AN: The plunnies really like me as of late, don't they? Another random weird one that hit me just as I was about to fall asleep. Hope you enjoy. I don't own any of the characters or anything—I'm just borrowing them for my own amusement.


Voice

Come on, just a little further. We're almost there.

No, don't struggle. Don't fight me. I know you're unconscious, but you must know that someone's moving you, and some part of you doesn't like that. Please, just stay still a little while longer. We're almost there. Almost there—

YES!

We had the trapdoor already open and waiting, so it was just a matter of pushing you in there. I see you wince as you land down there in an inelegant heap. I know—you're injured, and that wasn't exactly a graceful landing. I apologize for that, but we really are doing the best we can to help you. So bear with us, all right?

It's probably better that you're unconscious. If you were awake, I don't even know how you would react. I know you're usually a pretty cool customer, but even the most rational creatures can lose all control when staring death in the face. I have no doubts that you would be panicked and frightened to find yourself trapped in a burning building. And you would definitely be in pain. You're badly injured, after all.

But my greatest fear is that you would resign yourself to this. You would just accept your sad fate as one more bump along the way—the price you had to pay for being the one to finally beat the Syndicate—while you just lie there and wait for the smoke and heat to overtake you. But I don't want you to give up. I don't want you to stop fighting.

We're closing the trapdoor now. I hate to do this to you, I really do. I can see you flinching unconsciously as the light vanishes. Even though you can't actually see it, you know that you're in the dark now, and you don't realize that there's anyone here with you. You must feel so alone, even lost to the world of consciousness. And you keep moving and groaning in pain.

Stay asleep for now. It'll be easier for you. And just hold on a little longer. We will shield you from the smoke and the fire and stay with you in the darkness. And I will lead them to you. So please hang on. Just stay with me a little longer. It'll all be over soon.

Just hold on, Shinichi.

-o-

The small, solemn group huddled beside the police car, watching the crew sift through the charred remains of the building. It had burned for so long—for most of the night, really. By the time they'd finally gotten the blaze under control and then extinguished it, most of the building was gone.

But it wasn't the building that really had their attention. It was what had been trapped within the building the night before. The group of officers and civilians had been waiting all night for the fire to die away so that the teams could get in there and find…him.

Or whatever was left of him.

There had been tears.

Now there was simply unfeeling. It was easier that way, while they waited for the news…

"Don't worry," a female voice said lightly beside her. "He's fine."

The entire assembly whirled at the new arrival: a young woman with long, dark hair and a smile that seemed far too knowing. Heiji shook off his shock first to ask, "What are you talking about?"

"He's just fine," she repeated. "Kudo-kun, I mean. He's all right."

Ran looked at her incredulously. "Have you looked at that?" she demanded, gesturing wildly towards the remains of the building as tears began clawing their way into her eyes again. "There's no way—he couldn't have survived…"

"You'll find a trapdoor in the floor, leading to a small crawl-space," the woman said in reply; the smile didn't leave her lips. "And inside that space will be a very extraordinary young man. He's seriously injured, and in desperate need of medical treatment. But he's alive, I assure you."

"How do you know?" Heiji growled. Thus far, he and Ran were the only two who had shaken off their stupor enough to ask any questions of this mysterious woman who claimed their friend was alive.

"Because I saw him there myself," she replied airily. "You don't have to be so suspicious, Hattori-kun. They should find the trapdoor soon—they're near it. Then this can finally come to an end."

"Who…are you?" Ran asked shakily. "You look so familiar…"

The woman's smile suddenly seemed sadder. "My name is Miyano Akemi. And Kudo Shinichi did me a great service. I was just returning the favor, nothing more." Her eyes drifted back to the remains. "If you want to know, you should ask him. He'll remember my name, I promise."

"What did he do?" Ran prodded while the others looked on apprehensively.

The woman—Akemi, she had said her name was—pushed her long, dark hair back with one hand. "It took him a long time, but he finally brought Gin to justice. And in doing so," she winked, "he solved my murder." She ignored their startled looks, and her expression turned pleading. "Please help him—he's been through every level of hell. Remember—you'll find him under the trapdoor."

Jaws dropped as Miyano Akemi turned away from them, took two steps…

…and faded away into the early morning sun.

-o-

You are a detective. That's how you introduced yourself to me in the last precious moments of my wasted life. I've learned more since then. You solve unsolvable cases—you tend more towards murders than anything else. But do you know what a detective really does?

So many times you should have died, by all accounts. But a tiny breath of air here, a push to one side there, nudging someone else to move or arrive at an opportune moment…that was all it took to keep you where you need to be. I'm sure you must have wondered at least once or twice how you can still be alive after everything you've gone through.

Some would call it luck. Others might call it intervention, divine or otherwise.

We call it, for lack of a more eloquent phrase, covering our collective ass.

Because what you do is special, Shinichi.

In a murder case, everyone has a story, a tale, an alibi, a theory. But there is one person who can never speak for themselves—the victim. The victim cannot tell what they know or share their own story of what happened to them. They are mute, bound to silence by the fate that has befallen them. And that's where you come in, tantei-san.

-o-

"Keibu!" one of the workers called. "We've found something!"

Still stunned, the portly Inspector nonetheless hurried to see the cause of the sudden commotion.

The worker was pointing towards the remains of the floor. "There's a trapdoor here, sir!"

You'll find a trapdoor in the floor, leading to a crawl-space, and inside will be…

"Open it!" Megure roared, his nerves jangling loud enough for everyone to hear them. "Hurry!"

There were no arguments; shoving the last of the wreckage off to the side, the team pulled the trapdoor open and clambered inside. There some shouts, cries of surprise, and then there were people moving, hands grappling for something, calling orders, passing something between them…

Finally, they pulled the unmoving form out of the small space beneath the door and carried it away from the wreckage. It took two of them to do it, carrying the still figure between them. The small assembly burst into noise—cries, cheers, and in a few cases, weeping—as the rescued victim was laid down on the green grass to wait for obviously-needed medical attention.

Kudo Shinichi.

Unconscious.

Bruised.

Bleeding.

Burned.

…but alive.

-o-

A detective puts the pieces of a case together and speaks for the victim. They become the victim's mouth and tongue and tell the story on their behalf, so that the sad truth of a person's final moments on Earth might be heard by more than just the victim, the murderer, and the silence of death.

That's what you do, Shinichi, whether you realize it or not. And come to think of it, your friend Heiji is much the same. I happen to know for a fact that he has his own little entourage of protective spirits. You are the voice of the victims in all those crimes and murders you solve.

Yet now you have become a victim yourself.

We won't allow this—I promise you. You've done too much for too many people, and there's so much good you can still do. There is no reason you should be forsaken like this.

You're not alone, Shinichi.

You've helped so many people, solved so many cases, and given so many souls their proper rest by telling their stories. The laws of nature demand balance, and so here we are to protect you.

We're here with you, and there are a lot of us.

You're not alone…

-o-

The ambulance siren screamed as the white vehicle sped down the highway, carrying a severely-injured detective away from the wreckage and towards the nearest hospital, where much-needed and much-deserved medical attention was waiting.

Nestled in the cot on the back of the ambulance, Shinichi twitched and opened his eyes the tiniest bit. He hurt, everything hurt. And…where was he? There was a siren…the last thing he could clearly remember was looking up at the ceiling burning overhead. Hadn't Gin been there somewhere too? What had happened after the floor gave out beneath him? He hadn't been able to move, and it had been so hot…

Thinking hurt too, so he closed his eyes again and let himself relax.

Still, as he slipped away from consciousness—both in his jumbled memories and in the present—he couldn't help but feel as though he wasn't quite alone. But he had to be imagining things, he told himself as he feel to the demands of sleep—like the cool touch of gentle fingers ghosting over his forehead and a voice murmuring into his ear, both then and now…

-o-

You'll be all right now. They found you, and they'll take you to a place where you can be treated. I'm sure your family and friends will be delighted to know you're going to recover. You beat the Syndicate. You beat the odds—with a little help from all of us.

Things will be set right now. Our endings might not have been fair, but you will make it.

Oh, and one more thing: tell your friend Heiji not to be so suspicious all the time. He's a real hothead isn't he? But he's a loyal friend, and a damn fine detective, from what I've seen and heard. And if what I understand is true, he has that girlfriend of his to keep him in line, doesn't he?

As I'm sure Ran will help you through whatever shadows haven't let go of you yet.

You will definitely be all right now. So this is where I leave you for now.

Thank you, Shinichi. You gave us back our voices.

And now we'll protect yours.


PS. Yay for cameos! That's twice that I've used Akemi in a story now. But ya know, I kinda like her, even with as little of her as we get to see. She got screwed, royally. So I give her fic-time here. Thanks for reading my little story, everyone. Much love!