KARMA - An Ai Haibara Fanfiction

Karma: the belief that what goes around comes around. As you sow, so shall ye reap. What you do to others, you are really doing to yourself.

I didn't believe in karma. I didn't believe that there was some cosmic balance sheet keeping track of one's deeds, good or bad. As a scientist I really shouldn't give any credence to such nebulous notions, not without proof. I had to admit that my knowledge of the matter was very superficial, but the idea of moral causation seemed very much to be wishful thinking. But sometimes I lied in bed unable to sleep and I wondered...

What were the chances that the poison that shrank Kudo-kun, the poison that I created, would affect me in the same way it did him? The odds were incredibly small. And if I hadn't just recently logged Kudo-kun's death as 'Confirmed' out of curiosity (and as a tiny act of rebellion against the Organization), I probably wouldn't have survived to see the dawn. If I had told my superiors my suspicions of what APTX 4869 might have done to Kudo-kun, he and his friends and family would have already been killed by the time of my attempted suicide, and Miyano Shiho would never have had the chance to become Haibara Ai.

Maybe it was karma. I took away ten years of someone's life, so it was only fair that I lose ten of mine. Maybe my act of mercy in allowing Kudo Shinichi to live had led to my continued existence. Karma was as good a hypothesis as any.

But if that hypothesis was true then that would mean that Akemi-neechan was taken away from me as punishment for all the people who had died from the poison that I had created.

What did it say about the universe or God or whatever that it would kill someone innocent just to teach the real sinner a lesson? Then again, all I had to do was turn on the news to realize that if the world was truly a divine creation then its creator was crueler than I could imagine.

But I was still thinking in terms of fairness. Justice wasn't about what was fair; it was about balancing the scales. Maybe the suffering I had caused could only be balanced by my suffering. And what could make me suffer more than the death of the only person in the world who I had loved?

But it was too easy to blame Oneechan's death on an uncaring universe. In the final analysis, it was my fault. Kudo-kun would call such a sentiment arrogant and illogical, and maybe he would be right, but there was one thought that constantly haunted my dreams. Edogawa-kun couldn't save Neechan, but maybe Kudo-kun could have.

Of course I was thinking irrationally. Without my poison Gin and Vodka would have killed Kudo-kun some other way. Even if they had somehow failed, the chances of Kudo Shinichi meeting my sister were probably just as unlikely as... Edogawa Conan meeting her.

Hmm, maybe instead of karma the universe just had a cruel sense of whimsy.

I had cried in Kudo-kun's arms and blamed him for my sister's death. He was every bit the meitantei I had feared and hoped he would be. Watching him solve an impossible crime before my eyes, I had lost my last excuse for casting the guilt from my shoulders. My sister might have lived if Kudo-kun hadn't been stuck in the body of a seven year old.

Again, I had to remind myself that Gin would have killed him and Neechan would have died anyway. Or maybe not. From what I heard, I knew that Gin and Vodka had had very little time to kill Kudo-kun at Tropical Land. Vodka hadn't wanted to use a gun for fear of attracting the police who were prowling the amusement park because of a recent murder case on one of the rides. Without APTX 4869, Gin would have been forced to use a more traditional poison or even to just simply bash the teenage detective's skull in with the metal pipe. But even if Kudo-kun's odds of survival were slim, it wouldn't have been impossible for him to survive.

I knew intellectually that I was creating a fanciful scenario, but emotionally I felt deep down that Kudo-kun would have survived in such a situation, and he would have saved my sister. He was a perfect example of the karma hypothesis in action. He had survived my experimental poison by breaking all the laws of conventional biology. He had somehow avoided being killed by the Organization or by any of the numerous life-threatening situations he found himself in. If someone could have survived a murder attempt by Gin, it would have been Kudo-kun, someone who had done more good in one month of his life than I had ever done in the entirety of mine. The world had already twisted itself for him once. Why not again?

Why did I continue to torture myself with these illogical thoughts? Because I needed the universe to make sense. To have the present state of my life solely be the result of random chance was an abhorrent idea. It made more sense for my life to be planned out by some omnipotent manga writer! How else could I explain the absurdities and coincidences?

But the world didn't work that way. Good people suffered and evil flourished. It wasn't enough that people slaughtered each other for the most pointless of reasons. They also had to be struck down by disease, natural disasters, and other random acts of mayhem and destruction.

The world was an utterly mad place with no rhyme or reason to anything that happened. This was a competing hypothesis to the karma hypothesis. My best piece of evidence for this was that I had somehow fallen in love with the man whose live I had ruined.

This was also evidence for the 'God is screwing with me' hypothesis. But I didn't have to turn to supernatural explanations for the position that I was in. Elementary social psychology principles would say that I was attracted to the tiny detective because of proximity and similarity. As I had told him before, he was the only person who could understand what I was going through. And even though I enjoyed scolding him for his recklessness and idiocy, I had to admit that I admired his genius. I was no mental slouch myself, especially in my chosen field, but Kudo-kun had a way of the making the impossible possible.

It was no wonder then that I had fallen for him. But it was more than just the mere exposure effect that had captured my interest. I was the person that Kudo-kun had reason to hate more than anyone in the world, but he treated me like a friend. He comforted me when I was frightened and treated me like a partner rather than a burden. He had saved my life on more than one occasion not out of a sense of obligation or to protect his only chance for a cure but because he believed I was a person worth saving.

It hadn't always been this way. When I first met Kudo Shinichi, I thought him a spoiled teenager with delusions of grandeur. He truly thought that he could take down the Organization. I wanted to show him how vulnerable he really was, and I wanted to make him feel a tiny fraction of what I felt at losing my sister. So I implied to him that his precious inventor had been murdered by the very people that he was so eager to track down.

From an objective standpoint, what I had done was pure folly. I had come to seek sanctuary from Kudo-kun, so it made no sense to aggravate him. But I hadn't cared. I wanted to see how this defender of truth and justice would react to seeing the person who destroyed his world. So I gave him every logical reason to toss me out into the streets. I gave him no sign that I was anything other than the monster he imagined me to be. It would have been my final experiment.

I needed to see that he was no better a human being than I was.

"You're a murderer! How do you expect me to understand someone who was developing a drug to kill other human beings? Do you know how many people suffered because of your drug?"

His words had stung because they were true. Of course I knew how many had died. Kudo-kun hadn't been the first recipient of my poison nor had he been the last. And, to my knowledge, no one else had experienced the same 'good fortune' that he and I had received. I may not have seen the results of my work directly, but my hands were no less blood-stained.

It was no excuse that I was raised by the Organization since childhood or that my sister was held hostage to ensure my good behavior. I had never wanted to create a poison in the first place! But excuses would not bring the dead back. So I allowed Kudo-kun to rage at me. With a clinical eye, I watched him literally shake with fury and I silently wondered if I would be the first to die from suicide by detective.

I know now that Kudo-kun never would have harmed me. He was no saint but neither was he a murderer. In the end, my experiment failed. He allowed me to stay.

Later that evening after Kudo-kun had gone home, Hakase had apologized to me for his friend's outburst. I was honestly surprised. Kudo-kun's anger was perfectly understandable and I could not blame him for that. No, it was Hakase's reaction that puzzled me. He was smart enough to know that I was not the innocent little girl I appeared to be, but he hadn't hesitated for one moment to open his home to me and treat me like a confidant.

He didn't care about my past at all. Maybe it was because he was an inventor himself and knew how it couldn't be helped what others did with our creations. Maybe he saw me as a victim, as someone who was forced to help evil rather than being evil myself. A distinction without a difference in my mind but perhaps not in his. He had lived a longer life than I had. Maybe he was right. I would like to think so.

Whatever the reason was, I was grateful for his kindness. Hakase was the first person I trusted without reservation in a very long time. Naturally this disturbed me. All I wanted was a place to hide from the Organization. Caring about anything other than survival was not part of my plans.

I resolved to maintain my aloofness and isolate myself from those who wanted to befriend me. Grief was not an emotion I cared to experience again. I didn't expect to stay for very long, so I didn't think it would be difficult to avoid forming connections.

I failed.

Perhaps this shouldn't have been so surprising. Like the Native Americans who met people from the Old World and fell to smallpox, I had no natural immunity to people who were truly good and kind. To people who had no ulterior motives and who didn't demand anything of me than what I wanted to give. They reminded me of my sister who I had rarely been able to see. Before I knew it, my world had expanded.

There is no such thing as karma. The universe is not just. If it was then the Shounen Tantei wouldn't love me so much. And I wouldn't have loved them. I had dropped my guard because they were just children, annoyances who insisted on following Kudo-kun and me around. At what point did they become people with actual personalities to me? They were smart yet easily distracted, innocent but also wise beyond their years. I wanted to protect them. I knew Kudo-kun felt the same way.

If the universe was just then Yoshida Ayumi wouldn't have worked so hard to come up with the nerve to call me 'Ai-chan.' Tsuburaya Mitsuhiko wouldn't have a crush on me or try to impress me with the science facts he learns. Kojima Genta wouldn't have picked me up like a sack of rice and ended up saving the life of a criminal like me. The children hated criminals. Like their leader, they were full of idealism and zeal. How ironic then that I was considered one of their best friends.

In what sane world do Hakase and Kudo-kun, who know me better than almost anyone else, not look at me with hatred and contempt? What mad jester arranged it so that my life would be saved by Mouri Ran? The girl who resembled Oneechan and would surely hate me if she knew the truth about the person she saved.

I didn't think I could bear that. That was why I tried my best to neither speak to nor look at her. She was a reminder of the sister I had lost and the sins I had committed. She was a catalyst for my adolescent jealousy. I had to push her away. It was bad enough that I had thrown her life into turmoil. I didn't want her to hate me, but it would only have compounded my guilt to have her actually like me.

Yet she did. I can see why Kudo-kun loved her. As I told him once, she was strong. And she is good. She deserved better than to be pulled into the dark world of secrecy and deceit. For her sake and his, she must not know the truth. At least not until I can return what I have stolen. I did not want to hurt her more than I already have.

Life was not fair. If it was fair then I would be the one who was dead. It seemed incomprehensible to me that I continued to live and breathe. This was a problem I had try to remedy a few times. I wasn't suicidal. At least not in the sense that I wanted to die. I was only doing what was logical to protect the first real friends I had ever made.

But Kudo-kun was a hero, and he would not allow me to die. I didn't know whether to be grateful or angry for that fact. I was grateful that he cared, that he didn't hate me. I was angry that I must remain as a ticking time bomb to everyone I hold dear. But I didn't really want to die. If I did, I wouldn't have gone about it so impulsively. A bottle of pills or slits to the wrist would have done the trick. I just wanted the fear and the guilt to stop. Kudo-kun understood that, so he told me not to run away. He gave me his hats and his glasses and told me not to be afraid. He was right. Running away was not the answer.

There was only one truth. I loved Kudo-kun, but he did not love me. I would not have it any other way. This was my punishment, as meager and paltry as it may be. I would not have him give up the life that should have been rightfully his or to betray his principles. It was bad enough that he is forced to shelter a criminal. I won't have him loving one as well. If things were different... but I can not think like that.

After everything is over, he will have to decide whether or not he will turn me over to the police. The old Kudo Shinichi who yelled at me for being a murderer would not have hesitated. The one weakened by friendship and sympathy would. I have no idea what he would ultimately decide. I did know that I did not want to make that decision tougher for him than it had to be.

And that decision will have to be made one day. I have that much faith in Kudo-kun. If anyone could take Them down then it would be him. Of course I would never tell him that. He was a rare kind of genius. Someone who didn't believe that there was anything that the human mind could not achieve. If only he wasn't so impulsive.

But I would be around to humble him when he needed it. I would not encourage him in his quest but neither would I do anything to stop him, other than by warning him to not do anything too foolhardy. Whether he knows it or not, he has my support. I can only hope that will help me atone at least a little bit.

I have been blessed with more than I could have ever imagined, and I often wished that I had not been. I had gained more than I ever thought I would, and the thought of losing it was more than I could bear. Aside from occasionally fearing for my life and these middle of the night angst fests, I would have to say that I was happy. And I couldn't forgive myself for that.

If I was a believer in a higher power, then I would say that I have incurred a karmic debt that I could never repay. But I would try. No matter how long it took. Because I wanted to be the good person that I see reflected in the eyes of my friends. I wanted to meet the expectations of the children, Hakase, Kudo-kun, and Mouri-san. I didn't want to be Sherry. I didn't even want to be Miyano Shiho.

I wanted to be Haibara Ai.