Gah, partial writer's block sucks. I say partial because I can still come up with ideas, but they just fizzle out halfway through. It doesn't help that everything I've tried to write over the past month has demanded more intricacy and plot than ever before. Even the one paragraph question drabble is now three pages and I might be halfway through? (Darn you Meitantei Mistuhiko! Why are you doing this to me? What have I ever done to you? ...don't answer that.)

But that's neither here nor there. Back to the matter at hand. This is a gift fic for A Bibliophile, who requested a story about "Vermouth as Hakuba Saguru's mom." But somewhere along the writing process, it mutated and turned into a combination Saguru's mom/Vermouth origins piece. So while Saguru is still in here somewhere, kinda, maybe, Vermouth has taken center stage. (Darn actresses always hogging the limelight.) I hope this still fits the parameters A Bibliophile. And to everyone else who's bothered to read this, what are you waiting for? The story starts under the little gray line! Go, read!

(Oh, and DC/MK are not mine. For all the people who secretly thought I was Gosho Aoyama writing fanfiction about my own series fluently in a language other than Japanese.)

Her story begins with "Once upon a time..."

Not a very original opening, a trifle cliché perhaps, but then again, no one has ever accused her of originality. In her mind, any tale worth telling starts with those magical, mystical words "Once upon a time." And since this is her story, how could it begin any other way?

Once upon a time, there lived a princess.

Now this is fudging things a bit, for she was not a true princess. No royal blood flowed through her veins. The blood of a duke on her mother's aunt's side perhaps, but no true blue pedigree to which she could claim to fame. Yet in all girl's minds, they fancy themselves princesses a time or two, and when this story began, that is what she secretly believed. So she is not wholly wrong in this assumption.

This princess was as beautiful as the stars in the skies, and her suitors as numerous.

This is an outright lie, but it would spoil the story to hear of her slightly above average beauty, with blond hair the color of sun-ripened wheat (and almost as coarse), blue eyes the shade of cobalt marbles (pretty but dull), and a figure that was on average pleasant ninety percent of the time and homely the other ten. As for her suitors, while the local mongrels may have worshiped her for a goddess, the men not so much. But time is a drunken mistress and tends to get fuzzy on the particulars. Or at least, that's what she'd have us believe.

Her nature was as caring as the earth, and her pure golden heart shone for all to see.

While it is true that many considered her one of the kindest souls ever to grace the earth, herself included, that pure heart was not as pure as one would think. Always in mind, but never in word were thoughts of gain for deed, cunning ways to ensure the most pleasant of outcomes, how to further herself without soiling her name. Her heart may shine gold, but underneath the thin veneer is a solid mass of iron.

She was beloved by the people, especially her parents the king and queen.

No, that would be her twin brother, born eleven minutes before her, the eldest child, the only son. God's gift on earth, if her parents were to be believed. She wasn't bitter. No, not at all. So what if he was obnoxiously perfect and got everything he ever desired while she had to beg and whine to get her father to give her the time of day? She'd show them all one day.

Every day was paradise, and she could not imagine a more perfect life.

Every day was utter agony, and she longed to get the hell out of Dodge.

But this paradise was not to last.

Thank God.

One day a dark shadow descended upon the royal household, and the poor king and queen were felled by an assassin's blade.

It was actually a house fire started by a faulty electrical socket, but an assassin just sounds so much more dramatic, befitting a princess's role. And if she had just so happened to notice the sparking socket the day before and made no mention of it to her parents, well, that's her own little secret. Too bad her brother was away at the time. He always did have the devil's luck.

The princess was left devastated.

The princess was left elated and went to party all night long in the next city over singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who would listen. She always remembers that night with a coy little smile on her face.

At the loss of her parents, she lost all will to live.

She partied hard for the next week until the bill collectors came calling. Seems dear Momsy and Popsy forgot to tell their children they were ass over teakettle in debt, and darling brother had purchased a one-way ticket for Aruba while she was sleeping off her hangovers. Serves him right that his plane crashed on the runway in a fiery ball of twisted metal. Too bad she couldn't get rid of the auditors as easily.

She sank into despair.

This was only too true.

The people, worried for their princess, searched far and wide for some remedy to heal her broken heart.

Her neighbors offered her unwanted advice and pitying glances, but kept their money in their wallets. She was forced to work from sun-up to midnight every day just to pay off the accumulating interest. It seemed she would never be free.

For three years they searched, and for three years it was in vain.

Three years. Three years she toiled in abject misery. Three. Damn. Years.

Until one day a man descended upon the realm, and proclaimed he held the cure for their princess's shattered heart.

He'd come to their small little town as a tourist sight-seeing the American countryside, but was roped into a nasty murder case involving the homicide of the local mayor. She'd been held as a witness, since the murder occurred at her night job. Personally, she thought it served the mayor right that he was knifed in the back. The bald-headed pig was always mocking her plight behind her own back – it seemed apropos that he die from behind. Whoever offed him (his mistress it turned out) deserved a medal, not some iron prison cell.

The people short on hope pointed the man in the direction of their dejected princess.

When this unknown man came to interrogate her, she saw an opportunity. While he was a foreigner with an absolutely horrid haircut, he wasn't all that bad in the looks department. No Clark Gable obviously, but overall, he could have looked worse. The Rolex on his arm with real octagonal cut diamonds didn't hurt. And he was tallish, or at least taller than herself. She couldn't stand short men. A flick of the hair here, a flutter of the eyes there, and he was putty in her hands. Nice to know her womanly wiles were still intact. At the wrap-up of the investigation, she wasn't at all surprised when he asked her out for breakfast. That's how she came to meet Sergeant Hakuba of the Tokyo police force.

Entering her chambers, the man knelt before the dying princess and brought forth a wooden box.

Before too long the man was introducing her as his girlfriend to the inquiring masses with her happy consent. She wasn't going to argue when it was his money that paid off her debts and plied her with the shiny trinkets she could only dream of owning. He could call her his whore if he'd keep giving her diamond pendants. But one night over a ten course Italian supper (and how many girls could say they'd had the pleasure?) he decided to take things a step farther. Before the whole restaurant he got down on one knee and pulled out that clichéd velvet box. Oh, she just knew where this was going...

Curious, the princess glanced inside.

This had better be something ridiculously expensive.

To her surprise, it was empty.

To her delight, there lay a 4-karat plum sapphire. Hmm, kinda small... Oh well, the wedding ring would just have to make up for it.

"I have nothing to offer in place of your grief," the man spoke, "and even if I could, I would not grant you such a gift."

"My dear, I know we haven't known each other long, but I just can't wait anymore. I know I am not the easiest man to get along with and I am frankly amazed you're still around, but you have bewitched me heart and soul. I love you. If I could, I would grant you the world to earn your love. But since I cannot, I hope you can settle for this."

The princess looked up in confusion.

She looked up in adoring adulation, cunning greed smartly hidden behind a 100 kilowatt smile.

"It is a loving heart that grieves for those long gone. But it is a foolish heart that dwells in the past." The man looked into her eyes.

"This time we've spent together has been the happiest time of my life. I want to continue with the good times. I know you've suffered some rough patches in your life, so let me be your shield. Let me give you a new lease on life. Let me walk beside you."

"Your parents are dead. So are mine. But that hasn't stopped me from enjoying the sunrise. Come outside," he held out his hand. "It's a beautiful day."

"I know it isn't much, but won't you let me call you mine?" He pulled the ring out of the liner. The purple gem twinkled in the candlelight. Raising the ring before her eyes he nervously whispered, "Will you marry me?"

Bewitched by the man's words, she reached for his hand and together they walked through the door.

Heartfelt smile affixed in place, she nodded her head, letting a few crocodile tears fall as she stretched forth her left hand. Hmm, she'd have to get a new manicure done to highlight her shiny gem. She let herself smile at the thought as her new fiancé swept her into a rather obscene kiss.

It really was a beautiful day.

Well, she could have done without the sappy speech, but all in all, not a bad day. She beamed down at her new accessory. Not a bad day at all.

The people, seeing their princess for the first time in ages, cheered and praised the man for fixing her woes.

The snotty little women back home and abroad wondered how she had managed to snag such a catch. She's not much of a looker. She must put out, the little whore. He'll get rid of her soon enough. She'd merely feign deafness to their harmful remarks. It's not like she could really contradict them.

But how had he done it? Neither would say.

A secret is what makes a woman, a woman after all.

Celebrations were held, and the man was never seen far from the princess's side.

Indeed, he seemed to be super glued to her arm. She had to start drugging his evening bourbon nightcap to get him to give her some peace. It's not like he was that good in the bedroom to put up with his clinging tendencies 24/7.

It came as no surprise when a royal engagement was announced.

False cheers and half-hearted congratulations were offered to the beaming couple, and only dear Loverboy seemed oblivious to the forced well-wishes. Well, far be it from her to burst his happy bubble. She just smiled right alongside him.

Standing before the priest declaring their vows, a more loving and beautiful couple had never been seen.

And really, they did look exceedingly happy. Him, with his blushing, beaming bride, and her, with a new mansion and audaciously huge diamond ring. Oh, and the Swiss bank account. Mustn't forget the bank account. The ridiculously, ridiculously huge bank account.

And they lived happily ever after.

At least until five months after the honeymoon. By then they'd gotten over the lovebird stage and discovered they weren't quite as enamored with each other as they had thought. Or she just stopped putting up a pretense. Five months was a long time to spend with someone you loved only for their money. It was time to claim her share of the divorce settlement and move on. No one ever said it was happily forever after.

But there was one slight snag to this perfect plan.

It seems fate decided to play one last trick on this poor poor princess. After so much caution and concern, pills and contraceptives, it decided to bypass all possible roadblocks and leave a little surprise for the girl. One that was sorely unappreciated. She was pregnant.

Well, this certainly derailed certain plans in motion. And stupid, stupid her - leaving the test out where her husband could find it! Now she couldn't go and dispose of the little nuisance quietly, not with him so ecstatic and overjoyed. She knew he wanted children, but she didn't actually expect to be the one to bear the brood. That was supposed to be wife number two's job, after she'd taken the money and run.

What to do, what to do...

It took her two months to come up with a means to escape impending motherhood. If she couldn't get rid of the brat quietly, she might as well take it out with a bang. And she had the prenatal nurse to thank for it all. The woman's poor sister, falling down that flight of stairs. It's a shame what happened to the baby.

If it worked for her sister...

And yes, that is a cliff-hanger. Because it was the perfect break while I try to get the second chapter tied up and not because I wanted to be evil like that. No, being evil never even crossed my mind. (Yeah, even to me that excuse sounds weak. What can I say, "I wanna be evil, I wanna spit tacks/I wanna be evil, and cheat at jacks". Eartha Kitt rocks.) Here's hoping I can finish the second chapter fairly soon! (Vermouth, help me out here!)