[This is the final problem.]
There are so many lies, (so many somanysomanysomany) that it is hard to breathe and Shinichi opens the door to the Mouri agency with an unsteady hand, his mother following behind him. She is wearing a mask, because they have a secret they need to keep, and doesn’t bother to help her bring in his luggage.
He’s been on a trip to ’America’ and now it’s time to come home.
“Conan-kun!” Ran says, and it is like he is snow, melting away at the first signs of spring. All Shinichi wants to do is kiss her, but he can’t because he’s trapped as a seven-year-old.
He mumbles a name in response, and tells her that he missed her. He smiles, and grins, and it’s sickening just how fake it is.
Oh, Ran points out the cast on his arm, what did you do?
And he tells her how he’d fallen out of a tree, broken his wrist on the fall down. He wears it like a test paper that doesn’t have a concrete answer. Because the cast… well, that’s the final problem.
[‘They don’t even know you.’ ‘And you do?!’]
It becomes a mystery, how exactly did Conan-kun fall? and Shinichi isn’t sure he wants it to become something people ask about. He turns away from the adults that ask, at first, because adults are much less observant, but it’s harder lying to the kids.
Mitsuhiko wants to know what kind of tree he fell out of. Ayumi wants to know how tall it was. Genta wants to know if he’d been climbing for food.
Shinichi replies that it was a red-maple and that it was about 67 feet, and that there was no fruit. And he asks them to shut up about it, he doesn’t want to talk about how he fell, but children are children and they will always ask more questions.
He understands, because he’s a detective, and after all, hasn’t he been teaching these three kids to be detectives? They will be bright one day, they’re already missing their childhood innocence, having seen so many murders - somuchbloodsomuchkillingwhywhywhywhy – but they won’t have imagination.
(He was told once that was the price for being a detective, losing all imagination. Maybe it’s true, maybe that’s why.)
But they ask, and they ask to sign their names and Shinichi, well, he let’s them with a degree of irritation, only stopping to let out a cry of protest when Genta pushes too hard on the cast with his pen, pushing into the tender part of his wrist.
It hurts – ofcourseithurtsthatsthepoint – and Shinichi yanks his hand back with fire in his eyes, electricity in his voice as he asks what exactly is wrong with them, can’t they just leave him alone for once? Can’t they stop asking all of these questions?
Shinichi cradles his arm to his chest, and whimpers. He holds back tears like he holds back deductions, and forces himself to keep them in until the three children are being herded away, pushed towards the direction of the Professor’s house by Haibara.
She sends him a glare over his shoulder and receives a deprecating grin in response.
The second she’s gone, he glances down at the squiggle on his cast, and lets out a curse. He can’t… handle this any more. He can’t.
Shinichi takes a deep breath, bottles it up, and heads back home. And isn’t it funny how he correlates the Mouri’s to home now, not his own fucking house?
[’I – could tell everyone – everything.’ 'Yeah, well why don’t you go ahead and do that!’]
Haibara is the second to try to solve the mystery.
She’s protective of the other children, so of course she’d try to solve what they cannot, and Shinichi bites down on his lip as she stands in front of him, eyes filled with ice. She’s cold, warmer than she once was, but still below freezing level.
Ai is frozen, and Shinichi doesn’t mind whether she thaws or not, but he’ll find a way to get her to stop asking questions. It becomes a game, almost – at least on his side – to see who will give in first. Every time she asks of falling out of trees, he asks if the cure is ready yet. The answer is always a 'not yet’, until one day it’s a slight nod.
They trade the information. Or rather, Haibara proposes they do. She tells Shinichi to say goodbye to his life as Conan, and he forces himself to say goodbye to Ran as to avoid any unnecessary pain. He shows up, life resuscitating his eyes, making him a person again as he makes his way to the Professor’s.
Shinichi stands in front of Haibara, waits as she receives the pill, asking the professor if he can get a tool to break through the cast on Shinichi’s wrist. The professor gives him a steady look as she goes away, and it’s obvious that he knows the truth, because he doesn’t ask about the tree, he asks about Shinichi himself.
You okay? He asks, and Shinichi responds with I don’t have to be stuck like this any more. I’ll be me again.
Agasa removes the cast, and he stares down at his arm. His expression wavers from it’s usually jovial expression, and Shinichi’s own joy falters, as he pulls away, turning back in Haibara’s direction as she pads back up stairs. Words die off of Agasa’s tongue before he can say anything, and Shinichi is glad.
“You said you’d tell me,” Haibara says, as she passes the pill over.
Shinichi offers a wobbly smile, reaches forward for the water she’s brought with her and gulps it down. He swallows down the pill, settles down on the couch as he feels nausea swim in his stomach and feels himself pale.
“Oh shit,” he says, and leans forwards to face Haibara, “will this rip my stitches?”
In the end, it’s the professor who gives her the full explanation. Which… well, it’s probably a better explanation than Shinichi could give. She doesn’t look him in the eye for a long time.
['You can’t just stop now,’ 'I don’t think I can keep living like this any more’]
The next, surprisingly, is Kogoro.
Shinichi returns, and his mystery grows from trees to disappearances, and maybe Ran is too kind to open her mouth and demand answers so soon, but her father isn’t. Shinichi returns, spends more time with Ran since she’s promised to help him catch up for missed lessons.
And Kogoro – the man who’d gone from hating Conan, to caring about him, has reverted back to hate and distrust. Not that Shinichi blames him. He lingers, the sleeping detective, in the agency whenever Shinichi’s around, and maybe it would have bothered him in the past, but it doesn’t now.
“I need to quickly get something from my room,” Ran states, and the minute she is gone, Shinichi is forced to deal with an onslaught of questions.
And Kogoro, ever the detective, is not subtle with what he asks. He asks about where he’d gone, why, how he’d thought it was a good idea to leave Ran behind without so much as an explanation. It doesn’t take a genius detective to know that he’d worried for his daughter’s well-being while Shinichi had been gone. Not that the teen is going to blame him for it.
“I didn’t mean to hurt her,” Shinichi says, but, isn’t that technically a lie? If he’d had the chance to make her feel better and hadn’t taken them because of some risk, then isn’t he that bad of a person?
Ran returns after a few minutes, although it seems like an hour, and the conversation shifts almost quickly.
“Aren’t you hot?” Kogoro asks, “It’s the middle of summer and you’re wearing a hoodie, what are you, an idiot?”
And Ran says, “I think I have one of your shirts, if you want to change into something cooler.”
He refuses the shirt, and Ran lets out a small sigh of exasperation, but goes to get them all some cool drinks. She doesn’t notice Shinichi pulling at one of his sleeves – but Kogoro does. And regardless of the many crime scenes and murders he’s been unable to solve, he is a detective for a reason.
So his eyes spark, and later, when Shinichi is leaving, he’s pulled back by his shoulders and he looks up at Kogoro with wide eyes. There is something in the other man’s expression that he can’t quite read, worry, regret? And something else.
“Don’t hurt Ran again,” Kogoro says, and he is quiet about it, almost pleading. Shinichi nods, almost numbly, and promises, even though he knows it’s a lie. He’ll have to tell her the truth about Conan eventually, and she will hate him.
“I won’t,” he says, and pretends that they’re talking about the same thing.
['This isn’t funny.’ 'Hmph, well, I think it’s hilarious.’]
Hattori is the next to stumble across the mystery.
Perhaps, the most ironic part is that he’s not even aware of the mystery to begin with. Perhaps the laughable bit is that when he comes down to visit, he thinks that he knows everything, that he’s one of the few to actually understand what’s going on.
But still, Hattori stumbles into his life like a whirlwind, offering congratulations for returning to a body he never should have left in the first place. He pulls Shinichi out for lunch, takes him somewhere along with Ran and Kazuha, and they all go out for ice cream.
Another thing, which is ironic, is that Hattori Heiji has never been very good at lying or keeping things quiet.
They are sat eating ice cream, Shinichi attempting to adjust to the… surreal feeling that builds in his chest as he realises that this is real and not just another one of his dreams, and…
“What’s wrong with yer finger?” Hattori asks, and Shinichi flinches away from the question. Asks what Hattori means in the first place, as he takes a bite out of the ice cream. It is cool against the sudden pounding he feels against his head, his pulse picking up as Shinichi realises that he wants to runawayrunaway.
“Nothing’s wrong with my fingers,” Shinichi says, and offers a laugh at how strange a question it is. It comes out mangled, strained and malformed, and it’s noticeable to everyone at the table, that his reaction is odd, and worrying.
“One of yer fingers moves a fraction of a second slower than th’ others,” Hattori says, and he frowns, passing his ice cream to Kazuha to hold as he leans forward and grabs onto Shinichi’s hand.
Shinichi drops his ice cream in his attempt to yank his hand back.
He stands up, attempts to wear a calm bravado – what was it that KID had said when they’d met? The best liars wear poker faces – and declares that he’s going to wash the ice cream off.
Hattori follows after him. Waits until they’re in the bathroom away from the girls, to grab Shinichi’s arm and yank his sleeves back. There is no mystery, because he can see. He can see the facts, and Shinichi watches as the information sends him reeling.
Shinichi turns away, because that’s all he can do, really, is turn away. Alwayslookingawaynotfacingthetruthwhocaresabouttruthanyway? He bites on his tongue until he tastes metal and winces.
“I… I couldn’t be Conan any more, you get that right? You understand?”
The desperation mingles with everything else, and Shinichi turns to face Hattori, offers him wide eyes and a pleading expression.
“I don’t.” Hattori says, and it’s heartbreaking. “I… How come I never noticed?”
Shinichi pulls his sleeve back down, glances at himself in the mirror. He’s sure that there’s a person there, in his reflection, but all he sees are identities. There’s two versions to every person, the truth and the lies, so Shinichi sees himself and Conan.
And he wonders which is the lie.
“It doesn’t matter Hattori, I’m fine.”
“Of course it matters,” His best friend says, and there’s hopelessness in his voice as each word slowly grows more and more quiet. “You… those cuts are vertical.”
Shinichi shudders out a breath. And glances at Hattori’s face in the mirror, notices the pale sheen to his face as he stares across at his friend. “…So?”
“I… people only cut vertically if…”
He fades off, but Shinichi knows what his detective counterpart means. Iftheywanttokillthemself. He knows what he’s trying to say – probably because it’s true. He doesn’t give a response, because… well, how could he say anything?
The silence is answer enough.
['What about Ran?’
'Ran said she just… she loves me, she wants me.’
'Yeah, yeah, s-she likes me for who I am.’
'Oh yeah, well you keep forgetting to mention that everything you’ve told her since coming back has been one big fucking lie, haven’t you? Oh, you left that part out.’]
Ran waits, when he leaves the bathroom behind, leaves Hattori behind, and she is quiet when he pulls her up and drags her out of the ice cream store, storming off before Hattori can follow after him.
['What if I do tell her the truth?’
'She’ll hate you.’
'No, no, maybe she’d understand, maybe everyone would understand.’
'Everyone would hate you.’]
They get halfway down the street before she tries to pull him to a stop, and she is electrified, fearful as Shinichi turns to look back at her. More fearful than he’d seen her back when he was gone.
Maybe because, even though he’s returned to her, he’s not fully back.
['I just want to be done with this.’
'If you really believe this then why are you standing here talking to yourself?’]
“Shinichi,” Ran whispers, and he bites his tongue as she glances up at him. “What’s wrong?”
“I… We need to talk.”
[This is the final problem.]