CHAPTER 1- All aboard
Time: 6 pm, 20 December
Place: Sapporo Jetty Terminal- Entrance Gate 1
Conan spun around and saw Ayumi, Genta and Mitsuhiko rushing towards to him, their long coat tails flapping in the wind they were creating. Conan waited them to near and once they were near enough, he took a good look at them. Ayumi was her usual cute self; she was clothed in a pink, frilly dress decked with bows of many different shades of pink. Her short hair was kept in place with a crimson, velvet bow that he had given her for this occasion. Genta was wearing a brown suit that looked like it was two sizes too small. He was sweating from all the exertion he made to run towards him. He opened his mouth, apparently wanting to say something so Conan looked at him coolly, waiting but the fat boy decided to use his open mouth to gulp in more air that his nose alone could not take in. Conan suppressed the urge to roll his eyes in amusement and exasperation.
Mitsuhiko looked the same as he was, except the possibility that he had grown taller and more mature than he ever was. He looked better in his black tuxedo than he did the last time Conan could remember. He smiled slightly, glad to see the kids he had cared for so much growing up. Even Genta seemed less boisterous but his appetite for food had grown larger. Ayumi was looking more like the teenager that he had seen in that photo that the machine had predicted and printed for them to see.
Noticing his small smile, Ayumi ventured, "Why are you smiling?" She too, was smiling at her crush's sign of happiness. It had been ages since she saw him smile or laugh. He did not even scold them any longer.
Conan turned to look at her and gave her an even wider grin, making her blush. "I feel like tonight is a good night, that's all." He turned to the window and saw stars overpopulating the pitch black sky. He wondered why he had never seen something this beautiful before, even when he had seen it so many times. Appreciation for such simple aspects of life seeped through him like a liquid pleasure, igniting every cell in his body, making him feel more alive than usual. It was a new experience and he liked it.
Tearing away from the window, he saw Ryuu walking towards him with his uncles and their eyes met for a moment before the raven-haired boy turn his back on him to give a word to his uncles. The headmaster and his elder brother nodded, obviously giving their consent and moved away from the boy who then turned around and strode towards Conan in long, regal strides that spoke of his high upbringing and grace. Each step was purposeful and silent, like a panther prowling in the darkness of a forest. His silver eyes were knives, piercing anyone who held the predator's gaze for long. Conan found himself being studied by this boy, who was ten years younger than him. It was not right. The boy was not meant to be such a threat to him yet, to some reasons unknown to him, Conan could not understand why he felt like Ryuu was hiding more than just a name or a face. He was hiding something much, much bigger than that and Conan knew that he needed to break up the web of lies, secrets and deceit that the Organization made. One of the vital threads was Ryuu. That meant he needed to be solved like all the other problems that Conan had faced.
Ryuu neared, giving a small smile and nod to each of the Detective Boys to acknowledge their presence. They, in return, gave a shout of greeting that made him and Conan flinch inwardly. Ryuu then met Conan's blue eyes and their eyes held no emotions but Conan felt that he was being watched even to his very depths of his soul, even when he kept his gaze as emotionless and glassy as possible.
Ryuu then smiled slowly, secretive and proud, a smirk on its own calling to Conan to figure out what he had just figured out just from looking into his eyes for a few seconds. "Welcome to the jetty," he said, welcoming all of them even when his eyes remained locked to Conan's. "I am pleased all of you accepted my invitation and I hope you have a safe and pleasant trip with us." He then lowered his gaze to Ayumi to take and kiss her hand gently, making her turn tomato red in embarrassment. Ryuu slowly released her hand and studied the two boys who had suddenly turned on their offensive pose, indignant at the fact that he had touched their favorite girl. Conan stayed motionless and just stared at the child who then said silkily, "Excuse me and do enjoy. This trip is worth… many lifetimes."
Leaving it at that, he turned gently on his heel and seemingly floated away, again silent and then he was gone. Mitsuhiko and Genta slowly faced Conan with questioning looks and Conan knew they were wondering why they both seemed on the edge with one another nowadays. He looked at both of them before shaking his head in a warning so that they would know that he had no mood to answer their enquires.
Glancing towards the automatic glass doors that lead to the bus platform and the car parks, he noticed that Jodie, James Black and Andre Camel had walked in, lugging behind them plenty of suitcases. He excused himself from the kids who immediately returned to their anxious parents who would be following them on this trip. Hurrying towards the FBI agents, he kept an eye out for Ryuu but not surprisingly, he was nowhere to be seen.
"Conan," James grave voice called him to snap out of his lookout for Ryuu, "It has been a long time."
"Far too long James," he replied with the same graveness in his voice. "I hope it was not too much trouble for you to come."
"Of course not!" Jodie answered for James, her voice loud enough for people a few feet to hear her. Camel shushed her which she did meekly before whispering, "We won't miss this chance."
Conan nodded, understanding her. This trip was the closest they had ever been to understanding and capturing everything and hopefully, everyone in the Organization. No words could describe the luck they received but then again, luck is a double-edged sword. It might serve its purpose but it could also turn against them. Anyway, it was not luck that got them the chance to board the final journey to uncovering the truth behind the Black Organization. Ryuu had given them the key to this path and despite all uneasiness that each of them felt from such easy entrance, they could not push away this chance to end it once and for all.
"You ready?" Camel said, asking no one in particular but most likely it was to break the solemn silence around them. They glanced at him before giving a single, sharp nod to indicate their readiness for this journey to begin.
Then the glass doors opened, causing him to look up and the three undercover agents to turn around. A woman and man walked into the air-conditioned terminal, looking very exhausted but nonetheless very excited. Conan then realized who they were.
The man was wearing similar glasses and his moustache was neatly trimmed, a complete contradictory to his wind-blown dark brown hair. Dressed in a sharply pressed suit with a checkered tie, he looked imperiously around the terminal as though in search for something. The woman however, was beautiful with her long hazelnut colored hair falling in waves to her chest. She was dressed in a revealing hot pink dress, the cut low enough to show ample of her curvature. The pink material stuck to her like a second skin and they wrapped around her legs that was dressed in black leather leggings which ended with black heeled boots at her feet. She wore dark sunglasses despite the fact it was already night time.
Then, her face turned to Conan and Conan felt as though he was being scanned through by her eyes eventhough he could not see her eyes.
In a rush of fabric rustling and clicking heels, he was swept into this overly excited woman, his head pressed to her breast making him feel very irritated. He only felt irritated at one woman who dared hug him like this- His mother.
"Okaa-san!" he whispered angrily to his mother, adding as much annoyance in his voice to get her hands off him. "We're in public!"
"Let her be boy," the man who was no doubt his father said softly at him, "She has not seen her son for such a long time. Can't fault her for going into a hugging frenzy."
Conan rolled his eyes but did not utter a single word of protest any longer as he allowed his mother hold him for quite some time. She just held him whispering his real, true name over and over again like a charm. However, when stares became whispers and whispers made him uncomfortable so he started squiggling in her arms but did not say anything more. His mother though, for the first time ever, understood his wishes and complied. She released him but held him at arms' length. Their sapphire eyes met- he was indeed her son. Their eyes were identical, showing a blood connection and a bond that could never be broken. Conan felt ashamed for admiring his mother for who she was. He had never felt such appreciation for her before. "Okaa-san…" he whispered, very quietly so that his family was the only ones who heard. "Thank you."
Two simple words but they conveyed the entire message he wanted to bring to them. Yukiko smiled at him and messed with his hair affectionately while Yusaku just patted on his son's shoulder consolingly. Yukiko stood, recovering from her crouch. She straightened the skirt of her dress and took Conan's hand who did not protest. After a nod to the agents who were now gaping at him, he walked off with his parents to meet with Ran and her dad.
They were standing by the window, taking in the view of the sea that was alight with reflection of the starlight. They turned when the Kudous approached and Ran hurriedly rushed over to Yukiko to hug her. Yukiko let go of Conan's hand to return her hug whole-heartedly while Yusaku shook Kogoro's hand firmly. They had known each other for ages and they did not need any sort of formal greetings. Just a hug and a shake would suffice.
"You came." Kogoro sounded surprised.
"Of course we did!" Yukiko replied, her voice still as cheerful as before. "The Detective Boys have no idea who else to invite apart from their parents and Agasa but here we are! The nice boy over there personally called us on their behalf to attend this cruise."
She pointed over Ran's shoulder who was still holding onto Yukiko. Everyone turned. They followed the direction of her finger to a child leaning against the white tiled walls a few meters away. Leaning on his left shoulder and right foot crossed over his left, Ryuu smirked at them, more specifically at Conan, his eyes glimmering under his long fringe. Nodding at them, he recovered from his casual lounging pose before joining his uncles at a store nearby.
Conan gritted his teeth, not knowing what to take from this reverse situation. He was the one who was supposed to be at advantage here but that child… his roommate had turned the tables on him. And what was worse, Conan did not know his true purpose. If purpose was not known, how was he going to stop and ensure that Ryuu did not mess with his plans to bring down the Organization? There was no guarantee and Conan knew he could not take a chance to ignore Ryuu's advances. Once he boarded that ship, there was turning back. There would be no second chances.
Conan felt constriction in his throat and swept his gaze around the terminal where so many people roamed around, all waiting for the announcement that would allow them to board the ship. He had no idea how many members would be in the crowd but he was certain that there were some, at the very least. Everyone that he did not know looked suspicious in his eyes and no one looked innocent. His paranoia was driving him over the edge and he knew that.
The calm signal of an announcement came from the number of speakers that were attached to numerous corners of the terminal.
"Attention all! All boarding Divine Wing, please proceed to the Private Jetty Lot #48 to board the ship. All boarding Divine Wing, please proceed to the Private Jetty Lot #48 to board the ship!"
The announcement ended and Conan felt his heart plummet and ram against his ribcage with such ferocity he had never known. He glanced at the agents who were now pulling their luggage towards the second automatic glass doors that led to the docks. His parents remained beside him as he continued looking around. Everyone looked excited at the prospect of riding the cruise ship, even the Detective Boys who had taken their parents' hands to pull them towards the docks. Ran and Kogoro excused themselves to hurry to the docks since Kogoro could not take the weight of their luggage any longer.
They were all alone in the terminal. Yusaku lowered his gaze to his son's and said, "We are being watched, aren't we?"
When his son nodded, he sighed and continued, "The crow-like boy?"
He was referring to Ryuu. Conan just nodded since his throat was still dry and he was afraid that he could not croak out any words. Swallowing any saliva left in his mouth, he tried to speak.
"Otou-san, Okaa-san, I need you to know that I am going full out in that ship." His words came out breathless and throaty but he continued, "I am not going to stop for anything."
Yukiko bend over to look in her son's eyes and she looked serious, a rare look that had ever graced her fine features. "I know Shin-chan."
They then turned to the doors and together, they walked out of the terminal and into the docks, breathing in the salty sea air as they walked together in a line, side by side as a family to bring down an Organization.
Conan could not help but stare in astonishment at the cruise ship. He had thought that people were just exaggerating the size of the ship, saying that it could hold an entire small country's population and he had snorted everytime he heard such wild claims. But now, he understood why there were such claims. It was true.
The ship outer skin were whiter than white; it was gleaming and it hurts the eyes if stared at for very long. The ship was nearly thirty storey's high, not mentioning whatever was underwater and the ship was nearly four submarines' lengths put together. Every aspect of the ship just screamed rich. The ship looked as though it was celebrating Christmas early; there was no lacking of light. The ship could look like a beacon of light in the middle of an ocean, no matter how dark it was. People were already milling in it and Conan could make out several small figures in the crowd. Ayumi, Genta and Mitsuhiko were already onboard, exploring the huge ship. At the hilt of the ship, "Divine Wing" was printed on the white in black. The font, a spidery sort of writing, reminded Conan of Ryuu's handwriting. It was very similar but it lacked the same light feel that Ryuu had in his handwriting.
Conan and his parents spun around. From the shadows, they could make out a small silhouette of a boy. The boy turned out to be Ryuu. He was not looking at them as he stepped out of the darkness and into the light of the ship. He was staring at the ship with some sort of closed expression on his face but his jaw was not as relaxed as usual. It was set in a hard line, showing tension. However, he showed no other clues to his thoughts. He was as impassive as ever when he said, "A ship like this should be enjoyed thoroughly, do you agree?"
"But if the ship killed the fun, how could we enjoy?" Yusaku replied, cutting Conan from his answer.
Ryuu looked away from the ship and he smiled but the smile was not a smirk. But it was cold enough to make the temperature around them drop a few degrees. "Then, we would make the best of what we have." The corners of his mouth twitched before falling back to its original pout that would any woman would kill for.
He continued staring at the ship and the Kudous watched him attentively, trying to pick out any feelings that Ryuu might show. Ryuu showed none, as usual, but he kept silent. His silver eyes just roamed around the ship exterior, taking in the crowd.
Then he said softly, "Nearly seven thousand guests and even more important people in that ship." He lowered his gaze and met Conan's even ones. "This is going to be very interesting, won't it?" There was no answer in return.
Ryuu tore his gaze from Conan before stepping back and he held out his arm, bowing slightly to them. He raised his head to look slightly at them, cocking it at an angle. "Now then," he said, a hint of humor in his voice. "All aboard then?"
The Kudous nodded stiffly before walking on towards the ship. They gave their bags and luggage to the helpers there and showed them their tickets to give them instructions to place it in their rooms. Yusaku and Yukiko climbed into the mouth of the door first before being herded off into the interior by other helpers, leaving Conan alone with Ryuu.
Conan turned and saw Ryuu staring at the sea, his eyes distant and fading. Upon feeling Conan's sharp gaze on him, Ryuu recovered from his daydream and smiled at him. A smile that was not cold nor was it a smirk. It was a genuine smile, a sign of friendship and care. But it was strained.
"Have fun and take care on the ship." Ryuu's voice held a hint of warning but it was very subtle.
"You too." Came Conan's immediate reply which made Ryuu smile wider.
"Five days aboard a ship." His voice had no more warning. Instead it was just a voice of the dead, a voice that sounded like it came from someone who had resigned to a very terrible fate. Ryuu caught Conan's gaze before saying, "Who knows what would happen?"
Conan felt his throat constrict and unspoken words just fell back. He swallowed and tried to speak again.
The ship blasting its horn signaled how near it was to the voyage. Conan was immediately ushered into the interior by helpers but Ryuu remained outside. He turned to look at the sea again and a flurry of unheard and unspoken feelings flashed through his eyes for a second. Eyes distant again, he whispered very softly, "A final voyage, an end or a start?"
The sea answered him with resounding crashes of waves on the ships around them. He closed his eyes and listened to the call of nature, basking it its feel. The sea answered his call for hope and it reflected the turmoil he felt in himself. Harsh waves and strong winds all around him yet, he could not tear away from the beauty of it all. Life was indeed precious. Such valuable moments could not be replaced with anything.
His heart satiated and calmed by a raging sea, he opened his eyes. He gazed at the sea for a little while longer, appreciating the natural call and the beauty of night at the sea before turning away from the sea and stalked into the entrance of the ship.
The voyage was about to begin.
Wow! I thought I would never finish this chapter! Took me long enough, trust me. Hope you like it enough to drop in a review! So do review even if you hate it!
~ xoxo Rin