Case Closed Fan Fiction ❯ The Darkest Hour ( Chapter 65 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Chapter Sixty-Five
The Darkest Hour
Gin didn’t move as the motorcycle skidded to a halt feet away from him. Only the slightest narrowing of his eyes and a fresh pull of his cigarette indicated that he had acknowledged the presence of its rider, now shaking out her long hair as she pulled the helmet off. She stepped off of the bike and offered him a beautifully sculpted smile.
“Gin,” she said pleasantly. “To what do I owe your late-night solicitations?” she glanced around the secluded dockyard. “Early morning, rather. I presume that it’s important. Even Chianti and Korn are here.” She waved at the near-invisible figure that had been watching her- not as covertly as she’d thought- from the top of a storage crate. Chianti hissed at Vermouth, jerking her rifle in a way that indicated that, if her hands had been free, she would have been making a very rude gesture.
“Merely precautions,” Gin spat out the dog-end of his cigarette, grinding it beneath his heel. “So, Vermouth; what happened to the young Tantei that we were asked to neutralise?”
Vermouth gave him a look of cool surprise. “I found him. Unless he’s found some way to pause his pulse for a good five minutes, he’s… neutralised. I could have sworn I’d told you already… Is that all you wanted to ask?”
“You found him near the banks of the river?” Gin said, straightening up from the slouch he’d held against the car.
“Practically on them. Dead bodies don’t wash that far ashore.”
“Then what I heard on the police radios is very odd,” he mused aloud, “because apparently, the Chief of Police has ordered a manhunt for his missing son, and the river and every inch of ground for some miles around has been thoroughly scoured- and yet, no traces have been found.”
Vermouth shrugged. “Perhaps there was a flash flood and he washed away again. The corpse could well be out to sea by now. Did you clean up the girl before you left, by the way?”
“Well, that’s the funny thing,” Gin sneered. “She’s vanished- at the very same time that the Chief came to Tokyo for the Superintendant’s funeral. Is it not strange that the Chief of Police would abandon Osaka when his own son is missing, friend’s funeral or not? Yet he’s left, the girl has vanished- even though, officially, she’s been found. The body hasn’t been found, even though you assured me that you had seen it… either the police lied about finding the body, or it’s been covered up… rather like Kudo Shinichi.”
“You think I lied about the boy.” It wasn’t a question. “You think I found him alive and left him that way. Now what reason would I have for doing that?”
“I wouldn’t know, Vermouth,” Gin replied. He tightened his hand around the cool metal handle of his gun, his fingers lacing themselves around the trigger. “A lot of your actions are seemingly without reason. For example, disguising yourself as a high-school doctor to find Sherry. Or returning two months later, bruised and bleeding and silent. Whatever you did brought Akai Shuuichi on your trail and left Calvados dead, and yet you say nothing about it. Your periodic disappearances. The information- rather vital information- that you withheld from Sake.”
“I never imagined that the boy would follow in his father’s footsteps, or even know that they existed. Back then, I thought it too extraneous to silence him.”
“But now? You, alone of all of us, must have known who the Kaitou Kid was now, and yet you let us chase a ghost.”
“You still are, from what I heard.” His fingers twitched around the trigger. Like many people who lived their lives in secrecy, he hated having secrets kept from him. He didn’t trust Vermouth- he’d be stupid to trust anybody– but he was determined to get the truth from her, one way or another. “You really think that Kudo Shinichi is alive?”
“Perhaps the two strangest things of all, Vermouth,” he continued, as a form of reply, “was your protection of Mori Kogoro, and your ambiguous replies about Kudo Shinichi. I did a little digging, and Kudo has been known to frequent the Mori Detective Agency- in fact, his high school class was the same as Mori’s daughter. They’re connected. You know something about him, I can tell- but you won’t. What are you hiding?”
“Why would I hide anything from you, Gin?” Vermouth said, smiling sweetly. “I’ve never met Kudo Shinichi. I’d simply forgotten about Kuroba Kaito. And as for the Osaka boy- how could he have survived the prototype detective? No-one else has.”
Gin’s face didn’t move a muscle as he drew his gun, levelling it at her head. “I have increasing reason to believe that Kudo Shinichi did, Vermouth. There are too many suspicious trails connecting to him, too many that coincide with Sherry’s escape. You knew, didn’t you? Don’t pretend that you didn’t.” He cocked the gun, sliding a bullet into the chamber. “You’ve been hiding things from the Syndicate for long enough. You’re a danger. You know my policy on second chances, Vermouth. Where is Kudo Shinichi? What really happened to the Osaka boy? Oh, and while we’re on the subject…” he released the safety. “What the hell are you up to? All of your secrets… I have no time for secrets. You know where Sherry is. Why would you, of all people, hide her?”
“You’ve never had time for anyone’s secrets,” she sighed enigmatically. “Well, what can I tell you? What should I tell you? I don’t see why what I do is any of your business. You’re a little paranoid, Gin. The Silver Bullet is dead-” she made the tiniest of head gestures towards the shadows between two more crates, where Kir watched with narrowed eyes and a thoughtful look on her face. “- so what is there to fear?”
“I’ve never heard a rule saying that there can be only one Silver Bullet,” Gin said dangerously. “Where is he, Vermouth?”
“Would you really shoot me, Gin?” Vermouth said, waving her hand frivolously at its silenced barrel. “Anokata-”
“-Wouldn’t know,” Gin said. “There is no-one here who would want to protect your filthy life. With the FBI involved, quite a few of the Cabinet have died in the past few years… would one more be so surprising?”
He locked eyes with Vermouth, her gaze cold enough to match his own, a playful smile still lingering on her lips. It remained, frozen, as she slowly keeled over backwards, propelled over the edge of the dock and into the sea by the force of the single bullet expelled silently from the Beretta.
There was silence as Gin clicked the safety back on and slipped the gun into his pocket. Vodka was staring in some shock at the calming ripple sin the sea. Kir remained silent in the shadows. Chianti and Korn were climbing down from the crates, heading for their motorcycles.
“Damn you, Gin,” Chianti eventually said, as she put her rifle back into its holster. “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that.” Korn was, as ever, silent, but he did seem to be smiling ever so slightly.
“We’d better help Sake and Schnapps clean up their messes,” Gin said, sitting in the passenger side of his antique Porsche. “I don’t care how close to completing Project Pandora we are, Sake needs to learn a little about subtlety, particularly when dealing with the Kaitou Kid… if he’s not careful, I’m putting a bullet in his brain, too…”
“What about those cops that Schnapps is onto?” Vodka asked.
“They’ll get theirs,” Gin said coldly.
Kir walked over to the small splash of blood that had escaped Vermouth’s head before she hit the sea. She stood, facing away from them, regarding it silently.
“What about you, Kir?” Chianti said. “If you dare tell Anokata about this…”
“I’m just going to clean up here,” she replied without turning. “As for Vermouth- why should I care whether she lives or dies? Anyway, sounds like she was a rat. And you know how I feel about rats.” She looked back at them, grinning widely, the first rays of light from paling horizon reflecting from her teeth.
Gin smiled and waved at Chianti and Korn to follow as Vodka pulled away, heading for Beika City.
“But are you really sure that she was lying, Aniki?” Vodka said. “After all, Kudo Shinichi wasn’t at that monster party after all, was he?”
“No,” Gin said, “But who was it really?”
“It was…” then Vodka realized. “That dark-skinned Hattori brat!”
“Precisely,” Gin said quietly. “The only two unconfirmed deaths were both APTX deaths, of kokosei-tantei who were clearly connected somehow… one was confirmed by Sherry, a traitor who escaped with some mystery man’s help, and the other was confirmed by Vermouth, who we have absolutely no reason to believe was telling the truth. Which means they’re alive… and that is a problem.”
“So what do we do, Aniki?” Vodka asked worriedly.
“We solve the problem,” Gin said softly, dangerously, clutching his gun in his pocket.
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“…was an example to us all,” the Commissioner said to those assembled. “His legacy of justice, I’m sure, will long outlive him, proudly upheld by his successor…”
“Do you have it?” Saguru hissed into his mobile.
Yuusaku-san’s just having a look at the password now. I have to say, I’m glad he came, you need a twisted, twisted mind to figure these out…
“… which is why, to Yamashiro Yuuta, I would like to say…” Yamashiro stood up proudly. Heizo tensed.
Got it! Oh, man, this guy’s going down forever…” Saguru nodded to Heizo, who leaned over to whisper in the Commissioner’s ear. The man nodded, and then continued talking.
“… that you are under arrest for the murder of Hakuba Keiso,” he finished, nodding to Heizo, who cuffed the bastard as his jaw hit the stage.
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Kaito burst into laughter, slipping away from the murmuring and confused crowd, trying to avoid catching the eyes of Aoko and Akako, who were standing at the edge of the crowd, one crying, the other only watching the arrest through narrowed eyes. He couldn’t help loving the expression on Yamashiro’s face as the cuffs went around his wrists. “See, the cops can be sneaky bastards too…” He glanced up at the sky. “Is it raining? I thought it was forecast to be dry…
It was nice to see something going right; the world had been getting increasingly bizarre for the past month, so much so that he had genuinely not been surprised that Edogawa Conan would happen to be Kudo Shinichi- it certainly explained a lot about the freaky kid. He felt proud that the arrest had gone off without a hitch, the murder being avenged. And with that bastard’s data, they’d have dozens of others in custody in no time.
If they get Snake and his pals too, it’ll make tomorrow night a lot easier on me,” he thought, strolling on, looking like any normal commuter. “It’s doubtful, but… well, fingers crossed. I can work with them being there, after all…
He had a plan for getting into the museum tomorrow; risky as hell, entirely dependent on the fact that the only people who’d be able to see through it would keep quiet, but hey, since when was he known for playing it safe?
The big problem’s that it’s a new moon tomorrow night,” he thought with a frown, “Which means I won’t be able to check it… it’ll be hidden for a while. Still, actually getting to it before Snake does is the priority. Then… maybe I oughta talk to Kudo again… I wonder how his memory’s doing?
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“Nnn…” Shinichi slowly blinked awake, trying to make sense of the jumble of images that had flashed through his head. He’d remembered something about… “Eta”…
“Then it’s time for a story. This story starts ten thousand years ago, when the holy jewel Pandora fell to earth. It was found at the bottom of a crater in the middle of a forest. It was found by a girl… a young lady named Eta.”
A hand around his throat, something bitter but sweet pouring down his throat, like the reverse of a temporary cure, freezing everything as it went, and a long period of cold followed by a terrible fever…
Strange images danced before his eyes, and he tried to scratch them away, scratching them into the dirt, feeling his mind slipping away bit by bit, desperate to leave a message…
And Eta was there, like she’d always been, a cooling hand on his forehead…
“Is Ushi coming?”
“Not anymore.”
There was someone else, a ghost, a vaguely familiar face, following Eta, calling, apologising…
Then blankness…
“Eta… and Ushi…” he muttered. “Was that… when I was kidnapped?”
“Shinichi? Oh, thank Kami.”
He glanced over. “Ran…?”
“You collapsed, do you remember?” she said, her face pale.
“Unusually, yeah,” he said, smiling a little, trying to cheer her up. “I just… that word, Eta, it was a really strong trigger… how long have I been out?”
“You were out for the rest of the day, and all night too- I just came over again this morning,” Ran said, indicating the clock- he was in his room. “You missed Hakuba-kun’s father’s funeral, but it went all right. Yamashiro was arrested, and your father cracked a lot of his computer passwords, so they have some invaluable data- people are still being arrested as we speak.”
“I was out for that long?!” Shinichi said in surprise. He was even more surprised to see a couple of futons taking up most of his floor.
“Hattori-kun and Kazuha-chan are staying here for a while,” Ran explained. “For official purposes, Hattori-kun’s father is staying over at Hakuba-kun’s…”
“All right…” he sat up, hopping out of bed.
“Are you sure you’re all right?” Ran said, standing up.
“I’m fine, it was just information overload, that’s all,” Shinichi insisted. “I remembered… sort of… some of the stuff that happened when I was kidnapped. Koizumi-san was right, Vermouth made me drink something, that must have been Amnesial… there was also a story about the people who found the Pandora ten thousand years ago… Eta and Ushi. I can’t remember clearly, but I think… I think I saw Eta, though I can’t remember her face. I just remember seeing someone and knowing, somehow, that she was Eta…”
“She’s still alive?” Ran gasped.
“If Pandora really does grant immortality, then no wonder,” Shinichi said. “I would find that bizarre if my bizarre scale wasn’t completely and utterly totalled by now…”
They were heading downstairs, hearing voices in the living room. Shinichi was surprised to hear how sternly his father was talking… and also Jodie’s voice, terse and angry.
“What’s happened?” he asked, sticking his head around the door. The three adults glanced around, Yukiko looking confused as to whether or not to cry.
Cool Kid,” Jodie greeted him. “How’re you doing?”
“Are you feeling all right, Conan-kun?” Yuusaku asked. Shinichi got the message. “She doesn’t know. Probably why Hattori, Kazuha-san and Haibara have all made themselves scarce…
“I’m all right, bits and pieces of my memory coming back,” he said. “Jodie-sensei, did something happen?”
“Do you remember who Vermouth was?” Jodie asked. Shinichi nodded, then froze.
“What do you mean by was?” he asked tentatively.
“I got a call from Kir,” Jodie said. “She’s dead. Gin shot her in the early hours of this morning.”
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Betcha didn’t see THAT one coming, huh?
Yep, that was a breakthrough, FaithlessGirl… still smiling?
Good thing you no longer have to wait as long, Mel72000!
Who can, FHP2208? XD You’ll find out what I’m thinking eventually… maybe… I’m not done with death, as you can see…
I don’t know, KageNoNeko… was she a character you all cared about?
You’re close on the minis, Marie Ravenclaw… information overload, I’d say. Death is still around…
XD three chibis to huggle, Kairi922! XD It depends on the conversation that Toichi overheard… or misheard… I think this counts as a major breakthrough, don’t you? XD
Further freak-outs, Pretztailfan95! XD He still doesn’t quite know… HIVEMIND ALERT! XD Yes, I know I am… XDXD
*bows* thanks, HaibaraDaiFan! ^_^ I always reply. Unless I miss a review, which seems to happen sometimes 🙁 XD Shinichi fangirl XD It depends, but it’s not quite mind over matter…. Yet your chapters, when you produce them, are heart-wrenching or awesome or both ^_-
Lots of old reviews from StargateNerd… so true about Conan XD Nakamori Wrath vs Nakamori Wrath… XDXD
Ai will probably figure it out in due course, JapaneseAnimeFreak16… he’s getting more and more back, slowly… we shall see… yay, Nicole and Kayla are off my case! XD
All is forgiven, DiGi ^_- Whether the survival has to do with the prophecy or not has yet to be revealed…
Not quite, Hybrid Speed. XD I’ve finished the story already, I’m not going to change it to spite you… XDXD
It’s not necessary yet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but we’re getting closer to when it is…
I do not claim to own any of the characters in Meitantei Conan. They are the intellectual property of Aoyama Gosho. All characters, couples and locations, if Canon, will be faithful to the manga, so if you’re into fics with weird pairings like Shinichi and Heiji, the back button is at the top there. The fic may not make sense if you have not read up to chapter 698, which you can do at a site called (read between the lines) O/n/e/ma/n/g/a, but I advise you to buy the official Tankoban novels (up to volume 30 are out in English at the time of writing) so that Aoyama-sensei can afford to continue gracing us with his imagination. Now, I hope you enjoy the fic! (If you don’t, please see my previous comments re the back button).
The Grim Shadow