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Conan’s arms were crossed as he rested his head on his forearms, and his gaze followed Ai as she walked back and forth, back and forth, back and forth from lab equipment to lab equipment.  It was times like these that he wished he had better knowledge about chemistry so that he could figure out what the hell she was doing, puttering about.  He had absolutely no idea what had gotten into her.  Ever since he had mentioned that he spent the better half of the afternoon following Gin around, she had turned around and shut herself in the basement with a slam.

It had been wiser to give her time to think and room to breathe.  Because despite the fact that she had ‘agreed’ to trusting him, he knew she had her own reservations, and that her anger and frustration was brewing beneath her cool, apathetic surface.  Understandable, given who she was; she was intimately aware of what they were capable of—what could potentially happen.

But he also knew that she was being unreasonably touchy; he’d done nothing but tail Gin from a block away and there was absolutely no way he had been found out.  Even so, she had locked herself into her lab—in her safe haven.

And while he could often be considered reckless, he was not suicidal.

So he had sat around for a bit, playing some of the games the professor had left behind to pass the time by himself since the professor was gone for a conference.  But when an hour turned into two, and two into three, and still, she hadn’t left the comfort of her lab, he began to get restless.  And bored.  And curious.

And then his stomach growled.

Knowing she hadn’t yet had dinner, he stepped out of the house briefly to grab a couple of bento boxes from the convenience store just two blocks down the street.  When he had finally returned with the food and opened the door after a couple of knocks, she had stared at him for several seconds—he had to force himself not to cower—before he mustered all his courage to sit at the farthest corner away from her.

That had been an hour ago.

Her meal remained untouched on her desk while his was long gone.  And still, she hadn’t bothered to talk to him.  

What was the point of her hiding in the lab?  The only thing she ever spent time doing in the lab was to improve the antidote, but that was highly improbable, given the lack of data and information available.  That was the entire point of sneaking into their headquarters: so that they could find more documentation, more research—more of anything—on the poison in order for her to get started on a permanent cure for this cursed affliction.  Because they were so close.   She had managed to perfect an antidote that would last almost forty-eight hours, though she had adamantly refused to let him use it unless it was of absolute necessity.

Losing patience, he opened his mouth to speak—

“I’m still angry,” she said coldly, her back still turned to him.

His mouth snapped closed, eyebrows furrowed in confusion.  She had almost seemed to be in agreement when they last spoke outside in the rain—and if not in agreement, then at least she seemed to have backed down.  But now, she was angry again.  Did she allow her thoughts to spiral downward again?

Taking a deep breath, he stood up and gathered himself up; he knew would need it.  “Why?”

“Why?” she echoed as she slammed the metal drawer closed with more force than necessary, causing the glassware on the table to rattle.  And then she pivoted around to glare at him as he cringed at the look of intensity in her gaze. His nerves were on edge, and he felt like she was going to strangle him at any moment.

Feeling apprehensive, he averted his gaze from hers and stared at the multitude of beakers and test tubes filled with liquids of various colours that littered the lab bench instead.  His throat felt unusually dry, and for some reason, he felt guilty —guilty for following Gin, guilty for making her upset, guilty for putting them both at risk—though the odds of Gin knowing he had been followed was miniscule.

When he finally gathered himself enough to look back towards her, she was standing against the file cabinet with her arms folded across her chest, a sombre expression on her face.  Every fiber of his body was screaming at him to leave, but his stubbornness won out in the end.

“Yes,” he responded, slowly and carefully—wary. “Why?”

Her lips flattened until they turned pale, fingers digging into her own flesh until the tips turned white.  “So what’s the plan?” she asked flatly, her stare unwavering. “I know you think it’s as simple as sneaking in and getting the research somehow, but it’s—”

“I didn’t think it’d be simple,” he retorted.

“Liar.”  Her tone was firm, but not unkind.

“I’m not—”

“Promise me then,” she interrupted. 

This time, it was her who looked away.

“Huh?”

There was a flare of colour in her cheeks before she turned around before busying herself with tidying her desk—except stacks of paper were already neatly arranged, and there wasn’t a pen out of place.  “Promise me,” she repeated, her voice quiet, but there was a certain tension in it.  “With your luck, things are bound to go south; so when they do, promise me you’ll take them down—even if it means choosing between taking them down and saving me.”

It was different this time—different than all the other times Gin had been mentioned.  Instead of being completely overwhelmed by fear, she almost seemed determined.  Resolute.

“That’s stupid,” he deadpanned.  “This isn’t an action movie where there’s a damsel in distress to save.”

“Then you’ll have no problem making that promise, hm?”  she hummed, looking over her shoulder as the corner of her lips softened, just barely.

“Yeah, yeah,” he muttered eventually.  “I promise.  Nothing bad is going to happen because I’m not doing anything rash and irresponsible, so don’t worry.”

The barest flicker of sadness flashed across her face before her expression became inscrutable once more.  “You’ll want to investigate tomorrow then?”

“Just a quick look around outside to scout it out unless it looks completely abandoned and, well...”

He detected just the smallest hint of her hands clenching together tightly, and he resisted the urge to shake his head.  She was always so damn paranoid and scared when it came to them.  

A small breath escaped her lips.  “There’s somewhere I need to go in the morning.  And then—”

“I’ll go with you,” he murmured.  A small thrill of excitement twisted in his gut, and he had to force it down.  Soon, there would be answers, and soon, he could go back to being Kudo Shinichi.  “And then we’ll go and see what the black crows have been up to.”

Her gaze dropped to the framed picture on her desk—of Akemi.  “Okay.”