Chapter 1: White lies
Two weeks where passed since that nightmare lasted for more than a year was officially come to an end. No more Organization, no more men black like crows with alcoholic code names, no more fear to be discovered and ending their days at the hand of criminals whose identity was unknown. The dreaded “Silver Bullets” had reached the heart of the bad wolves, deserving the craved victory. It was the beginning of a new life for everybody, as well as the end of a tragic story gone on long enough. They could return to their lives, aware that they would have never been the same but that on the horizon a better future was waiting for them. Nothing would have gone wrong anymore. However, there were still many questions to solve before the Organization and all that this had entailed were definitely close in a box that nobody would have opened anymore: one of those would have involved a confrontation difficult to support.
He took a long, last breath, before pushing the index finger on the doorbell of Dr. Agasa’s house. He needed to chase away the anxiety, because in front of her he should have appeared as certain and convincing as possible. Every little hesitation would have made his friend suspicious, considering that for certain things she had an infallible intuition.
After a few seconds the door opened, showing the figure of the scientist in the doorway.
- Goodmorning Dr. Agasa- he greeted him with a smile.
- Hello son! Please, come in. Did you need something?-
- Ai…well, I mean Shiho is in?- he asked, correcting himself in saying that name that for a long time had been the fake name of the girl.
He still found difficult to call her with her given name, because after all for him she would have been always Ai Haibara, the “child” that had shared with him that horrible experience more than anyone other.
- Sure, we are cooking curry! Do you want to stay for lunch?-
- No thanks, I have alredy a commitment- he answered in a rush, assuming an air not so convincing.
- Do you have lunch with the Investigative Agency’s Miss?- asked a voice with a familiar tone.
Not only her body was changed, but even that voice that previously was the one of a child (as far as Ai would have always kept the voice tone of an adult) now has become in effect the ones of a woman. And there she was that woman, in front of them, with her sadistic and jeering smirk, the arms crossed on her chest and the back leaned against the wall.
One thing that wasn’t changed at all? Her spooky sense of humor.
- No, and it’s none of your business anyway!- he pouted.
- She stood you up? It’s not a good sign…- she continued to fool him, proud of the effect she was obtaining.
- I see you feel good…- he laught at it.
If she had all that will to joke she should have been in a good mood for sure and that made is task even more difficult than it already was. He didn’t want to be the one who would have ruined her good day. He should have to sugar the pill without she noticing it, hoping that the good luck was on his side.
- Very well- she answered - It’s good to have your own body back-
- You’re telling me!- he nodded.
- No more chatting: why did you come here?-
There it is, the fateful question. It had arrived blunt and cutting, like a punch in the face. Maybe he hadn’t been watchful enough, maybe Shiho had already noticed his nervousness.
- Well, you see…the fact is that…- he started to stammer out, without recognizing himself in that behavior.
- Do tell, if you are hiding something spit it out-
- Of course you help people to let their hair down, eh?!- he retorted her.
- I don’t like to waste time, I get annoyed when people beat about the bush. Get to the point, Shinichi- she stared at him with that dark and inquiring gaze, that only her could made.
He swallowed loudly: that girl unnerve him. He has never upset himself in front of a corpse or a blood’s puddle, but in front of her he felt like a convicted at the gallows who wait to see his head tumbling down his body. Not for nothing she was growing up in a criminal organization.
After a long sigh, he decided to tell all. She was right, there was no need to continue to go round and round.
- Can you come to my house after lunch? There is someone who would like to talk with you-
- Someone?- she frowned - And who is?-
- Come and you’ll see- he smiled: now it was his turn to be mysterious.
- I don’t trust you, you have a strange face today- she pointed it out - So, who is this person?-
- I’m sorry, I can’t tell you- he shook his head.
- For what reason? Perhaps you want to get me into trouble?-
He perceived from her voice tone that she was getting annoyed. She didn’t love mysteries, especially if they affected her in first person.
- Of course not!- he reassured her - But I can’t tell you who this person is-
- It will mean that I won’t come!- she turned away from him assuming an haughty air.
- Don’t act like a spoiled child now!- he scolded her - Nothing will happen to you, you know you can trust on me-
- You say?- she turned her head a little bit to stare at him, narrowing the eyes - How can I trust someone who has all this secrets?-
He sighed: it was a hard match to win. If he was stubborn and obstinate, she was it at least ten times more than him. The only way to end that story in a short time was to compromise.
- Ok, I’ll give you a hint: it’s a person that you know and that helped us a lot during the conflict with the Organization-
He saw her making that typical expression that she did every time she was thinking and overthinking about something: maybe his strategy had worked.
After some seconds of reflection, a soft smile appeared on her lips.
- If your mom wanted to see me you could have tell me before!- she crossed her arms on her chest.
- Eeeh?!- he exclaimed stunned - What does my mom has to do with it?!-
- You said that the person who wants to talk to me helped us a lot during the conflict with the Organization and that I know who is, right? Your mom correspond perfectly with the description- she explained, sure of her deduction.
- O-oh…Yes, of course! You guessed right, eheheh!- he giggled scratching his nape, trying to appear the less nervous as possible.
Maybe it was better like that: leading her to believe that his mom was the person in question would have convinced her more easily. He felt guilty for that lie and he knew that when she would have discovered the truth she would have been furious, but he continued to repeat to himself that what he was doing was well-meant. After a life of lies, deceits and betrayals, his friend had to know the truth, no matter how it was sad.
- So see you later!- he greeted her in a rush, looking forward to go away and putting an end to that little theater.
- Wait a second Shinichi- she stopped him.
- W-what’s up?- he worried, fearing that she had unmasked his act.
- Remember that you promised me-
Her gaze had become serious, like he had saw it a few times, capable of penetrate into the soul and reaching the heart like a dagger’s sharp blade. She did it every time she was trying to say “I’m scared”, but she hadn’t the courage to say it by words.
He found strange to see it in that occasion so out of place.
- What?- he asked, not understanding.
- That you would have protected me-
He was surprised to hear those words, said long time ago when things were just began. The fact that she was still remembering them meant that she had put all her trust in him, considering him her hero. And now he was betraying her in some way. From life he had learned that sometimes to do something right you necessarily have to do something wrong before. The two faces of the coin were inseparable, although they were opposites.
He took a long breath, searching for the strength to lie one last time.
- Don’t worry, I would never do anything that might put you in a bad situation-
- I hope it- she coldly concluded, turning away from him - See you later-
Without adding anything, he greeted Dr. Agasa and walked out the door, bringing along his guilt. He knew perfectly that Shiho had understood everything. She had only pretended to lead him to believe that she thought that person was his mom, but probably she had already formed an opinion on who the mysterious person could have been. Those who had helped them “a lot” against the Organization could have been counted on the fingers of one hand, and even fewer were those who could have had a good reason for wanting to talk with her privately. The circle shrank drastically, without leaving too much doubts. His friend was anything but stupid, it didn’t take her long to putting two and two together.
He hoped that she would came to the appointment, now that she knew everything. With this thought in mind, he closed the gate behind him, homeward bound, where the person in question was waiting for news.
Behind his shoulders, in that house with an odd look, his doubts were confirming.
- You could have been more kind with him, there was no need to treat him that way- reminded her the scientist, continuing to mix the curry.
- And he could have avoid to tell a sea of lies- she replied, sitting on a stool and laying the head on the back of her hand.
- Lies? What lies he would have tell you?-
- Don’t tell me you seriously believed that Yukiko-san is the person that wants to talk to me- she glared at him.
- Why not? It’s true that she helped you after all, maybe she just wants to make sure that you’re ok now. She grow fond of you, you know?- he smiled.
- If she just wants to make sure that I’m ok she may well come here and see herself, without inviting me covertly at Kudo’s house for a “family reunion”!- she highlighted those last words sarcastically.
- Don’t be so hateful, I’m sure that it’s nothing to worry about! Shinichi will never expose you to big dangers-
- It depends…if the person who asked him for this meeting is someone who he swear by, he could do it without realizing it-
- Are you telling me you have figured out who this person really is?- he asked astonished.
- Of course I figured it out. There is only one person who could made such a request and who corresponds to the description that Shinichi did…- she said vaguely, closing her eyes.
- And who would be?- continued the Doctor, more curious than ever.
- FBI- she only said, standing up - I’ll take the plates, the curry is ready-
As soon as he crossed the doorstep, an appetizing smell tickled his nostrils. He smiled: he would never has expected that his “partner” number one in that ordeal found enjoyable to train his culinary skills. He had said that his mother was the one who had taught it to him, but actually it was something that he already knew for a long time.
He headed towards the kitchen, curious to know what his friend would have prepared for lunch. He found him to the burners, while he was mixing something that seemed to be a stew in a pot.
- You’re already back?- he asked him, as soon as he perceived his presence behind his back - How did it go?-
- I wouldn’t know- he admitted - It took me a while to convince her, she’s always so suspicious…-
- Will she come this afternoon?-
- I think so, in the end I leaded her to believe that the person who wanted to meet her was my mom, but I doubt that she bought it. I know her, she can’t be easily fooled- he shook his head.
- I’m sorry I put you in this difficult position- he outlined a fainted smile - Now I will have to do my best to get you out of this-
- I think it’s you who have to get out of this- he smiled back.
- I guess you’re right- he admitted.
There was a moment of silence, in which neither of the two dared to say a word. There were so many things to say, maybe too much.
- I think she will forgive you, Akai-san- he said finally - Maybe it will take her time, but when she will understand that you have also paid the price for your actions, so her anger will die down-
- I hope it is as you say, but I’m not so sure- he confessed, without showing no sign of sorrow at this.
- Come on, we defeated a criminal Organization, what’s a grim-faced young girl?- he tried to downplay, to alleviate that tension that everybody was accumulating.
In reply, the FBI agent smiled, hiding what he really felt in an unknown corner of his heart, that he had made impenetrable to anybody. The life and the job that he chose had forced him to be stoic at any moment, but he still remained a human being after all. And like everyone he couldn’t erase the mistakes he had made, he could just hope to not make them again.
- I see you prepared the lunch, but you shouldn’t have- he tried to change the topic.
- No problem, I’ve been a guest at your house for a long while, this is the least- replied the agent.
- It’s been a pleasure to help you and work together with you-
- I was thinking the same, young Sherlock Holmes- he stopped to mix the stew, turning towards him and putting his hands in his pockets, like he used to do - James and Jodie want you in the FBI-
- It’s a tempting proposition, but I think I will stay in Tokyo to be a detective-
- What a pity, I would have liked to continue to work together with you too- he admitted.
- I’m sure that there will be other occasions- he smiled - Two Holmes’s admirers never get bored!-
- Oh, that’s for sure!- he nodded.
There was another brief moment of silence, in which the agent turned again towards the burners and tasted the stew that was boiling in the pot.
- I’d say that it’s ready- he said.
- So I’ll prepare the plates- he headed towards the cupboard - The sooner we eat, the better. Shiho could arrive at any time-
He didn’t receive an answer to that sentence, he only heard in the background silence the pot’s boiling that was fading, sign that it had been taken off the gas cooker. Without bringing the topic up anymore, he set the table and had lunch with his friend, tasting that wonderful stew before the storm.