Carried Away By a Moonlight Shadow
Notes: The characters are not mine,
and the story is! It is a continuation of a wonderfully sweet and sad
story called A Shot in the Dark that RanMouri82 wrote for me
at Livejournal. I got some inspiration for how it could continue, so
I wanted to try. Please note that this is NOT my usual timeline,
since I'm continuing another's story. The omake at the end, however, takes place during the Good
Enough For You timeline. Also, RanMouri is not a supporter of
Gin/Sherry, so her original piece was not written with that in mind.
He was the only person they hanged who did not have anything to say.
All the others had been insistent on having their final words, whether it was acknowledgments of their own guilt, a denial of such, or an excuse, or even with some of the criminals, cryptic statements that were still being puzzled over. All of that had been expected.
But the reaction, or was it the non-reaction, of the man long ago known as "Hiroshi" and more recently as "Vodka", had not been anticipated at all.
Of course, his case in general had been a strange one. They had found him kneeling next to the body of one of the Black Organization's most feared assassins. He had been apparently shaken by something, and had not resisted arrest at all. Perhaps he had known then that it was all over for him. Or perhaps he had not even cared. Indeed, it had seemed as though all the fight had gone out of him, leaving behind only the shattered and catatonic shell of a man.
Throughout his initial stay in jail, the trials, and the ultimate verdict of death by hanging, he had been completely silent. It had been as if he had been merely going through life automatically, without really knowing any of what he was doing or what was happening to him. No one knew why. Some thought it was because of the fall of the Black Organization, while others decided that he knew already how it would end for him, and that there was not any need to speak up for himself. A select number of the rest had wondered if it was because of the other agent's death that Vodka refused to, or even could not, speak. But the idea was largely dismissed; after all, operatives in the Black Organization did not have any feeling left, or any compassion for anyone. It was doubtful that they would even care if their comrades fell.
Despite Vodka's silence, many had thought that he would at least have some reaction at the gallows, that perhaps he had not realized how serious it was for him, and that it would not dawn on him until the actual moment of death arrived. But when the man was brought out and led up to the platform, he still said nothing. He only shook his head weakly when asked if he had any last words, and accepted the noose quietly---though some said that he almost looked relieved.
It took him longer to die than it had for some. His neck did not break, and he hung there, gasping for precious air as he slowly choked to death. At one point he gazed blankly out into the crowd, and a brief expression of shock flickered across his features as he went sheet white. There was no indication of what he was seeing, but right before he finally did breathe his last, it almost looked as though he was trying to say something---perhaps a name. But they would never know.
He had no strength to speak, nor the desire. He kept his head down as he was guided across the courtyard and up the steps to the platform, not wanting to meet anyone's gaze. He had not been allowed to keep his sunglasses, but he was too numb to even care at this point. That did not mean, however, that he could bear to look at anyone.
He could never block out the sight of dead eyes looking up at him from the ground. Those eyes had been haunting him for weeks, months, never leaving him in peace. Even though he had always known it to be likely that they would not survive the fall of the Black Organization, he supposed some part of him had honestly thought that his partner would live. Instead he had been killed, accidentally shot by his former lover Sherry, and Vodka had been left behind to figuratively pick up the pieces. But he had not known how to.
Looking into the blonde's accusing and betrayed eyes, he had felt that he was as much at fault as Sherry, or even moreso. He should have known, should have been there, should have seen the bullet coming and been able to warn his partner. But he had not. He had lost his gun, and it had been the one that Sherry had picked up. It had been the gun that had fired the killing shot, as he had soon realized.
And he had been completely broken.
Throughout the ensuing months, during his long and pained silence, he had often been blaming himself, or wondering why it had ended up the way it had, or even being plagued by memories of the past. He could not escape from them, and throughout it all, he always saw the glassy and betrayed eyes in the back of his mind. Behind the taciturn shell he had constructed, he had been slowly going out of his mind. The mental pain had been excruciating, and he had to admit that when he had heard the verdict that he would be hanged, relief had flooded over him.
He did not have any reason to live now. Death would be a release from an existence that had always been prematurely heading in that direction anyway.
Vaguely he was aware that he was being asked if he had any last words. All he could do was to numbly shake his head. The words he wanted to say were not for these people, whom he cared nothing about. He would never let any of them see into his deepest and darkest feelings. It was not their business. Right now, he just wanted to get on with the death that they had set up for him.
He supposed that, when he stopped to think about it, he had only ever cared about one person---the person who had shown him respect and had given him his trust. It had not been easy to earn either, and if he had managed to attain only one, that would have been enough of an achievement. But he had gained both, and in the process he had come to realize that he had fully and shamelessly broken the Organization's unspoken rule of not caring about anyone but himself.
He had believed that his partner had cared about him, as well.
He felt the noose being placed around his neck, and tightening as the trapdoor was kicked out from under his feet, leaving him dangling. He waited for his neck to snap, for death to instantly sweep over him, but it did not. And as his vision began to swim in and out of focus, he realized that he was going to have to stay alive for a bit longer.
Even with how much he longed to die, he found himself gasping for breath once his throat began to constrict and his lungs began to burn. He could not bear the pain, nor the desperate feeling to gain air when he could not. He had not considered this. It was like drowning---the inability to breathe, the feeling that his windpipe was closing, the realization that he could do nothing and that death would be slow and painful. And a wave of panic rose within him.
He remembered how it felt to drown. He nearly had, twice---once as a child and once again during a gun battle on a roof. And it was strange, that both times he had been rescued by . . .
He gazed blankly into the crowd. He hated their eyes upon him, all waiting for him to die, most probably wondering why he did not do so already. He had to wonder as well. He wanted to scream for them to stop staring at him, for them to go away and at least allow him to die with dignity, but he could say nothing. Perhaps he did not deserve any kind of a dignified death anyway. He choked and wheezed, groping for one more breath, for the air that seemed just out of his reach. How much longer would this go on? How long would he have to keep vainly grabbing at what was far out of his grasp?
Through his bleary vision, he could make out someone walking, or rather pushing, through the people. Strangely, none of them seemed to notice as the tall and well-built blonde made his way past them, even when he bumped into elbows or crashed into sides and backs. Vodka could only stare, his struggle for air momentarily forgotten. It was not possible. He was hallucinating. He would blink and the other would be gone. But no . . . the green-eyed man remained. Perhaps, with one foot in Death's door, Vodka was now able to see those who had passed on.
"Vodka . . . you can let go now."
The words echoed around him, and even as they did, the heavyset man felt oblivion rushing at him, ready to sweep over him and carry him away. One final time he opened his mouth, struggling for the first time in months to form words, to speak the other's name. But he could not, and darkness descended on him.
It was strange to wake up again---stranger still to feel more alive than he ever had before, and free of the pain that had been racking his body and soul. What had happened? Was this death? It was not as he had imagined and wondered.
He froze at the sound of the deep voice, the voice that he had not heard in months---and then had heard again several moments ago. Weakly he tried to force open his eyes. He was laying on his back on something hard, and as his senses fully returned to him, he realized that it was the platform of the gallows. A shiver went up his spine. Why was he laying there?
He turned his head slightly at the sound of footsteps near him, and as he focused, again his words caught in his throat. Gin was standing over him, expressionless, his green eyes looking coldly at his partner---and indeed, his friend. He looked the same as Vodka had always remembered---in the dark coat and hat, and the blue sweater. Death had not changed him, nor Vodka supposed, had it changed himself.
The blonde stopped when he was standing next to the other, holding out his hand without explanation. Vodka stared at it dumbly, it suddenly dawning on him that Gin was offering to help him stand. Slowly he reached out, taking hold of the taller man's hand and touching what felt like solid flesh. Well, he supposed it made sense to be able to touch other spirits.
He looked around shakily once he was on his feet. The crowd was dispersing, and a body was being wheeled away on a covered gurney. His own, he assumed, and shuddered. This seemed so strange, so surreal, so impossible! His body was gone, yet he felt so alive. "Rest in peace" seemed like a joke.
"Bro . . . is this really . . . death?" he mumbled at last. It was odd, to be speaking again after months of silence. "Are you . . . really here?"
Gin grunted. "I helped you up just now," he said flatly. He also cast his gaze around, but soon found the view uninteresting. He half-turned. "And we both know that our bodies gave out on us. This is death, though it isn't what I was expecting at all." With that he walked down the wooden steps, reaching into his pocket as he arrived at the bottom. Eventually he found what he was looking for and took out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.
Vodka just gaped at the green-eyed man as he placed a cigarette in his mouth and held up the small flame to it. Once Gin had the object lit, he looked up at the other expectantly, saying nothing. But it was enough to snap his partner out of his trance. Quickly Vodka made his way down the steps and over to the blonde, who was replacing the lighter in his pocket.
Something dark and shiny caught Vodka's eye as Gin removed his hand again. The stout man looked at what the other was holding, trying to place what it was, and as Gin held it out to him, his eyes widened in realization. He opened his mouth, stumbling over his words as he reached for the proferred item. "But . . . these are . . . how did you . . . ?"
Gin placed them firmly into Vodka's shaking hands. "I knew you were coming," he answered flatly.
Vodka swallowed hard as he held up the welcome sunglasses. He had always felt so insecure without them. Slowly he opened them, sliding them onto his face. Then he hurried after Gin, as the blonde was already walking ahead again.
"Bro . . . what happens now?" he asked hesitantly as he came up behind the other. There were so many things he wanted to ask---how Gin had been, what he had been doing, if he had been observing Vodka. . . . And there were things he wanted to say, as well---that he was sorry being foremost among them. But none of those things seemed to want to come out of his mouth. Even with Gin, he had often had trouble expressing himself properly. And sometimes Gin had not understood. But Gin understood better than anyone else.
Gin glanced back briefly, never ceasing his pace as he puffed on his cigarette. "It looks like now we're going to be soul collectors," he remarked then, and Vodka could tell from Gin's tone of voice that he did not care a great deal one way or another about the assignment. "That is . . . if you want to work with me again."
It fully hit Vodka then that it seemed that their existence would go on, as always, despite changes here and there. And he found that he did not care a great deal about what they would be doing, either. The most important thing to him would stay the same.
He walked around to Gin's side. "Y-yeah," he exclaimed, giving up on speaking without stammering. "Of course, bro. . . ."
Gin nodded vaguely, a slight smirk coming over his features. Vodka had the feeling that Gin had already known his answer.
Gin grunted as he clicked away from the web page. "What was that all about?" he muttered. "You and I both dead, soul collecting. . . ."
Vodka shifted, blushing. "How do they even know anything about us at all?" he gasped.
Gin began to scroll through the other links on the page. "They think they know everything, but they don't," he answered flatly. "They're just making up fantasy stories about us." If they were still in the Black Organization, perhaps he would be concerned that anything at all was known. But as it was, he just felt irritated.
Vodka leaned over Gin's shoulder, watching the story summaries go by. "Gin/Ran?" he gasped in disbelief.
"Kudo's girlfriend?" Gin frowned at the screen.
"Isn't she too young for you?" Vodka exclaimed, suddenly feeling disturbed.
Gin smirked slightly. "She's the same age as Sherry, but she seems younger, doesn't she." Without waiting for a response, he looked over some of the other results, and his eyes narrowed in disgust at a fic proudly proclaiming to be Gin/Vermouth.
Vodka felt more disturbed. "Why would someone pair you with Vermouth?" he cried.
"Who knows." Gin's lip curled slightly. "Probably because we worked together. Or because they thought that when she flirted with me, it meant that we were in a relationship."
A large number of the stories seemed to focus on Sherry, or her child form of Ai Haibara, and Gin's initial disgust began to turn to annoyance and slowly to anger as they passed many of them. Shuichi Akai, Kaitou Kid, Heiji Hattori, even Ran Mouri, were paired with the woman who was now Gin's wife, and the blonde could not hold back the sudden wave of possessiveness that swept over him. Shiho was his; she had pledged to be his to the end of their mortal days. He did not like to see people writing about her with others.
Of course, the person she was paired with the most was Shinichi, and it seemed to Gin that he was finding far too many such stories. "Shinichi/Shiho?" he growled, reading from the umpteenth story's description. This one proclaimed to be hentai, and Gin quickly clicked on the link, scanning over the story with furious green eyes. Then he clicked out again, growling and muttering to himself.
"Did I hear you say Kudo's name?"
Gin whirled, finding Sherry standing to the other side of the computer chair and looking darkly amused. He looked at her sharply.
"What kind of a relationship did you have with him?" he demanded.
Sherry's smirk only became more twisted. "Oh, didn't I ever tell you?" she replied, leaning in so that her face was very close to his. "I loved him."
Gin leaped out of the computer chair, grabbing her shoulders. "What?" he cried furiously, pinning her to the wall. He glared, searching her eyes for the truth while Vodka could only stand to the side, gawking in disbelief. Had those stories held any shred of truth? Shiho was his. He would not stand for her wanting someone else.
Sherry only continued to smirk, running her hands up her husband's arms. She was not afraid of him any longer, and she knew exactly how to figuratively push his buttons, just as she had done with Kudo in the past. And she also knew how to subdue him. "Of course, not the same way I love you," she stated, her voice turning seductive as she leaned in to kiss him. "Kudo is my friend. You're my friend . . . and more, aren't you?" She placed her arms around his neck, inspite of the grip he still had on her shoulders.
Gin watched her suspiciously as she came closer, bringing her lips to his. Of course, this was ridiculous. She did not have romantic feelings for that detective. She was playing with his mind again, the way she liked to do. He hated that about her. But he also loved it about her. She was about the only one who could get away with it. He drew her against his body, returning the kiss. "Does that answer your question?" he grunted.
She smirked, looking at him. "Yes, I'd say so," she answered.
Vodka, meanwhile, had flushed crimson and looked away, back to the computer screen. Gin had left the site up, and as Vodka looked it over, he gave the screen a puzzled look. Gin/Vodka . . . yaoi? What was that? He frowned, taking the mouse and clicking on the link.
It only took reading the first paragraph for him to gain a quick knowledge of yaoi's meaning. His eyes widened in absolute horror and disgust at what the author was having him and Gin do, and he fumbled with the mouse as he closed down the site. Would he be able to sleep tonight, after seeing that? With his luck, he would have a nightmare.