LostInTheDreams' challenge fic. 3,000+ words.
Ayumi Takes the Lead
"Shinichi-oniisan? Shinichi-oniisan, daijobu?"
"What… what happened?"
Opening his eyes, he sees his friend Ayumi kneeling beside him. No, wait, she was calling him 'Shinichi'…. That's right. He had taken the antidote the other day. He was back to being a teenager. He starts to sit up only to find he can't. His hands and arms are tied behind his back and the little amount he had risen is lost with painful results. The back of his head throbs and he feels he is going to be sick.
'Great,' he thinks, as lights flash behind his now closed eyes, 'I must have a concussion. Where did…? That's right! Those guys outside the restaurant!'
"Shinichi-oniisan, please, don't move too much. Conan-kun always said not to move people who were really hurt."
At that, he glances up at her. Her eyes, still a bit red, are determined and full of concern but lack any tears at the moment. He moves his fingers and cringes when it sends a tingling sensation up his arm.
"Ayumi-chan… do you think… you can untie these?"
"Ummm… I'll try."
She kneels and slides her hands behind him, helping him roll onto his side to give her access to the bonds. He feels her tug at several points before her shaking hands rest on his, and a drop of water lands on his finger.
"It's… it's too tight…. I'm sorry."
"Ayumi-chan, it's alright. You tried, thank you for that. Now we need to…. Wait a second… why weren't you tied up too? Were you injured?"
He closes his fingers around her hand, realizing how small she is compared to him now. He curses himself. He had been more attentive to the group when he was their age; now, ten years older, he's failing in that. He hears her move around to sit beside him and detects a small smile in her next words.
"No. They used the rope on you and the shorter guy told his partner that I was too small and 'just a girl so she couldn't cause any trouble anyway. Just leave her but make sure the teen detective can't move.' I'm glad they didn't recognize me as a member of the Detective Boys."
At that, he suddenly thinks of something.
"Ayumi-chan… do you… do you still have your badge on you?"
He listens as she sighs and sits next to his head.
"I do but… I don't know where we are and with Conan-kun back in America… his glasses were able to track these but he's too far away now. I always thought that he'd be there for me… that he'd… rescue me… like he always had…"
Hearing her close to tears, he lifts his head as much as he dares before he starts to feel nauseous and says the first thing he can think of.
"Conan-kun didn't always save you…"
"Yes he did! He-"
"I mean…" he cut in, "there were times you guys saved him. You guys were able to do things on your own, if he was hurt or unconscious. This is no different."
A few sniffles and he hears the confidence return as she exhales deeply.
"You're right. Just because Conan-kun isn't around to track us doesn't mean I can't try to contact the others. They may be able to figure it out…"
"Like with the kidnapper on Mitsuhiko's scanner."
"Yeah… I think there was a window over there…. It's too high to reach, but Conan-kun used windows to… I think it was… 'boost the signal'? I'll be right back."
He listens as she steps away and thinks back to how they got themselves here. It was just that morning, leaving the Mouri Detective Agency…
"Shinichi, I'm so glad you're back from that big case of yours… for real this time, right?"
Ran shoots him a look that promises a quick demonstration of her karate skills if the answer is 'no'.
"Yes Ran, I told you on the phone last night, over and done…. I'm back."
His smile convinces her and she turns her gaze to the sky. A sad, wistful look crosses her face and she isn't able to hide it.
"I just wish Conan-kun didn't go back to live with his parents… and you just missed him, they left the other day. It's a shame he couldn't have stayed longer."
"Conan-kun's really gone?"
The sad voice causes the two teens to stop and notice the three kids staring up at them. After getting the story from Ran, Ayumi looks over at Shinichi before tugging his sleeve and taking a step back.
"Shinichi-oniisan, can I… can I meet with you this afternoon? I… I need to tell you something."
After seeing Ran off with a giggling Sonoko, and figuring Ayumi had slipped away from Genta and Mitsuhiko, likely at Agasa's, Shinichi and Ayumi meet at a small restaurant. Once there, Ayumi proceeds to tell Shinichi how Conan-kun had been appearing to have a crush on Ran and that, with him back, did he think Conan-kun might consider her instead. He goes for a center choice of saying that he doubted Conan-kun would be back and that she was young enough to not hold out. That must not have been what she wanted to hear because she runs out of the restaurant and he quickly follows her. She turns and runs into a tall guy coming out of the alley beside the restaurant, causing her to fall. Shinichi comes up behind her and kneels to help her up. Glancing at the man, he spots the telltale bulge of a gun beneath his black jacket. His hands tighten for a moment before recalling that, thanks to a combined effort, the Black Org were done with. Unfortunately, Ayumi winces from the pressure and must have alerted the man that he had been made.
"What are you two up to?" he asks in a disarming voice, but Shinichi knew that he had to get Ayumi away before taking on an armed man. He goes to move her behind him when she is suddenly out of his reach. He turns his head in time to see a shorter man holding her around her waist with a knife to her throat.
"No heroics kid."
Ayumi suddenly cries out, "Shinichi-oniisan, behind you!"
Too late, he feels the blow to the back of his head and the last thing he hears is, "Damn, it's that high school detective."
Shinichi is brought out of his recollection by Ayumi crying out in pain.
"Ayumi-chan? Ayumi-chan! Are you-"
"I'm fine, I just slipped off this box. I couldn't get anyone…. I guess we're too far away for them to pick us up."
Her voice coming closer is accompanied by a click and a shaft of light he had disregarded as the sun is gone, plunging the room into near total darkness. How long had he been thinking…? There was still more light than this when Ayumi was over here just a few minutes ago. He was certain of it.
"Glad you're awake again. Are you feeling better now?" Ayumi asks as she kneels beside him once more.
Sleep? Oh that wasn't good. He couldn't afford that, not now.
"Ayu…Ayumi…chan." He takes a deep breath and swallows before trying again, "Ayumi-chan… don't let… me sleep. If I start to… wake me…. Keep me… awake."
Not good, harder to focus now…. They had to get help, and soon, before his concussion… no, couldn't think like that. She'd pick up on it.
"Shinichi-oniisan, what's the matter? My mom said sleep is good for you when you're sick and recovering… but you're not, are you? You're getting worse, aren't you?"
Figures, he taught them too well. If only he could stay focused, just a bit longer.
"Ayumi…chan… it's… nothing… for you… to-"
"Don't say it. When Conan-kun said that, it just meant it was really bad… when he was shot in the caves and he kept trying to get us out even when he was… bleeding all over…. Just don't. You rest… I mean, relax. I'll get us out of here… somehow," she adds quietly.
He watches her though lidded eyes as he fights to prevent himself from succumbing to sleep. She imitates the posture he had often used, placing one hand over her mouth and supporting the elbow of that hand with the other. He smiles, realizing that if she mimicked his actions, did the others do it too? They were not just classmates and even friends… they had learned so much without him really meaning to teach them. Perhaps they had the right to know the truth… after all; they had been in the danger with him all the time he was hiding from the Black Org. It would be safe now… and ease their minds… especially Ayumi… she deserved it if any of the kids did.
"Ay…Ayumi-chan. I think… you should… know something."
Ayumi looks over at him and drops her hands to rest lightly on his shoulder.
"Shinichi-oniisan… what is it? Are you hurting somewhere…"
"Don't say that!"
"Ayumi-chan… I mean… that's not-"
Shinichi closes his eyes and takes as deep a breath as he can, trying once more to get his thoughts to cooperate. His vision was blurring and he recognized each sign for what it was. He did have a concussion and Ayumi was right there, in danger. She had trusted 'Conan' to keep her safe… but 'Shinichi' was the one who had failed. One more breath and he opens his eyes to see Ayumi, staring at him, not scared about the fact they were prisoners, but worried… concerned. 'Yeah, she deserves to know.'
"Ayumi-chan… Conan-kun… he's… not really gone… just like… Shinichi was… never… really gone."
No… this was getting harder and harder. Ran knew the truth…. Granted she had walked in when he was getting the permanent antidote… she was able to say good-bye to 'Conan'… although she went along with the story to anyone else…. Ayumi and the kids didn't have that chance…. He was stupid not to at least say good-bye. Now… in a way… that wouldn't matter.
"Ayumi-chan… it's me. You said… Conan-kun… liked Ran. You were right… I did… and I do. You… Genta… Mitsuhiko… even Haibara… were all… great friends."
The understanding hit her faster than he thought it would… before he reminded himself once again that they had learned from him.
"Co…Conan-kun… was you?"
Shinichi tries to nod, but even that motion causes a wave of nausea to sweep over him. He settles for a small smile.
"Conan-kun was our age, how can that happen? And if you really were Conan-kun all that time, what about Ran-oneesan?"
"Ran knows… and I had… been attacked… and poisoned. It shrunk me… instead… of killing… me. It was… the night… you found… the pearl… inside the… roller coaster ride."
He was fading fast. No matter what, he had to get her away from these guys… now.
"Ayumi…chan… the window…. How high… is it?"
He closes his eyes, trusting her the way she and the others had trusted him. A moment later, her voice replies.
"Shinichi-oniisan? …I'd say it's just about your height. You may be able to climb out if you… if I can untie your arms. I'll try again."
He feels her hand on his shoulder, trying to get him on his side again, he goes to tell her not to bother but all that comes out is a groan. The hand stops trying to move him but it doesn't release him. He wants to open his eyes, but he knows it will be no different.
She stops talking and he feels her press against him, keeping him at an angle while her hands leave. He hears something that he can't quite identify… but he knows he should be able to…. What's going on? Next thing he knows, she's lowering him again, only this time there is something soft under his head. His curiosity gets him again and he opens his eyes a bit. Ayumi is still hovering over him, but there is something different. He thinks for a second, but that is a second too long. Ayumi's shakes her head and places a hand on his shoulder.
"My top… I had a shirt under my jumper. I put the shirt under your head because… the floor had… there was some…" Ayumi takes a deep breath and looks him straight in the eye. "There was some blood. I know you usually had us press some piece of clothing to a wound, but I can't hold you up so I thought…"
"Good job. That's the… righ' thing… ta do."
It doesn't register what she means for a moment. Yeah, he had come by because he learned the antidote was complete and wanted to be there. The two of them were supposed to meet up and…
"He knew too… didn't he? That's why he'd always hang out with you… he knew who you really were. And why he helped us try to beat you with the warehouse mystery. He's really good… do you think he'll find us? I saw him at Ran-oneesan's house."
"Yeah… he's good… but… no clues…"
He needed to do something… now, before he completely lost it.
"I'll get him one… me!"
Shinichi blinks. No way could she…. Where was she going? Ayumi moves away from him and starts going around the basement, grabbing random items and pushing others… creating a pile just beside and under the window. She starts placing things around and on top of a large box. She looks over at him and smiles.
"You saved our lives many times… took many risks…" She looks up and climbs on the first few items, nothing he can make out anymore. "I'll bring help… I promise."
He goes to move, to stop her, but the dizziness and nausea force him back down on the impromptu pillow.
His eyes close briefly but the next thing he hears is the window being opened and a quick 'I won't fail' before the window shuts again. Losing sense of time again, the next thing he is aware of is heavy footsteps above him. Could Ayumi have brought help already? The door swings open and the bright light hurts his eyes even with them closed.
"I won't fail."
Ayumi takes one last look at Shinichi-oniisan as she climbs out the window and closes it quietly. She hears voices from another open window and what she hears chills her to the bone.
"You sure this will work? He may be a teenager, but he's really well known… not to mention his parents."
"Can't be helped, they saw me leaving. If it were just the girl and some random guy I wouldn't have been too worried but I know he knows I had a gun. I saw it in his eyes. We get some money from whoever will pay… maybe get some info out of him about the police… see if we've been suspected for any of our jobs… then kill 'em. No one else saw us grab them so, if we're in the clear for the others, we cut this Meitantei outta the picture and we are still golden… with whatever extra money we make in the meantime as a bonus."
"Well, I'll make the calls, do what you want."
Ayumi starts running away from the house… angry that she left Shinichi-oniisan behind with those men but knowing that it was the only way to save him. He was hurt… badly. She was certain of it. Conan-kun was never that slow at thinking up ways to escape or noticing when something was different. She started tearing up but she shook her head and wiped them away. She couldn't break down… not yet. A few blocks later, the sound of a motorcycle causes her to duck inside a giant recycling bin. The motorcycle passes her and, just as she goes to stand, the squeal of tires cause her to duck again.
"KUDO! YOU AHOU, WHERE ARE YA!"
She stands up just as Heiji-oniisan comes to a stop in front of her. He raises the helmet visor and she sees he's wearing Conan-kun's old glasses… the tracking glasses… HER BADGE!
Heiji-oniisan goes to get off, but Ayumi jumps out of the recycle bin and runs over.
"You need to help Conan-kun. Please, hurry."
"Hey, Conan-kun's in America-"
"I mean Shinichi-oniisan. I know you know they're the same person! He told me. He's hurt… talking funny. They have him tied up, but I managed to climb out a window. We have to go now! I heard the guys say they would get some money for him and get some information out of him before… they said they would kill him."
Before she finished, Heiji-oniisan had pulled out his phone and passed her a helmet. She stops when she finally sees him on the phone.
"…right, Megure-keibu. I'm going on ahead."
He clicks his phone off and shoves it in his pocket. He reaches out his hand.
"I figure you learned from him an' won't stay put anyway so I guess ya comin' with me?"
She grabs his hand in response and finds herself pulled up in front of him. She remains perfectly still as he revs the engine and pulls out.
"Tell me when we get close… I don' want them ta hear us comin'."
She is startled for a second before she realizes the helmets must have something like the badges that lets them talk to each other.
"OK." A moment later, "There! That one with the tree next to it."
Heiji-oniisan cuts the engine and they coast into the driveway of the house next door. He turns to Ayumi and passes her something. It's a watch… Conan's watch. She looks up and Heiji with a question that he answers before it can be asked.
"Kudo talked me into takin' it. He had Hakase make one for each of us. Different designs for the girls… they were gonna get them tonight. Anyone comes near ya, use it. And before ya ask to come, you gotta wait here ta flag down the police when they get here. I gave a general location, but you gotta point them to the right house… can ya do that? "
Ayumi takes the watch and gives a quick nod. Heiji-oniisan nods and heads to the window Ayumi said she had escaped from. She watches him crouch to the side and peak in. He stands and rushes to the open window and crawls through…. She thinks he looks like he's shaking but he was a great detective… like Conan-kun… or Shinichi-oniisan. Nothing scares them… but… Shinichi-oniisan had seemed… she couldn't think like that. Heiji-oniisan had gone in there… he'd be fine… Heiji-oniisan would save him. She clenches her fists and looks determinedly down the road, waiting for the police.
Shinichi squeezes his eyes shut at the light and hears slow, steady footsteps… and a laugh that he knows doesn't belong to any 'help' that Ayumi would have brought.
"Imagine, running into the Kudo Shinichi. I'm sure you know that you're not ever leaving here alive. Hey… where's that girl?"
Shinichi feels a fist close around his shirt front and he is jerked upright. He fights to maintain consciousness when a hand slaps his left cheek, stinging but effective at pushing back the blackness at the moment.
"Oh no ya don't, I want you awake…" Another impact follows, this time to the other side… he feels his lip split and tastes blood. His focus is dimming but when he cracks his eye open he sees the man spot the pile under the window.
"So… she escaped. No matter, you're the one we want. I must say… I'm gonna enjoy this."
He sees the hand be pulled back and closes his eye, hoping to brace himself as best he can. When it hits, he inadvertently groans. The hand releases him and he drops to the ground, landing on his left side. A kick rolls him onto his back and the guy crouches next to him, shoving his knee into his rib. Shinichi opens an eye again, trying to figure out what he wants. A shadow crosses the open doorway but Shinichi figures it's the partner.
'Great… survive the… poison… and running… from Them… only to… get taken out… by these two… gomen…. Ran….'
He closes his eye and darkness begins to drag him away. He is faintly aware that he suddenly doesn't feel the guy's knee anymore. Not wanting to know, or feel, what they will do next, he hopes he passes out completely soon. A few grunts make it through his clouded mind and he wonders what they are doing. Next, he is being grabbed again… no… not grabbed. It's gentle… two hands easing him up and a support against his back as he is held against someone. His head starts to drop forward but now one of those hands are on his forehead and he feels something soft to the back of his head… pressure… and a new voice. Not one of the two that had kidnapped them… he knows it… the accent… he feels his head leaned back against a shoulder, keeping the pressure on the back of his head. Two hands brush against his arms and he hears the first distinguishable word from the person behind him.
Shinichi almost smiles, but he can't even get his face to do that. A small movement does elicit a groan as he starts to tip to one side, but the hands are back… well, one hand and one… wrist? What is…
"Relax Kudo, I got my knife out, you'll be free in a sec. Damn it, you just love doing this to me, don't ya?"
Moments later, with blood rushing through his arms again, his face decides that this is an expression it will do, a pained grimace and… not a sob. No, just a gasp… relief… that's it. The hands are running up and down his arms… helping a lot with the renewed blood flow. Then… sirens… and more footsteps overhead… a lot… too many. Shinichi turns his head, trying to get away.
"Damn… here, stop moving."
The hands are now over his ears… not gone… but the sounds are much more manageable. A cry, followed by a 'What are you doing?' causes him to try to open his eyes again… or at least one of them.
"Shinichi-oniisan, don't… it's too bright… you'll hurt your eyes again."
Two small hands cover his eyes and he's finally able to smile.
Shinichi wakes up in a hospital room and automatically reaches for his glasses.
"Ya don' need 'em anymore"
"You don't need them now, remember."
He looks over and sees Hattori and Ayumi by the left side of his bed. Ayumi must be on a chair because she's leaning over the bed. He smiles and starts to sit up only to have both of them reach forward, Ayumi putting her hand on his leg and Hattori coming to his side and putting both hands on his shoulders, easing him back down.
"Don't bother Kudo, you're staying put."
Shinichi opens his mouth only to be cut off.
"No. I'm gonna go get the doctor. Ayumi-chan, you keep him down."
"Count on me."
Once he leaves, Shinichi looks over at the girl who is staring at him sadly.
"What's wrong? You did a great job… I'm fine thanks to you. And if it's about my being Conan… I couldn't say anything because it was-"
"Too dangerous. Hattori-kun told me everything."
She smiles at his expression.
"I can only use it if it is just us…. He said that… because you called us both 'Tantei-san', he said we were equals… I mean… you considered him and me equals. I wouldn't…"
Shinichi smiles and reaches his left hand forward. Ayumi takes his hand and he tugs her up. She climbs up on the bed and crawls over to kneel by his side.
"I won't be some mystery to you… or the others. Genta and Mitsuhiko… and you… you three may choose what to call me in private. And after this… I doubt anyone will question if you want to use Shinichi-niichan or just Niichan in public."
Ayumi's face lights up and she leans forward, giving him quick kiss on the cheek, much like she had done with Conan a few times.
"Good-bye Conan-kun… hello Niichan. Can I just be Ayumi then? You don't use an honorific for any of the others. Or was it just because you didn't want to make me think Conan-kun liked me back?"
A chuckle causes them to look over at the door where Hattori was standing with… Ran?
"The doctor said he'd be a minute… there was an emergency call, he'll be here soon. Oh Shinichi, I was so worried."
Ran came around and sat on the other side of him, grabbing his right hand.
"Ran… why worry? I had two great detectives on the case," he says, motioning to Ayumi and Hattori.
A/N: FINALLY! And my family are sneaks. LostInTheDreams issued this challenge fic and today, before I finish it… SHE SHOWS UP AT MY HOUSE! AND MY MOM, MY SISTER, AND THE TWO OTHER FRIENDS THAT ARE STAYING HERE KNEW! Well, she will likely have read this before I post it but wow… I think I did a good job doing a Shinichi and Ayumi mystery. Please let me know what you think. Also, feel free to imagine what you will about what happens around this. No plans to do more and I need to work on Chapter 14 of 'The Stranger' so I hope this holds you readers of that over for a little while.
Two quick clarifications: 1. While Ran found out about Conan earlier, I have her talking about Conan leaving and missing him. Twofold reason. The general public doesn't know so in areas where Ran and Conan walked a lot it would stand to reason she would talk to Shinichi as though he missed out saying good bye to Conan, just to keep up the façade of him being gone for a case (and that the case really was done). Also, it's a true statement, Ran missed 'Conan' as a little brother. Even though it was Shinichi, 'Conan' had a unique place that even Shinichi being back as 'Shinichi' can't fill. I had it in my head but watching LostInTheDreams read it I realized that might seem like a contradiction.
2. She said she didn't know what I meant by 'alerted the man that he had been made.' It is an oft-used phrase to say that… in layman's terms 'he got busted' or 'he was figured out'. It means he was alerted to the fact that the teen had seen the bulge from his gun and recognized what it was.
Any other questions, just ask.
EDIT: It's late Sat/early Sun (8/28) and I'm watching Irene heading toward us. I realized my busy week entertaining a Midwest girl (she might hurt me for that one :) ) by showing her a bit of New England has kept me from actually getting this up. Not sure if I'll have power in the morning let alone internet so I'm getting this up now. Enjoy and I'll do my review replies when I can.