is not only blatantly set in Japan but also utilizes many key clues that rely on that very fact: And er, Tinkerbell don't belong to me either. :-P

WARNING!! SPOILERS FOR JODIE'S PAST AND HER TRUE IDENTITY!!! (Volume 42; I don't know what episode, if there is one already.)

Summary: One-shot. Jodie-sensei and Japanese-American FBI agent Akai Shuichi. A "chance" meeting in the park leads to a discussion about hairstyles, Vermouth, apples, and fairy dust. Not necessarily in that order.
Rating: G. There is only one instance of very slight language.
Pairings: Hints of Jodie/Shuichi. Admittedly, I've only read bits and pieces of the newer volumes so I don't know if there's any info given that either confirms or refutes this pairing, but based solely on the haunted ship case in Volume 42 I couldn't help but think that it's quite plausible. Plus it would be really cute... Baaaad plot bunnies, bad! (Why is it that all the pairings Aoyama-sensei hints at and/or establishes are sooo darn sweet? XP Even the funky weird Gin/Vermouth hints...) At the very least it's obvious that the two are pretty good friends -- partners, perhaps?

Notes: Wrote this piece partly as an exercise on writing dialogue, which I need lots of practice on. They are speaking, btw, in English, not Japanese. The bits of dialogue that are supposed to be in Japanese are written in romaji.
And here I must say, Aoyama Gosho is a GENIUS. Okay, so maybe I'm just stupid, but despite the hints he dropped, I so did not see the twist(s) in Vol. 42 coming. Anyway, this fic takes place sometime after aforementioned haunted ship case... (Again, possibly contradicting canon: I'm not clear on whether Jodie did go back to the U.S. or not. Here I'm assuming she hasn't yet.)


Apples and Fairy Dust

Jodie Saintemillion strolled down the bustling streets of Tokyo and wondered at the sheer extraordinariness of the fact.

It was, all in all, quite an ordinary day. The sky was shockingly blue, a clear, brilliant blue that rivaled the color of the sky back at her home in America, and was dotted by the occasional feathery white cloud. The sunlight upon her shoulders was mellow and warm, gently highlighting the gold of her wispy, cropped hair. The air, overflowing with the smells of the city, was crisp and cool against her skin, signifying the coming of autumn. A beautiful day, to be sure, but quite ordinary, and Jodie was puzzled as to why everything simply felt so alive on this particular day. Was it some holiday she had forgotten, perhaps? The birthday of someone she knew?

She was leaning over to retrieve a drink from a vending machine when she noticed the suspicious shadow lurking about nearby. Jodie sighed and straightened up, drink in hand. She had a pretty good idea of who that shadow was, and what he was there for. Nevertheless, she wasn't sure she wanted to face him at the moment. Yet the spell from earlier seemed broken, and she shook her head, sighing once again. Taking a quick sip from her drink, she set off for a nearby park. Within minutes, she had arrived at her destination, and she sat down on a bench in a shady, secluded corner.

She did not look over as she sensed someone sitting down beside her.

"Hello, Shu," she said brightly. Perhaps a little too brightly.

A slight snort escaped the man at her side. "Hello, Jodie-sensei," he said sarcastically.

"I suppose..." sighed Jodie at last, when it became clear he did not intend to continue speaking any time soon, "you are here to talk about her."

The man ignored her. "Here. Have an apple."

Jodie caught the luscious red fruit he tossed her with ease. "Shu," she said warningly. "What do you want?"

"Eat it."

Rolling her eyes, Jodie took a bite. It was crisp and sweet and tasted like autumn in Central Park. Red and gold and vibrant and alive. "There, happy now?" she managed to force out. There was a bitter aftertaste in the back of her throat.

"It's good, isn't it?"

"Shuichi."

"Why don't you go home, Jodie?" The question took her by surprise. Tears welled up in her eyes, threatening to roll down her cheeks, and she blinked. She refused to cry in front of Shuichi, in front of anyone.

"I... I can't."

"Oh? Why not?"

"You know very well why not, Shuichi."

"Perhaps," he murmured.

"I can't. Not until... that woman is safe behind bars."

"Not until you know the truth, you mean."

"Yes... that too."

"You're homesick, you know." When she did not reply he pushed on, "I can see it in your face, your eyes. The way you walk. Why don't you just give up? You can't bring back the dead. Besides, there's nothing to be ashamed of. You've done all you could, which is quite a lot, and you're not the only one whose grasp she continues to elude. Jodie, if you can't control your emotions then you shouldn't stay here. Look at you, you're just pining away. For your home, your past. It's pitiful."

She was angry now. "Oh yes, Shuichi, I'm just a pathetic fool who can't leave the past behind no matter how hard she tries and sits around, wallowing in self-pity. Twenty years, Shu! Twenty years and I still can't move on, I can't forget. Even if she turned herself in tomorrow and repented for everything she's ever done I still couldn't forgive her, Shu. Nothing can ever replace what she took from me."

"And I suppose knowing why she did what she did would change that?"

"At least it would allow me to try to understand..."

"Don't lie to yourself, Jodie."

"I'm not --"

"This is the last time I'm going to tell you this, Jodie. Agents like us should not -- must not let our personal affairs interfere with business."

"You're one to be talking! You're the one who nearly got killed by that woman, just a year ago. Everyone knows you're out for revenge! Besides, I know you too well, Shu. You'd die before letting yourself admit defeat to a woman."

Silence.

"She's one helluva woman," said Shuichi.

"Yeah..." Jodie replied quietly. "Sharon was a wonderful actress. I grew up watching her movies. And then you think about all that she went through: her parents, her husband. Still..."

She trailed off, seeing the strange look in his eyes.

"It's amazing," he said. "Simply amazing. The way she turned her back on everything she had, for a life like... this. She could have had everything she wanted, but she gave it all up. That day... I underestimated her. She beat me fair and square. I swore she wouldn't get the better of me the next time we met. And yet, a year later, we meet... and she still manages to escape, injured as she was. How does she do it? Why did she do it? I'll admit it: I wish I knew, too..."

Her next words came tumbling from her mouth, unbidden. "Do you... like her?"

"You've been spending far too much time with lovesick Japanese high school girls," he replied, smirking.

"Shuichi!" she protested, pinking slightly.

The smirk on his face turned somber. "To answer your question, no. Admire, yes. Like her, no. I don't think I could ever like a woman like that. Living such an aimless, irresponsible life, killing innocent people for her own selfish desires... It's disgusting."

"Am I a selfish woman, Shu?" Jodie asked softly.

Shuichi looked at her thoughtfully. "No, Jodie," he replied. "No more selfish than me or any other person you may find on the street."

At this moment, a red ball, striped with gold, came bouncing past. Jodie caught the ball and looked up to see a little girl come running over. Jodie smiled at the girl and tossed the ball back. The girl returned her smile with a toothy grin.

"Arigato, oneesan!"

A sudden breeze ruffled Jodie's golden hair as she watched the little girl run off.

"By the way, Shu..." she said as the child ran away. "I've been meaning to ask you: Why did you cut your hair? You were always so fond of it."

She almost giggled at the disgruntled expression on his face. But then she sobered as it turned into a look of utter hatred.

"As a reminder..." he said. Then he smiled, and Jodie felt a chill run down her spine. And then, so softly that she nearly missed it, he whispered, "I want to make her shed tears of blood..." She wondered if he had meant for her to hear, then decided to pretend that she had not.

In silence, Shuichi drew out a cigarette from his pocket and lit it. Jodie was rather surprised that he had not taken it out earlier.

"I've been thinking... about how she did it," he said at last, his hand reaching up to touch his black knit cap. "How she managed to... turn back time and become the beloved golden apple of the stage once more."

The wind blew again. Smoke from Shuichi's cigarette curled over to Jodie's nose in fragile wisps. A single brilliant golden red leaf drifted into her lap.

"Fairy dust," she whispered.

"...What?"

"Fairy dust," she repeated, laughing now.

"Fairy dust," prompted Shuichi, quirking an eyebrow at her, amused.

"Father..." she gasped, still laughing as she pushed her slipping glasses back up her nose, "before he was killed, he always used to tell me that if a pixie sprinkled fairy dust on you, then you would be granted eternal youth..."

"Right. So all we have to do is to catch Tinkerbell, and get her to tell us the secret behind fairy dust?" queried Shuichi in a perfectly solemn voice.

"Silly! For one thing, Tinkerbell can't talk, so even if we managed to catch her, she wouldn't be able to tell us anything. Besides, her dust can only give people the power to fly..."

"Mmm. What do you suggest, then?"

Jodie placed a finger on her chin, tapping thoughtfully. Then she winked. "Well, of course we could always get our scientists to figure out a way to communicate with Tinkerbell... And then using the information about her flying dust I'm sure they would be able to figure out the various components of the dust that grants eternal youth... Or if that doesn't work we could --"

"It's some sort of drug," interrupted Shuichi. "It's the only way."

"Yes," replied Jodie, serious once more. "You're right, of course."

"And such a drug could only be produced by a large underground organization..."

"Then it is true. All that talk about her and the so-called Blacks."

"Yes. That's part of what we're supposed to be looking into while we're here. The rumored Black Organization."

"I hadn't wanted to believe it. That she could..."

"Is it that surprising?" Shuichi asked dryly. "I'd say that woman's capable of anything. But, don't you think it's strange that none of this has gotten out yet? Scientists have been searching for the secret to eternal youth for ages. And not just scientists... all of mankind. Not very many people out there would be able to resist the idea of being young forever."

"Oh! I see what you're getting at... Everyone would be clamoring to get their hands on the drug; their profits would be tremendous... But they're obviously not selling it, are they."

"Obviously not. So now the question is, why? Do they want to keep it for themselves? Is the drug not completely tested yet? Neither scenario is likely. The main goal of an organization like this is to make profits, and they wouldn't care if the drug was not completely refined yet, as long as it made money. And I doubt that woman would have taken a drug that had possibly unpredictable side effects."

"No, not unless... she didn't care... Could it be? That the drug was meant for something entirely different? Like..."

"That is the exact same conclusion that I reached. The drug must have been developed not as an elixir, but as a deadly poison. The reversal of the aging process must have been a previously unknown side effect that she accidentally stumbled upon. Probably, she is one of only a few who now know the truth."

Jodie noticed that she was gripping her knees so tightly that she could see the whites of her knuckles.

"She wanted to die. But instead, she got a second chance at life..."

"Yes."

The two of them sat together in silence.

Then Jodie spoke up again. "I wonder... if we will ever get her. If I will ever get her. No matter how hard I try... It seems like she's always one step ahead of me."

"Then just give up. The other agents and I can take over from here."

Jodie opened her mouth to protest, but Shuichi interrupted her before she could say anything.

"Look, Jodie. I have absolute faith in your abilities." He leaned back and glanced up at the sky, blowing out a cloud of smoke from his mouth. Jodie looked down at her hands, unable to bring herself to look at him. "Just... be careful."

"You utterly infuriating --" exclaimed Jodie, turning. But Shuichi Akai was nowhere to be seen. All that was left was a half eaten apple and a golden soft drink can sitting by her on the bench. A gentle breeze started up, tickling the nape of her neck. She noticed then a slip of paper folded neatly beneath her unfinished drink, and gingerly withdrew it from its hiding place.

On the scrap of paper was scrawled, It's okay to cry in front of me if you need to. I promise I won't laugh.

"Stupid Shu," whispered Jodie, feeling the tears welling up in her eyes once more. But she smiled as she stood and left the park, feeling alive as ever.

Jodie Saintemillion strolled down the bustling streets of Tokyo and dreamed.

Owari


Fun piece of trivia: I believe "Akai" means red/burning/brilliant/etc. Thus all the references to red. (and the reason for the references to gold is pretty obvious... :-P)

If you don't remember who Shuichi is, he pops up randomly in several places. Off the top of my head:

1. the bus hijacking case (Vol. 29, first appearance. Jodie's here too -- pay close attention to their positioning in each scene! Shuichi is trailing a target... Vermouth, disguised as Dr. Araide, as we find out later. A lot later.)

2. the case with the lions/suspicious British dude James Black (Vol. 32, Black turns out to be Shuichi's friend. He then asks why Shuichi cut his hair... Shuichi replies that he wanted a fresh start after his "girlfriend" dumped him. This is also the scene where the "tears of blood" quote comes from. Anyway, if I'm reading this right, this is referring to when Vermouth defeated him in an earlier showdown in the U.S., not to an actual romantic interest -- said showdown is mentioned by Vermouth in Vol. 42. I did leave the fic ambiguous enough so that it can be taken either way, though, since I am probably completely off.)

3. very very briefly in Sato's matchmaker case (Vol. 32-33, Ran sees him coming out of the bathroom in the teahouse, apparently looking for someone)

4. one page shot of him at the end of some random case (Vol. 33?, spying on Mouri's detective agency. As we find out later, because of Vermouth stealing all the case files involving Conan and Mouri from the police.)

5. the flashbacked Golden Apple case (Vol. 34-35, in which Shu still has long hair. This case, which takes place in New York about one year before the series, is what I think the "girlfriend" thing is referring to.)

6. briefly in the case with the programmer/Black organization/jewel robbers on the run (Vol. 37, in which he meets Ran for the third time. "You're crying again." And then he tells her that she reminds him of another woman, who pretended to be cheerful on the outside but always cried secretly in the dark... Again, a comment that is highly open to interpretation! XP)

And of course, the haunted ship case, where his (sadly, very short) interaction with Jodie is simply to die for... XD It's so fun to read in between the lines...