Title: In Your Memory
Word Count: 1500
Disclaimer: Aoyama invented the experimental drug Detective Conan. I still haven’t found a cure.
Spoilers: Up to File 826
Characters/Pairings: Miyano Shiho, Miyano Akemi and Akai Shuichi
Notes: Shiho remembers Akemi’s daring childhood offering and decides on her own. Based on the Florence + the Machine song, “Only If For A Night”. manycases1truth: #10 – Tradition
Dedicated to Ran-dezvous. This was a tricky piece to write in terms of Japanese culture and the Miyanos’ mysterious history. Please forgive any inaccuracies and review!
In Your Memory
A narrow strip of sky filled the shaded alley with light, reflecting on numerous puddles scattered around the feet of Miyano Shiho. She would have felt trapped in a no-man's land between heaven and earth if not for the mud left behind by the earlier summer storm. Ignoring the distant roar of passing car engines, she stirred a puddle with the heel of her pumps and, resting her hands against the damp wall behind her, leaned against them to avoid ruining her dress. After years of filling her wardrobe with clothing in every hue, the memorial service for her parents and sister found her dressed head to toe in muted black. The irony was not lost on her.
She looked up and spied, among the many pigeons perched along the hall rooftop, a single crow. It stared at her and she stared back at it. Though she was grateful that Kudou and the professor offered to give her family a ceremony they had lacked for too long, the onrush of scientists her parents once knew and their interest in the daughter who continued their unconventional research despite such terrible odds overwhelmed her.
Worst of all, he was there.
The harshest pain seared her chest when watching people like Jodie Starling and Mouri Ran talk and smile with Akai Shuichi, the man she once knew as Moroboshi Dai and Okiya Subaru.
She clenched her teeth. How dare he? But deep in her heart nudged Akemi's voice, as if to chide her by saying, 'Little sis, are you planning to hang onto that forever?'
Observing the crow, Shiho shivered despite the damp heat. In other circumstances, hidden like this, she might have shrugged off her stiff jacket. Instead, she rubbed her goosepimpled arms beneath her sleeves just like she did on that vague day, so long ago, when Akemi fidgeted with her in the cafeteria of the crematorium and waited to learn what their new guardians planned to do with them next. Though the attendants they met were polite, they had left the preteen Akemi to mind her kid sister. This was a relief to Shiho who, at five going on fifty, felt self-conscious as she peeked at the rock garden view and picked at her food. The man in black who sat them down at a corner table had warned her to eat every grain of rice, but the topsy-turvyness of being shoved into pitch black clothes and going from home to hospital to crematorium had left the little girl unable to eat anything.
All of a sudden, without so much as a glance to see who might be watching, Akemi leaped from her seat and rose on tiptoe. Smiling, she lifted her arms as high as they could reach in a graceful arc.
Shiho unclenched her tiny hands from the itchy hem of her skirt and gasped. "No, stop! They said not to move!"
"Don't worry, little sis!" Akemi said, with a wink. She sank onto her heels and, lifting her left leg behind her, raised her foot over her head and caught her ankle in a feathery grasp. "That just means we can't run away. Nobody said anything about dancing!"
"B-but…." Shiho, who was glad that Akemi wore thick tights if she was going to bend like that, looked around the room. Though she did not know it at the time, the syndicate's dealings with the directors had given them space. Nobody seemed to be watching them. She pouted. Her big sister could be so weird sometimes. "Why are you doing that?"
At that, Akemi let her leg drop. She weighed her words and then gave Shiho a determined look, her decision made. "Mom and Dad aren't getting a funeral. No wake or memorial services or anything. That's why we're here. I overheard them decide that they're going to lie and say our parents were buried in England. A Japanese funeral would be too much fuss."
"Huh?" Shiho stared at Akemi, whose high ponytail was tied with a matte bow that drooped with sadness. For some reason, Shiho found it easy to understand many difficult things, but this was not one of them. "What's a funeral?"
"Simply put, it's a ceremony where everybody kneels, priests do lots of chanting, and everyone offers incense," Akemi replied, waving her index finger in the air as if proud of the opportunity to instruct Shiho. Looking down, however, she said, "But above all, it's a chance to pray for a happy afterlife for those who died. We went to one of those with Mom and Dad a couple years ago, but you were probably too young to remember."
Akemi resumed dancing, which took the form of barre exercises more than anything else. "Since Mom always liked it when I practiced ballet, I'm sure this will make her happy now. Oh, little sis!" Akemi said, clapping with a surge of excitement. "You should do something for Dad, like say your times tables. You already know all those!"
Shiho surveyed the cafeteria. A few of the people her parents worked with, the ones who always wore black, had returned and were glaring in their direction. Shuddering, she shook her head and stared at her plate. As she forced herself to finish her meal in silence, however, she watched Akemi continue her improvised dance. While Shiho admired her sister and longed to join her, a sense of impending doom gripped her fragile frame.
From that moment on, Shiho settled on doing as she was told and offering her parents the ongoing research on their drug, but she could not shake her restless fear for Akemi. It was an inner conflict that would last until the day Gin gunned down her sister.
Staring at the clearing puddles on the pavement as her mind drifted back to the present, Shiho tried to swallow and hold back the tears that rose against her will. She thought, with a grin, Even my body's rebelling now.
"There you are."
A harsh scent invaded Shiho's nostrils. Taking a sharp breath, she glanced toward the alley's left entrance and saw, of all people, Akai Shuichi. He wore a pressed suit and tie with polished shoes. Even his hair was trimmed for the somber occasion. Frowning, Shiho had to admit that he at least knew how to clean up. "What are you doing here?"
They held each other's gaze in silence, both knowing what her question truly meant.
"Everyone's arrived and they're ready to start," Akai said. "Except you."
"Just like you, to show up uninvited," Shiho shot back with casual ice.
Akai did not respond at first, but kept his unyielding focus on Shiho. His black clothes made his dark under-eye circles stand out all the more from his pale skin. They always had. "I'm not looking for forgiveness. I would ask for it if I thought I deserved it."
"Then what are you looking for?" Shiho analyzed his drawn face without success.
"Someone I'm responsible for, like it or not." Whatever emotions he felt were sealed behind his expressionless eyes.
"Responsible for?" Shiho snorted. "I'm not a child, Moroboshi-kun."
He was silent for a long time. Finally, turning on his heel, he said, "I know."
Shiho squeezed her eyes shut as Akai began to walk away, presumably back to Kudou to tell him and the others where she was, though she was sure Kudou knew that already. "Wait."
The soft thuds of his footsteps stopped.
When Shiho opened her eyes, she saw Akai had not only waited, but had turned back to face her. In a way, it made what she was about to do much harder. She scowled at him, wanting to hate him, wanting to blame him for the aching hole in her heart because Akemi was dead. But her sister's words came back to her loud and clear. 'I'm sure this will make her happy now.'
"I—I forgive you," she said, her knees shaking and weak, "Akai Shuichi-san."
Akai tensed, his eyes widened, and his mouth opened—slightly. Nodding, he turned around again. "You have guts, you know. Your sister would be proud."
As he walked back toward the hall's entrance, hot tears stung and slid down Shiho's flushed cheeks. It pissed her off.
Alone again, Shiho looked up as shades of wild orange crept into the sky. There was one, long-delayed duty she had left before following Akai inside. Shiho knew she could not dance well or with much grace because she had never tried it, but her sister had always enjoyed the rare occasions a melody escaped her lips. Calming herself, she stood tall, took a deep breath, and began to sing. Her song was not at all like a chant, but a children's song that she sang with plaintive, full tones. It floated into the air like incense.
"'Mother crow, why do you cry so?' 'Because I have seven cute children high on the mountain.'"
Only then did Shiho realize the crow had flown away.