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By the time the overbearing doctor patched her cuts and bruises up, he had already come out of surgery—he was lucky the bullet had gone through his arm with relatively little damage to any muscle or bones.  It would be a quick recovery, especially for someone so young.

The door to his hospital room creaked slightly as she pushed it open and the sight of him looking outside the window with an indiscernible look on his face sent her heart clenching painfully for him. Swallowing thickly with her hands clutching her shirt, she forced herself to walk towards him because she knew that within the next half an hour, the room would be bustling with activity.

This would be the only opportunity she had for a while to talk to him.

To understand his motives.

Settling herself at the foot of his bed without an invitation, her gaze studied the way his shoulders were relaxed, the way his lips quirked up almost unnoticeably, the way he looked so content just laying down on the bed.  She couldn’t understand...

“Why?” she whispered quietly into the stillness of the room, her lungs forcing the word out of her mouth.

His eyes shifted to look at her, a look of confusion on his face.  “Eh?”

She felt her lips drawn downward into a slight scowl because there was no way he hadn’t anticipated her questioning him.  It was the only thing her mind could focus on—questions upon questions right at the edges of her mind, prodding, poking and jabbing.  “Why did you do it, Kudou-kun?  Why did you follow me?”

His eyes narrowed in disbelief as he stared at her before he shook his head slowly, his lips curved up in wry amusement.  “Are you seriously giving me a hard time ‘cause I came to save you from Gin?”

Her stomach griped as her fists clenched together tightly until her knuckles turned white as she stared at them.  How could she ever look at him again?  She owed him her life, again.   She owed him so, so much already.   How could she ever repay him?  Waves upon waves of fury and grief crashed over her—she still could not understand why.   

“You should have left me to die,” she said unwaveringly, her voice cutting through the silence. “You knew that if you came after me and sent the feds to the headquarters that—”

“Haibara,” he murmured, interrupting her flow of words.

She ignored him.  “Everything is destroyed,” she said as she raised her voice, tinged with hysteria.  “There is no way for me—for anyone —to recreate the antidote.  I can’t—”

“I know, Haibara,” he intervened again with a sombre tone.

“So why?” She choked out, her eyes becoming moist as she tried holding onto her emotions, refusing to burst into uncontrollable tears even though it was all she wanted to do.  “Why?  Why did you—”

“Because you mean more to me than an antidote,” he responded with ease, almost as if he had rehearsed the answer before over and over again.

Gulping down the lump in her throat, she took a shuddering breath.  “But Mouri-san…”

He pushed himself up from the headboard into a sitting position as his hand grasped hers comfortingly. “We can’t have everything we want in life.  What you need to know is that I knew fully well the consequences of my choices before I made them.  None of it is on you.”

She looked up to meet his gaze, the guilt suffocating her knowing that it was her who had ruined this man’s life again and again.  “Kudou-kun…”

“You’re stuck with me now, Haibara,” he said with a slight smirk.  There was something about the forced casualness of his voice that made her drop the subject, because it was inconceivable that this didn’t affect him.  He had been looking forward to returning back to himself for years...

Forcing her voice to sound as aloof and as biting as possible, she gave him a flat stare.  “Can I ask for a refund?”

“Oi,” he muttered, a small hint of humour in his voice.  “I took a bullet for you, the least you can do is be—”

“Thank you, Kudou-kun,” she said softly and she hoped it conveyed just how thankful she truly was.

There was a moment of silence as she studied his eyes, a quick flash of anguish flickering before it was replaced with acceptance.  “It’s Edogawa,” he breathed out, almost as if testing his new permanent name on his tongue.  And then he took a deep breath, his hand tightening around hers for a brief second.  “Promise you won’t try to make the antidote anymore.”

“E-Edogawa-kun…”

“I’ve made my peace with my decision.  Given the same opportunity, I wouldn’t change it.”  He lowered his head as sadness shadowed his eyes just slightly.  “I can’t continue living with that inkling of hope.”

She knew she would spend the rest of her life atoning for her sins—especially against him.  Bowing her head, knowing that she owed this man everything, she gave the littlest nod.  “I promise.”

“Good. You have a second chance at life—at growing up. How many people can say the same?”

After a long moment, she murmured, “I suppose I do.”