Notes: Thank you to everyone who has reviewed! It meant a lot to me. Wow, I had no idea that this story would generate so much interest! I hope the readers will stick with me as I continue to explore the characters in future stories! And for this little epilogue, I decided to throw in a reference to my favorite anime, Yu-Gi-Oh!
A week and a half later
Ran Mouri watched as the group known as the Detective Boys played happily in the park. Ayumi was better now, though her hand was still healing from the burn she had received, and she still needed to take things easy due to her leg. She was on the swings, and seemed content with that, giggling with joy as she went higher and higher.
She still missed Gin, and she wondered if she would ever see him again. She had the feeling that she would not, and yet she still wanted to hope that she would. He was surely alright, wherever he was, but she wanted to know for certain. In any case, she knew that she would never forget him. He would always hold a special place in her heart.
Ran shook her head. "I can't believe that they went through all of that. I was looking everywhere for them, but I didn't find them! I didn't know where they were until Dr. Agasa called me from the hospital," she frowned. "Honestly, they get into so much danger sometimes! It's just like it follows them around everywhere!" She knew how much they enjoyed playing detective, but it almost always seemed like it went too far and got them involved in serious problems. Honestly, she did not know what to do with them!
Sonoko grinned, drinking a soda. "Well, if I'd been along, I could've solved it a lot faster." Her eyes took on a dreamy look. "And then I could have seen this Gin person that Ayumi keeps talking about! Oh, he must be handsome!" She set the soda down and clasped her hands, gazing off into the distance.
Ran looked at her in disbelief. "Whether he saved her or not, he's still a criminal," she pointed out.
Sonoko frowned at her. "Well, that doesn't mean he wouldn't be good-looking," she pouted. "And the way Ayumi describes him, he sounds so dreamy!"
Ran sighed, knowing that it was not any use.
Once again Gin was at the sidewalk café, looking over the latest paper. Kaitou Kid had baffled the police once again. There had been a car crash on the highway. One of the famous gaming companies was developing some new sort of technology to use with a popular trading card game. Some well-known politician had been murdered. But there were not any more bewildering kidnappings following murders. He leaned back, satisfied.
"Bro . . . do you think the boss bought your story?"
Gin looked over at Vodka calmly. "I don't see why not. It wasn't a lie. I killed Ushio in self-defense." Idly he rubbed at his shoulder. It was still healing from the bullet he had taken there, and if he strained it too much it would ache. It was a source of annoyance to him, especially since he could do very little until he completely recovered. He could shoot with his right hand, but it was awkward. He had since been training himself to do better at that.
"Yeah . . . but what about the reason you gave for why he was mad at us?" Vodka leaned back, still feeling nervous. He was not certain at all of what would happen to them if the full truth behind the previous events ever got back to the Black Organization leader. Vodka already suspected that Vermouth somehow knew, judging by some remarks she had made back at the base, and since she was in so close with their boss, it seemed likely to Vodka that she might tell him something.
Gin grunted. "Ushio had a reputation for being paranoid," he replied. "It makes sense that he decided we hadn't given him all of the money he demanded, and that was enough to set him off." He lit a cigarette. "The man seemed to believe it."
"I don't think Vermouth did," Vodka ventured then.
"She can't prove anything," Gin answered. "And anyway, you know what she says---'a secret makes a woman beautiful.'" He made an expression of disgust. "She toys with us, but I don't think she's about to spill anything, especially when she can't prove it."
"Yeah, I guess. . . ." Vodka studied him. "What about the kid?"
Gin gave him a bored look. "What about her?"
"Well . . . she's probably been talking," Vodka pointed out. "She's nuts about you."
"There's not much that they can do about it now," Gin shrugged. "They can't trace us that way since Ushio's dead. He always covered his tracks well. They'll have a hard time finding anyone alive who worked for him." He turned the page. "And anyway, I won't be seeing the girl again. That's better for us both. I can't be looking after her, and she should find someone else to admire."
As he glanced up from the paper, he suddenly caught sight of a redhaired girl up the street. Intrigued by how familiar she looked, with the way her hair was cut and the kinds of clothes she was wearing, he watched her for a moment. She did not seemed to notice him at first, but then, feeling eyes upon her, she turned to look at him. Their eyes met---sapphires and emeralds. For a moment nothing happened, both too stunned by the encounter to do anything. In that instant, time stopped.
Then abruptly Gin stood up, knocking the chair to the ground and almost stumbling on it. He grabbed the edge of the table to regain his balance, but in the split-second it took to do that, the spectre vanished. He continued to stare at the spot where she had been, breathing heavily. He must have been mistaken. He would have had to have been seeing things! And yet that child had looked exactly like her . . . those eyes were hers! He could never forget them.
Vodka stood as well, looking at Gin in confusion. "What is it?" he gasped. When he followed the blonde's gaze, he could not see anything. But Gin had obviously seen something, and it had gotten to him. There were very few things that could make him lose control that way, but now he looked absolutely shaken.
Gin did not register his comrade's voice at first. He was recalling what Ayumi had said about seeing a woman in the flames. She had only given a brief description, but it could have matched Akemi. And what he had seen now looked just like Shiho as a child. But that was impossible. He was starting to wonder if he should take a complete break for a few days. The stress of everything that had happened must be getting to him, he decided.
He finally came back to the present when Vodka grabbed at his arm. "What did you see?" the shorter man exclaimed. "Is someone spying on us?" He looked ready to draw his gun, but Gin shook his head, finally regaining his composure.
"I didn't see anything," he grunted, heading for the car. "Only . . . a ghost from the past."
Bewildered, Vodka followed him.
Ai hid around the side of a building, trying to catch her breath. She had not realized Gin was there. She never would have realized, if she had not felt his piercing gaze. When she had turned to face him, so many emotions had crashed through her heart and soul---alarm, panic, horror, and something else that she was not entirely sure about. She had looked into those green eyes and had seen a hardened, cold killer looking back at her, the same as she had when encountering him on the rooftop of the hotel. But she had also seen a flicker of something positive that she remembered, a trace of the man whom she had loved.
She gazed up at the skies, which were clouding over with the prospect of further snow. Why did you save Ayumi? she asked silently. I don't see how you would think that doing that would benefit you. Were you just doing something to be kind, for once? I thought that part of you was dead. She wanted to go to him, to confront him about what had happened with Ayumi, but she knew that she could not. She could not have her secret identity revealed. Any meeting between her and Gin would have to wait until she had developed a working antidote for the apoptoxin. But . . . they would meet again someday, she vowed to herself. Only now she was even less sure what would happen when they did.
She pushed herself away from the building, tears filling her eyes. She did not want to think about him, or what they had once had together, but ever since Ayumi's experience she had not been able to get him out of her mind. She had been remembering her childhood, growing up with him . . . of how much she had loved him . . . and of how she had thought he had loved her. And she remembered how her world had came crashing down when he had murdered Akemi. How could he have done that to her sister, his best friend? How could he have betrayed them in that way?
She gripped her arms as she started to walk slowly home, amidst the snow as it began to gently fall. She knew she would never understand. How could he have done those things and yet still protected Ayumi? It did not make sense to her.
But she did not want to think about it anymore. She wanted to go home, back to her new life, and forget what she had lost in her old one. And yet . . . she knew that she never would, or could. She would always miss Akemi . . . and the Gin whom she had believed she had known.
Her thoughts turned to the woman Ayumi had described, the one who had encouraged her. She had paled when Ayumi had first spoken of the phantom. It sounded like Akemi, and Ai wondered if it was at all possible. She was a scientist. She did not know if she believed that people's spirits lived on after death, or indeed, if there was such a thing as a spirit in the first place. But if that were so, she could easily imagine her sister returning to comfort an innocent child such as Ayumi. She smiled slightly as she continued to walk through the flurry. It was a nice thought, at any rate. It gave her a certain amount of hope.
And that was always something she could use.