Ran checked out of her job every day sometime between midnight and three in the morning. Of course, her hours didn't bother her. Being a card dealer in the New Beika Hotel Casino was an easy enough job considering her gift, and she felt safe walking home, no matter what the season, to her apartment next door.
However, one summer evening stood out in her memory.
A low, silky voice was following her, giving her his explanation of what he needed, wanted, with promises ensuring her financial security.
"Your father is having financial problems. You don't want to see him evicted do you? Sure, you could get a smaller apartment, but why? You can just keep an eye on Maria to make sure she continues doing the job she said she would."
"Are you doing something illegal? It all sounds rather shady."
"Illegal? Why should that concern you? Where has that gotten you, Mouri Ran? Yes, I know exactly who you are. Ex-girlfriend of the long lost Kudo Shinichi, who went gallivanting after a mysterious organization. You were on your way to being a detective for the Metropolitan PD when your first case involved your best friend. I would have done the same, crushed the little maggot, but it wasn't fair that they reprimanded you so harshly, was it? That wasn't fair. What's been fair in your life Ran? I'll give you that it's been above-board but can't you see? Those people stop caring about you once you cross their own personal line of justice. Legal is only what the majority agrees on."
She stayed silent for a moment and then slid the card to open the doors of the building.
"If you're serious then come up."
He followed her into the fiercely lit building. She did not turn to look at him but caught sight of his reflection in the elevator doors. Once inside, Ran turned to face him.
He wore a long black jacket and had long silver hair. He looked surprisingly handsome, but dangerous. Maybe ten years older than her?
"Who are you?"
"Kurosawa Jin. Gin, if you like."
Ran looked hard, "Gin."
The elevator dinged and they exited, keeping quiet until they entered her apartment.
She turned on a lamp near the window and set her things down on the sofa.
"I have guest slippers you know," she commented as she saw he kept to the door landing, not slipping off his shoes.
"When you follow your own rule," he replied, his eyes flicking down to her pantyhose covered feet on the kitchen floor.
"I'm not that strict. Just take off your shoes."
She poured herself a glass of wine and offered him one.
"If you were going to do something to me, you probably would have by now. But then again, you also know a lot about me, so maybe you know better."
He gave a hearty deep laugh as he took the glass.
"So, what do you think of me?"
Ran sat, tucking one leg under the other, "Well, you're definitely a gangster, a smart one. Definitely one of those higher-ups that decides who lives or dies."
"Not completely incorrect."
"But why do you want me? I don't even work with Maria. She's the hotel manager. I work in the casino."
"But you put in your application for casino manager. The casino manager frequently speaks with the hotel manager, adding tabs to the hotel bill if guests don't pay within 24 hours and so on. You're in staff meetings together too."
"So what? Your... group... will get me the job if I agree to make sure she's being as accommodating as possible?"
"We have a prisoner in that hotel. 13th floor. No one but us, and you'll know who's us, is allowed."
"But the hotel has no 13th floor. It's skipped for good luck."
"And I'm saying it does. The prisoner is there. No one notices because no one's counting the floors."
"You don't need to know that. But what you do need to know is that you can't say no."
When he had gotten so close to her, she didn't know, but she was hypnotized. She lost her senses as his lips touched hers. He kissed her lightly, pulling her to him.
She was straddling him, losing her balance in the world.
She'd given up hope already on so many things so why would this one last thing matter?
Awhile later as she fell back onto the sofa, he leaned over her and kissed her again.
"I'll take that as a yes."
I Can't Decide
"Now come on Ran, let me come up and rub away those pains. You've been on your feet all day."
The man, young and over his head in the organization, had just gotten a codename.
"She can't tonight," said a voice behind them.
They turned to see Gin.
Ran nodded and slid her card to enter her apartment. Gin followed closely leaving the man who had hoped to enter Ran's apartment out in the cold.
Once Gin and Ran had exchanged pleasantries and she had served the wine, Ran froze as Gin's eyes burrowed into hers.
It had been several years now that she had joined them. She'd been trained, proven herself effective, and all without killing a single person.
She made people forget by grazing both sides of the head. Instant permanent amnesia.
Committing herself to her job, she had started forgetting the past. She hadn't seen her mother or father in the last few months. In fact she was very sure now that she had stopped looking like herself. When she compared herself now to the photo of her high school self with Shinichi stuck into the frame it was noticeable that her eyes had narrowed, resembling more now those of the man looking into her.
"You've done well these last few years. You've completed your training, kept death to a minimum successfully, despite my recommendations, and shown extreme loyalty towards your team."
"But there's one last test before you're moved out of your job and given a monthly stipend. You'll be allowed to pursue your own interests; be they writing, acting or singing, you'll just never attract extreme attention to yourself. We have found that notoriety isn't conducive toward our members' work ethic."
"What's the test?"
"You'll be going to the 13th floor tomorrow. We won't need it after that, if you catch my drift."
"...Is that it?"
"If you keep that attitude tomorrow, yes, but you're allowed 24 hours to complete the test. Are you willing to do it?"
Ran looked down at her glass.
To be done with the hotel and its cranky patrons would be wonderful. She was bored of Maria, Riesling, and if after tomorrow they would have no reason to have her placed there at the hotel any longer. She could do anything. It would just be one person...
She stood in front of the elevator early, before the shift change. Her dark clothes and punkish hairstyle and make-up made her unrecognizable.
The doors opened and she entered, the "basement" key Gin had given her at the ready.
The elevator went up slower than usual, or maybe it just felt that way. The pulsing sound of the cable rang in her ears like a crescendo to the moment.
When it dinged and the doors opened, Ran was surprised to see a very bright, cheerful even, atmosphere. The furniture was clean, modern, and the lights were on. There was a table with a laptop sitting on it surrounded by used plates and various mugs.
"Hello?" she called out.
There was a sudden clattering in the kitchen, followed by an angry yelp.
"So you're finally here are you!? Come to kill me!?"
The voice was low, vaguely familiar, and coming closer.
"Well!? Are you going to do it or-"
She could see him. He was thin, thinner than he might have been otherwise, tall, and lanky. He wore a black shirt and blue designer jeans. He was Kudou Shinichi.
"...Ran?" he croaked. He looked her up and down, realizing what she was wearing, what she was doing there.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, keeping her hand on her belt.
He stared at her incredulous, "What do you mean what am I doing here? They sent you!? They recruited you!?"
She pulled out her gun and pointed it at him, "You don't get to question me. You left me. I was left alone. Sonoko was... My Mom... My Dad... I've kept them safe."
Shinichi turned away from her, "So then you knew? Gin told me about you, well not you exactly, your codename. You've been a member for a few years now."
"You haven't killed anyone. I've been following. You graze the side of the victim's head to induce permanent amnesia. That's almost sort of worse..."
Ran cocked her gun, "So long as they're alive is all that matters."
Shinichi grimaced at her, "Am I going to live then?"
If he hadn't asked her maybe it would have been easier.
She put down her gun on the table and slipped off her long black coat to put it over a chair.
Shinichi looked up and down her black boots and black corset dress combination.
"I can't decide that. Not yet anyway. Because if I'm working for the organization you've been after, and you've been their prisoner for the last 7 years, then you're going to tell me what happened."
Shinichi's expression then turned into one that said he'd rather be dead.
She picked up her gun again and Shinichi quickly began talking.
An hour later, Shinichi was done, having said his peace. There was nothing revelatory said, and because of that Ran knew it was all a bunch of lies.
Gin had briefed her the night before that the prisoner was someone who had been turned into a child by a miracle poison. He had been on the run from them with a traitor to them for several years. He was caught just after he had taken a cure with the traitor. The traitor had already been taken care of.
Since the prisoner was Shinichi, she could only feel herself grow colder as he told her of adventures abroad, with the FBI and CIA. In reality, she figured, all those adventures had taken place here, within a 10 mile radius of her home.
It all came back too easily as she smiled at Shinichi and said, "Let's go out for breakfast."
They left the hotel together and headed to Harajuku where Ran's style would not stand out. Both were aware of the black Porsche tailing them.
Shinichi asked question after question about what she had been doing, what the organization's training program consisted of, and whether she had met the boss. He knew better than to run, knowing he would be shot by the unseen members on various roof tops.
"The boss... He's a very wealthy man who started this to help fund his own weird ventures. Did you know he actually is the reason why the free public college system took hold in America? He gets millions of Thank You letters a year from students able to attend the school of their choice so long as they have the grades and pass the general entrance exam."
"So who is he?"
"Well if you haven't figured it out by now Shinichi, you're not a very good detective."
They laughed and let the day pass them by as they visited old haunts: the observation deck of the Tokyo Tower, their route home from school and the gate of Shinichi's house.
As they both looked up at the overgrown ivy that covered the face of the house, they knew it was much too late for reconciliation. The sun had already set on them as it had on the house, leaving the sky in an awkward twilight.
Shinichi unlocked the gate and made his way toward the door.
The dust inside tickled both their noses and they sneezed as they walked into the library.
Ran closed her eyes, shutting out memories clawing their way back: after school moments of Shinichi leaning over her as she was sitting in the chair and a brief kiss that they had both quickly dismissed as an accident.
His lips were on hers so quickly she didn't know if she had done something to make him want her so desperately.
They became undone so quickly. She felt Shinichi's hands trying to feel through the fabric of her top, and pull up the hem of her dress. The kisses were careless and fast, hopeful and slow. Neither one could breath. Neither one of them wanted to.
Finally, he pulled away, caressing her face.
"You're crying..." he murmured.
She leaned forward and kissed him, ignoring him.
"I know you lied."
Shinichi pulled back from her as far as he could, which wasn't far enough.
She had him by the ears and kissed him again.
"Both sides have the same rules and so do we. Both of us want the truth. The trouble is... only one of us was willing to give it."
He never finished the last words. Kudo Shinichi was dead. The quick movement of her arms had done the trick.
His eyes were closed. He looked almost peaceful.
Meticulously, Ran cleaned up the scene, glad that he hadn't removed her gloves. She removed her skin cells from under his fingernails and used a mini vacuum she kept in her coat to collect hair and fibers.
She looked into a mirror by the door before walking out. Her make-up needed retouching.
15 minutes later, her make-up and clothes pristine, she was in the backseat of the Porsche being congratulated by Vodka.
"But that must have been hard... Him being an old boyfriend and all..."
Ran stared out the window at the passing scenery, "No. He was a traitor and a liar. Of course, the same could be said of you both."
Gin turned around and raised an eyebrow at her.
"But don't worry. He was the worst of your kind. I can forgive a subtle manipulation of a situation," she leaned forward towards Gin, "with the right kind of compensation."
"The frozen heart of a young woman is the coldest kind."
"But it's also the sweetest," winked Ran.
"True," chuckled Gin.
Author's Note: This fic's title was inspired by the song "I Can't Decide" by the Scissor Sisters. It's a rather morbid song but the general idea of needing to kill someone while deciding whether they want them at the same time made the story come together easy. If you enjoyed it, please review. I'm a bit rusty at writing now too so suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you~!