In Vino VeritasAuthor:
Kudo Shinichi/Mouri RanFandom:
#6—the space between dream and realityRating:
Some OOC, and references to alcohol. And I don’t mean Gin and Vodka, either…Disclaimer:
All characters are the property of Gosho Aoyama. I claim none, I merely borrow them and dress them up in frilly smocks and make them dance to my ever-changing will like the puppets they are.
Sometimes it’s better not to know the truth.
I speak from my own personal experience, when Shinichi came back.
He just walked back into my world one day—kid you not. I mean, I got one hell of an apology. And I mean it was about as close to groveling as I have ever seen him get…and then he stood up and kissed me, and I punched him on reflex, and then it was my
turn to beg forgiveness. But I got another kiss out of the deal, so it wasn’t too
horrible of a moment.
Except for Shinichi’s bloody nose.
In fairly short order, life returned to normal, almost like what it had been before he had vanished. We walked to school together—he was playing a major game of catch-up to make sure he would graduate with the rest of us. But God knows he’s brilliant, so it wasn’t exactly a challenge for him. We argued about little things. I took swings at him on a regular basis for a wide variety of offenses. But now I got to kiss him, too. And that was nice.
There were two things that bothered me, though. First of all, despite all appearances, he had changed. He had changed a lot. It wasn’t anything physical, or even anything the average acquaintance would notice. But I know him better than that.
There were some little things, but the really big thing I noticed was that he seemed to have this fear of being alone, especially outside after dark. He no longer walked me to my door; at first, he would just make excuses about it, that there was something he urgently needed to do at home.
After a few times, though, I finally just asked him about it. He got very quiet, and I could see the shadows in his expression and his eyes. I didn’t push the issue, but I did wait at the gate to his house until he had disappeared inside before I went on my own way home. And he would call me later in the evening, not because he had anything to say, but because he didn’t want to be by himself.
It didn’t help any when Agasa-hakase pulled me aside when day and confided his own concerns to me. He told me that he had come out of his lab at late hours some nights and still seen lights shining in the windows of Shinichi’s house. As near as the doctor could tell, Shinichi was sleeping with the lights on, though I’m not sure how much sleep he was really getting; he always looked so worn.
It took me a few tries to get him to admit to anything, though. He seemed so ashamed. I can sort of understand why he tried to hide it—he’s always been a fiercely independent person, and he hates admitting to any sort of weaknesses. But this leads up to the second thing that was bothering me.
He wouldn’t tell me why.
No matter how many times I asked, Shinichi refused to tell me what had actually happened to him in all the time he had been gone. Especially when I asked him how he had actually gotten the information and evidence necessary for the big bust; I guessed it had all actually happened in the time after the phone calls had stopped. But I just couldn’t get him to tell me.
It hurt. I didn’t think Shinichi and I really kept secrets from each other. I mean, now I understood why he hadn’t really told me anything about where he was or what he was doing. If those goons in black had found him, they would have killed him. But he was still so secretive about the whole thing…
And I was so thrilled to have him back. And I noticed that he was watching me, not the same way he used to, not a concerned friend, but with this little gleam in his eye. Or the day we were walking home from school and suddenly his hand was wrapped around mine…
Yet I was still so curious. But it was always the same: a very quick topic change, a sudden bout of deafness, something shiny would catch his attention, or he would give me this very odd look, and quietly tell me that it was better if I didn’t know and not to ask him again. And for the moment, the subject would be dropped, no arguments permitted.
But there was such a profound change in him…I was going crazy not knowing why.
Well, I got my answer. It just took me a while before the real opportunity presented itself.
It was a while after he’d come back, and it was a day for celebration. Gin had been sentenced that day—even without anything else factored in, the murder of Miyano Akemi and the attempted murders of Shinichi and “Sherry” (and what a surprise that
turned out to be…) alone ensured that the bastard was never going to see sunlight again. Ever. The wheels of justice had finally turned in our favor.
Well, I got there…and found Shinichi finishing a bottle. I don’t know how full it was when he’d started, but the fact that he was chugging the last few gulps was enough for me. I flew into the room and ripped it out of his hands, but it was already empty.
It was at that point that I spotted the rest of it—the remnants of his “celebration” over Gin’s demise, I suppose. Or perhaps he was trying to forget something? I didn’t know at that point, but there were a couple too many bottles for my liking.
I yelled at him—a lot. I’d held my peace about everything for quite a while now. But seeing him like this…I just snapped. I’d watched my father drink himself stupid, and I hated it. He knew I hated it when Dad drank like that, and yet here he was, completely smashed.
I lost it. Completely lost my temper. He was not
going to do that to himself!!
And the whole time I was finally letting loose on him—and I was crying by the time I’d run out of things to say—he just stared at me with this blank, glassy-eyed look. Like he didn’t understand a word I was saying. For a minute, I was afraid I was going to have to call an ambulance. He was really far gone.
He mumbled my name, confirming what I already knew. While I was standing there, trying my hardest not to completely break down, this evil little notion took form in my mind, just niggling around and begging for my attention.
…I know it was wrong, what I did. I was really taking advantage, and that’s wrong. But…I needed to know what had happened. What had changed him so drastically? And he had changed a lot, no matter how much he tried to hide it from me. I just know him better than that. I had
I asked him again—what had happened to him?
…I wish I hadn’t.
There’s a saying: In vino veritas.
In wine, there is truth. I’ve also heard it said that both truth and courage can be found at the bottom of a bottle. Well, I got my truth. I got more truth than I bargained for.
He just sat there, slumped on the couch in a darkened room, and told me everything.Everything.
And I realized that he had been right the whole time: I was better off not knowing. But I couldn’t stop him now. I had asked, and by God, I had received. Some awful curiosity kept me glued to that spot. A morbid fascination with what I was hearing, and a desperate need to understand.
He began by confirming a suspicion I’d long since discarded—Conan. And it went downhill from there. Trailing them, the constant threat of discovery and the fear that upon discovery, it would be more than just his life on the line. At some point, they had figured out a way to change him back to normal.
That was when Conan had left, with the intention of coming back as Shinichi. But things had changed, the Bad Guys had reared their heads once more…and he and Hattori-kun had both been forced to flee for their lives, and for ours. I winced at that, remembering the many conversations Kazuha-chan and I had shared during their absence, far too many of which had ended in tears.
At one point, he recounted being shot one night and left for dead in the middle of an empty field in the middle of nowhere. All alone, unable to move, just sprawled on his back staring at the stars and feeling his life slipping away, hovering in that strange place between dreams and delusions, and the pain of reality. He had been rescued, of course—Hattori-kun had found him after a while. But that time, for however long he’d been out there, had left him terrified of being alone in the dark.
And, he said, all he could think about was me and how he was going to be trapped alone in the darkness forever and how he would never see me again.
It really was like listening to someone recounting a dream—or a nightmare. But I know it was real. Shinichi had lived
this nightmare. He was telling me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And it was horrible. He was so drunk, I don’t think he even knew what he was saying.
And in the end he did something that even I could never have guessed he would do—he cried.
I knew Shinichi better than anyone. I knew he was hurting…but I’ve known Shinichi my whole life, and I have never
seen him break down like that; that just wasn’t who he was. Yet here he was, crying like his heart was broken. It could have been that he’d really been holding that in for a long time and finally lost to himself. It could have been that finally having to face what had happened to him was too much. It could have been the alcohol taking over.
I felt so helpless; all I could do was sit there and watch and wait and listen. At some point, I really can’t remember when—I had dropped to sit beside him. When he broke down, I didn’t even think, I just reached for him. He put up all the resistance of a child being drawn into his mother’s arms.
And I cried too. For him, for me, for how stupid we both had been and for all the stupid crap that had happened to us. He was so broken—after he’d run out of words for his story, he just kept crying into my shoulder…begging me not to leave him in the darkness. I just held him, trying to think of something, anything I could say to make him understand.
Shinichi. Baka Shinichi…
We’re both idiots, aren’t we?
After a while—I really don’t know how long we sat there, but it was long enough that the sobs had receded to most hiccups and hoarse breathing—I realized that I was going to have to take charge. He was still drunk, and I was not. Therefore, it fell to me to make sure that he was taken care of.
Getting Shinichi upstairs to the safety of his own bed was a challenge. He’s skinny, but it’s all muscle, and he could barely even keep his feet under him. I hauled him up the stairs pretty much by my own strength alone, and then dragged him the rest of the way. I didn’t even bother with pajamas or anything, I just got him into bed and tucked him in.
It made me think of Conan, and that hurt.
But he just lay there quietly, watching me fuss over him, and then he caught my hand when I was going to straighten up. And he just held on. He wasn’t hurting me or anything, but he was holding on tightly enough that I couldn’t easily pull away. And it didn’t bother me at all.
Just as he finally drifted off, I swore I heard him murmur my name. “Ran…”
“Shinichi?” I asked.
“…love you…” he breathed as he finally fell over the edge into sleep.
That wasn’t the first time he had told me that. And still…
I sat and waited until he fell asleep, and hung around a little bit longer to make sure he was all right. But he was breathing normally, he didn’t seem to be getting sick. I didn’t really know what else to do. So I sat and just watched him for a minute, his fingers still wrapped possessively around my hand, a feeble attempt to prevent me from leaving outright.
He looked far more peaceful, curled up in slumber. I couldn’t quite stop myself from leaning down to kiss his forehead. I was sort of upset about the Conan thing, but for the most part, it just made me very sad, and in light of everything else, it just didn’t seem as important as it might have been otherwise. But hopefully, we had gotten this all out of our systems, and could try to move on with our lives. Together.
I came by again the next day, later in the afternoon. Sure enough, he looked quite a bit worse for the wear. He was probably praying for death and wishing for someone to turn off the sun when he woke up, given how much he’d downed the previous evening.
But he didn’t seem to remember a whole lot. He knew I had been there, and he recognized (quite sheepishly, I might add) that he hadn’t just overstepped his limits, he had left his limits in the dust ten miles back; he accepted my admonishments without complaint, and offered me a very sincere apology. I asked if he remembered anything else, and he looked confused, and then horrified and concerned—and asked if he’d done something he shouldn’t have?
I’m pretty sure he was referring to something in regards to my person—as in, inappropriate conduct. I pointed out that he was completely uninjured, which answered his question. He didn’t seem to remember telling me anything, so I let it go…
Although I do wonder. He had to have noticed that I stopped asking; he’s too observant to have missed something that obvious. And there are a lot of other things, really little things, that have me thinking he remembers more than he initially told me. For one, he doesn’t seem quite so afraid of the dark anymore. Maybe because he understands that he’s not alone there anymore?
Still, neither of us says anything.
If he really doesn’t remember telling me everything, and I say something, then that will just bring about a whole slew of new problems. I don’t want to take a risk and open that Pandora’s Box.
I wonder sometimes if Shinichi will ever get over this whole complex he has. He knows I can take care of myself, and still he feels the need to try and rescue me and protect me. I’m not a damsel in distress, and I’m not going to break from a little rough handling.
I’ll ask him about it eventually. Someday, when this is a lot further behind us and the wounds have healed a bit more. Maybe then he can tell me the whole story—without the assistance of alcohol.
Until then, I’ll just do what I’ve been doing: bop him on the head when he’s being a moron, listen to his cases and mystery babble (though he’s toned that down a lot)…and enjoy having him back in my life, and treasure the good changes that have come about. And hey—I can still kiss him whenever I want.
But I promise him this—and I told him so: I will personally beat him senseless if he ever pulls that kind of a stunt with the alcohol again. Ever.
Hey, someone has to watch out for him.PS. And Ran finally gets her POV fic!
This one…I don’t know. There’s so many post-series stories that picture everything as being all sweetness and light—I’ve written them myself. So I thought it might be interesting to take another course. I know this was probably horribly OOC, but depending on how things go…you just never know. Wound up a little weird at the end, but oh well.
And this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that when I have a bad day/week/month/life, I take it out on the characters in my fics and make them go all angsty to make myself feel better, nope, nope, nope! Nothing like that at all!! *grin* Thanks, everyone, and much love!!