A/N: Hello again, all. My update isn't quite as late as I thought it might be, so I must say I'm proud. This fic came into existence because someone challenged me to write a multichaptered fic that I'd update every Saturday. I've been fairly successful, no? Anyway, on to the story. (And please leave a review. They make the plot bunnies breed.)
Gin took a deep breath, one he coupled with a smile. If, indeed, you could call the cold twisting of his lips a smile. He tasted something upon the air that he hadn't tasted for a long while. Sherry. It has been quite some time. What twist of fate has brought us together again?
"Aniki?" Vodka shook Gin's shoulder, an unnaturally serious look of worry on his face. "Aniki?"
Gin slapped away his hand with relish. "She's back." Vodka looked confused, but was cut off before he could ask the inevitable question. "Sherry… I can taste her blood already."
Vodka bit his lip. "Aniki? I don't this she's going to come back… I mean, it has been four years since she lef-"
"Baka!" Gin snarled, "Shut up before you hurt yourself. I don't want her to come back. Even if she did, she would still die at my hands, Boss's orders be damned." Vodka winced. Disobeying the Boss meant death. Obviously, Gin's obsession with Sherry hadn't faded with time. What does Sherry mixed with Gin make, anyway?
Edogawa Conan felt like he should be in a movie. Here he was, the star of an immensely clichéd scene. The little boy, standing bravely just inside the doors of the headquarters of the Organization that kidnapped the girl he loved… Honestly, where were the cameras? He shook his head. What was he doing? He needed to find clues. Anything that could tell him where Ran was. This was to be the most important case of his life, after all. He'd gotten here almost entirely on luck (shoeprints could hardly be called clues, after all) and now he was lost. He needed a hint of some sort – the organization wasn't exactly going to come to him.
He took a deep breath and- got tapped on the shoulder. He whirled around, and was struck by what he saw. This was too cliché for words. There stood the betrayer of the organization he was after, the uncertain friend, the possible love. He gaped. "Hai- Haibara! You came to help me!"
She crossed her arms. "Baka. Whoever said I was here to do that?"
He winced. "W- well, you're wearing my glasses, and my hat… and, uh," he paused, "Well, what else would you be here for?"
She smirked. He was flustered. "Perhaps I'm here on a date." She arched an eyebrow, challenging him to respond once more.
"A date!" He squeaked, his voice cracking unmercifully on the last word. He looked around frantically. "A date with who?"
She only barely refrained from rolling her eyes. For a detective, he was sickeningly gullible. "With Mitsuhiko. Who else would it be, baka?"
He trembled. "But we… at the office… I... you... no. No. Please, no."
Haibara couldn't mask her surprise. Such possessiveness over her? No! She reminded herself sharply, he's here to save Ran. I'm just the sidekick. "I… I'm just kidding, baka." She said softly, grabbing hold of his hand, "Let's get to wor-" She was cut off by a presence she feared deeply.
"Well, well… What do we have here? Two little lovebirds, I see." The voice froze them both.
Conan swore. He should have noticed. He shouldn't have let Haibara distract him. He should and shouldn't have done so many things. His grip on Haibara's hand tightened. She was shaking like a leaf.
Haibara's breath froze in her throat, and her grip on Conan's hand slackened. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she registered that as her grip slackened, his tightened. A peculiar connection had been forged between them, and she'd somehow missed the forging entirely. She didn't care, so long as it was there. "Vermouth," she head Conan say, his voice colder than she'd ever heard it before, "how? Why?"
Cold laughter filled their hearing. "Do you want your Angel back, Cool Guy?"
Conan's grip on Haibara's hand stayed tight. She had expected it disappear entirely. She squeezed back. He didn't need to be reassured often, and now she felt it was her duty to do so. "I do," Conan whispered, "I do."
Vermouth smiled, and, for a second, Conan and Haibara both could have sworn they saw compassion there, in the icy depths of her eyes. As with so many things in their lives, though, as quickly as it had come, it was gone. "Get rid of Gin," Vermouth hissed softly, "Get rid of him and we will all live in better days. Kill him, and the Angel is yours." Vermouth turned on her heel and walked away, her earlier mocking smile replaced with something near sadness. Near, but not quite.
Haibara sensed Conan crumpling beside her. She turned to him, and she felt his grip finally go slack. This time, it was her who grasped his hand. He raised his head and his eyes met hers. For the first time in her memory, she saw tears shining there, in the brilliant cobalt of his eyes. I'm sorry, Kudo." She whispered, and wrapped him in a hug.
Kudo didn't want to kill. She would make sure he wouldn't have to.
"So they're going to kill me, huh?"
The voice on the other end of the line cackled unmercifully. "Yes. Just thought I should warn you. It looks like he'll be our silver bullet after all. Have fun in your last moments. I'm sure you'll be happy to see Sherry again."
Gin snapped his phone shut and laughed, ignoring Vodka's worried stare. "So I was right," he hissed, leaning back in the seat of his prized Porsche, "Sherry and Vermouth." He rolled the names around on his tongue, and laughed again. "My little traitors."
Vodka winced. This was crazier than he'd ever seen Gin, and that was saying something. He almost felt sorry for Sherry – and the Silver bullet, whoever he was. Then again, it was something of a competition for who would get killed first – Gin or Vermouth. He had a thousand yen on it being Vermouth. After all, the Boss wasn't happy.
Agasa Hiroshi dialed the number to Conan's cell phone again and again, but to no avail. The shonen tantei had called his house again, still looking for Ai-kun and Shinichi. They said they'd found Ai, wearing Conan's glasses and hat, but they'd yet to find Shinichi. It worried him. The two people he'd been trusted to protect were missing without a word. To be entirely honest, he wouldn't mind if they'd disappeared to go off and snog. It would mean that his, ahem, 'matchmaker' attempts had worked. At any rate, something didn't feel right about this whole thing.
He dialed again. Still nothing. Ai-kun, Shinichi, wherever you are, you'd better be there together. I don't want one of you getting hurt and leaving the other to mourn. You don't deserve that. Hell, I just don't want either of you to get hurt. Your parents would slaughter me, Shinichi, and, believe me, I'm deathly afraid of what your mother would do to me.
Agasa sighed deeply and returned to fiddling with a new invention. Good luck, to both of you.
Conan and Ai stood just outside of Tokyo Tower, against the wall of an alleyway just out of the roaring midday crowds. Their hands were clasped awkwardly, but neither could bring themselves to speak. They'd been assigned a near-impossible task by the last person who should be assigning them anything. Ai squeezed Conan's hand gently and he glanced over at her.
"Kudo-kun," she said softly, rather startled by the sudden lack of hope she saw in his eyes, "How did you find out the hideout was here?"
He blinked. "You knew it was here?" He wasn't trying to pick a fight, but if she'd known the hideout was here… Well, he had a right to be angry.
She sighed. "Kudo, would you mind not accusing me of treachery every twenty seconds?" He blushed slightly, and adopted a sheepish slump. Assured of his silence, she continued, "All I'm asking is how you got here with no clues other than a strand of Gin's hair."
His blush turned a shade darker. As a detective, he should know better than to jump to conclusions. "Well, it was mainly luck…" he looked over at her, and her icy blue eyes shone with skepticism. "Well, that, and a shoeprint."
She raised both her eyebrows ever so slowly. "A shoeprint," she stated flatly.
He nodded. "A shoeprint." He said it with as little emotion as Haibara had, and perhaps with even less conviction.
"You know Kudo," she began, her tender tone from earlier gone. "I think I should be the one accusing you of knowing where the hideout was, and not vice versa."
He laughed nervously, but she could clearly hear the strain behind his chuckles. "Well, I did have my theories… I really intended to just come here and investigate, but…" his face fell, "Vermouth…" He trailed off, and she tightened the grip on his hand once more.
"Gomen nasai ne, Conan-kun." He blushed, ever so slightly, at her words.
After a long silent moment, he leaned over and whispered, "Thanks… Ai," into her ear. He wanted to kiss her on the cheek – he could sense his breath on her face – but he couldn't do it. He was frozen there, between keeping things at a simple 'thank you' or going into uncharted waters.
Ai took the initiative for him, but only after they'd stood there, looking awkward, for almost two minutes. She pulled him towards the street, their hands still clasped, and muttered, "Anytime, Conan."
From his place slightly behind her, Conan realized that Haibara was blushing. That, when nothing else could, made him smile.
The shonen tantei weren't happy, or even mildly enthused, but at least they hadn't lost the trail. Conan and Haibara had inadvertently taught them the tricks of the detective trade, and being able to follow cars is one of those tricks. When they finally realized that Haibara had disappeared, they'd rushed downstairs to catch the taillights of a taxi disappearing around the corner. The two boys had rushed blindly after it, while Ayumi flagged down another taxi. She was on a mission, after all.
Halfway down the road the two boys had been sprinting upon, they simultaneously realized that there was no way they were going to catch the taxi that was now out of sight. They sighed dejectedly, and turned around – intending to apologize to Ayumi – only to find that their shared crush wasn't there. In fact, she was almost a mile away, approaching Tokyo tower in the slow Friday traffic. Later, she would be glad that she hadn't been with the boys.
A cold voice rang out, and Mitsuhiko and Genta turned around slowly, sensing every cliché in the book. "Yo, kids," the voice said, seeming unnaturally cheery – it was in no way a voice meant for cheer, "I can help you find your friends."
The two smiled hopefully, (surely this man was an undercover officer?) and began explaining the situation. Suddenly, the blue eyes of the man before them went from warm and inviting to cold and angry. It occurred to them both that they should have been much more cautious as the man snarled, "Good night, idiots."
They tried, desperately, to call out, but to no avail. Hands grabbed them from behind, and covered their mouths with some strange-smelling cloths. As his knees buckled, Mitsuhiko recognized the smell with an inkling of fear. Chloroform, he thought, this isn't good. Meanwhile, Genta was already out, peacefully dreaming of giant bowls of eel.
No one was on the empty, rain-drenched street to see it happen. All had gone according to plan.
Never say that Agasa Hiroshi isn't a determined man. When it comes to Shinichi and Ai-kun, he likes to think that there isn't any one more determined than he is. He pulled on his jacket and tugged his hat low over his eyes. He was going to find the two of them whether they liked it or not. He'd been friends with a detective and a mystery writer for many years. There was no way he couldn't find two teenagers. Especially when they were trapped in the bodies of two eleven years olds. They were as good as found. At least, he hoped they were. If Yukiko found out, he was quite doomed.
The streets of Beika were empty for a Friday – even a rainy one – but he was glad of it. That way, there was less of a chance that someone had trampled whatever clues were left. Ai-kun had told him that the organization worked by leaving no clues. That doesn't mean that a bunch of eleven year olds were capable of the same thing.
His first stop was the detective office. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he was absently glad that he'd made a copy of the key. Of course, back then, it was so he could 'supervise' Ran and Shinichi if they were ever left there alone, but still.
Gin stood over his unconscious captives with a look of unholy glee in his eyes. He had a mantra of "Sherry, Vermouth, Sherry, Vermouth…" running in his head, and it was distracting hi from all else. He picked up the fat kid nearest to him, and pulled out a badge from his pocket. He let the kid fall back to the ground unceremoniously and grinned. He intended to have some fun toying with that Conan kid, using these handy little badges.
He laughed. He didn't have the 'classic evil laugh' or even the 'generic evil laugh,' he had a laugh that filled rooms and radiated something beyond evil, beyond cruelty. It was this that made Vodka glad Gin didn't laugh often.
Vodka lit another cigarette and watched as Gin continued with concern in his eyes. There was something fundamentally wrong with this whole situation, but he couldn't figure out what it was. All he knew for sure is that it was going to be a long night.
Suddenly, Gin turned to Vodka, who hastily stood at attention – Gin's expression demanded it, even if the organization didn't. "Hah!" Gin roared, and Vodka twitched, "When that Conan kid is our silver bullet, hell's frozen over, pigs fly, and I'm dead."
With that eloquent statement, he burst into laughter again, and Vodka tried not to shudder. Something was very, very wrong here.
A/N: Hrm. Well, this chapter has it all: fluff, plot, angst, humour… Uh… Really, I've run out of things to say here. Oh well. Visit my LJ… You may encounter stories that won't be posted here.