"What will it be, Sherry? Your life?" The cool barrel of a gun presses against her forehead and it takes everything within her not to flinch back when cold green eyes flick behind her. "Or theirs?"
A soft whimper sounds from one of the kids and Shiho lets out a snarl at Gin, too furious to be afraid of her tormentor.
With the rumours of Kudou-kun sudden return from when he was in Kyōtō spreading like wildfire, despite it being put to rest— the Organisation's second-in-command; the ever elusive Rum, had ordered elite agents to track down leads regarding the detective.
And what better way to start than to go to the people closest to Kudou-kun. It's even more of a pain since Rum is meticulous and paranoid; using connections to have the Suzuki family invite Kudou-kun's friends and family to a gathering at Haido Hotel as a means to monitor and eventually, take them hostage along with all the important people that the Suzuki family are connected to as a means to further their agenda.
Two birds with one stone.
Initially, they were all separated into certain groups; CEOs, celebrities, athletes, so on and so forth. It was misleading since it gave the impression that it's done by a greedy criminal group that Kudou-kun seems to attract. Or even a rival company of the Suzuki family looking to get rid of the competition. Those kind of idiots are easier to handle than the threat They pose. Of course, it's just her luck that both Gin and Vermouth are amongst the agents sent to this particular task. But it's not her that They are hunting down; not after 'killing' her on the Mystery Train all those months ago. It should have been a relief to know that she's not the target.
Until her mind realised how carefully all the people in attendance are selected. They are all the people who are close or connected to Kudou Shinichi in some way or another.
Shiho wants to face palm so badly when she figured that part out. Honestly, that reckless idiot is going to be the death of her one of these days.
They want to draw out Kudou-kun by taking all those he cares about as hostages. Brilliant.
Shiho has had her suspicions before but this proves the fact that Rum really is a bloody bastard.
Considering that Kudou-kun is one of the key players to finally bring Them down once and for all, Shiho obviously can't let Them dispose of Kudou-kun or the people here. So she makes her choice. Considering the circumstances, Shiho finds that the best way to protect Kudou-kun and the people they both care about is to have the Organisation shift their attention elsewhere; on a bigger target than Kudou-kun.
And who better to be it, than Sherry?
As far as They are concern, while Kudou-kun is a famous high school detective, he is still just a teenager and an unfortunate witness to Gin and Vodka's deal at Tropical Land. Herself, on the other hand? Well, she knows things that not many in Their ranks know about, mostly in regards to That Person's obsession with the Apoptoxin and the lengths he'd take to achieve it. And that includes orders and experiments that not even Vermouth knows about. It should be a terrifying choice; sneaking away to take the temporary antidote and revealing herself to Gin of all people.
Honestly? Shiho is too numb and furious to even be afraid.
From her peripheral vision, Shiho can see that Kudou-kun is white as a sheet. She worries if the brunet is even breathing considering how still he is. It's the first time that she's ever seen Kudou-kun so terrified but then, she can't blame him. All the people he's sworn to protect are hostages to Them right now— Shiho would be surprised if the detective isn't at least a bit afraid.
"Shouldn't that be obvious, Gin?" Stepping forward so that the muzzle is pressed more firmly against her forehead, she glares up at the assassin. "Leave them be and I'll come quietly."
Vodka chuckles at Gin's side, a constant shadow. "No can do, Sherry. Got orders to dispose of a certain detective."
"Fool," she drawls out with a scoff. "That detective you're searching for is dead. You're wasting your time."
The gun barrel almost cuts her skin from the sudden pressure as Gin levels a smirk at her. "Hoh~? And how can you so sure, little traitor?"
"Simple." Despite her old fear, Shiho doesn't look away from Gin. "The one who confirmed his death on the database and performed his autopsy— was me."
There's a pause before Gin lightens the pressure. "Explain."
"Aniki," Vodka implores, a skeptical frown on his face. "She could be lying."
Shiho lets herself smirk. "I'm not. Blood and DNA samples can prove that. Along with the autopsy report I wrote up for the subject."
"Then why is Rum so hellbent in finding the brat if it's confirmed that he's dead?"
Huffing, she gives Gin a pointed glance. "The reports are only accessible to That Person."
"And why is that?" Vodka demands while Gin sighs, before he finally pulls the gun back.
"Because the brat's results are what the Boss is looking for." Gin raises a brow at her. "Isn't that right?"
Shiho nods, relieved but still on guard. "He came closest out of all the test subjects, yes."
Sirens wail from the distance. Shiho wonders if it was Bourbon or Rye (despite Kudou-kun's best efforts, she's not fooled. She would recognise the man who her sister loved anywhere after putting him under surveillance for so long) who tipped the authorities. Either way, she's grateful. There's no need for Rye to blow his cover and come back from the dead as well; Okiya Subaru is just a graduate student after all and should stay that way until the moment is right.
From a nearby window, Chianti curses aloud and tears away from her rifle scope. "Cops are surrounding the place. Shit tons of 'em too. Let's just take Sherry and go already."
"But that detective brat!" Vodka protests, looking between her and Gin.
"Is dead," she repeats firmly then, tilts her head with a widening smirk. "Or did you forget who was the one that created the poison in the first place? I know very well how effective it is."
The sounds of shouting and ricocheting bullets are edging closer and a quick glance to the side shows her the desperation in Kudou-kun's eyes as he tries to think of a way out for everyone. Rye is much the same, looking ready to pounce on the nearest grunt at a moments notice. Even Bourbon appears to want to jump into the fray despite being a NOC.
Shiho makes her choice and steps closer to Gin. "Keep me alive and I'll prove it to Rum myself."
Shots fire, terrified screams cut through the air as people curl up close together.
Shiho drops to the ground with a grimace, mouth pressed tight from the pain, twin bullets dug deep into her things. The carpet underneath her is getting soaked from the blood streaming out of the wounds.
Even through the pain, she can see Kudou-kun struggling to free himself from Mouri-san's hold, glasses askew and snarling hatefully up at Gin.
"Leave her alone!"
Exasperated, she turns her head to pin Kudou-kun a reproachful glare. "Shush now, brat."
"Brat trying to play superhero or something?" Vodka comments, coming closer to haul her up. "Ya know him?"
Shiho hisses, the wound searing into her. As expected of Gin. He aimed at the right place to make sure her legs would be useless; making an escape impossible for her.
Knowing that she has to be careful with her words lest they pay too much attention to the too clever child, Shiho shrugs with a breathless chuckle. "Just a brat that I just met tonight that likes quizzes too much." Shiho feels her lips twist into an apologetic smile at Kudou-kun. "Guess he's a bit angry that he won't get the answer to the quiz I gave him. Don't worry, brat. You're almost at the right answer."
The permanent antidote is almost complete and with the instructions she left for the Professor and Kudou-kun in case of emergencies like this, they'll be able to finish it even without her.
Kudou-kun's expression blanks for a moment until he connects the dots, before it turns absolutely livid. "I don't care about that, you infuriating woman!"
That's hard to believe, considering how much the detective likes to beg for an antidote.
"Rude brat," she comments with a pained chuckle, shuffling forward and bites back another hiss when Vodka shoves her. She's caught by the one woman she had hoped she'll never meet again.
The cold smirk Vermouth gives her brings a chill down her spine but she endures to edge closer and whispers furiously to the other woman.
"Protect him, Vermouth."
"Of course," the pale blonde says loftily, smirk taking on a condescending edge. "He is the precious Silver Bullet after all."
A snarl on her lips, indignation and protectiveness flaring. "He is not a pawn to your sick games."
"How noble of you, Sherry." Vermouth then passes her back to Vodka. "Let's hurry up, now— before our uninvited guests come barging in."
There's a commotion behind her, and she sees one of the locked double doors to the dining hall straining to be broken down from the other side. Guns still trained on the hostages by the grunts, Shiho snaps off a pained yelp when she's unceremoniously hauled out by Gin towards the only other set of doors.
"Let me go, Ran-neechan!"
Shiho watches as Kudou-kun; pale and terrified trying to claw his way out of Mouri-san's protective hold, hand outstretched and reaching out for her.
Unbidden, a smile curves along her lips and Kudou-kun stops struggling, blue eyes wide and glassy as a tear streams down his face before his mouth parts.
Despite the fear that's finally creeping in, she continues to smile, eyes flitting to all the people she cares about.
Agasa-hakase. The Tantei-dan.
Her gaze finally lands back to a stricken Kudou-kun and she allows herself to show how much she cares for the detective (is it love? Shiho isn't sure but she does know that there's no other man as incorrigible as Kudou-kun). She doesn't break eye contact even as the doors close shut behind her.
But I'm not.
She's led to the only working elevator on the floor with Gin while Vodka waits for his turn with the grunts. Once the doors slide closed, she's shoved against a wall with Gin's gun back on her forehead.
"If neither Rum or myself are satisfied with your report, Sherry..."
The threat goes unfinished but it doesn't take a genius to figure out what will happen. And just like that, the old fear is returning with a vengeance and she shakily nods, trembling.
Gin steps away from her and she lets out a quiet sigh of relief. Shiho tries to distract herself from the pain of her wounds by looking up at the floor numbers as they make their descent.
Seven, six, five—
Don't run away from fate, Haibara.
Cold sweat dribbles down onto her chin and she feels her lips lifting into a wan smile. Of course the voice of the boy who inspires her to live would snap her out of the despair that's threatening to swallow her whole.
No more running. She has people that she still needs to protect. There's still so much to do before Shiho can rest her weary bones. Until the day comes where she doesn't have to be afraid of every shadow that lurks in the corners, she will continue to fight.
I won't, Kudou-kun.
But more importantly, she will survive and live.
Gin throws her a sharp glance. "What?"
"You gave me two choices." Blinking sluggishly up at Gin, she gives him a deadpanned stare. "There's actually...three."
Looking as if he's actually humouring her, Gin scoffs. "Is that so?"
"Yes." Shiho sways as her vision swims from the blood lost but she has to do this. It was hasty but she didn't reveal herself to Them unprepared. "Me." A finger points to herself then, to the elevator doors. "Them."
A scream; more surprised than pained resounds in the tiny space of the elevator as Shiho digs the syringe deeper into Gin's jugular. The toxin has an instant numbing agent that she's been experimenting on in case if she ever runs into Them. Never before has she ever been grateful for her paranoia that she even thought of bringing the damnable thing tonight.
Gin roars, eyes so wide that there's barely any green in them. "Sherry...!"
"This is for all the people you've hurt," she hisses into Gin's ear.
Gin takes a swipe at her and she dodges in time, only to cry out in pain when she hits the floor hard. Not a second later, Gin descends on her, hands wrapped tight around her throat with a mad grin.
Gasping, she claws at Gin's eyes and hears the satisfying grunt of pain. There's a clatter and she doesn't even stop to think as she grabs Gin's beretta and takes aim.
"This," she chokes out, firing at Gin's chest; at exactly where Onee-chan was shot at, "is for my sister!"
Though he stumbles, Gin presses a hand to his chest and lunges at her. Shiho tries to scramble away but her legs are useless and she's lost too much blood to even think of overpowering Gin. They struggle against one another and her eyes blur from the pain and fear; from the sheer frustration of it all. Enough. No more. She's made the choice to live and she is going to continue on living because she…! Is. Not. Done!
"And this…!" The effects of her toxin is finally taking effect and she levels the gun to Gin's forehead with a grim smirk. "This, is for me!"
The shot echoes long after it's fired and she coughs as Gin slumps on top of her, the assassin's blood and brain matter soaking her clothes. Eyes burning, she blinks up at the ceiling as the elevator doors slide opened.
"Goodbye, Gin." Shiho places a hand on top of blood matted silver hair, tears streaming down her face. Relief and grief war in her. Although there's no love lost between them, Gin had been a companion of sorts and maybe some part of her had wished that Gin was someone that could've been saved. "May you burn in Hell."
Reaching a hand out to stop the doors from closing, Shiho quickly shoots the panels to make sure it won't go back up to be used as an escape route for any of Their agents. Ripping strips of cloth from Gin's coat, she wraps up her wounds and crawls out of the elevator. Shiho tries to be careful not to leave obvious trails of blood in her wake but she's not sure if she succeeds. Dragging herself to the nearest break room, she manages to find a first aid kit and proceeds to take the bullets out, lest the apoptoxin causes more damage than help in closing her wounds once the antidote wears off. Once done, she rehydrates herself from the water dispenser and a chocolate bar from the fridge.
Hiding herself in a nook at the far corner of the break room, she holds onto Gin's gun close and waits for the apoptoxin to take affect. Shiho isn't sure for how long she hides, blinking in and out of consciousness until she hears a pair of footsteps getting closer. Hotel staff? Or perhaps one of Them? Maybe Gin's corpse was found and They are looking for retribution?
As whoever it is comes closer, Shiho takes aim until familiar sneakers come into view. The rest of the body follows soon enough to show the shrunken form of Kudou Shinichi with his Tracking Glasses on. Ah…Kudou-kun must've tracked her down by following the signal of her Tantei-dan badge. And if Kudou-kun can actually sneak away to take the chance in trying to find her then, that means the hostages are safe. Thank goodness.
There's a smile on Kudou-kun's face as pure relief washes over childlike features, before Kudou-kun rapidly pales at the state she's in. "Haibara..."
"Kudou-kun," she mumbles back, and seeing the horrified look on Kudou-kun's face because there's no doubt the detective has already deduced what happened for her to be soaked in blood and brain matter, she lets out a tired sigh. "I am not sorry."
Shiho is well aware of Kudou-kun's aversion to killing but in this, she refuses to be ashamed of her actions. She does regret it had to come down to it but she's not sorry for making the choice in defending herself or those she loves from the monster that was Gin.
"I know…but, I am," Kudou-kun says, blue eyes terribly sad but lacking any pity or censure. "And honestly? I don't blame you."
That's unexpected. A relief but unexpected all the same.
"You should be with the others." Strength starting to come back, Shiho can already feel the apoptoxin reactivating and replenishing the blood she's lost. If there's one good thing about the poison she made, it's that it activates the necessary cells to heal wounds as time reverses back. "Go. I'll join you once the antidote wears off—"
She glances down at her blood soaked clothes and feels her shoulders drop. "— and wash up as well."
"I'm not leaving you."
"Kudou-kun…" Shiho sighs, head rising up to give Kudou-kun an unimpressed stare.
The glare Kudou-kun sends her is stern and perhaps even a little terrifying. "I. Am. Not. Leaving. You."
"Fine," she eventually grits out, turning away to lean her head against the wall. "But stay away, I'm filthy."
Ignoring her warning, the idiot has the gall to plop himself beside her. "Don't care."
"…you did not just called me that."
"I so did."
Steam rises as the antidote starts to wear off, and Kudou-kun finds one of her hands to grasp in his own as her body spasm with the familiar pain of being shrunken ten years younger than she should be. Shiho appreciates it, clutching Kudou-kun's hand to help anchor herself from being washed away from the pain.
"Thank you," Kudou-kun whispers once the transformation subsides, voice hoarse and still holding onto her hand like its a lifeline. "For protecting everyone I care about. Protecting me. I…just—" Kudou-kun ducks his head, tone hushed with heartfelt gratitude. "Thank you."
There's guilt mixing in with the gratitude of Kudou-kun's voice. That won't do. While the circumstances were dire, Shiho was the one who decided to reveal herself for being alive. True, she's a target again. But honestly, she's too tired in being afraid all the time and thinks it's best to let it be. With Gin dead, she has a better chance in protecting herself and others so she supposes in retrospect, it's not a too terrible situation to be in.
Shiho flicks Kudou-kun's forehead, smirking at the yelp the detective lets out. "Wasn't even a choice."
"Yeah?" Kudou-kun rubs his forehead with a scowl, brow raised. The guilt in his eyes have lessened from indignation. That's good. "What, like I'm a fact?"
"Exactly that." At the stunned look she receives, Shiho lets her smirk turns teasing. "No matter how absolutely exasperating you are."
"Like you're one to talk," Kudou-kun grumbles out, before his face softens as he folds her hand into his grasp with both of his own. "You should know that it's mutual."
Shiho lets out a very unlady-like snort at that. "As if you'd choose me."
Kudou-kun's priority always has and always will be Mouri Ran. Anybody with a working braincell knows that.
"Oi, oi, you did say it wasn't even a choice for you." There's something like hurt in Kudou-kun's eyes as he looks at her. "What makes you think that it can't be the same for me?"
Shiho honestly doubts that Kudou-kun would ever choose her if there's ever a situation that calls for it and— that's not even adding to the fact that she doesn't need Kudou-kun to play her knight in shining armour. But the hurt in Kudou-kun's expression is making her feel guilty so she decides to humour the detective, looking away as she does so. "...I see."
"Yeah," Kudou-kun whispers, determined and ever stubborn. It makes Shiho feels a sliver of hope in Kudou-kun's words before she quickly locks it away.
There's no use to think about things that aren't meant to be.
Once she's washed up and changed back into the clothes that she wore earlier that night...or is it morning now? (which Kudou-kun was kind enough to retrieve for Shiho before searching out for her), Shiho shuffles out of the restroom and gratefully lets Kudou-kun guides her by the hand back to where everyone is. Thankfully, the apoptoxin has healed the majority of her wounds, including the bruises around her neck. Shiho knows it's a relief for Kudou-kun as well since he had flinched so badly when he first saw it. Kinda odd since Kudou-kun has probably seen far worse; being a homicide detective and all.
"We're gonna live, y'know? All of us." Kudou-kun turns bright, determined eyes to her and says firmly. "Both of us."
Lips quirking into a wry smile, she tightens her hold on Kudou-kun's hand. "Together?"
"Always," Kudou-kun promises, grin rivalling the sun that's peaking over the horizon as they walk out of the hotel.
Shiho laughs and follows Kudou-kun into the light.