The cerulean sky stretched on and on in every direction as the occasional white, puffy clouds drifted by breezily. Overhead, the wind danced, the leaves rustled, and the birds sang; it was a perfect day.
And it all felt so wrong.
There were so many things she wanted to say; so many things she wished she had said, but in the end, she said nothing. What was the point? After all, funerals and graves were for the living; the dead had long passed. With a small sigh, Ai unclasped her hands before glancing backward at Conan, still in prayer, who had insisted on accompanying her despite her giving him the cold shoulder.
And while she was loath to admit it, his presence brought a certain peace of mind to her.
Carefully, she brushed away the dust, debris and cobwebs that littered the grave before pouring water over the tombstone; she was glad he didn’t try to offer his help. When it had been adequately cleaned, she laid the bouquet of yellow chrysanthemum down before kneeling beside the grave.
And now, she didn’t know what to say.
She knew that Akemi would have wanted her to stay far away from the crows, even if they were close to finishing them off. And while Conan’s exhilaration of potentially being able to infiltrate their headquarters was contagious, she couldn’t stop the feeling twisting in her gut. Because anytime they had come close to finding out more about the crows, they had managed to disappear into thin air.
Her instincts were telling her that things were going to go down, and perhaps not in the way they had hoped.
How she had wished her sister was still alive so that they could run away together. If only she had been stronger, if only she had been more capable, if only she had been one step ahead, then it wouldn’t be her sister laying in the grave.
Just like that, the sadness was back, staggering and suffocating. Her nails dug into the flesh of her palms, the mild pain clearing her mind. Even so, she struggled to keep her hands from shaking as they laid on her lap and suddenly, her eyes burned and it was almost hard to breathe.
Inadvertently, she let out a shaky breath.
She almost resented him for following her. Instead, she summoned every last scrap of self-control she had left to stay composed. “Go,” she murmured, fighting to keep her tone levelled. “I’ll meet you back at Hakase’s in an hour. I just…” she trailed off, her voice cracking with emotions. “I just need a moment.”
His hand laid briefly on her shoulder—reassuring, supportive, comforting.
“See you in an hour.”
And as much as she wanted to shoot a parting glance of gratitude over her shoulder, she kept her gaze locked onto the tombstone instead. She listened to his footsteps grow fainter and fainter down the steps until she looked back, and he was no longer in the cemetery.
Only then, did she allow herself to shed the tears that had been burning her eyes. Tilting her head forward, she pressed the heel of her hands into her eyes, willing herself to stop. She didn’t know how long she stayed that way with her legs curled underneath her, and it was only when a shadow moved over her that she readied herself to turn around to give that detective a piece of her mind.
How dare he stay when she asked him to leave?
“We meet again, Sherry.”
Her eyes widened and her breath hitched. Before she could stand up and twist her body around, her world turned black.