(or, spooky action at no distance)
belated halloween-ish fic, aka questionably-serious crackfic with a heavy side of casual morbidity and inappropriate science. also entirely unedited phonefic which i refuse to even reread before posting. beware of character death (sorry shiho) and property destruction (not sorry). working title: the ectoplasmic method. this is what happens when grad school deadlines meet the looming shadow of finals? idk just have it anyway
Somewhere, in the cell of a singularly dismal back room –
A figure falls to slump against the wall, the handcuff on one wrist letting out the sad jingle of a clink as it takes on most of her weight.
The same somewhere, scant minutes later –
"Oh, bollocks," says a disembodied voice, two feet up and several inches to the left, with more heartfelt feeling than its owner ever really displayed in life. "This isn't even scientific at all!"
The first thing that Shiho does with her newfound freedom from both matter and gravity (along with most of physics and the sciences, really, natural or otherwise) is to float back out to the main lab, and sigh a non-essential breath of relief at the absence of a tiny horde of spectral lab rats scurrying about.
Admittedly the process of doing so is rather less smooth than imagination might suggest, with more error than trial in the grander scale of things, but such is the steady march of science.
Either way, some brief confusion of force and acceleration aside, the lab proves empty of any (other) less-than-corporeal entities.
Hypothesis: either said rats were once here and had since dissipated with the pass of time (because she refuses to use such a vague phrase as move on, even setting aside the question of whether it would even – theoretically – apply to animals of questionable self-awareness), or this… ectoplasmic… existence is yet another astronomically-rare effect of the apoptoxin.
Shiho's still mulling over the question when she reaches for the coffeepot from long habit…
…only for her hand to pass right through it. Predictably enough, in hindsight.
Her eyebrow twitches.
Revised hypothesis: the afterlife sucks.
The moment of decaffeinated betrayal is interrupted by the insistently loud tick of the wall clock.
Her baleful glare at it yields nothing much of use, since she hasn't had any way of reliably telling the time over the past couple days, given her spectacularly cozy accomodations.
If nothing else, it's probably going to be a couple hours until someone discovers her very dead body and alerts Gin, she thinks in no little vindication – followed by an itemised list of unprintably detailed expletives.
Because, in that moment of thought, she'd suddenly found herself elsewhere in a quantum blink, with no experience or memory of having crossed the intervening space.
And staring Gin almost in the face, no less.
Shiho definitely does not shriek as she throws herself aside, all the while cursing stupidly broken FTL teleports that didn't even have the decency to deposit her somewhere more pleasant. Like Majorca, maybe. Or even back to America.
…actually, on that thought – Shiho narrows her eyes in concentration.
Several (failed) attempts at geographically displacing herself later, she gives it up as a bad job, earmarked for further study. At the very least Gin didn't act like he'd heard any ghostly screeching that may or may not have happened, even if he also failed to display signs of the sudden chill – more's the pity – that featured so consistently in those terrible movies she'd had the misfortune of being coerced into watching by certain people one time too many.
Though she supposes that could also be due to the fact that she'd dodged with the express purpose of not having him walk through her. Not that intersecting spaces with a corridor wall had turned out to be a much more comfortable option, on the whole, but it's mostly a matter of metaphysical principle.
Either way. Shiho inches forward until she's no longer coexisting with shoddily-constructed cinderblock, all the while cheerfully ignoring whatever nefariously above-her-paygrade evil Gin is monologuing about to Vodka, over the increasingly loud click of heels.
…wait. Heels? she repeats mentally, before promptly noping back through the wall before she has to experimentally verify whether Vermouth, of all people, can see her or not.
Which is how she finds herself somewhere that looks suspiciously like Gin's dressing room, complete with shelves of overpriced hair product, full-length mirrors, and a wardrobe she assumes must be full of identical white turtlenecks and black trenchcoats.
"Hm," she says, aloud, as she sets to work. All in the name of science, of course.
(Careful recollection of events, multiple attempts, and a fair assortment of choice swears later, she figures out what her previous attempts at properly haunting ghosthood had been lacking: emotion.
Fortunately, she doesn't lack for any degree of anger in this circumstance. It still takes some trying to have the conditioner bottles explode messily rather than just fall off the shelves with a series of dull thunks, but eventually she manages it.
Though she limits herself to breaking only one mirror. Just in case the bad luck accrues to her instead of Gin.
Then again, she is dead. How much worse can it get, really?)
Armed with her newfound discovery, she attempts to teleport again. A few minutes' intense concentration on the comfortable familiarity of her lab brings her back to where she started, but thinking fondly of her doctoral research lab garners her nothing but a faint headache and an impending sense of hypocrisy.
At least she confirms that her body is still where she left it.
Honestly, she's almost unsure whether to be offended or not, Shiho thinks, as she watches the slow creep of rigor mortis across her muscles.
Unbidden, the lone photo from that newspaper clipping flashes to mind –
"…oh, come on!"
Look, it's not like Shiho can deny the miniature cataclysm of feelings surrounding even the echo of that image, but really? Really? After everything else she's tried?
And why to an elementary school, of all places? Jeez.
Shiho rolls her eyes at the corridor – which stands empty, this time – and swears off shattering any more mirrors before floating off again. There's an awkward moment when she vaguely recalls something about children supposedly being more sensitive to unscientific phenomena, though that's quickly falsified by the inhabitants of the first half-dozen classrooms she passes through, teacher or student alike.
Ironically enough it's the de-aged Kudo Shinichi who does react somewhat to her presence, when she finally manages to locate his classroom – and honestly, couldn't he have at least faked his way into a higher grade? Pretend to be very unusually short for his age or something? That can't be enjoyable at all.
Shiho tries to imagine herself stuck with this bunch of seven-year-olds and can't help a shudder, which is why she almost misses one of said children leaning slightly backwards in her seat to whisper far too loudly. "Are you alright, Conan-kun? Do you need a sweater?"
"No, I'm fine," Kudo-kun demurs, rejecting the profferred garment – quite rightly too, Shiho thinks, since that's just plain asking to be a vector for germs. "Just a cold draft, that's all."
He doesn't look even once in her direction, but relaxes visibly when she finally floats back out of the classroom to observe via a window.
Huh. Interesting. Maybe it's something about having seen too many corpses?
Shiho almost discards that out of hand on grounds of Gin, who had seen easily ten times as many dead bodies, most by virtue of having put them there by his own hands.
Admittedly, now that she thinks on it, it does seem entirely possible that Gin would not notice a localised drop in temperature due to being cold-blooded to start with, anyway.
She has insufficient data, she decides, and three working guesses: either Kudo-kun has seen too many deaths, too many corpses, or he's just looped into the same cosmic joke for having taken the apoptoxin as well.
History and statistics suggest that she'll eventually run into both mass murderers and homicide officers if she hangs around him long enough. Which leaves the third category quite unverifiable, but at least it'd make more sense than some high school detective managing to be the single outlier that should not be counted in any statistic, ever.
Though even waiting out the school day in the hope of some murders happening feels like an increasingly unattractive prospect, she thinks, pulling a face at the chalkboard's worth of mind-numbingly basic math when the bell stubbornly refuses to ring the end of first period.
She didn't skip through the first half of her education just to subject herself to it in death, of all things, and besides it's about time someone found her body anyway.
Shiho contemplates the hallway ceiling for a minute before managing to rebel further against gravity until she reaches the rooftop, already preparing to move herself back to the lab once she gets her bearings straight.
Then someone behind her gasps Shiho? in a voice all too familiar, and she –
Shiho isn't actually too sure what happens, in the following minutes.
Somewhere in the glassy shards of thought left fractured by her sister's voice is a swift-rising horror that it'd all been a lie – that the bullet which killed Akemi-oneechan was one she'd made with her own hands –
And maybe she says some of this out loud, maybe she doesn't, maybe it's simply that her sister has ever been the sole person in this world who understood her (even if she'd only realised that too late), but when the unrelenting static finally clears Shiho find herself not-quite hyperventilating on the rooftop of one Teitan Elementary, head spinning from the lack of air that she doesn't even need, and the one voice she'd never thought she'd hear again.
Even through the haze she can hear onee-chan saying things like it's not your fault, never was and Shiho almost shakes her head in reflexive denial, even as her mind whirrs back to that thrice-damned photograph and whispers agreement in logic, that death by apoptoxin is instantaneous and a gunshot wound would've left a significantly different blood spatter post-mortem, which meant –
"How are you here?" she chokes out, unable and unwilling to look up and meet those eyes. "If it wasn't the APTX – "
"APT– oh, is that the drug you were working on? No," Akemi says, with a sudden vindictiveness that startles Shiho into looking up anyway. "No, it was that utter scumbag Gin who shot me, you can take my word for that."
Shiho supposes that she must look unconvinced somehow, because Akemi adds, "I'd say that you could confirm with that little detective about that, but… well…"
Her gaze follows the wave of onee-chan's hand down to a cluster of small figures in the field, one of which is barely identifiable as Edogawa Conan, from this distance. It raises another dozen questions in turn, but still Shiho persists. "But how are you still here? Why haven't you… moved on?"
"Unfinished business, I suppose you could say."
Akemi-oneechan blinks at that, in some apparent surprise. "Isn't it obvious?"
Shiho shakes her head in full earnesty.
"Oh, Shiho," Akemi almost-sighs, as she floats over and – catches hold of her hands, with a bout of warmth against all logic, the first solid thing Shiho's felt since this all started. "It's you, of course, it was always you."
…her words won't work and either way she knows not what to say to that, so Shiho just stands (floats) there, gaping silently like an idiot.
Somehow Akemi-oneechan is still smiling. "Well, I mean – I did manage to track down Dai-kun by accident, and I've been keeping an eye out for anything around Conan-kun, you wouldn't believe the amount of trouble he gets into. But the only one I worried over was you, and yet I couldn't find you, no matter what I tried…"
Shiho tries – and mostly fails – to process all this, and pieces together the next logical question. "Then what about me?"
She'd thought that it'd been because of the apoptoxin, but that's obviously invalid now, even if it galls her to replace that with such a ridiculously nebulous notion as unfinished business –
"There must be something you haven't done, a wish you haven't fulfilled, or… well," Akemi pauses, and Shiho can tell just from the lilt of her tone that she's not going to like whatever follows next, "like I've always been telling you, maybe it's just that you need to live a little. Have some fun, you know!"
And Shiho surprises them both by snorting a laugh at that. "In that case, I've gotten a start on that already."
To describe Akemi-oneechan's expression as starry-eyed would not be amiss, nor her voice as a squeal. "What did you do?"
"…destroy all of Gin's hair products?"
"Really?! Oh my god, Shiho-chan, I'm so proud, I always knew you had it in you – "
listen i literally? don't even? know? i did not see this coming, no plans here only bad jokes