Gunshots and yells were all that filled the air, the very definition of chaos. People were shouting orders, others running around, guns gripped tightly in their hands, ready to be raised and fired at any moment. The men in black weren’t about to go down without a fight either, hiding in the shadows and showing themselves only to fire a few accurate shots that brought down at least 2 targets each time. It was a long and gruesome battle, and not one without bloodshed and fatalities on both sides. Though the Black Organisation fought back well, they were vastly outnumbered and eventually, there was only a handful of the codenamed agents left standing, forcing them to flee. Their enemies, fuelled by their hatred, instantly gave chase, unwilling to let them go.
“Ugh…” Shuichi had been prepared to join the chase, when he heard a pained groan from behind him. Looking behind, he noticed Jodie leaning heavily on the wall.
“Jo-” He was cut off when, with another pained groan, Jodie slid to the ground, her breathing laboured. “Jodie!” He was by her side in an instant, but just as he reached out to check for her injuries, his hands were swatted away.
“S-Shuu! You have to- go after them…!” Jodie urged.
“And leave you like this?” He shook his head.
“Chase them!” She grunted in pain, but kept her gaze firm. “I’m fine! It’s just my leg.” He frowned. Was it really only her leg? He couldn’t tell; the surrounding darkness made it hard to see any blood on her dark clothing. “Shuu! They’re getting away!”
“Jodie…” As if sensing the worry in his voice, she reached up and grabbed the collar of his shirt, pulling him down to her face.
“What are you hesitating for? You’re going to take down that Organisation even if it means sacrificing me, aren’t you?” She glared into his eyes with fierce determination before pushing him back. “Then go! Don’t you dare let them get away!”
“I won’t.” He swallowed with a slight nod as he eventually stood up. “Jodie. Don’t die.” She smirked at him.
“As if I have any intention of dying after coming this far.” Seeing that she seemed fine, still with a lot of fight left in her, he felt a little more reassured, allowing a small smile to grow on his face. He still didn’t like that he was leaving her alone, bleeding and vulnerable, but knowing Jodie, she’d be able to handle herself.
“Alright. I’ll come back for you.” Jodie chuckled.
“I know you will. Go get them, Shuu.” Nodding to her, he quickly joined the chase, guns at the ready. Left behind in the battlefield, surrounded by the corpses of enemies and allies alike, Jodie finally allowed herself to drop her act, letting out a shaky breath as the tension left her body. “…I’m a foolish woman, aren’t I? Acting so strong…” The moon chose that moment to shine over the area, revealing the blood soaking through her clothes and forming a puddle on the floor that was steadily spreading. Weakly, she raised her hand, which had been pressing onto the wound on her stomach, staring at the red that stained it, and couldn’t help a chuckle. “Really, if I could be honest…” She smiled up at the sky as tears welled up in her eyes, her voice wavering. “…I don’t want to die.” She choked back a sob as she stared back down at the blood spreading beneath her. “In the very least…I would rather have you stay here with me, Shuu. Then…it wouldn’t so scary to go alone…” She was so cold and tired, and she could tell that her body was already shutting down from all the blood she was losing and the pain, but she still forced herself to hang onto her consciousness as she pulled her phone out of her pocket. “…Shuu…” Reading the message once more through her drooping eyelids, she allowed the darkness to whisk her away at long last as her hand fell limply to her side, her finger resting on the ‘Send’ button.
His gun slipped from his hands and clattered loudly to the ground as he stared at the motionless bloodied body before him, eyes wide in shock and disbelief.
“Jo…die…” She had been fine when he left her. She said she was just shot in the leg. Had she lied to him? No. That couldn’t be Jodie. Jodie was going to be ok. He came back for her like he said he would, before he left–
His eyes trailed to the tear streaks that ran down her face. She had been scared, hadn’t she? She was injured and in pain. She knew she was dying. She lied to him – she was always like that, acting strong and hiding her emotions – it was just like her to do that, especially in that situation. He knew that, and yet, he still gullibly believed her. He had left her here to die alone.
His phone rang to signify a notification just then, catching his attention. He glanced to the screen, and seeing Jodie’s name, opened up the message. Attached was a recording, which began to play as soon as he clicked on it.
“Shuu… Having been able to work with you and being with you in my last moments… it feels like a dream. …A good one, mind you. I’ve never been happier to have met you. My only regret…would be not being able to tell you this directly. But I’d rather be a sacrifice than a burden, so I can only tell you like this.
Thank you for everything. The good and the bad memories, I’ll treasure them all. I love you, Shuu. Still do, and always will.”
Shuu, by the time you receive this message, I’m probably already gone. I’m sorry you had to find out like this, but I wanted to at least deliver my last words to you.
- Jodie <3
No, he swallowed hardly. That wasn’t right. He hadn’t been with her in her last moments. He had abandoned her to chase after the Organisation. Once again, he had sacrificed her for the sake of their shared goal, but this time, the sacrifice was far too big for the prize. And now, he had lost her forever.
Whoever was at the door was persistent and impatient, buzzing the doorbell repeatedly and relentlessly.
“Hang on, I’m coming already! Who is it, anyway?” As soon as the door swung open to reveal Shuichi, Jodie jumped, startled, her expression changing from grumpy to surprise in an instant. “S-Shuu? It’s rare for you to come over…and at this time too.” She added with a quick glance to the clock. Quickly taking note of his expression which strangely looked like relief (because what’s there to be relieved about?), however, a concerned frown came over her. “Shuu? What’s wrong?”
“Yeah?” She tilted her head curiously. “Ah, don’t just stand there, come in first.” She said as she urged him in, closing the door behind her before turning to him fully. “Now, what is it, Shuu? Did something happen?” Wordlessly, Shuichi just sighed and closed the distance between them, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his head on her shoulder. “W-Wait, Shuu? Are you ok? You’re acting weirdly…”
“It’s nothing…” He mumbled, breathing in her scent and feeling her heart beating nervously from his unexpected actions. Feeling her warmth, he hugged her closer, wanting to be sure that she was really there, well and alive.
“Nothing, you say…” How can it be nothing, when something has clearly gotten you so shaken up like this? She asked in her mind. After the fall of the Black Organisation days ago, she’d thought there would be nothing to fear now. Had she thought too soon?
“…Can I…stay over tonight?” She looked up at him, reading his expression, and then sighed, smiling to him.
“How can I turn you away when you asked so nicely?” She teased lightly, leading him to her bed. Having given him a more comfortable change of clothes, she laid down beside him and allowed him to pull her close to him. “Shuu.” She mumbled into his shirt. “I’ll always be here.”
“…Mm.” Shuichi’s only response was a low hum, which would’ve made Jodie shake her head at him if she could. Just as always… He just shows up here unannounced and does whatever he likes. But, she had to admit to herself as she snuggled into his embrace, feeling comforted by his presence as well, I don’t hate it.
“Hey, Shuu. Can I ask a favour of you too?” She took his silence as a sign to continue, and this time, it was her turn to grip his shirt. “…Don’t leave me alone in bed while I’m sleeping, ok?” His reply was to hold her tighter.
Shuichi woke up in the middle of the night, feeling a lot better than he did when he first arrived. Looking down next to him, he smiled softly at the sight of Jodie curled up beside him, her hand loosely gripping his shirt. Gently sweeping her hair away from her eyes, he spent a short while just caressing her face, watching as she slept soundly, looking content. It seemed like her contentment was contagious, as his sleep had been peaceful as well, void of any nightmares. Even that terrible nightmare from before feels like nothing more than a distant memory now.
Sliding silently out of bed and walking over to the balcony, he checked his phone, relieved to see the confirmation that there was indeed no message of last words from Jodie. With a small sigh, he popped a mint into his mouth and craned his neck up to stare at the moon. The full moon forced a sense of melancholy over him as his thoughts wandered to his quest of destroying the Black Organisation as revenge for his father, and everything he had to sacrifice for it. The days that followed after taking down the Organisations were eventful. First, there was the antidote for the APTX 4869, and then, not just him, but also Conan, or rather, Kudo Shinichi, had to come clean about their involvement with the Black Organisation. Ran and Shiho did not take the news well, so there was a period of cold war between him and Shiho, and Shinichi and Ran, until the latter of both pairs had calmed down enough to hear them out and reflect on it on their own. While Ran forgave Shinichi eventually, Shiho remained stubborn, though she admitted that she could at least be civil with him and that they’ll work it out from there, which was good enough for him. He and Rei had also gotten around to talking about their issue revolving around Hiromitsu, and have not quite entirely put their differences aside yet, but they were at least on talking terms now, which was better than before. Having met and talked to Hiromitsu’s older brother, Morofushi-keibu from the Nagano Prefectural Police, was also helpful in aiding them in coping with their loss and guilt.
Sometime before, he, Shinichi and Shiho had gone to visit Miyano Akemi’s grave, where he told Akemi of everything that had happened and reassured her that Shiho will be well taken care of by his family, who have already wholeheartedly accepted her into their family as their cousin. Finally allowing himself forgiveness afterwards, he left his guilt behind at her grave and started towards a new, better future. One of the first things he did upon forgiving himself was ridding himself of his aversion to Scotch, which had always reminded him of Hiromitsu, and the other was getting rid of his smoking habits, aware of how unhealthy it was. It was tough, but he had been getting a lot better with time. He was still not completely rid of it yet, of course – habits are hard to break like that – but he was smoking considerably a lot lesser now, so that was a step in the right direction. A whimper broke him out of his thoughts as he looked back to see Jodie, her form shaking in bed.
“Jodie?” He called out, only getting another small pitiful whimper in response. The loud ear-piercing scream that followed sent him leaping over the window back into the room and rushing over to the bed, where he was met with flailing limbs, throwing punches and kicks in every random direction as she fought against nothing. “Jo-!”
“Don’t go!” He flinched at the raw fear and desperation in her voice as she stretched her hand out, as if she was trying frantically to hold onto something, but was grasping onto nothing but air. “Dad! Mom! Don’t leave me alone!” Her anguished voice as she called out hopelessly for those long gone caught him off-guard, enough to distract him from a punch that was heading towards him. “Shuu!!!” He sat on the ground, stunned, an aching bruise on his cheek.
“…Don’t leave me alone in bed while I’m sleeping, ok?” The tear-streaked face of the motionless bloodied body from his dreams flashed in his head. This. This was why she didn’t want him to leave her side while she was asleep. He’d done it again. Just like in his nightmare, he had left her to face her fears alone. And perhaps, he thought as he remembered his prior musings, neither of the two was the first time. Taking the chance as her thrashing began to cease, he crawled onto the bed and tried to shake her awake.
“Jodie. Oi, wake up. Jodie!”
“!” Jodie woke up with a start, gasping loudly, arms outstretched, and collapsed into huge, wracking sobs. Shuichi instantly gathered her into his arms, with one hand on her head and the other on her back, and began soothing her cries. “S-Shuu…” She clutched the back of his shirt, as if he was going to slip away through her fingers if her grip loosened in the slightest, and buried her face in his shoulder. In response, Shuichi squeezed her tighter, silently cursing himself for making her feel like this. Like she was going to lose him forever, again.
“Sorry, Jodie.” He whispered into her ear. “I shouldn’t have left you alone.” For a long while, neither of them spoke as he embraced her trembling form, listening to her broken cries while rubbing comforting circles on her back.
“Shuu…” Jodie hiccupped as her cries began to slow, but Shuichi’s hold did not slack. “S-Shuu… Too tight…” She whined, patting his back lightly. With a sigh and a hint of reluctance, Shuichi pulled away, looking away, unable to meet her eyes.
“…I shouldn’t have left you alone.” He repeated softly, as all the times he’s hurt her flooded his mind. His heart sank with the realisation that he had yet to seek forgiveness from her for everything he had done to her for the sake of his goal. Their shared goal. And the worst part was that he didn’t even need to. Without him saying anything or doing anything, she forgave him in the end. Although they had mended their relationship, the cracks still remained, and he would not leave things like this.
“Shuu?” His mind made up, he looked to her and cupped her face with both hands, gently tilting her head up and meeting her tear-filled eyes with a firm gaze.
“Jodie. I promise you, I will never again make you a sacrifice.” He spoke with a low voice, his eyes conveying his sincerity as he tenderly wiped her tears away with his thumb. “I won’t ever leave you alone again. I don’t ever want to hurt you again.” As he spoke, he noticed how, while her cries had completely stopped, her tears continued to form and fall with every blink as she listened intently to him. It made him wonder, just how much tears did she have to stifle all these years, and how many times was he the cause of it?
“…50 50.” Her voice, slightly horse from her crying, drew him out of his thoughts. “If you really mean what you just said, then promise me that you’ll make it 50 50. Let me shoulder some of your burden, just as I will let you shoulder mine.” She placed her left hand on his cheek, lightly brushing her fingers against the bruise she had unintentionally inflicted on him, and he found himself instinctively leaning into her touch, but they kept their gazes fixed on each other. “I don’t want to be the only one being protected, I want to protect you too. Don’t leave me out of your plans. However big or small, let me be a part of it all. I have no need for promises which will have to be broken, given our line of work. We will do what we must to achieve our goals. I only need you to promise me to keep it 50 50.” Her eyes, though carrying the hurt she had suffered and the fear of being hurt again, also held her unwavering determination and understanding.
“I…” He swallowed and nodded. “I promise, Jodie. 50 50.” Just what did he ever do to deserve a woman like her? She’s such a strong woman, both inside and out, and he found himself amazed by it every time. And yet, this strong woman had been hurt and had to pull herself together all by herself countless times, many of which he was sure he had been the reason. Despite that, she still found it in herself to forgive him, willing to stay by his side and willing to let him stay by his side, accepting all the risks that came with it. She’s just too unbelievably good for him. Is she really ok with someone like him staying by her side?
“Don’t make that kind of face.” Hearing the familiar words he had always spoken being used against him, he just had to spare a brief moment to wonder just what kind of expression he was wearing. Looking up, he saw her giving him a gentle smile as she held out her right hand in a shape of a gun, aimed at the tip of his nose. “As long as you’re around…right?”
“Don’t worry. As long as I’m around, you’ll never have to do something like that. I promise.” He remembered the promise made that day vividly. It was so more than just a simple promise to never let her have to handle a hostage situation where she would have to take a life to save another. Mixed within it, was also his own promise not only to her, but also to himself, to be by her side for a lifetime. He had wondered if his message had gotten through to her, whether she really understood the actual promise he was making to her, and of course she understood, the smart woman that she is.
With that came the realisation that she had understood, and she had accepted it. Quoting the promise now was her way of reminding him that ultimately, it was her choice whether she wanted him by her side or not, and she had made her choice, so now it was only up to him to keep his promise. And he was never one to break promises. Shuichi let his lips curl up into a small smirk as he reached up and wrapped his fingers around her wrist.
“Yeah.” Pulling her down, just before their lips connected, he finished in a murmur, “I promise.”