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You'll always have my back

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Sonoko sees Ran fall and crumble. Her opponent stops in mid-kick and looks at the referee in confusion. He hadn’t touched her? Sonoko jumps up from her seat and runs to her best friend who has curled up into a tight ball and starts to shiver. The referee tries to talk to the karateka but she doesn’t react. A paramedic runs up while the audience starts to talk agitatedly. Sonoko reaches Ran even before the paramedic. As she touches Ran, wraps her arms around her shivering friend, she is suddenly flooded with panic, an incredible feeling of too much, too loud, too many smells, … just too much. Without even realizing what she is doing, she reaches out with her mind and holds on tightly to Ran’s senses. When the paramedic tries to shove her away to examine the karateka, Sonoko shoves back at the paramedic „Fugue“ she blurts out and immediately concentrates on Ran again.  

 

„Kid, I need your help!“ Conan tells the mailbox that he hopes will reach the thief. Haibara is sitting next to him, her fingers flying over the keys, researching possibilities. She scowls at the screen. The professor is on the phone with Shinichi’s parents. „Ran came online as a Level 4 Sentinel in the middle of her championship fight and Sonoko came online as a Rank B Guide to stop her fugue. …. Yes, with 5.000 people watching. They are both at the Tokyo Center now. Ran has three days to decide if she will bond with her.“ He listens intently. „You know how Sonoko’s parents are.“ he says with a sight. Conan can make out his father’s measured voice answering but cannot understand what he is saying. Agata nods once, twice, then rings off. „They’ll try.“ he tells Conan.

 

Kaito listens to tantei-kun’s message. He drums his fingers on the table. Just then his computer lights up with a Skype call from his mother. „To what do I own this pleasure?“ he asks as his mother’s face appears. Looks like she is sitting in some European café, he notes. He hasn’t expected her to call for another three weeks. Chikage grins wryly. „I’d like you to steal a person, for a change. Or rather, two.“ His answering grin vanishes the longer he listens.

 

Conan’s phone rings, the number is suppressed. „Tantei-kun, I’m sorry, even I cannot steal two gems at such short notice.“ the thief says without preamble. He waits patiently until Conan runs out of expletives. Kaito files away for later the astonishing fact that Conan’s repertoire of swearwords far exceeds a 7-year-old’s. „I can manage to hack into the surveillance system and disable the cameras. But even if I can get in and out, I cannot take them with me.“ He sighs. „If we had a week to plan this…“ His voice trails off.

 

Sonoko looks at her mother in disbelief. „You want me to bond to the CEO of Toroshima Industries and ask Ran to reject me?“ She remembers the guy well, it’s hard to forget someone who is that repulsive. While she suppresses a shudder, her mother tells her in a cold voice. „Since you are a Guide, you cannot inherit the company. This is the last thing you can do for the family, you’ve become worthless for anything else. Ran always was a good girl, so you have hope that she will not bond to you against your will.“ her mother continues. She nods once at Sonoko, then stands up, jerks her head at Ayako and leaves the room. Ayako quickly moves up to Sonoko and hugs her. „Don’t!“ she whispers urgently. „His last Guide committed suicide.“ Before Sonoko can react, her sister is gone.

 

Eri eyes the surveillance-cameras in Ran’s room without being too obvious about it, Ran notes absently. „How is Sonoko?“ she asks her mother.
„The family didn’t want me to visit her.“
Ran looks away, trying to hide her thoughts.
„Makoto-san sends his best wishes.“ Eri continues as if that was a normal thing to say in this situation. Ran tries to figure out the message. As she’d just ruined his chance of ever marrying Sonoko, the seemingly friendly greeting must be something else.
„Sonoko has been determined to be a Rank B Guide, so you can claim the bond, if you want to. Tomorrow at the latest. There are other Sentinels interested, if you are not.“ Ran nods. She is too tired after all the tests done with her to figure out what her mother is hiding behind her court-room demeanor. If a Sentinel claims a bond - claims a person’s life an angry sounding voice in her head corrects - they have to have sex to establish the bond. Shinichi she thinks longingly. There is not a chance in hell she can contact him while she is in the center. No chance to say goodbye before the fact. Her mother hugs her, holds her tight.

 

That evening, she finds a card on her bed. „You ruined her chance to inherit. Now don’t ruin her chance to bond with someone worthy.“ Though there is no signature, she recognizes the over-exact script of Sonoko’s mother. She is still staring into space when the night nurse enters on her regular round an hour later. „Hey, you need your sleep“ the nurse says in her typical, over eager voice and proceeds to move the cover up over Ran’s freezing body. „Do you need a sedative?“ As she tucks in Ran, there is a smell around her that reminds Ran of Shinichi. „We can disable the cameras any time, but we can’t get her out.“ the whisper is so low Ran nearly doesn’t catch it. „You must be KIDding!“ Ran answers „I might bond tomorrow.“ „Do that, darling.“ the nurse chuckles and leaves. With even more food for though, it takes some time until Ran falls asleep. She sleeps fitfully. In the morning, she doesn’t remember much of her dreams. Only Sonoko’s voice from last summer: ‚I’ll always trust you to have my back‘.

 

Eri is pacing up and down in Kogoro’s office. „I’ve never seen a law that incredibly shitty in all of my life“ she fumes. „What exactly do you mean?“ Kogoro asks. „Guides are submissive and should belong to someone strong.“ „No one should belong to anyone!“ Eri shouts at her husband. „Do you know what this bullshit does to our daughter?! She already ruined her best friends life and now she has to decide if its less damage to claim her herself or not. Without a chance to really ask.“ Eri’s voice is shrill and piercing.

„She should claim her.“ a female voice states firmly. Both Kogoro and Eri swivel round to look at the intruder. Eri blinks as she recognizes the women. „Suzuki-Sama would prefer to bond Sonoko with Toroshima-san.“ Eri looks confused but Kogoro murmurs „Sato-san mentioned him some time ago.“ He doesn’t look like it has been a friendly mentioning. The young women turns around and leaves as swiftly as she appeared, leaving both Eri and Kogoro baffled.