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The Crow's Song

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It was twenty odd years ago when Kudou Yusaku emerged to the wider public. A Genius teen solving cases and later publishing mystery novels coveted by all. He began dating an aspiring actress of the same age, Fujimine Yukiko and married her soon after they turned nineteen and a year later they had a son, Shinichi.

What the people didn’t know that the man’s roots were deep and buried into the nefarious underbelly of the world. People didn’t know he was the heir of Karasuma Group, Karasuma Yuuto, and the boss of people nowadays referred to only as crows or by their alcoholic codenames. Yusaku hated the legacy he had inherited. Hated what it had become. Karasuma Renya had originally founded the organization in order to cull and control the criminal underworld. To keep a tight rein on the darkness. But they’d expanded. Too rapidly. They’d become too uncontrollable themselves. And Yusaku wanted to take it all down.

It had been a stroke of luck really. Yusaku had made acquaintances with Vermouth and gained the woman’s trust. Through her, he’d met Yukiko, the woman’s daughter who’d lived her whole life in Japan, out of the hungry gaze of media that tracked Sharon Vineyard’s every move. In America there was rumors about a daughter, Chris, but nothing concrete. Yukiko was safe from them to live her own life.

And to fall in love with Yusaku and become Champagne, the socialite and gossip gatherer. More than one blackmail case had been created with the information she brought.

What had been a small idea at the back of his mind, came to full bloom when Shinichi was born. Something so tiny. So innocent and pure. Yusaku barely wanted to touch him with his bloodied hands even though the baby was his own flesh and blood. And he could see the same thoughts on Vermouth’s face when the woman gazed at her grandson.

“I want to take it all down.” Yusaku said aloud in the safety of Kudou House when the well-wishers were gone. Yukiko’s high-school friends and the professor from next door being the last.

“Yuu-chan?” Yukiko questioned.

“The organization. Given the civilian lives we’ve crafted, it’s only a matter of time before someone decides to take us out pre-emptively. And the size and fracturing of the organization is such that the information might not even come to the top before the assassin is already on the move. And I… I can’t risk Shinichi like that.”

“Me neither.”

“You do realize that you can’t make a move in your current situation, right?” Vermouth pointed out.

“Yes.” Yusaku looked the woman in the eye. “Are you with us, Sharon-san?”

“I will. What is your first order of business, boss?”

The first act was killing off Rum. The man had screwed up just few months ago but only recently returned to Japan. Though the organization had covered up as much as they could, it was still a fact that the bodyguard Asaka was still alive somewhere and Rum had been chased down by some other person. Rum had come back from the mission with an injured eye, wounded pride and a lot of anger. It was very easy for Vermouth to kill him while making the rest of the organization believe that the man was recuperating somewhere. Yukiko took over relaying messages from the ‘Rum’ via emails in the meanwhile.

In the aftermath Yusaku found out that Pisco was stealing money from the organization and had been covered up by the late number two. It was worrying but not a pressing matter. Besides, the old man was holding Irish on a leash. Yusaku didn’t fancy having a rogue agent so soon. Irish had more loyalty to Pisco than to the organization and anyone eliminating the old man would face the younger’s wrath. And Irish was otherwise talented agent.

Someone sabotaged at the laboratory Miyano Atsushi and Elena worked at and made it go up in flames. Yusaku had an inkling that Vermouth was behind it but didn’t do anything other than ensure the couple’s two daughters were looked after.

Meanwhile Shinichi started kindergarten, made friends, prevented a kidnapping of one of those friends and was obviously ahead of his peers in terms of intelligence and skills even if social grace was lacking. Yusaku started to consider when to bring the boy into the operation. Not too early or Shinichi’s mental development would go horribly wrong. But not too late either. He needed a Rum, Yukiko couldn’t do that forever. She simply lacked the organizational and emotionally detached mind for it. She was much better with face to face interactions.

It was when Shinichi started elementary school, that Yusaku began taking him on real crime scenes. The boy had been getting bored at school and home both and Mouri Ran wasn’t always there for him since the girl had other friends too.

Then Kuroba Toichi arranged a treasure hunt of sorts for the kids. Yusaku knew the man. In two contexts really. One was Kuroba Toichi the magician and Yusaku’s good friend and Yukiko and Sharon’s mentor. The other was Kaitou Kid the Phantom Thief that was being gunned by one branch of the organization. He was Yusaku’s saboteur on the outside. And had been until someone sniffed out his civilian identity and caused the man to die during one of his magic tricks.

Yusaku, Yukiko, Shinichi and Sharon all attended his funerals.

Shinichi was ten when he demanded to be let in on what his parents did behind the scenes. Yusaku explained it all to him as much as he could, rendering the boy speechless and thoughtful.

“I want in.”

Yusaku froze. He wasn’t ready yet. Toichi had just died two years ago. It was too early for Shinichi to join in.

Then the boy presented his reasoning and promised to stay out of direct interraction with other members and only have access in files and information flow within the organization. Yusaku relented. They really needed all hands on the deck and Shinichi was more mature than expected. He understood the situation with startling clarity.

At age ten Kudou Shinichi became Rum. At age thirteen he pointed out a man in the files, Moroboshi Dai and said, he’d met the man during that vacation to beach and that the man’s real name was Akai Shuichi and who had been planning on going to United States to become an FBI agent.

That year, the boy watched closely the files and pointed out three more agents, two of them codenamed. Yusaku encouraged him to do what he thought was right. After moment of deliberation, Shinichi pushed Rye, Bourbon and Scotch to work together on most missions.

On the next year two tragedies struck. Scotch’s cover had been peeling off lately and the man had been showing signs of stress and depression. If the latest mission reports were any indication, the man was borderline suicidal and had made it only thanks to Bourbon’s interference.

In a bout of optimism, Shinichi put Rye to tail Scotch. It ended up in Scotch death. Despite what the incident reports from both Rye and Bourbon said, Yusaku and Shinichi both could read between the lines and see the truth. The incident shook the boy to the core and he started going through any ways that he could’ve prevented causing even indirectly the man’s death. Yusaku had to cut down that line of thinking quickly.

“We are all human, Shinichi. You are, I am, Scotch was, Rye and Bourbon are. We have emotions and that makes us unpredictable. And thus, we also make mistakes. We make errors. And sometimes those errors are irreversible. Learn from this but don’t let it weight you down. Now, do you know what to do about the two other agents?”

“Given the tone in their reports, not have them working together…” Shinichi replied woodenly.

“Good. I’ll find out if Scotch had any family left and see if I can discreetly help them through.”

Later Yusaku and Yukiko took Shinichi to Hawaii for a long vacation and taught him everything they could. Shooting a gun, acting, lying, driving numerous different vehicles… It seemed to distract the teen and calm him down as he gained more control and opinions to defend himself and freedom to move on his own.

When they returned, they heard that newly recruited Mizunashi Rena had exposed and killed another mole. Yusaku reluctantly gifted her the code-name Kir. She had arguably performed well and had more than deserved it.

Year later one of Rye’s colleagues from the States messed up and the double-agent had to go. The man had been a talented and valuable agent and Yusaku was sad to see him go after having him as a subordinate for three years. But all the same, FBI had valuable information and agent Akai was dangerous for the organization. A silver bullet, Yusaku called him in one conversation with Gin and received a scoff from the other man.

New York. During the past years the four of them had worked together and discreetly. But it was time to step up their game. Yusaku needed a man outside once more. And Vermouth wanted to shed her role as Sharon Vineyard. The rumors and occasional appearances as Chris had been kept up during the years and she was more than ready to step into those shoes.

It was meant to be a relaxing holiday for the Kudou family and Ran. And an opportunity for Shinichi and Sharon to meet and connect as grandmother and grandson before they’d become strangers to each other. Shinichi with his slowly but steadily rising reputation as a detective and Sharon dying and reemerging as whole another person.

Of course things didn’t go to plan. There was a murder. And another. There was alleyway in the rain and slippery fire-escape. There were goodbyes said.

“Why? Why did you save me? Why?!”

“Is a reason necessary? I don't know why you would kill someone, but as for saving someone...A logical mind isn't needed, right?” Shinichi smiled sadly. He’d known since seeing the man with silver hair that it was Sharon behind the mask but hadn’t gotten the proper chance to talk with the woman before she was fleeing – with a bullet wound on stomach no less. But now wasn’t the time. He needed to look after Ran. So he gathered the girl on her arms and made his final declaration. “Don’t bother. You’re injured. That must mean there are police nearby. If you fire a gun without a silencer, they’ll definitely come and get you… But I can’t do anything to capture you at the moment at the same time. I will let you go for now… However, I won’t show any mercy if I ever see you again… I will prove your cumulated crimes and evil deed with all evidences necessary. Trust me, I will definitely put you in jail for good!”

When the boy was gone, Vermouth smirked. Such a strong declaration of war. Just what she’d expected from the tiny boy who’d grown to have strong morals and great drive. He was just what Yusaku and Yukiko had hoped for. A true silver bullet.

“I can’t wait, Cool Guy.”

It had been a coincidence really. Shinichi hadn’t expected to run into Gin and Vodka at Tropical Land. Especially since the deal they were doing after the murder on roller coaster was definitely not something he had approved.

So he followed them after making sure to send Ran back home safely. He just was in such a rush to snap evidence for Yusaku that he belatedly noticed that Gin wasn’t anywhere near the scene.

He paid for that. Gin used one of Sherry’s poisons on him and he shrunk into a grade-schooler. This certainly put a damp into their plans but at the same time… Children generally heard things adults usually didn’t.

Sticking to half-truths was easy. Especially when there was no need to divulge the other half of information. Agasa knew that Shinichi was in deep trouble but had no inkling that Kudou family were deep in and high up with the ‘men in black’. Moving in with Ran was unexpected but at least this way he could keep an eye out and make sure that neither Gin, Vodka or any of their minions came to the detective agency with the intention to silence Ran too.

Meanwhile, Shinichi had a new routine to get used to.