WOW we are here! Here is the OST: Moriarty's Theme, Hans Zimmer.

Also, the Japanese court system has three professional judges and three "lay" judges chosen from the public to review the case and vote on their decision of guilty or not guilty.


xiii. the return (?)

six months later

Shinichi adjusts his tie and suit jacket. The fabric is stuffy and his dress shirt underneath the jacket is scratchy. He rubs his eyes. It is far too early in the morning, but it's not like he was able to sleep last night, anyway.

The gate to the main hallway slides open, red lights flashing above him. From the other side of it, Takagi jerks his head to the side. "Let's go."

His footsteps echo down the hallway. Bright skylights and white walls blind him. Metal bars shake on his left and right; behind them, criminals clamor and jeer and chant in rhythm. Kudo, Kudo, Kudo. They all blur into streaks of orange against the empty white.

Tokyo Detention House held Karasuma Renya for twenty-three days while Megure, Takagi, Sato, James Black, and his parents took care of compiling all of the charges they could file against him. Afterwards, they kept him here for the past six months until today. Trial Day.

Judgement Day.

They reach the end of the prison hallway to a door marked Interrogation. Takagi glances at him, hesitant, before asking, "Are you ready?"

There's an ease and a layer of trust in Takagi's voice. Shinichi wonders, not for the first time, how much Takagi knows about him. He remembers the elevator, the bomb, and the policeman's question: Who are you?

It's easy to notice that a six-year-old boy he trusted disappeared the same time a high school detective reappeared. It's just a question of whether or not Takagi has the imagination to make that mental leap.

Shinichi straightens his shoulders and nods. Takagi opens the door.

Karasuma Renya sits there in all his glory, back straight against the metal chair, hands cuffed to the table. The orange jumpsuit doesn't suit him.

Takagi locks the door behind him and presumably goes to the other side of the one-way mirror. Shinichi sits down and waits.

The man's face is not a surprise to Shinichi. He has seen it many times through newsreels, his mugshot when James Black and Megure arrested him in his Tokyo penthouse, and the security camera footage in this very room.

Deeply sunken eyes, flicking back and forth, head almost always slightly tilted. Karasuma licks his lips, something that Shinichi has learned is a strange habit of his.

"So it's you, Kudo Shinichi," he says. "Finally, we meet."

"Why am I here? Do you have something to tell me?" Shinichi goes straight to the point. He doesn't want to spend a moment more than what he needs to with this man.

"Well," Karasuma says with a smile that is wide and unsettling on his narrow face. "Everything that I have to say has already crossed your mind."

"Then possibly my answer has crossed yours," Shinichi replies automatically, hating himself as he utters the familiar phrase. Annoyed, he fires back, "The game is over, Karasuma. I've had enough."

"I don't think you realize how much you've tried to uncover," Karasuma hisses.

"Is that why you've called me here? To try to scare me off on the last day of your life?" Shinichi hears his heartbeat very clearly. Perhaps taunting the man right to his face would be a bad idea. "By the end of today, you will be locked away in a prison far worse than this. No one will be at your beck and call. I'm going to make sure of that."

Shinichi's blood runs cold when Karasuma snickers like a first-grader. "By the end of today—no, actually, before four in the afternoon today, I will be a free man. And you will fear me, more than you've feared me for the past year."

The handcuffs clink against the metal table as Karasuma spreads his hands in an offering gesture. "Unless, of course, you stop now. I'm sure you know how generous I'm being. I rarely give second, third, fifth, ah! One hundred and eighty-fifth chances." He leans in, breath stinking of prison food and rot, eyes twinkling. "That's how long I've been in a cell. One hundred and eighty-five days."

Karasuma leans back in his chair, the picture of nonchalance. "There's only so much an innocent man can take," he says, pouting.

Shinichi's chair scratches against the floor noisily. His hand hits the table and the man doesn't even blink.

"You've blackmailed businessmen and politicians, and ordered the murders of those who turned against you and your organization. You've chased down some mysterious drug because of your 'research' on the reversal of aging, to race against the stream of time and give yourself more power. You've murdered hundreds just from testing those drugs. You are not innocent, and everyone will see that."

"What you do in this world is no matter of consequence. The question is what you can make people believe you have done."

Stop quoting Holmes, Shinichi screams in his head. "You already know I won't back away from this. I'm done here."

The chair scratches with an ear-splitting screech. Shinichi knocks the one-way mirror twice. He bites his lip as he waits for Takagi to let him out.

"It really was a pleasure to meet you, Meitantei Kudo-kun." Shinichi curls his hands into fists to stop them from shaking. Takagi opens the door.

"I'll see you in court," he calls back without a backward glance.

"I do hope that won't be the last time we see each other!"

Takagi slams the door shut and locks it. Shinichi licks the blood from his lips and runs his hands through his hair.

"You okay?" Takagi says. He hands out a water bottle to him, and Shinichi smiles gratefully and takes a long swig.

He wipes his mouth and it takes several tries for him to screw the cap back on the bottle. Vermouth's warnings ring in his mind nervously.

"When we get out of here, show me the judges again," Shinichi says. "Make sure all of their families are protected. Make sure none of them are dirty. Make sure he stays here."

~0~

Shinichi sits behind Eri for most of the trial. Ran, Heiji, and Kazuha are in the aisles of the courtroom. He refused to let them stand as witnesses. As far as what is on paper, as far as what he thinks Karasuma knows, the three of them were never involved with taking down the organization. Haibara is here as Ran's younger cousin who just had to tag along, wearing a mask and glasses.

When Eri calls him to the stand, he can see from his reputation as a detective, his popularity among the citizens, and the list of injuries Eri reads out from his time with Gin, that they have enough evidence to convince the lay judges to rule Karasuma as guilty. Of course, without the research files Vermouth stole and Haibara destroyed, there isn't any proof about miracle drugs. So every bit of that truth is omitted.

One look from Karasuma across the courtroom and Shinichi can tell he's delighted that his secrets are safe from the public.

The trial ends sooner than he expected. Karasuma's lawyer had no questions whatsoever for him, Jodie, or Akai. And the man only seems happy to be here.

~0~

It's half past three. Shinichi adjusts his tie in the sweltering heat of the courtroom. The panel of lay and professional judges has started to walk back in from their discussion.

One of them stands up, a professional judge named Mizuno Fusei, who meets his eyes first before moving her gaze to Karasuma.

Shinichi sits up, hands gripping the wooden bench he sits on.

"We have reached a decision. In a nearly unanimous vote," she takes a deep breath, "of which only I stated the opposite of the majority, the panel of judges has declared the defendant—" The woman looks at him, really looks at him, and that's when Shinichi's world shatters once again. "Not guilty."

The air is sucked out from his lungs. Time stops for Karasuma Renya, who looks behind himself to grin at Shinichi. His nose scrunches up and Shinichi can almost hear him giggling underneath his breath.

The outraged murmurs around him crescendo into clamors and jeers and chants. All Shinichi can hear is: Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty.

What now?

FIN. (?)


alright, alright, alright! That is it—I'm sorry it's a bit of a cliffhanger, but I have the outline of a sequel. Unfortunately, I have no idea when I'll ever have time to write it. For now, this is where it is. It's an ending, but an open-ended ending—the best kind of ending (*cackles in background*). The sequel has some loose ends to tie and some final final showdowns to take place. I am hoping I can make the sequel my (first) NaNoWriMo for this year!

Thank you so much for sticking with me through this journey - I left this unfinished four years ago, and now I've scrapped what I had, restarted it, and finished it in less than two months. Thank you for reading, commenting, subscribing, favoriting, following, etc., etc., etc. It meant a lot to me, especially during quarantine and trying to be in college right now. Thank you forever.

Stay safe, stay healthy, WEAR A GODDAMN MASK, and much love,

Lena.