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The Little Detective

Chapter Text

Conan leaned back on his seat at the airport lounge with a heavy sigh.

Of course his brother would be late. The plane should have landed about an hour ago, yet there was no sign of its arrival. He briefly wondered what could have happened so that the flight got delayed, until he realized there was no point of it, as he already knew the answer.

Probably a murder. Or a kidnapping. Or a hijacking, even...

Most likely someone got killed, though. Shinichi, the living corpse magnet, was in the plane, after all.

A giant yawn caught the six year old by surprise causing him to quickly cover his mouth with his tiny little hand, in an attempt to muffle the sound.

Unsurprisingly, the woman sitting beside him noticed.

“Are you sleepy, Co-chan?” the woman glanced at her watch, feeling a bit confused. “Hmm... It’s only five thirty, though... It’s still early.”

“I’m fine, Mom,” replied the boy with an annoyed sigh. “I’m not tired.”

She gave him a suspicious look. “Are you sure about that?”

“Positive,” he replied, not batting an eye. Yukiko seemed to open her mouth to say something, but Conan beated her to it. “I’m going to buy a drink or something.”

He hopped off his seat and walked away, avoiding his mother’s worried look. As he made his way through the people, he could not help but wipe away a tear on the corner of his eye, which had made its way there when he had yawned a few moments before.

I should be at home with Dad at this very moment, he lamented over and over in his head. 

Conan certainly didn’t want to be here. He would have been a very happy child if they had just let him bury his nose in a book and stay there until nighttime. But no, of course not. Of course his mother would drag him with her to the airport.

And then, on top of that, she had told him she planned to bring him along to the theatre. He should’ve seen this coming, but everything had happened so quickly that he didn’t even have the chance to bring his prized copy of A Study in Scarlet with him.

Finally, the child reached a vending machine, bought a can of coffee and drank from it as he made his way back to his mother.

The woman was not alone, though, Conan realized. Beside the woman stood two people; a girl and a boy he recognized almost instantly.

“I have like fifty missed calls from Sonoko,” he could hear the girl complaining, as she went through the phone, before sighing a little bit. “And she’s angry with me for turning off my phone... Did she really want me to cause the plane to crash or something?”

“Actually, your phone can’t cause the plane to crash,” they all turned around to face the child, as he walked closer with a bored expression on his face.

“Conan-kun!” Ran was quick to run over to him and kneel down so she could be at his eye level and smiled brightly at him. “You have grown a lot ever since I last saw you!”

“Do you really think so?” Shinichi walked closer and ruffled the kid’s hair, prompting him to glare daggers at his older brother. “I looks like he’s still the same midget we all know and love.”

“Leave me alone,” he slapped his hand away as he grumbled, tickled off, and brought his coffee close to his mouth to take another sip, only to get it whisked away before he could do anything about it.

“Hey, do you want to remain a shortie forever?” his brother held the can far above his reach, grinning down at the kid, teasingly. “This stuff seriously stunts your growth.”

Conan narrowed his eyes. “We both know that is not true.”

“Still,” Ran waved a finger at him, her tone stern. “You shouldn’t drink coffee. It’s not good for you.”

The little boy could do nothing but nod without any complain, and ignore the urge to wipe his brother’s amused grin off his face as the teen drank from his coffee. At that, Shinichi only laughed louder as they all began to walk back towards the car.

His laugh suddenly stopped. 

Conan raised an eyebrow as he watched his brother stop on his tracks for a second, quickly spinning around as he stared at the crowd of people..

“Is something wrong?”

The kid could only blink, confused, when the teenager jumped suddenly at the sound of his voice, and opened his mouth to ask again. Before he could do anything, Shinichi ruffled his hair and took his hand, much in his dismay, while he steered him away.

“Let’s hurry before those two leave without us,” he said, clearly referring to Ran and their mother, who chatted cheerfully a long distance ahead.

And then, he smiled. That would have been enough. 

If it hadn’t been so obviously fake.

“So, Conan, have you been?” at some point of the silent, long ride, Shinichi grinned at the kid, who sat at the back beside a slumbering, jet-lagged, Ran. “How is like living in America?”

“Fine,” the child replied with a flat voice.

“It might have been tough, you know. Suddenly moving to a different country on the other side of the world, with a completely new language. Mom told me your English is mostly flawless, though.”

Conan gave him a non-committal hum in response.

“You haven’t been causing trouble, have you?”

The boy raised an eyebrow at him. “I haven’t, unlike others .”

Both Yukiko and Shinichi flinched at that, not quite knowing who he was referring to. The mother quickly recovered, focusing back at the road while pretending not to pay attention to the one-sided conversation her children where having.

“S-So,” the detective let out a strained laugh. “You’re starting elementary school in a few days, right?”

“Right.”

“Are you looking forward it?”

“Not quite.”

At this point, it seemed like the older brother got the message and gave up on having a conversation with the younger, resigning himself to direct his attention at the window.

Conan’s eyes didn’t leave his form though, just narrowed slightly.

The quietness was broken, though, when Ran spoke up, seemingly waking up from her nap. She then complained to Shinichi, given the fact that he hadn’t bothered to wake her up earlier to sightsee the city as they drove.

And like so, they fell into a heated argument. Some things never change, do they?

“The science of deduction is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study,” Conan’s ears perked at that. “Yet life is not long enough for a mortal to master it, you see, my dear Watson.”

“He didn’t say that,” the boy frowned at him. “Holmes-san didn’t say ‘my dear Watson’ at the end of that quote.”

“Eh? Did you read Sherlock Holmes, Conan-kun?” Ran turned to him, visually shocked.

He nodded at her. “I’m still reading A Study in Scarlet , though,” he then gave his mother a very dark look. “And I would’ve finished it by now if it wasn’t for someone I know .”

“Ah, is that so...?” Ran mumbled, as she slowly backed away from the angry little child.

Yumiko didn’t seem fazed at all, however. She seemed to be amused, even.

“Give this a chance, Co-chan,” she smiled even wider when her youngest groaned at his nickname. “You might like it more than all that detective stuff your father and brother are so obsessed with.”

Shinichi glanced at his mother, noticing that her eyes were shining, wickedly, and gulped. 

Ah, she’s at it again. Trying to get Conan interested on anything but mysteries.

“Whatever,” Conan finally sighed tiredly, letting his head rest against the window. “Is not like I have any say on this.”

The child watched as a car passed by them, carrying a neon sign that read ‘ Golden Apple ’, and almost sighed again at the thought of being forced to watch a musical, of all plays that he could have possibly be dragged to.

Somehow, the topic of the conversation shifted and the three were now talking about the serial killer that was on the loose. 

Ran was tense.

“I-I think we shouldn’t talk about this in front of Conan-kun,” she laughed, nervously.

“Huh? Don’t worry, the killer only targets young women,” Shinichi commented, and the girl flinched at the thought that she could be targeted. “Besides, with Dad around I think he should be used to hear worse stuff than that. Right, Conan?”

There was no reply, and Shinichi wasn’t surprised at the sightless, just sighed exasperatedly. Ran, on the other hand, turned to the child with an awkward smile on her face. 

Then, she froze.

Conan was practically slumped against the window, breathing softly as he slept.

“He’s asleep,” Ran blinked, surprised. 

Shinichi instantly craned his neck to look over his shoulder to see that, yes, the youngest Kudo had somehow dozed off in such a short amount of time.

“He hasn’t been sleeping well,” Yukiko commented, as she kept her eyes trained to the road. “Every morning I have been waking up to find him burying his nose on a book at the library. I think he sneaks off at night and stays up to read,” she sighed. “Honestly, that kid...”

His older brother gave the young boy a long look before turning back to his mother. “How long has it been?”

“About a week, I think.”

Meanwhile, Ran could not help but smile a little bit as she watched the young boy. It wasn’t long until her maternal instincts kicked in and removed the coat she had been using to cover herself in order to drape it over his slumbering form.

“Conan-kun looks so young like this,” Ran commented, not taking her eyes off him.

“Of course he does,” Shinichi raised an eyebrow. “He’s just six, after all.”

“I know that, but he’s so mature and independant that sometimes I forget,” her eyes softened, yet her smile dropped slightly. “He used to be so sweet and innocent before...”

Neither Conan’s mother or brother said anything in reply. The teen just choose to glance at the young boy once more before focusing back to the road, a concerned frown still fixed on his face.

Conan...


“... nan... Co... nan...” the voice filtered through his unconscious mind, prompting him to groan softly, curling tighter around himself in a feeble attempt to retain his sleep. “Wa... up.”

It was in vain, though. Conan was woken up suddenly when the car began to shift, and it didn’t even take a second for him to unbuckle himself and drag himself to the other side of the car. 

By the time his eyes opened up, half of his small body had been pulled out of the window, his arms supporting his weight against the door as the car balanced on two wheels and turned at almost ninety degrees off the ground.

He could also see his brother sitting on the window as he held a speechless Ran against his chest. Shinichi noticed him and grinned at him.

“Hey.”

“Don’t ‘hey’ me,” Conan scowled. “You could’ve woken me before this.

“I tried, I really did.”

“You have good reflexes, though, Co-chan!” he heard him mother speaking to him. “Just like your mother.”

“Just don’t blame me if you get another speeding ticket... for the fourth time this week.”

Soon, the car went back on his four wheels as it drove away. Even after they settled down, the girl was shaken. Conan watched as she breathed, heavily, with a look of complete terror plastered on her eyes.

“See, not bad,” said Shinichi with a bright smile on his face, while his mother just giggled softly.

Like so, Ran snapped.

“ARE YOU ALL CRAZY?!”

And Conan could not agree more.

“What was all of this about, anyways?” the kid groaned, looking at his wrist watch as the car pulled up in front of the theatre. “We’re still one hour early, aren’t we?”

“I promised we would meet the person who gave us the tickets,” the mother explained with a smile, until she froze, eyes opened in shock. “Co-chan?”

“What?”

“Do you know what time is it?”

“Ten past seven,” he replied, immediately. “Why?”

“Ah!” she suddenly screamed, startling the child. “So you knew about summer time!”

“Well, yeah,” Conan shrugged. “Don’t tell me you forgot about it, again ?”

“You could’ve remindered me!”

“Yes, I could,” he said, matter of factly.  But I didn’t want to, was left unsaid.

Before Yukiko could whine about it some more, the sound of police sirens filled the air and, shortly ever after, a policeman knocked softly her glass window.

But, of course she was saved when a inspector she apparently knew very well covered for her. She’s so lucky, sometimes, Conan sighed, tiredly, and glanced at his brother, expecting to see a similar expression plastered on his face. Except, that wasn’t the case. 

Shinichi wasn’t looking anywhere but the inspector’s face, eyes open like two big, round plates. Sweat dripped from his chin while he trembled, slightly. It didn’t seem like he had noticed it, though.

What...? Conan blinked at him, confused.

After convincing the policeman that she was an undercover agent chasing after a dangerous criminal, Yukiko smiled at the man.

“Thanks Radish,” she said. “You saved me.”

“No, no,” then, it was the kid’s turn to jump when his voice changed into a higher-pitched, female one. “You’re thanking the wrong person.”

Conan had absolutely no idea of why, but that voice sent chills down his back, and for a moment he didn’t think he could remember how to breathe properly. 

This person then teared the mask from her face, letting them see on its place a fair skinned, blonde woman, which Conan didn’t seem to recognize yet prompted her mother to beam.

“Why don’t you thank me...” the woman smiled at Yukiko. “.... Sharon Vineyard?”

“Sharon!”

“Sharon... Who?” Conan asked softly, more to himself than anyone else.

“She’s a very famous actress,” Ran explained to him, with that a patience she would only have with a little child like he was. “She has worked alongside your mother several times.”

Maybe that is why I don’t have a clue of who this woman is, he realized. After all, he had always avoided like the plague any movies with her on it.

“Right, Shinichi...?” when she looked at the boy, however, he noticed how shaken he looked. “Shinichi, are you okay? You’re so pale.”

“A-Ah, no,” he then he seemed to wake up from whatever stupor he had been before. “I’m alright. I just think I got a bit sick after Mom’s driving.”

And then, Shinichi's eyes met Sharon's.

Conan swore he saw the woman smirking, slightly, in a disturbingly scary way.


Conan pinched his cheek in an attempt to wake himself up, yet it didn’t help much. Sighing tiredly, he cradled his head with his open palm as he watched the actors dancing across the stage.

When Shinichi yawned loudly beside him, the kid realized he might not be the only one having a hard time staying awake.

“You could at least try to look interested,” the child commented.

“You don’t look like you are any better than me,” Shinichi quickly replied. “I caught you nodding off a few minutes ago.”

“At least I’m not disturbing those that do enjoy this play by yawning like a sleep-deprived hippo, rather loudly if I may say.”

The teen gave his brother a long look. Is it normal for a six year-old to be this sassy?

“Why don’t you pay more attention?” Ran scolded him lightly, whispering on his ear. 

“What’s exciting about this? It’s just a comedic take on an old Greek myth.”

“The Golden Apple,” Conan nodded. “But this is an adaptation, so things are bound to change from the original. Might as well give a try.”

“Co-chan is right,” Yukiko giggled beside Ran. “You will be surprised at that poor-looking aristocrat’s true identity.”

Quite a plot twist, indeed, when Paris suddenly grew wings and appeared in the mirror, claiming to be the archangel Michael. Did just an archangel appear in an adaptation of a greek myth?

... So random.

Smoke soon covered the entire stage, making it possible to see a laser sight that seemed to be directed at the balcony. 

Then, there was a sound that shouldn’t be there, that startled both Conan and Shinichi.

Was that... a gunshot?!

And then the angel was lifted from behind the mirror, red blood dripping from his pure white clothes. Something fell on the ground, and it wasn’t until the smoke cleared that they could see it; a gun.

Everyone screamed.

And of course, Shinichi took off running.

"Take care of Ran and Conan!" he told his mother before disappearing.

"Wait, Shin-chan!" he was gone before she could even finish. Then she sighed. "That boy..."

"Eh?" she heard Ran. "Where did Conan-kun go?"

"What?!"

Meanwhile, Conan went up the stage, where people were already crowding around the fallen angel, who had already been lowered to the ground. There were no other injuries beside the obvious wound on his heart.

The child glanced at the mirror, He was standing right behind there, wasn’t he? and decided to take a look. He went behind the object and examined every single detail, looking for anything that would tell him what in the world did just happen. 

He walked alongside the curtains and noticed that, for some reason, it was strangely twisted.

Then, when his gaze dropped to the ground, he found it. There was a small, innocent white feather, stuck on an iron trapdoor. From what he could see, however, it seemed like there was cement under it.

There has to be a way to move it...


“Hey, Shinichi, let’s return,” Ran insisted as she walked behind her childhood friend, clutching the papelet against her chest. “I’m worried about Conan-kun. I haven’t seen him since the time of the murder... Do you think he-?”

“He’s fine. That kid have always been like that,” Shinichi replied even as he still looked around. “Besides the killer is definitely one of those three actresses, and they are with the police by now. There’s no chance they would hurt him.”

The teen then stopped in front of the mirror and looked down. There was a small flip door and pulled his handkerchief out from his pocket to open it.

Before he could do anything, however, the door suddenly opened by itself, prompting Shinichi to fall ungracefully on his butt. Ran stepped back, shocked as well.

Then, a small head popped out and stared blankly at the teenagers.

“Conan! Don’t scare me like that,” Shinichi breathed out. “How did you get down here?”

“I snuck around,” he replied with all honesty. “And figured out how to shift the floor to reveal this hole.”

“But why would you do that, Conan-kun?” Ran walked closer and kneeled down close to him.

“The laser beam I saw before pointed at the terrace,” he explained as he pulled himself up, and stood on ground. “Mom has brought me there before and I can say for sure it’s very hard to see the play, let alone shoot someone so accurately. Which means it was only a decoy.“

The pair then watched, perplexed, as the child ran around the mirror and laid in front of it. A tiny hand appeared from under the mirror and passed through the grid.

“If you were to lie down like this and then...” he made a gun gesture with his fingers. “... you shoot just like this while Heath-san is being risen from the trap door, you certainly can shoot him on the heart.”

Conan quickly stood up and went back to them. “The proof of is that you can find blood, feathers and the cartridge from the gun.”

“That was amazing, Conan-kun!” Ran exclaimed. “You sound just like a detective.”

“E-Eh?” the child blushed a bit. “I-I... No.”

“What about the gun, then?” his brother asked. “Have you figured out how she made it so it fell from a high place?”

“No,” he admitted with a sigh. “I haven’t got a clue.”

“You were so close, though,” much to his annoyment, Shinichi ruffled his hair as he grinned. “You did a splendid job, child detective.” 

“I’m telling you, I’m not a detective.”


“Some call me a legendary Japanese actress, while others call me the wife of a world-renowned mystery writer. I call myself the lady detective with little gray cells... Night Baroness!”

Conan was suddenly blinded when the spotlight fell on Ran, Shinichi and him, by mistake. Suddenly realizing the error he had committed, the man behind the special effects moved the light to Yukiko, who then smirked cockily.

“Hey,” Conan turned to Shinichi, his voice laced with clear annoyment. “Why did you tell her all of your deductions?”

“She wouldn’t stop bothering me until I did,” he smiled, apologetically. “Besides, Mom is already known as the Night Banoness. She has much more credibility than I, a simple high school student, could ever have.”

“Still...”

We really don’t need to make her ego bigger than it already is...

Even if he already had heard it from his brother, Conan listened attentively as Yukiko explained the trick. When she finished, she looked at Rose and accused her as the killer.

Proof was on her gloves. Turning them inside out revealed a bloody handprint. It turned out she had fallen in love with his role as Michael and couldn’t bear the thought of him quitting and having another actor taking on the mantle.

“He killed Michael, right when I finally told him I was in love with the Michael he was playing!” she screamed. “But God blessed me anyway. When I dropped the armor, my dress was caught on the rail by coincidence, until I was saved.”

And then she turned to Ran with a cold smile, and told her in English.

“Thank you, Sweet Angel. You helped me do it.”

Ran only stared at her, confused, as Rose laughed and began to walk away, taken by the police. She didn’t notice a tiny little foot pressing on her dress until she tripped, painfully falling on her face.

Looking up, she saw a child. His eyes were hidden by his glasses, the light reflecting on them.

“After she selflessly risked her wellbeing to save you, you have absolutely no right to say such a thing,” he raised his head, letting the murderer see icy cold eyes glaring hatefully back at her. “You are disgusting.”

Rose could only look away, and shakily stood up, doing her best to ignore the little boy.

If Ran was an angel, she decided, this one was definitely a demon in the body of a child.

Shinichi could only stare. 

This kid is scary.

Chapter Text

Soon, the trio were sitting in a taxi heading back home, given the fact that Yukiko had to go to the police station for questioning. It was clear as day that Shinichi was the only one who wanted to talk, given the fact that Ran seemed to be down for some reason and Conan being Conan prefered to look out the window in silence.

“And this is what Holmes said....”

The kid groaned and covered his ears. “Could you talk about anything else?” he grumbled. “You are really trying to spoil me, aren’t you?”

“Sorry, sorry,” he laughed briefly. “You said you were reading A Study in Scarlet, right? Did you reach the part where Holmes-”

“Shut it,” he glared at his brother, but his look visually softened when he spotted Ran, who was quietly staring at her lap at the other end of the car. “Ran-neechan, are you okay?”

“Don’t tell me it’s about what Rose said,” Shinichi asked, concerned.

“Eh?” she blinked. “Her English was too quick so I didn’t understand, what’d she say?”

“It was nothing, she didn’t say much.”

Conan frowned a bit at her answer, but decided to not press any further.

“Put up your window, you’ll get a cold,” Shinichi told her. “Especially if that fever you mentioned gets worse.”

“I’m alright now. Besides, I can’t see New York if the window is up.”

The child raised an eyebrow. Yes, you can.

“But still, the car will get wet, and the driver wouldn’t like that.”

“Don’t worry,” she brought a pink handkerchief from her pocket and held it up for the boy to see. Conan recognized it as the one that Sharon had given her a few hours ago. “I’ll wipe down the seats before I get out.”

“Ran-neechan, maybe you shouldn’t...”

Predictably so, the wind made the piece of cloth slip from her fingers and fly off the window. Ran gasped and pleaded to the driver to stop. The child decided to wait in the car as the other two went to fetch it. He really didn’t want to get wet.

Conan watched as Shinichi went inside an abandoned building and Ran stared after him, gripping tightly the umbrella that protected her from the rain. There was something there, however, that caused Conan’s breath to freeze in his lungs.

There, he saw a man, slowly walking towards Ran.

“He’s of Japanese descent with long hair,” his mother’s warning echoed in his mind.

“Ran-neechan!” he pulled his head off the window and yelled, not minding the rain soaking his hair. “Run away! He might be the serial killer!”

“Hey, hurry up!” the taxist screamed as well “Jump in!”

But Ran was paralyzed out of fear. She was unable to move, let alone using karate on him. Cursing under his breath, the child jumped off the car and ran. The taxi driver cursed under his breath and took off, but the small boy paid no mind to it.

He stood beside her, trying his best not to look scared.

“Conan-kun, what are you doing?!” she shouted. “You need to run!”

Conan said nothing, just analyzed the man in front of him. A few moments later, he blinked confusedly and then sighed in relief. “Don’t worry, he’s not the killer.”

“Eh?”

“If he was, he would’ve already murdered you, and then kill both the taxi driver and me before we could escape so nobody could recognize his face,” the child then smiled at him. “Right, Officer-san?”

“Close enough, but I’m not a police officer,” the man stared for a bit, before smirking. “Have any of you seen a suspicious man?”

“None, besides you,” Conan replied, dryly.

“C-Conan-kun!”

A car came from the way the man had came from and stopped right beside him. Another man stepped out and turned to the long haired one.

“Did you find him, sir?” he asked in English.

“No, I found only a pair of tourists. I guess he hasn’t been to this street. The gunfight against us excited the beast, he couldn’t have gone without catching the girl.”

Conan then turned his attention to the man that had gotten here by car, and noticed the letters FBI printed on his back. 

So that was what he meant when he said he wasn’t a police officer.

The man with the long hair took Ran by the arm. “You can get to the main street if you take a right at this corner, I suggest you take a taxi from here.”

“But wait, I’m waiting for my friend...”

“Then, I’ll say this once for you, this kid, and your friend: Leave!”

And just like that, the two agents disappeared into the night. Conan was the first one to move, heading inside the building to search for his brother. Ran didn’t even need to ask to understand and follow after him.

The girl gasped, staring at the floor. The kid followed her gaze, only to find tiny little drops of blood.

Don’t tell me he...

“We need to find Shinichi,” said Ran, determined, as she began to climb up the stairs, and called for him. “Shinichi?”

Her umbrella was left forgotten on the ground, prompting Conan to take it and walk behind her. A dizzy spell suddenly hit Ran and she all but collapsed against the handrail.

“Ran-neechan!” Conan hurried up beside her, and reached the girl as soon as she began to straighten herself. “This is the sickness you two were talking about before, right? You should stay here while I go get-”

He stopped talking when she shook her head at him. “No, I have to do this,” she began walking up again, slowly, while Conan could only panic while standing beside her. “Shinichi came in here after the handkerchief I lost. It’s my fault.”

Her eyes watered as she continued to climb.

“Yes. I-It really is my fault.”

Conan stared innocently at her. “This... This isn’t about the handkerchief anymore, is it?” Ran did not reply. “This is about what that woman said.”

“N-No, that’s not it,” she struggled to give him a weak smile, which was far from convincing. “Didn’t you heard when I told Shinichi I didn’t understand what she said?”

“You’re lying,” he said, quickly. “At that time Rose spoke slowly and clearly, and your English is not that bad. You definitely understood her.”

Ran sighed, seemingly giving up trying to lie to this kid. 

“If I hadn’t saved her, Heath-san wouldn’t...”

“If you had let Rose die, would you be able to live it with it?” the question shocked her, greatly. She glanced at the small yet very smart boy, who smiled warmly up at her. “You’re kind, Ran-neechan, that’s who you are. Don’t be so hard with yourself.”

Before she could reply, however, they heard it. 

Steps.

Someone was coming downstairs, and it certainly wasn’t Shinichi.

It was a man, with long silver hair and a gun on his hand. He was injured, Conan dimly noticed.

“Conan, Ran!” they heard Shinichi crying, desperately. “Run! That’s the serial killer!”

Conan froze as he watched the man pulling out a silencer and began to put it on. Before anyone could do anything, however, the rail he was leaning on gave up and he began to fall. 

The silencer fell into the asphalt with a metallic sound. The killer, however, didn’t.

The child could not believe his eyes. Ran was suddenly grabbing into the killer’s jacket, holding into it like dear life, shouting at him to hurry up and grab her arm.

Shinichi soon copied her actions, after making a run downstairs as soon as the killer had set his eyes on Ran and Conan. Soon thereafter, the silver-haired man was back on his feet, glaring at them.

What should I do? Conan trembled slightly, his knuckles now white after grasping on Ran’s umbrella so tightly. If worse came to worse, what could a six year-old do? A worn-out umbrella wasn’t going to do much against a charged gun.

“Why?” the murdered yelled. “Why did you save me?”

“Because Conan-kun was right,” the girl said, softly, and Conan jumped at the mention of his name, purely out of surprise. Her voice was growing weaker at each passing second, however, “If I let you die... I don’t think I would be able to live... with myself.”

And then she turned to the frozen child and smiled warmly, mounting a thank you before all strength left her. Her eyes closed and she dropped into the floor, just like a puppet with its strings cut.

“H-Hey, Ran!” Shinichi called, concern written on his face.

Finally, Conan felt his legs moving. “Ran-neechan!” and soon he was right beside her, resting a small hand against her forehead and looking at his brother with some sort of urgency. “She’s burning up. We need to get here out of here.” 

“I got it,” he replied and turned around to pick the girl up. He heard the click, so he didn’t need his little brother to tell him that he was being pointed by a gun.

“Maybe you shouldn’t do that,” Conan said, quickly, as he glared at the man. “I found an FBI agent on my way here not that long ago. They are looking for you, and they are nearby. They will hear you as soon as you fire that gun.”

The killer gritted his teeth and lowered the gun. Only then, Conan found himself able to breathe properly again.

“I’ll let you go for now. But if you hurt either Ran or Conan, I won’t show mercy next time," his eyes narrowed dangerously. "I'll prove your crimes with any evidence necessary and I’ll make sure you’re put away, even if my life goes with it.”

And, like so, Shinichi carried Ran away, his little brother following after him, staring at him curiously

Just now, his brother really did look like an entire different person. Back there he sounded so serious and determined, even if he was talking to a serial killer...

But Conan knew he had been terrified, if the way his hands still shook and sweat dripped from his forehead was something to go by.

At the end, they arrived home without any further complications. Ran didn't wake and rested for the entire night.

That night, though, Conan woke up suddenly, only to find himself sitting straight up on his own bed, completely drenched in cold sweat. 

Shakily, the kid brought his hand to his forehead, trying uselessly to slow his breathing, but it only kept coming out in short, sharp gasps. Even minutes after waking up, Conan's heart still violently pounded against his chest, threatening to leap out his little chest.

Realizing that, once more, he wouldn't be able to get more sleep, he carefully slipped out of bed.

Shinichi woke up to a soft whimpering from the room next to his and craned his head, the numbers on his digital clock shining angrily at him.

3:37 AM

Like so the young detective laid awake, keeping an ear out and waiting until he heard the muffled sound of barefoot steps against the cool wooden floor.

Silently, the teen opened the door just to see the small figure of a child slowly heading downstairs. It really didn't take a detective to figure out where he was going, so he wasn't surprised when he found his little brother sitting on the carpet-covered floor of their old library, focusing on an open Sherlock Holmes' book.

The way he rubbed his eyes every five seconds, however, told Shinichi that the kid was having a very hard time going through it this late at night.

"Just like I suspected," Conan's entire body jerked up at the sudden voice. "I thought it was weird you haven’t finished A Study In Scarlet yet, even though you have supposedly been up reading all night for a week now."

Once recovered from the first shock, Conan frowned at him, and pretended to focus back on his book. He kept at it, even when Shinichi crossed the room and sat cross-legged beside him.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Shinichi tried.

"I don't remember it," Conan answered rather quickly. "So I can't, even if I wanted to."

Conan heard his brother sigh tiredly and expected him to stand up and go back to bed, leaving him alone with his book, yet that didn't happen. He, instead, scooted closer and raised the child from his armpits.

The kid, in turn, could barely hold back a childish squeak when he was suddenly held in the air, before being placed on his lap.

"What are you doing?" the child asked, wide eyed, while he watched the teen taking the book from his little hands and opened it to read for himself. 

"I'm helping you," he replied, easily. "At this pace you aren't going to finish it until you are fifteen."

Conan just stared blankly at him for a few seconds and sighed, resigning to his fate since he was way too tired to fight his brother. Shinichi, on the other hand, gave him a gentle smile and placed his hand on his shoulder, pressing the child's small body against his chest.

"I wish you could trust me enough to tell me, though," he confessed with a low voice. "What's bothering you, Conan?"

When the young boy said nothing the detective sighed, opening the book unceremoniously. 

"I confess that..." his brother began reading out loud. "... I was considerably startled by this fresh proof of the practical nature of my companion’s theories."

And Conan listened at every single word, somewhat impressed by how good the teen actually was. His English somewhat lacked in proper pronunciation, but the way he interpreted Watson and Holmes dialogue while reading totally made it up to it. 

"Then, of course, this blood belongs to a second individual ─ presumably the murderer, if murder has been committed."

The way his eyes sparkled when he read Holmes' lines didn't go unnoticed. It amused him beyond belief to see his brother this excited, just like a child, even if Conan was supposed to be one himself.

It was so different from the Kudo Shinichi he would see every single night on his dreams...

Icy cold eyes and a deadly, solemn, expression on his face.

Yet, there he was, tenderly cradling his little brother against his body as he read his favourite book for him. Conan hadn't noticed it until now, but Shinichi was rocking his body back and forth, in a very comforting manner.

The gentle rocking motion was relaxing Conan and his body was gradually growing heavier, slumping even more against Shinichi’s chest. He could clearly hear his steady, calming heartbeat from his spot.

How could he ever tell his brother what was bothering him?

Especially when he was certain he would see him again, without fail, as soon as he stepped into dreamland...

... Pointing a gun at my face.

The hand that wasn't holding the book was now on top of his head, running through strands of hair and gently untangling them. 

Conan's eyelids dropped sleepily, so much that he had to struggle to keep them open, hoping to hear more about Holmes’ brilliant deductions. The ministrations on his head and the vibrations of his vocal chords as Shinichi spoke slowly, but steadily, lulled him into a strange state of peace and quietness he didn't remember ever feeling in his short life.

Was that dream even real?

Or is this...?

...

... So warm....

Bone-weary exhaustion dragged Conan down and eventually lost the battle. His eyes finally slipped closed and fell into deep slumber before Shinichi could finish reading the chapter.

For the first time in what it felt like a really long time, the nightmares didn't bother him, not even once, throughout the rest of the night. 

Chapter Text

The morning sun filtered through the windows, prompting a pair of blue eyes to open slightly. Blinking sleepily, Conan glanced around the room.

So I'm back in my room...

Upon remembering what had happened last night, he couldn't help but blush a bit. He already knew he was still a young little boy, but that didn't mean he liked acting like one.

He must have carried me here after I dozed off last night, he mused, as he stretched himself a bit.

Yet, there was something he really had to admit ─ he felt so much more rested than he had ever felt in the entire week. 

Eventually, he headed downstairs to have some breakfast, only to find himself gaping in disbelief, frozen in his place at the door frame of the living room.

So, the blue suitcase was Shinichi's and the pink one belonged to Ran, right?

... Right?

"Good morning, Conan," he didn't even react when Shinichi ruffled his hair. "Did you sleep well?"

"... Just one quick question."

"Huh?"

"Did either Ran-neechan or you bring more than one suitcase each?"

"Of course not, we weren't going to stay long, after all."

"Then..." a shaky finger pointed at the red suitcase, timidly standing on the corner of the room. "Whose is that one?"

"... Eh?"

"It's yours, Co-chan," he felt hands resting on his shoulders and his mother's cheerful voice coming from above his head. "Your father and I had a very long talk this morning and decided it would be best for you to start elementary school in Japan!"

Conan could only blink in confusion. "... What?"

Yukiko smiled at him and kneeled down in front of him, his hands not moving from their spot on his shoulders.

"I know how hard this year has been on you. A fresh start could do some good to you."

The kid did no reply, knowing that the woman was right about that. Living in America had not been easy, especially when you were the Japanese four-eyed kid with the weird name.

And, sometimes, kids could be pretty cruel.

"But Mom," Shinichi stepped up and tried to reason with her. "I'm only sixteen. You can't expect me to take care of a child all by myself!"

Conan snorted at that. "I'm pretty sure I can take care of myself far better than you."

"I can-!"

"I bet you can't even cook for yourself."

"W-Well..."

"Just one more thing," their smiling mother interrupted the duo before they could continue. "Since it might be difficult for Co-chan to live a normal life sharing a name with a famous novelist and an actress like myself, we decided that for now on his surname will be Edogawa."

...

"What?!"


At the end, his parents really went through it, even if his brother had constantly tried to persuade them not to. One day he was Kudo Conan, a child living in America with his ridiculously rich parents and the other he was Edogawa Conan, the new kid in Teitan Elementary School, in Japan.

He had no idea what kind of friends his father had called to get his name changed, but he honestly didn’t want to know.

“Hey, Conan-kun, come on,” barely a day after he had arrived, a girl of his age was at his desk, trying to convince him to do something, probably a crazy stunt. “Go ghost hunting with us!”

Conan gave her a blank look. This girl... What was her name again?

“Give it up, Ayumi,” a boy with a large complexion crossed his arms in front of his chest. “There’s no way he’ll be useful to us!”

“But Genta-kun, you and I won’t be enough.”

Ah, Yoshida Ayumi and Kojima Genta... That’s right.

Ghost hunting, though... He really, really, didn’t want to go. Abandoned or not, sneaking into someone else’s property was still a crime and could get them into big trouble.

Even more considering these two. Conan might not know a lot about them ─ hell, he didn’t even remember their names until a second ago ─ but he could tell they were a pain just by looking at them.

Considering the way Ayumi screamed, frightened at the thought of evil spirits roaming around in the house, he could easily picture her doing the same inside the property, thus alerting the neighbors about their presence. Genta seemed to be loud by nature, so a similar outcome could be expected.

“That’s all make believe,” a boy commented, as he closed a science book he had been previously reading. “In this modern age of science, the only ghosts and monsters are in the manga and on TV!”

That one was Tsuburaya Mitsuhiko, Conan remembered. He actually didn’t dislike that one kid in particular. He was smart and quite logical, a good change from the obnoxious and loud nature of the children Conan was used to be around.

Even if he was a bit of a nerd.

“Then, come with us to prove that ghosts aren’t real!” Genta shouted at him.

“Eh? I have to go, too?” Mitsuhiko sighed, tiredly.

Conan would been lying if he said he couldn’t empathize with him.

“Conan-kun, you believe what I said, right?” the girl leaned closer, expectantly looking at him.

“That’s hard to say for sure...” he trailed off when he spotted the dejected expression on Ayumi’s face, and then the murderous glare Genta sent his way. Even Mitsuhiko gave him a disappointed look. “But I think that you are saying the truth, Yoshida-san.”

The truth from her point of view, at least...

Ayumi visually brightened at those words, and Conan mentally sighed in relief. Genta, feeling satisfied with that answer, pumped his fist in the air.

“Alright then,” he declared. “After school, we’ll get ready and rush to that house!”

“Yeah!” the girl cheered, raising Conan and Mitsuhiko’s hands on the air, against their wishes.

Conan did not say anything. There’s no way I’m taking part on this.

Tonight, he decided, was going to read a book, then go to sleep early and pretend this didn’t happen. He hadn’t promised anything, after all.

And so he did, except he woke randomly in the middle of the night, mostly confused about what had roused him. It certainly hadn’t been a nightmare or some sort of physical discomfort.

Blindly, his hand searched for his glasses and, once they were on place, he took his phone. The screen didn’t light up when he opened the lid, so he figured the battery might have died at some hour in the night. 

I must have forgotten to charge it.

With a sigh, he got up from bed and went looking for a charger. Eventually he found it on the pocket of his black windbreaker. Not that he remembered how it ended up there.

Suddenly steps echoed down the hall, passing past his bedroom door. At first, he paid no mind, thinking that it was his brother going to the bathroom or something, but then he realized he was talking to someone.

Pressing his ear against the door, he noticed he was on the phone.

So that’s what woke me up.

“Alright, I understand,” Shinichi said, in a serious voice. “I will go right away.”

Go? Where would he go this late at night?

Not even pausing to give it a second thought, he changed out of his pajamas, put on that same windbreaker and quietly left the room. Silently opening the front gate and closing behind his back, he looked around.

He spotted Shinichi walking down the street, a strangely solemn expression fixed on his face. Even thought he had to swear to himself that he was definitely not a stalker, Conan pulled his hood over his head and casually followed, making sure to keep his distance.

The teen eventually stopped in a park, and sat on a bench, his hands neatly folded on top of his lap as he waited for something.

His hands are shaking, Conan observed while hiding behind a nearby tree. Why are they shaking?

Then someone sat beside him. In the darkness of the night, the child didn’t manage to see anything but his unnaturally long silver hair, or the fact that he was completely dressed in black, as if he was obsessed with that colour.

Or his terrifyingly cold eyes.

Wordlessly, the man pulled out a picture, which Conan couldn’t see from his spot. “The name is Watanabe Satoshi, thirty-two.”

Shinichi’s eyes barely moved from the picture, yet narrowed slightly. Conan leaned slightly closer, making sure he wouldn’t be seen, trying to hear his brother’s reaction. Before Shinichi’s mouth could open to speak, something else brought his attention away from the scene.

“Hey, kid!” his blood froze, and he spun around. A few meters away from his position, a man was running towards him. “What are you doing?!”

He was big and dressed in black as well. That was all Conan could tell about him, because he darted away at the sight of him. Conan could tell he had started chasing after him, which was more than enough to convince him to move even faster.

At some point, it seemed like he had lost him, but he couldn’t be sure.

The darkness was prominent, and he guessed he should be grateful about that ─ fortunately, he was wearing black clothes so he was very hard to spot. On the other hand, however, that man was also dressed in the same colour and he didn’t really know if he could spot him in time if he got close to him.

“Where are you, little boy?!” his heart skipped a beat when he heard the voice coming closer. “I’m not going to do anything to you, I promise.”

As if I would believe that!

He stepped backwards, away from the source of the sound, and his back collided against something hard. It didn’t take long to notice the tree standing behind him and an idea pop into his mind.

Having no other choice he grabbed into the lowest branch and pulled himself up, survival instincts taking over and adrenaline pumping through his entire, small body to make him climb quicker.

"Come out," not even a second after he had reached the top, the man entered his visual field.

Please, don't look up. Please, don't look up. Please, don’t look up...

 "I just want to talk."

The way his gun clicked and his lips curved into a sinister smile told the child otherwise, however. Despite it all, he kept perfectly still and held his breath.

In the silence of the night, even the shift of his clothes against the leaves could give away his position.

Even after the man had left, Conan did not move until several minutes later. Only after he was sure the man was away did he, slowly, start to climb down.

Once his feet hit the ground, he took off running.

Conan cursed he had followed his brother so far into town. He needed to get home right now, away from the darkened streets and the sight of those men. 

The kid had no idea of how much he ran, yet he didn’t stop. And so was his mind ─ running, searching for an answer he wasn’t going to find any time soon. 

He was confused, more confused than he had ever been in his life. Those people were scary and extremely dangerous. And his brother was involved with them in some way.

Was he...?

There’s no way, he shut his eyes close and shook his head from side to side, as he kept running. He would never-!

His thoughts were cut short when he collided into something, prompting him to fall into his back. Groaning in pain, he massaged his hurting head, and was going to apologize to whoever he had just ran into.

“Hey, watch where you are going-! Wait, it’s Conan!” 

That voice! His eyes opened to see Genta, sitting on the ground right in front of him, surrounded by Mitsuhiko and Ayumi. Conan blinked twice, wondering what they were doing here, until he remembered their plans tonight.

Which he had tried to ignore.

And now there he was, in front of the very same haunted house he certainly didn’t want to break in.

Then again, if those men are still around, staying on plain view could be very dangerous.

“Conan-kun!” Ayumi beamed. “I knew you would come!”

The boy laughed, awkwardly. Not that I intended to.

But it would be better if he just went along, he decided, even if his heart wouldn’t stop pounding. He managed to hid it well, however.

“Alright, now that everyone is here, let’s see what you guys brought,” the bigger boy spoke up, waving a bat around. “I brought a metal bat to beat the snot out of those ghosts!”

Aren’t ghosts supposed to be incorporeal...?

“I brought candies, in case we get hungry,” Ayumi smiled, as she held up her bag, filled with sweets and every single cavity-inducing snack anyone could think of.

“I brought flashlights for each of us and a compass so we don’t get lost,” Mitsuhiko showed his stuff as well.

Can you really get that lost in a house?

“What about you, Conan-kun?”

Conan flinched. “I, uh...” he searched through his pockets and pulled the phone he had forgotten he had with him. “I brought my phone.”

Ayumi blinked at it. “But, Conan-kun...”

“It’s not charged,” Mitsuhiko noted.

“I only realized that on my way here.”

“It’s not our fault if you get killed,” Genta scoffed.

Like any of those things would actually be of any help against a ghost.

“That’s right,” the girl was concerned. “If you’re not careful, you’ll be eaten!”

Do ghosts even have to eat?

Conan wisely choose to keep all those thoughts to himself as he followed Genta, who claimed to have found a secret entrance. It was weird, he thought, that someone would build a secret entrance, but he quickly shrugged it off. 

People could have weird quirks, and his parents were a clear example of it. Most likely, there wasn't any other reason than they just had felt like it.

Still weird, though. 

Not giving it any other thought, and giving a brief, last look over his shoulder, he followed the rest inside.

He faintly heard Ayumi complaining something about getting her hands dirty as she crawled past the entrance, but he ignored it. Once inside the property, Genta placed a hand on the handle, and was surprised to find out that the door was unlocked.

Peeking inside, the children realized it was pitch black, and they couldn't really see anything.

"H-Hey," Ayumi took a step back, shaking in fear and voice wavering. "Maybe we should go home..."

"Stupid! We have come this far already," Genta shouted at her. "If you wanna go home, go by yourself."

Conan narrowed his eyes. "That was rather rude," he scolded his classmate. "If Yoshida-san is feeling uncomfortable, you have no right to pressure to her into doing something she doesn't want to do."

"Conan-kun is right," Mitsuhiko joined in and gave Genta a stern look. "You should apologize to her."

The boy looked at the other two for a few seconds, before his head dropped, ashamed by his actions. He turned to Ayumi with an apologetic look.

"I'm sorry, Ayumi," he sighed. "I can walk you home if you want."

"No, it's okay, Genta-kun," she waved her hands in front of her head, frantically. "I was a bit scared at first, but now I'm okay."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah," and then, she smiled brightly. "Because if I'm with you guys there's nothing I fear. You'll protect me, right?"

Both Genta and Mitsuhiko instantly nodded, their faces reddening as a tomato. Conan, on the other hand, just rolled his eyes and walked inside.

I really shouldn't have said anything.

"Wait, Conan-kun!" Mitsuhiko called.

The kids followed him. As they walked around, they noticed that the mansion looked even creepier from the inside, flashlights waving across the room hoping to not spot something that shouldn’t be there.

Conan, however, started to calm down. This place was definitely safer than the streets.

“Hey, it’s a place to wash up!” Ayumi chirped when she noticed the bathroom. “Lucky~!”

The boy noticed the girl turning on the tap and was about to tell her that was just impossible, but then water actually came out. He stepped up closer and stared as she washed her hands.

Conan opened his mouth and was about to tell them that they needed to run away. That this house was definitely not abandoned. That someone was living here and...

“Conan-kun?” the girl noticed him standing there, paled faced. “Is something wrong?”

And then he remembered. The silver haired man. The cold look on his eyes. The gun in his partner’s hand.

“Don’t tell me you...” her eyes widened in fear. “Did you see a ghost?!”

The fact that he was out there, in a park a few blocks from here...

“N-No, it’s nothing, Yoshida-san,” came his weak response. “Don’t worry about it.”

And so, he dumbly said nothing about it, hoping against hope that he was only overreacting and there was some sort of mistake considering the tap water. Because it had to be it.

The others were chatting happily, blissfully ignorant of the situation in hand, about them being part of a role-playing game.

“Of course, I’m the knight!” Genta declared, loudly.

“Then, I’m the cute, female warrior!” Ayumi grinned.

“I’m the intelligent magic-user!” Mitsuhiko declared.

Conan just watched at them by the corner of the eye, silently, entertaining the thought for a moment even if he wasn’t so fond of video games like those kids were. Maybe the thief? No, that doesn’t sound right. Maybe I would be...

“And Conan is the villager,” Genta pointed at him.

... Eh?

“Then I’m not even a part of the party, am I?” he raised an eyebrow.

“But you’re an important character who gives us information.”

His eye twitched a little bit, but he just sighed and kept walking through the corridor, and soon Genta took the front. It was short lived, however, because the three kids quickly hid behind him when a door suddenly creaked open.

“Hey, hurry up and go check it out, villager!” Genta ushered him.

“Oh, I don’t know. I thought I was an NPC,” Conan crossed his arms and smirked a little bit. “I think it’s the heroes job to check these kind of things.”

It was hard to keep himself from laughing when the three kids gulped and looked at each other, hesitantly. Genta was the first one to gather enough courage to see what was going on, the other two cheering from behind. He jumped right inside the room, bat ready to smack the ghost across the head.

He stopped suddenly, blinked a bit, and declared:

“It’s just an open window.”

Mitsuhiko then explained to the others that was probably the wind that forced the door open, and Ayumi praised him, telling him he sounded like a detective. Conan, just glanced at them, blankly. He doesn’t, really, and Mitsuhiko excused himself to the bathroom.

Then, it hit Conan. Instantly after he was kneeling down into the floor, looking for something.

It’s completely dry, his eyes opened, wide. It’s raining outside. Why isn’t it wet?

And he knew the answer; this window was definitely opened recently. There was no way he could ignore this any longer. They could be in danger.

“We need to leave, now,” he stood up, suddenly, startling the other two. “This is dangerous.”

“What do you mean, Conan-kun?”

“This house is not abandoned,” and then he took out running. “You two get out of here, I will go search for Tsuburaya!”

Before they could reply, the boy was gone. Ayumi and Genta exchanged worried looks, which soon turned into complete horror when they heard a scream. It was Mitsuhiko’s voice, without any doubt.`

“Genta-kun, where are you going?!”

Ayumi found herself all alone after that.

Conan just ran faster at the sound, frantically waving his flashlight around. He had panicked when he couldn’t find any trace of him on the bathroom. And then, he found himself in an old study; dusty bookshelves and a lone framed photo on the middle of the desk. Curiosity took the best of him and he took a look of it.

It was an old photograph of a family of three; mother, father and the son, all smiling at the camera. He faintly remembered Ayumi telling him about the crime that was committed in this very same house. The man was murdered and the killer was never found, prompting the mother and the son to move somewhere else. Or did they...?

But then, Genta’s screaming filled his ears and he rushed out, dropping the photo instantly, hoping he didn’t hear Ayumi’s scream next. It was his fault, all of it. If he hadn’t been so dumb, so selfish... 

He shook his head. It didn’t matter now. He needed to find them.

It didn’t took him long to find Ayumi, all alone and frozen in fear in the middle of the corridor. Soon, he realized why she was so terrified; someone was coming.

In a swift motion, Conan ran up to her and pulled her into hiding, hand firmly placed over her mouth so she wouldn’t scream. She initially panicked, but then calmed down when she saw him. He didn’t move his hand, though.

A woman passed by, pushing a trolley and carrying a candle. Once she left, Conan let out the breath he didn’t know he was holding and released the girl.

“I-It’s a ghost,” she whimpered.

“No, it’s a person,” he frowned. Which is worse, actually.

Conan followed after her, Ayumi closely behind him, and peered around the corner. There was no trace of the woman, and the trolley was there, empty and alone. The girl claimed that she really was a ghost, until Conan found a trap door.

Now, the boy didn't know what he was expecting, but a cell room hadn't crossed his mind. 

Yet there they were, standing in front of a man, covered in filth and hair so long it seemed like he hadn't cut it in ages. He was weeping so desperately he didn't even take notice of the children.

They heard the woman coming, so they hurried up to hide behind a locker, listening as she pleaded her son to hold on a little more so he could finally be free. He only wailed louder in response, throwing the food she had just brought him away from him. 

I need to call the police, Conan nodded to himself, silently cursing when he remembered his phone was dead. Through the corner of his eye, however, he noticed a socket in the wall.

Please, tell me it’s still there, his hand slid into his other pocket and mentally sighed in relief when he fished out a phone charger.

On the other hand Ayumi, frightened as she was, stepped back, accidentally knocking a broom that was behind her, which he luckily managed to catch with his foot while resting a hand on the locker to keep him himself from losing his balance. That caused, however, the bucket in top of it to fall.

It hit the floor, clanging loudly. 

At that moment, Conan knew they were dead.

“It looks like there are more rats in addition to the two from earlier,” she heard the woman say. “Come on out. It’s no use hiding!”

Conan flinched and then looked at Ayumi. Sighing, he turned to her and placed the phone and the charger on her hands. With a smile, he nodded and stepped out.

Holding back her tears, the girl plugged the phone in.

“Look who’s talking,” he smirked at her, praying in his mind that it didn’t look like he was forcing it. He hoped he was hiding well the fact that he was terrified, especially when he spotted the very sharp knife the woman was holding.

At her confused gaze, he explained everything. The crime that the son had committed five years ago, and the fact that she was hiding his son so he wouldn’t go to prison. By the corner of the eye, he spotted Ayumi, phone on hand, letting the police hear Conan’s explanation over the phone so she didn’t have to talk and give herself away. Good.

“W-Who are you?!” she screamed.

“Edogawa Conan,” he shrugged. “Just an elementary school student.”

When the grip on the knife tightened, the boy flinched. Closing his eyes and sighing deeply, he accepted his fate. 

If the police was coming there was a chance Ayumi could be saved.

That was enough for him.

“So you hid your son inside the basement of this very same house, the old house in the 4-chrome area,” he made sure to get the police to hear where they were. “Because, your husband’s killer is none other than-”

“Shut up... SHUT UP!”

One moment later he was five feet off the ground, air knocked off his lungs as he hit the wall, the woman was painfully digging her nails on his shoulder while keeping him on place, on her eye level. There was a wild look on her eyes.

She raised her knife and he knew it was over.

He heard Ayumi scream and he felt her grip on him weakening. Conan then spotted the girl behind the woman, the broom in her hands, and he understood it ─ she had hit her in the head.

Her child’s strength was not enough to knock a full-grown woman out, he knew, but it was enough of a shock to let him grab into the woman’s arm and kick the knife away from her grasp.

Once released, he ran up to Ayumi and the two looked, terrified, back at the woman. She was going to kill them, but stopped when her son pleaded her not to.

The man broke out crying. 

And Conan sighed. He could hear the sirens outside.

Chapter Text

It was daylight already when they headed outside.

Conan said nothing as he tugged the security blanket, which the kind police officer had just laid over his shoulders, closer to him and watched as the three kids were loudly scolded by their parents, who had come after the police called them to pick the children up. 

The police had already asked Conan and he had secretly given them his own number after turning off his phone. 

He could've given them his brother's number, but he didn't want to. Not until he figured out what he had been doing last night, hanging around with those scary men.

"It seems they turned it off," the officer sighed and mumbled something about irresponsible parents, which he ignored. "Do you know anybody else we can call?"

Conan shook his head and gave him the most innocent face he could pull off. "Can't I just go home?"

The policeman ruffled his hair. "Okay, I will take you there. Just give me a moment."

And the man left to talk to one of his colleagues. When he went back, he only saw a blanket, dropped carelessly in the ground.

"Hey, the kid is gone!"


"I'm home," the child called while he entered his house, only to be met with silence. 

He still isn't home, he thought, concern shaping his features.

Absentmindedly he turned the TV on and, unlike other kids that would put some action filled anime or movie, he settled on the news. He glanced at the time on the corner of the screen. 

It's seven in the morning.

Conan sat on the sofa, going through last night on his mind, including his little adventure with his classmates. The boy's hand clenched around the remote.

He had put it them in danger. He should have said something. Anything.

His eyes suddenly opened, bringing him out of his thoughts. There, on bright red letters it read:

Fire in Ekoda Hospital

It shouldn't have bothered that much, really. While upsetting, these kind of events were not uncommon. Just one mistake and an entire building could blow up.

Except that, somehow, there wasn't many casualties, besides one. The head doctor hadn't had such a luck and now he was dead, body charred beyond recognition.

A chill ran down Conan's back when the reporter spoke.

"The victim's name was Watanabe Satoshi."

And then he was cold, very cold, so much that he had to rub his arms with his hands. Conan noticed he was shaking, but he wasn't sure if it was from the chilly environment or the upsetting feeling on the pit of his stomach. 

"Oh, Conan, you're up early," the kid was startled at the voice. He jumped, turning his head to the doorway. "It's Saturday, you don't have school."

There stood Shinichi, wearing the same clothes he saw him in the night before and he noticed the teen was carrying some plastic bags.

The brother was blinking puzzledly at the boy who, for some unknown reason, seemed to grow paler and paler as time went by, and stepped closer to him.

Confusion shifted into concern when he reached with his hand to give him a friendly pat on the top of his head and Conan flinched away, without fully meaning to.

"Did you have another nightmare?"

The youngest didn't really know how to react. Faintly he could hear the TV reporter talking about the weather, and he was glad beyond words for the change of topic.

"Where did you go?" he glanced at the bags. "You're awfully early, as well."

"I forgot to change my alarm and it went off," he sighed. "So I decided that, since that I was wide awake like an owl, I would go buy some stuff we were out of," he raised the bag for him to see. "Like eggs, for example."

Conan looked inside the bags for a few moments, before taking the one with the eggs with him, towards the kitchen.

“What are you doing?” Shinichi asked as he walked after him.

“Pancakes,” he said, his voice plain. “Starving.”

The elder one smiled, content to watch the other going around the kitchen. 

He had already gotten over the shock of finding out that Conan could manage himself much better than he did, and that included being able to cook half-decently. When he had asked him where he learnt that, he had said he had read about it somewhere.

Shinichi figured out it was due to necessity ─ neither his father nor himself were actually proficient in the art of cooking, to say the least. It wasn’t so farfetched to imagine a younger Conan taking on cooking all of his own because he had to eat ramen soup for the fifth time that week, all because his mother was in another month-long trip with her friends.

Conan had admitted not having any idea of how did Shinichi manage to survive without having the sightless clue of how to cook, and joking about this being the true reason their mother sent the kid to Japan. He had suggested that it was to take care of his older brother and not the other way around.

“It’s just chemistry,” he had said once. “It’s not that hard, really.”

And the worst part? He couldn’t completely disagree. Even if Conan was only a first grader who shouldn’t even have a clue of what the word ‘chemistry’ meant.

Soon, it was done. Conan set two plates of fresh made pancakes on the table, and looked at his brother, who had busied himself in the kitchen. “It’s done, Aniki,” he called over his shoulder as he sat.

“Just a moment.”

Then he came, with two steamy mugs on his hands and set one beside Conan’s plate. The boy peered inside, curiously, and was taken away. “Coffee?” he blinked. “I thought you said it wasn’t good for me.”

“It’s just for today, don’t get used to it,” he said, taking one sip at his own mug.

Conan was silently looking at the coffee, a pensive look on his face. The report he saw on TV about Ekoda Hospital was still fresh on his mind, as well as the cold blooded look that man in black from the other night had on his eyes. Not to say the gun the one chasing him had held on his hand.

It was too much to take, and it terrified him.

He didn’t even know what he was supposed to think.

“It’s cold, you know,” Conan looked up at him, noticing that he was pouting a bit. “You’re six. I’m supposed to be Shinichi-niichan or Onii-san to you, like it would be to other children your age. Why am I stuck with Aniki?”

“Oh, I see,” there was something on his eyes that made him look childish, mischievous even. “I can call you Shinichi-dono if you want to.”

“That’s... to be expected, but certainly not what I had in mind.”

“Or Shinichi-jiisan.” 

“Hey...”

“Shinichi-baka.” 

As his brother loudly complained and whined something about respecting his elders, Conan burst out laughing. He drank from the coffee his brother had prepared for him and couldn’t help but feel all warm from inside.

And there was simply no way his brother could have done something like that, he decided, as he looked at the cup with a rather gentle smile on his lips.

Watanabe Satoshi was a pretty common and plain name, Conan naively convinced himself. It could have been anyone.

... Right?

And for almost an entire year, nothing happened.


It was December already.

Conan quietly made his way inside the classroom, and felt relieved when he found it empty. 

Looks like I’m early.

And he was glad he was, truly. He set his bag beside his seat and pulled out a book, while thanking the small mercies of life, such as spending a hopefully peaceful morning reading in silence until they arrived and flipped the entire room upside down.

“Good morning, Conan-kun!”

Mentally groaning, he shifted his gaze from his copy of The Valley of Fear to Ayumi’s bright blue eyes. He didn’t even need to turn around to know that Mitsuhiko and Genta were also there, burning holes on the back of his head. 

“You guys are pretty early today,” he said suddenly, not even bothering to greet her back.

Awfully early, considering he hadn’t even have the chance to read one single sentence.

“That’s right!” she nodded, energetically. “We noticed we never got the chance to hang out with you, so we decided to come early so we could play before school!” the girl glanced at her other two friends. “Right?”

“Yeah...” was their reply. Still glaring.

Conan could not help but to let out a dry chuckle. While it might have been true for Ayumi, it seemed like the other two had just tagged along because of her. 

To be honest, sometimes he wondered how come the girl hadn’t yet noticed the huge crush the two males had for her. Or the nonexistent one Conan had for her in turn, for that matter.

The three kids fell back into a friendly chat and didn’t even notice Conan focusing back to his book, a faint scowl out of annoyment present on his face. That was it, until his phone vibrated in his pocket. 

With a tired sigh, he pulled it out.

“I have a school project to work on with Ran and Sonoko. 

Will be home by dinner.

─ Shinichi.”

He would have raised an eyebrow, had his brother been able to see him. 

“Hey, Conan-kun,” Ayumi called over him, causing the boy to glance curiously at her. “We were planning to go to Tropical Land together later today. Would you like to come?”

“Sorry,” he smiled at her, apologetically, putting the phone down and returning to his book. “I can’t make it.” 

“Eh? Why?”

“I have some homework to do.”

“Do you?” Genta crossed his arms over his chest. “You can do it before you go.”

“We have seen you,” Mitsuhiko narrowed his eyes at him. “The other week, you did it at homeroom. It barely took you five seconds.”

“You always say the same thing every single time we try to invite you to do something,” Ayumi pouted at him. “Come on, Conan-kun! I promise it will be fun.”

Conan stared blankly at his classmates, before glancing at Ayumi’s big pleading eyes for a second. “Sorry, guys,” he turned back to his book and flipped the page over.

The boy didn’t say anything else, even after hearing Ayumi’s disheartened sigh. Honestly, Conan did feel a little bad for disappointing her so badly, but he couldn’t help it. 

Not when the events of eight months ago, at the mansion, still haunted him to this day. At that time, he had put them through terrible danger because of his own mistakes. Because fear had overcome him.

What was there to say he wouldn’t do it again?

Besides, if he tried to befriend them, they would start to notice. They would eventually see him for who he was and then, everything would go the same way it did before with kids of his own age.

Conan failed understand, however, why those kids still kept trying to befriend him, after almost an entire year of rejection from his part.

Maybe they will just give up this time around.

It wasn’t long until he realized he was terribly wrong.

After school, he had decided to drop by Professor Agasa’s house to spend the evening until his brother came back home. It hadn’t been five seconds since he had dropped his things on Agasa’s table, to do his homework like any self-respecting elementary student would do, when the doorbell rang.

“Conan, could you answer the door for me?” said Agasa from his place behind the computer.

“Okay,” Conan hopped off his chair and went to the door and stood up on his tiptoes to peek through the peephole.

He froze on his spot when he saw Ayumi standing there, grinning widely as she chatted with Mitsuhiko. Just as he was trying to silently back off, Genta’s eye covered Conan’s entire view. 

“Hey, Conan, I know you are here!” the boy yelled at him. “We heard Professor Agasa calling your name, so you better open up or else-”

Before the kid could finish his sentence, however, he stumbled forward as the door was suddenly open for him. After regaining his balance, he glared at Conan.

The smaller boy, in turn, just stood beside him, giving the entire group a blank look.

“So?” his voice was plain. “What do you guys want?”

“We’re picking you up,” Ayumi had a determined look on her eyes. “Let’s go to Tropical Land, together.”

“I already told you I couldn’t go.”

“We we’ll wait until you finish everything you have to do,” the girl walked forward, taking her shoes off without waiting for Conan to welcome her inside.

“Then, we’re coming in,” Mitsuhiko did the same, nodding politely at the boy as he came in. Genta’s shoes were off in an instant, as well.

These guys... Conan groaned and massaged his temples when he saw his classmates cheerfully greeting Agasa and sitting on the couch, as if they owned the place, talking and laughing loudly as they did.

Ah, he knew this was coming. He could already feel the beginning of a massive headache.

“But you know, I really, really can’t go,” Conan gave them the best apologetic smile he could pull off. “I don’t have any money on me and Aniki is going to be home late, so I can’t ask him give me some. So, let’s leave it for another time, okay?”

The three kids just sighed, heavily, having expected such an outcome. Agasa, on the other hand, hummed and crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Give me a second,” he then stood up. 

He just blinked at the old man as he shuffled through some drawers, until he finally found whatever he was looking for. Agasa then went back to the boy and placed something on his hands.

His eyebrow started to twitch when he noticed he had just been given money.

“But Professor, I-!”

“You can tell Shinichi to pay me back tomorrow,” he smiled at him. “Just don’t worry about it and have some fun with your friends, okay?”

He reluctantly nodded back at him. That bastard... He’s doing it on purpose, isn’t he?

“Isn’t that great, Conan-kun?” Mitsuhiko grinned.

“Yay! Let’s go, let’s go!” Ayumi jumped off the couch.

“Hurry up, Conan,” Genta called as they started to run for the door.

“Yeah...”

And suddenly forgetting they had promised to wait for Conan to finish his homework, they started to put back on his shoes. The boy sighed for the eleventh time this day and, after giving the professor a silent glare, he went to fetch his stuff to leave with them.


If Conan had been told to describe how he was feeling in one single word, it would most likely be drained. 

Throughout the entire day the boy had been dragged to almost every single attraction. From scary houses to roller coasters and even to a nearby candy store for some snacks.

And while the attractions weren’t that out of this world, keeping up with these kids was simply exhausting. 

“That was really fun!” Ayumi, however, was radiant. 

“It’s definitely not good for the heart,” Mitsuhiko sighed, tiredly. Apparently, the haunted house had been to much for him and Genta to bear.

Mentally, Conan couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Overall, while the experience could have been worse, it could’ve also been much better than it was. The setting had been poorly made and disguises they had worn looked terribly cheap. It was also so predictable that he could easily know when something was about to jump.

“We should go home...” Genta mumbled. 

Conan perked up at that.

“Come to think of it, it’s a bit late, isn’t it?” he commented, hoping that the other the other two would agree.

“Just one more!” Ayumi pleaded. ”The Mystery Coaster should be okay, right?”

“Ayumi-chan, we only have enough money for the return fare home,” Mitsuhiko told her.

And the shortest boy wished she just accepted defeat and headed back home, but she didn’t. Instead, Ayumi told them to leave everything to her. 

Leading them to the current predicament. The four children were now standing in front of a hole, big enough for them to pass through. Conan only blinked for a second, frozen on his spot, when he saw Ayumi trying to climb up.

“Hey, hey, wait a second,” he held her by the shoulders. “You can’t just do that!”

“Eh? Why?”

“See that man over there?” he motioned to the guard standing in front of the entrance, a few meters far from their group. “We aren’t out of his visual field. There’s is a big chance he will see us and catch us if we try to get inside just like that.”

Ayumi just nodded at him, dejectedly. Soon, the kid felt his personal bubble popping, as the other two boys walked surrounded him. Genta’s hand has grasping his shirt.

“What should we do, Conan?”

“At this rate, Ayumi-chan...”

He, in turn, glanced to the girl. Her eyes were starting to water up.

“Even if your say so, I don’t-” he smiled, nervously. 

“Please, Conan-kun!”

“Okay, okay,” he sighed. “Just... Just stay put.”

Like so, he started to walk away. As he walked closer to the guard, the child couldn’t help but wonder why was he doing this, instead of relaxing on his couch back home, reading.

“Excuse me, sir,” he ran towards the man and stopped right in front of him. “Can you help me?”

The adult, in turn, kneeled down in front of him. “What’s wrong, boy?” he asked, kindly.

“I can’t find my mother anywhere!” he whined. “I’m scared! I want to go home!”

“H-Hey,” the man panicked a bit, not wanting the kid to get anymore upset and start crying like most lost children did. “I will help you find her. Now, where did you last see her?”

“Will you? Thank you!” Conan grinned widely and grabbed the guard’s hand. “Here, here. This way!”


“It has been a long while...” Mitsuhiko commented, as he peeked over from the crate in the wall. “I wonder if Conan-kun has been caught or something.”

“He probably just went home,” Genta huffed, as the other boy walked away from his spot and sat beside his friends. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he just left us here by ourselves.”

“You’re wrong!” Ayumi yelled at him, angrily. “Conan-kun isn’t like that. Remember that time at the mansion?”

“That is a bit different, Ayumi-chan,” Mitsuhiko commented. “At that time, we were in real danger.”

“Besides, that was one time in this whole year,” Genta sighed. “What do we actually know about him?”

“Well, I...”

To be fair, Ayumi actually knew virtually nothing about Conan. Not that she hadn’t tried to; of course the girl had done everything in her power to befriend the young boy. 

The feeling wasn’t mutual, it seemed, as the kid had done his best to avoid spending time with her and her friends. None of them had tried to give up, and for eight long months, this kept on.

And his attempts had only grown more obvious after their little adventure on the not-so-abandoned house.

At some point, Mitsuhiko had asked her why was she still trying. At that time, she had just shrugged and brushed the question off by walking faster, claiming that they were going to be late for school. 

She had even wondered if she should just leave him be.

Until she had spotted him there, on his seat, nose stuck in a book, yet eyes glancing away from the pages. It had been brief, however. The boy had focused back to his novel as soon as he noticed the slip.

But it had been long enough for her to put two and two together. 

Back then, he had been watching a group of children playing cards with each other, laughing loudly. 

Yet, Conan’s eyes...

They looked... sad, Ayumi remembered.

“Sorry for the wait,” suddenly, a voice said behind them.

The three kids turned around to see Conan, who was currently climbing down the crate. He briefly brushed the dust off his clothes and joined the group.

For a few moments, none said anything, just stared, until Genta decided to break the silence.

“What took you so long, Conan?!” he reprimanded him. “We thought you weren’t coming.”

“I led the guard to the other side of the park,” the shorter boy huffed. “I had to take a longer path around this entire place so he wouldn’t spot me on my way back.”

“It doesn’t matter,” the girl chirped, happily. “Come on, let’s go. This way!”

Conan should had known better than to let Ayumi have her way, really. If he knew that it would lead him to walk aimlessly in a dark tunnel for almost half an hour, he would’ve happily bid goodbye to them already. 

“Now what do we do?” Genta complained to her.

“From here we should be able to get in the line,” Ayumi explained, with a bright smile.

“I don’t see it,” Mitsuhiko voiced.

“Of course you don’t see it,” Conan sighed, sliding his hands inside his pockets, a bored expression on his face. “We’re lost, after all.”

“L-Lost?!” the other two males shrieked, panicking.

“We have been walking non-stop for thirty minutes now. Considering how big this place is, we should have already reached the line more than twenty minutes ago,” he then turned to face the kids. “In other words, we’re lost.”

“It can’t be...” the girl visibly defeated. “What should we do?”

The most sensible thing to do was probably going back from where they came and finally go home, Conan thought absentmindedly. For a moment, he entertained that idea as he let his gaze wonder toward the rails. Then he glanced at the kids and their downcast expression.

His eyes softened a bit.

They had really been looking forward this...

The kids watched as he quietly stepped back, moving from their field of sight, and they let out a defeated sigh. Their surprise was big, however, when they turned around.

Instead of going towards the exit, Conan sat on the ground, his back resting against the wall. For a moment, they didn’t have any idea of what to think of it, and just blinked, cluelessly.

And the other boy seemed to understand their confusion, if the way he sighed, exasperatedly, was something to go by.

“The roller coaster is going to pass by here any minute now. If we wait and see which way it’s heading to, we can figure out which way to go and follow the rails until we reach the entrance.”

“O-Oh!” Mitsuhiko was the first to wake up from his stupor. “You’re right!”

“So clever!” the girl giggled. “As expected from you, Conan-kun!”

Conan let out a forced chuckle, as he scratched the back of his head. It wasn’t that clever, really, they could’ve figured this on their own if they had actually bothered to look around.

He didn’t say any of that, though, and decided to just entertain himself by watching the three of them sitting in a circle as they waited for the rollercoaster to pass by, chatting cheerfully among themselves. 

“It’s coming!” at some point Genta suddenly jumped on his feet, turning to the roller coaster. “We were going the opposite way all along!”

As the roller coaster passed by the group, the children saw something falling with a loud thud a few feet away from them. Telling them to stay put where they were, Conan stepped closer.

It was too dark to see clearly, but he was pretty sure he was standing in front of a severed head.

Ayumi felt something hitting her foot, so she leaned over to see what it seemed to be... pearls? Just as she was about to pick one up to see more clearly, Conan stopped her.

"Don't touch it. You'll contaminate the crime scene."

"Crime scene...?" Mitsuhiko's face went pale. "Don't tell me, Conan-kun, that the thing beside your feet..."

"Yeah, don't come any closer," there was a look of disgust on his eyes. "It's gross."

The three kids looked at each other, obviously frightened at the prospect. Only Ayumi was brave enough to step closer to the boy, hands clenched on top of her chest.

“Maybe we should go before we get into trouble,” Ayumi suggested, timidly.

“No, we need to stay right here,” Conan told her. “We’re witnesses, after all.”

Without saying another word, the children sat down, as far away from the head as they could, while Conan simply walked around, examining every piece of evidence as he could.

When he was finished, he collected all the pearls in a napkin.

Soon, the sound of police cars filled the silence. They tensed a bit.

“Wait, you guys...” a voice sounded through the darkness, and the three kids jumped.

“W-We didn’t come in without paying money!” Mitsuhiko hurriedly said, earning a hit on the top of his head by Genta.

“Can you be more obvious?” Conan sighed, as he walked closer and then stopped in front of the person.  He looked at him and paused.

They blinked at each other for a few seconds, until the taller one gasped.

“Conan?!”

“The one and only,” he smirked at his older brother in reply, before handing him the pearls he had just picked up. “Here, the murder weapon. He was probably decapitated using a pearl necklace, right?” the child then turned around and pointed at somewhere in the darkness. “The severed head is over there, if you want to see it.”

“I pass, thank you,” Shinichi replied, rather quickly.

Conan shook his head at him, before turning back to his classmates and paused. They were all looking at him, then at Shinichi, and back at him with a dumbstruck expression on their faces.

“What?” he hissed, annoyed.

“Isn’t that Kudo Shinichi-san, the renowned highschool detective?” Ayumi asked, slowly. Conan and Shinichi nodded, in sync, and the girl turned to the short boy. “Then, why did he know your name, Conan-kun?”

“.... Maybe because he is my brother?”

The three gasped. 

“Your brother?!” Ayumi shouted.

“You two do look alike,” Mitsuhiko pointed out.

“But you’re Edogawa!” Genta pointed at him.

“You guys have been in my house before,” more like stalked him, but it was close enough. “Haven’t you actually bothered to read it said ‘ Kudo ’?”

They looked at each other, and shrugged. Conan couldn’t resist the urge to slap himself, hard, while Shinichi chuckled at little bit.

“If people knew about this it would cause a bit of trouble for Conan here. He doesn’t really enjoy the attention,” Conan’s eyebrow twitched when his older brother placed a hand over his head, ruffled his hair a bit and winked at the rest. “Can I trust you with my little brother’s big secret?”

And when they nodded, enthusiastically, the younger Kudo wished he was back home.

Chapter Text

The four kids patiently sat on a bench close to the murder scene, right where Shinichi had told them to wait. Conan had his arms crossed over his chest with an annoyed look on his face, which did not go unnoticed by the others, who exchanged concerned looks.

We were witnesses and we saw the murder taking place, the boy was deep in thought. He was pretty serious... and a bit desperate? It was like he was pleading us to stay away.

But why was that? There was no way they could turn into suspects because they were only kids and they weren't on the ride. Was there something he didn’t want them to see? Or someone?

Or someone he doesn’t want to see us...?

“Shinichi-oniisan!” 

Ayumi’s excited voice brought him back to the real world, and he raised his head to see Ran and Shinichi, standing in front of them. The female teen was grinning widely at him, and Conan could only nod with a smile, greeting her.

“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friends, Conan-kun?” Ran asked.

Classmates. We’re not friends, he had to refrain himself from correcting her.

“These are Kojima Genta, Tsuburaya Mitsuhiko and Yoshida Ayumi-san,” he glanced at the kids. “She’s Mouri Ran-neechan. And you know who that one is already.”

Conan pointedly ignored the glare Shinichi sent his way. The other kids beamed at Ran, and she smiled kindly in return, before turning around. Her eyes fixed into a nearby shop.

“Do you guys want some ice cream?” she offered.

“Ran-neechan, I don’t think that’s a good idea...” Conan tried to stop her, glancing at Genta from the corner of his eye. The other children cheered.

“Don’t worry about it, Conan-kun, Shinichi will pay me back later,” ignoring the way Shinichi groaned, she asked the brothers. “What do you guys want?”

“Coffee,” Shinichi replied.

“Co...” Ran gave him a stern look and Conan winced. “... Chocolate is okay to me.”

The girl smiled at him, sweetily, and began walking towards the ice cream store, Conan’s classmates following close behind like hungry sharks, while the boy in question chose to remain seated.

His brother dropped beside him. The two sighed, loudly, in perfect synchrony.

“Tired?” Shinichi asked, a bit amused, and the child nodded. “I’m surprised you agreed to come with them to a place like this.”

“I got dragged into it and Professor Agasa didn’t help,” Conan’s head dropped. “And by the way, he lent me some money and expects you to pay him up.”

Shinichi groaned again, exhausted. He wondered if he should get a part time job, as it seemed like his allowance wasn’t going to last long.

“And by the way, was your school project about roller coasters and scary houses?” Shinichi flinched, not failing to notice the teasing grin the youngest had on his face as he looked around, as if searching for something. “Also, where is Sonoko-neechan? I don’t see her anywhere.”

The kid watched as his brother blushed and looked away, before glancing towards the group. Ayumi and Mitsuhiko were happily chatting with Ran as they waited while Genta seemed to be content to sing about ice cream. His eyes then focused on the older girl’s eyes and noticed it.

“Luckily they didn’t get to see anything disturbing,” Conan said, and his brother instantly understood he was talking about the murder. “But Ran-neechan seems to still be pretty upset.”

“She was crying until now,” he replied. “I couldn’t get her to stop.”

Conan hummed in response. Ayumi had gotten a strawberry ice-cream and Mitsuhiko had chosen vanilla. Genta’s had so many flavours that he couldn’t possibly identify all of them. They are going to make a big dent on his wallet.

Ran handed the little girl a second ice cream, chocolate this time. Conan figured out it was his. 

“The murderer was so dumb, though,” Shinichi complained. “That trick was so simple that it wasn’t even a challenge, you know.”

“It’s not a game,” the older boy glanced at the younger and froze. There was something burning with anger behind his eyes, yet at the same time was cold, freezing even. “Someone just got killed today.”

Shinichi said nothing.

The tension was thick, and it remained like that even when Ran came back, a coffee ice cream for the detective and a lemon sorbet for herself, with the children tailing behind. The silence was filled with children laugher and random conversations, but none of the brothers said a word.

At least until it was time to go. Shinichi was about to tell Ran to go home without him, because he would walk Conan, but he told him:

“I will stay the night at Kojima’s.”

The four left right after that. 

Genta tapped Conan on the shoulder and told him that he hadn’t asked his mother if he could stay, but the boy shook his head. 

“That was a lie. I’m just going home.”

His classmates didn’t understand at first, but then Ayumi looked over her shoulder. Ran and Shinichi were talking with each other, and for some reason the female was blushing a bit. The young girl smiled to herself, and continued her way back home.

Meanwhile, Ran watched as the group of children walked away with a smile on her face.

“They are good children,” she commented. “I’m glad. I was a bit worried about Conan-kun.”

But when she looked at Shinichi she noticed that here was a look of sadness she almost never saw him wearing, and she grew concerned about it.

“He does really hate me, doesn’t he?” he said, softly, mostly to himself.

“Huh? What makes you think that?”

“He’s lying about staying at that kid’s house,” he explained, forcing a dry laugh. “He just wants to go home without me.”

Shinichi sighed, tiredly, and went to sit down once again. He looked at Ran, noticing her fidgeting, nervously, for some reason, and blinked.

“I-I think that isn’t the reason he lied,” Ran stuttered.

“Huh? Why was that, then?”

The girl did not say anything, just flushed, embarrassed because something that not even the detective could figure out. He opened his mouth to speak, but then he felt his phone vibrating on his pocket. 

The teen pulled it out and his eyes opened, widely.

Ran was confused when he stood up and took off running.

“Sorry, Ran, can you go home without me?”

“Eh? Wait!”

As the girl watched the boy running away, going farther and farther away from her, she couldn’t help the strange feeling in the pit of her stomach. 

It was weird and bad, very bad, like...

  ... like I will never see Shinichi again...


The phone was ringing.

Blinking his eyes open, the kid moved the book on his face and slid out the sofa he had just been napping on. On his way to the phone, he grabbed his mobile phone and flipped it open. 

He had texted his brother a few hours ago, telling him to buy some rice on his way back because their refrigerator was empty and he couldn’t really cook anything, but he had yet to reply.

Conan picked up, but before he could say anything, a female voice shouted in his ear.

“SHINCHI!” the boy had to yank the phone away from his ear in pain. “What did you think you were doing, leaving me all alone like that?! And, at the top of that, why aren’t you answering my calls-?!”

“Ran-neechan...?”

Ran paused, not expecting to hear the youngest Kudo on the other side of the phone. She was about to apologize for shouting at him, when she heard a shuddering breath.

For a long moment, he didn’t say anything.

“Conan-kun?”

“Ran-neechan... Isn’t Shinichi-niichan with you?”

Then it dawned on her. Shinichi hadn’t returned home, leaving Conan all alone in his home. And if the sound of his shaky voice was something to go by, the child was scared. Even so, that he hadn’t yet realized he had called him Shinichi-niichan.

The boy was unusually cold with his brother, for reasons she couldn’t hope to understand. That’s why hearing him call his older brother’s name with that childish and very confused voice truly upsetted her.

“No, he left suddenly,” she said, then quickly added. “But don’t worry about it. He probably is in some sort of case, that mystery freak.”

Conan barely registered Ran asking him if he had eaten something ─ to which he whispered 'no'. He faintly remembered her telling him she was going to be right over so she could take him to her home before setting the phone back on the receiver.

He just stared blankly at the mobile phone on the floor, which had slipped from fingers gone weak when he had realized that Shinichi wasn't with Ran.

Cold eyes. Silver hair. The gun. Black as crows. It all came back suddenly, and he felt a chill running down his back. This bad feeling....

The child was still deep in thought when he opened the door for her, and he remained like that when she held his hand, tightly, and started walking to her home. And he was quiet, very quiet, throughout the trip.

He finally looked up when the girl stopped, right in front of a building with big letters that read ‘Mouri’s Detective Agency.’

“We’re here, Conan-kun,” her voice was soft and gentle as she kneeled down in front of him so she was at an eye-level with the child. “I’ll make something to eat real quick. Hold on for a little longer, okay?”

There was a weak nod. That was enough for Ran to stand up and guide him upstairs. Before he could give a step ahead, however, a grown man rushed right past them, then tripped and fell into his face. 

Isn’t that Ran-neechan’s father?

“The first job in six months! A rich man’s daughter has been kidnapped!” he told Ran, excitedly, not even noticing Conan standing beside her. “The witness said that the kidnapper was a man in black!”

... A man in black?!

He didn’t even give it a second thought and just ran inside the taxi, a shocked Ran jumping inside after him. Only then did Kogoro notice the kid and loudly asked what he was doing there. Conan, in turn, didn’t reply, making him angrier.

“He just came in on his own!” she shouted back at him, before glancing at the child. She figured the kid was just curious and wanted to see a detective work by himself. 

Just like Shinichi.

The case had nothing to do with the mysterious men in black, at the end. In fact, the only thing he managed to do was to get frustrated over the fact that the detective couldn’t ask the right questions, and that nobody would actually listen to him because he was only a kid.

It wasn’t until he had almost gotten eaten by a dog twice his size, then befriended him that they did pay attention to him. He was told that the pet wasn’t very friendly by outsiders.

“Really?” he said, in the most innocently sweet voice he could muster. “Then, why didn’t he bark when Tani-san was kidnapped?”

As he had expected, it turned out the only witness, the butler, had kidnapped the girl himself. He claimed she was safe in a nearby restaurant. Who leaves a little girl alone in a restaurant this late in the night?!

Then, there was a call. The girl had been kidnapped a second time by another individual. The girl screamed, telling them she was in a school storage, where she could see a black chimney, before they hung up abruptly.

The adults started discussing what they should do, while Conan grabbed his phone and started looking into a map.

If we don’t hurry up, they will change locations, and then... he frowned. What would you do, high school detective, Shinichi-niichan?

He looked up at the dog and got his answer. Then, he did the most reckless thing he had ever done in his short life; he climbed the dog and soon he was gone. He went through every single school that met those requirements, but no luck. Until he realized that there was a building that could be seen as a chimney from another perspective. And there was a school. 

Bingo.

That was where she was. As soon as he saw his owner’s captor, the dog attacked the criminal. Conan rushed to the girl and took the tape off her mouth.

“Who are you?” she asked, confused.

“Edogawa Conan,” he turned around and went to untie her. “I was looking for you, Tani-san.”

Before he could finish, the kidnapper, after kicking the dog away from him, grabbed Conan by the hood of his shirt and flung him around, painfully hitting the wall. He watched with narrowed eyes as the man walked closer to him, bat ready to beat the life out of him, when a kick on his face stopped him from doing so.

And he saw Ran, breathing out with a karate stance. Amazing, now he understood why his brother was so afraid of making her angry. He almost felt bad about the criminal, seeing him lying on the ground, in a weird position.

Honestly, he felt bad about Shinichi too. Considering how mad she had sounded when he first picked up the phone, he figured his brother would be in serious trouble when he came back.

It turned out it was the girl herself the mastermind behind the first kidnapping, all because his father wasn’t giving her enough attention. The father realized his mistakes, and ordered the butler to book them a trip to Australia. Just like that, the case was solved.

Of course Kogoro took all the credit, even if he did virtually nothing to solve the case. 

Conan didn’t really mind, actually. All he had done was simple reasoning and not entirely detective work. He hadn’t even managed to catch the criminal.

But as they left, the little girl turned around and looked right into Conan’s eyes.

“Thank you, Detective-san!”

And that truly surprised him.

He didn’t think much of it and went home with Ran and her father. She explained to him that she was taking him in for the night because his sorry excuse of a brother ─ as Ran had kindly put it ─ was off somewhere in a case. He had agreed, claiming that he didn’t mind him staying as long as he wanted.

“He might be my lucky charm! I’ll even take him as my son if he wants to stay!”

It’s only for one night, he let out a dry laugh in response.

Yet Shinichi didn’t return the next day. Or the other. Like so, Conan ended up living in Ran’s house for two entire days, without a word from his missing brother.

He was now in Professor Agasa's home, lying down on his sofa as he talked with him.

"It has been two days," the child said to him. "Maybe we should call the police."

“He must be on another strange case,” the old man smiled at him. “Don’t worry, he’ll return soon.”

Conan was highly unconvinced, but nodded anyway, visually worried about the teen. He was surprised, however, when the professor told him to try on his newest invention. 

It looked like a simple bow tie, like he liked to wear from time to time, but when he turned it around he discovered it wasn’t a normal one.

It changed his voice when he spoke close to it. This could come in handy, he was about to give it back to him but Agasa told him to keep it and to have fun with it. He didn’t give it much thought and just nodded, thanking him and telling him he needed to go back to Ran’s.

Agasa watched as Conan closed the door and let out a long sigh.

“If one day,something happens to me, you have to promise me two things,” he remembered that conversation he had with the detective exactly eight months ago, around the time Conan had arrived at Japan. “One, don’t tell the police. And two... Please, protect Conan.”

Agasa recalled being worried and anxious for a few weeks after that, but hadn’t asked any further, fearing what the answer would be. Nowadays, however, he wondered if he should’ve been braver. He should had asked, he should had said anything.

But he trusted the teen and would fulfill that promise, even if he had too keep Ran, Conan and the police in the dark. Even if he had to create weird inventions on a daily basis for a crazy, seven year-old kid to keep him safe and protected from harm.

Sometimes, though, he wondered.

Is this the right thing to do, Shinichi?


Two days quickly became three.

On the third day he had decided that enough was enough and tried going back to Topical Land to gather more information ─ skipping school in the process ─ yet came back empty handed.

"I'm home," Conan called as he entered, only to find himself face to face with a very angry Ran, who glared at him with her hands firmly placed on her waist.

"What were you doing, young man?" she scolded him, her voice firm and stern. "I got a call from Kobayashi-sensei. She said you didn't show up to school this morning."

The little boy cringed a bit, I forgot to call my school, he had planned to call his own school using Agasa’s new invention to copy Ran’s voice, but he was so caught up on his investigation that it hadn’t cross his mind. As a result, he was forced to listen a fifteen minute-long rant about responsibilities and the importance of education for his future.

“So, will you tell me where were you instead of school?” she finally said, once she had finished her lecture.

“I...” Conan sighed, letting his head drop, and realizing there was no way out of it. “I went to Tropical Land.”

Ran’s eyes softened. “Who was there with you?” and the child shook his head as an answer.

“I went alone,” for a moment, it was quiet. The silence was broken when Conan finally decided to look up. “... I’m sorry.”

“Just don’t do it again, okay?” she smiled at him. “I’ll let it slide, just this time.”

Conan nodded and silently walked by her, towards his and Kogoro’s room. He stopped in his tracks when Ran turned around and called his name. There was a kind smile on her face, even if tears were collecting on her eyes.

“He will be back before you know it. Don’t worry about it, okay?”

He couldn’t say anything even if he wanted to ─ his throat had closed up on him. Conan just left, without uttering a word to the girl who had brought him to her home. He just sat on his futon, staring at the window with a longing expression on his face.

Even if he desperately wished he could, he couldn’t bring himself to believe Ran’s words.

Because it didn’t seem like she believed them herself.

The rest of that afternoon went by uneventfully, with Conan reading a book at Kogoro’s room while he ‘worked’, even though he was actually watching Okino Yoko’s videos on the TV.

There were some noises coming from Kogoro’s office, mostly him shouting excitedly about something Conan didn't know. Curious about what was going on, he got a big surprise to see Okino Yoko herself drinking some tea on the sofa, sitting across a dumbstruck Kogoro.

Still puzzled about the situation, he asked Ran what was going on. She said that the idol had come for a stalking case. 

Why would such a famous idol come to Occhan, though?

They decided to go check Yoko’s room, and it turned out that Ran really wanted to go, bringing Conan along with her. 

The idol went ahead to open the door, as they watched the city through the window, which was beautiful.

Then, they heard a scream. Quickly, they went around the corner to see Okino Yoko and her manager freaked out, their backs touching the wall... And, also, there was...

“You guys?!”

Conan also saw Ayumi, Genta and Mitsuhiko there, frightened expressions as they stared at something beyond the opened door. Before he could ask them what they were doing there, he directed his eyes to the entrance and he realized what happened.

A man laid in the floor, motionless, with a knife stabbed in the middle of his back. Soon, the police arrived and began their examination. 

Ran was next to the three kids, checking on them like the mother hen she was. Conan just stared at them, blinking repeatedly, until he asked what they were doing in a place like this.

"You didn't come to school today," Mitsuhiko explained. "We were worried you had caught a cold or something so we wanted to check on you, but..."

"You weren't home," the Ayumi continued. "We spotted you crossing the street on our way back and we called for you, but you didn't seem to hear us."

"So we followed you-" Genta began with a wide grin.

"You mean stalked, " Conan interrupted, deadpan. 

“Now, now, be a little nicer,” Ran scolded without any real anger, even though she thought Conan was actually right. It wasn’t like the children had done it with bad intentions, though. “Thank you for taking care of Conan-kun. Next time try to talk to him before following without him knowing, alright?”

“Okay!” they said, in unison.

Rolling his eyes, Conan was about to walk away when he noticed something on the floor. Kneeling down, he took a closer look and noticed there was watermarks lying close to the body. It’s hot in here, too. The heater is on unusually high.

There also was that hair that the manager picked up when he pretended to fall a few moments ago. Does it belong to Yoko-san? He didn’t understand what it meant.

His eyes spotted an earring underneath the sofa, but trying to get Inspector Megure to hear him out proved fruitless. It wasn’t until he hid from plain sight and called for him, using his bow-tie to change his voice into a older man’s that he did find it. It belonged to Ikezawa Yuuko.

Like so, she became the third suspect. Soon after was brought by the police she started arguing with Kogoro before going to the bathroom. They look exactly the same from behind!

“Hey, uncles...” Conan called, as innocently as he could.

“Shut up, you annoying brat!” Kogoro yelled angrily at him.

He didn’t expect, however, Ayumi to come from behind him and kick Kogoro on the shin, hard, before taking off running. As he watched the older man chasing after him, he could not help but wonder. Is she really that mad about Occhan yelling at me?

Yuuko proved to have been in Yoko’s apartment before after lighting a cigarette with a lighter that certainly didn’t look like such, and the fact that she already knew where the bathroom was ─ both facts pointed out by Conan, while pretending to be a very curious child. 

She ended up confessing that the victim had attacked her when she had sneaked inside, but swore she hadn’t killed him.

The victim was later identified as Yoko’s highschool boyfriend, making things even more confusing.

It wasn’t until he saw a weird dent on the floor that everything cleared up on his mind. Now, the problem was... How to let the adults know about the trick?

“Yoko-san, Yoko-san,” he started tugging on the idol’s coat to get her attention. “I’m thirsty... Can I get some tea, please?”

“Conan-kun!” Ran rushed to his side and picked him up, “I’m so sorry, this child-”

“No, it’s okay,” she said, kindly. “I will be back soon.”

Conan followed the woman as soon as Ran released him and watched her making the tea. Once she was done, she smiled at the boy.

“Would you like some sugar?”

“I can put it on myself, thank you.” 

With that, he grabbed the cup and the spoon, added a little sugar and swirled the liquid. Then, he took off running inside the living room, where the murder had taken place, with the cup on his hands and the spoon sticking out.

He almost collided with Kogoro, and he would have thrown him away by force if he wasn’t holding a scalding hot drink on his hands.

“That was dangerous, Conan-kun,” Mitsuhiko said, seriously. “You could’ve gotten hurt.”

“You’re right,” he laughed, nervously, in reply. “I could have gotten burned or even stabbed, right?”

That particular commentary caught Kogoro’s attention. Conan mentally smirked when he noticed him watching.

“Stabbed? How?”

“If the cup had fallen like this...” he placed it on the floor. “... and then I fell in the top of it like this...” the kid laid down and rested his upper body on his elbows, so the cup was between his arms and under his chest. “I could’ve gotten stabbed.”

Kogoro’s interest in what seemed an innocent and very childish demonstration grew.

“But, Conan-kun,” Ayumi giggled. “You can’t get stabbed by a spoon.”

“Maybe if it was a knife, with the sharp end pointing out, it could be dangerous, but...” Mitsuhiko reasoned.

“And if the tea was frozen solid,” Conan moved the spoon so it stood straighter. “It could stay like this... and then you could get seriously hurt even without the cup.”

“You have a very active imagination...” Genta commented.

The detective’s eyes went wide after they focused on the watermarks close to the body, and the chairs that stood nearby, upright despite the messy state of the room it was in. 

“I’ve solved it!” he yelled at the inspector. “The criminal... is the victim himself!”

Now that Kogoro was on the right track he managed to make a perfect deduction. The victim had killed himself after mistaking Yoko with Yuuko, therefore misunderstanding the woman’s defensive attitude with rejection, and had tried to pin his murder to his old love.

Conan frowned when Kogoro said that the victim loved Yoko very much, yet decided to remain silent.

That wasn’t love but crazy obsession. Regardless of what she thought of him, had he truly loved her, he would’ve wanted her to lead a happy life, Conan glanced at Ran with eyes far too wise for a little boy. Am I wrong, Shinichi-niichan?

Chapter Text

I shouldn't have complained that much when Mom took me to the theatre, Conan lamented on his head, eyes trained on the man in costume.

He pretended to kick another actor and he fell into the ground, a cry of pain tearing his throat apart. He didn't even touch him.

The whole show was so ridiculously fake that it was almost funny, yet he refrained himself from laughing, as the three children beside him seemed to enjoy it a lot.

How did I get dragged into this again?

Ah, right. It was Ran-neechan.

As they headed back from Yoko's apartment the other day, the children had asked him if he wanted to go with them to watch a Kamen Yaiba show at the shopping center. He would have declined the offer, of course, if it wasn't that Ran had been standing right beside him.

Not only she had agreed on his behalf, she had also walked him to the shopping center and stayed with him until someone ─ in this case, Ayumi ─ showed up, so he wouldn't suddenly run away somewhere else.

"Give them a chance, Conan-kun," she had told him as they walked. "They are good children."

The show was finally over, and Conan was more than happy about that. As they walked back home, the three children sang the Kamen Yaiba's opening theme. His mind was somewhere else, though. He was deciding which mystery book on his collection he should read once he arrived.

But then, Genta screamed, claiming he had left his prized Yaiba badge somewhere, and that he couldn't find it.

“Hmm... hold on, when you took a picture with Yaiba, you were at...” Mitsuhiko started to think.

“It’s in the store Kojima bought his hot dog,” Conan said in a bored voice, and his three classmates gave him a weird look. “If you look at the photo we took with Yaiba, you should be able to see it.”

Ayumi quickly took the photograph out from her pocket, and the other two boys surrounded her to take a look. “He’s right!” they gasped upon the sight of Genta holding a hot dog, yet his badge was nowhere to be seen.

“He had it before, right? When we asked Yaiba to take a photo with us,” Ayumi commented. “Then, Genta-kun said he was hungry so...”

“It must be still there!” Genta shouted. “I am going to get it!”

“Wait, a second,” Conan tried to reason with him. “The store is already closed. Why don’t we come back tomorrow morning?”

“Not a chance! You always only think about yourself!” with that, the boy took off running. 

Ayumi and Mitsuhiko were right on his hills, following after him, while Conan paused for a moment. Do I really think only about myself? Without meaning to, his mind went back to that mansion, those men in black and... He shook his head and ran after the children, inside the shopping centre before the guard could spot them.

On the bright side, they did recover Genta’s badge. On the downside, however, the security system was activated. As a result, now they were locked up, without a way out.

The lights turned off, and the three were panicking. Conan watched them freak out for a few moments, until he sighed and started walking up the stairs.

"Where are you going?" Genta asked.

"The security office is on the second floor," he said, not even stopping to let them catch up. "If we go up there and explain everything to the guard they should let us go."

“You’re so smart, Conan-kun!” Ayumi praised him, while they walked down the corridor.

Not really. You should’ve also figured it out yourselves.

The children peeked out from the open door, just to see the man with the Kamen Yaiba outfit and the ones that had acted as the enemies, standing on the middle of the room. What are they still doing here? His question was quickly answered when he spotted the guards and the elevator girl on the ground, tied up and eyes folded.

Before Ayumi could say something to Yaiba, clearly not noticing the hostages yet, Conan placed a hand over her mouth and gently pushed her behind. The other two did not say a word.

“Yeah,” the one disguised as Kamen Yaiba was saying. “The jewelry department is on the sixth floor and the antiques are on the seventh.”

Conan mentally cursed his luck. Of all nights they could’ve gotten locked in, it had to be the one they were planning to rob the place. 

As silently as they could, the group went downstairs. There, Conan slid his hand inside his pocket, only to find his phone missing. Just then, he remembered he had left it at home. 

“Hey, do any of you have a phone?” he asked them. “We need to call the police.”

“I don’t have it with me,” Mitsuhiko admitted, and the others said the same thing. “They are some public phones on the seventh floor, let’s go check.”

As their luck would have it, the thieves had cut the wires, leaving them all uncommunicated with the outside world.

“It can’t be...” Mitsuhiko’s shoulders dropped.

“Then... are we going to be killed?!” the girl panicked.

“I want to eat a unaju before I’m killed!” Genta whined.

Conan looked at the group, a determined look behind his thick glasses. “No one is going to get killed today,” he decided, borrowing a paint brush and a can of white paint from a nearby store. “Come, Kojima, help me out.”

The boy guided a confused Genta close to the windows and then climbed on his shoulders. He painted a big SOS message, hoping that the people on the building next to theirs would see it. Yet, it didn’t work. No matter how much they screamed and banged into the glass, nobody noticed.

Conan was feeling a bit desperate. So did Genta, considering that he began banging on the window with a nearby chair. He went to grab a table to repeat the process, when Conan noticed the security camera starting to move.

“Duck under the tables, now!”

The three almost had a panic attack when they saw Conan rush the other way, to close the curtains so the message could remain hidden. He made it just in time.

It didn’t matter, because they spotted Genta when he was trying to peek out his hiding spot soon thereafter.

Like so, they ran.


It was after another close call, caused by Genta's growling stomach while they pretended to be mannequins, they decided to sit down behind the corner a nearby supermarket and eat some snacks.

It doesn’t make sense, thought Conan, as he thought of the time that the mechanical stairs started moving when they stood on them. Why would they...?

Then he understood. That one is the mastermind.

“I am sorry,” Ayumi muttered to herself. “If we are saved, we will pay you back in full amount.”

Our guardians will, technically, Conan though as he drank from a can of iced coffee. He had no idea how badly he could miss this flavor. What Ran-neechan doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

“But,” Mitsuhiko gulped down the last bit of a donut, and looked at the floor, a worried frown present on his face. “Are we going to be saved?”

Genta seemed to agree, nodding somberly.

“We are going to make it out of here,” Conan said, seriously. “Don’t even doubt for one second.”

The kids blinked at him.

“But, how?” Ayumi asked.

She watched as the boy grinned to himself, for some reason. “Say,” he began. “Have any of you ever watched Home Alone?

The way the children just stared into his soul, equally clueless expressions pinching their faces, told Conan what he should have already expected. Sighing tiredly, he rested his forehead against his hand. “Nevermind, just hear me out.”


Conan chuckled to himself. He had thought that riding a dog in the middle of the night to search for a kidnapped girl was the craziest thing he would do in his entire life. Yet, there he was, riding a bicycle into the robbers’ face, throwing alcohol at them until they ─ and Mitsuhiko, as an addition ─ passed out irremediably drunk, and even released loads of dogs on the man who acted as Yaiba.

Now they stood in front of a heap of defeated criminals. Genta and Ayumi started to cheer in front of the cameras, when they turned around, however, Conan was nowhere to be seen.

Meanwhile, Conan stood in front of the elevator girl, an innocent smile plastered on his face.

“Oh, hey kid!” she smiled brightly. “What are you doing here?”

“I got locked up inside,” Conan said. “You need to hurry up, Miss, or the bad people are going to hurt you.”

The woman nodded, even as she felt herself being pulled by the boy, who had a tight grip on her hand. “Where are we going, boy?” she asked as he dragged her inside an elevator, and pressed the rooftop button. 

“I heard those thieves say that they were going to be on the sixth and seventh floor,” he explained, notchantly. “So I think the rooftop is the safest place we can be in.”

“Oh, I see,” the woman forced a smile. “Are your friends safe, also?”

“How did you know I got locked up inside with my friends?”

A pause. “I saw you with your friends when you were leaving earlier today, so I thought...”

“By the way, why did you become a elevator girl? You would make an excellent escape artist.”

When the child turned to her and smirked, she felt a chill running down her back. She didn’t even realize that the elevator had stopped upon reaching their destination.

“You were tied up pretty tightly at that time,” light reflected on his glasses, hiding his eyes from her. “Weren’t you, Elevator Girl? Or should I say, the fifth member of the robbery gang?”

“... Who are you exactly?”

“Edogawa Conan, just an ordinary elementary school student.”

The woman stared at him for a moment, shocked, before she recovered, letting out an arrogant laugh. “You aren’t so bad, boy, but you didn’t seem to realize something very, very important,” with that, she pulled out a gun and pressed it against his forehead. “I am the boss of that group.”

Conan took a step back and then another, out of the elevator. The gun muzzle cold against his sweating forehead remained in place and was pushing him further, closer to the edge of the building. 

No fingerprints, no witnesses. If she erases the camera footage, gets rid of the gun and ties herself up she will remain a poor hostage who was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Just like me. An innocent child whose life was terminated by pushing him off a twenty-story building, all because he knew too much.

He stopped, the gun still pressing firmly against his forehead. “I’m sorry, Miss,” he said to her, a very serious and equally determined look on his eyes. “I can’t die here.”

There still are things I need to do.

And there is someone out there that I want to find.

“Do you really think you are in position to negotiate?” she laughed. “We are up here, alone. And guess who is the one that holds the gun?”

He smirked. “Who said I was alone?”

Before she could question him, a skateboard came from nowhere and knocked her off her feet. As soon as the attention was driven away from him, Conan ran where Genta, who had just kicked it, was standing. 

Ayumi was quick to jump into her shoulders and bit into the hand that held the gun with her very sharp teeth. Just as soon as she released the weapon, Conan rushed in and took it away from her grasp with a napkin. 

“Take this!” and with that, Genta broke a freaking chair on her head, causing her to drop into the ground, unconscious.

Ayumi and Conan stared at the boy for a few moments, and then to the woman sprawled across the floor, wincing.

“G-Genta-kun...” the girl stammered. “Don’t you think you went a bit overboard...?”

“That woman almost killed Conan!” he argued. “She deserved it.”

Conan couldn’t decide if he was supposed to be touched or absolutely disturbed, so he chose to silently tie the woman up.

It’s finally over, he sighed. 

The boy gave a long look at the gun on his hand, which she had just pointed at his head, and activated the safety. Then, he went back to the other two.


Mitsuhiko woke at some hour in the night, feeling dizzy and disoriented. He sat down slowly, and had to hold down a groan of pain when his head throbbed, as if it would split in two. Once the initial pain had died down a bit, he started to take on his surroundings.

He was in the floor, a sheet draped over his body. Turning his head to the right, he noticed Genta and Ayumi, also covered by a similar cover, slumbering peacefully. 

So did Conan-kun’s plan work?

Speaking of which, he wondered where the boy was. A soft desperate whimper answered his question, yet it didn’t make him feel any better.

Because, even though Conan was asleep at his left, there wasn’t any sense of peacefulness on his face. His eyebrows twitched and furrowed, like he was in pain, while he shifted around restlessly.

Mitsuhiko hesitated, wondering if it would be better if he woke him up or not, when the child seemed to curl tighter around himself, his hands clenching around the sheets. 

“Conan-kun,” hand on his shoulder, Mitsuhiko gently tried to shake Conan awake. “Please wake up. It’s only a nightmare.”

If anything, the boy seemed to fight him, face clenched in discomfort. “... Why...?” he muttered on his sleep, so softly that Mitsuhiko almost didn’t catch it.

“Conan-kun,” he tried again, his voice firmer this time.

“... Mitsuhiko-kun...?” came a female sleepy mumble from behind. Turning around he noticed he had accidentally woken Ayumi and Genta up. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m trying to wake Conan-kun up,” he explained, concern lacing his voice. “I think he is having a nightmare.”

“A nightmare?”

Just then icy blue eyes were beginning to open, staring confusedly at the three children talking among themselves while crowding around him. Genta then shifted his gaze to him and smiled when he saw him.

“Conan, you are awake,” he said, and the other two sighed in relief.

Sweat was collecting on his forehead so he wiped it out with a hand as he used the other one to push himself up. 

It has been a while since I last had a nightmare.

He would have been surprised if he didn’t, he realized. After all, he had been pointed with a gun just a few hours ago, so it was to be expected that he would have nightmares about that.

The most disturbing thing, however, was that the one holding the gun in his dreams wasn’t the elevator girl.

“Are you okay?” Ayumi’s concerned question came through, as expected.

“Yeah, don’t worry about it,” Conan shook his head with a forced smile. “I’m sorry I scared you, guys.”

“But...”

“I’m okay, really.”

“No,” said Mitsuhiko, raising his voice, yet remaining completely calm. “You are not okay, Conan-kun.”

Conan paused to stare at Mitsuhiko, surprised to see him actually raising his voice. The boy was deadly serious, even more than it was usual. He sighed before continuing.

“You hadn’t been acting like yourself lately, and then you suddenly missed school. At first because we thought it may be that you were falling ill,” his eyes narrowed. “But you weren’t sick, at all.”

The child in question did not say anything, stunned as he was. Had I really acted any differently? He hadn’t even noticed it himself.

“And now it turns out you are living in a detective agency with your brother’s girlfriend,” Genta added. Had the situation been any less tense, he would have found very amusing the fact that even this boy had noticed Shinichi and Ran’s relationship.

“What happened to you, Conan-kun?” Ayumi asked, softly, and suddenly the floor seemed to be far more interesting than any of their faces. She pressed further, wrapping her hands around his. “... Did something happen to Shinichi-oniisan?”

His breath hitched at that single sentence, and for a moment, he couldn’t think, he couldn’t move, he couldn’t breath. Slowly, he looked at his classmates and noticed their looks of... Sadness? Pity? Concern?

Ayumi’s hold tightened, for some reason.

There was something cold and wet trailing down his cheek. He hurried up to wipe it with his sleeve and was about to stand up to go to the bathroom or something, anything , when Ayumi’s sweet voice stopped him from doing so.

“It’s okay if you want to cry.”

Finally, after more than half a year holding in more than a child should, the dam broke. As tears slipped from his eyes without his consent, it all came pouring out ─ his concerns, his fears, his frustrations, everything.

Between sobs, he managed to say one single sentence:

“... I don’t know...”

For the first time he could remember, Conan truly cried.

Once he had calmed down enough to talk almost normally, he told his classmates everything. About his brother's suspicious behavior throughout the year and even about the men in black he saw talking to him. 

He also told them he hadn't seen him ever since the day they went to Tropical Land, and that he had absolutely no idea of what happened with him after that.

"Alright! Then, we will find your brother!" Genta said suddenly, after Conan was finished with everything he had to say. "This will be our first case, Detective Boys!"

The others just stared, cluelessly.

"Detective Boys?" Mitsuhiko raised an eyebrow. "What is that?"

"That's what we are going to get called. And for now on, I'm the leader of this group."

"Don't decide that on your own, Genta-kun."

"I like it!" Ayumi beamed. "Even though I'm a girl... but Detective Kids doesn't sound half as cool as Detective Boys, so let's go with it."

“W-Wait a second,” Conan said, hurriedly, catching the attention of the three kids. “This isn’t a game! Those men are clearly dangerous and-”

“So what?” Genta gave him a bored luck. “You still are going to chase after them even if we don’t do anything, aren’t you?”

“Well, I...” he trailed off.

“We’re here, Conan-kun,” Mitsuhiko smiled gently at him. “You don’t have to do everything on your own.”

“Because we’re friends,” Ayumi beamed, then turned to the other two. “Right?”

They both nodded, and for a moment Conan couldn’t help but blink rapidly, completely stunned. Friends, it really sounded good. Taking on their faces for a moment, the boy closed his eyes and breathed deeply.

“Thank you, everyone.”

It was scary to tear down those protectictive walls he had built around his heart, let those kids in. Terrifying, even. Yet, at the same time it felt warm and nice to finally have someone to open up to

Maybe, just maybe, it would be okay this time. He only had to be a little bit braver and give it a try.

"After all of this I don't feel sleepy anymore," commented Ayumi. "Do you guys want do play or something?"

"I have an idea," Genta said, standing up. "Follow me!"

So they did. The children then found themselves in front of a video club. Conan watched as his friends beamed and, laughing among themselves, ran inside. The boy paused for a second, then followed close.

"Hey, hey!" Ayumi called. "Let's watch some Kamen Yaiba."

"Agreed!" the other two raised their hands.

Conan grimaced a bit. After being chased around by a guy who looked exactly like him, they still want to watch it...

"What episode should we watch?" Mitsuhiko thought out loud, a hand resting on his chin as if his decision would affect the fate of the world. "I personally enjoyed the one where Yaiba got trapped a burning building with his rival, but..."

"No, that one was boring!" Genta complained. "Let's watch the one where he defeated the monster terrorizing Karuizawa!"

"That one is too long! It took about four episodes for the beast to die."

Ayumi pondered for a while, then turned to Conan, who just stood there, silently, feeling a bit lost.

"Which one do you like the most, Conan-kun?" Conan flinched at her question. "I love every single second of the series, so I don't mind."

"... I haven't really watched Kamen Yaiba..." he said in a whisper, yet loud enough for his three friends to hear. "Like, not even a single episode."

There was complete silence. Then...

"EH?!"

"I have always prefered reading over watching television, so I have never bothered to... watch it..."

He trailed off when he noticed the children talking to themselves, their voices rushed and frantic, prompting him to sweatdrop. 

Their heads suddenly snapped his way, causing him to jump out of surprise. Ayumi then took his hand and dragged him away, towards the electronic store.

Genta set up a DVD player, then Mitsuhiko came running, a CD box on his hands. "I brought Kamen Yaiba's first ten episodes."

"Good," Genta nodded, seriously. "Now, Ayumi, play the first one."

"Understood!"

"And you," he pointed at Conan, then to the spot in front of the television. "Sit there."

"Yes, yes..."

Mitsuhiko then came running, arms full with pillows and sheets before setting them on the floor. The rest of the children sat next to him and Ayumi hit play.

As the opening theme filled the room, he couldn't help but wonder.

Is this really okay?

Time passed by, quickly. By then, two episodes had already been watched, and the third was almost over. 

Without meaning to, Conan's eyes went wide as he watched the enemy crawling closer to Yaiba from his back. The enemy jumped and raised his sword above his head while the protagonist remained unaware of his presence.

Just as he was about to get hit, the screen went black. It wasn't long until the ending theme started playing.

Conan sat straighter, then reached with his hand to the remote. "Is okay with you guys if I just skip the ending?"

But when he turned around he realized his friends were all fast asleep. He watched them for a few seconds before shrugging and putting the next episode on.

Without him noticing, a timid, little smile drew itself on his face.

It was closer to morning when a patrolling police officer finally noticed the SOS message on the windows. Soon, the police plus Kogoro and Ran burst inside, and got the shock of their lives upon the sight of the criminals, tied together in the middle of the food court, completely knocked out.

The children were found not long thereafter, huddled together and sleeping in front of a forgotten TV, the remote resting on top of Conan’s limp hand. 

So cute, Ran giggled to herself before taking off her phone to call all of their guardians.

After taking a couple of photos, obviously.

It wasn’t long until their worried parents arrived at the place, taking their children with them. Ran also leaned down and picked Conan up, cradling him against her chest in a motherly fashion.

Their statements to the police could wait until tomorrow. The robbers had been caught already, so there was no need to hurry.

For a moment, the teen watched the kid sleep. His face was so free of care that she didn’t have the heart to wake him. Instead, she just got into a taxi with his father, the child still slumbering, nestled comfortably in her arms.

Something good must have happened to him, she thought.

After all, even in sleep, the boy had never looked so content before.

Chapter Text

“Let’s go to Tropical Land after school!”

A sense of deja-vu washed over him like a tsunami.

Blue eyes looked up from the book in front of them and blinked at the small girl, who was grinning widely back at him. “But, Yoshida-san,” said Conan, looking confused. “We already went there not long ago.”

“No, I don’t mean that,” she rapidly shook her head. “We need some clues on your brother, remember?” Ayumi turned to the other two. “Right, guys?”

"I agree," Mitsuhiko nodded, a determined look on his face. “If we want to know what happened, our best option is to investigate the place where he has last been seen.”

“Okay, then we Detective Boys will-!” Genta began.

“There’s nothing in that place,” Conan interrupted with a plain voice.

“Eh? But you won’t know until you try.”

An eyebrow was raised, and the boy looked at them as if they were stupid. “Did you really think I haven’t checked there already?” he closed the book, frowning a little as he stared at the cover. “There was no trace of him. It was as if he had just disappeared into thin air... Maybe they already...”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” Ayumi tried to comfort her friend. “I mean, if there’s no trace of him in that place, doesn’t that mean he wasn’t killed?”

“Not really. His body could’ve gotten carried away somehow,” he answered, with crude honesty. “He could have also gotten kidnapped and then killed somewhere else. Also he could have...”

“Okay, I think we all get it,” Mitsuhiko stopped him there before things could get uglier. “All of those things are only theories. For all we know, he could have ran away and hidden somewhere.”

His fists clenched under his desk. I hope so.

“Wait a second... I think I have an idea!” the freckled boy suddenly said. “When was the last time you’ve gone to your real home, Conan-kun?”

“More than a week ago, why?”

“Think about this,” he explained. “If we assume that Shinichi-san is actually running away from someone else, he might have left some clue for you to find, right?”

“And there’s no better place to do so than Conan’s own house!” Genta nodded at him, a grin on his face. “Let’s go there after school!”

"Wait a second-!"

Just then, Kobayashi-sensei opened the door, signalizing the start of another school day and his friends scurried away to their places almost instantly. Conan sighed tiredly, as he put his mystery book away and pulled out his school materials from his bag.

That's probably the dumbest theory I've ever heard in my life... 

And I live with Occhan.


"Wow, Conan-kun! Your place is so big!"

"There are so many books..."

"Hey, Conan, why don't you have any eel on here?"

Conan sighed tiredly as he watched his friends roam freely around his home. He hadn't even closed the door properly and they were already on the second floor, checking every single spot of the house.

"You guys," he called. "Are you sure you didn't set this up so you could go snooping around on my stuff?"

"How mean," Genta huffed. "We are checking for any hidden messages."

"Inside my refrigerator?"

"You never know."

Conan facepalmed, hard, while going upstairs with the rest of them and almost bumping into Ayumi as she ran off the library.

She didn't seem to notice that, however.

"That flower you have in there is very beautiful," she commented, walking through the corridor. "You and your brother must have taken good care of it."

Ah, she must mean the petunia in the desk.

Over his old father's desk, his brother liked to keep a petunia. When Conan had asked why, he had replied that their mother loved petunias and that she had basically forced him to keep one there.

Conan suspected Shinichi liked petunias as well, but he had never bothered to ask so his suspicions had never been confirmed.

"There's nothing in here," Mitsuhiko commented, entering Shinichi's room after Ayumi and Genta. "I thought there would be something, but..."

"It's so plain and boring," the bigger boy commented.

"Yeah, I know," Conan replied as he stood behind the trio. "Just don't tell him that, okay?"

"I wonder if Conan-kun's room is nicer," Ayumi pondered.

"Hey..."

"Let's check it out!"

"Hey!"

As expected, there was nothing in the entire house that they could use as a clue. Like so, the Detective Boys left with defeated expressions on their faces.

Except for Conan. The boy was glad this fruitless investigation was over. Just as they were crossing the street, however, a sheet of paper flew through the air and got stuck on Genta's face.

As they took a closer look they saw a few weird drawings and the word ORO at the end of it.

"Could this be..." Ayumi gasped, excitedly. "This might be a message from Shinichi-niichan!"

Conan looked at her, blankly. What...?

"Ayumi-chan is right. Shinichi-san must have left some sort of code for Conan-kun to find."

"Alright, let's-"

"Could you stop it?" Conan sighed, tiredly. "Listen, there's absolutely no secret code or message that..."

The boy trailed off and stopped for a moment, glancing back at his house, a thoughtful look on his face. Then, realization hit him.

All of sudden his eyes went wide. The three kids watched their friend curse under his breath and take off running.

"Conan-kun?!"

"Go ahead without me, I'll catch you later!"

"That flower you have in there is very beautiful," Ayumi's words echoed in his mind.

Nobody has been there in more than an entire week. A petunia wouldn't have lasted more than six days. Unless...

He reached the library and gazed upon the flower. Stunned, he walked towards the desk and took a closer look.

It was not a petunia, but an orchid. 

Why, though?

Ran-neechan? he worried about the teen that shared her name with the flower in front of him. No, that can't be it... Can it?

Not thinking about it twice, the boy grabbed his phone and immediately dialed Ran’s number. He could feel himself getting nervous as he waited ─ she just wouldn’t pick up. Did something happen to her?

Taking a closer look, he noticed the water was clean and new ─ somebody must have put it in just recently. Could it really have been him?

After all only Conan, Shinichi and their parents knew it was weird to have an orchid instead of a petunia in there, and the Kudo couple was away in America. So...

“Conan-kun, is something wrong?” Ran picked up suddenly, startling the young boy out of his thoughts. “I’m in karate practice right now.”

Conan could’ve sighed in relief if it wasn’t for the speaker beside his mouth. “Ah, I’m sorry, Ran-neechan,” he pitched his voice higher, making it sound more innocent and sweet. His eyes went to one of the bookshelves and walked towards it as he spoke. “I forgot about it.”

Ran-neechan is okay... Maybe he meant something else entirely? 

Pulling a chair closer he went through the dozens of books that they kept. He heard Ran sigh exasperatedly and mumble something about him being forgetful ‘just like his brother’, to which he only replied with a nervous giggle.

Is there somewhere he would hide something in? Somewhere only people he knew would know about...

“This is a secret between us two, okay, Conan?”

Then his eyes widened slightly. He could recall, very barely, an even younger Conan playing hide-and-seek with his older brother and father in this same library. Fuzzy as the memory was, the kid could still see his father cocky grin when they spotted his sons for the fourth time that day, and him claiming that he would find them everywhere, every single time. 

Until little Conan found that secret spot, and for that point on, Yusaku had been unable to find him any longer. Shinichi enjoyed seeing his father so frustrated, so he had made his younger brother promise he would never tell a soul about that place.

“... Conan-kun, are you okay?” Ran’s concerned question came through.

“Yeah, sorry. Kojima almost tripped on his feet and I got distracted for a moment,” he reassured her.

It didn’t take him long to find it. On the second shelf there was a section where books were much smaller, so there was a empty space between them and the wall, large enough for a child to fit in. 

Disappointedly enough, there was nothing on there.

“I just wanted to tell you I’m going to spend the night at Professor Agasa’s home. He made a new game,” Conan continued. “Yoshida-san, the others and I are going to try it out...”

He trailed off when he took notice of the dictionaries, resting horizontally between the books and the shelf above them. Spanish, Italian, French, English, Japanese... he began taking them out and reading the titles.

Conan barely hummed when Ran told him to take care and hung off. He began opening the books one by one, searching for some kind of hint.

Orquídea... Orchidea... Orchidée... Orchid... This doesn’t make any sense!

He took the Japanese dictionary between his small hands and stared. Ran... Ran... his gaze fixed in the English one, tossed away in a corner. ... Ran... Run!

His eyes opened up, completely terrified. To run?! Run from what?! 

There was no time for further questions, because the boy suddenly heard the front door slowly opening, creaking as it did so. Had he not gotten into this conclusion, he would have yelled at his friends for entering, for the second time, without permission at his own home.

These people were silent, however. Unusually quiet and sneaky. They simply couldn’t be the Detective Boys. Then, who...?

Then it dawned to him. Could these people be the ones he had been told to run from?

As silently as he could, Conan began to take all the books from the shelf, before climbing there. While he started to put them all of them back, like they used to be before, Conan paled.

The knob turned just as he was finished. So he laid there, on his side, in complete silence. 

“Wow, this is truly a mess,” a gruffy, male voice echoed in the room.

“There are four rooms on this floor,” another said. “Three of them must belong to his family.”

Conan could feel sweat collecting on his brow.

“They are in America right now. Really, who lets a teenager live alone in an entirely different country?”

Calm down, he told himself. If he panicked he would begin to hyperventilate and they would know he was there. 

And who knew what it could happen to him if they did?

Suddenly, the phone on his hands lit up and he had to bit his tongue to keep himself from gasping. Quickly, he lowered the light on screen. 

Please, tell me they didn’t see that...

He waited, with a battled breath, but the men continued talking normally, so he relaxed a little bit. That was it, until the book closest to his eyes was pulled away.

His lungs stopped working altogether and his heart raced at the thought of being discovered. What he saw, however, was totally unexpected.

Icy blue eyes, devoid of any kind emotion, were staring right into his soul. Right in front of him stood a young girl, who couldn’t be older than seven or eight years old, wearing a white coat. She kept her long, raven black hair in a braid that fell into her shoulder. 

The girl held his gaze for a moment, before silently placing the book back into its place.

Conan blinked.

“Did you find something, Sherry-chan?” a woman said, from somewhere close to his hiding spot.

“Nothing,” the childish, yet very cold, voice said. “Just a rat.”

Any other time Conan would have felt very offended to be compared to a rat. As things were now, however, while he felt glad that this mysterious girl hadn’t sold him out, the boy was confused. 

What was all of that about?

Shakily, he moved his gaze back to the phone. There was a text from Mitsuhiko that read:

“Are you okay?

We saw a group of scary people in black entering your house.”

Without any kind of hesitation, he typed back.

“Don’t come in! 

Stay out of sight until they are gone.”

Conan put the phone back and hoped, prayed that this time around his friends just listened to him.

“I don’t think anybody has lived here ever since that day,” said someone from the doorframe. “I think he is really dead.”

“I already told you, he’s dead,” the girl named Sherry sighed, exasperated. “There is absolutely no possibility of a human surviving after taking that drug.”

Conan’s eyebrows raised far above his hairline. Drug?

"We should leave for now," the woman said. "Sherry-chan is kind of busy, right?"

The boy could practically hear Sherry scowling at her, and then there were steps fading away from his range of hearing. Even then, Conan didn't even move a muscle.

If what those people were saying is true... Shinichi-niichan really did get involved with the wrong kind of people.

That one called Sherry said there was a big chance he is dead, if she was really telling the truth, then...

Then...

He shook his head. The only one that could possibly know about the orchids, and his secret hiding spot was him. 

He just couldn't be dead.

"Conan-kun?"

"Conan-kun, please answer!"

"Conan! Are you alright?"

For a moment he panicked when he heard the voices filling the house, but then calmed down when he realized the sounds were not stopping, which meant those dangerous people were long gone.

"Conan-kun!" he heard Ayumi's voice entering the room. "Do you think they...?"

"Don't worry,” the children were startled when a few books fell from a shelf, revealing Conan, who just chose to sat there. “I’m still here.”

“But who were those people?” the freckled boy said, after recovering from the initial scare. Conan looked down, prompting him to gasp. “Are they-?”

“Yeah, they are.”

After that, the boy with glasses led the group to the living room, and there he told them everything he had heard while he was hiding. When he explained what the girl had done and said, Mitsuhiko placed his hand under his chin, clearly recalling his parents drinking a glass of something they called ‘Sherry’.

“Sherry?” he mumbled. “Why would anyone call their daughter after wine?”

“Maybe they really liked wine,” Genta said, unhelpfully. “Maybe I should call my first child Eel when I grow up...”

The Edogawa kid let out a dry chuckle. Please, don’t.

“She doesn’t sound like a bad person,” the boys gave Ayumi a weird look after she said that. “I mean, she didn’t say anything when she found Conan-kun. A bad guy wouldn't do that, right?”

Conan just shrugged and leaned further into the couch, feeling far too drained to give this any more thought. At his lack of response, Genta fished out the paper that he had gotten just recently and sighed.

“That means that this isn’t a code sent by Shinichi-niichan?”

“Evidently not,” Conan simply replied.

“I wonder what this is, though,” Ayumi said. “There’s this foreign word... It’s spelled O-R-O...”

“I think it must have a meaning,” Mitsuhiko piped in. “The first letter, O, means-”

Oro means gold in Italian,” interrupted the younger Kudo, with a bored tone. “I just came across that word when I was looking for something else in the dictionary.”

At that moment, the boy realized he shouldn’t have said anything, if they way their eyes started sparkling, dreamily, was something to go by. Next thing he knew, he was taking a bus with them to the Touto Tower, because there was a drawing of it on the paper.

From the corner of his eye, though, the boy noticed a pair of men dressed in black following after they got off the bus.

Don’t tell me, these people are...?

He shook his head almost immediately. No, they simply couldn’t be them. As far as he knew, the people his brother had gotten in trouble with were smart and efficient. They wouldn’t just follow a bunch of kids around the city without a reason.

Then it hit him. Oro, the Italian word for gold. And then the recently arrested Dino Capone, leader of an Italian robbery group. Oh, my. 

Why were they always getting in so many dangerous situations?

When he turned around, however, his friends had already left after he had mentioned that the first symbols might mean a clothes shop. Conan sighed, tiredly, when he saw the trio getting kicked off said store for misbehaving.

This will be a long day...


It was night already when Conan finally understood what the code meant. All too aware of the people stalking them, he decided to go to the bathroom. 

There he pulled out his phone.

What can I do? They won’t believe me if I told them we’re stalked by a bunch of italian robbers, his eyes fixed on his bow-tie. Unless...

“Hello, police?” he said, in a older male voice. “I was walking down the street and saw a group of kids followed by some weird people, and they really look like the Italian robbers from the news.... Yeah, they told me to call the police and they are guiding them to...”

Like so, danger was easily averted. Once on the location, the thieves came out of hiding, pointing their guns at the group. The three paled, considerably, while Conan just smirked.

Even the thieves were confused, exchanging looks, unable to understand.

At least, until they heard it:

“It’s the police! Don’t move!”


“Eh?” Ran smiled at the children. “That’s great, everyone! You figured out the code! And then those thieves...”

“I, I caught them!” Genta exclaimed.

“And I perfectly deduced the code,” Mitsuhiko grinned.

Conan could only let out a dry laugh while he zapped through every single channel on Agasa’s old TV. The reason they were currently there was because they had decided to stay there until their parents came to pick them up. 

Ran had been the first one to arrive, obviously and had been shocked to find out that they had leaded a group of thieves towards their arrest.

And of course his friends were taking all the credit. He didn’t mind, though. Unlike his older brother, Conan didn’t really enjoy the spotlight.

“That’s not right,” unexpectedly, Ayumi interrupted the two boys. “The code was solved and the thieves were captured...” she smiled towards Conan’s direction. “... all thanks to Conan-kun!”

“Eh?” said Ran, with a smile on her face.

“Eh?” Conan blinked at their way for a few seconds, before blushing a little bit under the unwanted attention. “I really didn’t do much, actually...”

“Conan-kun,” Ayumi ran closer to him, and sat beside him. Then, out the blue, she gave him a quick kiss on his cheek. “Thank you!”

Genta and Mitsuhiko screamed mentally.

Conan did, too.

“Wow!” Ran beamed at him. “Good for you, Conan-kun. You got a cute girlfriend!”

Conan blushed harder, if possible. “Girlfriend-?!” he choked out. “N-No, that’s not it!”

“He’s blushing, how cute!”

He tried to argue a bit longer, yet it proved to be almost impossible when he had Ayumi clinging on his arm, Ran giggling at him and the other two boys glaring holes into his head. Finally, he let out a defeated sigh and said nothing. His face was still red, though.

And Agasa couldn’t stop himself from laughing, loudly. 

Once the commotion had died down a bit, and Ayumi had released him to go home with her mother, just like the other two had done, Ran stood up to leave.

“By the way, Ran-neechan,” he spoke. “I’m still planning to stay with Professor Agasa for the night. There are a few things I want him to show me.”

Agasa gave him a weird look even as the teen nodded at him with a smile, bid goodbye to the professor and finally left. Conan’s childish smile left as soon as the door closed behind the girl’s back.

“What’s wrong, Conan?” the adult decided to speak. “I don’t think there’s something in here that I hadn’t shown you yet.”

“I went to my old home a few hours ago," without any notice, the boy broke the news to him. "I hoped there was a clue to Shinichi-niichan’s whereabouts." 

Agasa flinched a bit at his words.

“Find Shinichi?” the old man let a strangled laugh. “So that’s what has been bothering you? Don’t worry, he’s going to get back before you-”

“A group of people, all dressed in black, broke in,” he interrupted. Agasa’s eyes widened, terrified. “Luckily, I was able to hide until they were gone."

Conan paused, examining the professor face for a few moments.

"You're not surprised," blue eyes narrowed slightly. "Terrified, yes, but not surprised at all."

For a second, it was quiet. Agasa let out a long sigh, focusing his gaze to his lap.

"You told Ran-neechan and I not to call the police," the kid accused. "Not because my brother was going to return soon, but because you knew these people are dangerous. In other words, you know who they are."

To his surprise, Agasa slowly shook his head. "That's where you are wrong, Conan," the man confessed. "I have absolutely no idea who those men in black are."

“You don’t? Then, why...?”

“Shinichi begged me to,” he confessed. “I should’ve asked why, but I was simply too scared to do so.”

Then Conan stood up from his place on the sofa, so he could be right in front of the clueless old man. The look on his eyes wasn’t the calculative cold it was before. He could see... desperation?

“Please, Professor Agasa,” for the first time the adult could remember, Conan pleaded, begged. “Help me. We have to find him.”

He opened his mouth to tell him off, that was too dangerous for a little kid like him. But then, he remembered ─ this child was Shinichi’s brother, and Agasa had never found anyone more reckless and stubborn that the highschool detective.

It went without saying that, even if he didn’t agree, Conan would still go after them any way or another. Even if it meant doing it all alone.

With a defeated sigh, Professor Agasa reluctantly nodded.

Chapter Text

It had been a morning like any other, until Ran picked up an innocent looking card from the family mailbox. It had been addressed to the great detective, Mouri Kogoro.

"On the next full moon, the shadows of the Tsukikage Island will once again begin to vanish.

Your investigation is required.

─ Asou Keiji."

That was the reason why Conan was there, currently sitting on the train with Ran and her father, travelling to the pier. Then, they would take a boat to this island and figure out what in the world that letter meant.

“Damn, all because that letter,” Kogoro complained, loudly.

“Who cares? We get to relax on a small island on the Izu Sea,” Ran said, happily, before turning to Conan. “Right, Conan-kun?”

The child looked up from his bento box, and nodded at her.

“Geez,” the man was visually annoyed. “I understand why you are coming, but why is the brat here too?”

“We can’t just leave him alone, can we?”

Kogoro sighed, heavily, in response. “Haven’t his parents or the detective brat gotten in touch yet?” at that question, the boy flinched.

“No,” was the sad response the girl gave.

Instantly, the boy excused himself to go to the bathroom, hoping that it would get them to change topics before anyone could get the idea of actually call the Kudo couple.

Because he knew that the last thing he currently needed was his crazy parents roaming around.

Before he could open the door of the compartment, two unsettlingly familiar people, carrying a big suitcase walked in. Conan froze at the sight of them.

Those are the men in black from the other time!

The bigger one shoved him away, irritated, before sitting on their seat. For a moment or so, he just stood there, watching. His eyes didn't leave their faces, even if he had to return to his seat beside Ran and in front of a sleeping Kogoro.

At some point, they went to the dining car and he sneaked closer to their seats. There, he pulled out his chewing gum.

After the professor had, albeit reluctantly, agreed to help him out on his chase he had given him three new fully operational gadgets for him to use. First, the power-enchanting kick shoes. Second, a wrist watch that could shot a very potent anesthetic needle if he was in trouble. Lastly, his tracking glasses.

But some of them had their low points...

This is a bit degrading, he lamented, staring at the chewing gum stuck on his fingers. And a bit gross.

He stuck the bug under their seats, when Ran suddenly came from behind.

"What has gotten into you, Conan-kun?" she scolded him. "This is so unlike you."

Of course it is, thought Conan but said nothing, as he watched Ran placing the gum inside the ashtray, instead of throwing it away somewhere else. He could've sighed in relief.

Like so, he quietly listened to their conversation from his seat.

"I finally can take a smoke,” one of them sighed, taking his cigarette out. “Pretty slick transaction, eh?"

"You're too loud, Vodka."

"Careful as always, Gin?"

That girl, Sherry, and now Vodka and Gin, he thought. Alcohol-themed codenames, huh?

“They’re probably back at their seat, checking out the view, laughing to themselves,” at some point, Gin said. “Their last view...”

He kept on listening on their conversation, enough for him to find out that they were going to kill whoever they had made the transaction with. Along with the rest of the passengers. There was a bomb, set to go off at 15:10.

He would have screamed if he didn't know any better. Instead, he forced himself to remain silently still.

The pair was gone, as soon as the train got to the next stop. It was frustrating to see the only possible lead to his brother slipping away from his fingers 

But there wasn't anything a mere seven year-old could do about it. At least, not now.

Besides, he stood up suddenly, looking towards the way to the dining car. There's a bomb inside this train. If this keeps up...

His fists clenched. Experience taught him that nobody would believe a child's story about bombs and explosions. But, if he didn't find it anytime soon...

Time was tickling.

"Hey, where are you going, Conan-kun?" she grabbed him by the arm before he could even leave. "You can't just go around bothering other passengers."

He looked back at Ran, and she paused for a minute. There was a very serious expression on his face.

"Listen, Ran-neechan, there's no much time to explain," the child said. "There's a bomb."

The teen's eyes widened and she just watched as the kid closed his eyes and sighed deeply.

"I heard two men talking about it, but they were gone before I knew it," he stared into her eyes. "I don't have any proof, but I swear it's true. So, please, Ran-neechan, you have to believe me!"

His gaze didn’t waver under the girl’s stern stare, and watched as Ran’s eyebrows were brought together in a frown. He expected her to scold him for making up stories, yet she didn’t. Instead, her hand went to her father’s shoulder and gave him a shake, waking him up from his nap, before telling him what Conan had told her.

“Ran, go tell the personal that there’s a bomb somewhere in this train,” Kogoro commanded, instantly awake. Ran nodded and quickly went to do what she was told. Meanwhile, the dad stared at Conan, with a serious expression. “Conan, what did those people say? There might be something that could let us figure out where it is.”

Conan blinked twice. Do they really believe me, just like that?

“Anything you remember can be of help,” he pressed further.

“The bomb is in a black case. They did a transaction with somebody on the dining car, and planned to kill them afterwards,” his hands went to his chin, deep in thought. “One of them was relieved that he was finally able to take a smoke... So this person might not like it... and might be in a non-smoking car.”

“That actually makes sense,” the other man replied. “There are eight non-smoking cars in this train, though. If we could reduce it even more...”

Conan’s eyes widened, as he remembered that man’s words.

“They’re probably back at their seat, checking out the view, laughing to themselves.”

“Hey, brat, where are you going?!”

The kid had taken off running without a word, prompting Kogoro to curse under his breath and follow this reckless child, who didn’t stop until he reached his destination.

“There are only three cars where you can see the scenery,” he said, through pants, when he was asked what he was doing. “Among them, the only non-smoking car is this one.”

The detective understood right away what the boy meant, and started looking to the passengers as he walked through the corridor. “There are only four people carrying black cases,” he noted. “If we check all those we can make it.”

Conan looked at his watch. “Forty minutes.”

“Eh?”

“The bomb is set to explode at 15:10.”

“Why didn’t you say so earlier?!” he walked towards a man who looked like a yakuza. “Damn it.”

The child didn’t say anything in return, just carefully studied the other three. There was the woman, the man with glasses and the old man, and from what it seemed it wasn’t the yakuza, since the detective had somehow managed to drop the suitcase to the floor, revealing the contents ─ a bunch of heart-patterned underwear.

He had to do something.

“Excuse, miss,” he went with the woman first, an innocent smile on his face. “Have you been to the dining car?”

“No, I haven’t,” she answered. “Why is that?”

“Oh, it’s just that... Woah!” Conan suddenly exclaimed, running to the woman’s free seat, next to the window. “This view is so great!”

The woman didn’t seem bothered in the sightless. Amused, even.

“Yes, today’s weather is lovely,” she beamed at the young boy. “You can even see the Mt. Fuji perfectly.”

“Eh? Isn’t that weird?” the kid asked, innocently. “There’s no way you could’ve seen it!”

“What?” she blinked.

“This is the ocean side,” the child’s eyes sharpened. “Are you sure you weren’t on the dining car?”

When the woman said nothing in response, the child stood on the empty seat and peered behind, where Kogoro was uselessly trying to get the attention from the deaf old man.

“Occhan, I found the bomb.”

“Eh?!” both the woman and the detective cried, in surprise.

Soon, the train was stopped and the bomb disarming squad came. Danger was averted and the woman went to jail, yet there was nothing she could tell them about the men she had made the deal with.

It was as if they had vanished into a deep fog.

Nobody was hurt, however. And, really, he should be glad things had turned out this way.

But there was something that confused the child, something that made his mind wonder and wonder, and his detective blood to crave for the answer...

“By the way, Ran-neechan,” the child spoke for the first time since they boarded the ship towards Tsukikage Island. “How did you know I was telling the truth?”

Ran giggled and Conan could only stare cluelessly back at her.

“Because I trust you, Conan-kun,” the girl then kneeled down in front of him, and poked his nose playfully. “You’re a very smart little boy. You wouldn’t say something like that unless it’s the one and only truth, right?”

“... Right,” he replied, softly.

“There you go, then.”

And then she smiled, in a way that would reduce his brother into a stuttering mess at the sight of it. Conan stared at her for a moment, and then a shy little grin made its appearance. 

It really felt good to be trusted by a grown up once in a while.


Before they knew it, they had finally arrived.

It had been quite a shock when they were told that Asou Keiji had been dead for a few years now, burnt alive as he played Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata on his piano, as the flames danced all around him.

After killing her daughter and wife, for some reason.

"What a terrible prank," Kogoro complained, loudly, as the trio sat on a bench at the park. 

"I seriously think this isn't the case," the kid said, nonchalantly. “If it was, they wouldn’t have paid all costs for us just for a prank, besides...” he pointed at the letter crumbled in Kogoro’s hands. “The postmark is from this island.”

“You’re right...” the man blinked, in surprise, alongside his daughter.

“But I bet you had already figured it out,” his smirk, however, said he actually didn’t. “Right, Occhan?”

“There you go again with ‘Occhan’,” Kogoro groaned. “You should have more respect with your elders.”

“Oh, sorry, Jii-chan .”

It wasn’t long until the youngster felt an incredible amount of pain coming from the top of his head. He cried at the impact and then glared at the man who had just hit him, hands still on top of the place where it hurt.

“Dad!” scolded Ran, instantly, and worriedly rushed to Conan. “Be a little easier on him. He’s only a child.”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Kogoro scowled.

“It hurts a lot, actually,” Conan frowned.

“Don’t be that sensitive, brat.”

The kid was about to reply, when he hissed in pain after Ran touched him in a very sore spot as she checked him over. “This will leave a bruise,” she sighed, and gave her father a very dark look. “It looks like it does hurt a lot.”

“... O-Oh,” he stuttered. “I’m sorry.”

Conan wanted to stuck his tongue at him so badly, but now he knew better than to test his limits any further. Meanwhile, Ran scooped him on her arms, eyes not looking away from the developing bump on his head.

“We need some ice,” she declared, looking around. “Where...?”

Her eyes went to a small building across the street, where she could read ‘Doctor Asai Narumi’ on the front and smiled to herself. She went there without thinking, and her father followed without complaining.

“Excuse me,” the girl knocked on the door of the small clinic twice.

The door opened a few seconds later, and a young man appeared. His chocolate hair barely reached his shoulders, eyes were dark brown and he seemed to be around Ran’s age, Conan noticed.

The kid blinked, confused. He could have sworn that, for less than a second, the teen's eyes widened slightly in surprise, before returning to a neutral expression.

“Asai... Narumi-sensei...?” Ran was mostly puzzled. She could’ve sworn that Narumi was a female name.

“Oh, no, no. Narumi-sensei is out, but she will be here in any minute,” he laughed, once he seemed understand what was going on, and let the trio in. Instantly after entering, the kid started to look around the place, curiously, taking on his surroundings. “I’m Hirai Arthur, Narumi-sensei’s assistant.”

Without meaning to, Arthur flinched when the child’s all-too-knowing shifted away the random health-care poster in the wall to his face, at the mere mention of his name. The teen pretended not to notice, and kept on talking.

"So," all in all, the older boy seemed to keep his cool, even as he turned to Conan with a kind smile. "Is something wrong with this young man over there?"

"It's nothing serious," Ran explained. "He just hit his head."

"Let me take a look." 

The girl let the child sit on the sofa while Arthur went to take a closer look. He fought a relieved sigh when he felt the kid’s gaze tear away from his face, mostly because Arthur wouldn’t be able to check him if he kept staring.

"Well, it seems like you managed to hit your head pretty hard."

"Oh, really?" Ran glared at her father. "I wonder how did that happen."

Kogoro looked away, pointedly ignoring that comment.

On the other hand, while Arthur treated his bump with utmost care, Conan kept strangely still, gazing blankly in front of him, yet not seeing anything as he sat there, deep in thought.

He frowned, but didn’t say anything.

“Press this against your head,” Arthur instructed him, handing him a ice pack.

“Okay,” the kid did as he was told. "Say, Arthur-san, do you know where the community center is?"

Kogoro stared at him, an eyebrow raised. Ran, in the other hand, brightened.

"I see," she explained to her father. "The mayor might know something about Asou-san. They said they used to be good friends."

Before the male teen could reply, the door of the small clinic opened, and four sets of eyes went to that direction to observe a woman walking inside, blinking a bit at the people she didn't remember seeing before.

"Narumi-sensei," Arthur greeted. "Welcome back."

"Oh, hello, Arthur-kun," she then looked at Conan. "Who is our little patient there?"

"He's Edogawa Conan," Ran stood up, then motioned to her father. "That is my father, Mouri Kogoro, and my name is Mouri Ran."

"They were asking where the community centre is," Arthur added.

"Oh, are you from the mainland?"

"Tokyo," Conan replied easily.

It turned out that the doctor also was from Tokyo but had moved to that island not long ago. They quickly fell into a friendly chat, and the trio learned that the elections were going to take place soon, and that today was the anniversary of the last mayor's death.


It had been a quite the struggle to pass through the crowd, that was angrily manifesting themselves against the current mayor, but eventually succeeded.

Currently they were in front of an old piano, where the deceased mayor had been found, lying dead across the keyboard due to a heart attack.

Ran was terrified, shaking and face turning white as she listened to the Hirata, the secretary, telling them the story. 

Then he told them that he had heard the piano playing, and it was the melody the reason he had found the body. It didn't help at all with Ran's latent fear.

"It was the same song Asou-san played as his house burned around him," he added. "Moonlight Sonata."

“It’s cursed...” Ran breathed out, then paled even more when the piano started playing out the blue.

Conan was there, hitting the keys without a care of the world. “Doesn’t look too cursed to me,” he commented, before the was suddenly plucked by the girl. He looked at her with a teasing grin. “Don’t tell me you are scared of ghosts, Ran-neechan?”

“Of course I am,” she huffed, as she walked outside, holding the child on the air by his armpits. “And here I thought that you were the sensitive one, between you and that detective freak.”

There was a loud sneeze, so they turned to their right to see Narumi, her assistant and another man walking down the corridor, towards their group.

“Narumi-san and Hirai-san?" Ran blinked, setting the child down. "Are you coming to the funeral?”

"Only Narumi-sensei, actually," Conan noticed Arthur weeping his nose, quite viciously, even as he spoke. "I just wanted to check something."

“Check what?” asked Conan, with a curious look.

“That piano,” the boy turned to the same piano Conan had just been playing with. “They say two people were playing it when they died, isn’t that mysterious?”

“I would say it’s creepy,” Ran commented.

The child barely paid attention as the doctor introduced the man beside her, Shimizu Masato, as he was mostly preoccupied with that suspicious boy. He didn't let go, even when he stood outside with the Mouri family, waiting for the funeral to be over.

Conan opened his mouth, to finally ask what he had meant to ask since he first saw him, but he couldn't.

Because the Moonlight Sonata started playing.

And someone else ceased to exist.


Hirai Arthur was a very interesting individual, Conan decided. 

Once his eyes fell in the body they had narrowed, and did not move a muscle until Kogoro confirmed that Kawashima was dead. Then, he had calmly asked Ran to go to the police station and Narumi to do an examination, before starting to look around for clues.

It was amusing, though, to see Kogoro blink owlishly as a boy half his own age was doing his job with such an ease.

The child kneeled down in front of the poodle of water that was under the body, stuck a finger on it, and licked. 

“What are you doing, Conan-kun?” the kid only looked up, and was not surprised to see Arthur crouched down next to him. “Did you find something?”

“It’s sea water,” he confirmed, then watched water trial, and noticed that it lead to the door. “Most likely he was drown at the beach and brought back here by the killer.”

“That’s what I thought as well,” the teen looked at the windows. “The windows are locked, so the killer must be inside this room.”

“And it most likely a man. A woman couldn’t have drown and carry a grown man back inside in such a short period of time all by herself,” Conan added. “That leaves Kuroiwa-san and Narumi-sensei out of the suspect list.”

For some reason, Arthur shook his head and narrowed his eyes. “Narumi-sensei is still a suspect.”

“Huh?”

The boy looked at the kid at his eyes. “She’s trans.”

Soon, Narumi’s examination confirmed the victim had been drown, but she couldn’t say for sure without a proper autopsy. Arthur nodded and started interrogating the people in the room.

Conan could only stare at him, silently, while he worked. He moved quickly, and very efficiently.

Like a true detective.

Kogoro found a strange music sheet beside the dead body, but they couldn’t decipher it. It didn’t fail to make a guy called Nishimoto run away, frightened.

Since it was getting nowhere, they decided to call it a day and head back to the inn. Conan nodded, and was about to leave as well, when he froze in place, out the blue.

Realization had suddenly struck him, washing over him like a bucket of cold water.

“Conan-kun?” Ran turned to him, concerned. “Is something wrong?”

“The shadows of the Tsukikage Island...” his eyes were wide as he mumbled, more to himself than to somebody else. “...  will once again begin to vanish.”

“What are you talking about?” Narumi asked, confused.

“There was a letter addressed to my father and that was it said,” Ran explained both to the doctor and her assistant. “It said it was from Asou Keiji, but...”

Arthur’s eyes narrowed, while Kogoro quickly fished his letter out of his pocket. The child, meanwhile, brought his hand to his chin, deep in thought.

“Shadows vanishing might mean being surrounded in light,” he reasoned. “The Moonlight Sonata was playing after Kawashima-san was killed, while Asou Keiji was dying, and before Kameyama-san had a heart attack... ”

“Wait a second,” Ran pipped in. “If the letter says ‘begin to vanish’, then...”

Kogoro gasped while Arthur frowned and Narumi brought a hand on her chest, clearly distressed.

“Yes,” said Conan, with a very serious expression on his face. “The murders aren’t over yet.”


Sadly, Conan had been right. Soon enough, the second movement of Moonlight had sounded on their ears, and the current mayor, Kuroiwa Tatsuji, had been found dead in the broadcasting room, a knife stabbed on his back.

There was something on the floor, and it resembled a musical sheet.

This time around, Conan understood what it meant.

“You realize it, don’t you? You’re next.”

Once he understood the trick, Arthur also realized the message left behind on the other murder.

“The hellfire of hatred has made you pay.”

Nishimoto freaked out again, claiming that Asou Keiji was still alive, until the policeman told them that they had found his rests on the burned house, so there was no way he was still with the living. 

“All that was left from that fire was the sheet music he put into a safe.”

“Where is it?!” Kogoro yelled. “Where is that sheet music?!”

“In the storeroom in the community center storeroom...”

“Okay, go and bring it back!” Megure ordered.

Arthur stepped up. “Wait a moment,” he said. “I’ll help you look.”

The policeman seemed to be relieved. “Thank you very much.”

“No, it’s okay,” he then turned to Conan, who blinked in return. “Are you coming with us, child detective?”

Conan paused, before he composed himself and let a big, bright smile made its appearance on his little face.

“Okay!” he nodded, eagerly.

Then both Arthur and the policeman started to walk away, the child following close behind.

Had they been looking, however, they wouldn’t have missed the way Conan’s sharp eyes narrowed in suspicion, burning holes into the back of the young doctor’s assistant.

Chapter Text

“It wasn’t you, was it?”

Doctor Narumi paused bandaging Hirata Kazuaki’s head ─ the man had, after all, been hit in the head with a blunt object, next to the piano before, culprit fleed the room by jumping out the window ─ to give the teenager a questioning look.

Conan, who had seen him running away, was now on the other room with Kogoro, as the third murder had been committed and the body found before the third movement could be played.

“Arthur-kun...?” she said, in a hushed whisper. “You are suspecting me, aren’t you?”

There was a look on his eyes, that not even the doctor could read.

“I have tried not to, I really did,” he confessed with a sigh. “But the victims... and your father’s mysterious death... I mean...”

Once she finished healing the man, Narumi stood up and glanced at the boy, lips pressed together in a thin line.

“I’ve become a doctor to save lives,” she stressed out, her voice raising like it had never before. “I’m not the kind of person that would take it away from someone else, Arthur-kun.”

The boy paused. “No,” he sighed. “You are not.”

With a curt nod, the woman walked away, yet her assistant didn’t follow. For a few moments, Arthur just sat there, in silence, clenching his fists over his lap while he stared at the unconscious man. 

At least, I hope you are not.


Conan wasn’t surprised in the sightless when he saw Arthur beside him, again, standing next to the piano while the child crouched down underneath it, after coming to a sudden realization upon the sight of a tuning hammer lying next to Murasawa.

He tried to ignore him, as he opened a secret compartment. Arthur bended down and blinked twice.

“A hidden drawer?” the teen whispered.

Conan’s eyes fell to the ground, noticing some kind of powder lying around the floor, and gave it a experimental lick.

“This is...” he turned to Arthur, with a shocked expression. “This is cocaine, Arthur-san!”

“Co-?!” he spluttered, clearly surprised. “And you licked it?!”

“Well, yes.”

The teen was quick drag the child away from that spot, raise him into the air and sit him on top of the piano. There was a bored expression in Conan’s eyes as he watched the teenager scold him with all the sternness of a mother hen.

“Police do it all the time,” the child said to him, with a plain voice, once the teen had calmed down enough to have a somewhat proper conversation. “I’m truly surprised you don’t know that, considering you’re a detective.”

Arthur was left completely speechless, so he simply groaned, hand on his face, and walked out the room before he could lose his patience. The little boy did not question him, and hopped off the piano and into the ground.

A more serious expression soon took place on Conan’s face as he followed after him.

The teenage boy hadn’t denied being a detective. 

I can’t still say for sure. I need evidence.

Sighing to himself, he decided to leave the adults alone, who were watching photos of the crime scene, and follow Murasawa outside.

There, he innocently pointed out the white powder on his sleeve, causing the man to drop his change. Foreign money, he noted, and decided to leave the man leave for now, as he spotted the policeman, gasping for breath, holding into an envelope, sweating like he had just been running.

Which he probably had.

“I finally found them!” he shouted. “The papers Asou-san left behind twelve years ago!”

“Eh?!”

Before the adult could protest, the child whisked the papers away from him. He froze, eyes stuck on the music sheet in front of him.

“To my son, Seiji.”

“Officer-san?”

“Yes?”

“Did Asou-san have a son?”

“Ah, yes,” he smiled at the memory. “He fell quite ill when he was young and had to be hospitalized... I think his name was Seiji.... Where are you going, boy?!”


Conan found Arthur on the conference room, his gaze lingering on the place where the body had been found ─ the control panel ─ with an unreadable look on his face. He paid no mind however and stepped ahead.

"The killer is Narumi-sensei," it was not a question.

There was no surprise on Hirai’s face, just resignation. "I feared so," he said, with an humorless chuckle. "I really hoped she wasn't the murderer, but proof is staring me right in the face."

Conan closed his eyes and sighed heavily. Silently, he walked closer and just stood there for a few moments, until he decided to speak.

“Even if it is painful and incredibly sad, there is one and only truth,” the child said, softly, his eyes staring at the chair where the body had been discovered just a few hours ago. “And it must always shine through. That’s what my brother used to tell me all the time, at least.”

Without saying anything, he handed the older boy the music sheets he had taken from the officer, and watched as the teen’s downbeat expression morphed to surprise. Then, he met Conan’s eyes.

“You know what it is the right thing to do,” the kid said. “Don’t you, Arthur-san?”

After a few moments of reconsidering it, Arthur nodded to to the youngster and walked closer to the microphone. When he was ready, Conan pushed to button.

Arthur’s voice sounded through the room as he explained everything. He told everyone that Hirata was a drug dealer, who had scared everyone off the piano stories where he hid the cocaine with ghost stories, and that Murasawa had been attacked by him because he had seen it, and thus it endangered his deals.

But he was not the killer.

He stated that murdered was someone who had tricked everyone. That who had lied about the time of death.

“It was you,” Arthur’s eyes slowly closed. “It could have been only you, Narumi-sensei.”

Arthur hesitated when he was about to tell them the motive, for some reason. He didn’t get to, however, because the culprit had suddenly vanished in the middle of his deduction. 

Panicking a bit, he turned around, only to realize that he was all alone in that small room.

The papers were gone, also.


Conan wasn't thinking straight when he ran into the fire, clutching Asou Keiji's dying message tightly against his chest as he fervently looked for the doctor, and following the gentle piano melody until it suddenly stopped.

Please, that was the only thought that was currently going through his head. Please, be okay.

He found her quickly, head pressed against the keyboard in such a way that Conan feared he had been too late. When she pressed the last key, however, he realized she was still alive.

"It's over," her voice broke. "It's over, father."

"It's not," only then, she noticed the boy standing on the doorframe. "You don't have to die, Narumi-san."

Despite the situation they were in, Narumi smiled gently. "It's Seiji."

"Seiji-san, your father left this for you," Conan forced a sad smile. "It says 'Seiji, you must live a full life' , that's why..."

"Oh, I see," Seiji sighed heavily. "That's too bad. Had I known about it earlier, I probably wouldn't have..."

"You didn't know?" Conan was visually confused. "Then, how did you...?"

“I always knew that my father’s death was unnatural,” he replied. “After graduating, I came to this island as a female doctor.”

He wanted to continue explaining, but then the doctor started to cough, clearly intoxicated by the smoke. Conan, in turn, frowned and looked around for quick way out. Seiji wouldn’t make it if they were to leave from the front door.

That’s it, he looked at the window beside Seiji and bent down to activate his shoes.

The sound of glass breaking made Seiji look up, just to see Conan’s foot raised, as if he had just kicked something. A look to the other one, which was barefoot was enough for him to realize that the kid had kicked his own shoe and somehow broken the window.

His father’s letter had been left forgotten on the floor.

“We can still make it,” the child pleaded. “So, please, Seiji-san...”

Seiji smiled warmly at the young boy who was desperately trying to save a murderer like he was and stood up. He lifted him into the air, surprising him a bit, and said:

“It’s too late,” he told him. “My hands, like theirs, are already tainted with blood.”

He was about to throw him away from the flames and back to safety, but he couldn’t. A wave of dizziness suddenly washed all over him, leaving him weak enough for the boy to drop back to ground and push him into the window heind.

His body fell outside. That was all Seiji remembered before he blacked out.

Conan, on the other hand, sighed in relief as he put the lid of his watch back on place, and smiled when he watched Ran, Kogoro and Arthur standing a safe distance away. The teenage boy instantly took off running to their spot, to help them out, and the child stepped closer to the window, with all the intention to climb it.

When the fire suddenly reached the silk curtains. Soon he was standing in front of a wall of flames, so that he had to jump back in order not to get burned. 

“CONAN!” he could hear Arthur screaming outside the building.

Conan cursed, in such a way that no seven year-old should and definitely would get him grounded for a month if Ran heard.

On his defense, he was pretty much screwed.

Knowing there was no other way out, Conan dropped into the floor and started crawling towards the exit.

If Conan had to describe his surroundings in a single word, it would probably be inferno. The flames danced around the place, licking the entire house as if they wanted to play and burning everything on sight; the old piano, family framed photos, and probably Seiji’s father message, Conan noted. He paid no mind to that, and continued to move.

Eventually, the black smoke began to fill the child’s lungs, prompting him to cough viciously, tears collecting on the rim of his eyes. He noticed, with a grimace, that his movements were slowing down, and that his vision was starting to blur ─ even if he was still wearing his thick glasses.

... Will I die... here?

Then, his friends’ faces filled his tired mind. Ayumi, Genta and Mitsuhiko ─ the three of them were there, sitting beside him on class, while laughing with each other.

Soon, his parents followed, and so did Professor Agasa. He even pictured Kogoro, looking away from an angry Ran, who suddenly turned around and opened her eyes, wide, when she noticed him standing there. She smiled, warmly and brightly at him. 

I can’t let this end here... I can’t...

However, it seemed like the immense heat and lack of oxygen wouldn’t let him. The flames didn’t stop dancing, surrounding him to the point he wasn’t able to tell right from left anymore.

Damn it, he cursed, when his body wouldn’t move anymore. I have... I have... to get out of here...

Darkness was closing on him. He cursed his fate once more as just lied there, lost in a sea of flames, while his ears started ringing. 

Everything was fading.

Then he saw his brother’s back, standing in the distance, looking over his shoulder and grinning at him. But then, the little boy noticed his smile was forced. Sad.

Very slowly, Shinichi began to walk away, gradually disappearing into a black background until he was gone.

“... Conan...” there was this voice calling for him, urgently, but it was so far away that he didn’t think he could reach it. It kept calling, over and over, until he could somewhat understand what it was saying. “... You can’t give up here, Conan!”

He was slowly becoming aware of the chest he was being cradled to, the hand pressing his body tightly against it, the piece of cloth ─ a jacket? ─ draped over his entire frame, protecting him from the flames that made themselves known by that terrible heat.

And whoever was carrying him was still speaking to him, rather quickly, pleading him to say something, anything.

.... This voice...

A tiny fist weakly clenched around this person’s shirt. “... Onii... chan...?” came the dreamy reply, so softly that the person speaking to him almost missed it.

There was a sigh of relief. Or maybe Conan just imagined it.

“Just hold on a little longer, okay buddy? We’re definitely making it out of here.”

Conan could’ve sworn that he had heard that sentence before, but maybe the heat was just messing with his head. He didn’t get to ponder about it any longer, because he passed out soon thereafter.

His eyes did not flutter open until an undetermined amount of time later. The room was unfocused and for a moment, he couldn't see anything. He only managed a tired groan. 

A blurred figure moved at the sound.

"Conan-kun?" it was Ran's distinct, gentle whisper. His eyes focused on her face.

"Ran... neechan...?"

She smiled tiredly and smoothed back some of his hair. It was only then that he started to realize where he was. He was currently lying on a bed, and by the gentle movement he could deduce they were on a boat. Probably a ship back to mainland.

"That was too reckless," she scolded without any real anger. "You are so lucky Hirai-san found you when he did, because if he didn't... Hey, you can't be up yet!"

Ran grabbed onto his shoulders, keeping him in bed and refraining the kid from sitting up. There was a wild look on his eyes, however, that made her feel uneasy.

"Where is he?" it was like his life depended on it. "Where is Arthur-san?"

"He treated you, but he decided to stay on the island for a while," she explained. "He said that he wanted to make sure the people would be okay even if their only doctor is gone."

She released him when it seemed like he wasn’t going to suddenly jump off his bed and leaned back on her chair, sighing heavily. "Still, I didn't expect the murderer to be Narumi-san," Ran said with a sad voice. "I wonder why had she done such a thing... She didn't want to tell me."

Seiji-san didn't tell anyone, Conan looked at her, confused. Why?

"You know, back then, when Hirai-san did his deduction, for a moment..." tears were collecting on her eyes. "For a moment, I really thought he was your brother."

Conan could only stare silently.

"But that's so silly, isn't it?" she gave him a watery laugh. "Just because they sound similar doesn't mean they are the same person, right?"

His mouth opened to speak, but at the sight of the single crystal tear rolling down her cheek, he clamped his mouth shut.

"... Right," he just nodded.

If Conan told her what he had been thinking, she might just miss him even more, he realized. 

It wouldn't be fair.


It wasn't until much later that Ran finally let him out of bed. 

Conan was aimlessly wandering through the ship, when music filled the room. It was the Moonlight Sonata alright, but this time around he knew nobody was killed. It had a gentle yet melancholic touch to it, which prompted him to set looking for the source.

"Seiji-san?"

Seiji gave him a brief smile, but didn't stop. He looked at the seat beside him and motioned the boy to sit. Conan understood right away and did as he was told.

It was pretty convenient that there was a piano aboard, he mused.

"You didn't tell anyone," Conan spoke after a moment. "That you are actually Asou Seiji."

Seiji paused, and let his shoulders drop.

"I couldn't help it," he explained. "After all I have illegally changed my name. I don't want to get my sentence extended because of it."

"Illegally?" his eyebrows raised, in surprise. "Why would you do that?"

Seiji got serious all of sudden. "I got into big trouble once and I had to change my identity."

The child frowned at that, but decided not to press him any further. Instead of that, Seiji’s hands moved across the keyboard, and continued to play the sonata his father loved so much, and died while playing it.

He explained to the child his motive, since he hadn’t been able to at the fire. It turned out his father and the other four had been involved in some shady business concerning drug dealing, and that at some point Keiji wanted to go out. He had been killed, alongside his family, by them not long thereafter.

The late mayor had told him the story, terrified after learning he was the missing son, before dying by a heart attack.

“Then you sent that letter to Kogoro-ojisan. You wanted him to stop you,” Conan concluded, only to be met with silence. “Do you regret what you have done?”

“I was blinded by fury and acted in a way no doctor should. I thought the only way I could redeem myself was to let the flames burn my soul away,” he confessed. “But my father’s words, and your courage, made me realize that was not the right way. I need to serve my time, and then go back to being Doctor Narumi. I want to help people this time around. ”

Seiji turned to a blinking Conan and smiled, sweetly, just in time for Ran to come inside the room to pick him up. She said that there were going to arrive at their destination anytime soon.

“Ah, and Conan-kun,” Seiji called before he could leave. “If you see Arthur-kun around, please tell him that this is only consequence of my own actions. He’s not to blame.”

“Shouldn’t you be the one telling him that?” he asked, innocently. “I don’t think I will see him around any time soon.”

“You will,” he was completely certain of what he was saying. “Sooner than you expect.”

With an uncertain nod and a timid smile, the child got off his seat at began to follow Ran out the room. As he left the room, music started to fill the room once again. 

This time around, however, it wasn’t the Moonlight Sonata, or anything of that sort. It was a code, which Conan immediately understood.

“Thank you, little detective.”


In the blink of an eye, it was Christmas' Eve.

Snow fell on top of the child's head as he walked down the road. He had just sneaked off Ran's watch, who certainly didn't want him running around when they were going to attend a party at Agasa’s in less than an hour.

Honestly, he didn’t feel in the mood for a party.

The events of Tsukikage Island just wouldn't let him alone. The murders he hadn't been able to prevent and the mystery surrounding Hirai Arthur were still fresh in his mind.

Is he really...?

Conan let out a long sigh, exhausted from thinking too much, as he waited for the light to change.

"That wasn't fair," that voice filled his ears.

His lungs froze, eyes darting to the source of the voice he knew so well. 

What he found wasn't quite what he was expecting.

"Why are you so shaken?" there was a girl teasing a guy as they walked past him. "It was only fish."

"Aaah! Don't say that word again!" it was that same voice, but it was a somebody else, he noticed. "You're evil, Aoko. Evil, I tell you!"

Conan stared at the boy that certainly resembled his brother a lot, yet was a different person altogether, and let his shoulders drop. Maybe Ran hadn’t been completely wrong when she said it was pointless to recognize somebody else because they have a similar voice.

The child just stood there, silently, as he watched the couple walk away, before continuing his way. 

Little hands pushed the heavy gates he had not touched ever since that dangerous encounter with the men in black, and fished out the key from his pocket. Once inside the house, he could feel himself beginning to warm up a bit.

Everything was exactly the way he remembered it. 

The old sofa in front of the fireplace, which hadn’t been lighted up in ages, where he remembered his father telling a younger Shinichi and Conan a story about a detective and a thief that once helped each other, as they impatiently waited for Christmas to come. 

The kitchen, where his mother would bake delicious cookies, which she would have to protect from a pair of mischievous and very hungry brothers that would steal them in a heartbeat.

Without fully meaning to, Conan wandered to the library, a place full of memories. A place where his brother would play with him, teach him stuff and then read for him, because he wasn’t old enough to read, until he fell asleep on the spot from complete exhaustion.

If he closed his eyes, Conan would see a home. Full of laughter and people.

But if he opened them, Conan would see an abandoned house. Silent and sad.

And then he sat in the middle of the big and empty library. Alone.

Shinichi-niichan, he drew his knees closer to his chest as he hugged them. Just... Just where are you now?

Quietness was broken when his phone started ringing. Sighing to himself, he pulled it off his pants' pocket, reading himself for the month-long scolding he was going to receive from Ran for running away so suddenly.

When he looked at the screen, however, he was surprised to see something different than Ran’s name glaring angrily at him.

“Unknown Caller”

For a moment, he hesitated, his finger wavering over the red button. He wasn’t in the mood for stupid pranks or silly criminals, but there was a feeble feeling on the pit of his stomach that told him that this was serious. That he needed to take the call.

Eventually, he did.

“What is it?” Conan said, annoyment evident as he spoke.

“Conan, it’s me,” the child was startled by the cheerful voice on the other side. “Merry Christmas.”

This time around, Conan somehow knew his brother was speaking. For a moment, he paused, frozen in place and forgetting how to breath, completely stunned.

“Conan? Is everything okay?”

The kid recovered and smirked.

“That’s what I should be asking you,” the child shot back. “What’s wrong with you? It isn’t even Christmas yet.”

“You never change, do you?” Shinichi laughed, wholeheartedly. “And here I thought you would be a little bit concerned about me, at the very least.”

“Aren’t you old enough to take care of yourself?” he snorted. “Where have you been all this time, by the way?”

“Ah, there’s this difficult case I still haven’t been able to solve,” Conan’s eyes narrowed at that. “And my phone broke suddenly. I haven’t been able to buy another one until today.”

But why is your caller ID masked if it’s just a case? he would have asked, but knew the answer already. 

Though, he figured out it might be for the best if he just played along for the time being. Shinichi was involved with very dangerous people. If he knew his little brother was currently trying to investigate them, he might as well ship him off to Germany or, worse, send him back to his parents in America.

“It will be over soon,” Shinichi added. “I’ll return in no time, I promise.”

“You better,” the child replied. “By the way, you should give Ran-neechan a call. Even if she’s pretending she is not, she’s worried sick about you.”

“I will, don’t worry,” even if he couldn’t see him, Conan was sure there was a smile on his brother’s face. “You know, Conan. Remember that time you lied about staying at Genta-kun’s for the night?”

“Oh, so you really saw through it? Well done, detective.”

"I thought it was because you hated me," he continued, ignoring him. "But it was because you wanted me to be alone with Ran, right?"

"What can I say?" there was a big, teasing smile as the kid talked, sitting cross-legged now. "For a detective, you're rather slow when it concerns your love life."

He could see in his mind Shinichi's head shaking as he sighed, his cheeks tinted with a lovely shade red. The child only laughed, louder.

"I'm sorry, Conan," the kid went instantly serious at the quietness of his voice. "I really couldn't get you anything for Christmas."

"It's alright," Conan smiled, warmly, as he gently held the phone with both hands. "I'm just glad you are okay, Onii-chan."

And, in reality, that was the best gift he could ever have. 

Shinichi was silent for a second, probably taken away by the way he was addressed, before letting out a content, soft laugh.

The call eventually came into an end, and Conan left the room, feeling lighter and happier than before. He found Ran as soon as he opened the door and, instead of an angry tirade ─ which was pretty much what Conan had been expecting ─ the girl just smiled compassionately, probably having figured out what he had been doing in there in the first place.

"Let's go, Conan-kun," she offered her hand.

And he took it without hesitation.

Chapter Text

“... Then, Yoshida-san thought it was a good idea to hid inside the trunk of someone else’s car. It speeded off before we could find her,” Conan told his brother over the phone, while he absentmindedly went through the newspaper. “And told us over the detective badge that there was a head beside her.”

“A head?!” Shinichi gasped, obviously too engrossed in the story. “What did you do?”

“Well, we couldn’t really call the police when we really didn’t know what was going on,” the child shrugged. “So we followed after the car.”

“Ah, I see... You should really thank Professor Agasa for making that skateboard for you.”

There was a silence, which Shinichi found pretty weird. After what it felt a minute, or so, Conan decided to speak up.

“We called a taxi,” Conan said and he was sure that Shinichi must have facepalmed at that. “Onii-chan, did you sleep well?”

“Of course I did.”

“... Are into drugs or something?”

“No!"

"Are you sure about that?"

"Obviously not-! I mean, yes, I'm definitely sure I'm not!” Shinichi groaned. “Why am I even discussing these kinds of things with a seven year-old brat?”

“Then, how in the world did you think it would be a good idea to ride with two other boys a solar powered skateboard through traffic in the middle of Tokyo?” Conan raised an eyebrow. “And what about daylight? What was there to say we would make it before night?”

"Okay, okay," he sighed. "I didn't really think it through."

"Some detective you are..."

"Like you are the one to talk. Considering what Ran told me, you didn't realize the head was fake until much later-"

"Like I said, I'm not a detective," he interrupted him. “And, at the very least, I’m not a stupid and reckless idiot. And with that, I meant ‘ not you’.

Shinichi couldn’t help but snort at that. “Says the one who practically forced someone to confess a crime by drinking a poisoned tea and then refusing to eat cake, which turned out to be the antidote. Ran swears you did it on purpose,” Conan could feel the annoyment on Shinichi’s voice. “Is there anything you want to say about that?”

“Did Ran-neechan tell you I ate your Valentine’s chocolate?” he snickered. “It was yummy.”

This time around, Conan basically heard the sound of the teen facepalming. 

"I'm serious, Conan. I understand you have detective blood running through your veins, but a little bit of sense of self-preservation wouldn't do you any bad."

Says the one who has gone into hiding for messing with the wrong kind of people.

His eyes focused on another headline and hummed. "... A one billion yen robbery, huh?"

"... Are you even listening to me?"

"Sure, I am. I’m just surprised by the amount of cases that just keep coming every single day."

"You... You better stay out of danger, alright?" the teen finally sighed, suddenly feeling old and exhausted.

With another sound of agreement, Conan ended the call. Just as he did, Agasa walked forward, with a pair of glasses on his hands, identical to those he had on his head. The professor handed them to the child.

“Shinichi is definitely going to kill me,” the old man sighed. “He scolds his stubborn brother for getting into trouble... And here I am, giving a pair of tracking glasses to said stubborn child.”

“Serves him right, for lying to me,” Conan chuckled, changing his glasses. He blinked owlishly a bit, as his vision suddenly blurred. “Hey, Professor, I can’t really see anything.”

“Oh, sorry, I was trying them out just now,” Agasa apologized. “Just turn the dial on the side until you can see.”

Conan did as he was told, and soon the world came back into focus. “This is pretty cool,” there was a wide smile on his face. “Hey, Professor, how do I use this?”

Agasa found out it was hard not to laugh at the grin the child had as he showed the tracking feature he had put on the glasses, as well as the tiny little transmitter, which Conan could easily hide by sticking it on top of his blazer button.

It was one of those rare instances that the professor could see Conan acting like the young child he was. Even if it was brief, because the kid soon left for home, it warmed the old man’s heart.

Until he remembered how irremediably reckless he could be, just like his brother. Sometimes he wondered if by giving him all those gadgets he was actually helping him survive or just making it all worse.

With a long sigh, the old professor went for a cup of coffee.


Conan certainly hadn’t expected a client so soon, yet there she was. When he had opened the door he saw a girl in a school uniform.

Her name was Hirota Masami and she had said she was looking for her missing father, Hirota Kenzou.

There wasn’t much information about him, more than his height, age, a photograph, and that he owned four cats named Kai, Tei, Gou and Ou. 

“Goukaiteiou,” Conan suddenly muttered three days of fruitless search later.

Both father and daughter gave the boy a weird look, wondering if he had gone nuts or something. The kid was, after all, laying on the sofa in Kogoro’s office, chuckling to himself while watching TV.

As if it was that simple...

Ran looked at the child for a second, then at the TV, and then back to him.

“That’s it!” she exclaimed. “Conan-kun, you’re a genius! Let’s go, Dad!”

“... Eh?” Kogoro and Conan blinked at her, staring blankly back at her.

“Hirota-san must love horse racing!” the girl insisted to her father. “He named all his cats after a horse!”

It didn’t matter how much he tried to convince her, he still got dragged to the racetrack. Once there, both Kogoro and Conan reluctantly looked around, mostly to humor her rather than believing he would actually be there.

She found him quickly. The males were stunned at the revelation that she had been actually right. Even so, the three decided to not say anything to him and just follow him home.

Masami was there seconds after she had been called, gasping for air and sweating bullets as if she had been running. She probably had, Conan realized.

Something else peaked his interest. Ran looked down when she felt the boy poking her leg to gather her attention.

“Say,” he said. “Doesn’t she seem a little different from before?”

“How so?”

“Her clothes are more grown up, and she’s wearing makeup,” he pointed out. “She looks like... a different person somehow.”

Ran thought about it for a moment. “Maybe she dressed up because she’s seeing her father today,” she concluded, with a smile.

It did not convince the little child, however. Hirota-san came in a hurry, he noted. She wouldn’t had have the time for that.

Maybe that was it... Maybe it was that she didn’t have the time.

Or maybe he was just overreacting. He didn’t have concrete proof after all.

“Aah!” the child suddenly started running. “I forgot! Kamen Yaiba is about to start!”

He pretended to run towards the TV and accidentally bump into the poor girl. While on the floor he managed to stick the transmitter on her wrist watch.

“I’m so sorry, Hirota-san,” he quickly apologized, like the embarrassed little child he was supposed to be. The girl waved it off with a kind laugh, helping him up, while Kogoro just scolded him for not being careful.

Conan laughed, awkwardly, and hurried to the sofa. He decided to pretend he was actually watching the show, even if he had to pass on accompanying Masami to see her father.

That didn't really bother him as much as it would have a few months ago, since he had actually started to like Kamen Yaiba after his friends had basically forced it on him. A little break from mysteries was nice from time to time.

I don’t think Hirota-san is actually a bad person, Conan thought, as he heard the three leave through the front door. But just in case... Better safe than sorry.

Not even ten minutes after the three had left, Conan heard the someone knocking on the door. At first, he tried to ignore it, but this client was definitely not giving up soon, as they keep knocking and knocking.

The child sighed loudly, forcing his eyes to drift away from the television in order to stand up.

"Kogoro-ojisan is not here," said Conan, tone bored, as he opened the door. "He will be back in-"

A strange coldness pressing against his forehead caused him to freeze where he stood. His eyes shifted to the person in front of him, and he paled at the sight of a woman, dressed all in black, holding a gun to his head.

"You'll be fine if you do exactly what I tell you," she gave him a very dark and sinister smile. "Kudo Conan-kun."

His eyes went wide. Only a few knew about his birth name, those being his closest friends, Professor Agasa and the Mouri family. There was also Sonoko, he realized. Being Shinichi's friend since childhood, just like Ran, it would be weird if she didn't. The two girls had basically seen Conan as a newborn.

Okay, that's actually a lot of people, the child grimaced. Even so, I don’t think any of them would say anything... So, who...?

The woman in black stepped back, her gun still pointing at him, and motioned him to step outside. Reluctantly the child obeyed, and started walking downstairs as the gun muzzle pressed against the back of his head. There was a black car outside, parked in front of the building.

Conan cursed when he saw that there wasn’t anybody on the usually busy street, which meant nobody could help him at the moment. The woman pushed the kid ahead. “Get in,” she instructed.

If I get into that car, who knows what will happen to me, Conan gritted his teeth. What should I do?

Suddenly, he had an idea. The child yelped as he 'tripped on his feet', knees painfully hitting the ground.

"Ow..." without the woman noticing, he turned the dial on his shoes. "It hurt."

"Hey, boy!" she used her free hand to drag him up.

Deciding it was now or never, the boy kicked her in the shin, prompting her to release him from her grip. "You little..." she hissed, as he stole the weapon from her hands, and took a step forward 

"Don't move," the child warned while pointing the gun. "Don't move, or I will shoot!"

Even if he said so, Conan’s index finger didn’t move, freezing in front of the trigger. When he thought of firing, the gun suddenly felt heavy, and slightly cool against his shaking hands. Throughout it all, the woman’s expression hadn’t changed at all.

She knew he wasn’t going to fire. And that, alone, was incredibly irritating.

His grip on the weapon tightened as the woman laughed, moving her hand to her pocket. He went pale as the snow that fell on top of him when he saw the tip of something shiny and very sharp, that he recognized very well.

“Maybe we should take care ot this...” she waved her knife around. “... the old way.”

Deciding it wasn't safe to stay there any longer, and that he didn’t have the courage to shoot, Conan took off running. He didn't look back for a second as he just focused in escaping. To get away from that dangerous person.

At some point he lost her. Conan breathed out, tiredly, as he poked his head around the corner. He brightened at the sight of Agasa's home and figured out that was the wisest next choice.

He spotted the old man walking down the street, hands full of bags that told him that he probably had just returned from the market.

Without waiting for him to get home, he rushed forward.

"Professor Aga-!" a hand suddenly came from behind and covered his mouth.

Conan panicked for a second at the sickly sweet smell that he knew so well. By the corner of his eye he still could see the woman from before, wearing an evil grin on her face.

As the drug overpowered him, he could not help the feeling of deja vu washing over him. His hand, that had just shot forward in a silent plea of help, suddenly was much smaller. The woman’s face morphed and changed. Then, for a slight moment he saw a young man, with a rather sad expression.

Then, his vision blurred and his senses began to swim, yet he kept on fighting with all his might. 

Eventually, his struggling grew weaker as the feeling of drowsiness got more prominent, causing Conan to let out a muffled cry out of desperation. It was terrifying to even think about what was going to happen after this woman took him with her.

But soon, he was too tired to even feel fear. His fingers grew slack, and he dimly noticed the gun he had taken from that woman slip from his hand and drop into the ground.

His eyes fluttered close and his extended hand fell limply at his side.

A lone tear rolled down his cheek before he could help it.

“I’m really sorry, Conan-kun,” the voice filled his ears, yet he couldn’t say for sure if he had actually heard it or it was just a product of his own imagination.

The coldness of the snow was the last thing he registered before everything went pitch black.


His head pounded, that was the first thing he realized when he came back to the waking world. The next thing he noted, with a shiver, was that he was in a place he certainly didn't recognize. It looked like a kitchen, which probably hadn’t been used for a few years.

This can’t be happening, his eyes went wide as he just lied there, motionlessly, staring up the ceiling. Terror began to creep up his neck once more, yet decided to just close his eyes and try to regulate his breathing. Get a grip on yourself. If you panic now, your chances of escaping will drop considerably.

Standing up, and wobbling a bit because the dizziness that the sudden movement caused, the child walked towards the window. A second floor, he gritted his teeth. That will make it more difficult.

“Still no word from the detective brat?” the sound of a gruff, male voice filled the room.

“No, not yet,” it sounded like the woman from before. “He’s not answering his phone.”

Upon the realization that the sounds came from the other side of the door, the child silently creeped closer, looking through a hole. He could see the woman, phone on her ear, as he spoke with a cloaked figure, his back facing his way, causing the boy not to see his face. 

The woman seemed agitated.

“What are we going to do after he picks up?” she asked.

“We will do as the higher ups ordered us to,” the man in the cloak answered. “First, we will make the child speak to him. Once the detective realizes we have his precious little brother, he will surely come to us.”

Conan could felt the cold sweat dripping down his forehead. So... I’m a bait.

“The Organization said that, above else, we need to bring the detective alive,” the man continued. “So he can be punished and then killed once and for all. That boy must be eliminated. He knows too much for his own good.”

Torture and execution, most likely.

“What about that little kid?”

“We’ll shoot him in the head, right in front of Kudo Shinichi’s eyes,” the way he said that, indifferent and notchantly, sent a shiver down Conan’s spine. “That will teach him not to stick his nose on other people’s business.”

The child gulped, not taking his eyes off the pair dressed in black. If I don’t get out of here soon, not only I will be done for, he frowned. Onii-chan, just... What did you do to make these people so angry?

Suddenly, the man turned around and faced the door. For a moment Conan felt the blood drain from his face at the thought of being discovered, and was about to step away to feign unconsciousness on the floor. Yet, once he properly took a look of the person in question, the child felt his fear fading.

And waited for the man to walk closer. 

His kidnapper looked through the hole and paused, clearly not expecting the pair of piercing blue eyes glaring back at him. 

“It seems like our little guest has finally woken up,” then, the man exclaimed, opening the door and pointing the gun at the child. 

He, in turn, did not react. The action seemed to annoy him, even.

“Drop the gun, will you? This is lame,” the kid sighed. “It’s so painfully obvious that it’s fake that almost makes me laugh. Except that this isn’t funny at all.”

The gun pressed against his temple. The kid didn’t bat an eye.

“Does this look like a replica to you?” the man smirked behind his mask.

“It is well made,” he pointed out. “But I don’t think you would be capable to point a real gun to your own son. Isn’t that right, Dad?”

The woman was the first one to crack, laughing loudly before she could help herself. She teared the mask off his face, confirming Conan’s suspictions. The man did the same.

Kudo Yusaku and Yukiko stood in front of a very irritated Conan.

“How did you realize it?” his mother asked, surprised yet very amused.

“Dad is literally cosplaying as Night Baron and you thought I wouldn’t notice?”

By the smug and very annoying smirk his father sent his way, Conan figured that had been his intention on the first place.

“So you didn’t recognize me?” Conan walked past her, ignoring the way she puffed her chest up in pride. “If my own son couldn’t tell it was me, I must still have it as an actress-”

“Where is my phone?” the boy interrupted, as he searched around the place. “I don’t have time for this.”

“Is it a case?” her mother asked, curiously. He hummed, absently, while continuing to look for it. “Then, why don’t you let Yusaku take care of this?”

Conan did not answer, and only reacted when Yusaku gave his phone. Instantly, he opened it and found a few missed calls from Ran, so he immediately called back. 

Once she answered, she told him not to worry, that she just wanted to tell him to be careful when he came back from Agasa’s ─ a blatant lie from his mother, he realized when she waved his bowtie at him with a grin ─ because a dangerous man had seemed to lurk in front of the agency. He had turned out to be harmless, though.

The fact that he was a detective, also looking for Hirota Kenzou bothered him, yet he didn’t let it show and ended the call soon thereafter.

“So, what is this case about?” Yusaku asked, curiously, as he sat in a chair.

For a moment, Conan stared at him blankly, until he decided to tell him everything that happened the last few days up until the moment he had been kidnapped. He also commented what Ran had told him. At the end of it, Yusaku seemed to be pensive.

Until he smirked. Now he could understand his brother when he said that it was annoying when their father did so. “What?” the child’s eyebrow twitched.

“You said that Hirota Masami-san seemed to be a different person last time you saw her, right?” he said. “And you think she was disguising herself, for some reason,” Conan nodded at that. “Then there’s this man looking for the same person, claiming to be also family.”

“Yeah, basically,” he replied. “Maybe it is that man who’s telling the truth, but...”

“What if they were both lying?”

“Eh?”

“Did you see it in the news?” the father asked further. “The one billion yen robbery just a few weeks ago?”

Then it dawned to him. He didn’t say anything, just turned his tracking glasses on and took off running outside the house, ignoring the way his mother scolded him for leaving so suddenly. 

“Wait,” his father stopped him for leaving. He turned around to see the man holding up a skateboard, similar to the one Agasa had made for him. “Professor Agasa told me to give you this. He said he improved it so that you don’t have to worry about sunlight.”

Conan nodded with a smile and left quickly. The next moment, he was taking a taxi to Haido Hotel.

He stepped out the car and ran inside, worrying about the fact that the target hadn’t moved an inch for a while now. Before he could ask the receptionist about Masami, the doors of the elevator opened and a woman stepped out, carrying a couple of big suitcases. He watched her giving them to the receptionist, before briefly meeting his eyes.

For less than a second, Conan saw her flinch before walking away. By the time he realized she looked too much like Hirota Masami, she was jumping inside a taxi.

He rushed outside, but it was too late. The car was leaving in the distance, and it seemed like there was no other taxi available to give her the chase.

Conan glanced at the skateboard tucked under his arm and sighed loudly. If Onii-chan ever hears about this, he’s never going to let me live it down.

Chasing a car through traffic was probably the craziest thing he had done in his life, and he certainly didn’t want to do it again. If it wasn’t for the adrenaline pumping up on his little body, Conan was sure he would have been twice as scared for his life than now. And that was a lot to say.

He lost her at some point close to the port and growled. She must be here, he frowned. She’s got to be in this area!

That was when he heard a gunshot, making his heart stop for a second and his feet to run faster. He arrived just in time to see Masami collapsing into the ground. 

The attacker was nowhere to be found.

“Masami-san!” he slid on his knees, turning her over to see her injuries. There was blood everywhere. “Please, hang on, Masami-san!”

Quickly, he took off his blazer and pressed hard against the wound. The girl groaned and blinked her eyes open.

"Sorry, this will hurt quite a bit," he told her, kindly, as he smiled down at her.

Then, he proceeded to fish his phone from his pocket, with all the intention to call the police when her hand wrapped around his wrist. 

"You don't have to be strong for me, little boy. I know I'm dying."

"Please, don't say that," his smile was wavering. "You will..."

He watched her slowly shaking her head.

"You’re the little boy from the agency, aren’t you?” despite her wounds, she continued to talk. “How did you...?”

“I put a transmitter on your watch,” he replied, faintly, after having dropped his phone. He didn’t completely give up, though, and kept applying pressure on the gunshot wound. “I followed you to the hotel, and then saw you with those cases.”

“Who...?” there was a stunned expression drawn on her sickly pale face. “Just... Who are you?”

“Edogawa... No,” he looked right into her eyes. “Kudo Conan, a detective.”

The words had rolled down his tongue before he could help himself. A part of his mind told him that he was still too young and naive, that he didn’t fit in the shoes of a detective, like Holmes was. No, like his father and brother were.

Yet, when he had said those words, it felt natural. It felt right, somehow.

Her eyes opened slightly, before she smiled, weakly. “I see,” she whispered. “So you are that boy...”

Conan did not understand what she was talking about, but he let it slide as she kept on talking.

“The plan was perfect, but everyone died... Hirota-san, whom I hired for his driving skills, and the man who I let into out party because of his strength...” she grimaced in pain. “And then I, at the hands of the Organization...”

“O-Organization...?” he had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, for some reason.

“It’s a large organization, wrapped in secrecy,” she explained softly. “I’m at the very tip of the organization, so all I know is that its colour is black.”

“....Black?”

“Yes... They like to wear black... Black clothes that make them look like crows...”

His face lost his colour, instantly remembering those people his brother messed with. Gin, Vodka, the mysterious girl Sherry. If that was true, and there actually was such a big organization behind everything, he didn’t really want to think about how many of those people were out there.

“Will you listen... to my final words...?” she pleaded, the hand that still was on his wrist clenching tighter. “Tell the police where the cases are... before they find them... Please...”

He held into her slacking fingers with both hands, and managed a nod. She breathed out in relief.

“I’ll leave the rest to you...” said Masami, in a weak whisper. “... little detective...”

Conan silently watched as life faded from her eyes and her hand went limp on his, and for a moment, he didn’t move. The child just stood there, as her last words repeated on his mind,  over and over again.

Finally, the boy stepped away from the woman and lifted his phone from the ground. “Hello,” he said quietly, voice devoid of life and emotion. “Criminal Investigations, Inspector Megure, please.”

He didn’t quite catch what Megure said after he had explained what happened, but it was something between the lines of ‘we’ll be there soon’ and ‘we will call Ran-kun to pick you up.’  What he had been sure of, however, was that the inspector had sounded worried and had tried everything in his power to comfort the little child. Not that he managed much, though.

Conan did notice, though, the scarlet liquid that had soaked his phone, and it didn’t take him long to realize what it was. With an empty stare, he gazed at his red fingers and waited for the police to come.

Even after they arrived. Even after Ran rushed towards him and hugged the boy tightly against her chest, Conan did not react. 

He just stared, deadly silent, at his little bloody hands.

Chapter Text

Roughly one day after Masami’s tragic death, Conan sat on the couch of his old house, glaring at his parents who, in turn, just smiled awkwardly under his very angry stare.

“So,” the child said after a full minute of silence. “Will you tell me what are you two doing here?”

“Why, Co-chan?” his mother grinned. “We wanted to see you-”

“You mean kidnap .”

“Well, when you put it like that...”Conan’s eyebrow twitched. He was very annoyed by the fact that he, a mere seven year-old, seemed to be the mature one between the three.

“Calm down, Co-chan, you don’t have to be so angry.”

“What did you expect?” his voice was dangerously low. “You basically pointed a gun, threatened to stab, drugged, kidnapped and then pointed a gun again to your own son. So, excuse me if I am a little bit angry about the chain of events.”

“In our defense, the gun was fake, like you have pointed out,” Yusaku added.

“Still...!” the boy looked away, and his voice dropped. “It was... scary.” 

His parents quietened down, smiles disappearing from their faces. His father looked a bit apologetic while her mother slowly walked closer, sitting beside his upset child.

“I’m sorry,” Conan blinked up at her, noticing the genuine pain on her voice. “I made you remember something really bad, didn’t I?”

Realizing that he couldn’t really hide anything from his mother, Conan silently nodded. Yukiko apologized again, resting her hand on top of his and giving him a squeeze. His father had also walked to them, and then sat on his other side, stroking his head lovingly.

“Hey, Mom, Dad, can I ask something?” he asked quietly. Yukiko noted the way the hand beneath hers clenched slightly. “What exactly... happened three years ago?”

The Kudo couple froze at the question, and the child kind expected that. It had been a touchy subject ever since it had happened, and nobody really liked to talk about it.

“How much do you remember?” his father asked, cautiously.

“Not much,” he confessed. “I was four and kidnapped by my kindergartner teacher. I woke up in a hospital bed a week later, with little to no recollection of what had actually happened to me.”

His mother smiled, yet it seemed so obviously fake that Conan could not bring himself to believe it. She was sad, terribly sad, for some reason.

“And that’s all that there’s to it,” she said, tenderly brushing his bangs from his forehead. “That criminal committed suicide inside prison. He won’t harm you anymore, Co-chan.”

“But I feel like there’s more to it,” the child protested. “There’s something else... And I don’t seem to remember it.”

“It will be best not to push it,” his father told him, seriously. “If your mind decided to forget something, there’s probably a good reason behind it. You’ll be better off not remembering it, whatever that is.”

Conan wanted to keep arguing, but decided against it. Even if he didn’t like it, his father was probably right. He figured, however, that his curious mind would never stop wondering and wondering until he could finally grasp the truth.

Still, for now, he figured it might be for the best to just let it go.

“We’re sorry we scared you yesterday, but there’s a reason behind it,” Yusaku said after a long pause. “We did this to show you how dangerous your situation is.”

“You see, we came back to Japan for a visit and didn’t find neither you nor your brother at home,” Yukiko explained. “The Professor told us about Shin-chan’s disappearance and that you are playing detective with such a scary group of people.”

“I’m not playing...

“What we meant to say is that we want you to come back home with us,” Yusaku explained. 

Conan just stared at his father, blinkling. “What do you...?”

“We’re taking you back to America.”

It took a couple of seconds, but the words eventually sank in his mind. The little boy, however, didn’t react to that. He didn’t know how he was supposed to react.

After everything I have been through... I have to go back to America?

All of sudden, he wasn’t Edogawa Conan, the overly intelligent little boy that was growing to become a great detective, but Kudo Conan, a lost little boy that simply had no idea of what he was supposed to do. Or what he wanted, honestly.

But, even if their parenting methods were questionable at best, these people were, indeed, his parents. He didn’t really have any say on that.

“Just give me a day,” the child said, eyes focused on the ground. “There are... a few things I want to do before I leave.”

Yusaku nodded at him. “Take your time.”

Conan left right after that, not bothering to say anything to his parents, and silently made his way back home ─ no, the detective agency because, he reminded himself, that was definitely not his home. His little hands clenched tightly around the straps of his schoolbag, as he thought back about his parents’ words. They had promised to take him back, and that alone caused his heart to unexpectedly ache.

Then, there was a sneeze. This is the worst day ever, he decided. Not only he felt emotionally drained for the news of his departure and witnessing Hirota Masami die in front of his eyes, but physically as well.

Ever since this morning, Conan had been fighting what it seemed to be the beginning of a terrible cold. Not that it wasn't expected, considering yesterday. He had, after all, spent the whole day running around in the snow.

His phone vibrated in his pocket so he pulled it out and answered, not bothering to look at the caller. "Hey," he sighed when he heard Shinichi's voice on the other side.

“If this is about the case that Ran-neechan must have told you about already, I’m not on the mood for a scolding,” Conan sighed before the older boy could speak. “So, I’m hanging up right now.”

“Wait, wait, I’m not going to. Honestly,” Shinichi hurriedly said before the child could hung up him then paused. When he was met with silence instead of the usual click sound of the abruptly finished the call, the teen detective sighed. “Ran hasn't told me anything. I saw you on the newspaper.”

Conan remembered that photo with a grimace. He was there, standing in front of the body with a crestfallen, yet blank look, as he still stared at his hands. Ran was also there, hugging him tightly from behind. To say that he wasn’t happy with the reporter that thought it was a good idea to publish a photo of a visually shocked child was an understanding.

The same could be said for Ran, even more so. She had wanted to personally hunt and karate chop the reporter as soon as her eyes had fallen on the article, and she probably would have done it if Conan hadn’t stopped her as soon as she began to stomp to the door.

“Then, what about it?” the boy snapped quietly, rubbing his nose that was itching because of his cold. “Why did you call?”

“I wanted to ask you something... Are you okay, Conan?”

Conan paused, not quite knowing how to answer that question. He had definitely seen better days, he realized, but it wasn’t like he wanted him to know that. Before he could say anything, however, he suddenly sneezed, loudly, badly startling his brother.

“Did you catch a cold?” asked Shinichi, concerned.

“What do you think?” for a moment, Conan wondered if maybe he was being too rude to his brother. Then he shrugged it off, because he was having a terrible day, so yes, he had the right to be especially rude today.

“You better stay warm and rest quietly for today,” Conan rolled his eyes, as he heard Shinichi slipping into mother hen mode. “And no weird cases, you hear me?”

“There isn’t much that I can do about it,” the boy shrugged. “Your corpse magnetism seems to have been rubbing off on me lately... Do you think is contagious?”

“Conan,” his voice was firm. “You know exactly what I’m talking about.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Conan sighed. “Why are you so worried anyway? It’s just a cold.”

“Yes, but your cold is never just a cold, ” Shinichi replied easily. "You don't just fall ill, Conan, you crash . It happens every single time without fail.”

“I'm really hanging up now.”

"Wait!"

"What is it now?"

"Just remember, if you need me just give me a call. I will be there, I promise."

Had Shinichi been actually there, he would have noticed the weird look his brother gave him. "... I don't really have your number."

"Take a look," Shinichi grinned.

"Wha-?" Conan looked at the screen and was shocked to find an actual number on display. "Oh."

"Just call me if you need anything, okay?"

Conan stayed silent for a few seconds, then scoffed. "I don't need your help."

He finally hung up after that. For a moment, he silently stared at the alien number on the screen then proceeded to register it on his phone. By the time he had finished, he had already reached the stairs of the agency, and slowly started to climb them up.

His little hand effortlessly rested on the knob and turned it, and he couldn’t help the nostalgic smile appearing on his face. 

Conan could still remember the day after Shinichi’s disappearance, and the first time he had walked alone from school to Ran’s house. He had felt so embarrassed with himself, and equally frustrated, when he realized he was too short for the door knob. At the time, he had to stand on the tip of his feet and stretch himself a lot so he could open it.

It wasn’t much of a struggle anymore, and Conan himself hadn’t noticed the change until now. It seems like I have grown a little bit, with that, he opened the door, only to stumble forward because of a potent sneeze that left him disorientated.

“Conan-kun!” Ran was instantly in front of the child, a handkerchief on her hands. 

She raised her hand to wipe his nose, and Conan blushed. “R-Ran-neechan, it's okay, I can...”

“Just stay still,” with that he had been forced to let the girl fuss over him, rubbing the piece of cloth she held between her fingers against his sore nose. 

So much for ‘growing up’, Conan grimaced.

“Shinichi was right, you really are sick,” she scolded, lightly. “Honestly, you should be more careful.”

“How did Kudo know about it?” it was only at that moment that the child realized the dark skinned stranger standing in the middle of the room, wearing a hat even if he was indoors. “Did you talk to him recently?”

Kansai dialect, the kid realized, unamused, yet happy when Ran let him alone to talk to this boy.

“He called a minute ago,” she explained. For some reason, she seemed to be annoyed. “And he must have known about Conan-kun because he usually speaks with him through the  phone.”

The teen seemed pensive, for some reason. “I guess the rumor is true,” he said. “You are Kudo’s girl.”

“G-Girl?!” Ran sputtered, her face bright red as a tomato.

“Well, yes, it is true .

“Conan-kun!”

The boy shrugged, not feeling up to grin sheepishly back at her as he usually did when he teased her and Shinichi, and all but collapsed on the sofa. He rested his head against the back and sighed a bit, feeling a headache beginning to crawl into his skull, while doing his best to ignore the two teenagers.

He sat up still when he felt Kogoro’s worried glance on him. I must look like hell, if even Occhan is concerned. At some point, it seemed like he had convinced him, because the man had gotten back to his newspaper.

“By the way,” the child asked, curiosity taking the best of him after a while. “Who are you?”

“Oh, right. I haven’t introduced myself yet,” he turned his hat over with a cocky smile. “My name is Hattori Heiji. I’m a high school detective, like Kudo.”

Both Ran and Kogoro were shocked, while Conan just hummed in response, feeling uninterested all of sudden. 

“Now that you mention it,” the adult realized. “I’ve heard about you before. They said that there was this great detective in Kansai.” 

“Yeah, they always say that western Japan has Hattori and eastern Japan has Kudo,” the high school detective replied. “I was always compared to him.”

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure Onii-chan has absolutely no idea of who this one is supposed to be...

Conan felt a little bad as he listened to him. This boy was obsessed with having a competition with Shinichi, so he could see if he was better than him, yet the child’s brother didn’t even know this one existed. 

He either has been compared with him so much that he has developed an inferiority complex and wants to beat him to prove himself against others, Conan guessed. Or he is just a mystery-obsessed freak that genuinely wants to compete against a brilliant detective... I wonder who he reminds me of...

His line of thought was interrupted when he sneezed, rather loudly, for the eleventh time this hour. He groaned, wiping his nose, that was beginning to ache. 

God, I hate this.

“Hey, kid,” Hattori said. “If it’s a cold you got, then I’ve got the perfect medicine.”

Conan tried not to look too hopeful when the Osakan boy reached for a bottle inside his bag and poured some of its contents on a glass before offering it to the child. The little boy, in turn, thanked him and took the glass between his hands.

He gave the transparent liquid a long analytical look, and sniffed it. Ran was a bit amused by his actions, but not surprised. He had been raised around detectives, and she believed that the boy secretly hoped to become one himself. It would’ve been weird if he didn’t, at least, give this strange medicine a curious look.

A weird grimace showed on his face, confusing her for a moment. “Hattori-san,” he called. “This smells like alcohol.”

Ran was stunned at the revelation. Just... What?!

“You have a good nose, boy,” Heiji grinned, unaware of the fact that Ran was getting angrier as he spoke. “It’s a Chinese alcohol called Paikaru. I figured I’d probably cause trouble until Kudo got here, so this is a gift for you.”

“Why would you give alcohol to a kid? He’s only seven!” Ran screamed, exasperated. “Besides, I already told you Shinichi is not here!”

A knock on the door brought them away from the discussion. There was a woman with a long, brown coat and sunglasses glaring at them, complaining to them for taking to long to notice she was there.

Kogoro was quick to welcome her inside, and Ran left the room to make some tea. Even if he was curious about what was the client’s request, he decided to follow her in silence.

His little head poked from the doorway as he watched her move around. I have to tell her, his hands gripped the door frame tightly. That I'm leaving for America tomorrow...

I need to thank her for everything she had done for me. I need to say goodbye properly. I...

"Conan-kun?" he started when he noticed the girl blinking at him. "Is something wrong?"

Conan stared back at her and did not say a word. He knew it was time, that he needed to tell her she was leaving tomorrow, and that he didn’t really know if he was seeing her again. But there was a knot on his throat. 

He just... just couldn’t say it.

A cold hand resting on his forehead brought him back to reality. There was a frown and concern showed on her eyes.

“You’re a little warm, and a bit too pale for my liking,” she said softly and gently. “Why don’t you go lie down for now?”

“I’m okay, really. I just have a bit of a cold,” he tried wash her worries away with a timid smile, but Ran could see pain behind those blue orbs. If it was physical or emotional pain, however, she couldn’t tell. “I wanted to ask you if you needed help with anything.”

Ran gave the boy a hesitant look, until she shook her head with a smile. "I'm almost finished here," she told him, before she straightened up and continued working on the kitchen. "Now that I think about it, Shinichi told me you are a very skilled chef for your age."

"Not that it's hard to, when you live with someone like him,” in spite of it all, Conan snorted. “Did you know? Last time I was sick, he tried to make me some congee and added too much salt. Somehow he believed you could cancel it out by adding three big spoons full of sugar.”

The girl burst out laughing at that. “That’s so like him,” Conan agreed with that, full heartedly, as he giggled a little. “Say, do you want to help me make dinner tonight? I could use some help.”

The boy nodded at her with a bright smile, before following Ran back to Kogoro’s office, as she carried the tray with tea cups. 

Then, he proceeded to listen to the client’s request. She wanted the detective to make a background check on her son’s soon-to-be wife.

“Anyway,” she said, standing up. “I’ll go into more detail after we get to my home and talk with my husband.”

“Uh... We’re going there now...?” the unfriendly look the woman gave him answered the question. “If that’s the case, you should’ve just come here with your husband in the first  place!”

“Like I said before, my husband is a diplomat. If people found out he came to a place like this-”

“-it’d be a scandal,” Heiji completed, then said with a confident smile. “Alright, I’ll join you guys.”

“What?” Kogoro gasped.

“Instead of that old man there going alone, doesn’t it look less suspicious if he brings his ‘family’?” the young detective explained, then turned to Ran. “Why don’t you come along?”

Ran frowned a bit. “Why me?”

“More the merrier, right? And there’s a chance that Kudo might show himself.”

There was a look in the girl’s eyes that Conan could only interpret as sadness, and maybe longing. And, for a moment, he couldn’t help but blame his brother for this. Ran certainly did not deserve this. Nobody did.

“He is not,” the kid suddenly said, prompting Heiji to give him a surprised look. “Shinichi-niichan is most likely solving a very difficult case in far away from here.”

“... I want to go,” Ran then said, startling him. “If there is a chance that Shinichi, as slim as it might be, I want to be there...” her fists raised, in a battle stance. “... to teach him a lesson or two.”

Conan sweatdropped, feeling a bit bad for his brother, even if he did deserve it a little. “Then, I want to go, too.”

“But Conan-kun, your cold...”

“Ran-neechan, please!”

The boy didn’t actually know what made her yield. Maybe it was the desperate look on his eyes, that pleaded, begged to her to let him go. Perhaps she thought that he badly wanted to meet his brother, after months of not seeing him.

In reality, however, the child just didn't want to spend his last day in Beika resting in bed.

Whichever was the case, Conan ended up coming along, even if he had to ignore the deep tickle crawling in the back of his throat.

These people definitely had money, Conan noticed at first sight. The mansion was impressive, and even much bigger than his own house. They even had a butler to welcome inside, to whom the woman introduced Mouri as an old friend.

“Oh, Mother!” a young woman bowed at her, with a polite smile on her face. “I’m sorry to barge in.”

Conan examined with his eyes the female in front of them, recognizing her as the one the client had asked Kogoro to check out, Katsuragi Yukiko. At first sight, she didn’t look like a bad person. She didn’t so much raise her voice at her, even if the client yelled at her for calling her ‘mother’.

Her fiance was visually mad, however, yet didn’t say a word.

Conan glanced at Yukiko for a moment, before turning back to the client. She was talking about something with her father-in-law. He looked at her face, and his eyes opened wide.

Those two... actually look a bit alike, he blinked, before shaking his head and following the group upstairs, while the client’s father was sent to the tatami room to wait. No way, that can’t be.

Finally, the woman knocked on the door of her husband’s office, but he didn’t answer. Weirded out a little bit, she pulled out the keys and unlocked it, before making her way inside.

The opera music was the first thing Conan noticed, and honestly was hard not to. It was so loud that it pierced through his ears and made his headache ten times worse. Impressive as it was, the diplomat was sleeping through it, sitting on his desk behind a tower of books.

The woman even tried to shake him awake, but not avail. The man wouldn’t move one inch.

“Dear...?” she then froze when the man just slipped off the chair.

Before falling into the ground with a loud thud. 

His woman was on her knees right away, and about to shake him to get him to wake up, but two fingers pressing against the man’s neck stopped her.

“It’s no use,” Heiji sighed. “He’s already dead.”

And Conan decided he had been right. Shinichi’s death magnetism was definitely rubbing off on him.

Chapter Text

Conan’s little pride would never let him admit it out loud, yet soon realized his brother had been right all along. As predicted, his cold had steadily gotten worse throughout the day. His nose was tickling and dripping, and a terrible headache was threatening to split his head open.

Not to mention that he felt hot.

Despite of his illness, the kid had noticed a few interesting things: a small red dot at the edge of the victim's hair, the warmth of the body or the way his lips had gotten purple. 

There was also a needle under the desk. When he had gone to take a closer look, he had bumped his head against Heiji, who had had noticed the same thing. 

Great, he had sighed, in Ran’s arms after the Osakan detective had literally thrown him at her chest. Now my headache is worse.

Now the police were there, discussing the case. He almost facemalmed, hard, when Kogoro suggested a suicide , just because there were no external wounds.

Sometimes, Conan wondered how he had turned into a detective. Then, he would remember that he hadn't had much clients before he came along, and suddenly everything would make so much sense.

Pretending to point out random clues to secretly guide Kogoro to the truth had not been easy, especially when the detective didn’t seem to realize he was being helped. Still, he smiled to himself. I think I will end up missing that, as well.

Luckily, the Detective of the West pointed out the obvious and concluded that the diplomat had been poisoned.

There was a bigger problem now, though. The murder itself turned out to be a locked-room mystery, as there were only two keys. His wife had one, and the other one turned out to be in the victim’s pocket.

“That can’t be...” Kogoro sighed.

Hattori, on the other hand, gave the detective a sharp look. I knew it. All those cases reported to be solved by this old man weren’t solved by him at all, his eyes narrowed. It’s Kudo Shinichi. He’s been solving all of them! This old man has secretly been contacting Kudo and getting help from him.

As the police had begun to confirm the alibi of the suspects, the child wandered around the crime scene. His eyes fell on the CD shelf and blinked. Classical music, he observed. I could’ve sworn there was opera when we came in.

Then, it hit him. What if... What if there is no locked-room murder? The crime might have been committed in front of our eyes without us realizing it!

Realization wasn't the only thing to hit him so suddenly. A wave of dizziness forced the child to use the desk as an anchor so he wouldn't kneel over.

The inspector was holding something, but this vision was too blurry to see clearly. After some time, his eyes adjusted to the key holder, and realized that there was a small cavity on it, along with some cellophane tape.

That's it! he cried on his head. Sweat was soaking his shirt and the room was a few degrees hotter than before. That's how she did it...!

One second he was staggering towards Kogoro, hoping to make him realize what was actually going on, and the other he was in the floor, cheek resting on a carpet and eyes wide and confused, wondering how he had gotten down there so suddenly, before darkness clouded his vision.

"Conan-kun!" even Ran's words were fading into nothingness. He felt cold hands cradling his body and, with an abysmal effort, he managed to crack one eye open. Yet, there was no focus.

"Hey, brat!" that was definitely Kogoro's distinctive gruff voice. "What's wrong with him?"

The same cold hands went to his forehead and there was a sharp intake of air. He desperately tried to focus and speak ─ the culprit was making them all fell into her trap, but he knew the trick. His mouth opened, but words wouldn't come out. He only could gasp for the air he so desperately needed all of sudden.

"I've got it," he heard Heiji say. "The trick used and the criminal!"

Conan relaxed a bit in Ran’s arms after the statement. That guy is a famous detective, he thought. If he figured it out, it will be okay.

As she carried him out the room, however, he managed to glance at the boy. On his hand there was a fishing line. No, he didn't, his eyes opened for a second, before closing shut. No, no, no. He got it all wrong. He is...!

"You will be fine, Conan-kun," he heard Ran say, and then he realized he was tucked up in bed. "The doctor will be here soon."

Conan wanted to scream. This definitely was not the time for a doctor. There was a murderer out there and that detective that had easily bitten her bait. He couldn't...

"Conan-kun!"

His throat was on fire, burning intensely with each cough and it kept on for a few agonizing minutes. Once finished, he laid limply on the mattress, wheezing and completely exhausted.

"That must be the doctor! Hold on, I'll be right back!"

The boy silently watched her leave and frowned slightly. 

When the girl returned, the doctor following behind her, she was horrified to realize that the bed was empty and the child nowhere to be seen.


I knew it, Conan frowned, while staring at the fishing line resting on the top of his palm.

Conan stumbled outside the kitchen, into the empty hallway. As he had expected, the killer seemed to have been hiding these across the house in order to incriminate somebody else. 

There were surely more out there, yet Conan had no idea where he was supposed to start looking. The building was huge, and there was no telling he wouldn’t end up losing his way in the process.

He figured the bathroom was a likely option, so he started going that way. His legs, however, felt heavier than expected, causing him to trip on his own feet. The boy caught himself before he could crack his skull, and leaned against the wall for support.

This is bad, Conan mentally cursed, shivering violently even in the blistering warmth of the room. I don't think I can go on any longer.

Not when the world kept tilting in front of his eyes. With a shaky sigh, the kid secured the piece of evidence inside his pocket, his fingers grazing something metallic cold in the process.

His eyes fixed on his phone, and the child smirked a bit. Yeah, as if. His smile, however, faltered when his vision blurred for a second. 

Swallowing his pride and embarrassment, he dialed that number and pressed the phone against his ear, even if he wanted to smack himself for actually considering it. 

I can’t believe I...

“Conan?” his brother’s concerned voice filled his ears not even a second after he had pressed the call button. “Conan, are you okay?”

Conan wanted to answer, but he couldn’t. All of sudden, the young boy felt faint and weak, and his surroundings went fuzzy once more. He opened his mouth to speak, but only gasps came out. It even hurt to breathe.

“Conan,” his brother spoke again, slowlier and firmer this time, and the child focused on the sound of his voice. “Do you need any help?”

His hand clenched around the phone.

“... Yes,” he managed to rasp out.

“Where are you?”

“T-Tsujimura household,” Conan swayed and slumped against the wall. “Diplomat. He lives...”

“Don’t worry, I know where that is. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Is he... actually coming? his eyes opened, wide, and tried to walk forward. I need to tell Ran-neechan that... he...

“So, in the meanwhile, stay on line. I want you-”

Suddenly, he couldn’t hear Shinichi’s voice anymore. Blinking confusedly, Conan looked at his empty hand, and then to the floor. The phone laid a few feet ahead, and for a moment he didn’t know how it happened. Then, he figured out it might have slipped from his fingers and then accidentally kicked it with his foot as he stepped.

He went to gather it back, but at the next moment he was opening his eyes at the feeling of arms lifting him up from the ground. Looking up he saw his face. 

The one he hadn’t seen in months after his sudden disappearance.

“Long time no see,” the child managed a weak smile. “Detective-jerk.”

Shinichi looked down at the kid he was holding and shook his head, chuckling lightly. "You're well aware that I can drop you at any given moment, aren't you?"

"Can, but won't. Ran-neechan would kill you," he replied easily, straightening himself so he could rest his chin on top of Shinichi's shoulder. He closed his eyes, still feeling a bit dizzy. "Tsujimura-san has been killed, and there's a detective from Osaka messing up, badly."

Shinichi blinked a bit when the child pulled out a fishing line and offered it to him. "When you said you needed help... you meant a case?" He accepted it, even if a bit confused, as he balanced Conan's weight on one arm.

"... What did you expect?"

"Honestly, I don't know," the teen sighed. "Now, will you tell me what your deduction is, child detective?"

And so, Conan began to tell him everything that had happened ever since he had found Hattori Heiji on Kogoro's office. By the time he finished his story, they had arrived at the room Conan had been in before. The high school detective honestly felt glad the child had been a least coherent enough to remember the way back, because they could've easily gotten lost inside.

"The killer is the wife," even if his voice sounded weak and fragile, there was such an amount of confidence that stunned Shinichi. "Only she could have done it."

To say that Shinichi was impressed was an understanding. It was hard to believe that a small fever-ridden elementary student had been able to solve a mystery that even adults and a famous teenage detective hadn't been able to understand.

"You have almost everything figured out," the older brother said with an amused smile. "Yet, there's something you have overlooked."

"Huh?"

"You still have yet to figure out how to take care of yourself."

"Oh, shut up."

Conan was gently set on top of the soft mattress, before the teen pulled the covers over him, and his glasses were removed and set on a nearby desk. Weighed down by fatigue, his eyelids began to drop as soon as his head sank on the pillow, threatening to close against his will in any given moment.

But he wouldn’t give in so easily.

“Hey, Onii-chan,” the kid slurred, sleepily, tired eyes flickering up to him.

“What is it?”

“Are... Are you okay?”

“... Eh...?” Shinichi certainly didn’t expect that. 

“You’re sweating a lot and are deathly pale, too,” his pierce look was somewhat clouded by the fever, but the sternness was still there. “And you were breathing quite heavily a few moments ago.”

If it wasn’t for the serious expression he had, Shinichi would have laughed. Of course Conan would worry about others, even when his own brain cells were so close to frying themselves.

“I’m okay,” he tried to reassure him. “I was running on my way here. Just that.”

Conan blinked slowly, a frown deeply carved into his face, letting his brother know that he wasn’t entirely convinced, but probably far too exhausted to press him further.

"Don't worry about anything, Conan. I got this," said Shinichi affectionately, clearly noticing his struggle, while he pressed a hand on top of his overly-warm forehead. "You can rest now."

With that, the boy sighed tiredly and let go of the thread of consciousness he had so desperately been holding to, falling asleep long before his brother could take his hand away.

Honestly, Shinichi gazed at his younger brother for a moment, taking on his peaceful expression before chuckling, fondly, while his hand played with the little one’s sweaty hair. Sometimes he can be a handful, can’t he?

“Conan-kun? Where are you?”

Shinichi’s gaze shot to the doorway, where he spotted his childhood friend running past, doctor in tow, only to return a few seconds later. She peeked inside and gasped, in shock.

“Shinichi?!”

The male teenager panicked, placing a finger on his lips. She did not understand at first, until she noticed the kid on bed, and quickly covered her mouth with both of her hands. 

Surprisingly enough, the young boy did not even stirr.

While he doctor hurried up to check on the sick child, Ran in tow, worriedly looking at him from behind the man, Shinichi tried to silently slip away from the room. A hand on his arm stopped him for doing so, however.

“I need to talk with you for a second, Shinichi,” Ran hissed at him, dangerously, and he only managed a weak nod.

When she dragged him outside, rather roughly so, Shinichi honestly feared for his life. She spun around, facing him and, instinctively, covered his head with his hands. But he didn’t feel a world of pain, like he had expected, so he blinked his eyes at her, confusedly.

Then he saw her, and wished he had received a kick in the face instead. 

“Where have you been?!” tears were collecting on his childhood friend’s eyes. “I-I was so worried about you!”

He hesitated for a moment, gaze softening at her saddened posture.

“Don’t cry, you silly,” Shinichi smiled at her, tenderly.

“Don’t tell me what to do, deduction freak! Not after disappearing so suddenly without telling anyone!” she shouted at him, angrily, prompting him to take a step back. “How irresponsible can you be to leave a seven year-old all on his own?!”

“I heard he’s been on your care all this time, right? He’s on good hands,” the detective softly said. “Can I trust you to keep taking care of him?”

“What kind of question is that?” Ran scoffed, as she stubbornly wiped a tear away. “I’m not like you.”

“Thank you.”

She didn’t bother to follow him as he passed by her, seeing that the child’s health was far more important than this elusive idiot. Ran didn’t expect him, however, to pause mid-way and whisper close to her ear.

“Wait for me, Ran,” Ran looked at him with her wide and watery eyes. It was only then she noticed how badly he was sweating. “Soon... It’ll all be over soon.”


When Conan opened his eyes again, he was back at the bedroom he shared with Kogoro. For a moment he just stared, bleary-eyed at the ceiling as he let the memories fill his head, until he remembered.

Did that bastard leave again...? Wait a second, he looked at the window. It's morning! he stood up quickly, maybe a little too much because he stumbled and would have fell on his face if he hadn’t recovered his footing in time. He paid no mind at the wet rag that had fallen into the floor in favour of taking another shaky step forward. 

Damn, how much did I sleep? My parents..!

He opened the door to the room, only to find Ran standing there, like she was about to do the same thing. “Conan-kun!” she scolded, steering him away from the door. "Why does this happen every single time I get my eyes off you?"

The child said nothing in return, as the older girl ushered him back to bed. 

"Relax, you're still sick," she sighed, wetting the rag she had picked up from the ground and wringing out the excess of water, when he tried to protest. "The doctor said you need to take it easy for the next few days. You have been under so much stress lately and that probably made your cold worse."

"Stress?" he asked confusedly.

She gave him a kind smile. "You have been through a lot, I'm sorry I didn't realize," she told him. "Hirota-san case was much too recent, and you have been too worried about your brother when he suddenly disappeared. Not to mention the fact that you're moving soon."

"... You knew?"

"Not until your parents came by yesterday to pick you up," at that, Conan looked away. "Why didn't you tell me anything?"

She was met with silence, and that caused her to sigh.

"I told them I would call them back when you feel better," she added, placing the rag on top of his forehead, before standing up. "I'll be downstairs if you need anything."

Conan just nodded, quietly, watching her leave.

It wasn't until two days later that be began to feel like himself again. He was currently sitting on the living room flipping through a newspaper as he let the news flood him. His eyes fixed in a particular case.

"The diplomat, Tsujimura, murdered by poison"

There wasn’t anything that he didn’t know as he had, after all, already solved it before. It was weird, however, that he could clearly read that it had been solved by Hattori Heiji, and there was no word from Shinichi, even if he usually liked the attention he received on these kind of things.

Maybe he had to ask the police to keep his involvement in secret .

There was a knock on the door causing Ran to go answer it, and Conan sighed heavily. He had thought that his parents had agreed to come pick him up tonight, but there were still a few hours until afternoon.

Not that it changed anything. He had already packed his stuff the other night.

“Conan-kun,” called Ran. What she said afterwards, however, he didn’t expect. “Your friends are here.”

“Eh?”

She stepped aside, to let him see the three children standing at the door, grinning at him. For a moment, he hesitated. He didn’t know how long he would have until her mother barged inside Ran’s home ─ she was very unpredictable after all. The older girl, however, smiled gently with a nod.

And now there he was, walking down the street with his three friends. Ayumi was giggling, softly, as Mitsuhiko told Conan a funny story about Genta not finding his math book and getting sent over to the principal, only to find it later inside his lunchbox at lunchtime. He had been more worried about the squashed eel than the book itself.

Genta didn’t find it so funny, however.

Conan chuckled a bit. The story was silly, and Mitsuhiko’s storytelling abilities were, surprisingly, pretty disorganized. It was a struggle to understand.

However...

“We were so worried!” Ayumi said, after a while. “You were sick and missed three days of school.”

“You’re so lucky you got to miss school,” Genta commented. “I guess I’ll try to catch a cold, too.”

“Genta-kun, there’s no way you can catch a cold,” Mitsuhiko held down a laugh. “Like they say, ‘Stupid people can never catch-’”

A blow on his head shut the boy out, and Conan could not help but grimace a little. He had received plenty of those from Kogoro, mostly when he hung around crimes scenes, so he could emphasize a little bit.

“So,” Conan spoke up, an eyebrow raised. “Mind telling me what in the world possessed you guys to decide to visit a library all of sudden?”

He could somewhat understand Mitsuhiko, but he couldn’t picture either Ayumi or Genta reading anything besides manga.

“Because, while you were sick, we had a book report due and you’re the only one who didn’t turn it in. So we thought we’d all help you.”

After that sentence, the kids kept laughing and chattering among themselves about the books they had chosen for that assignment, when they noticed the three of them were alone. Turning around, they confusedly stared at their friend as he just stood there, eyes hidden behind the light reflecting on his glasses and fists clenched a bit.

There’s no need to make that assignment. 

Tomorrow... 

I won’t be there, with them, like usual, tomorrow. 

“Conan-kun, what’s wrong?” Ayumi walked closer to him, visually worried. “Do you feel sick again?”

“Did something happen?” asked Mitsuhiko, eyebrows furrowed together. Then, he gasped. “Don’t tell me... Did you encounter those dangerous men again?!”

“No, guys... I... There’s something I need to tell you.”

“What’s it?” Genta pressed him, impatient. “Come on, you’re scaring me!”

“I...”

... am leaving for America tonight.

“... saw Shinichi-niichan the other day.”

“What?!”

Conan forced a smile, and kept on walking, catching up with them. Pushing any other thoughts aside he started telling them the events from the other day, describing the case in so much detail that left his friends gaping in awe and asking for more.

“Eh?” Genta was confused. “He disappeared again?”

The boy with glasses just nodded in response.

“So, he really is running away from someone else...” Mitsuhiko pondered, frowning a bit as he thought.

“Still, isn’t that terribly mean?” Ayumi commented. “To leave so suddenly without saying goodbye.”

Conan had to pretend that last sentence didn’t actually hurt as much as it did by shrugging, notchantly, and keeping his conversation going.

I might end up doing that report in vain, but I it doesn’t matter. I guess it can’t hurt to spend time with them.

Because, after today, I might not see these guys ever again. 

This will be the last chance I’ll get to be with them.


That was dangerous...

Certainly, Conan hadn't expected the trip to the library to turn into a full fledged scary movie. Somehow, they had ended up stumbling into a murder and drug smuggling case, running around the place to escape from the killer, who had turned out to be the librarian.

He certainly didn’t want to go through this again. The others, however...

“That was so exciting!”

“I thought we were goners!”

“Stupid! Justice always wins in the end!”

The boy opened his mouth to speak, but then shrugged it off. Whether they liked it or not, his friends were still going to get into trouble. They were learning to take care of themselves when in trouble, and that should’ve been enough.

Night had fallen already. Conan sighed, then a bitter smile drew itself on his face.

I guess I can finally say goodbye to Japan.

“Let’s do this again, Conan-kun!” Ayumi smiled at him.

“Huh?”

“Our detective club!”

“When we all get together, we can solve any case!” Mitsuhiko chimed in.

“Alright, let’s try our best next time, too!” Genta pumped his fist in the air, and the other two did the same.

Next time... his smile faltered, but was kept in place. That’s right... This might mean saying goodbye to them as well.

Now, he just needed to say it.

His mouth opened.

Say it!

And closed.

Without a word, the boy started running past them. “C-Conan-kun?” Ayumi called, hesitantly.

He paused, turned around, and shouted with the best smile he could manage. “See you!” and then, he left.

The children just stood there, watching their friend’s back getting smaller and smaller as he went further away from them. His smile had been strained, even they could see it.

“I get the feeling he’s going somewhere far away,” Ayumi said.

The other two just nodded, suddenly overtaken by the same exact feeling.


When Conan slowly opened the door of the agency, as expected, he was met with the sight of his parents, sitting across Kogoro and Ran. Once they noticed him coming in, Ran jumped on her feet.

“Conan-kun!” she shouted. “Where have you been?! We were so worried about you!”

“I bet that brat probably found a dead body or something,” Kogoro scoffed.

“Actually...” Conan trailed off.

“Eh? You did?”

While Mouri and his daughter were quite surprised about that, the Kudo couple just laughed, amused about the fact that the ability ─ or curse, as Conan would’ve put it ─ of stumbling across dead bodies seemed to run in the family. Then, Yukiko glanced at her watch.

“It is a bit late,” she said, then turned to her husband. “Maybe it will be best if Co-chan spends the night with us at home and then leave tomorrow morning.”

“About that...” they all looked at the little boy, who seemed to have a staring contest to the floor. “There’s something I want to talk about with you, Mom, Dad.”

Yukiko, Yusaku and Kogoro blinked owlishly at the overly serious child, yet Ran seemed to understand right away. She quickly went to her father and pulled him off the chair.

“I need to start preparing dinner,” the girl said. “Dad, help me out.”

“Wha-? Why me?”

“Just come.

“Yes, ma’am.”

In a moment, the two were gone and the Kudo family was left alone. Conan’s parents just looked at their son, patiently waiting for him to start. He took a deep breath, crossed the room and sat across the pair, hands neatly folded on his lap.

“I have tried,” finally, the young boy spoke. “I asked you to give me one day to set my thoughts in order... And also, to properly say goodbye to everyone here, in Beika... I have tried, but the words never really came out.”

He then looked up at their eyes. There was a sad, yet very tender, smile on his little face.

“Isn’t it weird? I am supposed to return home with you, yet it feels like I am leaving instead,” he paused. His parents did not say anything, so he continued. “That’s when I realized how much I am going to miss walking school with Ran-neechan. To play soccer with Yoshida-san, Kojima and Tsuburaya after class. Even to hear Occhan’s screaming like a fangirl whenever he sees Okino Yoko on the TV.”

His phone vibrated on his pocket, letting him know that he had a text message. He didn’t need to look to know who it was from.

“Then I saw Onii-chan and I realized that, even if it was brief, I might see him again if I stay in Japan,” his eyes were vivid and there was so much determination in there that even Yusaku was a bit surprised. “I know it’s dangerous and I certainly don’t know what kind of trouble he got into this time around, but I want to find him. I want to bring him back home. And that is here .”

Silence ensued thereafter, but Conan stubbornly held on their gazes. Yukiko was stunned, flabbergasted at the seriousness of those words, and a bit worried about the implications of staying behind. She opened her mouth to speak, when her husband beat her up to it.

“Then, I guess we should leave,” Yukaku stood up, looking at Yukiko. “There’s nothing for us to do here, right?”

“Eh? But-!” Yukiko argued.

"Have you seen his eyes?" he replied with a smile. "If he's anything like Shinichi, he won't change his mind. Even if we managed to drag him back to America, what's there to say he won't sneak back to Japan inside a random suitcase?"

Conan felt very offended at that. I'm not that small...

The mother nodded, feeling a bit unconvinced yet seeing the reason behind his words. With a sigh, she walked in front of her youngest and kneeled down.

“Okay, Co-chan, we’ll let you stay in Japan,” she rested her hands on his shoulders. “But remember, as soon as it becomes dangerous, I’m personally dragging you overseas with me and locking you in your room, alright?”

“And I’m calling child services if you do.”

Yusaku shook his head, with a small laugh, and stood up to walk outside the room, followed by mother and son. Then, he knocked the door to the living room.

“Oh, Conan-kun, have you finished talking?” Ran said, as soon as she opened the door. “Sit down for a bit while I go get your things...”

“There’s no need, Ran-chan,” Yukiko stopped her, an apologetic smile on her face. “We were actually going to ask you if you could take care of Co-chan, again.”

Ran blinked twice, speechless, staring at the mother for a full minute before shifting her gaze to Conan, who had a bit of an embarrassed smile on his face. The first one to react was her father.

“What?!” he shouted, hurrying to the door. “Again?!”

“Yes, it seems that he doesn’t want to leave this place.”

Confusion was soon replaced by happiness as a smile drew itself on Ran’s features. She opened the door wider, welcoming him inside. “Of course he can,” she said, before her father could protest. “Welcome back, Conan-kun.”

Conan smiled back at her, as he let her guide him back inside. Kogoro wanted to argue, until Yusaku gave him a check with a lot of money, claiming that it was his money for expenses.

“Hey, Conan-kun,” Ran said suddenly. “Are you still up to help me with dinner? I could really use a hand now.”

The child nodded, happily, as he followed her into the kitchen.

Now, I have no doubts about it.

There is no place like home.

Chapter Text

"Will you answer this, Dad?"

Kudo Yusaku looked at his son in confusion. The morning after he had decided to stay in Beika, he had suddenly appeared on the doorstep of his old home, claiming that he wanted to set some things straight before they left the country.

"How did you know?"

“Know what, exactly?”

“Nobody just carries a ten million yen check around.” Conan answered, an annoyed look on his face. “You knew I was going to stay.”

Yukiko, who sat beside her husband gasped. “You knew?!” the man did not answer, and that agitated her. “Yusaku!”

The child sighed, tiredly, before crossing his arms behind his head. “And here I went through all this trouble to make a decision, and it turns out that it was completely pointless because you knew what was going to happen.”

Yusaku smiled. “But if we didn’t do that, you wouldn’t have gone through that process of decision and personal growth,” he told him, stunning the kid. “It wasn’t pointless.”

“Don’t tell me you’re doing your parenting duties right after kidnapping your own child,” he scoffed, and he stood up. “Anyways, I have to go. Occhan was invited to some party about a game featuring him as a main character.”

The annoyment on his voice was obvious, but understandable. The detective had only become so famous because Conan was the one giving out the hints. Well, it’s not like I want the attention, he pondered as he bid his parents goodbye and left the house, shuddering about the thought of being him the one replacing Kogoro.

“Just one more thing,” he stopped at the gate, and turned around. “This has been bothering me for awhile.”

“What is it, Co-chan?”

“Is it because you all are famous that you changed my surname to Edogawa, or is it there another reason?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Onii-chan didn’t get his surname changed.”

“Fame was never a problem to Shinichi, as you might have noticed,” his father replied, easily. “You never liked the spotlight, and we know that. That’s why we decided to give you a more quiet, humble background.”

Conan narrowed his eyes, and just skateboarded away without any other word. Why is everyone so secretive? his eyebrow twitched, in irritation. An honest, straight answer wouldn’t hurt every once in a while.

That annoyment, however, would turn into fear and then frustration throughout the day. He would finally met with Tequila, an organization member ─ he had uttered the names Vodka and Gin over the phone, so there was no doubt about it ─ but then see him die caught in a explosion.

The worst thing was that Kogoro currently had a terrible hangover, causing him to slump pathetically against the wall, not paying attention at his surroundings at all, which meant no famous detective to solve the case today.

“Geez, where did you go?” Ran held him by his hand after an entire day chasing him around. “Ah, you’re injured.”

Conan hadn’t noticed the cut on his cheek until now, but he figured it might been from the explosion. Like the mother hen she was, Ran grabbed a napkin from her pocket and started to wipe the blood away. In the process, she dropped her father’s and her number tokens. There were 96 and 100, and he clearly remembered Tequila’s number being 98.

Then, these three people that had cut in before Ran at that time...

Before she could do anything the kid took of running in their direction, tokens in hand, just as saw a man walking up to the receptionist’s desk, as she called his number to pick up his belongings.

"Hey, Mister," he did his best to replicate a very cheerful and loud child "Didn’t she say that your number was 124?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Isn't that, like, super weird?" he opened his eyes wide. "I could've sworn you had cut in before Ran-neechan, and after Kogoro-ojisan."

The whole room stared at the two, shocked. The kid put on an innocent expression, as he held the numbers for the man to see.

“You should be careful not to lose your real number,” his face twisted into a smirk, that did not match with his actual age, and watched as colour drained from the man’s face. “Your suitcase could get mixed and swapped with another one. Maybe you should check if you have the correct one, just in case.”

“N-No, it’s okay,” the man stuttered.

Noticing his anxiety, Megure asked him to check its contents, and he refused. His colleague started to struggle with him, trying to get him to obey so he would not end up as a suspect. The suitcase opened, accidentally, and money fell into the floor.

Takeshita, the true culprit, freaked out. After being told that they could check his suitcase and get some evidence, especially if they checked the lock with the key found at the crime scene, he confessed.

He tried to pressure the other man to tell him anything about the men he had done the deal, but there was little he could do with what level of persuasion a seven year-old could manage, without hinting in any way that he was trying to investigate them.

And, as always, the two men in black disappeared without a trace.

So, yes, he was annoyed and frustrated for an entire week. 

Probably, was part of the reason he was annoyed when his brother asked that question, for the eleventh time this week.

“Are you sure you’re okay, Conan?”

Conan sighed loudly against his phone one chilly day of February, as he climbed up the stairs from the detective agency. 

“How many times do I have to tell you? I’m fine, ” he told him.

“Last time you said that, I found you collapsed on the floor. Besides, Ran told me you had to be stuck in bed for three entire days, and you haven’t called ever since.”

The child pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Listen, my cold is completely gone by now,” the boy tried to reason. “I’m sure Ran-neechan must have told you about that, at least.”

There was a long pause, which caused the child to give the phone screen a curious look. For a moment, he had thought the call had been accidentally cut short, but it seemed it wasn’t the case.

“Say, don’t you think something is up with Ran lately?” softly, his brother asked.

“Eh? How so?”

“Even when I call her she doesn’t talk that much,” the teenager commented. “She doesn’t complain so much about my absence anymore.”

Just as the teen was saying that, the door of the agency opened before the child could reach it. “Huh? Conan-kun?” he basically heard Shinichi flinching at the sound of Ran's voice. “I’m going to go out for a while.” 

“Okay,” he nodded at her. “See you tonight.”

“See you,” she waved her hand as she passed by him. “Say hello to Shinichi for me, okay?”

With that, she rushed down the stairs. The kid watched her go for a moment, dimly noticing Kogoro doing the same thing, with a look of suspicion on his face, before he heard his brother speak again.

“Tonight?” he asked, confusedly.

“Yeah, she has been doing that a lot,” Conan informed him, walking inside and ignoring Kogoro as he made his way to his room. “She says she has karate practice.”

There was a humming sound on the other side of the phone, which told Conan that his brother was probably in deep thought.

“Now that I think of it,” the child pondered out loud. “Ran-neechan seems to be unusually happy lately. Probably she has been doing good on her club.”

His brother took a sharp intake of air at that, confusing Conan about that reaction. “S-Say, Conan...” he stuttered a bit. “Do you think she...?”

“What?” the kid did not get it, blinking cluelessly.

“Do you think Ran is seeing someone?”

Conan gaped at that, shock written all over his face.


It wasn’t every day that Conan was forced by Kogoro to sit inside his rental car and get taken somewhere else ─ he was the one usually forced out. He would had never gone anywhere with the man if it wasn’t for Ran pressuring him to take the kid along, in fact. 

Even so, Ran was worried, especially when she was told that Kogoro had been going to the hospital for a while now, and that he had some tests done.

“The doctor told me on the phone,” the great detective was a bit tense. “...‘Please bring your family members as well’.”

At first, Conan didn’t think it was anything serious ─ probably the man had just drank too much alcohol, he thought ─ but he started to doubt it when they arrived and saw the solemn and very serious face of the doctor, Yoshiteru Araide.

He looked at the papers on his hand and eventually he spoke.

“Mouri-san,” both Ran and Kogoro nodded, feeling a bit anxious. “Another half a year more.”

Those words prompted the three to gape and pale dramatically. Before he could say anything else, Kogoro raised from his chair and pounced on the unsuspecting doctor.

“You! How can you be so heartless?!” he screamed at him, tears collecting on his eyes. “All of sudden you tell me I’ve got half a year left. You should think more about your patients and take your time in telling them! Isn’t that what doctors do?!”

“... For the next half a year I wanted you to stop drinking,” the doctor blinked at him. “That’s what I had in mind.”

“... Eh...?”

As relief washed over them and Ran promised the doctor that she would make sure her father wasn’t going to see another glass of alcohol in another half a year, at least, Conan could only let a dry laugh. Way to give me palpitations, he thought while he watched the doctor momentarily leave to take a call.

When Ran asked Yoshiteru’s wife where the toilet was, and left to search for it, Conan worried. Knowing the girl, it was a matter of time until she lost her way inside the house, so he decided to slip out the room to go look for her.

The boy wandered through the halls of the traditional looking house until he finally found who he was looking for. He hadn’t expected, however, seeing Ran kneeling down in front of some papers, picking them up, in front of a young man who seemed to be doing the same thing.

His blue eyes blinked, curiously, when their fingers lightly brushed together and Ran pulled away, a faint red blush covering her cheeks. They gazed at each other, eyes wide, exactly like two main characters on a cheesy soap that Ran would force him to watch at dinner time.

They were smiling at each other, and Conan couldn’t quite hear what they were saying. Deciding to get closer, the child took a step forward.

When something barreled on his side. There was a crash and he felt himself falling on his butt, then heard steps hurrying closer. He groaned a bit, holding his head for a moment, before opening his eyes to see what had just hit him.

There was a young woman ─ by the clothes she was wearing he guessed it was the housemaid ─ sitting on the floor in the same position as him, probably after having fallen down. Between the two of them, there were several flowers, scattered over pieces of a broken vase and a pool of water.

“Ah!” once she noticed the mess she had done, and the child she had just bumped into, she panicked. “I’m so sorry! Are you hurt, little boy?”

Conan waved his hands in front of him, trying to get her to calm down. Just then, Ran reached the boy and kneeled down in front of him.

“Conan-kun!” she fussed over him. “Are you okay?!”

“I’m okay, don’t worry!” he stood up, quickly, trying to reassure her. “See?”

The man that had been with Ran watched the kid flinch a little bit, then stand with his legs together while he forced a smile that somewhat convinced the girl. But it didn’t fool him, so he kneeled down next to her and lifted his leg. Conan let out a shocked squeak, keeping himself from stumbling back by holding himself with the wall.

True to the man’s suspictions, there was a cut on the side of his leg, blood dripping a bit. Ran gasped at the sight of it.

“Why didn’t you say something?” she scolded the boy.

“It’s just a scratch really,” he tried to argue. “It’s not a big deal.”

“Honestly, you...”

The man smiled, a bit amused, at the interaction between the two. Just as he was about to stand up, he noticed the Yoshiteru stomping towards the housemaid and starting to yell at her, threatening to kick her out if this repeated again.

“Excuse me,” Conan’s small voice directed everyone’s attention back to him, hands behind his back in a timid posture. “It wasn’t her fault, Sensei. I was running around and accidentally bumped into her,” he bowed slightly. “I’m so sorry!”

Blinking a bit to the little boy and then glancing at the maid, the doctor sighed. “You better clean that right away,” he settled with saying to the woman, before walking away.

“Understood!” the maid said, right away, looking at the boy over her shoulder and mouthing a ‘thank you’ before disappearing into the hallway.

For a moment, the other two stared at the boy in silence, as he nodded at the maid. The man was the first one to chuckle. “You’re a bit of a liar, aren’t you?” he said, surprising him.

“Well... uh...” he smiled back at him, awkwardly.

Ran sighed loudly, while the doctor stood up. Then, he rested a hand on his little shoulder and steered him away. “Come on, young man,” he told the boy. “We need to treat that cut.”

“I don’t need-” his words died down when he felt Ran glaring at him. “... Yes, sir.”

With a pleased smile, the girl followed them.


The mystery man’s name turned out to be Araide Tomoaki, a head graduate from Touto University and the son of the doctor that had seen Kogoro before. He currently sat at the opposite side of table since the doctor had invited Kogoro ─ and by addition the other two ─ to stay for dinner. Ran had accepted in a heartbeat, even if she had to give up karate for today.

Conan shifted in his chair, sitting cross legged as Kogoro jokingly asked Tomoaki to take Ran as a bride, which naturally prompted them to argue with him, flustered. The kid remained quiet throughout it all, his fingers playing with the bandages on his leg.

He frowned slightly. Tomoaki was a nice guy, without a doubt, and he figured he should’ve taken a liking to him from the beginning. But there was something... The way he talked with Ran, and the way she seemed to stare at him, then blush and look away... It didn’t feel right.

Just in time, his phone vibrated. His eyebrow twitched when he read the text he had received from Shinichi.

“If you notice something else about Ran, please tell me.”

Conan sighed and set his phone back, without giving it any further thought. He could tell from this far that jealousy was gnawing at his older brother. But that didn’t give him the right to push his little brother to become a private detective to spy on his not-girlfriend.

“But the host is pretty slow,” said Kogoro, as he looked at his wrist watch, clearly referring to Yoshiteru. “His working hour should be over by now.”

“Bath,” an old woman suddenly stepped on the room. “That man likes to take a bath before supper. Having a bath before anyone else and don't have the water dirty.”

“Grandmother, putting such harsh words again!”

To say that old lady didn’t like anybody on her family ─ except for apparently, Tomoaki, her only blood relative ─ was more than an understatement. She left right after scowling at the wife, without even waiting for dinner.

Just as Tomoaki was beginning to apologize for his grandmother’s rude behaviour, darkness enveloped the room. Looking around at each other, confusedly, it didn’t take long for them to realize there was a blackout, yet, as Conan pointed out while looking at the rest of the neighbourhood through the window, it seemed like they were the only house. 

Hikaru, the clumsy housemaid from before, went to check out in the breakers, while the wife, still on the phone, stood outside the room. They all waited for a couple of minutes more than it should, but eventually the lights turned back on.

Both Kogoro and Conan stared into Ran’s soul, and she blinked back, confusedly. Only then she realized she was holding onto Tomoaki’s arm, instead of her father ─ who stood right in front of them, with a very unfriendly glare on his face.

The child said nothing, confusion pinching his face for a moment, until he snapped out of it. Instantly after, he pulled out his phone and typed:

“Ran-neechan is squeezing someone else’s arm.

He’s a doctor. A rather kind and nice one, too.

I don’t think you stand a chance, Onii-chan.”

It didn’t take a second for the reply pop into Conan’s screen, yet he didn’t have the time to read it. Because the wife found Araide Yoshiteru dead on the bath.

Despite all Tomoaki’s efforts to revive him, his father passed away. The cause of death had been electrocution, which seemed to happen because he had been shaving his face on the bathtub, for some reason. 

The police, plus Kogoro, declared it as a mere accident. Conan stood on the bathroom, watching Takagi impersonating the victim with a sharp look on his eyes. Something didn’t seem to fit...

So, he screamed. Loudly so.

And watched with a bored look as Takagi, startled by it, stumbled backwards and fell painfully on his rear end. Ran was instantly at his side, scolding him from making trouble, and he pointed out the obvious. Takagi wasn’t supposed to fall that way.

He almost managed to get Megure to think of it as a murder, but Kogoro stepped up and did a demonstration of how it could’ve happened. To say that the boy was a bit impressed, even if irritated also, was an understatement.

Yet he couldn’t just let it go. “But, Kogoro-ojisan...”

“What now?”

“You missed the part where Araide-sensei turns the switch of the shaver off. I really wanted to know how it happened!”

“Huh?”

It was then that they realized it was a chargeable one. There was simply no way it could’ve turned off on its own, and the victim couldn’t have done it if he had been shocked.

“Then, why is it turned off?” Takagi asked. “When you found him, he wasn’t moving already, right?”

“Yes...”

“Isn’t because of the sound?” his eyes narrowed with a smirk, then his entire expression became more childlike and innocent, as the three adults turned to watch him. “Probably that person didn’t want the sound to be heard.”

“Huh?” Kogoro asked him, feeling a bit irritated. “Who to who?”

“How should I know?” he smiled, in a sickly sweet smile that actually showed how much he knew instead. “I’m just a child.”

And you’re the detective here, stupid, was left unsaid, but it was as if he had just said it alright to Kogoro. He scowled at him before turning around to continue working.

Right after that, they went to confirm everyone’s alibi. The wife had been talking on the phone, Hikaru had gone to raise the breaker, the old lady claimed she was returning to her room at the time.and Tomoaki had been in the kitchen with the other three the entire time. This last alibi had been confirmed by Ran, who had been squeezing his arm until the lights came back.

At some point, Tomoaki seemed to notice something about the way Hikaru held her arm and stood up. Similar to how he had acted with Conan, the man took Hikaru’s arm and then rolled up her shirt. There was a burn mark.

“Excuse me,” he said to Megure. “I would like to give her some treatment, so you wouldn’t mind if I take her to the check up room, right?”

The inspector nodded and allowed him to go with the company of an officer. Just before he left, however, he stopped him. “Oh, and one more thing,” Tomoaki looked back to the man from the doorway. “Today, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, for some reason only you had been away. Where were you at?”

"I'm the high school basketball team’s replacement coach," Tomoaki explained. "When I was a student, I had to be a coach instead of someone who broke a bone, and he had asked me to coach the team until he can get out."

“A doctor being a basketball coach, huh?” Megure pondered a bit.

“If you want, ask Ran-san. The one that i’m talking about is the high school she goes to, Teitan High School,” Ran’s eyes snapped right at him at the mention of her name. “You know the coach of the basketball team is Tamochi-sensei, correct?

Conan could only stare at them both, in shock, while Ran nodded her head. Could the reason Ran-neechan has gone to karate practice every day actually be...?

As Tomoaki told his grandmother ─ who had stepped in something weird on the blackout and injured her feet ─ to come along, and Ran offered to help him, Conan picked his phone once more.

Shinichi’s text was in the screen.

“What do you mean with that, Conan?”

There wasn’t much in it, yet Conan somehow could tell. In his mind, he could see the sadness on his brother’s eyes as he wrote that message. The smile on his face he would have forced to pretend everything was alright, when clearly it wasn’t.

The child put the phone back. There wasn’t anything he could say.


Conan knew for a fact that the culprit was the wife. But the police was still suspecting Hikaru, because her alibi couldn’t be confirmed ─ it had taken her far too long to raise the breaker. He had found out why recently, when he discovered a broken vase on hidden on her cupboard.

They needed a little push in the right direction, but how?

An idea popped on his mind when he spotted Kogoro and Megure, standing on the yard with an umbrella protecting them from the pouring rain. Taking a deep breath, the boy took off running.

Only to collide with Kogoro. Hissing softly because of the pain his fall had caused, the little boy stood up quickly. Before he could apologize, Kogoro sat up and glared at him.

As the child had planned, the man had fallen into a poodle. “Hey!” now the great detective was soaked to the bone. “What’s the idea?!”

“I wasn’t watching where I was going?” he offered with a shrug.

“You little brat...!”

“Now, now,” Megure let out an awkward laugh, restraining Kogoro so he wouldn’t land a hit on the kid. “Be more careful next time, okay, Conan-kun?”

“Okay!” the child nodded with a bright smile, which annoyed the adult even more.

Kogoro scoffed at him, breaking free of Megure’s grasp and stomping inside the house. The inspector merely looked at the angry detective, and the child that seemed to follow him without a clear reason and sighed, loudly. Kids these days...

“Maybe you should take a bath or something...”

Mouri could feel annoyment cursing through his veins at the sound of the seven year-old irritatingly innocent voice, who trailed behind him like a puppy, but still made sure to avoid stepping on the trail of water that Kogoro was leaving behind.

“Tell me something I don’t know, squirt,” the man told him, not even bothering to look at him. “Hey, make yourself useful and tell Yoko-san I’m going to borrow her bath.”

“Understood!” he nodded, cutely, before disappearing around the corner. 

It didn’t take two seconds before his head popped up on Kogoro’s view again.

“Now what?” he sighed loudly.

“I think Hikaru-san is the culprit,” Conan stated.

Kogoro raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“I found something weird in Hikaru-san’s cupboard,” the child said, then quickly continued before the man could ask him what he had been doing there in the first place. “There was a broken vase. That’s a pretty suspicious thing to keep, right?”

“Idiot, she most likely broke it by accident and decided to hide it there so they wouldn’t find out.”

Conan seemed to ponder about it for a moment, when his eyes went wide. “Oh!” he exclaimed. “Now that I think of it, Araide-sensei threatened to kick her out if she messed up again, so it makes sense she would want to hide it!”

Kogoro stopped waking there, freezing on the spot as he watched the kid, not caring if there was a pool of water forming beneath his feet. His gaze shifted to the phone sitting on the table at the end of the hall and gasped in realization.

Blinking twice, the child waited for the man to talk.

“Conan,” there was a very serious expression on Kogoro’s face. “Tell everyone I’m going to make my deduction as soon as I finish my bath. And tell Takagi and Inspector Megure to meet me here in five minutes.”

The child nodded and hurriedly went around the corner. 

Kogoro didn’t notice the wide smirk that had appeared on Conan’s face, though.

Chapter Text

The case had been resolved when the wife admitted the crime. Now, Conan hadn’t actually been there when Kogoro cornered her with that trap, but he knew for a fact that they had convinced her to lie about how she had actually killed her husband, if the looks she sent to Hikaru were something to go by.

And he understood why she had done it. If Hikaru learned that, even if by complete accident, she had been the one to take his life away, she wouldn’t be able to handle it.

“Sorry for keeping you so long.”

Conan glared at Kogoro when he had accidentally pushed him a bit, in an attempt to take a better view of what it looked like a confession scene between the young doctor and the high school girl. Tomoaki was scratching the back of his head, awkwardly, while Ran kept her hands clenched together in front of her.

“I want you to tell your father something for me,” Tomoaki said to her, eyes focusing on the floor.

Kogoro blinked confusedly, before turning to the boy, and that alone puzzled him even more. There was shock written all over his little face, and the detective couldn’t really understand why he had reacted like that. 

Suddenly, all those romantic movies Ran had forced on him popped on his young mind. A confession like this... Usually, they lead to another scene at the end of the film.

The bride and the groom, kissing under the sunset as their family clapped. Laughter. Happiness. Tears of joy... Marriage?!

When it hit him Conan let out a shocked gasp, and Kogoro flinched at that. The two heads turned their way and the males that had been spying on them could only smile, awkwardly.

Until she began to yell, angrily, at them for stalking her. It had taken the three of them ─ including Tomoaki ─ about twenty minutes to get the girl to somewhat calm down, enough for them to explain themselves.

“I’m sorry, Ran-neechan,” Conan apologized, his head down. “I told Kogoro-ojisan this wasn’t a good idea, but he wouldn’t listen.”

“E-Eh? Me?” Kogoro winced under his daughter glare, before turning to the kid. “You brat! Tell them it isn’t true.”

Conan would’ve chuckled at the sight of his overly panicked look, but kept it in, attempting to keep himself in character. Ran’s raisen eyebrow told him, however, that Ran wasn’t quite buying it.

But he was saved, when Tomoaki frowned and stepped ahead. “Say, Conan-kun,” he kneeled in front of him. “Did you fall again?”

Only then did Ran notice that Conan's legs and knees where all scrapped. Seeing the little boy shrug, notchantly, and her father scorning at him for some reason, she smiled. But it wasn't a nice and sweet kind of smile she would often give people, but a rather sinister, terrifying one.

"Dad, did you give Conan-kun some trouble again?"

“N-No! The brat fell on his own, I swear!”

When he realized her anger was currently directed at Kogoro, exclusively, Conan could’ve sighed in relief. It wasn’t the case, because he was lead to the check up room.

The child was unusually quiet as he was told to sit down while the doctor collected his stuff. He returned right away, with a kind smile on his face, as he set his things beside him.

“This will hurt a bit,” and it did. The doctor wasn’t surprised to see the boy hissing a bit, as he rubbed the alcohol on the scratches. “You’re quite a mischievous young man, aren’t you?”

Throughout it all, the kid said nothing and watched silently as the older man treated his cuts. Tomoaki didn’t say anything of it, brushing his attitude as shyness, or probably that he was scared of Ran reprimanding him.

“You should be more careful,” the doctor continued. “You don’t want to worry Ran-san, do you?”

Conan looked at him at that, with a frown, then looked away, like he was about to say something to him, but decided not to.

“What is it?” Tomoaki asked the child. “You can ask me whatever you want.”

The kid seemed to hesitate, but gazed into his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he opened his mouth.

“Araide-sensei, what are your intentions with Ran-neechan?”

Tomoaki certainly didn’t expect that question to be asked. “Huh?”

He didn’t expect the kid to scoff at him, either. “You were going to ask that, right?” he accused him, eyes narrowing. “You were going to ask Kogoro-ojisan for Ran-neechan’s hand in marriage, weren’t you?.”

When Tomoaki paused bandaging his leg, Conan honestly believed he had hit the mark. That was it, at least when the young doctor began to laugh under his hand, as if he was attempting to stop himself.

Hey, hey, Conan’s eyebrow began twitching. What’s so funny?

“You got it all wrong,” finally he explained, with an amused smile. “I definitely wasn’t going to ask her hand in marriage.”

“Then you...”

“I actually wanted Ran-san to tell her father I was sorry because I had been rude with him before,” he explained, with such a patience that one would only have with a child. “And that I would be happy to help him if he needs anything.”

Conan just stared at the doctor, blankly, even when the door opened and Ran entered the room, after seemingly having ended her discussion ─ scolding ─ with her father. She sat beside Conan, who was still staring, and glanced at his injuries.

“Is everything okay?” Ran asked facing Tomoaki.

“Yes, it’s just a couple of scratches,” the doctor informed her as he finished bandaging his legs. 

The kid was glad the doctor hadn’t said anything about marriage, or his own theories about marriage proposal. Even so, he noticed Ran shifting uncomfortably on her seat.

“I’m sorry to say this at a time like this but... if it’s okay with you...” both males looked at her, confused. “Could I borrow that handmade sweater for a while?”

Even if he now understood why had she acted like that, he couldn’t understand the reason. At least, until Tomoaki smiled, took off his sweater and gave it to her before going to get a jacket to put over his white shirt.

Conan glanced at Ran, who in turn was looking over the patterns on the sweater, and chuckled lightly, before taking his phone out and typing:

"What I meant is that you need to talk to Ran-neechan, not your little brother.

I'm not your therapist, stupid."

Ran received a call not long thereafter and they talked for hours on end. 

A week after that, she left a beautiful hand-knitted blue sweater at his house, right on top of the bed. 

It disappeared a few days later without a trace and Conan wasn’t a bit surprised about it. Mostly because he had been the one who texted him about the gift.

Too bad his brother had been too sneaky to be caught in the act.

Nearly a month passed uneventfully, a case then and there, but nothing related with the mysterious organization, and April was nearing already, bringing forward another school year in a few days. 

Conan sighed, letting his gaze fall into his feet as kicked a pebble, watching it roll on the path he was currently walking, before doing it once more. With a slight flinch, the kid remembered how angry Ran had been the other day. Her voice while she talked with his brother was so loud that Conan was sure that Azusa from Poirot had heard it as well.

He wouldn’t have been surprised if Hattori Heiji had also heard from all the way to Osaka.

“You can’t be serious, Shinichi! You can’t just drop school!”

That had taken him by surprise, yet at the same time, he figured he should have expected such an outcome. At the time, he had just shook his head and burrowed his face back to a book, preferring to pretend he hadn’t heard that in the first place.

Which failed terribly, because it wouldn’t leave his head just like that.

He had kept in contact with Shinichi, calling each other once in a while, but had yet to say anything about the situation he was in. Conan figured that wasn't going to happen anytime soon.

Speaking of which, his birthday is in a little more than month, he noted. I bet he's going to forget about it, again, this year.

He had no clue, however, what should he get for him. Hell, he didn't even know if he should get him something on the first place, since he didn't even know where he was or if he was planning to visit anytime soon.

The boy stopped for a moment in front of a bookshop, and wondered if his brother would actually enjoy Detective Samonji.

It's still too early, he was about to leave, when a sign caught his attention.

"With the purchase of any mystery book you can participate in a contest for this year’s Sherlock Holmes Freak’s Tour!"

... Maybe I should just get this over with...


Kogoro leaned against his seat, feeling slightly annoyed.

“Ah, A Study in Scarlet... That’s the historic novel in which Sherlock Holmes makes his first appearance!”

“I personally love The Red-Headed League.

“Me! Me! Me!” the famous detective jumped suddenly when the usually quiet child raised his hand, wearing a grin big enough to split his little face. “Mine’s The Sign of Four.

Unlike Kogoro, the rest of the people who were in the van with them were greatly pleased with his statement.

“Oh! That work is world-renowned!”

“You can read kanji?”

Even though he shook his head, his happy expression did not waver. “I read all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works in English.”

“So you read them in their original language?”

“That’s impressive, little boy!”

His unusual, yet in common between the passengers, interest for mystery novels, and his overall high intelligence and cuteness, completely enchanted the group. Kogoro watched, with an eyebrow raised, as he talked and laughed with a bunch of adults that simply seemed to love him.

“Which story is your favourite?” his expression fell when he realized he had been asked a question.

“H-Hmmm... Let’s see... How about And Then They Wanted None...?

It’s And Then There Were None, and certainly not a work from Arthur Conan Doyle, Conan grimaced, feeling embarrassed at the fact that he was with him. Can’t he even get the name right?

Things went sullen after that, and Kogoro couldn’t help but try to shrink away from sight, wishing to simply disappear from that stupid tour. Ran sweatdropped, laughing awkwardly at the situation.

Soon they arrived at the inn, and a man disguised in detective clothes welcomed them inside, before introducing himself as Kanaya. There were another group of people already, waiting for them inside.

To say that Kogoro wasn’t feeling as happy as his little charge was an understanding. Specially when the entire group was whispering about him, telling each other about his absolutely embarrassing display of ignorance about Doyle’s work.

“This man is not just anyone,” Kanaya tried to calm them down. “He’s a famous detective whose work is on par with Holmes’.”

“Mouri Kogoro-san, right? I know who he is,” the one with glasses, Toganou Kento, said, unimpressed. “You’re very good, but you’re nothing in comparison to Sherlock Holmes.”

“I agree,” his girlfriend, Ooki Ayako, nodded. “If you were to actually match wits with him, he’d hang you out to dry.”

“... Who do these guys think they are...?!” Kogoro growled, irritated.

“Technically, they are right,” Conan replied, without giving much thought.

Which probed to be a very unwise move when he received a blow in the middle of his head, causing Ran to worry and begin to fuss over him. 

“Conan-kun!”

“... Conan?!”

The next thing Ran knew was that she was pushed away from her spot, and that Conan was suddenly surrounded by a group of Holmes’ fanatics with big smiles on his face.

“Your name is Conan?”

“Is that true?”

Seemingly not liking that sudden attention, the child blushed a bit, but gave out a insecure nod. “My brother was a fan of Holmes even before I was born, so...”

Sometimes, he blamed Shinichi for choosing such a weird and unusual name for him, and wished he had gotten another, simpler one. While he loved those mystery novels, he believed that the the attention and the weird glances he received every time his name was said was not worth it.

Yet, another more logical part of his mind told him that it was not right to blame him. Shinichi had been only ten at the time, and it was his parents who should’ve known better than to let him name his newborn brother.

But I am younger than he was back then, he sighed, mentally. Even I know not to screw someone’s life with a name.

“It’s a wonderful name!” they all shouted.

Conan blinked a bit then let his shoulders drop. Of course these people would love a name like that. In spite himself, however, he found himself smiling a bit at their appreciation.

Ran also smiled, genuinely relieved to see the mature boy acting like the child he was supposed to be. She was glad Conan had dragged them to that place, even if her father wasn't.

Yet, at the sight of that innocent, childish smile she couldn’t help but be reminded of someone else. Someone she longed to see again.

"He's just like him," she commented more to herself than to anyone else.

"Who?" her father was confused.

"You know, him," she stressed out. "The sly, show-off deductive maniac, Holmes freak who sings off-"

"Although he sings off-key he's a great soccer player..." Conan looked away from the group at the sound of a new voice that was speaking in kansai dialect. "... and he beat me in the last case and ran off somewhere. You mean Kudo Shinichi, right?"

Honestly, Conan couldn't decide whether he felt amazed at the amount of information he had about his brother or utterly creeped out because he knew that much in the first place.

"Hattori-kun!" Ran was stunned. “Are you a Holmes fan too?”

“No, no,” he waved his hand. “I figured that if I came to this tour, I’d be able to run into Kudo.”

Congratulations, Onii-chan, you have your first fanboy, the child thought sarcastically. And he looks like the stalker type.

“Besides, I prefer Ellery Queen to Conan Doyle-” several angry glares made the teen freeze for a moment. “-but I guess Doyle is still the best.”

Only when the glares vanished, replaced by pleased smiles, did the teenager breathe again. Conan wanted to laugh at him, but Kanaya spoke up, and began to present their time table.

“After dinner, as it has become customary every year, everyone will take a challenging deductive reasoning quiz,” the maid came forward, with a thick book that picked Conan’s interest. “And if you get a perfect score on this quiz, believe or not, I will award this first edition of the book A Study in Scarlet, which introduced Sherlock Holmes into this world.”

It wouldn’t be for free, however. He explained that they were only allowed to participate in the next event if they got at least nine hundred and ninety correct questions out of a one-thousand Sherlock Holmes’ quiz.

By morning, the child could say that he had aced the quiz. He believed he had gotten almost all questions right ─ except, probably, for one concerning the Dancing Men that was downright impossible ─ and excitedly waited for the owner of the pension to grade it.

He never showed up, however. Yet, he waited alongside a few others that actually decided to stay. 

It was later than three in the morning when he finally appeared, sitting in a car and driving off a cliff. Heiji and Conan were the first ones to react, jumping off the window and running towards him, but the car sped up.

A blanket covering the dashboard. A weird sound that definitely wasn’t the engine. Those were the only things the young boy noticed before the car fell, exploding into pieces when it hit the ground.

Once they were all together, Kogoro claimed it was a suicide. Thankfully, however, they were surrounded by Holmes’ fans, so everyone else agreed that it had been a murder.

What was that, anyway? That weird noise, Conan dropped onto his knees and started inspecting the tire marks. It could be the air conditioning, but it’s completely dry. Then, what-?

He was brought out from his thoughts when he felt pain on his head, and soon realized he had bumped his head against Heiji’s. He was about to loudly complain about that brat getting in the way, when he realized.

That had actually happened before.

Conan felt a bit uncomfortable under the teenage detective’s gaze, but said nothing. He had absolutely no idea of what was going through his mind.

Not long thereafter, Ayako claimed to know the true culprit with an arrogant smile on her face, only to say she had been mistaken a few minutes later. 

She would stop breathing not long thereafter, burnt to death inside a car.


There was a blackout and Fujisawa was attacked with an ice pick, and would have gotten killed if Heiji hadn’t pushed him away from harm as fast as he did. When the lights turned back on, they noticed the window had been smashed.

Kogoro and everyone else, except for the detective of the west and Conan, believed the owner wasn’t actually dead and was killing people off.

“Damn it, why did the owner come after me?” Fujisawa groaned, as he cradled his injured arm. “And to think I helped him publish his book.”

“Book?” Kogoro was confused.

“It’s a Sherlock Holmes book he published at his own expense. The title was The Scorn of Irene Adler.

The kid could’ve sworn he saw a very intense, angry, look pass by Togano’s face before it went away, almost as if it hadn’t been there in the first place.

Conan pondered about that single, apparently trivial, piece of information while Kogoro stepped closer to the broken window, seemingly ready to chase whatever criminal hanging around outside, when Heiji stopped him.

“Take a good look at the chair,” he pointed out. “It’s oddly positioned because it’s been squeezed into a small space. This is proof that the culprit hurriedly pushed it in after breaking the window.”

“Oh, he’s right!” Conan exclaimed, eyes big and curious, as he kneeled closer to the chair. “There are glass fragments embedded in it! The culprit must have used this chair.”

Conan failed to notice, however, the way the teenage detective’s eyes narrowed, fixed on his small form. He then turned back to Kogoro, and his mind focused again on the case.

As it turned out, the blackout had been planned beforehand, as the plug had been tampered with so it would cause a short circuit when plugged in. Mouri was quick to accuse Kawatsu, since he was the only one without an alibi.

“You’re right about that much,” Heiji nodded, after the older detective had finished talking. “But something doesn’t seem to fit. Right, kid?”

Conan nodded, absentmindedly.

“Unlike the first and second cases, when Fujisawa-san was attacked, the culprit was careless and left clues,” his hand went to his chin as he thought out loud. “It could be that he had not originally planned for the third case.”

It was only at that moment that he realized that everyone was staring into his soul, confused. He tried to laugh it off, awkwardly, while Ran came closer and apologized. 

“He likes to play detective,” she said.

That’s not just playing detective, that’s full-fledged deductive reasoning, Heiji’s suspicions were brought out to light once more, not letting his eyes stray away from the mysterious child. His body and voice are completely different, but it’s as if he was Kudo, his eyes opened, widely. Last time I saw Kudo, the kid wasn’t around... Could he...?

A chill ran down Conan’s back suddenly, leaving him shivering. Slowly, he turned around to see the Detective of the West staring at him, with such an analytical gaze that left the child confused and lost. What’s wrong with that guy? he wondered, raising an eyebrow at him and turning around, doing his best to ignore the teen.

Heiji only looked away from him when he started to explain rigor mortis to the group, and the child sighed, relieved, when he felt the detective’s attention momentarily drifting away from him.

Yet the irritation he felt about the fact that this case was going nowhere ─ Kogoro had just accused Toda, claiming that she had hypnotized the victim into committing suicide ─ was surpassing his ephemeral relief. So, he decided to take a risk.

And walked closer to Heiji.

“Hey, hey,” his sugar coated voice ran through the teen’s ears. “What happens to the body’s rigor mortis if the temperature is raised? If that’s the case, it’s easy to solve, right?”

The boy looked at the child for a moment, before shrugging. “I’m stupid, so I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

His smile faltered, and his eyebrow twitched in irritation. “You do know,” knowing that his innocent child act would get him nowhere with that guy, he accused him. “Aren’t you supposed to be, like, a very famous detective?”

Well, Kogoro was famous too yet he didn’t seem to realize the trick, but he guessed it didn’t count...

“So, do you know, kid?” Heiji smirked at him.

Conan glared at him for a moment, before sighing heavily and starting to walk away, prompting Hattori to give him a curious look.

“Whatever, I’m going to the toilet.”

“Then I’m going, too.”

“Umm, never heard of privacy?”

“We don’t know who the killer is, so you never know when the he is going to strike next, do you?”

“You do.”

“And it seems like you do as well, right?”

Conan gave Heiji a very annoyed look. “I’m going to tell Ran-neechan that you’re bothering me,” he said, with a plain voice.

“And why should I be concerned?”

“She knows karate.”

A wide-eyed Heiji instantly let go, full aware of the implications of that simple fact, causing the kid to stuck his tongue at him, in a very childish way, and taking off running. 

Once he made sure that the hallways were Heiji-free, he started looking for that door.

The owner’s room wasn’t hard to find. It wasn’t locked, either, since they had forced it open a few hours ago to check for clues they didn’t find. Yet, he did manage to find the decisive piece of evidence.

He smirked a bit, as he took the papers on his hands and went back to the room. By that time Heiji had already began his deduction, and judging the horror on Togano's face, he had figured out the killer correctly.

"If that's the case, then show me your proof," the man said, with a smirk on his face. "If you are so sure, you must have some kind of proof, right?"

"Ah-le-le? This is weird," the eyes fell on Conan, who was standing next to Heiji, looking at the papers on his hands, an innocent expression on his features. "This is yours, right, Mister? You forgot to put your name on it."

The man flinched. "No, it's not."

"How can be you sure about that?" the child then smiled sweetly. "Why don't you check it out?"

"But, little boy, a nameless quiz could belong to anyone-"

"Question one: is Holmes right-handed or left handed?"

"What are you doing?"

"I'm just checking your answers. That way we can know if it's yours, right?" the boy replied, a sugary tone on his voice. "Then, question two: what is Dr. Watson's wife's name?"

"That isn't necessary, kid. The owner won't grade them so..."

"Just answer," Heiji's glare shut the suspect up, instantly. 

"Well... How about..." the young boy hummed to himself as he went through the pages. "Ah! This one will do. Question two hundred and forty-one: what was the content of the message Holmes wrote using the Dancing Men?"

"Ah, that question. I remember it well," cold sweat was collecting on his brow. "The answer was: 'Come here at once!'"

The way the child smiled, devilishly, made the man falter. He didn't realize where he had messed up, until he heard the others whispering with each other. There was no such a question at all.

"Sorry, I read it wrong, but isn't it strange you would forget that question in particular? It was really hard!" the child continued. "And here I was worried that you couldn't answer a single question, considering you are a big fan of Holmes-san, but it turns out you didn't even look at it. That's a relief!"

“W-Wait...”

“But to think that you knew it would be pointless to do the quiz before anyone else... You are amazing, Togano-san! Just like Holmes-san!”

Realizing his error, the suspect went as white as the papers on Conan’s hand. The Detective of the West stepped up, sharp eyes looking at him as he finished his deduction. 

Togano then confessed killing the owner and trying to murder Fujisawa, all because he despised the book they wrote together, The Scorn of Irene Adler. He said that Irene would never mock Sherlock.

I don’t think I will ever understand what could cause a human kill another, Conan thought, contemplating the killer, who had fallen into his knees, crying his eyes off. Yet, killing someone because of a badly written fanfiction? 

Technically, it wasn’t fanfiction, his mind supplied, but he shrugged it off, and looked up at Heiji, who had just turned around. His sharp eyes met with his and it made the child wonder what was all of that about.

At least, until Hattori spoke.

“You’re Kudo, right?”

Conan froze for a moment, eyes wide as he wondered. How did he figure it out? he thought about anything that could’ve given his real identity away, but he couldn’t find anything. How did he figure out that my last name is not Edogawa?!

Luckily, everyone’s attention was focused on the killer.

“W-What are you talking about?” he panicked a bit because, even if his parents wouldn’t tell him, there must be another important reason behind having his name changed, more than the unwanted fame. “My name is Edogawa Conan. Edogawa.

Heiji kneeled in front of him, so he could stare into his eyes at his level.

“Stop playing games!” he accused, pressing his index finger against his tiny chest. “Your body is small and your voice is different, but your way of reasoning and expressing yourself are unmistakably that of Kudo Shinichi!”

... Excuse me?

Blinking twice, Conan’s shoulders dropped and all the tension he had been feeling before disappeared with that single sentence. Heiji noticed the change, which only puzzled him, and stared into those eyes that used to be scared and surprised. 

The child just gave him a plain, bored look, as if he wondered whether the Detective of the West was serious or merely joking around.

“Seriously, what are you even talking about?” the cute little kid act was completely gone at this point. “In case you didn’t notice, I am a kid.”

“Oh, I see,” he said, unconvinced. Then stood up, turning to Ran with a big smile on his face. “Hey, listen. I’ve got a real interesting story. You know what?”

Conan was startled when he felt hands sliding under his armpits and his feet leaving the ground. Suddenly was face to face to a blinking Ran. 

Hey, hey, he can’t be serious, can he?

“You said you didn’t know where Kudo is, right?” that sentence was enough for Conan to realize that, yes, he was serious about this. “I bet you’re dying to know where he is. Do you want to know?”

“Sure, I’m curious, but...” she glanced at the sweatdropping child for a moment, before turning back to the detective. “What does Conan-kun have to do with it?”

Heiji smirked and Conan calmly waited for it.

“Because that Kudo Shinichi...” he raised him higher and closer to the clueless girl, his smile widening, if possible. “... is right here!”

...

...

...

The silence was deafening.

Heiji blinked. He had expected the girl to be shocked, but this was different. So much different than any reaction he had seen after telling someone a shocking and awesome deduction. Ran’s eyebrows were brought together and her lips were twitching upwards, an awkward smile adorning her features.

She had even taken a step back. 

“Don’t joke like that, Hattori-kun,” Ran let out a strangled laugh.

“I’m not joking! This kid is Kudo!” he tried to make her see reason, yet only managed to get her to take another step away from him. “Can’t you see it? Kudo must have shrunk or something!”

Then, in a desperate attempt to convince the girl, he looked back at Conan. He was about to point out how distressed he looked, definitely after getting discovered, but he found something completely different.

There was not reaction at all from the little boy, besides the way his left eyebrow raised far above his hairline. 

It was at that moment that the teenage detective realized there might actually be a tiny little flaw in his deduction.

Chapter Text

“You have to be kidding me,” Heiji sighed, facepalming, hard, as they sat beside each other on the bus that was going to take them back home. “You are telling me you’re actually Kudo’s younger brother?”

“Yeah.”

“... And that you are an actual seven year-old?”

“If you really are one of the best detectives in Japan, I honestly fear about the future of our country. ”

“Hey, you can’t blame me! You’re a weird one, kid,” Conan thought he should feel very offended for that, but he really didn’t care enough. “For all I know, that crazy professor Kudo has for a neighbor could have made him a drug to make him shrink... or something.”

“A shrinking drug? Really?”

“Look, it sounded like a good theory at the time. Terribly insane, yeah, but a plausible one.”

Conan laughed, hard, at the stupid conclusion the Osakan detective had gotten to, which only made him scowl at him and look back at the window.

“I’m a bit surprised, and very scared, about the fact you even know about Professor Agasa, yet you didn’t know about me,” Conan continued, after he had calmed down a bit. “Well, it shouldn’t be that shocking. My parents really outdid themselves to hide my existence to the public. Even going as far as changing my family name.”

“Why would they do that? That’s a bit overboard, if you ask me.”

“To let me live a normal life... That’s what they said, at least.”

“There’s more to that, isn’t there?”

Conan hesitated, fixing his conflicted blue eyes to his lap. He barely knew this guy and there was little he knew about him, besides that he was an idiot with an even bigger ego than his brother's.

Yet, Hattori Heiji was a detective, a good one, and seemed to be more than willing to search for Shinichi. There was much more than Conan, an elementary school student, could do.

"He doesn't know that I know about this, but Shinichi-niichan seems to have messed up with a dangerous organization."

“Organization?” Heiji went deadly serious at that. “What do you know about them?”

“Not much. Only that they wear black and they have alcohol-themed codenames,” the child told him. “So far, I’ve encountered Gin, Vodka and Sherry. There was also Tequila, but he got caught at an explosion and-”

“Hold it there, kid!” the teen was shocked, holding both his shoulders. “You’re telling me you actually-!”

“Only from afar. I didn’t make direct contact with any of them.”

Except, maybe, Sherry. He had actually came face to face with that enigmatic girl once, but he had yet to figure out why she had let him go just like that. And she must have kept it quiet every since, because he would be pretty dead by now if that wasn’t the case.

Heiji gave him a long look before sighing, tiredly, and leaning back on his seat. Finding Kudo would be so much difficult than what he had previously believed, it seemed.

“If he is hiding from them, it makes sense that he would run away so suddenly at that time,” Heiji thought out loud. “Even in the condition he was in.”

“Condition?”

“Yeah, Kudo dropped to his knees at some point, clutching at his chest and breathing rapidly,” Conan’s eyes widened at that. “He looked like he was in some sort of pain.”

Severe chest pains. Shortness of breath.

And then, when I saw him... he was deathly pale. Sweating profusely.

He was confused. There was no doubt that those symptoms looked too much like those of a heart disease, at least too much for his comfort. Yet, he couldn’t remember Shinichi having heart problems before, more on the contrary. 

The teenage detective had always been healthy, even more than Conan himself. 

Then why...

“There is absolutely no possibility of a human surviving after taking that drug,” Sherry’s words rang on his mind, again and again, and he suddenly felt sick. 

Onii-chan... Seriously, what the hell did you get into?

The child was so deeply immersed inside his own thoughts that he didn’t notice Hattori staring at him, eyes narrowed as he analyzed him.

“It looks like I lost from start to finish this time,” Hattori asked, with a defeated smile, as he watched his fellow detective lean tiredly against the wall. “That was good of you, Kudo. Your deductions were superior to mine.”

“Stupid,” Kudo shook his head. “In detective work, there’s no winning or losing... there’s no being superior or inferior... That’s because... there is always one and only truth.”

Heiji’s eyes widened in surprise, as he let those words sink in. At least, until Shinichi suddenly dropped into his knees, hand pressing against his chest, and his breathing becoming shallower.

“Hey, Kudo! Are you okay?” he asked him, even if he knew the Detective of the East was far from okay.

Even so, the teen managed to stand up, with some difficulty. “H-Hattori,” he managed, between gasps. “Please tell Inspector Megure that I asked to keep my involvement with this in secret.”

Heiji blinked. “Why?” he asked, confused.

Shinichi let out a chuckle, as he slowly began walking ─ stumbling ─ towards the door.

“Because it wouldn’t be fair if I got the credit for it. I was only giving that deduction in someone else’s place.”

And, with that, the boy walked through the doorway and soon disappeared from Heiji’s sight. For a moment Hattori thought about chasing him, but then decided against it. He needed to tell Megure to keep this quiet before it was too late.

At first, Hattori hadn’t thought much about that. When he had came into his erroneous ─ and pretty stupid ─ conclusion from before, he had brushed it off as nonsense he had made up to throw him off.

But looking at the young boy, eyebrows ceased together in concentration and the fingers cradling his chin, he realized it. Was this kid the person Kudo had been talking about? Hattori then laughed, softly, turning his gaze to the window. 

For a moment, he thought he should feel ashamed to be beaten by a feverish first grader in the art of deduction, but soon he shook it off.

In detective work there’s no winning or losing, huh?

That kid is something else, though.

"Say," it wasn't until much later that Conan found his voice again. "Do you think he-? Whoa!"

He was startled when he felt himself picked up, so raised his head to see who was holding him. Ran leaned over and whispered in his ear.

“You should stay away from him, Conan-kun,” the girl warned him. “Hattori-kun is a bit...”

“Hey, I can still hear you!” protested Heiji.

Ran said nothing, just held him closer to her chest before walking away. He was then set on her lap, beside her already snoring father, a few seats behind from where they had been.

He couldn’t help but snicker, however, at the sight of Heiji turning around to look at the group and cringe, awkwardly, before sitting back, hidden by his own seat. Conan could tell he was embarrassed, it the blush on his cheeks was something to go by.


Spring vacation was far from over, yet it was raining quite heavily. Conan didn’t mind, really, as it meant he could stay indoors reading for as long as he wanted too, in peace, without having his friends coming over to play soccer for the sixth time this week. 

As much as he liked his friends, he enjoyed his time alone a lot.

The quietness of the night was suddenly broken with a loud noise of a door closing violently, downstairs. Startled, and a bit worried, he rushed to the office.

Honestly, Conan could’ve expected a lot of scenarios when he opened the door ─ a robbery, a murder, the organization ─ but a rather pissed off Ran wasn't among them.

"What?" Conan was shocked beyond words. "You saw Shinichi-niichan on Shibuya?!"

“Yeah, I did!” she shouted, angrily. “And he didn’t say one word to me! Isn’t that rude?!”

Conan blinked, puzzled. Incredibly rude, yes, but also so very unlikely to happen. It was hard to imagine his brother giving the cold shoulder to his childhood friend ─ and crush ─ just like that.

“He probably got tired of you,” Kogoro said, as he drank from his beer can. “Just forget about that mystery freak.”

To say that Conan felt irritated at such a tactless comment was an understanding.

“I guess so,” Ran replied, a dejected expression on his face. “He was walking with another girl.”

Conan looked at the girl with a sad expression, when it came to him.

Last Christmas’ Eve, he had passed by someone who looked too much like Shinichi. He would’ve said he was his carbon copy, if it wasn’t for his hair ─ curly and unbelievable messy, opposed to Shinichi’s naturally straight, easy-to-tame hair. 

His eyes then fell on the window, and focused on the water drops running down the glass. An umbrella... She couldn’t have had a good look at him if he carried an umbrella.

“It was a different person!” Ran sent him a glare, and he pressed further. “No, I’m serious! I think I saw that person before!”

The girl blinked, confusedly at him. “You did?”

“Yeah! He looked exactly like Shinichi-niichan, but his hair was completely different. He was carrying a umbrella, wasn’t he? That would explain why you couldn't tell them apart.”

She stared at him, blankly, for a few seconds before her eyes narrowed in suspicion.

"You're making this up, aren't you?"

"Eh...? Not really."

Ran let go after a while, evidently not believing a single word the child had said. It was a bit frustrating, but he dropped the topic as soon as Kogoro started talking about that jewel thief Sonoko wanted him to catch.

“It’s Kaito 1412,” Ran explained, a bit exasperated about the fact that the detective couldn’t even remember the name. “I have a copy of the strange note from him that was delivered to Sonoko’s place.”

Ran took a piece of paper from her pocket and showed it to Kogoro. Letting curiosity take the best of him, Conan walked to the desk and peered from behind the detective to take a look.

“April’s fool.

When the moon divides two people under the name of Black Star pushed by the waves I will arrive.

─ Kaitou...”

The name was torn off because Sonoko’s father had ripped it away, furiously, so Sonoko and Ran had to piece it back together. Conan gave it a long, analytical look before snapping a photo at the note with his phone, without anyone noticing, and excused himself to bed.

Once there, he sat on his futon, phone in hand, opening the navigator instantly. It was time for a little research.

Unsurprisingly, little was known about the elusive thief. Only that he had first appeared eighteen years ago in Paris, and mysteriously disappeared ten years later. For some reason, he had came back not that long ago, and was constantly terrorizing Japan.

Well, not terrorizing, exactly. More like stealing expensive jewels only to return them not long thereafter. Conan failed to understand why he would do such a thing. He isn’t replacing them for fake ones either, he noted. Jewels were usually checked after every single one of the thief’s heists, and they were as real as they can be.

The media just thought that he just liked to play around, but Conan was highly unconvinced. Nobody would go this far just to make a good joke. There was some hidden motive behind his actions, and the child was determined to find out. 

Even so, it was because of this attitude that a writer had nicknamed him KID. And that was it. The thief called himself Kaito KID just because it sounded cool.

And there he was now, standing elegantly under the moonlight, white cape fluttering through the wind while he smirked down at him, as if he had foreseen everything that was about to come. Conan was could only stare for a moment, before he smiled like a cute little child.

He was all alone with the thief. All because Kogoro had came into the wrong conclusion a few days ago and now he was with the police, waiting at the wrong place.

“Ah, it’s KID-san!” the child smiled, adorably.

As the thief walked closer to him, a grin on his face, Conan noted he couldn’t be older than his brother. Which was strange, considering he was supposed to be have disappeared eighteen years ago, as a grown man. 

“Yo, kid,” Conan was startled for a moment. “What are you doing at a place like this?”

The moonlight shone on his face and, for a moment, he saw a familiar face. Not only that, his voice and physique was almost the same.

Could he...?

He shook that thought instantly.

“I wanted to see you,” he turned around and kneeled down in front of what he had prepared. “Let’s celebrate, KID-san.”

The fireworks lighted up the sky, and KID didn’t seem to react to it. Soon there was an helicopter surrounding the building they were in. Conan feigned surprise and worry as he looked back at him.

“Oh, sorry, I messed up!” he clapped his hands together as he apologized. “The police seems to have seen us.”

Kaito KID just chuckled, amused for some reason.

“You’re not an ordinary brat, little boy. What’s your name?”

Conan smirked back, letting his act drop. “Edogawa Conan,” he replied, easily. “A detective.”

“Oh~?”

“Don’t you have something to be more worried about, now? Like, the police that is coming for you.”

KID brought his hand to his chin, as if he was thinking. Conan’s eyes narrowed, slightly, as he checked him over with his gaze.

His actions and mannerisms are completely different, but... his hands were behind his back, readying his wrist watch. His intelligence, voice and overall appearance seems to match. 

He was going to do it, the moment he turned around to flee. There’s only one way to know, he only had only one chance. I will unmask you and find the truth, Kaito KID!

Conan was brought out his thoughts when the thief in white pulled out a radio from nowhere. 

“This is Chaki,” his voice had changed, dramatically. “I have sighted Kaito KID on the rooftop of the Haido City Hotel.”

What the...?

The elementary school student didn’t know if what was more surprising. For one, the thief was easily changing his voice without the need for a special device. For other, he was luring them to the place where he was.

Could he be just playing with them?

No, there must be another reason.

He found would find out soon enough, he realized. Soon, the dark night sky was illuminated by the helicopters surrounding the thief, who in turn just gave the young boy a smug smile.

“Are you satisfied now, tantei-kun?”

The child in question was too shocked to reply, even more so when Inspector Nakamori and more police officers bursted in, pointing guns at an unfaced, and very amused, KID.

“Tonight is just a practice drill. I have no intention of stealing it.”

“The note,” Conan’s eyes opened in realization as he mumbled. “April’s fool.”

“Oh, that’s not bad at all!” the child had to suppress the urge to raise his eyebrow when the thief clapped with a grin. Then, his cape turned into a hang glider.

A flash bomb was dropped and Conan had to shield his eyes.

“Hey, kid, did you know?” he could heard him say. “A thief is a creative artist who takes his prey in style, but a detective is nothing more than a critic who follows our footsteps.”

And just like that, the thief vanished into the still night, leaving a note behind as the only proof he had been there:

“On April 19, aboard the Queens Elizabeth, which embarks from Yokohama Harbor,

I will arrive to steal the real Black Star.

─ Kaito KID.”


He also left behind a very confused and equally annoyed seven year-old detective.

Exactly nineteen days later, Conan was boarding the cruise with an analytical look behind his thick glasses. His eyes narrowed and darted across the room, cursing under his breath that right now everyone looked suspicious.

With that vocal range and a good disguise, sneaking in shouldn’t be a problem for him.

And soon he was proved right, when they realized that Sonoko’s father was still on his home, instead of the party, even if he had just been seen giving a speech. Conan found his clothes in the bathroom not long thereafter.

“Ran sure is taking a long time,” Kogoro frowned. The girl had just went to search for Conan, who in turn had been running around looking for clues, and had yet to return. 

“She probably got lost somewhere,” Sonoko offered. “Ran’s direction-impaired, after all.”

Conan sighed, tiredly. Might as well go search for her. If everything his brother had told him about Ran is that her sense of direction is so bad that she would stay lost for days until someone could find her. 

Mostly Shinichi would be the first to spot her, and the child had been told that fact hadn’t changed ever since childhood. Conan had teased him about that fact, and he had just claimed it was part of his work as a detective, blushing furiously as he said that.

“... I’m direction-impaired, am I?”

The small boy was shocked to see the girl standing behind Sonoko, with a slightly annoyed expression on her face. When did she...?

He was brought out of his thoughts when Superintendent Chaki started to speak. He claimed that KID was a master of disguise and that he might be among them. The man asked everyone to pair up with someone and decide on a password.

This is utterly useless, Conan rolled his eyes. If KID is among us already, it will be for nothing.

“Hey,” the kid looked at Ran when she spoke. “What should ours be?”

For a moment Conan was about to tell her to drop it, when something occurred to him. He just smiled, cutely, and whispered in her ear.

“Okay, so when I say ‘Holmes’...”

“I’ll say ‘Lupin’,” she nodded.

Lupin? his eyes did not leave her, even as she turned around to see the lights flickering out. Knowing Ran-neechan, she would’ve picked something like Watson, or even Irene. Definitely not a thief.

He ignored the fake KID appearing and Sonoko’s mother shooting him for a show. Conan already knew who the thief was, anyway. 

Like so, the child kept silent as he observed Ran, who just fell into her knees to help the magician pick up the cards he had dropped.


“Hey, Conan-kun,” Ran called, looking around, when they stopped walking.

KID had successfully managed to steal the Black Star chaos had broken in the Queens Elizabeth, the police desperate to find the thief a few moments ago. Right after Sonoko’s mother screamed, claiming to have lost the pearl, Conan had simply started walking, claiming to have finally found out who KID was.

“What?” the boy asked, not even giving her a glance. His eyes, instead, focused on a soccer ball that just lied there, abandoned, and began play with it, kicking it around.

She just blinked at him.

“This is the engine room,” she pointed out with a weirded smile on her face.

“Yeah, I noticed,” he replied, voice flat and bored. “I wonder what gave it away.”

Ran’s smile dropped and frowned at him. “That was unusually rude coming from you, Conan-kun.”

“Speaking of unusual behavior, I thought you were a nice girl who highly valued justice.”

The room was quiet and the ball stopped moving, pressed against the floor with Conan’s foot. He turned around, his eyes hidden by the light refracting on his glasses.

“I didn’t expect you to resort to thievery, Ran-neechan... Or should I say Kaito KID-san?”

For a second, the imposter was shocked. Then, ‘Ran’ seemed to calm down and started to giggle. 

“Don’t joke like that, Conan-kun-”

“I never joke when it concerns crime. If you were Ran-neechan, you would know that already.”

“Fine,” the thief went to the phone. “If you doubt me so much, let’s call the police and-”

Kaito KID had the shock of his life when a soccer ball was shot at his face, with such a strength that made him wonder what did little kids have for breakfast nowadays. Luckily he moved around just in time and missed his face just by an inch, shattering the phone behind him.

“I might be a child, but I wasn’t born yesterday. Did you really think I was going to let you pull the same stupid stunt twice in a row?”

Then, something on his eyes shone that made KID’s hair stand on point. There was fire, anger between those young eyes. 

“Now, unless you want this in your face, you’ll tell me,” he spoke, dangerously, motioning at the ball on his feet. “Where is Ran-neechan?”

“Calm down, calm down, tantei-kun,” the thief said quickly, hoping to appease the very angry little child. “She’s fine. Just sleeping in a lifeboat.”

It didn’t make him feel better, but at least he calmed down a bit after being assured that his sister figure was safe ─ at least, calmed down enough not to break his nose or something. 

Yet, the way the thief’s voice had changed to his original one, the one that resembled too much his brother’s for his liking, was weird.

Not to say that it was rather creepy to see Ran using Shinichi’s voice. 

Despite himself, he shivered a bit.

“Maybe you should hurry up. I borrowed these clothes from that girl, and she might catch a cold,” he pulled a pink bra from his chest. “I’m a perfectionist when it comes to disguises.”

“Not that much, apparently, considering Ran-neechan usually wears sports bra.”

Kaito KID was scandalized. “How did you-?!”

“I don’t, really. Just wanted a reaction,” he smirked. “Thanks to you, now I know you truly didn’t steal her clothes.”

The thief stared at the kid, with an amused expression, and pulled sunglasses out of nowhere. The light blinded the child for a moment and, with a puff of smoke, the criminal disappeared, the door left open on his escape.

He didn’t waste any time and took off running after him. It was fruitless, because he soon lost track of him. It was like he had vanished into thin air.

As if he had never been there.

The child sighed, tiredly, leaning into the rails of the ship, eyes fixed on the black waves gently rocking the surface he stood in.

There was something on his pocket, covered in a cloth, he realized. His eyebrow started to twitch when he looked at the black pearl resting on the palm of his hand.

Damn it, that cheap, old fashioned Tuxedo Mask wanna-be.

“A thief is a creative artist who takes his prey in style, but a detective is nothing more than a critic who follows our footsteps.”

He closed his hand tightly against the jewel.

Creative artist, yeah right. 

Conan let out a long sigh, putting the pearl back on his pocket, resting his face against the rails.

At least there was something he was completely sure of. The Shinichi he knew would never speak ill about the work of a detective. He would never put Ran to sleep and use her as a disguise.

He smiled, brightly. Yes, because he knew his brother.

Then it came back to him. Gin, Vodka. Their cold eyes. Shinichi nodding at them while looking at the photo of someone else’s face.

The gun. The muzzle on Conan’s face. Shinichi’s icy blue eyes staring at him.

His smile faltered.

Chapter Text

Conan had another bad dream that night and he was quite tired of it. This time around he had absolutely no idea what had triggered it on his mind, but it did. Luckily, however, nobody noticed his whimpers over Kogoro’s loud snoring.

He unlocked the phone and it opened to an internet random search. Ah, that’s why, he realized. The child had fallen asleep while investigating about a certain case that had popped into his mind suddenly.

The fire of Ekoda Hospital.

He didn’t know why he had forgotten about that ─ he hadn’t remembered it until he recalled seeing his brother talking with Gin last April. Conan figured he hadn’t wanted to remember it. 

There wasn’t much about it that he hadn’t heard already when had heard it on the news. The only victim had been the head doctor, Watanabe Satoshi, whose body had been so damaged that they wouldn’t have recognized him if it wasn’t for his teeth marks.

As brutal as sad as the death seemed to be, the police hadn’t managed to find anything that could lead it to be either murder or suicide. So, they had labeled it as a tragic accident.

Or was it...?

What am I even thinking? Conan let himself fall back on his futon, groaning as he massaged his forehead. His head had started to hurt from thinking too much. 

He wouldn’t... Onii-chan wouldn’t...

His little hand clenched around his phone.


Conan glanced around, in awe, as he walked behind Kogoro and Ran through the impressively big garden. The famous detective had gotten a case and it was from the chairman of the Nagato Group himself, so evidently the man was proud of himself, and certain that he would solve the case.

“Hey,” at some point, Ran dragged her father closer to her so she could whisper on his ear. “What does such an important person want from you?”

“The chairman himself requested the great detective Mouri Kogoro,” he puffed out his chest. “He wants me to solve a difficult case.”

“Or maybe it’s just another case of adultery,” Conan pointed out, blatantly ignoring the killer glare he received from the older man. “Which doesn’t mean it’s not a difficult one, considering Kogoro-ojisan.”

“Watch your mouth, you little-!”

Just as he was about to hit him across the head, Conan ducked, causing Kogoro to lose his balance and stumble forward. Both daughter and child stared at the fallen detective, who had gotten struck on one of the many holes around the pond.

The butler panicked and the little boy sweatdropped. 

Yeah, this is the famous great detective, Mouri Kogoro...

They got inside right after that embarrassing scene and climbed up the stairs. As he did, Conan’s curious eyes couldn’t help but wander towards the group of police. 

It looks like a serious case, he blinked. Wait... Was Occhan actually right?

It turned out he hadn’t, since the bedridden and sick chairman had only requested the detective ─ an old friend of his had recommended Kogoro ─ to find his first love as soon as possible. When he heard that, Conan snickered, but looked away when he noticed Kogoro glaring at him, with a very threatening look on his eyes.

His lips remained curved upward, though.

“Anyway, who’s the old friend that recommended me?”

The door opened. “It’s me,” and a man appeared. Conan recognized him as one of the people he had seen with the police downstairs.

“He’s the Osaka Prefecture Police Headquarters Chief,” the chairman introduced him. “Hattori Heizo-kun.”

While the other two were surprised about his important position, Conan couldn’t help but think about something else. Hattori? Wait, does that mean that...?

“Hey, long time no see!”

As he had expected, Hattori Heiji’s grinning face popped up from the doorway. He took a step forward, in order to ask him what he was doing here, when a female hand rested on his shoulder. 

Ran was looking at Heiji, with an awkward smile on her face.

“Hey...” the teenage boy huffed at her reaction, a bit annoyed.

It took Conan roughly twenty minutes to finally convince the girl that, yes, it was perfectly safe to stand less than a six feet away from him, that, yes, he wasn’t going to take anything he said seriously, and and that, yes, he might be a bit insane, but he was a good guy. Probably.

Heiji had tried to ignore the duo as they discussed his mental health. It was a tiny bit embarrassing, if the detective of the West was being honest.

Finally, the girl agreed with the child. That didn’t stop her from glancing towards the boy from time to time, especially when the two seemed to talk to each other. 


Nagato Mitsuaki, the chairman’s son-in-law, had been killed that night.

It had begun with a phone call. Mitsuaki had said that he couldn’t find Hideomi, the chairman’s eldest son, when he suddenly screamed. He had claimed that he had been stabbed and that he was on the room right below them.

When they looked down from the balcony they saw a bandaged man with a knife on his mouth. Their gazes met with the emotionless eyes of a cold-blooded killer.

Miyuki had stayed behind, crying her eyes out, as the others ran downstairs. The doors had been locked causing the butler to rush to look for the key.

By the time they had entered, the room was completely empty. It hadn’t been until a few seconds that Conan found the body, impaled by the fence.

Taking advantage that everyone was paying attention to Nobuko’s story about the fire that had ruined Hideomi’s face, Conan grabbed into the hem of Heiji’s shirt and dragged him out the room.

“Hey, hurry up and tell me,” the kid said to him. “Why are we here?”

“Heh, you’re sharp,” Conan did not bat an eye at that. “The truth is that the chairman said he heard a strange noise last night.”

“A strange noise?”

“Yeah, the sound of someone running quietly in the hallway in the middle of the night, and the sounds of objects colliding over and over again.”

Conan did not reply, just brought a hand to his chin as he thought, lost on his own little world. Meanwhile, Heiji waited for him to finish whichever chain of thought he was right now, amused at the way his eyes glinted a little bit as he tried to connect the dots.

“Premeditated murder, huh?” the brilliant child finally said, after a while. “That’s why you called Occhan, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, something like that.”

Without another word, the little boy sprinted away to the crime scene, pretending to be a very curious child. But Heiji knew he wasn’t as innocent as he was pretending to be. He could see the way his eyes sharpened at the sight of the stab wound on Mitsuaki’s hand, or how he througoutfully scanned the area, trying to get any piece of information he could.

Even if he was small, the kid acted exactly like a detective. Guess it runs down in the family.

They didn’t find Hideomi until two days later. They discovered it after they Mitsuaki dropped her father’s beloved fountain pen and had to dry the pond. His body was there, underwater, hidden from plain sight. There was also a suicide note, where he had claimed being the one behind the murder.

Yet Conan and Heiji knew it wasn’t the case. Hideomi had most likely died before the crime had been committed.

The kid sneaked away again and managed to interrogate some people that worked there. He only discovered that Hideomi had eaten a lot more than usual on the past days and that a bed sheet had been missing ever since.

Frowning slightly, he began to think it over.

What does this have to do with anything?

“Hey, kid,” Heiji appeared suddenly inside the kitchen, where he had been asking the personal. “You might want so check this out.”

They went outside and went all around the house. There, Heiji pointed at Mitsuaki’s balcony, and he saw a dent on the bottom, like something had hit that spot. The same mark was also on Nobuko’s balcony ─ lots of them, he realized after taking a closer look.

Heiji blinked when the boy took off running, away. “Hey!” he called, and the child stopped, looking at him, confusedly. “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to check it out.”

“... Check what out...?” the Osakan teenager felt a bead of sweat rolling down his forehead. “You don’t mean...?”

Rolling his eyes at him the little boy continued his way, and Heiji had no other option but to reluctantly follow him. As soon as they reached Nobuko’s room, the detective began to regret his decision.

“This isn’t really a good idea,” Heiji voiced, but Conan had already slipped inside, looking under the bed. “This isn’t any different from a burglar.”

“It’s fine, it’s fine,” he shrugged off, checking the drawers. “A child can’t really be charged for burglary.”

“And what about me?” the Detective of the West pressed further, closing the door behind his back.

Conan paused to give him a plain look. “Why are you asking me ?” then he continued. “You’re the adult here... or, rather, the closest to adulthood between the two of us. Make your own decisions.”

“Listen, kid-!”

“You might want to lower your voice a bit. The walls aren’t exactly soundproof, Hattori-san. While I can’t be charged for breaking in, you certainly can.”

Heiji’s eyebrow started twitching, involuntarily, and as soon as he was considering if getting persecuted for child murder ─ as well as invasion of private property ─ was really that bad, the phone beside him started ringing, loudly. He froze on place, his mind panicking.

Yet the kid calmly picked up the phone, and placed his bowtie in front of his mouth. “Yes,” Heiji wondered if he was actually going insane when he heard the voice of a older woman coming from the kid’s lips. “This is Nobuko.”

To say that the great detective of the West was stunned was more than an understatement. He knew for a fact that this kid, Kudo Conan ─ or Edogawa Conan, as he went by ─ was unlike any other seven year-old he had previously met. While other children would struggle with multiplication tables, this one aced deductive reasoning. He was bright and very intelligent, smarter than most adults, even.

His shock died down not long thereafter and an amused smirk appeared on his face.

Conan finished the call, with the other being no wiser that he was actually talking to a child. It turned out Nobuko had been calling this person two days ago, at the time of the crime.

“So it was not her...” the kid concluded. “It must have been Hideomi-san, but..”

“Okay, let’s go and search Hideomi-han’s room.”

Heiji was out the room in an instant, followed by the child. The little one eyed him for a bit, until he chuckled. “Who’s the burglar now?”

“I need to step up on my game,” he told the child, his hand resting on the knob. “I can’t let a kid like you beat me.”

“Idiot, somebody got murdered. This is not a competition.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

The kid just gave him a long look, before walking towards a random pile of books, and began looking for clues. Heiji shrugged and did the same, even if he couldn’t get around the fact that a mere child had just scolded him for being highly insensitive.

A recorded message on Hideomi’s phone was all they needed to figure out who was the killer. Checking on Mitsuaki’s room, the pair found a dirty sheet, a swimming cap and a syringe smeared with blood, and smiled to each other. Things were looking up.


Hattori was startled when a small hand took Miyuki’s fountain pen ─ which he had held on before and was supposed to give back to its owner ─ and raised it in front of his eyes, looking at it closely. Placing it back on top of the table, he grabbed into another pen that randomly laid around.

“Hattori-san,” he stretched his hand at him. “Hold into my watch. Tightly.”

“Eh? What do you-?”

“Just do it already.”

Hesitantly, the boy wrapped his fingers around the strap and the child pulled. He honestly had no idea what the kid was trying to prove, until he felt a sharp pain on his hand, that prompted him to let go instantly. “Oww!” he cried in pain. “What do you think you are doing, you little-?!”

“Evidence,” the child replied without blinking, putting the pen away, and pointed at the very red spot on Heiji’s hand. “There was a weird and very stabbing wound on Mitsuaki’s hand. With my strength, I could barely scratch you, but an adult...”

Heiji’s eyes opened in realization, looking back at Miyuki’s pen, thus realizing that the tip was strangely bent. “Oh, I see,” then, he glared at the child. “But you could’ve just told me that without having to do that demonstration.”

He shrugged. “I was channeling some stress.”

What am I? Heiji’s eyebrow twitched. A punching bag?

“Hattori-kun!” came Ran’s voice as she opened the door, Miyuki trailing behind. “So this is where you were. Why don’t you give Miyuki-san’s fountain pen back to her?”

Hattori rubbed the back of his head, apologizing quickly as he handed it back to her. Meanwhile, Ran took Conan’s little hand. “Come, we’re going home now, Conan-kun,” she told him. “That’s enough playing detective for a day. It’s late.”

“Huh? What time is it now?” Hattori asked.

Both detectives noticed the way Miyuki glanced at her wrist for less than a second, then turned to the wall clock. “It’s ten to seven.”

“Good, the stores are open!” he grasped the list he had been writing a few minutes before, using Miyuki’s pen, and handed it to Ran. “Ran-neechan, sorry to bother you, but can you go buy this for me?”

“Uh... Okay...”

“Please call everyone up to the room right above Nobuko-han’s an hour for now,” in a swift moment, he plucked Conan from the ground and ran off, with the child under his arm. “And I am borrowing this kid!”

Ran wanted to stop him, but she just watched as the detective scurried away, carrying Conan with him. “Honestly, what’s wrong with that guy?” she sighed.


“Okay, so are you absolutely sure you can do that part?” Conan asked him, after discussing what they were going to do. “It’s a bit risky.”

“It’s not like you can do it, can you?” the child tsked at that sentence, earning a laugh from the Detective of the West, while he turned around to the door. “Sorry, sorry. I’ll be okay. My climbing skills aren’t actually that bad.”

As Heiji moved, Conan’s eyes noticed something that was resting on the table, that had been hidden by the Osakan teen’s body just a few seconds ago. Instantly after that, he climbed up the table and opened the thermos that had just caught his eye.

Realization dawned on him, prompting his eyes to widen slightly and his lips to press together.

“You idiot!” a six year-old burst inside on the hospital room, panting like he had been running. He probably had. “What were you thinking?”

The high school detective watched his brother with a weak smile, as he laid on bed. There was a bandage wrapped all around his neck, where the killer had accidentally slashed through.

It was a miracle the cut hadn’t been too deep, the doctors had said. It would itch for a long time, and talking would be a pain for a few months, but he would be okay. 

But why...?

“Wait, Hattori-san,” the child called, successfully stopping the older boy from leaving. “Help me with something before you leave.”

He would’ve done it alone, but the thermos was too heavy for a little boy to hold, let alone change its contents.

“Gasoline,” Conan said to the detective before he could ask. Heiji understood what he meant right away.


"I’m here, Hattori-kun. What did you need to talk to me about?" said Inspector Megure as he entered the room, followed by everyone else. He just found Conan inside, however, sitting on a chair with his back facing the balcony. "Conan-kun? Where’s Hattori-kun?"

The little boy shrugged, innocently. "Hattori-san just told me to wait for you on this room," he told them. "I guess he forgot something."

Kogoro scoffed. "As expected from that detective brat," he shook his head. "Gathering us all here for nothing."

Just as he was saying that, the phone beside him started to ring, startling everyone sans Conan, who smirked at the sight of Megure picking up the phone. “Hello,” he said, with uncertainty.

“It’s me,” the kansai-accented voice said on the other side.

"Oh," Megure sighed, in relief. "It’s just you, Hattori-kun."

Said relief was cut short when Heiji screamed, alerting the inspector. "H-Hey!" Megure worried. "What's wrong?!"

"Someone shut the lights and has a knife!"

"Where are you now?"

"In the room right below you. Take a look!"

Megure obeyed and got closer to the balcony. His eyes widened dramatically when he saw a bandaged man standing down below who then turned to glare up at him. There was a knife between his teeth. 

Noticing the inspector’s shock, Kogoro did the same and gasped.

“W-What’s going on?!” he stuttered.

“I don’t know,” the other man replied calmly walked to the door. Kogoro followed. “Whatever the case, I’m going downstairs to save him.”

“I think you should stay,” the young voice caused everyone to stop. “Because Hattori-san said that it you did that you might miss it...”

There was a metal clang. Everyone froze in place, blood suddenly running cold when a bandaged face appeared from behind the child. 

“The best part,” Conan completed, with a smirk on his face.

The man climbed up the rope and swiftly stood up on the balcony. When she saw him approaching Conan from behind, Ran panicked.

“Conan-kun, behind you!”

“Don’t worry,” a familiar voice filled their ears, as the bandaged man placed a hand over the child’s shoulder. He, on turn, didn’t react to it. “It’s me.”

With that, Heiji pulled his bandages off, revealing his true identity. Like so, the detective began his deduction show.

Just like Conan expected to, Miyuki was exposed as the criminal behind Mitsuaki’s death. He listened as Heiji explained that the two of them ─ victim and criminal ─ had made a plan to kill the chairman, but the woman had betrayed him at the last second and killed him, before trying to frame Hideomi ─ who had commited suicide a few days before the crime ─ for it.

“That can’t be!” Ran cried suddenly. “Hideomi-san saved her life! She couldn’t possible frame it!”

Conan looked at the girl, noticing the tears collecting on her eyes, and couldn’t help but drop his gaze to the ground, upset. Of course Ran, the pure-hearted girl she was, would believe in Miyuki until the very end.

But, the child lamented on his head. Not everyone is like you, Ran-neechan.

Envy, hatred, sorrow, greed... They all live in on the deepest and darkest part of our hearts, just because we are human.

Yet some people let those bad feelings shape them, take control of their actions. To commit such disgusting acts, like murder.

Yes... Everyone can become a murderer in the blink of an eye.

But...

Deep in his own thoughts as the child was, he completely missed Heiji proving she was the culprit. 

"But...!" Ran tried to argue. "Why would Miyuki-san...?

"The fire was probably the motive," Hattori explained. "Twenty years ago, the ones that caused the fire were none other than Mitsuaki-han and Hideomi-han."

Shock was written all over their faces, but the detective still continued. 

“Hideomi-han refused to get surgery on his face because he was atoning for that crime and assuming there was more to that note, and he was admitting to the crime, then everything would fall into place.”

“I see,” Megure nodded, solemnly. “Then it was revenge for her parents who perished in the fire.”

Conan noticed that Miyuki had started to shake, slightly, her hand sliding inside the pocket of her blazer, causing the little boy to frown.

He knew well enough what she had in there.

“He tried to stab himself,” Shinichi replied, his voice hoarse from his wound, as he looked at the ceiling. “I tried to stop him, but I got hurt in the process.”

“Still!” the child argued. “You can’t just put your life in danger because of a cold-blooded murderer!”

His brother’s smile dropped and his vibrant blue eyes flickered to the child. He wasn’t mad, yet he was serious, more serious than the child had ever seen him in months. Ever since he had moved to Japan with him.

Shinichi opened his mouth to speak. 

“But there’s one thing I don’t understand,” Hattori confessed. “Why did she go through the trouble of making Nobuko-han angry in order for us to find Hideomi-han? That was on purpose, right? If she’d left him there, the police would have found him eventually.”

Her lip trembled, eyes watering as she fought to find her words through the knot on her throat. Eventually, with a sob, she choked:

“I didn’t want to leave him any longer in that cold water...”

With that, the woman rushed to the corner of the room, swiftly taking the thermos with her and crouching down. Everyone in the room paled when she pulled out a lighter from her pocket.

“Please don’t come any closer!” she cried. “There’s gasoline in this pot!”

“Hey! Don’t be foolish!” Megure panicked.

“I’m serious!”

“It’s as the detective says. Everything about the fire was in the note,” the woman, while teary eyed, confessed. “I couldn’t forgive them. Mitsuaki-san who lived carefree despite what he did... and Hideomi-san who kept silent about it for so long.”

She broke on the middle of her sentence, and soon tears started to flow freely from her eyes and down her cheeks.

“But... I... loved him hopelessly! He put his life on the line to save me! He always encouraged me after I lost my family, and... he even accepted my proposal.”

Conan gave the crying woman a long, contemplative look, before slowly standing up from his chair.

“But Hideomi-san is gone. I’m alone again. I have to go and join him.”

“I’m truly sorry, but I don’t think you can, Miyuki-san.”

Everyone, including Miyuki gasped. Horror filled Ran’s features as soon as she noticed the child standing there, with a solemn look on his face, right in front of the woman. Too close for her comfort. If she set herself on fire, Conan could get hurt in the process... or worse.

“Conan-kun!” Ran cried, trying to get closer to the child, but unable to because of the tight grip her father had on her. “Get away from there, Conan-kun!”

“Don’t go any closer, Ran,” Kogoro ordered her, in vain, then turned to the small boy. “Conan, what do you think you are doing?!”

“It’s okay,” Hattori reassured them. “There’s only water inside.”

They all looked at the detective, stunned, and the woman just opened the cap to realize that, indeed, there was no gasoline inside. “Why...?” the pot was smacked away by the wailing woman. “Why?! Why?! Their fire lit so easily, why doesn’t mine?!”

As the culprit sobbed and cried, inconsolably, Conan could only remain quietly still on place, hands balled into tiny fists. It was heartbreaking to see that scene in front of him, looking at that poor woman that had nothing left to go by but sadness and despair.

He released a long sigh.

“Because he loved you,” he said to her.

Miyuki paused, raising her eyes to meet the boys’. It was then that he offered a sad, but kind smile.

“Hideomi-san loved you hopelessly as well. He would hate it if he saw you ending the life he had saved all those years ago.”

The woman stared at him for a few seconds, eyes widening before they filled with tears and overflowed again. With a sob and a rough rub of her eyes, she nodded at him with a sad smile.

Conan passed by Hattori when he walked away from her and their eyes met. Just by looking at him, the child could tell. There was some hesitation on his face, and sadness too, so that the kid could safely deduce that Heiji felt a bit guilty.

Wondering if they had just sentenced that woman to a world of pain and grief.

So, he told him:

“A detective who corners a culprit with their reasoning and drives them to suicide in front of himself is no different than a murderer.” 

Heiji was so stunned he couldn’t reply at such wise words coming from such a small mouth. Without saying anything, the two boys stared at each other for a moment, until the child’s gaze broke away from his. He glanced at the door, that had just opened.

Behind it, the chairman appeared and confessed to her that Miyuki’s beloved fountain pen hadn’t belonged to her father, but to her mother. It had been a going-away gift the old man had given to her mother in elementary school.

“I won’t ask you to forgive Hideomi’s crime, but you’re still young. You still have your whole life ahead of you. Live your life, even for Hideomi. I’m sure your mother would feel that way, too.”

When the chairman smiled at her and they hugged, Conan knew. Miyuki was going to be okay.


“Doesn’t it bother you?”

Conan looked up at Heiji, blinking confused eyes at him as they waited at the station for the train to come. Ran was talking with her father, probably scolding him about something, so they had been left alone for a little bit.

“I got all the credit, even if you did your part as well,” Hattori clarified, then saw the kid shrugging. “It must be annoying.”

“Not that much, really. I don’t care if my work is recognized as long as the truth comes to light,” the child told him. “Besides, it’s not like they are going to take a child like me seriously.”

Hattori laughed for some reason, hand pressing against his face, while Conan just stared at him like he was nuts.

"Who would've believed that the mastermind behind the great detective Mouri Kogoro is still in elementary school?"

"It's not my fault if he seems to pin every single murder as a suicide," Conan sighed and Heiji snorted, picturing that. "Anyway, don't pretend you didn't realize it until now because I know you didn't call us so Occhan could help you out."

"I had the feeling it was you since the other time, but I wanted to confirm it."

The kid didn't seem affected at all by the fact that he had been tested by the detective. It was like he didn't really care, and that alone greatly surprised the teen.

“You’re definitely something else, kid,” Hattori sighed. “When I was your age, I would throw a tantrum if people didn’t pay attention to what I deduced. Even if I was wrong half of the time.”

“That hasn’t changed, has it? You still are quite the attention seeker,” he teased with a smirk, causing Heiji to glare at him. “... Just like somebody I know.”

There was something that flickered behind the child’s eyes as he said that sentence that caused the Detective of the West to recede and worry. Conan’s smirk was more forced than before and his gaze was fixed at some random spot on the distance, frowning slightly at himself.

“Say, kid, there has been something bothering you all day, hasn’t it?”

“Huh? Why would you say-?” he stopped when Heiji, with a raised eyebrow, waved his hand in front of his face, clearly referring to the angry, yet little, red spot on top on his hand. “Oh.”

“Oh,” Heiji confirmed with a nod.

Conan said nothing at first, clearly pondering over how to put his words together. Taking this as a sign that the child was not going to talk, Heiji sighed, defeated, and pressed his back against his seat.

His voice came through, though. Quietly and almost timidly.

“What would you do, Hattori-san... What would you do if you believe that somebody you thought you knew like the back of your hand and that... that you love a lot is a murderer?”

Hattori froze at that question, not quite liking where this was going. Glancing towards the kid, he noticed he wasn’t even facing him, but he seemed to have a staring contest with the ground, hands clenched on top of his lap, probably trying to hide how much they were trembling.

A hand awkwardly patted his hair, causing the kid to flinch.

“First, try not to jump into conclusions,” Hattori told him, seriously. “If you think that something is amiss in your theory, you should investigate deeper.”

“A detective who corners a culprit with their reasoning and drives them to suicide in front of himself is no different than a murderer.”

Conan frowned at his brother’s words. It really doesn’t match, does it?

“I’ll help you if you want. For free, even,” the child looked back at him, surprised. “Is it there something you want me to investigate for you?”

The kid hesitated, then sighed. “Watanabe Satoshi,” he told him with a nod. “I feel like there’s something unnatural with his death.”

Heiji’s index finger and thumb went to his chin, stroking it lightly as he thought. “Say, isn’t that guy the one that-”

“Hattori-kun?” Ran’s sudden voice startled both boys. She didn’t seem to notice as she seemed to keep blinking at him. “What happened to your hand?”

It didn’t take them more than a second to realize she was talking about the small wound on his hand. Ran-neechan is quite observant, Conan thought, in awe.

“Don’t tell me...” her eyes widened. “You stabbed yourself with a pen to prove the criminal was Miyuki-san...”

Nobody said anything, as they stared back at Ran for a moment. Then, Hattori’s index finger pointed at Conan, who just pretended to blink back at him, cluelessly.

“He did it, that little imp!” he accused.

“But, Hattori-san...” when Conan smiled at him sweetly Hattori decided he wanted to puke. “I didn’t even know about the trick until you made your deduction!”

Hattori just glared at him. That little bastard...

Just by the look Ran had on her face, eyebrows raised and half opened eyelids, the detective knew whose story she had chosen to believe. Silently, she took Conan’s hand and began to steer him away.

“Listen, Conan-kun. Stabbing yourself to prove something isn’t normal,” he could hear them talk as they walked away. “Make sure you don’t pick any of Hattori-kun’s weird habits, okay?”

“Okay,” he nodded at her.

“Don’t just agree that casually!” Hattori yell could be heard all over the platform.

Chapter Text

“... I seriously can’t understand her anymore,” Conan rolled his eyes, for the eleventh time, as he heard his brother complaining. “At first she seems to want me to go back home, but then she yells at me for anything I say!”

The boy wanted to laugh, and sigh at the same time. He sounds just like Mom, he noted, slightly amused at the fact that Shinichi had always complained about their mother calling him to whine about their father. 

As amusing as it was, however, the child didn't really want to deal with it. Agasa seemed to recognize his irritation, sweatdropping with an awkward smile on his face.

“-and she got all mad when I told her I wouldn’t be able to go watch an all-night movie marathon this Saturday,” Shinichi complained, sighing loudly. It’s me who wants to sigh! the child cried on his mind. “Why May 3rd though? Any other day would be just as fine.”

Conan truly wished he could be surprised but, sadly, he couldn’t. He just mildly shrugged, as he pulled the letters from the box Agasa had brought him and placed them on the top of the table.

“Maybe because May 4th is a special day? She probably wants to be with you when it hits midnight.”

Shinichi gasped and for a moment Conan thought he had finally understood.

“May 4th is the day Holmes and Moriarty fell down the Reichenbach Falls!”

For the brightest teenage detective of the East, he is pretty stupid.

“Wait, that means... Did you get her into Sherlock Holmes, Conan?”

“You basically traumatized her into never touching a mystery book in her entire life,” Conan stated, with a plain voice. “More than thirteen years of hearing somebody talk non-stop about him does that to people.”

“Then, she...”

“No, she definitely did not mean that.”

“So, what is it?” he sounded terribly frustrated.

You are the famous detective, figure it out yourself.”

"You're a detective, too!"

"Not famous."

"Yet."

"Seriously, if you are leaning into a second grader to solve your problems, there definitely is something wrong with you," there was no response beside a mumbled protest, so Conan took the cue to keep talking. "Look, I'm sorting your and Dad's fan mail, which should be your task. So, do your freaking job and figure it out yourself."

He had, after all, decided not to tell him about his birthday before Ran. She had been so happy last week, after she had decided to buy him a red polo shirt and planned to surprise him. 

“Every year, Shinichi forgets his own birthday,” she had explained at his father. “I’m only reminding him once a year. Otherwise, he’s getting older for nothing.”

The only thing he had his doubts about was that she was planning to take him to see The Legend of the Red Thread, which sounded an awfully lot like the romance soaps she enjoyed to watch. At first, he felt bad for his brother. But then he would remember the lies and his extremely long absence, and figured it served him right.

"... Aren't you a bit touchy today?"

"Probably. Nauseous, too," he groaned, as he opened another letter and cringed. "I swear, if I read another letter that goes like ' Shinichi-sama, please bear my children'... I think I will throw up."

“Did you... Did read my mail?”

“About a dozen of them are addressed to ‘Kudo-sama’ . If I don’t read them, it will be impossible to send Dad’s back to him,” he replied, as if it was the most obvious fact in the entire world. “It’s not like you are going to read them anytime soon, anyway.”

“Hey...”

“In my defense, that’s true, and... Eh?” the child’s gaze fell on a particular letter. “Moriya Teiji? You have a letter from him.”

“Eh? That Moriya Teiji?”

“Let me see,” he broke the seal and opened it to read. “He invited you to a tea party at his house. On April 29th, at 3:30 PM. There’s a map in here, I can send you a photo of it, if you want.”

“Say, Conan, does it say that guests are welcomed?”

“Yeah.”

“Then, go for me, could you?” Conan certainly didn’t expect that. “You, Ran and her father can take my place. I’m caught in this big investigation, so I can’t go.”

The child’s eyes narrowed at the word ‘investigation’. You mean hiding.

“What big investigation is this, anyway?” he chirped, with an innocent touch on his voice. “You have been away for months, so I’m curious.”

“N-No, it’s not that big, actually,” there was a forced laugh, letting Conan know that he had just pressured his brother into lying again. “It’s just that I had multiple cases, coming one after another. I barely have any time to sleep!”

“Oh? Sounds like a dangerous place. Where are you?”

“Look, I have to go now. The police just arrived and I have to work to do. See you.”

“Wait-”

Just like that, he hung up. Really, Conan just stared at his phone, frowning at the device in his hands as if it was the cause of all his problems. Even if I didn’t already know what is going on, I would still find this behavior extremely suspicious.

For Kudo Yukiko’s firstborn son, his acting skills are quite bad.


The party hadn’t been so bad. While it had appeared to be a bit boring at first, at some point the day Moriya presented them with a very entertaining quiz, which Conan solved it effortlessly, before anyone else.

Everyone had praised him for his intelligence at such a young age so he had blushed a bit, unused to the attention. He had been able to hear Kogoro’s groan of frustration, and that alone made his visit worth it.

As a reward, he had allowed to take a look to his special gallery, alongside Ran. 

Throughout it all, there was something he was absolutely sure of. This guy had an uncanny obsession with symmetry.

“By the way, Ran-san, are you and Kudo-kun close?” Moriya asked her, curiously.

“Well, we’re childhood friends and we attend the same high school...”

“Basically a married couple that doesn’t realize they are together.”

“Hey, Conan-kun, that’s not it!”

Conan shrugged and directed his attention back to the gallery, barely paying attention as Ran told him all about his plan for Shinichi’s birthday, and even commented that red was their lucky colour. And she still denies having feelings for him, he sighed, tiredly. I think I’m surrounded by clueless lovey-dovey creatures .

May 3rd arrived at the blink of an eye. Conan just stood there, close to the window, watching with a saddened expression as Ran left the house. Unlike him, she was smiling radiantly.

“Ran-neechan,” Conan had stopped her at the door before she left. She had stared at him, cluelessly, as he handed her what it seemed to be a gift, neatly wrapped in silver paper. “Could you give this to Shinichi-niichan for me?”

“Sure, but are you sure you don’t want to give it to him by yourself?” Ran had asked, when a smile appeared on her face. “I know. Why don’t you come with us? I don’t mind and I don’t think Shinichi does either.”

Conan had shook his head and told her to have fun, before returning to his room.

He was absolutely sure Shinichi wasn’t going to make an appearance in such a crowded cinema in the middle of Beika, yet he didn’t have the heart to tell her that.

Deep down, she might have already known.

It didn’t make him feel any better at all.


“On the day before yesterday, a large quantity of explosives including Octogen was stolen from Toyo Chemical company’s warehouse,” the announcer on Agasa’s TV informed, catching the young boy’s eye. “The police have mobilized over a hundred officers to investigate, but so far there have been no leads.”

It was followed by another report, this time about a fire at the Kurokawa State. 

“That’s the house where that murder case took place,” Agasa noted. “There have been quite a few fires lately...”

He clearly remembered the murder case that had happened there a week ago. Kurokawa, who had been killed by the maid while she seeked revenge for his boyfriend, had left a message that read JUN on his computer , and it only took Conan to pretend to mess with the computer by pressing the bloody keys, including the English caps lock key ─ which he correctly guessed that had been hit by accident. The faces the people in the room made when they read Masami in the screen had been priceless.

The child didn’t look away from the screen, even if the phone started to ring, letting the old professor pick it up instead. He did pay attention to him, however, at the sight of his uneasy expression.

“He’s asking for Shinichi,” covering up the speaker with one hand, he explained, and Conan just stared blankly, as if saying and what do I have to do with it? “He sounds strange. Like he’s using a voice masking device.”

Conan’s eyes opened slightly wider at those words, understanding the meaning behind them. When someone tried to fake his voice to speak over the phone, it usually meant bad news.

Sorry about this, Onii-chan.

He nodded and turned the dial on his bowtie. 

“Is this Kudo Shinichi?” the man behind the phone asked.

“Yes,” he replied using his brother’s voice.

“You’ve seen the news, right? I’m the one who stole the explosives from Toyo Chemical,” the child had been expecting a lot of things, but this was definitely not one of them. “I’d like to know your mobile phone number.”

Against his wishes, the young boy gave him his own number. If worse came to worse, he didn’t want to lose contact with this person, who definitely was some sort of terrorist. He was then told to go to the park, unless he wanted a group of children to die.

It had been terrifying to find out that those children were none other than his three friends. Luckily, however, he managed to kick the damned thing far away from their position before it exploded.

An orange explosion. Plastic explosives, his mind quickly supplied.

His phone rang again and he picked up. 

“What happened to Kudo?” the man spoke, before he could even speak. His hands froze around his bowtie. “I see, he figures sending me a kid like you is enough to deal with me, doesn’t he?” 

Conan frowned, and just listened at the criminal as his eyes darted across the place, restlessly. This guy was watching from somewhere else and he had absolutely no idea of where.

He told him there was another bomb set to explode in fifteen minutes so he decided to pull his innocent little kid act to get more information. He did get it was under a tree and that someone could walk away with it, but that was all.

The child jumped into his skateboard, ignoring his friends’ shouts and left as quickly as he had arrived. 

Roughly fifteen minutes later, he was riding a borrowed bike across the street, the bomb placed on his basket. Time was running out, after stopping momentarily at sixteen seconds, so he didn’t have any other choice other than letting it explode in a less populated area.

After choosing the river, he rode straight to it. He jumped out just in time to see bright orange flames and the blast wave caused the child to get blown away.

He painfully hit his head against a tree and blacked out.

Conan realized he might have overdid it a little when he woke up in a hospital bed to the sight of Agasa and his friends’ smile of relief. They had practically beamed the moment his eyes opened and began fussing over him.

“Conan!” unlike the others, Kogoro was definitely not happy. “What the hell is going on?!”

“I have a headache, that’s what is going on,” Conan replied, not fazed at all about his outburst. “Will probably turn into a migraine, if you keep screaming like an angry monkey that just got his bananas stolen.”

“You brat-!”

“Now, now,” Agasa had to physically restrain the man so he wouldn’t go and hit the injured child, before telling Mitsuhiko to go look for a doctor. “Calm down.”

“Child murder is a very serious crime,” Conan teased him further. “Such an ugly stain on your record wouldn’t do good to your detective career, right, Occhan?”

“Hey, Conan-kun,” Ayumi whispered in her ear. “Maybe it would be best if you stopped provoking him...”

Conan shrugged at that, far too amused at the sight of a pissed off Kogoro being held by his arms by Agasa and childishly stuck his tongue at him because, hey, having the opportunity to mess with him without risking a cracked skull was rare.

Eventually he managed to, at least, calm down enough for the doctor to check the child over, and thanked the doctor when he had said he could be discharged the next day.

Not a second after the doctor left, Inspector Megure and Inspector Shiratori and bursted inside, and Conan was forced to tell them everything that happened ─ conveniently ‘forgetting’ to tell them he had actually pretended to be Shinichi.

“Why did you do such a dangerous thing?” Kogoro spoke up once he had finished his story, pressing his index finger against Conan’s chest. “You could have died!”

“Ah? Worried-?”

“I am serious, Conan,” the serious tone the man had truly made the kid shut his mouth up and stare at him. “Look, I don’t care if your parents usually let you run wild, but you are currently living in my house. So, for now on, you are grounded.”

Conan just blinked at him, in shock. He had never been actually been grounded before, so it was a brand new concept to him.

"Understood?" the man pressed when he didn't say a word.

"I understand," finally accepting the boundaries he was being given, the boy's gaze dropped to his sheets and nodded. "Sorry."

“But what is that stupid detective freak doing?” Kogoro wondered. “Why didn’t the culprit contact him?”

“Shinichi-niichan had something else to do,” Conan lied quickly, before Agasa could say anything. “So he asked me for help.”

“What a guy!” the man growled, his fist clenched as if he was ready to hit Shinichi. “Next time I see him, I’ll give it to him!”

Honestly, Conan didn't know if it was so mad because what had just happened or because Ran had invited him to the movies all night.

Agasa smiled awkwardly at Conan, and he did the same. Sorry about that, Onii-chan, he apologized, again, inside his mind. Try not to show your face around for a while, okay?

Conan was most grateful when all the adults’ attention drifted away from him and started to wonder why the bomber could have been interested in Shinichi in the first place. They came into the conclusion that it was was either to compete against him, or that they had a grudge against him.

"At any rate," Inspector Megure spoke. "The police are now searching for the person fitting the description these children have given us."

The three children just smiled, big enough to threaten to split their faces in half, as their chests puffed out in pride. Still grinning, Genta pulled out a sheet of paper.

"Conan, this is the picture," he said, handing his friend the drawing. "It really looks like him!"

Conan was speechless, but for another reason altogether.

"It’s drawn very well," Mitsuhiko nodded to himself.

"We all worked on it," Ayumi smiled wider, if possible.

“Say, guys...” Conan tried hard not to raise his eyebrow. “Did you... Did you draw this?”

“No,” the girl replied, with big innocent eyes. “A kind police officer drew it while she asked us questions.”

“She seemed to be pretty frustrated when she finished it, though,” the kid with freckles pointed out.

“Maybe she's a perfectionist...” the bigger one suggested.

Conan could not help but sweatdrop as he looked at the picture. Now, he was nowhere close to an artist himself ─ his drawing skills were bad, at least ─ but that didn’t mean he didn’t know how a facial composite was supposed to look like.

Looks like somebody is going to get scolded today.

There was something he could tell, though. The culprit was so obviously disguised.

“Inspector,” Agasa spoke. “Of all the cases that Shinichi-kun has solved, which one attracted the most attention?”

“Hmm...” Megure thought about it for a moment. “That would have to be the case involving Mayor Okamoto of Nishitama City.”

The child actually remembered that one, since it hadn’t been a year since it happened. He hadn’t been there, but it was as if he had because Shinichi had taken his time to explain every single detail of the case he was so proud of. 

And Conan hadn’t let his brother know at the time, but it had secretly enjoyed hearing all off them.

“Because of this incident, the mayor was removed from the office. His plan to revitalize the City of Nishitama was put back on the drawing board.”

Silently, Conan listened as the inspector asked his friends if they remembered something else and Ayumi said she recalled the man’s smell. It was very sweet. The boy wondered what that meant.

Since he was feeling better, the three kids decided it would be best if they headed back home for the day, before it got late. Before he knew it, the girl's hands were on his and there was a very serious expression on her face.

"If there’s a problem, I’ll come back right away!"

Please, don't. 

"Tch, must be nice," Genta scowled.

"We should try being put in the hospital too," Mitsuhiko said.

Don't try too hard.

"You’ve become very popular," Kogoro smirked, teasingly. "Quite the lady-killer."

If it's killing what we are talking about, I think I will be the one getting killed by the end of the day.

Finally his group of friends left, and Conan was left alone with the adults. Now that the room was much quieter, the child leaned back on his bed, sighing loudly.

When his phone rang, suddenly, and everyone froze in place at that. Conan stretched his hand to pick it up, when Kogoro stopped him.

"If it's the culprit, pass it to me."

Conan nodded and pressed the phone against his ear.

"Good job finding the bomb, I take my hat off to you," upon hearing the too familiar artificial voice, he handed it to the older detective. Mouri placed it on top of the mattress after putting it on speaker. "But the children's turn is over. Bring out Kudo!"

"That's right," Kogoro spoke. "Now it's grown-ups' turn."

"Who the hell are you?! Where's Kudo?!"

"Kudo is not here. I'm your opponent now, the Great Detective, Mouri Kogoro."

Now, now. ‘Great Detective’ is a bit of a stretch.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the criminal had placed five more bombs, this time along the Touto Circular Railway. He said that they would explode if the train’s speed dropped below sixty kilometers per hour or if the night fell.

To say that Conan was distressed about the turn of events was an understanding. Not a minute after the criminal had hung up, he found himself grasping, tightly, his detective badge, ignoring the rest of the adults that just ran around, discussing what to do and giving instructions over the phone to others.

Please, guys...

“Conan-kun?” came Ayumi’s concerned reply. “Is something wrong?”

“Yoshida-san, where are you now?”

“Eh? We just got in the train,” Conan's blood ran cold at that. "What's going on? You're scaring me."

"Hey, the train is going faster and faster," he heard Genta pointing out.

"Don't tell me, Conan-kun," there was a bit of panic on Mitsuhiko's voice. "Has someone planted something beginning with a ‘B’ on this train?"

There was a pause.

"Calm down. If you panic you'll only make it worse," he would have lied, but he was certain they would've seen through it right away. "But yes, the bomber put bombs on the Circular Railway."

He heard the three kids gasping at the revelation but said nothing about that. Conan just stayed there, clutching the badge even tighter, as his mind ran. 

What was he going to do now? 

"How much time do we have until it explodes?"

He blinked twice at the device in his fingers, surprised by the unusually serious approach. They really were taking this better than he had expected. 

"Until nightfall," he replied after a pause.

After all, instructions to keep the speed above sixty kilometers per hour had already been given, so exploding because of that was out of the picture.

“Conan-kun...” he could hear Ayumi’s voice crack, as if she was about to cry. “Does that mean we’re all going to die?”

“Don’t you dare to think about it, not even for a second,” he said instantly, a frown carved into his face. "I will get you out of here. I promise."

"There you go again," to his surprise, Genta huffed.

"Eh?"

"You always do the same thing, Conan-kun," Mitsuhiko was frowning on the other side. "Trying to solve every single problem by yourself."

"We are part of the Detective Boys as well!" Ayumi protested. "Don't underestimate us!"

Conan was stunned at that, and was about to yell them to drop it. To just keep quiet until the police knew where the bomb was and they were out of any possible danger. 

Then he realized it. If he was on their place, would Conan just stand aside and do nothing?

“I understand,” he said finally, sighing loudly. “Try to look for something suspicious, that could possibly fit a bomb. And when you do, do not shake it. It might be sensitive to movement.”

“Alright,” Mitsuhiko replied, with a serious tone on his voice.

“And please... Please, don’t do anything stupid.”

Genta scoffed. “We’re not stupid.”

“There’s a big difference between acting stupid and being stupid,” he retorted, tonelessly. “In Kojima’s case, however, I have my doubts.”

Genta complained, as loudly as Mitsuhiko’s laughter. There was a muffled thud and Conan cringed, knowing that it meant the freckled boy getting hit, as usual. Ayumi was admonishing the bigger boy for being violent.  They hung up not long after that.

Conan smiled sadly, a bit stunned at their ability to put a good face even in the worst of situations. Maybe it was naivety, maybe it was their naturally positivity. He didn’t quite know.

Please, don’t die. You must definitely not die, guys!

Another ringing sound pushed the boy out of his thoughts and every single soul stared at Kogoro, who still held Conan's phone. 

Before the child could do anything about it, Kogoro picked up, with a deadly serious expression on his face.

"Conan?! Where are you?!" the familiar voice on the other side did not comfort Kogoro in the sightless. Rather, it caused him to burn with fury. "What did you think you were doing?!"

"Like you are the one to speak," Kogoro replied, furious. The other person certainly didn't expect the grown up voice to reply, if the sharp intake of air he heard was something to go by. "How much of a bastard can you be to let a child manage a bomb threat?"

"I did... what exactly?"

Kogoro noticed the way Conan flinched and the genuine confusion in Shinichi's voice. "Conan..." he breathed out, dangerously.

Conan just gulped silently, before jumping on the bed to snatch his phone and hurry outside the room, forcing himself to ignore Kogoro yelling his name, angrily, as he left.

I should prepare myself for a month-long grounding...

"What do you want?" he spatted, once he stepped into the lobby.

"For starters, you to tell me what's going on," it seemed like Conan wasn't the only one annoyed at this situation. "You're at the hospital, aren't you?"

Conan hesitated a bit, glancing at the phone with a weird look. "How did you know?" he asked, gazing around the room for any suspicious characters ─ or even hidden cameras, at this point he couldn’t be sure.

"I saw it on TV," the teen replied. "They didn't say your name, but you are the only highly hypocritical grade schooler I know that would ride a stolen bike through the traffic while carrying a bomb, yet would constantly bug his brother about the dangers of holding in a sneeze."

The boy paused, as if thinking it over.

“I’m pretty sure they didn’t say all that on TV.”

“I’m still waiting for an answer.”

“I usurped your identity in order to talk to a criminal.”

“Alright then... Wait, what?!”

Conan sighed, heavily. “Look, it’s not that important right now,” he ignored his brother’s yell of ‘ damn right it is ’ and continued. “There’s... There’s much more on stake right now.”

Shinichi quietened down. “What happened?”

“Yoshida-san and the others...” while he tried to keep his voice even, his brother noticed the way it quivered, slightly. “They are in danger.”

The way even Conan was panicking a little bit told Shinichi there were in big trouble.

“Conan, tell me everything that happened. From the beginning.”


“Hey, what the hell are you doing, brat?!”

Mitsuhiko winced the moment the loud voice broke through the commotion ─ people had been complaining about the train passing by their stop before that yell ─ and slowly turned around to see a man standing right behind him. There was a scary look on his eyes and Mitsuhiko could only stare back at him, frozen. 

His hands were still on the suitcase he had tried to check while its owner had been busy arguing with the personal of the train. The boy had guessed it could fit a bomb and therefore worth checking.

The man was angry, painfully pulling him up by the hood of his shirt. 

His deduction proved to be incorrect given the fact that they were still alive, even if the suitcase had slipped from his hands and fell into the floor with an audible thud.

It didn’t bring him any comfort though, since the man seemed to be more than ready to hit him.

“Let him go!” Genta protested, willing to beat the man twice his size up. “He didn’t do anything wrong!”

“This brat wanted to steal from me!”

“He didn’t!” suddenly, all gazes where on Ayumi, the little girl who had just screamed. “We were checking for bombs!”

For a moment nobody said anything, until laughed erupted in the entire train. The girl deflated, a bright red blush blossoming on her cheeks and the boy next to her seemed to get even angrier. 

Mitsuhiko, however, was sweating heavily, hoping against hope that he wouldn’t get into any further trouble.

“Let that child go,” the bathroom’s door slid open and a teen walked out. A baseball hat shadowed his face and covered his hair, making it impossible to determine his identity. “Those kids are right.”

The three children looked at him, stunned, while the other passengers started to look at each other, nervously.

“Don’t worry, everything will be alright if we cooperate and stay calm,” he reassured them, then stepped closer to the man. His hand wrapped around the wrist that was holding Mitsuhiko. “But if you do anything to this boy, I’ll personally make sure you’re sent to jail for this public display of violence to a minor,” his grip tightened, causing the man to bit back a cry of pain. “Do you understand?”

Mitsuhiko was unceremoniously dropped into the ground and his two friends instantly rushed over to him, to make sure he was okay. 

Everyone else was quiet, silenced by shock.

"Now that's settled down, we should check everyone's belongings," he turned to the three children who just stared back at him, dumbfounded, barely noticing that his voice was suddenly friendlier. "Will you help me, kids?"

"No."

The teen paused, clearly stunned. Okay. He certainly didn't expect such an answer from this seemingly sweet, young girl.

"But Ayumi-chan," Mitsuhiko tried to reason. "This person just helped us out"

"Conan-kun told us to be careful," more like not doing anything stupid, but close enough. "Isn't trusting in complete strangers dangerous?"

The teenager looked at her for a moment, then laughed a bit. Ayumi’s mouth formed a childish pout, not quite understanding what could be so funny in such a dire situation.

He kneeled down right in front of her, angling his face so she could see the face behind the shadows. A finger was on his lips, pleading her to keep quiet.

When she saw his face, Ayumi had to rub her eyes and look again.

Shinichi-oniisan?!

Chapter Text

“What?!” Genta screamed. “You’re saying that guy is-?!”

After checking every single place on the train with the help of the children, the detective’s eyes had opened, widely, and then hurried off to the bathroom. At first, Genta had thought he had eaten something bad, until the girl had quietly broken the news to him.

“Shh!” Ayumi hurried to cover Genta’s mouth. “Don’t be too loud, Genta-kun!” then she continued, in a whisper. “Shinichi-oniisan asked me to keep it a secret.”

“So Conan-kun was right,” Mitsuhiko crossed his arms, deep in thought. “Shinichi-san is definitely hiding from someone else.”

They didn't say anything else, as the detective walked out the bathroom. Mitsuhiko noted the way he placed his phone back into his pocket and realized he might had done that so he could call somebody in a quieter place ─ there was a big ruckus outside, after all.

He clapped his hands to gather everyone's attention, and it worked instantly. It was impressive how easily he could get people to listen to him while keeping his identity in secret.

"Everyone, please hold yourselves tightly," he said. "This will be rough."

The three kids didn't have the time to say anything as Shinichi ushered them to a nearby seat, and told them to embrace each other, tightly. “Don’t let go, okay?”

“But why?!” Genta complained, loudly. “I thought we had time until sunset!”

“The train’s hasn’t broken either, right?” Mitsuhiko added.

Shinichi positioned himself in front of the children. “Of course not,” he held into the railhand and smirked the same way the children had seen Conan do, plenty of times, when he discovered something. “We’re going to move away from the bomb.”

Right after he said that the train took a sharp turn as it changed its course. Little by little, the speed started decreasing.

The three children looked at each other, fear on their faces, before closing their eyes shut, waiting for the impact.

Which never came. They blinked owlishly when they felt the train finally coming to a stop, so they confused eyes flickered towards the window, to see that they were in the station, and gasped. 

Shinichi laughed, good-heartedly, as he stepped away from them.

"It was you, Shinichi-san," Mitsuhiko accused, without any real anger, as they got off the train. “You figured were the bombs where and called the police.”

“Eh?” Ayumi gasped. “Where were they? We searched all over the train and there wasn’t anything!”

“Maybe it wasn’t on the carriage,” the freckled boy thought out loud. “It must have been under the train.”

Shinchi chuckled. “Wrong,” he told them. “The answer is ‘between the rails’.”

“Huh?” Genta was confused. “How did you know?”

“I realized when I thought over the second condition. That it would blow off without sunlight,” he explained. “Guess that happens when the train passes over the light sensor for a long time.”

The three kids awed, amazed by his deduction abilities, and decided that this guy was definitely Conan’s older brother, without any doubt.

At the thought of her other friend, Ayumi took out her badge, earning curious looks from the rest. “I’m going to call Conan-kun and tell him we’re all okay,” she clarified.

“That’s a good idea,” Mitsuhiko nodded. “He sounded quite worried before.”

“Ah,” they all looked at Shinichi, who had a strangely uncomfortable expression on his face. He put his hands together, as if pleading, and asked. “Could you guys please not tell him I am with you?”

The kids just stared at him, silently, before nodding at each other. 

As soon as the girl had reassured his friend and told him they were all okay, they heard a sigh of relief.

“I see. That’s great!” he breathed out. “I’m sorry I wasn’t of any help.”

“Don’t worry,” Genta paused, and the three shared a mischievous grin before he continued. “Because Shinichi-niichan figured out where the bombs were right away!”

Conan took a sharp breath and Shinichi paled considerably.

“What?! Is Shinichi-niichan-?!

The voice stopped abruptly, and the badge was stolen from her hands. They all looked at the panicked older boy with matching sweet smiles.

Yet Shinichi knew appearances could be deceiving. Hell, he had freaking Conan for a brother. 

"I thought we had a deal," he sighed, feeling very exhausted all of sudden.

"We didn't agree on anything, Shinichi-san," Mitsuhiko told him, and the other two nodded.

His eyebrow twitched. Is Conan's behaviour contagious or what?

"Besides, it wouldn't be fair to Conan," Genta pointed out, crossing his arms in front of his chest while frowning a little. "Not after everything you've been putting him through."

“Everything I’ve been putting him through?” Shinichi was genuinely confused.

“Even if he tries to hide it, it’s obvious that Conan-kun is very worried about you,” Ayumi had a determined, and a bit angry, look on her eyes. “So you better apologize to him next time you see him!”

Looking at the group of children that were frowning at him, Shinichi decided he would never mess with Conan. Not only the kid was disturbingly scary when he wanted to, but he now had a group of very loyal and overprotective friends watching his back.


Conan leaned into the seat of the car and looked through the window, absentmindedly watching the buildings passing by them. After he had learned that one of the bombs from the Circular Railway had been placed on top of the bridge of the Sumida Canal ─ which he clearly remembered it featured on Moriya’s gallery ─ he had suggested that the arsonist was targeting Moriya Teiji’s designs.

There he was now, on his way to the mansion. He was lucky Kogoro couldn’t remember how to get there or he wouldn’t be there now.

His fingers played with the detective badge. It had been a few hours since Ayumi’s call, yet he still couldn’t get it out of his head. As soon as the girl had mentioned his brother being there, they had hung up, so it wasn’t hard to imagine Shinichi snatching the badge from her hands to end the call. But why would he be so desperate? Why hadn’t he wanted Conan to know he was on the train?

Why was he there, anyway?

He had said he had learned about the other bomb on the news and had correctly deduced that Conan was the child that got injured by trying to save the people living nearby. Maybe Shinichi had come to solve the case because his brother was involved.

A certain, familiar lamp brought him off his thoughts. A children’s park, he noticed. Come to think of it, isn’t that the place where the bomb’s timer stopped?

They arrived at their destination not long thereafter. While sitting across the man, for a moment, Conan watched Moriya lighting up his pipe with a long match before standing up, curiously looking around the room. His eyes fell on an old framed photo of a family. A boy was smiling while holding a woman’s hand, standing close to a man.

“That is a photograph from when I was ten years old,” Moriya commented when he noticed the child staring. “My mother and father are in the picture with me.”

“Oh?” Conan then looked at the architect. “Now that I think about it, your father was pretty famous as well, right?”

“He was a world-famous architect, particularly renowned in England. I really liked his architecture...” Shiratori explained to him, then paused, and looked at Moriya. “He passed away, if I remember correctly.”

“Fifteen years ago, in a fire at his holiday villa, together with my mother. It was at that time I inherited this mansion.”

“It was around about that time that your designs started coming into the limelight, wasn’t it, Moriya-san?”

Conan noticed Kogoro giving a suspicious look towards Shiratori’s way. The older detective’s eyes narrowed and the child couldn’t help but sigh tiredly. There he goes again. Coming into another stupid conclusion.

“Eh? Well, I suppose so.”

The viciously sweet smell of the pipe hit Conan’s nostrils, almost causing him to cough as a reaction to it. Then, his eyes opened in realization.

Quietly slipping out the room, the child gave the famous architect a last look before running through the halls. Ayumi had said there was a strangely sweet scent when the criminal got closer, yet could it be that just a coincidence? His brain said yes, most of the time it would be just a coincidence.

But he had the feeling it couldn’t just be it.

Conan closed the door behind his back and walked closer to the gallery. His eyes fell on the bridge, then on Moriya’s other creations which had been bombed. Something must be different in these, he frowned. But what is it...?

Upon closer inspection, he noticed something amiss. His mouth hang open as he realized.

“These buildings...” he mumbled to himself.

“They are not entirely symmetrical.”

His heart skipped a bit as he spun around, startled by the voice. There stood a teenager, wearing a hat, smirking at him as he leaned over a table, which was covered with a black sheet. Once the initial shock had died down, Conan’s eyebrow twitched.

“What are you doing here?” he asked. “Or, more importantly, how did you get in here?”

“Well,” he let out an awkward laugh. “I kind of snuck through a window.”

Conan blinked, annoyment now all gone and replaced with confusion. “You did what?” the boy stared at his older brother as if he had grown a second head. “ You, the Great Detective of the East. You, the one that seeks the truth and helps justice do its job. You, of all people, illegally broke into Moriya Teiji’s property ?

Shinichi flinched. “When you put it like that it sounds pretty bad.”

Ignoring his brother’s comment, Conan rushed to the window and looked down. There were guards all around the building, which proved that the security was pretty tough. “How did you pass through?”

“... I know a few tricks.”

“Tricks?”

“Somebody taught me how to, okay?”

“... Who was-?” then, he sighed. “Actually, nevermind. I don’t think I want to know.”

“Your wish,” Shinichi shrugged. “So, Conan, tell me. Do you know who the criminal is?”

Conan turned serious again and strolled back towards the photographs. He gave them a long, pensive look before sighing loudly.

“The arsonist is Moriya Teiji himself.” 

There was no room for doubt in his statement, and that amused Shinichi a little. “Wow. That’s quite a big claim to make,” he commented. “So, what is your proof?”

The boy, in turn, shook his head. “I have no proof yet, but I’m certain it’s him,” his eyes sharpened. “The bridge and the apartments that were targeted are strangely asymmetrical, which is weird considering his obsession with it. There’s also the sweet scent Yoshida-san said she smelled, that could be from his pipe. And...”

Conan hesitated, looking at the floor while frowning.

“... And I have a strong feeling that it’s him,” he said in a whisper, almost if he was embarrassed to say it louder.  “I know it’s quite illogical, but...”

His voice died down and his eyes didn’t look up to see Shinichi, not even once. The older brother stared at the younger, with thoughtful eyes, before he let of a soft chuckle. Before he could ask what was so funny, Conan felt a hand resting on the top of his head.

He looked up, taken aback.

“Having a good intuition is essential to be a detective,” he ruffled the kid’s dark locks, much to his annoyment. “So don’t be embarrassed by it. You did a terrific job already, little Holmes.”

Shinichi noticed the way Conan scratched the back of his head and looked away, clearly embarrassed. He hadn’t denied being a young detective, which he had usually did, and that had taken him a bit by surprise.

“There’s something I still can’t understand,” the kid said after a moment, his hand raising to his chin as he thought. “What’s the true reason behind challenging you? I don’t think it is only to cover up.”

“The reason...” he turned to the table. “... it’s right here.”

With that, he pulled the sheet. Conan’s eyes opened at the sight of what was hiding under it and stood on the tip of his feet. Shinichi noticed his lack of height and raised his brother in the air, so he could see better.

Any other moment he would have protested, loudly so, but he was far too concentrated in what stood in front of his eyes to pay attention to it. In front of him was a city mockup, and a golden plate that read:

"My vision of a new town ─ City of Nishitama"

The lampost he had seen on the children’s park was there, and suddenly everything was beginning to make so much sense.

“It’s a perfectly symmetrical new town,” Conan realized. “So, all of this happened because you sent the ex-mayor to jail?”

“You made it sound like it is my fault all this happened.”

“Not really,” shrugging, he spoke as he was put down. “I guess it’s not really your fault if the mayor made a deal with a complete sicko.”

"Fair enough."

With that, Shinichi walked past the child and opened the door. Conan watched, with curiosity, as his brother peered from the doorway, looked both sides, before stepping into the hallway.

"Where are you going?" asked the child as he followed close.

"I'm looking for proof," he opened the door to Moriya's study, and sighed. "Now, if you were to hide a very incriminating disguise, where would you do it?"

Conan guessed he was referring to the disguise he used when meeting with Ayumi and the others. He thought about it for a moment, before his eyes fell on a set of armor in the corner of the room. 

His brother watched, cluelessly, as the child dragged a chair close to the armor and hopped on top of it.

“I have no idea,” his hand played with the decorative hair on the helmet. “But Moriya-san might know.”

Shinichi noticed the smirk on his brother's face and he couldn't help but wonder.

"Say, Onii-chan," the little boy looked at him. "How good are you at handicrafting?"

The teenager blinked in reply. “What are you going to do?”

“A small art project,” Conan replied, then extended his hand to him. “Pass me the scissors.”

Shinichi noticed the scissors laying on the desk, right next to him, and hesitated for a moment. He glanced back to Conan, who wasn’t even looking at him, and sighed. “Here,” he passed them to him. “What-?”

He heard a snip and the next second Conan was climbing down the chair with the decorative hair on his fist. 

"That should count as serious property damage," Shinichi facepalmed. 

The kid gave him an 'are you kidding me?' look while putting the chair back on its place, behind the desk. "So is burglary," Shinichi couldn't really argue against that. “Now, sit there and be very still.”

The teenager complied, after watching with uttermost confusion as the child climbed the desk, using the same chair he was supposed to sit on. Then, he grabbed the tape.

Shinichi figured he should’ve expected it when he started to stuck the hair together, using his head as a base. 

“I remember the facial composite Yoshida-san and the others showed me,” noticing the detective’s puzzled face, he explained. “And I think I can more or less replicate it.”

“Isn’t this forging evidence?”

“We’re just going to trick him into telling us where he hid his true disguise. Now, stop asking questions and stop talking. You move a lot when you do that."

"Yes, yes. I don't really want to be a murder victim."

"What did I just tell you?"

The older boy said nothing, just stared ahead as he let his younger brother do his work. 

There was a look of utter concentration as he put more tape on the strands of fake hair, and suddenly he was remembered of the times he played with his old paints, when this child was a toddler. A thirteen year-old Shinichi would watch his brother splatter paint all over the cushions, walls, and curtains as he tried to draw on his paper, but still act as if he was a refined artist creating a wonderful piece of art.

Shinichi frowned. It hadn’t been actually that long ago, yet it really seemed like it had. Now he wondered when was the last time he had seen the little boy do something like that. 

Speaking of which, did he ever have to do any art project or something? 

Shinichi recalled, after all, having to do a lot of those when he was in first grade, and Conan was already in his second year at elementary school. It kind of made him feel a little bad. Even before leaving Beika, he didn’t remember seeing him doing anything of that stuff. 

He hadn’t spent much time home, he realized. 

And he hadn’t realized it until now, but there was much about the young boy he knew nothing about. 

“Even if he tries to hide it, it’s obvious that Conan-kun is very worried about you.”

What Ayumi had told him had really taken him by surprise. Now, he knew Conan cared about him ─ even if they hadn’t been so close lately, they were still brothers ─ but he hadn’t put much thought on how all of this truly affected him. Even his friends ─ a group of seven year-olds ─ had taken notice before Shinichi himself ─ a detective , for crying out loud ─ did. 

Suddenly the high school detective felt Conan’s hands stopping. He was only staring at him, an eyebrow raised.

“Could you stop staring into my soul like that?” he spoke. “It’s rather creepy.”

“A-Ah, sorry,” he hadn’t really noticed he was staring.

Conan sighed, then removed his glasses and gave them to him. “There should be a black water-based marker somewhere in the drawer.”

Shinichi nodded, understanding what was he trying to do. “You know, Conan, there’s something I have been wondering about.”

“Huh?”

“As you already know, I met your friends recently,” he commented. “They seem to be really fond of you.”

Conan nodded, not clearly understanding where he was trying to get to. “Your point is?”

“Why are you still on family-name basis?” the boy paused at that. “For example, just now, you referred to Ayumi-chan as Yoshida-san, yet she still calls you Conan-kun. Isn’t that weird?”

The child returned to his work right away. “You are rather hypocritical sometimes,” he commented, confusing Shinichi a little. "Ran-neechan told me you used to be so adamant in calling her 'Mouri-san' and having her call you 'Kudo-kun'."

“... I-It’s different,” he tried to argue as he looked over the desk to find a marker.

“How so?”

“You see, I...” the teen trailed off when he noticed something standing in the corner of the desk and held it on his hands. “... This lighter is kind of weird...”

“A lighter? But Moriya-san used a long match to light his pipe a few moments ago...”

Both brothers looked at each other, blinking twice, when realization dawned on them with a gasp. Shinichi fumbled with the object until he eventually managed to open the cover and take the damned batteries off. 

Once out, the two sighed in synchrony. 

So lucky... 


“I see,” Megure sighed. “You can’t think of anything at all.”

“I’m sorry not to have been of any use,” Moriya replied, pretending to actually feel bad about being useless to the investigation. 

“Well, if you think of anything, please contact me,” standing up, the inspector looked around for something that was missing. “Where has Conan-kun gotten to?”

“Here!” a childish voice sounded all over the room.

On the doorway stood Conan, hands behind his back as he smiled back, cutely. That could’ve fooled anyone, but Kogoro knew from experience that he was up to no good. He was about to inquire where he had been all this time, until he noticed something far more important.

“Hey, brat, where are your glasses?!”

“They fell and I stepped on them,” he replied, almost innocently. “But I have a more pairs back home, so don’t worry!”

Kogoro gumbled something about ‘ annoyingly rich parents’, ‘spoiled brat’ and ‘ expensive glasses’, but he ignored all it. He just walked up to Megure and offered him his phone, which he had been holding behind his back. “Shinichi-niichan is on the phone,” he explained. “I told him everything, and he says he knows who the arsonist is.”

Moriya felt a chill running down his back. Just now he could’ve sworn that, for a slight moment, the little boy’s eyes fell on him, a knowing smirk drawing on his features, before he returned to his young, innocent self.

“Kudo-kun did?!” the inspector hurriedly picked up the phone and pressed it against his ear. “Kudo-kun, is it true what Conan-kun said? ... I see... Everyone needs to assemble in the gallery.”

After giving the phone back to its owner, Megure asked Moriya to guide them there, and he asked to stop by his study first. Conan had to hold his laugh as he watched him, from his spot on the doorway, cross the room and pick his golden lighter up.

It happened again, when the criminal found his city mockup, standing there in plain view.

His phone rang again, and he knew it was time. “Oh, Shinichi-niichan!” he chirped once he picked up. “We’re in the gallery already.”

“Your childish voice is giving me the creeps,” Shinichi sighed.

“Okay!” he pretended not to hear that, then pressed something on his phone. “I used the hands-free button so everyone can hear. Just like you asked.”

Everyone looked at him, expectantly.

“The fact is I’ve figured out the true nature of the arsonist and the bomber on this incident,” the high school detective spoke. 

“Wait a moment!” Kogoro stopped his deduction. “I have also figured it out. The culprit is-!”

“-definitely not Detective Shiratori,” interrupted Conan, with a plain voice.

“... He’s not...?” the man trailed off. “Hey, how did you know I was going to...?”

“You kept looking at him whenever he spoke about Moriya-san’s father,” he turned back to the phone. “But he isn’t the culprit, right, Shinichi-niichan?”

“Not at all.”

Mouri defleated at his words, and Shinichi took his cue to give out his deduction, taking everyone else in the room off guard. Conan just held the phone, silently listening to his brother, watching Moriya’s face darkening as his crimes were explained.

“Isn’t that so?” Shinichi finished.

“That’s an interesting deduction, Kudo-kun,” Moriya laughed. “Unfortunately, however, you have no evidence.”

“Oh, there is. Right behind the model case.”

Shiratori instantly went around it and found it. A brown wig and beard, along with black sunglasses. At the sight of it, Moriya paled.

“Impossible! They were in the safe in the study...!”

“Ah, so there is where they actually are!” Conan flipped his phone close as he went towards the fake disguise and picked up his glasses, wiping them with his napkin. “Thank you for giving us that information, Moriya-san!”

The criminal sweated, profusely, when he realized the mistake he had committed. Shiratori went to apprehend him, but he stepped back and pulled out his lighter.

“Nobody move!” he screamed. “I’ll explode the bombs I have planted around the mansion.”

“Oh, good luck with that,” Conan picked something from his pocket and showed the batteries to him. “Because you seem to be missing these.”

Moriya was finally handcuffed and to be arrested, but the man still found reason to laugh. Conan’s froze in place when he told them that there was still one more building that he wanted to erase, and one look towards his gallery told him where it was.

Beika City Building?! Then Ran-neechan...!

He heard hurried footsteps on the hallway, and it didn’t take much to realize it might be his brother running out the mansion. Conan paid no mind to that, just stared mouth wide open, at the arsonist before taking his phone out to call Ran.

“Conan-kun?” her voice filled his ears. “Did something-?”

“Ran-neechan! Go outside, right now!”

There was a loud bang on the other side, and suddenly Conan couldn’t hear anything anymore. “Ran-neechan, are you okay?! Ran-neechan!” her father took the phone away from his grasp, desperately calling her name over and over, before throwing it back to him when there was no reply.

Kogoro angrily grabbed his shirt and shook him around, before he was held back by Megure and Shiratori. Then, Conan noticed a piece of paper sticking out his coat.

The next moment, he was jumping on him and taking it away from him. In his hands was a blueprint for the bombs.

“I’m sending this to Shinichi-niichan,” Conan explained as he snapped a photo of it. “Knowing him, he must be already there.”

“Wait, we’re sending in the bomb disposal team!” Megure tried to reason.

Conan sent it anyway. If there was something he could be sure about his brother, is that he would do anything for his dearest childhood friend. Even if it meant risking his life.

“Hey, boy,” Moriya spoke. “Tell Kudo this: ‘I made three minutes especially for you. Enjoy them wisely’.”

The little boy had absolutely no idea what that meant, but still gave him a last glare, before he left with Kogoro and Megure.


“Ran! Where are you, Ran?! RAN!”

It was heart wrenching to see Kogoro this distressed, but understandable, considering his daughter was in there. That building that currently was burning, flames dancing in front of their eyes.

A crowd had formed behind the firefighter’s trucks, watching at the flames burning everything in sight. Panic was settling in, and Conan struggled to remain calm all in all.

His brother was inside. He was going to be okay. Ran was going to be okay.

Shinichi was surely going to figure out a way out, right?

He has to.

Conan flipped open his phone, not paying attention to the car pulling beside him, or the fact that Shiratori and Moriya stepped out it. He looked to the last message he had sent his brother, where he told him about the three minutes for a moment and wondered what it meant.

He began to type.

“How are things on your end? Are you okay?”

A ping told him his brother had replied.

“Ran is deactivating the bomb and I’m helping her. We have seventeen minutes until it explodes.

But with the blueprints you sent me it should be more than enough. We’re almost done”

Conan glanced at his watch. It will explode at three past midnight. That’s oddly specific.

A loud explosion brought him out his thoughts and caused his heart to skip a beat. He sighed in relief at the realization that neither Ran nor Shinichi were in that zone.

Kogoro still panicked. Megure tried to get him to calm down.

"Don't worry," Moriya’s voice was so calm that was terrifying. "You still have fifteen minutes until your daughter is blown up."

"You jerk! Tell me how to stop the bomb!"

“It’s a special bomb. Even if someone could disarm it, the last wire will decide their fate,” his lips curved into a evil smile. “It’s the last one.”

The last wire?! Is there another one after the others in the blueprints?!

Moriya was confident, sure that his plan would work even if Conan had stolen the blueprints from him. What was there to say for certain that Ran would fall right on his plan?

The clock hit midnight, signalizing the start of Shinichi’s birthday. Three minutes left...

What did he mean with those three extra minutes...? Could it be that he was telling him to enjoy his three minutes of his birthday?

Then his eyes opened. How had he known about Shinichi’s birthday?

There were two minutes left. Kogoro was in despair, Megure shouting orders to the bomb disposal team, and Conan was just staring at Moriya’s sneer of victory. There should be something...

“Well, I plan to get him something on Saturday,” Ran words rang on his head, from when she had been talking to Moriya a week before. “Just like me, he likes the colour red, and for the month of May, red is the lucky colour for both of us.”

... Oh, no.


Shinichi groaned on his spot close to the door. “Damn it!” he cursed. “Which? Which is it?!”

“Shinichi,” her soft voice came from the other side, and he paused his panicked fit. “Happy birthday, Shinichi.”

It took the boy by surprise, as he hadn’t remembered it until now, and it made sense. The reason Ran wanted to see him today and that Conan had refused to tell him. 

The boy paused, taking in everything that was happening and spoke.

“Cut it. The colour your like, just cut it.”

“What if I’m wrong?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Shinichi smirked. “If time runs out, we’re doomed.”

Ran was speechless, gripping her scissors tightly on her shaking hands. There were less than two minutes left and the pressure was killing her.

“Don’t worry, I’ll stay right here until you cut it,” he said, tenderly and comforting. “If we die, we die together.”

At this moment, the detective truly wished he could say he didn’t have any regrets, but he couldn’t really. With sad eyes, he gazed towards his phone, the photo of the blueprint his little brother had sent him on the screen.

He hated to do this to him. To leave him alone in this big world all over again, and this time for real. But he would be okay. He had his parents and a group of wonderful friends to watch his back.

Conan was a brilliant kid that was sure to grow into a fine young man one day. He smiled softly. 

Too bad I’m not going to be around to see you grow up.

I’m sorry, Conan.

Another nearby explosion had him move away from his spot to avoid being crushed by rubble. He stood back, looking at the door, when he heard his phone ringing.

It was Conan.

“You have to stop Ran-neechan right now!” he screamed, confusing the older boy for a moment. “It’s a trap! Don’t let her cut the red wire!”

Shinichi felt his lungs freezing up.


00:02:32

Conan stared at his watch as he heard Shinichi on the other side of the phone, desperately shouting Ran’s name and to not cut the red one.

00:02:40

Damn, she can’t hear him!

00:02:43

His teeth clenched as he watched time go by, and wished it would just stop. 

00:02:45

And his grip on the phone tightened, listening as Shinichi still tried to be heard by Ran, but no avail. 

Would be this the last time he would hear him...?

00:02:50

Before... Before he...

00:02:52

Conan felt his grip on the phone suddenly slaking, dropping unceremoniously on the floor. Yet nobody cared, too focused on the fiery scene in front of them.

00:02:53

And suddenly, it was hard to breath. All sound was completely gone.

He had thought his brother would get away from there, because he was Kudo Shinichi... But there was something he had failed to realize...

00:02:54

Kudo Shinichi was only human, the desperation on his voice from just a few seconds ago was proof of that.

00:02:55

And so was Mouri Ran, the girl trying to deactivate the bomb to save everyone in that building. Just one little, tiny mistake and...

00:02:56

Like so, the child stared with a lifeless expression and waited for the inevitable. 

00:02:57

He wouldn’t cook with the girl he cherished so much, that had grown to become a sister figure that he held very dearly. He wouldn’t walk to school alongside her and hear her complain loudly about her lazy father and elusive not-boyfriend.

00:02:58

He wouldn’t hear his brother’s voice over the phone anymore, teasing and scolding him all the same. He wouldn’t roll his eyes everytime he denied liking Ran, or hold back a sigh every time he promised he would be back soon.

00:02:59

Ran-neechan...

Onii-chan...

00:03:00

00:03:01

There was silence.

00:03:02

00:03:03

And sounds filled the place again, upon the realization that nothing had happened.

Conan fell on his knees, and slowly curled into himself, his forehead pressing against the ground.

It's over, he let out a relieved, yet watery laugh. It's finally over.

Because of the commotion, nobody noticed the crystal tears rolling down his cheeks that had just escaped from his tightly shut eyes.

Chapter Text

Conan was running, as fast as his little feet let him, holding Ran’s gift bag tightly against his chest. 

Once he had seen Ran safe, yet sad because she hadn’t been able to meet with Shinichi in person, he had taken her bag from her hands and bolted.

He didn’t care Kogoro was most likely going to ground him for a month after running off in the middle of the night. He didn’t care that Ran was pretty much going to agree wholeheartedly and make sure he fulfilled his grounding. He really didn’t.

That bastard, that was the only thing he could think about right now. Where did he disappear to this time?

He passed by an alley, and stopped suddenly.

Listening carefully Conan could hear a labored breathing, and for a moment he didn’t know what to do. Bad things happened to children in dark alleys ─ or at least, that was what adults used to say a lot.

Peeking around the wall, he froze. Even in the dim light, he could see a figure he would recognize anywhere, leaning against the wall for support and holding his chest, as if he was feeling an excruciating, unbelievable pain.

“... Onii-chan?!” Shinichi’s head shot towards him at the sound of his voice. Ignoring the shocked look he sent his way, Conan rushed towards him. “What’s wrong?! Are you hurt?!”

“C-Calm down, Conan,” he said, with something that was between a smile and a grimace. “This... This is nothi-”

He gave a small scream, clutching his chest tighter, which did nothing to calm the little child’s nerves. Conan went even closer, small hands on his shoulders and Ran’s gift forgotten on the cold pavement.

“What do you mean with ‘nothing’?!” he cried, then shuffled through his pocket to pull his phone out. “I’m calling an ambulance.”

“No!” there was such an urgency on his voice that it actually caused to Conan stop. “Please, I can’t see a doctor.”

Conan gave his brother a long look and, to the latter’s surprise, he complied. He just put the phone back.

Just like I supposed, the kid’s eyes narrowed a bit in concern. All of this has to be related with the drug that girl, Sherry, spoke of.

He said nothing, just stood in front of him as his brother recovered. Little by little, Shinichi’s breathing slowed to a normal rate and his chest seemed to stop hurting. As he watched the older boy standing up, rather wobbly, he realized why he had ran off so suddenly.

Ran-neechan wouldn’t have let him go without seeing a doctor first if she saw him in this state.

“So, you’re leaving again?” Shinichi looked back at his brother, who sighed, loudly, with a nod. “I knew you would.”

The older Kudo frowned, slightly.

“Even if he tries to hide it, it’s obvious that Conan-kun is very worried about you.”

At first sight, one could mistake Conan’s posture ─ hands behind his head and half opened lids as if in annoyment ─ as indifference but he now could see better. He saw a kid, worried sick about his brother, resigned to see him go once more.

Frustrated, because he could not stop him.

“So you better apologize to him next time you see him!”

So, the teenager kneeled in front of the surprised child, so he would be on his eye level, and wrapped his little hands around his. His eyes softened and a sweet smile appeared on his face.

And Conan just stared back, blinking.

"I'm sorry," the older brother began. "I'm sorry I never realized how much my absence affected you. I heard you were so worried about me, yet I have never paused to give that any thought."

Conan opened his mouth to speak, then hesitated, and closed it shut. Even so, Shinichi simply waited, patiently, while the child seemed to think how to put his thoughts into words.

Eventually, the little boy voiced his question.

"When are you going to be back?"

For a moment, the oldest Kudo considered telling him it all was going to be over soon, but there was something in Conan's eyes ─ something he wouldn’t be able to describe, even if asked ─ that didn't let him lie his way out this time around.

"To be honest to you, I don't know. I'm involved with something big and I really don't know when I will be back."

Conan's gaze dropped to the floor.

"But there is something I'm certain of,” the child looked up at him at those words. “It doesn't matter if it takes me months or even years, I'm definitely coming back to you, Conan. Back home."

The little boy didn't know what to say to that, so he avoided his gaze and picked up Ran's bag. Shinichi only blinked at him when he, rather roughly, pushed it against his chest.

"Take it," Conan grumbled. "Happy birthday, I guess."

The birthday boy hesitantly took it and couldn't help but smile a little when he inspected its contents. Inside was a red shirt and what it seemed to be a book wrapped in paper.

Before he could say anything in return, Conan did. His eyes remained fixed on the ground, though.

“... You promise, right?” his voice was unusually small and childish.

The little child looked up when he felt his own hand move, only to realize that his brother had locked Conan’s pinky with his and was holding them right in front of him, wearing a big grin on his face.

But it was the confidence and determination on those blue eyes of his that ressured Conan that, yes, everything was going to be fine.

So, he smiled as well.


Mitsuhiko and Genta blinked at each other before turning their heads to continue to stare at the source of their puzzlement, sitting right in front of them. Conan didn’t seem to notice yet, not taking his nose off his book, humming a song to himself as he turned a page over.

“... He is humming, ” the bigger one whispered to the other, a serious look on his features. “I’m not hearing things, am I?”

“No, I can hear it too,” the freckled kid nodded, his eyes trained on their friend. “There’s no doubt about it, something is off about Conan-kun.”

They paused, listening carefully to the soft humming coming from the boy. After awhile, they sighed, sweatdropping. 

“Well, that is normal,” Genta commented.

“I thought we could figure something out if we knew what song this is but...” Mitsuhiko trailed off. “I guess Conan-kun wouldn’t be Conan-kun if he could carry a tune in a bucket...”

“Seriously, I knew he couldn’t sing for his life, but to think he could hum this bad...”

“... You’re well aware that I can clearly listen to everything you’re saying, right?”

Both boys flinched at the other’s voice, yet remained calm when he didn’t even look at them, returning to his book with a slighter annoyed posture. Just then, Ayumi came inside the classroom, and was dragged back outside by the boys.

Conan sighed tiredly, flipping another page.

“What’s wrong with you, guys?” the girl asked, quite confused at their friends’ behavior.

“Did you see Conan?” Genta said, exasperated. “He’s acting weird!”

Ayumi thought for it for a bit. Now that she thought about it, Conan had really looked different when she saw him that morning when walking to school. He was smiling a bit to himself, and it seemed like he was less tense than he normally was. It was as if there was radiant, bright aura around the boy.

“He’s just very happy,” she replied after a moment. “Conan-kun met with his brother last weekend, after all.”

“But didn’t Shinichi-san leave right after that?” Mitsuhiko added. “He was down for a few days last time that happened.”

“Do you think he finally lost it?” Genta added, a bit concerned.

Ayumi giggled. “I think he’s okay,” she assured them, making her way back to the door. “Maybe they said goodbye properly this time.”

“That’s right...” the shorter boy nodded.

Conan watched his friends walking back inside the classroom, and continued reading. The three kids stood, as usual, close to his desk and started to talk about random things. 

It seems like Yoshida-san talked some sense into those idiots’ heads, he remembered what his older brother had said about his way to refer to his friends and mentally corrected himself. No, Ayumi-chan did.

“Hey, did you hear, did you hear?” the girl exclaimed, excited for some reason. “There’s going to be a transfer student today in this class!”

“Eh?!” Genta was surprised. “Really?” 

“I wonder what this person is like!”

“I hope she’s cute,” Genta’s eyebrows wiggled.

“No, no,” Mitsuhiko waved his finger. “Whether it’s a boy or a girl, personality comes first.”

“Hey, Conan-kun,” the boy looked up when he heard his name. “What kind of person do you think this kid is like?”

He leaned his head on his open palm. “Who knows,” he shrugged. “We’ll find out in a few minutes, anyway.”

“Ayumi,” the big boy called. “Didn’t you see that kid in the teacher’s lounge?”

“Yeah, I asked the name. They said it’s Haibara.”

“That’s a unique name,” Mitsuhiko commented.

“But I guess it’s better than Conan.”

“Well, excuse me for that,” he pretended to be irritated, but the slight amused smile on his face gave it away. I’m still going to get revenge for that, Onii-chan.

The three laughed, loudly, but were interrupted by the sound of the door opening. All eyes focused on the short, strawberry blonde girl that was making her way inside the classroom with the teacher smiling right behind her.

Everyone stared in awe at the new student, whispering to each other as the teacher and the girl walked in front of the classroom. Kobayashi sent everyone to their seats, and Conan couldn’t help but sigh to himself.

The girl was cute, he would give them that, but he still couldn’t understand why everyone was making such a deal with this one. It wasn’t like there was something special about this new student besides her beauty. Not that they knew of, anyway.

Besides, in that harsh world he lived in, looks weren’t everything. Intelligence and adaptability was far more important to survive. 

Or so he thought.

She quietly glanced around the room until her eyes stopped moving, focused on a certain spot in the entire classroom. Despite himself, the boy flinched when he noticed where she was looking at.

Icy blue eyes, devoid of any kind emotion, were staring right into his soul.

A strong feeling of familiarity caused his body to stiffen and his eyebrows to frown, confusedly, as he held her gaze.

“Okay, she’s Haibara Ai-san, who will be learning with us starting today,” he didn’t even realize Kobayashi finishing writing her name on the blackboard until she spoke. “Everyone, be friendly, alright?”

Even if Haibara herself didn’t look particularly friendly, Conan thought to himself.

“Now then, Haibara-san’s seat will be...”

“Sensei, here!” Genta pulled the chair next to his desk. “The seat next to mine is free!”

But Haibara had yet to break her stare away from Conan, even as she started to walk. The boy watched as she passed by Genta, surprising everyone, before settling into the spot next to Conan.

... Eh?

He only stared as she silently began to take out her books, finally looking away from him and blankly staring at the spot in front of her.

“Nice to meet you,” her voice was stoic and cold, just like snow.

"Uh... Yeah," and then, he put his book back and began to pull his stuff out.

He didn't give it any more thought. Maybe Haibara was just another ordinary socially awkward kid, he decided as he focused back to the teacher. 

Yet, he couldn’t help but feel incredibly uncomfortable as he sat in class, next to this unusually quiet girl. A few times, he even caught her staring at him.

Every single time he would ask what was wrong, yet she wouldn’t answer. Haibara would only frown a little before returning to her work.

He was beyond glad when the class was over and Haibara, wordlessly, stood from her seat and left, but mentally sighed when he spotted Ayumi running after her.

“Haibara-san!” Ayumi called, coming to a stop right next to her. “Let’s go home together.”

Haibara merely glanced at the girl, before continuing walking.

“Just leave a struck up woman like her alone,” Genta seemed to still be mad after being rejected by her.

But Ayumi refused and went up to the new kid to continue her attempts to make a new friend, causing the bigger boy to scoff.

“Now that I think of it,” Mitsuhiko pondered for a moment. “Doesn’t Haibara-san remind you of Conan-kun a little?”

“Huh?” Conan didn’t understand.

“You don’t have play dumb,” Genta frowned at him. “Like you don’t remember pushing us away the first months after we met.”

Finally the boy with glasses was able to understand what that meant, so he looked away from them, slightly offended. “Rude,” he glared at them. At least I tried to be polite and didn’t downright ignore them... much. 

Mitsuhiko smiled apologetically before walking faster, catching up with the girls in an instant. 

“Where do you live?” he asked her, with a friendly smile on his face. “You just moved here, right?”

“Don’t be shy,” Ayumi did the same. “We’ll take you home.”

Haibara paused.

“Beika Block, Second street,” she said, quietly and tonelessly, and for some reason seemed to glance at Conan by the corner of her eye. “That’s where I currently reside.”

Not only Conan was startled by the revelation, but the other three kids were as well. Genta even gasped, loudly and said:

“Wait, Conan, isn’t that close to-?”

Both Mitsuhiko and Ayumi shook their heads, furiously, from their spot behind Haibara, causing the bigger boy to panic. Conan sighed, tiredly, watching his friend wave his hands around and struggling to come up with some believable excuse.

“Yeah, I heard that’s where that high school detective lived,” he said, trying to cover up for him. “They say he mysteriously disappeared and nobody has seen him since last year, though.”

Seemingly, it worked, because Haibara said nothing and kept on walking. The rest started to talk about other mundane things, quickly forgetting about that topic.

But Conan could have sworn he saw that mysterious girl smirk at him for a slight moment. Puzzled about her antics, he stopped right there, blinking.

It was like she knew something Conan did not.

“Hey, what’s up with you?” Genta gave him a friendly nudge. “You like that stuck up woman?”

Conan winced at that, and furiously shook his head. “N-No, definitely not!”

Sighing loudly, he resumed his walk back to the lockers, his face tinted a bit red. Damn, was I staring for too long? No wonder I gave him the wrong impression, he thought. Still, there’s something about that girl that doesn’t feel right.

By the time Genta and Conan caught up with them, Haibara was getting out her outdoor shoes from her locker.

“Detective Boys?” they heard her ask. “You guys?”

“Yes, in order to solve everyone’s case, we’re working day and night,” Mitsuhiko proudly claimed, earning a look from Conan.

“You should join us too, Haibara-san,” Ayumi offered.

Please, don’t do it, Conan cringed. 

Call him cruel, or whatever, but there was something truly unsettling about that girl and he really didn’t want her in her circle of friends.

“Is Edogawa-kun in it too?”

Conan was seriously tempted to tell her that no, he certainly wasn’t on the group, when Genta’s big hand fell on his head and ruffled his hair.

“Yeah, this guy is like my apprentice, though.”

Wow. First a villager and now an apprentice? he glared at his friend. It has been clearly me the one solving every single case...

Even through the cases usually consisted in finding missing cats which would turn out to be gruesome murders because that was just his luck.

“All request are sent to Genta-kun’s shoe-locker,” Ayumi explained, pointing at the paper they had tapped on it that read:

“Difficult cases are greatly welcome!!

Class 2-B

Detective Boys.”

“All the requests are to be left in there,” Mitsuhiko added.

“Although we’re keeping it a secret from the teachers,” Genta smiled.

“Eh?” Conan blinked. “Were we?”

The three looked at him, scandalized. “You didn’t tell anyone, did you?!” they all screamed.

“There’s no need to, they already know,” said the boy, with a plain voice, then pointed at the paper on Genta’s locker. “Did you truly expect them not to notice that ?”

“Well...” they looked at each other, doubtfully.

Conan resisted the urge to facepalm.

“It doesn’t matter if they know,” Genta decided, quickly, going to open his locker. “Everyday, everyday, it’s awesome. The letters from those who are in trouble,” he peeked inside, and noticed it empty, his lonely shoes standing on the middle of the compartment. “Nothing here... That’s weird! There’s usually more in it, but today just happens to be...”

The three kids laughed, nervously. 

There isn’t any in there usually, either, Conan thought, making his way to his own locker, and taking out his shoes.

“I’m going home,” he declared. “I’m grounded, and I definitely don’t want Ran-neechan extending it by another month.”

“You are grounded?” Genta blinked, confusedly. “What did you do?”

This caused the boy to give him another are-you-serious look, thus shutting him up. Genta then laughed nervously, and went to fetch his own shoes, when he noticed a note inside and gasped. “Hey! It’s a request!”

That really took them by surprise. “Really?” Ayumi brightened, and Genta opened it to read.

“Dear Detective Boys;

I’ll wait for you in Class 2-A after school.

Please and thank you.

─ Nakada Toshiya.”

“Then, let’s get going!” Mitsuhiko declared. “To Class 2-A!”

Conan complained loudly when Genta pushed him forward, vocally reminding him he had to return home right away. “It’s okay, it won’t take that long!” the big boy assured him.

“You can hear what he has to say and then go right back home,” the freckled one said. “Maybe you can give us a hint and then we can take care of it by ourselves.”

Realizing he didn’t have much say in that matter, the boy decided to come along. Soon, Ayumi and Haibara caught up with them and they all went inside the classroom.

Toshiya was standing in the middle of the room when they arrived, shifting uncomfortably where he stood. Mitsuhiko asked what the problem was, and Conan barely paid attention to it, wishing for it to end quickly.

Until he stated what his case was.

“My older brother disappeared suddenly,” he explained. “He’s ten years older than me. He disappeared in the afternoon one week ago.”

His words had struck home.

What are the odds? Conan felt three sets of gazes falling on him, but he paid no mind, just staring at the child with sharp eyes.

The three kids then looked at each other, a serious expression on each on their faces, before returning to the quest in hand.

“Did you see him talking with somebody that looked extremely dangerous and suspicious?” Mitsuhiko asked.

“Did they wear completely black clothes?” Genta continued.

“Do you think he could be hiding from somebody else?” Ayumi inquired.

“E... Eh...” the boy didn’t quite know how he was supposed to answer. “N-No.”

Conan sighed, loudly. 

And for some reason Haibara’s eyes narrowed, slightly, yet nobody noticed.

“Anyway,” Conan spoke up, as he watched Toshiya’s distressed face. “Let’s go to his home. We’ll talk after that.”

Nobody questioned him, even if he had seemed to forget about the fact that he was actually grounded. Mostly because they knew why he was that determined to find out the truth.

Because Conan would see himself every single time he looked at this boy’s look of worry and fear.


“Check this out!”

“It’s the super new style of air shoes!”

Conan wondered if bringing his friends along had actually been a good idea. He should’ve learned his lesson last time they had gone to investigate in his own house, back when he had been looking for Shinichi. They had basically turned his home upside down, mostly snooping around and checking out his place, rather than actual detective work.

"How is that relevant, exactly?" asked Conan, feeling suddenly tired.

"We now know that Toshiya-kun's brother knows a lot of brand names," Mitsuhiko proudly nodded to himself.

"Does he?" Conan turned to the boy, and he hesitated.

"Uh... I don't know," he pondered. "But those shoes were a gift from my uncle in America. I have a pair as well."

The two paused, then returned the shoes back to its place.

"I see..."

"We now know he doesn't!"

Even if he did, the Conan still failed to understand how was that important. Shrugging to himself, he went back to work.

Now, he wasn't completely sure what to look for, however. Unlike Shinichi, Toshiya's brother was not a detective, and Toshiya himself didn't look particularly adept to riddles either. Their cases were completely different.

At least there wouldn't be any mysterious, and equally dangerous, men in black roaming around the house this time around. God, that had been scary.

His mind went back to his encounter with the girl, Sherry.

It has been a long while and still nothing happened even if she saw me. Did she really keep quiet about my presence?

Tokiya noticed Haibara's lips twitching as he stared at the back of Conan's head. A very sinister smile sent a chill down his neck.

"His wallet is still here," Conan pointed out, as he picked it up from the drawer.

"And why is that relevant?" Genta argued.

The boy in question raised an eyebrow at him. "Because it means he didn't run away?"

"Oh..."

“Oh.”

Suddenly, they heard Ayumi laughing, loudly. She came crawling from under the bed, with what it seemed to be a painting.

"What's this? There are lots of weird drawings under the bed!"

Genta took a look of it, and started laughing as well. Haibara, however, didn't.

"Picasso," was all she said.

"Ah, that's true!" Mitsuhiko exclaimed. "It's the reproduction of The Crying Woman. "

Conan walked closer before pulling out another few of them from under the bed. “Gogh, Monet, Gauguin,” he observed. “They’re copies.”

“My brother painted them,” Toshiya explained. “In high school, he was one of the best in reproducing famous paintings.”

“Do you think someone would kidnap him for this quality?” Genta asked.

“It’s not impossible,” said Mitsuhiko. “If he paints copies and then replaces them for the true ones...”

“Not a chance. Even if his paintings are pretty good, the choice of colours and the impression are not perfect,” his eyes moved to another portrait. “That one, however...”

It was a portrait of Natsume Soseki, Conan noticed. That one was particularly well made, to the point that he could’ve easily mistaken it for a photograph.

“My brother really likes this author. He adores this painting so much that he even presented this in a gallery,” Toshiya told them. “But it looks like a photo so much that critics were hard... The only person that congratulated him was a strange woman. ”

Conan frowned at that. “A strange woman?”

“Yes... She wore a large hat...” the boy trailed off, and then gasped. “Wait... Now that I think about it... She was wearing black clothes.”

The three kids instantly turned around to look at him, shock written all over their faces, before glancing at a very pale Conan. There was a look of utter terror on his face.

“She was dressed in black from head to toe.”

And Haibara, as always, quietly watched the kids with all-too-seeing eyes.

Chapter Text

Conan was restless, and there was little reason not to. There was a missing person and probably those mysterious men in black were behind it. Toshiya had mentioned another two men hanging around the woman, and he couldn’t help but remember Gin and Vodka’s faces every time he thought about it.

He guessed that Toshiya’s brother had been kidnapped to use his drawing skills to fabricate counterfeit money. He had seen a suspicious man using fake money to buy a pack of cigarettes after all.

There was something he was completely certain of, however. He had seen what these men were capable of ─ Hirota Masami’s bloody death still haunted him to this day ─ and he certainly didn’t want his friends around. If something happened to them...

He stopped his thought there. Conan didn’t want to think about it.

So, he convinced them to go home because it was getting late, and that he would catch up with them.

Soon, after following the man’s trail he reached Daitoma, and decided to check out an estate agency he had passed by to ask for any warehouses they had lent at the edge of the city.

Not such a luck.

“You’re hindering my work,” the man on charge patted his head, which annoyed him a lot. “Take your friends and go home already.”

“... Friends?”

Turning around, he winced under the glares that Mitsuhiko, Ayumi and Genta were sending his way, faces pressed against the window while sliding out his sight. Toshiya and Haibara were also there. The boy had a pretty confused expression while the girl... Well, he couldn’t really figure out what she was thinking about.

“We’re not going to fall for your tricks all the time!” Genta yelled.

“Sneaking out to go on your own is your number one move,” Mitsuhiko accused him.

“H-How did you find me?” Conan blinked.

“We were told by Haibara-san and followed you here,” Mitsuhiko pointed at the girl in question, who was glancing at the magazines in the corner of the room.

“She said that you were planning to get rid of us to go investigate on your own,” Ayumi added.

The two exchanged a grin, yet Conan couldn’t help but stare at the strange girl, before his eyebrow twitched. That girl... 

Not only she was unsettlingly creepy, but it looked like she could easily see through his lies. Now he really didn’t want her around, he decided.

There was nothing he could do about it, though.

“Umm...” Toshiya went to the man. “Is there any novelist living around here?”

“Novelist?” Conan turned to him. “What does it have to do with anything?

“After my brother disappeared, he did call home once.”

What?!

“Why didn’t you tell us that earlier?!” the other three were suddenly at their side, looking as shocked as him. 

“The one who picked up the phone was our grandmother, but she’s got a bad ear, and my brother was talking fast, so she couldn’t tell what he was saying,” Toshiya tried to explain himself. “The only words she got was that he was with a bunch of people like Soseki.”

Conan thought it over, but didn’t quite understand what that meant. Toshiya then said that his brother’s voice had been quivering at the time, and that he had hung up suddenly ─ probably after being discovered, Conan supposed.

“Come to think of it,” the man said. “There’s a person like Soseki living close by. He’s the owner of a bookstore around the corner.”

Even if they went to that bookstore, they didn’t really find anything suspicious. While terribly bad tempered, the owner didn’t seem to be related at all with Toshiya’s brother’s disappearance. 

“I checked the books and its storage,” Conan explained to his group. “But there weren’t any machines used for printing counterfeit money.”

“Speaking of printers,” the man commented. “The newspaper company in front of the station was putting in a new one recently.”

True to his words, a newspaper building stood in front of them, right in front of the police station. He didn’t think much about it, until he asked how were the people working in there.

The man answered that the president was a woman, wearing a black hat and dressed in black. After that he left, not without telling them to drop it because there was absolutely no way someone would print counterfeit money right in front of the police.

Now, what does it all have to do with Soseki?

“What are you doing, Conan?” he recalled his brother asking when he was four years old.

“Reading.”

“A dictionary?” Shinichi had blinked, when his younger brother had shrugged. “Why?”

“I read a strange word recently,” the child had explained. “And I found a lot of other interesting words in here, so...”

Shinichi had chuckled at his weird behaviour, which was pretty unusual for a little kid of his age. He had said at the time that he couldn’t think of another child that would spend his time reading a dictionary just to know a few more words.

Conan also remembered him saying something else back then:

“Rinse thy mouth with rocks,” the child mumbled, deep in thought. “And pillow thy head upon the flow.”

“Eh?” the other children didn’t understand.

“It’s a famous quote of Soseki, that means being eccentric,” he explained. “So, usually when you want to make counterfeits, you’d want to avoid attention and be at the edge of the city, but these people...”

“They placed that place in front of the station!” Mitsuhiko realized, and Conan nodded at him. “I see... If they did that, they would avoid suspicion by the police.”


Predictably so, the police had laughed at them and did not believe a single word, so he had decided to leave the children alone for a moment to call Inspector Megure, using his brother voice.

His surprise was big when the police then told him that his friends had gone inside the newspaper company, claiming that they would find proof.

“And you let them go alone?” Conan was furious. “When there’s a slight possibility of dangerous criminals hanging around?!”

The policemen exchanged looks and shruggered, probably thinking that the little kid was just a tad paranoiac. The child just scowled at them and took off running.

“I’m making sure every single soul knows you ignored the testimony of a group of children and let them get in trouble!” he cried over his shoulder.

“W-Wait, kid!”

He didn’t listen, just went inside the building and ran upstairs, as fast as he could, feeling as fear gripped his chest, which prompted him to go even faster. In less than a minute, the boy reached the top.

When he heard Genta’s loud voice, Conan couldn’t help but sigh, both due to relief and annoyment. Really, can’t these guys keep it quiet for once...

Before he could enter the room to get them out, however, he felt a familiar coldness pressing on the back of his head.

“Your detective game has come to an end, young man.”

Conan froze on his spot, slowly letting go of the door handle. 

By the way Ayumi was crying his name now, Conan knew the other criminals were inside. He even heard a woman’s voice telling his friends that he was dead, and them sobbing because of it.

To be fair, Conan was pretty much screwed so that statement wasn’t that far from reality.

There was a click sound he knew very well. Slowly, his hand went to his wrist watch and the lid flipped open, making sure to hide his actions with his own body. Then, took a deep breath, before spinning around.

The criminal fell into the floor in a heap before he could pull the trigger, before cracking the door open and peeking inside. His eyes opened, widely, when he saw the woman in black pointing a gun at Ayumi’s face.

So, he wasted no time and picked the gun from the fallen criminal before putting the security back on. Then activated his kicking shoes and aimed at the woman’s hand.

She lost the grip on her weapon, causing it to fall a few feet away from her. “Who is there?!” angrily, she faced to the door.

His friend’s expressions brightened when they saw him there, standing in the doorway, while sparks of electricity danced around his feet. The boy glanced at his friends, exchanging smiles for a moment, before he turned to the woman.

 “Edogawa Conan,” his tender smile turned into a confident smirk. “Just a detective.”

“Impossible! Inuyama dealt with you earlier!”

“Oh, you mean that Inuyama?” he stepped aside, letting her see her partner lying on the ground, out cold. The woman growled.

The child simply walked to a box filled with several sealed buckets of paint. Then, grinning devilishly at her, he kicked a pair. Her partners suffered the same destiny as Inuyama.

Gritting her teeth, the woman rushed to the weapon she had dropped and stretched her hand, but she didn’t get to pick it up.

She froze in place when she met icy cold, blue eyes, filled with murderous intent. The gun she had failed to take was now in front of her nose. Then, there was a loud bang.

The window shattered behind her.

And the entire room fell into an unsettling silence.

“H-Haibara... san...?” Conan muttered, still in shock, as the girl silently lowered the weapon.

Her expression hadn’t changed a bit throughout the entire ordeal.

Unlike Conan, the other children recovered right away, and started cheering, praising Haibara for her coolness and bravery, when they saw the two police cops bursting into the room. They must have seen the window breaking due to the shot and rushed right over, or so Conan thought.

“Thank you for your hard work!” Genta grinned. “We’ve solved the case.”

“These are the evidence fake bills,” Mitsuhiko held the paper in front of him.

“And that is Toshiya-kun’s brother who was kidnapped,” Ayumi pointed at the teenager.

He could only laugh, awkwardly, in return.

“And for the record,” Conan smirked. “We told you so.

The policemen that were just standing there, blinking, looked at the boy with glasses and grimaced, clearly remembering his promise from a while ago. 

We are so fired... they thought, in unison.

Inspector Megure arrived at the scene roughly twenty minutes later and arrested the criminals on the spot. Toshiya’s brother was released not long thereafter.

It didn’t go as smoothly as Conan had expected, however. It turned out that the woman in black had absolutely nothing to do with the organization that Shinichi was running away from. Apparently, the woman was a famous wanted criminal that went by the name of The Silver Fox and was deeply involved with counterfeit money making.

As impressive as it was, however, she still wasn’t involved with the Black Organization. At all.

It was such a disappointment.

One look at his right, though, and it all went away. The sight of Toshiya’s radiant smile and tears of happiness as he hugged his older brother, tightly, caused Conan to smile, without meaning to. 

I’m happy for you, Nakada.

He was glad that those two brothers, separated by ruthless criminals in order to accomplish their shady objectives, got a happy ending at the end.

I wonder... Conan’s smile dropped a tiny bit. I wonder if there’s a good ending for us two as well, Onii-chan.

“But this time, you’ll be charged for kidnapping, illegal gun possession and firing,” he was brought out of his thoughts by Megure, who was talking to the Silver Fox. “It looks like you will be gone for a long time.”

“I’m not the one that fired,” she motioned to Haibara, who stood silently behind them. “It was that little girl.”

Haibara didn’t bat an eye.

Yet Megure certainly did.

“What?!” the next second, the inspector was rushing up to her, a stern and equally terrified expression on his face. “Why did you do such a dangerous thing?!”

For the first time in an entire day, the girl’s plain expression shifted. Her eyes had opened slightly when she was reprimanded, then started to water.

“But...” she sobbed. “... But...”

Megure panicked, fussing over the child when she burst out crying, apologizing for his scary approach over and over again. He probably thought he had gone overboard ─ this could clearly be a case of a traumatized child that thought firing a gun could the only way out.

Conan’s eyes narrowed however, shifting his gaze to the hole in the broken window.

Luckily they let them go home not long thereafter. Ayumi and the rest were hovering over a still crying Haibara as they walked, not having the sightless clue of how to comfort their new classmate. Conan did not say anything, though, at least until Ayumi ─ the other two had gone home already at this point ─ had to part ways.

“Will you be okay on your own, Haibara-san?” asked the girl, concern filling her voice.

“Don’t worry,” the boy reassured her, with a comforting smile. “I’ll take her home.”

“Are you sure, Conan-kun? Your house is in the other way.”

“Yeah, just go home, Ayumi-chan. I’ll take it from here.”

With a hesitant nod and one last look at Haibara, the girl turned around and disappeared inside the building, immediately climbing up the stairs to her apartment. It wasn't until she was halfway towards her room, that she realized it.

Did Conan-kun just call me by my name?

Smiling a little to herself, the kid left her bag on the floor and went to the kitchen. She wondered what she would have for dinner.


The pair continued to walk. Not a word had been exchanged between them, and they kept at it for a few blocks, letting Haibara’s sobs fill the uncomfortable silence. Then, Conan stopped on his tracks, not bothering to look at the girl behind her.

“Now that we’re alone, you can stop pretending,” the boy said, with a very serious expression. “Your acting is pretty convincing, but I can’t believe it coming from someone who is definitely used to firing guns.”

Haibara stopped crying instantly, and Conan didn’t need to turn around to know that she now had a very menacing smile plastered on her face. “How did you know?” she asked.

“Your stance and incredible accuracy,” he explained, before finally turning around to examine her with his sharp gaze. “You didn’t miss her head by an inch just by chance. You were aiming for that spot .

The way the girl giggled sent a chill running down his spine.

“Impressive as expected, child detective, Kudo Conan-kun.”

His breath caught on his throat at that sentence, then took a deep breath. He hoped his shock hadn’t shown on his face, but the widening smirk on Haibara’s face told him that it just had.

“Just... Who are you, really, Haibara-san?”

Her hand raised and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Sherry,” Conan paled at that name. “That’s my codename.”

The child was paralyzed, stuck on his spot while staring at the girl, mouth suddenly going dry.

Sherry?! How is that even possible?

Now he could see that, even if a bit different, this girl definitely resembled the one he had briefly seen months ago. Her hair was different ─ a wig? ─ but the shape of her face and her overall physical complexion was exactly the same.

Not to mention her gelid, icy blue stare. 

“Well, are you surprised?” her evil smile widened. “It has been a long while since we last saw each other, hasn’t it, Kudo-kun?”

Conan took a step back, sweating bullets but didn’t let his gaze stray away from her form. “Why didn’t you say anything?” he did an abysmal effort not to let his fear show on his face, however. “Back then, you said I was just a rat.”

“Which isn’t too far from reality, is it?” she chuckled to herself, before continuing. “I needed time. I had to make sure you weren’t just an unfortunate homeless child that lived inside Kudo Shinichi’s house and were, in fact, actually related to him.”

Sherry clasped her hands behind her back, giving out the false impression of a cute little girl, but Conan did not feel at ease with it.

“I made a background check. My surprise was big when I came into the conclusion that Kudo Shinichi’s little brother wasn’t away in America, but back in Japan with a different last name,” she explained to him, quietly and calmly, as if it meant nothing. Probably because it actually meant nothing to her. “The Organization had come into the decision to eliminate every single soul that was related with that high school detective.”

“So, are you going to kill me?” he smirked, yet in reality he was cursing his fate. The anesthetic needle had already been used on the criminal a few hours ago, leaving him completely defenseless against a sudden attack.

“Not only you, but also his friends, your friends. That includes Kudo Shinichi’s dear girlfriend and her father, who you are living with... And of course, the previous owner of the house I’m currently living at, who we have already taken care of.”

Conan’s eyes opened, widely. 22 Beika Block, Second Street, it dawned to him, and then he couldn’t hide his horror. Why haven’t I realized it before?! 

“Why don’t you go and take a look, if you don’t believe me?” Conan’s eyes narrowed at that. “Don’t worry, I won’t move from this spot. You can go if you truly want to.”

Now Conan didn’t want to turn his back on her, fearing it was a vile trap, yet on the other hand he couldn’t bear the thought of Professor Agasa’s body lying still on the floor, growing colder at every passing second while a pool of blood began forming beneath.

He gave a hesitant step ahead, then started to ran, and paused right before going around the corner. Looking over his shoulder he saw Haibara, standing on her place with her arms behind her back and a very disturbing smile curving her lips, still as a statue.

Hoping he wouldn’t regret his decision later, the child took off running.


At the end, he did regret it, but for another reason altogether. 

“Oh, Conan,” Agasa smiled, unaware of what had happened to the young boy in front of him. “What are you doing here so late?

Conan blinked, and then blinked again for good measure. The professor didn’t disappear and just stood there, waiting for him to speak. He never did.

Because the door opened.

“I’m home,” the familiar girl walked inside, as if she had lived in there for ages, then sat on the couch.

“Welcome home, Ai-kun.”

Conan was rendered speechless at the scene developing in front of him. Agasa was casually chatting with Haibara, like a father would with his daughter ─ grandfather and granddaughter? ─ after a long day of school.

“I take you already met Ai-kun, right?”

It took Conan’s brain a few seconds more than it should to process the fact that this girl had taken him for a fool, and when it did, the boy glared at Haibara. The child in question just smirked back at him, which irritated him even more.

Agasa laughed loudly when he was told everything that had happened on their way home. Conan’s eyebrow was twitching at this point.

“So, this means it was all a big lie?” the boy asked, annoyment sipping on his voice. “Every single thing?”

Haibara flipped a page of her magazine. “Only the part where I was going to kill everyone,” she replied, as if it was matter of fact. “I’m not part of the assassination division.”

“So you...?” his eyes widened behind his glasses.

“I was the head scientist and worked for the Organization.”

The boy gave her a weird look, taking on her appearance. No matter how hard he looked, this girl simply couldn’t be older than eight. So what...?

“I’m a prodigy,” she explained, clearly noticing his confusion, with a smug smirk. “Or so they say. At any rate, they raised me to develop a certain drug for them,” with a pause, the child shifted her gaze to the boy, before continuing. “The same one your older brother, Kudo Shinichi, ingested. Apotoxin-4869.”

Conan took a sharp breath and his eyes narrowed. “What does it do?” quietly, he asked.

“Inhibition in the cardiovascular system, a decrease of heartbeats in one person over time,” she explained to him. “Side effects include occasional severe chest pains, shortness of breath, fatigue and death.

“... Death...?”

“Most of the rats died right after taking it. The only one that didn’t only survived two weeks.”

The silence was deafening, Agasa noticed as he watched the young child take on this new information. To be honest, the old professor couldn’t tell what was going through the kid’s mind, since the light refracting on his glasses was hiding his eyes from plain view.

When he began to shake, the old professor seriously worried about the child detective. Hesitation filling his features, he tried to place a comforting hand on top of his shoulder, but it was whisked away when the boy suddenly turned around to face him.

“... Why?” he said in a whisper, before shifting. The light on his lenses was gone and now he could see the tear-filled, furious look on his young eyes. “Why is she living on your house?! Can’t you see she’s part of the men in black?!”

She had poisoned her brother. 

This girl had created a poison that was slowly killing him.

And she had said that, so coldly and indifferently, like it meant nothing to her. It only made Conan angry ─ angrier than he had ever felt before.

Then why...? Why...?!

“He took me in,” the boy paused when he heard her voice. “When he found me laying on the ground in the rain in front of your house,” then, she turned to look at him and smiled, for the first time since he had met her. “That Professor right there.”

Conan said nothing, yet his anger didn’t leave right away.

“Your brother was supposed to die anyway, so he should consider himself lucky he was forced to take that experimental drug instead of a bullet in the head,” she explained, easily holding his fiery gaze. “Out of the individuals who took that drug, his death was not confirmed. I changed his data, so shouldn’t be a problem anymore.”

Haibara turned back to her magazine.

“Well, once they realize I’m not dead and that it was me, a traitor, who wrote the data, he will be in trouble.”

Traitor? the fury had now somewhat receded, and confusion took hold. “Why did you do that?”

Something flickered behind her eyes, and he saw her hands tensing a little bit around the magazine. Whatever it was, she managed to keep it inside. 

“I have many reasons,” finally, she told him. “But the biggest reason was my older sister.”

“Your sister?”

“She was killed by the members of the Organization,” she told him. “No matter how much I demanded, the Organization didn’t tell me the reason behind it.”

Her eyes narrowed, and her grip on the magazine tightened.

“Then, I decided to stop working on the development of that drug until I received an answer,” she continued. “Of course I, who went against the organization, was confined to a small room in the lab and was to wait for the decision from above. I thought that since I was going to get killed anyway, I would take the Apotoxin-4869 which I secretly held.”

Conan truthfully hadn’t expected that. He hadn’t thought anyone in their right mind would willingly take a poisonous drug, and such a violent one at that. She must have been desperate, he realized.

“And how did you escape?”

“Once ingested, the drug makes the victim enter a death-like state for a while, between twenty to thirty minutes,” she explained. “When they entered the room, it looked like I had committed suicide.”

The girl then finally left her spot and walked over the bookshelf, where the professor had left the newspaper, and took it. She held it in front of her to let them see the cover:

"Drug company burned to the ground."

“They decided to get rid of my body, and anything possibly related to me, by setting the lab on fire, probably afraid I had left any clue behind that could incriminate them. I managed to escape, yet everything else was destroyed,” Haibara told them, calmly as always. “Including all the drug’s data stored in there.”

Both the girl and the old man stared at Conan, waiting for his reaction. The boy, in turn, was quiet for a moment, as he took all this information in, before he frowned. There still was anger behind his eyes, but it had dimmed a bit somehow.

He was mostly determined now, though.

“You still can make an antidote, right?” Conan asked, his eyes meeting hers. “Even if you don’t have the data.”

“I have never tried to remember all of iy,” at her words, the boy visually tensed. The girl noticed this, paused briefly, then let a smirk cross her face again. “But I guess I still need to try. My life goes with it as well.”

Behind his glasses, his eyes lighted up. Haibara couldn’t help but stare, thoroughly amused, at the look of hope that now was painting his face, even if his fists had yet to stop clenching.

Hope, huh? she couldn’t remember the last time she had experienced it herself.

Chapter Text

“Where are you, young man?!” Ran’s angry voice boomed through the phone, prompting the child to wince as his ear started to hurt. “I’ve been calling you all day and I didn’t even get sign of you!”

“I’m sorry,” Conan apologized, refusing to tell her that he had actually been ignoring her calls. At the time, he had believed he had an important case in his hands, much more important than listening through Ran’s scolding. Now, he thought he probably should have picked it up.

“And you are supposed to be grounded!”

“Yes, I’m truly sorry.”

“Now, you better get home on this instant or else-”

“I’m staying over at the Professor’s house,” the child spoke, quickly, before she could continue. “He made a fun game and wants me to play with it...”

He trailed off, closing his eyes waiting for the inevitable sound of Ran scolding him. Sure enough, the girl seemed to huff, and then take a deep breath.

“Kudo Conan, you better-!”

Click.

Quickly turning his phone off, the boy let out a big sigh and massaged his forehead. I think I should prepare for Ran-neechan to extend my grounding for a year, at least, he lamented on his head. And to confiscate all my books for another decade.

Well it was not like he could help it. Any other day he would have happily returned home early to read a book, then have a delicious dinner and go to bed, like any other good kid would. But there was so much in stake, and his brother’s life was one of them. 

So, for him, he would endure a five-year grounding if necessary.

After giving another contemplating look towards his phone, he leaned back on the car seat. Currently they were headed towards Professor Hirota Masami’s house to retrieve a floppy that seemed to store the Apotoxin-4869’s information inside. It turned out Haibara had sent it back to her sister by accident, and now it was on the hands of her university teacher.

Though, his name...

Hirota Masami.

“I’ll leave the rest to you... little detective...”

He stared at his palms again and blinked repeatedly. Just now, his hands had been soaked in blood, Hirota-san’s blood. Shaking his head and tucking his hands on his pocket, he decided look through the window, focusing on the empty, darkened street.

It had to be a coincidence. It had to.

Now he had to focus on his brother. The teenager had been poisoned, and he didn’t know how much he had left to live. Every single time he thought about it, his heart would clench on his chest. He truly didn’t want to lose him.

But... Conan’s eyes widened slightly behind his glasses. Why did they want to kill him so badly?

He hadn’t given it much thought, especially after being told about the drug and possible risks after consumption, but now he couldn’t really stop thinking about it.

Craning his neck to the side, he watched the mysterious girl with a thoughtful look, and opened his mouth to speak, to ask her what was in his mind. She was glancing through the window, yet her eyes seemed to be staring at something far, far away. There something sad about her posture.

She had lost her older sister recently, she had said, and Conan would have been lying if he said he couldn’t understand, at least a little bit, what she was going through. It only had been a few days since he had almost lost his brother, and those seconds when he had thought Shinichi was gone were probably the worst ones in his entire, short life.

But understanding certainly didn’t mean forgiving. Conan still couldn’t feel at ease around her, the creator of that murderous drug. Even if it did end up saving the high school detective by chance.

“What?” he jumped when he heard her voice. She wasn’t even looking at him. “You have staring at me for a while.”

The boy hesitated.

“... How much does my brother have?” he settled that question. “You said the rats that survived died after two weeks... But that doesn’t make any sense, considering he probably took that drug months ago.”

She smirked. “For a detective, you’re kind of slow. Understandable, considering you were in shock after all that happened, and all the information you received all of sudden,” Haibara merely glanced at him for a couple of seconds, before staring out the window again. “Rats and humans have different organisms. For instance, their lifespan as it is around a mere couple of years. So your brother could certainly live for a little longer.”

“How much, then?”

“Two years, give or take.”

That didn’t make him feel much better, if he was honest. And it seemed it was also the case with Agasa, if the way his grip on the wheel tightened was something to go by.

“That means you have that much, doesn’t it?” Conan asked her.

“Of course,” she simply replied. “Then, is there something else you want to ask?”

Conan opened his mouth once more, yet paused at the last moment.

Before it clamped shut and his eyes went back to the road.

He still couldn’t bring himself trust her.


Haibara watched the detective boy sitting in front of the old phone, hand on his chin as he struggled to figure out how Hirota’s locked-room murder ─ as his luck would have it, of course the university teacher had died ─ happened in the first place.

There were several messages left in the phone, including one from someone they recognized as Vodka, even when his voice had been modified with a machine. However, the two children came into the conclusion that Hirota hadn’t been killed by the Organization ─ they wouldn’t have left the evidence behind if they had.

Conan was deadly serious, and for a moment Haibara thought that he would manage to solve this mystery.

But then, she would remember.

"Onee-chan, don't go."

Miyano Akemi looked back at her little sister, a curious look on her features. For some reason, the usually serious little girl seemed to be extremely distressed.

"Please don't," the child continued. "I have... I have a really bad feeling about this mission."

There was a pause, then the older girl seemed to smile, sweetily, down at the kid.

"Don't worry, Shiho," she assured her, letting her hand rest on top of her head. "I'll be perfectly okay."

The newspaper's photograph danced through her mind, teasing her ─ torturing her ─ repeating the same words over and over again. 

“I’ll be perfectly okay.”

There was a boy with glasses, clearly distressed, standing beside a woman's body while staring at his hands. They were covered in blood. Her blood. 

“I’ll be perfectly okay.”

She frowned, and opened her mouth to speak.

“It’s impossible.”

Conan looked up at the girl, a bit puzzled at the anger concealed on her eyes, and said nothing as she walked closer, fingers intertwined behind her back. Then leaned over and picked a chess piece up from the ground.

“Besides, it’s dangerous to stay here any longer, there’s no point,” she kneeled down in front of him. “Give it up, Kudo-kun. This case is already...” the chess piece was placed on top of the phone he had been staring at. “... checkmate.”

The girl stepped up and was about to leave, when she saw Conan’s eyes widen slightly, and taking the piece between his fingers. “Checkmate...” he whispered, deep in thought, then gasped. “Checkmate?!”

Haibara gave him a blank look, wondering if the boy was deaf or only painfully slow, and was about to repeat for him what she had just said ─ and that he had to accept defeat for once ─ when he suddenly jumped on his feet. She could only watch, speechless, as he started to childishly tug on the officer’s pants.

She blinked. Had she heard wrong or he had just asked for a tape, telling him that Inspector Yokomizo had asked for it?

The naive officer complied and returned with it right away. Yokomizo stared at the tape on his hands, confusedly, when Conan jumped and stole it from his hands.

“Hey, kid!” Yokomizo scolded him when he had started to pull the tape off, strolling closer to the phone. “What do you think you’re doing?!” 

“I know a magic trick, Inspector-san!” he beamed at him. “Do you want to see it?”

Before the poor inspector could stop the child, he had already began his demonstration. Fast forward a few minutes, the entire room was stunned at the sight of the book falling on top of the key, perfectly.

If she was being honest, Haibara was shocked as well when she saw that the trick had worked, even if she had been skeptical at first. 

“I see...” Yokomizo mumbled, after the initial shock had died down. “Then, if the killer..."

“Ah, but I don’t think that’s how the killer did it,” Conan said to the inspector. “It would be stupid to leave the tape here, with the culprit’s fingerprints all over it as evidence, right?”

Yokomizo’s eyes opened, widely. Shirakura Akira’s did, too. 

So, the killer was caught.

Only when the culprit was being taken away did Haibara completely understand it. 

Kudo Conan was a genius, a child with an impressive intelligence and power of observation, whose deductive skills could easily surpass an adult five times his age. Even older.

A true prodigy in his area. With an older, loving sibling. So similar to her.

Yet, so different. 

Her lip quivered.

“Why...?” it came out as a whisper, which Conan barely heard. “Why didn’t you... Why didn’t you help my sister?”

Blue orbs opened, widely, behind thick glasses. “Y-Your... sister?” he managed.

“You still don’t know?!” tears began to roll down her pale face, her watery eyes, which had used to be so lacking of any emotion before, glaring furiously at the boy. “Hirota Masami was... Onee-chan’s fake name she got from Hirota-san!”

Haibara saw him taking a sharp breath and gazing at the palms of his hands for some reason. “... Masami-san was your sister...” his eyes had darkened and hadn’t strayed away from the place they were.

But her anger did not subside.

“That’s right!” at her outburst, his eyes finally met hers. “With your... with all your deducting skills, you should have been able to see right through my sister’s case! But... Why...? Why?!”

Conan was startled when a pair of hands latched into his shirt. Haibara had collapsed into her knees, letting the tears she had fought for many months to come out, along with a heart wrenching cry that ripped away from her throat. 

For a moment, the little boy was reminded of himself, nearly half a year ago, when he had broken down in front of his friends. When he had been confused, lost, shaken. When he didn’t know what had happened to his brother, or if he had been alive either.

But it was definitely different for this girl. She had just lost her sister. The same sister he had watched die. The same sister he hadn’t been able to save.

For that reason, he did not say anything. He just stood there, quiet and silent, holding her shoulders as she sobbed and howled against his chest, not caring in the sightless if her tears were straining his shirt.


As it had been expected, Ran was furious when he came back home the other day, giving him the longest and sternest lecture he had ever heard in his life, which he just accepted, with his head low, hoping not to anger her anymore.

Conan ended up grounded for a month and a half, but it wouldn’t have bothered him much if she hadn’t confiscated all of his books as well. Of course, being grounded implied him coming straight home from school, therefore putting most of the Detective Boys’ activities on hold.

His brother had even laughed at him when he found out he was grounded. “Just be glad she didn’t decide to use just to use her karate on you instead,” the high school detective had said.

“Oh, yeah? I’m sure you know a lot about getting karate chopped by Ran-neechan.”

On top of that, the floppy they had been looking for arrived one week after Hirota’s murder. It turned out there was a computer virus called Night Baron ─ now the kid was sure he would never find the strength to finish his father’s book after that ─ inside the floppy and had erased every single piece of data.

Including all programs on Professor Agasa’s computer. The old man had cried for days.

Because of all that, by the end of his sentence, Conan had been frustrated and terribly bored.

So, when he was finally allowed out, to see a soccer match with his friends, the child had been thrilled. When Hide from the Spirits scored a goal, he jumped up and down from excitement.

Then he heard a chuckle from behind. His good mood died down instantly when he noticed Haibara, sitting behind them with glasses and a magazine on her hands.

“What’s so funny?” he asked, a tingle of annoyment coating his voice.

“Even a great detective becomes a normal child when faced with his love of soccer.”

“I’m not a great detective,” he raised an eyebrow.

“Yet,” she flipped a page, but did not look up. “In a few years, you will most likely became just like your mystery-obsessed, murder-magnet brother.”

“And what do you mean with ‘normal child’, anyway? You’re a child too.”

She giggled at that.

“Yoshida-san told me all about it,” she looked up from her magazine to look at him, a smug smile on her lips. “It took them a long time to get you into Kamen Yaiba and everything children our age like. Talk about forgetting you’re a child.”

Conan rolled his eyes. “Whatever,” he decided to let the topic go. “Why are you here, anyway? You’re not even watching the match.”

“I just came to hang out with you, guys. Though I have changed my appearance a bit, my face is still the same,” his annoyed expression turned serious when she had suddenly changed into that subject and went back to her magazine. “If by chance any of the TV cameras broadcast my face on-screen, they’d discover me right away. And if that happened, your brother would be at risk, too.”

Haibara looked up, confused, when she felt her sunglasses leaving her face and something was placed on top of her head. Instantly, her hands went to the blue hat she had been forced to wear, completely speechless.

“You’re standing out a lot more with these,” he said, referring to the sunglasses he put back on his pocket. “It will be harder to see your face like this, so you should be safe even if they get a shot of you.”

To say that Conan was amused to see the ever-sarcastic scientist unable to say anything in reply would be more than an understatement. With a gentle smile on his lips, he took her hand and dragged her with the rest of the group.

“Believe me,” he then told her, with a reassuring tone. “Everything will be better if you just allow yourself to enjoy life.”

Haibara’s expression did not change, yet it seemed like it had worked somehow, because she decided to stay there, watching the match.

And for a moment, none say anything, eyes focused on the soccer ball. It wasn’t until a bit later that Haibara caught him glancing at her, thoughtfully.

“What?” she almost hissed, not even looking back at him. Conan was startled at being caught, then composed himself.

“Ah, it just that...” he hesitated for a moment. “When I gave you my hat I couldn’t help but notice... Is that your natural hair?”

She smirked. “What do you think?”

“But that other time it was black...”

“That was a wig,” she replied, then turned back to the match, thoughtful. “Ever since I can remember, Onee-chan told me to use it. ‘You never know when you need to hide, so it’s better to hide one’s real appearance’, she would always say.”

“That’s tough,” he said, and she shrugged.

“What can I say? I’m used to it.”

Even if the conversation had died there, Conan’s mind did not stop running. In reality, that wasn’t what he had wanted to ask.

Why was Onii-chan drugged with the Apotoxin-4869?

What was he doing at that time with Vodka and Gin, a year ago?

How exactly is he involved with the Black Organization?

But he lacked courage.

Even if he wouldn’t admit it, even if he convinced himself that it was that he still couldn’t completely trust Haibara, even if he was supposed to be a young detective, Conan was deeply afraid of hearing the truth. 

And that was a fact.

Even if he wasn’t, he still wouldn’t be able to ask. His blue hat was flown off Haibara’s head by a strong breeze, just in time to see the ball, standing still in front of them, jumping suddenly.

Like so, the Detective Boys were dragged into another case.


At some point of the investigation, Conan lost sight of his friends. When he asked Haibara, she told him they had happily gone back inside once she told them they could do that if they showed their tickets.

To her surprise, he didn’t panic. He just sighed, tiredly, and dug his badge from his pocket. Calmly, he told them to not do anything risky and call him back once they got a clue.

“You seem to trust them a lot,” Haibara commented once he was finished.

“Of course I do,” he replied to her, an annoyed expression already on his features. “They are my friends.” 

“Oh?” she chuckled. “Then I bet you can tell them everything.

“They already know about the Black Organization and my brother’s case, if that’s what you mean,” he replied. “I didn’t tell them about you, though. That’s not my call.”

“You’re unexpectedly nice, Kudo-kun,” Haibara teased, which was answered with an irritated scoff.

Then her eyes adopted a slightly sadder, darker glint as they looked away. Conan, observant as the child was, noticed it right away.

“They wouldn’t hate you, even if they knew,” the girl looked back at the boy, clearly surprised. “You’re not a part of them anymore. Besides, Ayumi-chan already thinks Sherry isn’t a bad person because, at that time, she let me go without telling anyone.”

Ai seemed to compose herself right away, but her fist had yet to stop clenching. “Do you, though?” then, with a smirk, she asked him. “I noticed you still don’t trust me, even if we have known each other for over a month now.”

The girl saw his emotions flashing behind his eyes in a swift moment. Fear, doubt, sadness and compassion, all conflicting with each other and refraining the young boy to speak. 

Finally, he closed his eyes, and she couldn’t tell any longer.

“I do,” unexpectedly, he replied with an outstanding certainty. “I do trust you, Haibara-san.”


After a scary, close encounter with a loaded gun and a missed shot of his tranquilizer dart, the criminal was found and taken away, with a soccer ball print on his right cheek as a departing gift from the child. 

Everything ended alright, yet the three children were still upset. They all sighed, in unison, as they stared at the soccer field, completely empty.

Conan and Haibara, on the other hand, were pretty much relieved it was all over, not giving the fact they had completely missed the match another thought.

“Figuring out the culprit’s motivation with so few clues,” the girl smiled beside the boy. “Well done, Kudo-kun. I starting to find you a rather fascinating subject for study, even more than your brother.”

The girl didn’t miss the way his eyebrows furrowed together, mouth open to say something but closing soundlessly. After a pause, the boy sighed, and looked away.

“I pass, thank you,” he replied, tonelessly. “I’d rather not become a lab rat and get poisoned by an unknown drug created by a seven year-old.”

“That was rude and terribly hypocritical. We’re the same age, if you failed to notice,” she seemed to be more amused than offended, though. “Well, it’s not like I intended to make a poison.”

Conan blinked. “You didn’t?”

“I didn’t,” she confirmed, a more serious expression adorning her delicate features. “All I told you about the Apotoxin-4869 were the side effects. Its true purpose is...”

Haibara paused, dramatically so, prompting Conan’s eyebrow twitch. Yet, he refused to tell her to hurry up, because experience told him it would just make it worse.

“Eternal life.”

For a moment, none said anything. The child was about to tell her to knock it off, when he noticed a smirk on her face. “Wait...” his eyes widened. “You’re serious.”

“Of course I am,” she pretended to scoff, when in reality she thought his reaction did not let her down. "When the individual reaches twenty years of age their aging process will drastically slow down. It’s a experimental one, so it doesn’t stop it. But it’s still quite a magic drug, isn’t it?” 

“Stupid, magic doesn’t exist,” Conan sighed, then focused his eyes back to the empty soccer field. “Even so, to think that something like that is actually a thing...”

“Now that’s out the way, will you finally ask me?” that, the boy truly didn’t expect. “You’ve been wanting to ask me something for a while now and I know for sure it’s not about the Apotoxin-4869.”

He suddenly quiet, deadly silent as he seemed to think over her words. His mouth opened and closed, as if a fish out of water, while he struggled to put his thoughts into words. Finally, he let out a long sigh, pausing for a moment.

Fists clenching, he gave her a very serious and determined look, before taking a deep breath.

“Why... Why was my brother targeted by the Organization?” finally, the little detective asked. “What exactly did he do?”

For a few seconds, which felt like hours to him, Haibara did not reply. While she didn’t say anything, he felt his heart pound harshly against his chest, and his shoulders trembling slightly without fully meaning to. 

“That’s... something hard to explain, actually,” she finally said. “I believe it will be best if you figure this out for yourself, Kudo-kun.”

“What...?” the lack of an answer certainly didn’t make him feel any better.

“Don’t worry, though, I’ll give you a hint for you to start on.” 

She began to walk away, yet the boy did not move. Passing by him, she whispered something on his ear.

Then, the girl told the rest of their friends that it was time to go, yet Conan still was frozen in place, mind somewhere else, lost among his own thoughts. He barely felt Ayumi taking his hand and leading him away the stadium, and he didn’t realize they were walking until they all stood in front of the building that read ‘ Mouri’s Detective Agency. ’ 

Conan didn’t even wave back when they all said goodbye and headed back home. He didn’t even note Mitsuhiko, Genta and Ayumi giving him a worried glance from over their shoulders as they went around the corner.

All he could pay attention to were the words, that the small scientist had uttered, ringing on his head, over and over:

“Singani.”

Chapter Text

The word that Haibara had uttered the other day had yet to leave his mind. Not only it refused to leave him alone, it also repeated over and over to the point of driving him up the walls. He had already looked it up in the internet and, predictably so, he only found that it was the national liquor of Bolivia.

Singani.

It should be obvious that it was a codename. A member of the Black Organization who, somehow, was deeply connected with his brother’s case.

Maybe he messed with this ‘Singani’ character and was drugged because of it... 

Or, perhaps, Shinichi was...

Conan shook his head, mentally berating himself for even having these kind of thoughts ─ there was absolutely no way that could be true. He... Onii-chan is not like that.

He scrolled down for hours, yet he didn’t find anything particularly relevant. He should had already expected it ─ certainly, such a strong criminal syndicate wouldn’t let their names turn up just by typing a member’s codename on the search bar.

Seriously, what did you do, Onii-chan? he couldn’t help but wonder. It’s not like I can just go and ask him. He wouldn’t tell me anything and just hide the truth.

He paused, finger freezing on mid air as a thought suddenly struck him.

Back then, he really didn’t want me to know he was riding in the same train than Ayumi-chan and the others, he remembered. Why is that...? Ah, could it be...?!

Immediately he scrolled up, searched for the Touto Circular Railway and looked up the stations. 

Shinjuku, Shibuya, Toshima, Haido, Chiyoda, Nerima, Ekoda, Arakawa, Taito, Minato, he read every place, and groaned. There’s simply no way I could check every single place by myself!

As as he was about to throw the phone against the wall, overtaken by frustration, the device started to ring on his hand. Blinking twice at the name in the display, he picked up.

“What do you want, Hattori-san?”


“Over there is the Tenouji river. There is the Osaka Dome. And were we are in Tsuuten Tower.”

Conan looked away from the prismatics and let Ran have a try, before staring at Heiji, who was still pointing to popular places, both ignoring as Kogoro grumbled ─ he truly didn’t want to be there. 

It had taken him almost an entire day to convince Ran that this was a good idea ─ even if it was Heiji’s ─ but it seemed like it had been worth it. The girl was smiling, clearly enjoying herself as she got a nice view of the city.

That wasn’t the reason why he had insisted in going, however. Even through Conan really appreciated the free tour through Osaka, there was a strange feeling he still couldn’t exactly pinpoint.

For a moment, Kogoro turned around so he could have a smoke. Taking advantage of the lack of attention they were receiving, the child walked up to Heiji.

The teenage detective almost tripped when a little hand suddenly latched on his sleeve and dragged him away. When they stopped, he looked down to meet very annoyed eyes behind thick glasses.

“What is it?” the child whispered at him. “Did you find something about what I asked you about?”

Hattori laughed, awkwardly, scratching the back of his head. “I have nothing about that guy,” he confessed. “I went to the hospital already, but nobody knew anything, so...”

"Then, what the hell are you up to this time? You know well enough my brother isn't going to magically appear at your side just because I'm here, right?"

"Nothing really," Heiji blinked, then crouched next to him, so they could be on the same height. "But I'm definitely telling Ran-neechan you are being unusually rude today. Ever heard about respecting your elders?"

"You thought I was seventeen, Hattori-san."

"It’s Heiji-niichan to you."

Eyebrow twitching slightly, the boy fought his urge to shoot an anesthetic needle at him and managed to control himself. “Hattori works just as fine,” noticing the annoyment on the child’s eyes, Heiji laughed nervously.

“Hey, what’s wrong with you today?” the kid shook his head, and seemed to take a deep breath. For some reason, he could tell Conan was especially irritated today. “Did something happen-?”

“Sherry got transfered to my class.”

“... What?!”

Paying no further attention to the confused, and very surprised, detective, the little boy shrugged and walked away, joining Ran without any word.

Yet Heiji stayed on his place, gaping at the air.


When they sat in the car, the hesitant look Ran sent his way was more than enough to realize that they shouldn’t have let Hattori organize the tour.

“You were right, Ran-neechan,” whispered Conan, with a sigh, so the Osakan detective couldn’t hear him. “Maybe Hattori-san isn’t quite right in the head.”

 As it turned out they were going to drive around city in a patrol car.

“Alright,” oblivious about the three passengers’ feelings, Heiji smiled widely. “Where do you all want to go to?”

“Home,” replied the child, with all honesty.

Secretly, the other two were currently thinking the same thing.

“Don’t be like that, Conan-kun,” the Hattori complained. “This will be fun, I promise!”

Somehow, I doubt it.

“Don’t tell me...” Kogoro started to yell at him, angrily. “Don’t tell me our tour of Osaka is in this car!”

“What? You don’t like it? This is the newest model.”

Probably because he knew this would be a lost battle, the adult just glared at him, before resting his back in the seat, looking away yet irritation still present on his eyes.

“I feel like a criminal...” Ran commented at some point, an embarrassed blush on her cheeks as she watched the people turning around on the other side of the window, staring inside the car with curiosity.

“Don’t let it bother you! You haven’t done anything illegal. You can sit in it proudly!”

Conan gave him an unamused look. Befriending Hattori should be illegal.


At least the food had been good. Like, really good. Even if a bit different to what they were used to eat, the udon had been delicious. But what really impressed the boy were the takoyaki ─ much bigger than what he had ever seen in Tokyo.

Ran never stopped looking over her shoulder, however. She had said she felt like someone was watching her.

And they didn’t find out who it was, until they arrived at another shop to have some hotcakes. Heiji had left to give his mother a call, after telling the cook to not forget his rice.

It had weirded out the trio. Conan and Ran were commenting on that, when a girl promptly sat on the spot Heiji had been a few seconds ago.

“Ah, that’s our friend’s...” Ran tried to say.

But she completely ignored her, resting her elbows over the counter, cradling her head with her hands. “You must be Kudo,” the girl said.

That startled the three of them, and automatically Kogoro and Ran’s gazes were on the little child, who could only gape in confusion. He even flinched when she looked their way, with a knowing look.

“Heiji talks about you a lot,” she added. “Someone just like you.”

Please don’t tell me she is also going to say I’m him...

“Hattori-kun did?” Ran asked, the tip of her lip twitching upwards. She wouldn’t be surprised if Hattori somehow convinced this girl about that crazy theory of his.

“Don’t play dumb, I already know exactly what happened,” then, to everyone’s surprise she leaned over the little boy and yelled into Ran’s face instead. “You must be that girl Heiji talks about. The girl he met in Tokyo! That Kudo girl!”

They all blinked, cluelessly.

“Wait...” Ran tried to get her to see reason. “You’re wrong...”

The other girl just smirked.

“I can tell you something right now,” she stood up, and tried to give Ran a very intimidating look. “I have always been friends with Heiji and in the past with a bond of steel! If you want to make a move on Heiji, you have to go through me first!”

Conan blinked twice at her. “Wow...” in spite of it all, he couldn’t help but be surprised. “I didn’t expect Hattori-san to have a girlfriend.”

Then, the girl turned her attention away from Ran and directed it to the clueless boy. He saw her starting to stammer, denying it with all her might, cheeks tinting redder in embarrassment, which only got worse when Heiji finally appeared and asked what was wrong. 

Heiji had a good laugh when he was told that Kazuha ─ that was what the girl was named ─ believed Kudo was a girl, and Conan decided his brother wouldn’t find it as funny as the older boy.

“Don’t let it bother you, Kazuha-san,” the child pipped in, cutting Hattori’s laughter short. “At least you got the age right.”

The girl in question blinked, cluelessly. “What do you mean?”

From behind her, Conan could see Hattori furiously shaking his head, pleading him not to say anything, and it would have worked for any other child with a compasive heart...

Too bad Conan didn’t have one.

“Hattori-san genuinely thought I was Kudo Shinichi,” he grinned, then turned to Ran. “Right, Ran-neechan?”

With an awkward laugh, Ran nodded her head. The other girl just stared at them, with a confused expression, before turning back to her friend. The way he was looking anywhere else but her face, clearly embarrassed, let her know that fact was none other but the truth.

Naturally, Kazuha exploded in laugher. “Heiji, I knew you were stupid but not that stupid!” she said, between breaths. Hattori just tried to shrink away from sight, knowing well enough that his childhood friend would never, ever, let this go.

“Shut up,” he tried to defend himself. “That kid is weird.”

“Is that so?” she turned to glance at Conan, who just blinked innocently at her ─ Hattori glared at that lying bastard that knew far too well how to use his appearance in his advantage ─ before kindly smiling at him. “He seems to be a cute little child to me.”

“You have no idea...”

Kazuha rolled her eyes. “It doesn’t matter how weird a child can be, you said Kudo was in high school. How did you even think...?”

“Hattori-kun thought Shinichi had shrunk, somehow,” Ran pointed out.

Like so, Kazuka burst out laughing again.

This kept on by several hours, even after their food had came. When it did, Conan had simply started eating his hotcake, caring far too little about the killer glares sent his way to do anything else.

“Hey, what was all about?” at some point Ran, the ever romantic type of girl, asked with enthusiasm. “What did you mean with the ‘bond of steel’?”

They explained to them that, when they were children, they had stolen some handcuffs from Heiji’s father’s desk, and got stuck together for an entire day, so they had to do every single thing together. Kazuha even kept the link from the handcuffs on her omamori.

“And despite all of that... you’re not together?” Conan asked them.

Both of them looked straight at him, blushing furiously.

Now, Kazuha was seriously reconsidering her view of Conan as a ‘cute little child’. Heiji, on the other hand, was too busy blushing to even think of telling his definitely-not girlfriend something along the lines of I told you so .

“I already told you, little boy,” Kazuha smiled at him ─ even if the kid could see she was forcing it, and probably wanted to kill him. “Heiji and I just grew up together. If you have to call it something, I’m his big sister.”

Conan raised an eyebrow at them, while Ran only smiled widely, totally engrossed into their relationship. They then, for some reason, started arguing and the child couldn’t help but remember another certain pair, that also was incredibly in love, and in denial.

“Why is everyone like that?” the child said to himself, as Ran talked with Kazuha and Heiji, while they went back to the car. “Isn’t love supposed to be, like, just a bunch of chemical reactions? Is it that hard to admit it?”

Kogoro paused when he heard that and gave the kid a long look, who stared back at him with curious eyes. For some reason the man started laughing, which annoyed the child a little bit.

“You’ll know when you’re older, brat.”

With that, the adult walked away, leaving a very confused Conan behind. He would’ve pouted right then and there, but settled with an annoyed groan before heading back to the patrol car as well.

Once inside, the group started to decide where they were going to go next. That was it, however, until they felt a loud sound and the car bouncing violently.

They were horrified when they saw the dead body with the knife stabbed on his chest, through his pocket, that had fallen from the sky to the car they were in.


Forced by Conan, Heiji ended up telling everyone what was going on. Apparently, there was a serial killer going around, and the only thing in common between the three victims was that they had been strangled, then stabbed through their wallets, and through their chests.

There was no relation between the victims, at least until Sakata ─ a detective that had been touring them around Osaka with Heiji ─ appeared and showed them an old video he had found. They saw an old footage of Goshi Sotaro, an assemblyman that had been caught in a scandal, while he was taking away in his car, surrounded by paparazzis and interviewers. 

The secretary was trying to push them away, and they recognized him as Nagao Hidetoshi, the first victim. Noyasu Kazuto, the driver, was the third one.

Now, Conan wasn’t amused at the sightless when Hattori, without any warning, silently plucked him up from the hood of his shirt and hid him under his jacket, but he didn’t complain. At least this way he would go along.

Once Hattori sat on the car and zipped open his jacket, he popped his head out and took a deep breath, startling Sakata a bit.

“This kid here helps a lot,” Heiji explained to the man, and Conan gave him a sheepish smile, before going to the backseat.

“But won’t Mouri-san be worried about you?” Sakata asked, hesitant.

“It’s okay! I will call him later.”

They had decided to check on Okazaki Sumiei’s apartment ─ the woman they had seen driving away in a rush on the crime scene ─ so Sakata called her. After picking up, she immediately pleaded for help, as she suspected she was the next victim.

“Please calm down,” said Sakata, with a firm voice. “I’m coming right now, lock your door!”

Conan looked towards the window and mentally cursed. "We've just passed the building!" he told them. "You need to turn back, Sakata-san!"

"I can't," he told the child, with a frown. "There's so much traffic, we won't make it back."

Suddenly, Heiji opened the door, startling the other two.

"What do you think...?" Conan said to the teen, incredulously.

"It'll be faster if I run."

The child gave the heavy traffic a long look. "You can't be serious..."

"Watch me," the Detective of the West smirked.

Before jumping off the car ─ which had thankfully stopped when the boy had hinted he was going to do that ─ and running across the street. With a sigh, the child did the same, dodging cars going their way and shouting apologies to the angry drivers.

“Geez,” the kid said to the teen once they were safe on the sidewalk, as they kept running. “Do you want to get us killed or something?”

“You followed me, kid. It’s your own call.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be the responsible adult here?”

“Never said I was.”


Her body had been found on the community bathroom, and it had confused the boys, leaving them unable to understand why would she leave her room when she had been told not to.

Later, then they checked on her apartment, they had found two recorded messages, allegedly from the killer. The first one had been to make her go and witness the previous murder, and the other one was to intimidate her, and tell her she was the next in line to die.

The first one had been made at 13:08 and the second at 13:10.

Conan’s eyes had not left the phone ever since, and that caught Hattori’s attention. Once noticing the pluzzment of the older boy, he explained.

“Two minutes,” he simply said, and Hattori immediately understood. “It’s like the killer had complete control... I’ve got a bad feeling...”

Immediately after saying those words, Heiji’s eyes opened widely. The child turned to the older boy, blinking his eyes as he tried to comprehend what had made him turn as pale as a ghost, and had caused him to shake like a leaf.

Before he could ask, however, Heiji composed himself and tried to shrug his worries off. He wasn’t entirely convinced, but he figured he would ask later.

Hattori was strangely quiet throughout the car ride back from Okazaki’s apartment, as he stared at the rear view mirror with a rather pensive look. He was so deep in thought, he completely missed Sakata trying to talk with him.

Eventually he snapped out of it, letting Sakata tell him what he had wanted to say. Both boys’ eyes brightened with realization when he said that they found something else the victims had in common.

Their driving licenses had been pierced through their wallets.

Through further investigation they discovered that all four victims plus Goshi and the wanted murderer Numabuchi Kiichiro were in the driving class.

The day they graduated was also the day an instructor ─ Ineba Tetsuji ─ died in a drunk-driving accident.

Conan felt his blood running cold at that.


“Conan-kun!” at the familiar voice, Conan stopped on his tracks. Sure enough, with her hands on her waist and a stern look on her face, stood Ran. “Why did you disappear all of sudden?”

The child flinched.

“I’m sorry,” he tried to apologize with a sheepish smile, even if he was slowly stepping away from the older girl. “I was going to call, but I kind of forgot...”

“What do you mean you forgot?!”

Hattori couldn’t help but let out a small laugh at that. He found amused that this kid wouldn’t blink an eye at the sight of dead bodies and bloody crimes , yet he would cower away at the sight of his sister figure when she was angry and ready to scold him, like any other normal child.

He frowned. Yes, even if he was unsettlingly smart and bright for his age, Conan was only seven. And this case was related with a serial killer. If he kept hanging around him like that...

“Conan-kun! Conan-kun, hold on!”

The scene he had seen in his dreams last night played itself in his mind, again. The knife stabbing into the little chest. Ran screams as she held the child, holding his stomach while he rolled and cried in agony. Out of breath. In incredible pain.

So, when Inspector Otaki told him they were there to take the kid home, he didn’t protest. Even when the child did, Hattori just decided to take him away for a second and kneel down in front of him.

He had to be the adult here.

“Leave this case to me,” he said to him. “It’s getting late. Children should be in bed already.”

Conan let out a dry chuckle as he crossed his arms across his chest. “And what if I don’t want to?” he said, defiantly. Hattori, however, found it funny. He had never seen Conan acting like a petulant child before.

“You will have to answer to Ran-neechan then.”

Settling with a low growl, he gave up. Just as he was about to leave, Heiji stopped him, so he watched with curiosity as he slid his hand inside his shirt and pulled something out.

He was shocked when an omamori, which resembled the one he had seen on Kazuha a lot, was placed around his neck. “Hey, Hattori, this isn’t really necessary...” he managed to say, as the teen tucked it inside his shirt.

“It’s okay,” Hattori said. “Just make sure not to lose it. I want it back, you hear?”

“I’m sure you do,” soon, there was a teasing grin on his little face, shifting his eyes to look somewhere behind Heiji. “Because someone you hold very dearly made it specially for you, right?”

Judging by the blush on the detective’s cheeks, Conan knew he had just hit the nail on the head. “I wonder if you know who I’m talking about, considering you didn’t even turn to look,” the kid continued.

“Give it back,” Heiji held his hand to him, with a very annoyed expression on his face.

“Nope. I’m going to sell it.”

“Go ahead, it’s not like you’re going to get much from it.”

“It depends, do you have fangirls? Well, I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't any considering, you know, you.

Just as they were talking, Kazuha had felt someone staring at her, so she glanced that way. Blinking confusedly, she only noticed the child talking with Heiji about something. It only puzzled her more.

“Is something wrong, Kazuha-chan?” Ran asked when she noticed her weird behaviour.

“It’s a bit weird,” she commented. “Usually, Heiji is terrible when it comes to children. So, seeing him getting along so well with Conan-kun...”

“Well, it is Conan-kun. He’s a bit different from other children,” Ran giggled at that. “You know, I’m pretty sure that boy wants to be a detective when he gets older.”

Kazuha smiled a bit at that, then looked at the pair again as they started to walk back towards the group, even if the child didn’t look so pleased with that. He kept silent throughout the entire ride, almost as if he was sulking, even when Otaki had to turn back because they had found the criminal’s car.

The child was so quiet, that nobody noticed him gone until Ran turned to talk to him, only to find the spot next to hers empty.

All of that lead to Inspector Otaki staring at the young boy that had come along without anyone noticing, eyes fixated on the wood cabin. “He’s inside,” he told then, notchantly.

“Boy, where did you come from?!” Otaki yelled, in surprise.

“The car,” he replied, before pointing at the bin. “Look there. There are a couple of receipts that might catch your eye, Inspector.”

True to his words, it seemed like everything had been burned, besides various pieces of receipts from a convenience store, including one from that day and another for a few days ago. Nobody would eat some many bentos, and eat one every single day.

“But, boy,” Otaki smiled at him. “The criminal would be seen if he went to the store.”

“I never said it was the criminal,” Conan pretended to blink, innocently.

The inspector understood the implications after a few seconds, so he immediately ordered his undermen to enter the house. Even so, it was the young boy the one to find the trap door in the ceiling. Luckily, the inspector was able to convince the child to get back to the floor, and to let them handle it alone.

Numabuchi Kiichiro was found, chained to a pillar, begging for food. So, they handcuffed him and began to take him away.

Ran arrived at the place, just in time, running his way before falling into her knees. After checking if the boy in front of her was alright, she let out a long sigh, and placed her hands over his shoulders.

“I thought I told you not to run around, Conan-kun,” she scolded him. “You worry me.”

Conan opened his mouth to reply, but he couldn’t say anything. It was all too fast for to accurately tell what was going on, but one second Numabuchi was on the floor, after allegedly having tripped and the other he was running straight for Ran, who was blocking the exit, with a knife in hand.

It was because everything happened so fast that Conan didn’t have time to think. Purely out instinct, the young boy jumped in front of the girl, and he felt the pain, as well as the air knocked out of him.

Conan barely noticing Ran’s arms holding him as he curled around his stomach, which hurt so much that he thought for a moment that he had, indeed, been stabbed. It wasn’t until a few seconds that he began to recover, then he realized he had somehow been saved.

“Conan-kun!” Ran kept calling his name over and over, obviously worried. “Conan-kun, hold on!”

“Someone call an ambulance!” he heard Otaki yelling.

It was then that Conan realized he was making an scene, so he forced himself to sit up. “I’m fine,” he struggled to smile in an attempt to reassure everyone. “It’s just a scratch.”

But Ran was still unconvinced, so she quickly lifted his shirt the nasty wound he was definitely going to have. Instead of that, something fell and hung from the boy's neck.

"An omamori?" she blinked.

"Ah," he realized what she was talking about and held the amulet on his hands. "It's Hattori-san's omamori. He let me borrow it, so it must've protected me."

Kazuha just gazed at the child, a bit surprised.

"Heiji did...?" she mumbled.

He felt around the omamori, and his eyes opened, with curiosity. Then, he opened it, only to get surprised at the sight of a tiny silver key that had been hidden inside.

It was at that time that Conan understood, not only how he had been saved, but also what was that weird item doing inside.


Heiji had been shot when trying to save Sakada, the criminal, from suicide. Everyone was worried that was the end of the detective's life, and it wasn't until he pulled a dramatic scene where he closed his eyes, prompring Kazuha to cry over his body and the other three to gasp in shock, then suddenly waking up and yelling at them for not letting him sleep ─ apparently, the boy hadn't been able to have some sleep when planning their tour through Osaka.

This scene had been finished by Kazuha resting her weight on the wound, giving him a world of pain thereafter. Angry women are scary, Conan had decided.

Which leaded him to the current predicament. Conan was sitting on a chair beside Ran, watching as Kazuha and Heiji, who was in a hospital bed, shouted at each other for yet another silly reason. Ran was sweatdroping, smiling awkwardly at the couple.

But Conan was quiet. Kazuha’s heart wrenching sobs when she thought that Heiji had died were still stuck on his mind. 

“Why... Why would you do something so dangerous?”

“Because causing the criminal to commit suicide through a deduction... is not a good idea...”

The child frowned, taking out the omamori he still had with him and giving a long look as it rested on the top of his hand. His fingers curled around the amulet, tightly.

“You know,” Heiji’s voice caused the boy to flinch. “That’s actually mine and you haven’t returned it yet, you pint-sized thief.”

His eyes glanced around the room behind his glasses, blinking confusedly when he realized they were all alone. “Where did Ran-neechan and Kazuha-san...?”

“Kazuha was so fed up with me that Ran-neechan decided to bring her along to buy some drinks. Probably would have punched me in the jaw if she didn’t save me,” Hattori gave the kid a weird look. “You were right there and you didn’t notice?”

“Guess I didn’t...”

He must have been too inside his own thoughts not to realize that something like that had happened, right in front of him, he mused.

Hattori was grinning at him, yet the child couldn’t bring himself to. “Why did you give this to me?” instead, he asked. “It seemed like you needed this more than I do.”

There was a long sigh, and the detective’s eyes drifted to the window. The sun was setting already, which meant that Conan and the others must leave for Beika soon. “I had a bad dream the other night.”

“Bad dream?”

“You were stabbed,” Conan’s eyes went wide at that. “And I thought you had died, because Ran-neechan was calling your name so loudly and desperately.”

The child shrugged. “That isn’t that far from reality,” he realized. “I did receive quite a big blow by that killer. Wasn’t stabbed by chance.”

It wasn’t by chance, actually. But it wasn’t like he was going to tell him about the key Kazuha had hidden inside the omamori ─ he had promised to the distressed and equally embarrassed girl he wouldn’t say a word about it.

So, instead of that, he stretched his hand and gave the omamori back to the teen, who gazed at it for a moment with a rather tender look on his eyes, before setting it back on the little table beside his bed.

Chuckling a bit, the teenager laid on the pillow. “I guess sometimes dreams can be easily misinterpreted, huh?”

Conan’s head perked up at his words. Misinterpreted? he repeated on his head, and suddenly, his brother’s gun appeared on his mind again. His index finger and thumb went to his chin as he thought over it, for a moment.

“Hey, kid?” Hattori frowned, noticing the boy was thinking intently about something, and went to sit up, quickly. “What’s wro-? Ouch!”

At that whine, Conan looked up. The teenage boy was hissing, pressing his hand against his wound, as his face cringed due to the pain he was experiencing.

The child stared at him for a few seconds, before he frowned, concern filling his features.

“Hattori,” he called, softly, causing Heiji to look back at him with a curious look. “Will you... Will you be okay?”

The Great Detective of the West just stared at the boy, taken aback by his words, rendered completely speechless. He then realized he must have kept silent for a bit too long, considering the way the kid had focused his glance to the setting sun in the window, clearly uncomfortable, and shifted a bit on his seat.

He did look back at him, startled, when a hand landed on top of his head, messing with his hair a little bit.

“Don’t worry,” Hattori said to him, with an amused smile. “Heiji-niichan will be okay.”

At the sight of the brilliant, and very shocked, blue eyes fixing on the ground, probably due to embarassment, and the tiny nod the kid gave, Hattori could only grin wider.

Sometimes, just sometimes, this little boy could be a bit cute.

And it wasn’t only Hattori. Behind the half-closed door, a pair of girls smiled at each other as they huddled together to see. 

Chapter Text

Morning found little Conan splashing water on his face. He had woken up a few minutes ago, drenched in cold sweat, after having the same nightmare ─ yes, again ─ and glanced at the clock, only to realize it was only four in the morning.

Conan raised his head, his small pale face staring back at him and closed his eyes. He still could hear the click of the safety unlocking, see the muzzle on his face, feel his chest contracting.

“I guess sometimes dreams can be easily misinterpreted, huh?”

He opened them again and frowned slightly, thinking about Heiji’s casual words over and over again, standing silently still. Only the sound of the water rushing could be heard in the quietness of the night.

His hand went to his left shoulder, and squeezed.


It had been an ordinary day of July at Ekoda Hospital, and the receptionist sat behind the desk as usual with a satisfied smile on her face. She had just gotten to her spot after a very fulfilling break and a nice cup of coffee, feeling more than prepared for anything that life threw at her face...

At least, until he arrived. As soon as her eyes fell on the dark skinned teenager appearing behind the glass door, she had sighed, suddenly feeling exhausted and in need for another long break.

“I thought you have given up already...” she lamented, leaning her cheek against her open palm. “Hattori Heiji, right?”

Heiji only grinned, widely, as he leaned against the counter. “I had a bit of a trouble and couldn’t come here for the last few days. Got shot in the stomach,” the receptionist he was talking to merely rolled her eyes. “But now I’m back to business.”

She let out a puff of breath, feeling irritation fill her entire body as she stood up. The woman was so annoyed, that she didn’t even bother to wave back at the kind doctor passing by.

“Good, then let me tell you this, again, ” her eyebrow began to twitch, causing the doctor to send a curious look their way. “Watanabe-sensei died more than seven months ago because of an accidental fire.”

The receptionist didn’t notice, however, the way Hattori’s eyes sharpened, and slowly moved to the doctor beside him. He could’ve sworn that, for less than a second, the man had flinched, before pretending that nothing had happened and disappearing into the hallway.

“... There’s absolutely nothing suspicious about that,” she continued. “So, I would be very grateful if you didn’t bring this up again and stopped bothering everyone with-!”

“Okay, I understand!” he interrupted with a bright smile, which only confused the poor worker. “See ya!”

She could only blink, confusedly, as the teenager sprinted away. Not feeling in the mood to tell him that running in the halls was certainly not allowed, she dropped back into her seat, figuring that somebody else would soon scold him for her.

Right now, all the tired worker needed was another cup of coffee... And for her damned shift to be over.


“Huh, that’s odd,” Ran commented as they walked through the forest. “The villa should be right around here...”

Conan refrained himself from sighing as they walked, looking around for a moment ─ he could’ve sworn they had already passed by that tree around three times already. “Say,” he asked with a grimace, fearing what the answer could be. “Could it be that we’re lost?”

The girl visibly flinched at that. “No, not at all!” she tried to pretend everything it was fine. “W-We’re just taking the scenic route.”

“Which means we’re lost.”

“... Probably.”

The kid shook his head, before rushing to a nearby tree. “What are you doing?” asked Ran, confused, watching the child latch into the lowest branches and pulling himself up. Once she realized he was climbing, she panicked a bit. “Get down from there, Conan-kun! You can get hurt!”

He didn’t reply until he was in a higher position. “It’s okay, Ran-neechan,” he assured her, and started looking around. “I won’t fall.”

“But...!”

“Ah, I see it!” he suddenly exclaimed. “We were going in the wrong direction.”

Only once Conan was safely back in ground did Ran release the breath she didn’t know she was holding. They resumed their walk after that, this time around guided by the little child, until they reached a bridge. Looking closer, they noticed a man, in a peculiar black cloak, crossing it.

“I wonder if he’s going to the villa too,” Ran wondered out loud.

“Yeah, I think he is,” Conan nodded.

When he turned around, glaring at them with a cold, murderous look, causing them to freeze in fear. His face was all covered by bandages, and the child couldn’t help but shudder at the memory of that other case that also involved a bandaged man.

He looked away and continued his way, running this time around, disappearing from their sight.

“... I-I wonder if he’s going to the villa, too...”

“M-Maybe not?”

Finally, they reached the villa and Ran knocked on the door. Not long thereafter, it opened, revealing a very irritated Sonoko behind. “You’re so late, Ran!” she complained. “What were you doing?”

“I’m so sorry, Sonoko!”

“I go to the trouble of inviting you to my family’s villa and then you show up late!” her gaze fell on the little boy and her shoulders dropped. “So you brought him, after all.”

His eyebrow twitched a bit at that comment.

“Conan-kun, take a hint sometimes,” she said to him.

“If I didn’t come along Ran-neechan would have no other choice but to spend the night out in the woods,” he told her, deadpan, before walking by her. “Why you trusted her, of all people, to come here alone with only a map is truly beyond me.”

“Conan-kun!” Ran shouted at him.

Both girls watched the child shrug and welcome himself inside without waiting for Sonoko to do it instead. Ran sighed a bit, while Sonoko’s eyebrow raised.

“That brat isn’t cute at all,” the Suzuki girl decided.

Once inside, Sonoko told them their room was upstairs and eventually they reached it, only after Ran accidentally opened every single door and witnessed every single male residenciding in the villa changing clothes.

Conan sighed. It wouldn’t have hurt to knock before entering.


A very annoyed Heiji was currently walking through the halls while ignoring the curious glances the nurses were sending his way. He had lost sight of the doctor in that big hospital, and he didn’t think he was going to find him soon.

“This is the last time,” his ears perked up at that. “I’m definitely not doing that, you hear me?”

It seemed to come from behind the door he was just passing by, he realized. He was about to continue going his way, when another voice said.

"You better do as I tell you," the voice was calm and collected. "Or something bad will happen to you."

Upon hearing that sentence, which sounded terribly like a threat, Heiji focused his attention to the door and realized that this particular room should be unoccupied. Whoever was in there might not be a patient, he realized.

After glancing around to make sure that nobody was around, he rested his hand against the knob and, gingerly, opened it just a slit. Cautiously, he peeked through the partly open door and saw them.

The doctor from before was talking to a teenager, who wasn’t older than Heiji himself. There wasn’t anything particularly distinguishing about that character besides his brown hair, that barely reached his shoulders, and his dark chocolate eyes.

“Ah, is that so?” the doctor scoffed at him. “So, what do you think that will happen to me if I don’t?”

“Death, definitely,” the teen assured him, eyelids sliding close with a tired sigh. “Your loved ones’ demise, most likely.”

“I don’t have a family, kid. You already know that.”

His eyes opened and gave him a sharp look. “That nice lady at the reception desk,” the doctor winced at that. “I saw you two sending looks each other a few days ago. And should I mention that both of you seem to have your break at the very same time, when you two completely disappear from everyone’s eyes until your shift starts?”

The man was stunned, if the way his mouth opened and closed was something to go by. It took him a couple of seconds before he could compose himself again.

“I’m not leaving Momoka alone,” the doctor’s fists clenched. “I promised her that!”

Sliding his hands inside his pocket, the teenager said nothing as he let his head drop, and turned to the door. Instantly, Heiji moved away in order to not get caught, relieved that they hadn’t crossed looks.

However...

“Say, Tanaka-sensei,” he heard the boy say. “Didn’t you close the door when you came in?”

Hattori flinched at that. Say you didn’t. Say you didn’t. Say you...

“Of course I did.”

Damn it.

He heard a gasp from the other side, and that alone was enough to send him into a anxiety attack. Whipping his head from left to right, he searched for a place to hide. He cursed, finding nothing and hearing the sound of footsteps nearing closer and closer.

So, he did the first thing his panic-addled mind thought was the best idea. Hattori slipped into a random patient room, and leaned against the door, sighing in relief.

That relief vanished instantly when he looked up. The patient bed was already occupied and a pair of blue eyes were blinking at him, confusedly. At the sight of his face, Hattori couldn’t help but freeze, shock filling him all over and making him forget about his previous fear.

“K-Kudo?!”

The puzzlement on this person’s expression did not disappear. “... Uh, what?”

“What are you doing in a place like this, Kudo?!” Heiji rushed to his side, looking all over him. His leg was in a cast, as well as his right arm. His head seemed to be wrapped in bandages. “And how did you manage to land yourself in a hospital?!”

“... Who are you again?”

“Eh? Don’t tell me you forgot about me already? I’m-”

“-Hattori Heiji?!”

Both boys directed their attention at the person standing on the doorway. There was a girl, who reminded Hattori of Mouri Ran an awful lot, with a stunned expression on her face. “You’re him, right?” she asked further, stepping inside, a grin present on her face. “The Great Detective of the West, Hattori Heiji-san?”

Before he could say anything, the boy beside Heiji spoke up. “Aoko!” he shouted, annoyed. “Tell this detective my name is not Kudo!”

“Kudo? As in Kudo Shinichi, the Great Detective of the East?” she then looked at the boy that resembled Kudo an awful lot. “Wow, now that I look at you, you really look like him.”

“Aoko!”

“Yes, yes, that idiot over there definitely isn’t Kudo Shinichi,” she said with a sigh. “As if Bakaito would actually fit in the shoes of such a great detective.”

“Speak for yourself, Ahoko! You can’t even say my name right, can you? It’s Kaito. Kaito.

“But Bakaito fits you a whole lot better.”

Hattori blinked, then shifted his gaze to the doorway when he heard a loud sigh. He panicked for a moment when he met eyes with the same guy from before, until Kaito spoke up.

“Oh, finally,” it was then that Heiji realized the boy standing in the doorway had a can of orange juice on other and a canned coffee on the other. “Where did you go to get those? China?”

The guy pointedly ignored that and went to the girl, handing her one. “Here you go, Aoko-san.”

The girl in question smiled at him, with a nod, before the boy opened his and gave a long glup, ignoring as Kaito complained about getting none.

“By the way, I think we haven’t met yet,” Hattori flinched when he turned his attention to him. “Are you Kuroba’s friend?”

“Oh, no, no,” he shook his head, forcing a smile. “I just went into the wrong room and I was about to leave,” he turned around and went to the door. “Sorry for the intrusion!”

He closed the door behind him and let out a shaky sigh as he rushed through the halls, ignoring the chill running down his back. He could have sworn that guy had sent a suspicious look his way just before he left.

Hattori left the hospital right after that, figuring it would be best if he continued his investigation another day. 

Preferably, when that suspicious ─ and most likely dangerous ─ guy wasn’t around so he could interrogate the doctor in peace.


“I can’t believe Ran. She already has Shinichi-kun!” Sonoko frowned under her umbrella, as they watched the girl and Oota Masaru ─ a member of Sonoko’s sister’s college movie making club, and the guy Sonoko had wanted to make a move on ─ taking a walk. “I guess I’ll just have to go after Shinichi-kun.”

Conan could’ve laughed at that, if the mental image of his brother and this particular girl together wasn’t scarring his mind enough. “Why am I here, anyway?” he complained. “Isn’t dangerous to be out there in this storm, anyway?”

“Come on, brat, aren’t you a bit annoyed at least?” she said to him. “That’s your brother’s wife. You should be, like, their biggest shipper by now.”

“Even if I was their ‘shipper’, as you put it, I’m not a stalker,” Conan sighed, audibly, as his gaze fell on the couple walking in the rain under a single umbrella. It seemed like Ran truly didn’t want to be there. “Besides, I saw plenty of Ran-neechan’s karate on my brother and I definitely don’t want to be in the receiving end of it.”

Sonoko was about to point something out, when he noticed that Conan’s attention was somewhere else, mouth open in disbelief. She was shocked when she saw Masaru leaning forward, closer to the lips of a hesitant Ran.

A thunder suddenly stuck nearby, blinding everyone for a moment. When it disappeared, both Conan and Sonoko looked up, still a bit shaken because of it.

“T-That scared me!” the girl commented. “That thunder was really close just now, wasn’t it?”

“Truly surprising,” Conan rolled his eyes. “I wouldn’t have expected a thunder to strike in a terrible storm like this one.”

“What do you meant with that, brat?”

“Oh sorry, I forgot you’re missing a few brain cells, causing you to become unable to understand a child half your age.”

“Half my age, and a quarter my height, you four-eyed midget.”

“And probably twice your mental age, considering your brilliant answer just now.”

Sonoko opened her mouth to spat something back to the little brat, when she noticed something. “Eh?” she blinked. “Where are they?”

“Huh?”

Conan turned to look and noticed they were gone. Just as he was about to stand up and look for the girl that had surely gotten lost, they heard a scream. 

Ran’s scream.

They arrived at the scene, just to find Ran on the floor, and the bandaged man from before raising an axe far above his head. Luckily for all of them, when he saw that they had company, he ran away from their sight.


Ran lied on bed, gaze focused on the ceiling, unable to sleep.

A lot had happened after the mysterious bandaged man had tried to kill Ran in the woods. They had been getting everything ready for dinner, when Takahashi ─ the ex-handyman from the club who was fixing the rooftop ─ suddenly screamed, terrified, and claimed there was someone outside.

They hadn’t realized what was going on until something passed by the window. It had been the bandaged man, carrying Chikako ─ the screenwriter. Conan and the other three males had ran after him, only to find her several body parts scattered through the forest.

A soft whimper drove her out her thoughts and prompted her to look at the bed beside her. Her gaze softened and, with a resigned sigh, she got off her bed, only to sit on the other one. 

"Shh, it's alright," brushing his hair away from the boy's face, the girl shushed him. "It's just a bad dream, Conan-kun."

It pained the girl to see the child like this. 

Mostly because she knew it wasn’t the first time ─ she had heard him walking around the house in the middle of the night and stay in the bathroom for hours. 

Also, because she knew these weren’t just childish nightmares with things like darkness and monsters that most kids would have ─ even if Conan had refused to tell her, she could only imagine what these dreams were about. The kid had been surrounded by death ever since he was born, so stuff like this was bound to happen, she supposed.

His brilliant blue eyes blinked open, then shifted to Ran’s figure. She smiled sweetly at the sleepy confusion pinching his face. “Ran-neechan...?” he slurred tiredly, once he began to become aware of his surroundings. “Sorry, did I wake you?”

“I was already awake,” she shook her head. “I was having trouble sleeping.”

At that moment Conan would’ve pointed out that she was scared, if it wasn’t terribly hypocritical from his part. Ran hadn’t been the one having nightmares up until ten seconds ago.

Then Ran slid inside his bed, taking the young boy by surprise. Yet, he said nothing as the girl rested a hand behind his head, gently pressing his face against her chest. “Everything is okay,” she assured him, whispering on top of his head. “I’m here for you, Conan-kun.”

Without fully meaning to, he found himself relaxing against the older girl, and his little hand lazily latched on her shirt. He allowed his eyes to close and his breathing to slow, as well as his always running mind, lulled to sleep by the sound of her heartbeat.

His rest was short lived, however, when the cold summer breeze caressed his cheek, awakening him from his light slumber. Drowsily, the child looked up to see someone standing at his bedside. At the realization that it was a bandaged man, gripping his axe between his hands and readying himself to cut Ran in half, the child gasped, wide awake now, and quickly kicked Ran away from danger.

Conan honestly didn’t know if he was supposed to feel impressed, disturbed or full-out panicked when Ran, after falling into her own bed, slept right through it.

The attacker merely glared at him, before turning back to Ran. Why is he trying to kill Ran-neechan?

The child, fearing for her life, screamed her name, but she wouldn’t wake. Impulsively he threw himself to the man, clinging into his waist before he was thrown away. Conan felt the air knocked out his lungs when he hit the wall, and his ankle twisting painfully due to the impact.

But he paid no attention to it, more preoccupied to the killer walking closer to the girl. Looking around for something, anything , he came across his bowtie and, without thinking about it twice, he turned the volume up full blast.

“WAKE UP!” he yelled.

And if that didn’t wake every single soul on the villa, Ran’s terrified shriek after she woke up to see the killer right in front of her face did. Soon after that, Sonoko was banging on the door, demanding to know what was going on.

Similar to what had happened earlier, the man fled. Conan wanted to go after him, but a wave of pain shot through his ankle when it couldn’t stand his own weight.


“You need to solve this case, Sonoko-neechan.”

The girl’s head snapped to the child sitting on the bed, raising her eyebrows as if he had just gone crazy. Ran had rushed to get the first aid kit for Conan ankle a few seconds ago, and the others were still looking around, trying to understand what had happened.

“Hey, kid, did you hit your head or something besides your ankle?” she placed her arms on her waist and leaned forward, closer to him. He didn’t even blink. “What makes you think I, of all people, would make a good detective?”

“Not a good one, but the only one available.”

“What did you say?!”

Conan sighed, feeling annoyment seeping his energy away.

“Look, I’m not happy with it, but right now you’re our only option,” he told her, a very serious expression adorning his features. “Right now, Ran-neechan, you and I are the only ones that can’t possibly be the Chikako-san’s killer.”

“Eh?!” Sonoko was alarmed. “Do you think he’s one of us?!”

The child gave her a blank look, before turning to the window. There was a hole close to the safety lock, which had prompted everyone to think he had sneaked inside from the outside. “It’s pouring rain outside,” he explained like an adult to a child, rather than the other way around. “You would think that the floor should be covered by mud if somebody came in from this weather.”

“That’s right...” Sonoko realized, wide eyed, before turning to the child. “But shouldn’t Ran be more fitting for this job? I mean, her father is a great detective and all...”

“Right after we arrived Ran-neechan accidentally opened the door to every single room," Conan turned to the three men currently inspecting the room. "She saw all three of them changing clothes."

"... Ran did?"

"She must have seen something, and the killer wants to silence her. His guard must be up around her. You, on the other hand...”

Sonoko didn’t say anything, hesitating for a moment, as she gazed at the bed Ran and Conan had previously been sleeping in. The mattress had been slashed cut. Hadn’t Ran been saved on the nick of time she would have... 

Sonoko didn’t want to finish that thought.

“Sonoko-neechan,” the girl’s eyes met with the child’s determined ones. “Don’t you want to protect Ran-neechan?”

And frowned, determination filling her features as well, nodding her head. “But you better help me with this, pipsqueak,” she pressed her index finger against his chest. “You’re not leaving me alone in this, understand?”

“... Wouldn’t dream of it.”


On their way back they found Sonoko’s sister with Chikako’s choker, claiming that she had found it close to the front door a few hours ago. The kid had pondered over it for a bit, until he felt himself being hoisted up, rather roughly.

Conan shifted uncomfortably on Sonoko’s back. “Hey, you better not drop me,” he huffed, irritably, then squeaked when the girl adjusted his weight, violently. “On a second thought, let me off. I can walk by myself.”

“Don’t be stupid, brat. You have a sprain, don’t you?”

“Yeah, but I don’t want a concussion on top of that.”

“You little-!”

Ran, who was walking beside the bickering duo, smiled awkwardly. “It’s okay, Sonoko,” she tried to calm her friend down. “I can carry him instead.”

“There’s no way I’m letting this brat burden you when there’s a killer on the loose targeting you,” Conan tried to ignore that comment for the sake of his own sanity. “How are you going to use your karate with him on your back?”

Just as they were saying that, they reached the living room and Sonoko set the child down on a chair beside them. “By the way, Ran-neechan,” he spoke to her. “Why didn’t you beat him up when he attacked you?”

“That’s because I’m scared of things like ghosts and monsters...” she blushed a bit as she said that.

Oota smirked, standing up from his seat and walking around the table. “You don’t need to worry,” he placed a hand on her shoulder, and the girl flinched away at the contact. “There are six of us and only one of him. No matter how scary he is, if all six of us team up-!”

He then hissed in pain when something hit his shin, hard. The girls looked down to notice that Conan was also in the floor, cradling his injured feet, and realized he must have kicked him.

“Do you even know how to count? There are clearly seven of us!”

“Little brats don’t count!”

“Pushy idiots don’t either.”

“What did you-?!”

“You can’t say that,” Ran argued, clearly ignoring what Conan had shot back at the man. “When I was attacked, he did his best to protect me. Thank you, Conan-kun.”

Conan smiled at Ran, sweetly, before sticking his tongue at him when the girl had turned around. Sonoko, who had seen all of that, just sighed before raising him from the floor and setting him on top of her lap.

“Say, Ran,” she decided to begin her detective work. “When you were attacked, did you get a chance to see his face or anything?”

“Not really...”

“I know something about him! I grabbed around the stomach so I know his figure now,” Conan chirped, then held his arms up. "It was around this size. He wasn't very skinny, or very fat either."

Sonoko blinked twice, before leaning closed to the child, an irritated expression on her face.

"Hey, why didn't you tell me anything about this?" she whispered to him. "Wasn't I supposed to be the detective today?"

"I thought we could get the culprit to have a reaction out of it," he shrugged. "But either the culprit is quite a good actor or..."

"Or that description isn't accurate enough to be worrying, huh?" Sonoko pondered. "Geez, this is giving me a headache."

Thunder struck suddenly and, with that, all lights were gone. For a moment, all the people in the room looked at each other, only to realize that the darkness that surrounded them didn’t let anyone see a thing. Because of that Ayako ─ Sonoko’s sister ─ decided to go get some candles on the kitchen. Ran soon offered to go with her, so she wouldn’t be alone.

Conan was about to say that he also wanted to come along, when he felt himself raised into the air. “Alright,” he heard Sonoko’s voice from above his head. “We’re coming along as well.”

Unsurprisingly Ran was attacked on their way back, yet this time around she reacted on time, spinning around and giving a powerful kick at the attacker.

The axe snapped in half, falling squarely their feet, and the killer disappeared into the darkness. Like so, the four found themselves completely alone, even after the lights had come back.

When they arrived back at the living room, they found the window of the second floor completely broken, covering the inside of the building in shattered glass. Sonoko leaned closer, holding the child tightly against her chest, and gasped. “One of the doors is unlocked,” she said to the kid, and he nodded. “Why?”

“Maybe he wanted to pretend he came from the outside, when he was actually inside.”

Letting his words sink in, the girl hesitantly stepped outside, where the men were looking for clues ─ they had come into the conclusion that the culprit had climbed a tree and then jumped on the veranda ─ when Conan’s eyes fixed on another random spot.

There were a pair of grooves in the veranda. Sonoko failed to see how was that relevant.

“Say, Sonoko-neechan,” the child looked up, blinking innocent eyes at her. “If you wanted to kill me and carry my body around, how would you do so?”

The girl winced at that, and stared at the boy with a weirded expression on her face. “Why would I do that?” she seemed to be a bit irritated, and disgusted at the prospect. “I think you’re really annoying, but to the point of actually killing you...”

“It’s an hypothetical question. Just answer it.”

“Geez, you’re weird, kid...” then, she pondered. “I’d probably carry you in a big bag.”

“That’s too suspicious. Think harder.”

“Umm... Considering you’re so small, I would probably hide you inside my jacket or something... But that would make me look like I have gained a few pounds so suddenly so...” she trailed off, eyes widening dramatically. “... Oh.”

The kid smirked, as he noticed her eyes travelling to the mark on the veranda, with a shocked expression on her face. “But, it it was there... How did he...?” she then sighed, laughing a little to herself. “That’s impossible. No matter how fat he pretended to be, he wouldn’t just be able to carry Chikako-san’s body around.”

She watched the kid placing a finger on his chin, as he seemed to be thinking. “Now that I think of it, wasn’t it weird?” he wondered out loud. “Her body was completely covered in a black cloak, but she was wearing normal clothes when we found her body parts. Why would the killer put it on her?”

Her eyes opened widely at that, her gaze flickering at the culprit for a moment, before releasing a deep breath. “You look like you know who the killer is, don’t you?” Conan questioned.

"I-I can't do this," she argued. "I'm not Ran's father nor your brother. What if I'm wrong?"

"Even if she gets out of here alive, the criminal isn't going to stop there," he told her, with crude honesty. "What would you do if one day Ran-neechan is found lying dead on her room, with her head severed from the rest of her body?"

He noticed Sonoko shivering at the thought, and he couldn't really blame her, since that mental image made him sick on the stomach. But he figured Sonoko needed this. 

Her grip on him tightened and took a deep breath before heading back to the living room.

"Everyone, can I please have your attention?" she called, loudly, setting the child on top of the table. "I figured out who Chikako’s murderer is!"

Even if she was puffing her chest out and sneering at everyone, confidence in her entire posture, the kid could see the girl was terrified. And there was little reason not to, her best friend’s life went with this, after all.

Instead of saying anything about it, Conan settled on watching the girl give out her deduction show, exactly the way he had thought she would. By the end of it, she had correctly pointed Takahashi as the culprit.

“The evidence are the two marks on the veranda railing left by the piano wires,” she glared at him, genuine anger showing on her eyes. “You’re the only one who could’ve done something like that! The one who used to make sets during college for the movie making club!”

“S-Stop playing around,” he tried to laugh it off. “Then what did I do with the body after I supposedly pulled it up?” he turned to the others. “When we were looking for Chikako I wasn’t carrying a body, was I?”

“Y-Yeah,” Hiroki nodded.

“Then what about the choker, huh?!” she yelled at him. “My sister found it next to the front door. And when she was taken, Chikako-san still had it on her neck. That means someone carrying her body passed through there!”

“Like I said, I didn’t have anything in my hands,” at this point, Takahashi was beginning to sweat, nervously. “There’s no way I could’ve carried her body without anyone noticing.”

Sonoko smirked at that. “What about her head?” then everyone gasped at that. “We didn’t see her body because of the black cloak covering her body, right?”

“That’s absurd!” he yelled at her. “Why would I kill Chikako?! Why would I have attacked Ran-chan?! A-And...”

“He’s right, Sonoko-neechan!” she blinked, surprised, when Conan pipped in. “It couldn’t have been him,” then he smiled a bit. “Haven’t you been listening to me when I said the killer wasn’t fat?”

“Huh?” she looked at him, strangely. What’s that brat trying to do?! she wondered, worrying a bit, until his eyes seemed to open behind his glasses and turn to the killer with a curious look.

“Why didn’t you say anything about that, Takahashi-san?” he questioned. “You could’ve been easily discarded as a culprit.”

Takahashi froze on place, and only then did Sonoko understand his intention. 

“Well, Conan-kun, that’s because,” she looked at the killer on the face. “He’s not overweight at all.”

With that the truth came to light. Seeing no way out, he finally confessed having brutally murdered Chikako in the forest before chopping her in pieces. All of it was because of Tokumoto Atsuko, their beloved friend and member of the group up until her suicide. It turned out it was all because of Chikako, who had stolen her ideas and became a famous screenwriter due to that.

“It’s all over. Everything is over,” then, in tears, he let the dummy he had used fell into the floor, revealing his true body complexion. He then revealed a knife, which he tightly held on. “I’m going to join Atsuko.”

Sonoko paled at that, instantly jumping back as he started to wave the blade around, so nobody would come closer, before pressing the pointy end to his own chin.

“I-I’m going to spend eternity with Atsuko a the messenger of justice who avenged her death!” 

“Are you stupid?!”

They all turned to the child, including Takahashi, who flinched at the very dark and angry look that little Conan had on his face. 

“When you attacked Ran-neechan, was it for Atsuko-san’s sake?!” the criminal’s mouth hung open at that. “You didn’t. It was because you were scared of becoming a murderer! That doesn’t make you a messenger of justice, just an ugly murdering monster hungry for blood.”

There wasn’t anything Takahashi could say about that. Just dropped into his knees, tears soaking the floor. The knife was left forgotten at his side.


"It’s good news that your sister is doing alright now," commented Ran, as the three made their way back home from school.

"It’s really good news," Sonoko agreed. "She stayed in bed for a week after all that."

"But it was all solved thanks to your great deduction, Sonoko!" the girl elbowed the other, with a grin on her face. "It was cool seeing you act like a detective!"

When Sonoko smirked, arrogantly, Conan realized it had been a bad idea to ask her, of all people, to solve the case.

"What can I say? If i’m involved, then that type of case is open and shut! Shinichi-kun and your father can’t compete," she laughed so loudly that a few passerbys stared at them, weirded out, before continuing their way. "The time has come for the Deduction Queen Suzuki Sonoko!"

Conan raised an eyebrow at that. Deduction Queen? he continued his way, his face indifferent as they crossed the street. How tasteless...

A hand suddenly rested on his head, startling him. "There's also this little pipsqueak," he messed his hair, prompting the boy to groan. "He can be a pain, but I guess he makes a decent assistant."

He could practically feel a vein popping up on his head, but he concealed it pretty well by giving the older girl a blank look.

"It felt more like you were my assistant, instead."

With that the two broke into another argument. 

Unable to stop them, Ran decided to simply sigh and continue her way, pretending she didn't know the pair.

Chapter Text

Unlike other children, Conan didn't particularly like going to the beach.

Despite being considered outlandishly smart for his age, the kid could not grasp the concept of 'fun' that many people seemed to have.

Quite frankly, he couldn't understand why was that most people seemed to enjoy smearing themselves with loads of sunscreen so they could play and relax in a place he could only describe as an oversized oven. Not to mention the sand, that seemed to squeeze itself in every inch of his body and clothes, and that wouldn't leave his shoes until weeks after the trip to the beach, if he was lucky.

Besides, Conan didn't truly enjoy showing his body like everyone else did, for plenty of reasons. So, he would end up with weird sun marks on his arms and a soaked wet T-shirt clinging uncomfortably to his torso.

In fact, the only reason he was currently swimming was because Genta had taken into his own hands the task to make him join them on the salty, ocean water. Even if it meant abducting him from his comfortable spot under the shade of the parasol and throwing him inside.

So, yeah, he was pretty much hoping that night would fall soon.

As it was now, however, Conan wandered through the forest of legs and people looking for his friends, that hadn't had a better idea than to play hide and seek in the water.

Sighing, loudly, Conan tried to wring out some excess of water on his shirt, but no avail. Not that it wasn't expected, since one of the many drawbacks of swimming with his clothes on was that they weighted much more when soaked wet.

"I wouldn't have taken you as the shy type," Conan turned around to give Haibara an annoyed look. "Well, considering you like giving others the credit for you brilliant deductions just because you don't like the spotlight, it shouldn't have come as a surprise."

"What did all of that come from, anyway?" the boy questioned, looking away from her and starting to walk, having spotted Ayumi by the corner of his eye just a moment ago. Haibara followed.

She didn't say anything, just motioned with her head to a random group of slightly older boys playing volleyball, their chests in plain sight. "Most boys take that off before getting into the water."

"Most girls hide when playing hide and seek," Conan pointed out, and she shrugged.

"And those who are not playing do not hide, Kudo-kun."

He barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes, as kept looking around. The little girl had distracted him, and now he didn't know where Ayumi was anymore. Had she just hidden underwater or something?

"Ayumi-chan!" by the corner of his eye he noticed an older girl spinning around when he shouted his friend's name, and momentarily wondered if she was also called Ayumi or something like that. "I have already spotted you, so come out!"

"Oh, isn't that Conan-kun?"

It wasn't until he heard his name being called that he really took a better look at the teenage girl, and was shocked to see Ran standing right in front of him, a beach ball in her hands and a very surprised look on her face.

"Ran-neechan?" Conan blinked, only then noticing that Sonoko was right beside her, and his expression went numb. Right, Ran-neechan said she was going out with Sonoko-neechan.

"Hey, why is that little brat here?" she complained when she saw him, an eyebrow raised. "Geez. The reason we didn't bring him was because there are always cases when he's around!"

The rest of his friends were gathering around him at this point, probably deciding that satisfying their curiosity was far more important that remaining hidden, especially when the seeker was doing anything else but seek.

Conan mirrored her expression and opened his mouth to shoot something back at her, but he stopped when he noticed something that caught his attention. Haibara was staring right at Ran, with a cold, blank look, which was pretty similar to the ones she had given him when they had first met.

When she frowned, Conan realized there probably was something he wasn't understanding.

As the children engaged in a very cheerful conversation with the two girls, Conan noticed Ai slipping away from the crowd and starting to walk towards the shore. She noticed the curious look the boy sent her way.

"The water is freezing cold," the girl told him. "I'll go warm myself a little under the sun."

"It's like over thirty degrees here," Conan raised an eyebrow at her.

Ai paused at that, but didn't even say anything at him. Even so, the boy watched, silently, as the girl just stood there, her back facing him.

"Maybe I'm actually a cold-blooded snake in the body of a beautiful girl," she finally said, in a soft voice. When Conan blinked, taken by surprise at her words, she turned around and gave him a flat look. "I'm just joking."

"Oh."

With an exasperated sigh, the girl walked away, and Conan watched her sit in the sand right in front of them, before shrugging and going back to the rest. It was a bit disturbing, to say the least, the way she seemed to stare at them with a pretty blank look he couldn't hope to understand.

She really loves that look, doesn't she?

He didn't notice, however, Ran turning around and glance at the little girl, with a concerned look on her face, before returning to the group.

Around twenty minutes later, Conan was standing beside Agasa back in the shore, looking at Haibara, who was laying under the parasol, covered in wet towels to cool her down. Clearly, she had sunstroke.

And they wouldn't have realized she had if it wasn't for Ran, who noticed she hadn't been feeling well from the spot she was in and carried her to the shade.

Said girl came to them with a bucket filled with water and ice she had collected from other people in the beach and passed it to Agasa. Then, with a worried expression, she leaned over Haibara.

Who didn't even react to it.

"Is Ai-chan okay?" she asked.

"Yeah, her temperature is going down, so she should be fine soon," the professor reassured her.

"I'm glad," Ran sighed, then smiled gently at the little girl. "Next time, don't hesitate to tell us if you don't feel well, alright, Ai-chan?"

Haibara didn't reply, but Ran didn't seem to mind and simply excused herself to join the others in the water.

"Professor, would you please get something to drink for Haibara-san?" Conan turned to the older man. "It's important to keep her hydrated."

The older man nodded and went to do as he was asked to. Silence ensued thereafter as Conan just stared at the girl for a few moments, an eyebrow raised.

"What?" eventually she hissed, irritated.

"So much for a cold-blooded individual, huh?" he remarked, sarcastically.

"Even a snake can overheat and die, Kudo-kun."

The boy shrugged, making his way to the bucket with ice and water and took the towel away from her eyes. "Honestly," he sighed, wetting it again.

Haibara remained silent as he placed the towel back on her head, and merely closed her eyes.

"Did you know?" Conan was the first one to break the quietness. "Even if people often believe that snakes are cruel and dangerous creatures, they will always try to escape and disappear if they feel a threat coming," the girl did not comment. "Including humans."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Don't know," he shrugged. "Just a random fact, I guess."

She gave him a long, sharp look, which he returned, before bringing her arm to her head, and covered her eyes with it. "Could... Could you just go somewhere else? I'm very tired."

Haibara wasn't surprised when the child sat on the sand, right beside her, instead. "Are you crazy?" he leaned his back against Haibara's folding chair. "The only reason I was there in the first place was because Genta practically dragged me along," with a grin, he closed his eyes. "So, there's no way I'm leaving when I have the perfect excuse to stay."

She gave him a long look from under her arm then, with a sigh, also closed her eyes.

"Suit yourself."


"I need to see Tanaka-sensei, please."

Heiji mentally grinned as he watched the receptionist actually listen to him instead of shouting him to get out.

He was pretty glad he had stolen his mother's makeup and powdered his skin a shade lighter, and that he had also actually dyed his hair blue, before going to Ekoda. Sure, he wasn't the most inconspicuous one of the bunch, but at least he wouldn't be kicked off the hospital by this worker, who was more than a bit sick of him by now.

"Please, I need to," he made his best to give the impression that he was desperate. "It's my friend... he was Tanaka-sensei's patient and I... he..."

"Is something wrong?"

Both the receptionist and Heiji turned around to see the doctor they had been talking about standing right behind him, a curious look on his face.

"This young man wanted to talk with you, Sensei," the woman was the first one to explain. "He says he was one of your patients and wants to ask you something about him."

"Oh? Who is it?"

Heiji did his best not to flinch. He hadn't thought that ahead. Yet, the intense look Tanaka was giving him was enough for him to know that he needed to think fast.

"Kuroba," he said quickly, remembering the weird Kudo look-alike he had seen a month ago. "His name is Kuroba Kaito, Sensei."

The way both the receptionist and doctor winced at the sound of that name threw him off a little, but managed to keep himself in character in a way that would make the Kudo brothers' mother proud of him.

"A-Ah, Kuroba-san?" Tanaka forced a smile. It only made Heiji wonder what had that guy done to traumatize the hospital staff to such a extent. "What about him?"

"It's about his right foot," Heiji remembered, after all, seeing that body part bandaged. "I don't think is completely healed, but he won't listen to me."

Tanaka frowned at him. "Do you really think so?" he seemed to be in thought. "Would you mind coming with me so we can talk it over more quietly?"

Heiji fought not to let his relief show into his face, as he followed him to another, quieter place. He let the doctor guide him to his office and closed the door behind himself.

Only then did Heiji's eyes sharpen. "What do you know?" he said, suddenly, confusing the doctor. "About Watanabe Satoshi-sensei's death."

At the mention of that name, the doctor's expression changed dramatically. Heiji watched as colour drained from his place and his muscles froze in place, mouth opening and closing soundlessly.

"Wha-What are you talking about?" the corner of his lips twitched upwards, struggling to get a convincing smile out.

"Don't play dumb," Heiji frowned. "You saw it, right?!"

To be honest, Hattori didn't actually have an idea of what it meant, exactly ─ he was kind of bluffing at this point ─ but, somehow, it worked. There was a look of utter terror on the doctor's face, as he took a step backwards.

"I-I didn't see anything, I swear!" he exclaimed, desperate.

"You better not be lying to me," the doctor gulped. "Now, what did you see?"

"... Please, don't kill me," Heiji's eyes opened at those words, not quite expecting to hear that. "It was an accident. I was on my way home after checking on a patient in critical care that night, and I saw the light on Watanabe-sensei's office on... I-I only wanted to ask him if everything was alright, I swear. He had been so distant lately that I..."

Tanaka trailed off, probably scared to keep talking any further. "Then?" but Heiji needed to know. He needed to talk. "What did you see?"

The doctor took a shaky breath. "I... just took a peek. There was this man with raven black clothes and long, silver hair... But I turned around as soon as I saw him, I swe-!"

A sound of glass shattering filled the room, and in an instant everything had gone silent. Hattori, in quiet shock, watched the man in front of him tumble down into his space, collapsing into his arms without making any resistance. It only took Heiji a glance to the hole in the doctor's temple and the blood staining his clothes to figure out why he wouldn't be talking anymore. Ever.

Because it didn't take a detective to figure out that the man had been shot in the head.

The next few hours went by in a whim. Rolling into the floor to avoid being hit, even if the snipper hadn't made another shot after that, grabbing his phone to call the police.

Hattori had been let go right away, since it was evident the shot had been from a large distance so it couldn't have been him. And he did eventually, after doing everything in his power to figure out who the killer was.

Yet, his deductive skills were not enough.

Because the murderer had disappeared, just like a black cloud of smoke in the middle of the night.


"Oh, you guys came to have dinner here too?"

Conan looked up and wasn't surprised to find out that Ran and Sonoko had made reservations at the same restaurant they were currently sitting at. At his side, Ayumi broke into a big smile.

"Wanna eat with us?" she asked the girls.

"There's more than enough room for you two," Agasa told them.

"Only for Ran-neechan, actually," Conan gave Sonoko a bored look, leaning his head on his hand. "I've heard that stupidity is contagious."

Sonoko's eyebrow twitched. "Ah, yeah?" and sat right beside him, just to spite the boy. "Well, I'm glad your overall weirdness is actually genetic," she patted him in the head, causing him to groan. "Because I'd be in so much trouble right now, wouldn't I?"

"Careful. I still can bite. And I might have rabies."

"Conan-kun, behave yourself," Ran scolded him, causing Sonoko to stuck her tongue at the boy, childishly, and him to look away, irritated. The other girl, however, ignored them as she looked around. "Where's Ai-chan?"

"She's sleeping in the hotel's room," Genta told her looking up from the menu he was holding.

"She said she wasn't hungry and would pass on dinner," Mitsuhiko explained.

"... Really?" Ran mumbled.

"Oh, what's this?" Sonoko raised an eyebrow at her. "You seem awfully attached to that little girl."

"I just wanted to talk with her. We've pretty much never talked and when our eyes meet, she averts her gaze," in spite of that, the girl smiled as she sat down. "Maybe she doesn't like me?"

Even if he wanted, there wasn't anything Conan could say. He had also noticed the way the young scientist seemed to distance herself from Ran every single time she had the chance, and the weird, cold looks she would give her all the time. Yet, it didn't matter how hard he thought about it, he couldn't find the reason why.

If he didn't know better, he would've think Haibara was afraid of Ran. Only that it didn't make sense at all, so it couldn't be true.

The child looked up, brought away from his thoughts as a man in a red shirt walked inside and greeted Sonoko, Ran and the rest of his friends, before asking for the time, claiming that his watch was broken.

"It's 7:12 PM," Ran answered.

"Damn, I came too early..." he sighed, sitting on another table.

"Well, well," Sonoko sighed, opening the menu. "Looks like a fight is going to break out, so let's order quick and eat up."

"We didn't come here to fight. But we do plan to teach that bad guy a little something about the rules."

Conan blinked, cluelessly, as he stared at the man he couldn't recognize.

"Did I miss something?" he whispered to Ayumi.

"Ah, that's right, you were with Haibara-san," Ayumi realized. "That lifeguard scolded us when we got into a boat that was lying on the beach."

"He was going to met with two other lifeguards and another man they didn't seem to like at 8:00 PM," Mitsuhiko added, after hearing their conversation. "Those lifeguards supposed to be fishermen, though."

Ayumi nodded. "That man in red seemed to be blaming him for not being able to catch anything."

At 8:00 PM another fisherman arrived at the restaurant, and informed the one in red that their third friend was going to be late, because he was passing by his father's grave.

In fact, it seemed that all three fathers had died in a big storm, eight years ago.

By the time Nezu Nobutsugu, the third fisherman, arrived ─ it was around 8:40 ─ Sonoko was on their table, laughing and seemingly getting along with the other two ─ Shimojo Noboru and Yoshizawa Yuta.

The three called the other man and somebody seemed to pick up. The sound of the waves, however, was the only thing they could hear until the call was finished, suddenly.

Aramaki Giichi never came.

It wasn't until past 9:30 PM that they found him, lying in the shore, wrapped in a fisherman's net. Dead.

The only thing Conan noticed before Inspector Yokomizo chased him away the body was that the victim was completely covered in scratches, for some weird reason. The inspector supposed they were there because of his struggle against the killer.

Which didn't convince Conan. Defensive marks did not look like that, did they?

Besides, there was also that call. Conan couldn't figure out who had picked up, and why.

They also noticed the boat Conan's friends had been riding in the afternoon, drifting away from them. Once it was brought up, they found an empty bottle of alcohol, a sandal and a button inside, all covered by sea water. They all belonged to a victim.

It only helped making it more suspicious for Conan. If he was the culprit, he would just throw all evidence into the ocean.

It didn't make any sense. But he couldn't figure out the trick either.

"Ah!" suddenly, Ayumi exclaimed, before running right to the ocean. "Geez, even though you aren't supposed to throw garbage into the ocean."

The little boy took a glance at the can floating in the water, turning around because of the force of the waves, and gasped, catching up with the girl.

Instead of picking it up, however, the boy just stood there in the water, watching the can move while the girl went to pick it up, until a strong wave suddenly washed over the shore. Both children lost their balance, and Ayumi stumbled backwards, falling in the sand.

Mitsuhiko and Genta rushed over, instantly. "Are you alright?" the freckled boy asked them, helping Ayumi up.

"Yeah," she reassured them, staring at her hands. "Just a little scratch."

"You should be careful," Mitsuhiko said. "There are a lot of shells around here."

"Huh?" Genta looked around. "Where's Conan?"

"Here," came the annoyed voice.

They looked over the source and were quick to spot their friend.

It looked like Conan hadn't so lucky. Currently he sat in the sand, water rushing all around him, and dripping from his hair and slightly crooked glasses. His annoyment was even more visible when another wave hit his back, soaking him even more.

And the three kids, being the wonderful group of friends they were, laughed at him. His eyebrow twitched more violently at that.

Before standing up and kicking the water, splashing all of them.

"Conan-kun, stop that!" Ran instantly went over to their spot, not failing to notice that the other three children were about to do the same, probably with all the intention to start a water war in the middle of a murder investigation. "Go change, now."

The boy shrugged, giving his friends another glare, before heading back to the hotel.


Haibara let out a big yawn as she watched the credits of the movie she had been enjoying rolling. Pulling herself in a sitting position on the bed, she gave the door a thoughtful glance. Everyone is so late, she thought, her fingers going inside the bag of crisp, taking a potato chip and eating it.

Just as she was munching it, the door silently opened up. Haibara tried not to laugh as soon as she saw the child detective standing there, soaked to the bone, while a pool of sea water was formed beneath his feet.

The glare he gave her was enough for her to realize she hadn't tried enough. Not that it bothered her much.

"Don't ask," was all he said as he went to his bag to pick some new clothes.

"Wouldn't dream of it," she shrugged. "Murder case?"

"Yeah. Drowned. Wrapped in a fisherman's net."

"Then, why does it look like you were the one that got drowned, instead?"

A grunt was the only reply he decided to grace her with.

He passed by her in the way to the bathroom, stealing a chip from her bag before she could stop him.

"Thief," she accused him.

"Liar," he shot back. "You should've eaten real food instead of these if you were hungry."

Haibara's eyes went back to the TV prompting Conan to sigh, knowing that he wouldn't have any other answers from the girl when she was like that, and opened the bathroom door, partly-closing it after he was inside.

"What are you so afraid of, anyway, Haibara-san?" he asked her, as he took off his wet shirt.

"That's what I should be asking you, Kudo-kun."

"What do you mean...?"

He heard the door open, causing the young boy to spin around, shocked to actually see Haibara casually leaning on the doorway. "Haibara-san, what the-?!"

"A gunshot scar," she mumbled, unusually surprised, with her eyes wide open.

At that moment Conan realized that, even if he had turned around, his back was still facing the mirror, meaning that the girl could easily see the old scar that painted his left shoulder. With a frown, the boy silently put on his dry shirt, turning around.

From the reflection he could see Haibara's piercing gaze. "It looks old," she pointed out.

"Yeah," simply, he said. "It's more than three years old, I think."

Conan walked towards her, and gently pushed the girl outside before closing the door behind her. For a moment, the girl didn't say anything, standing silently in deep thought, before sighing.

She leaned against the door, resting her back against the cool wooden surface.

"You think?" she asked him.

There was a long pause yet, eventually, he made an affirmative sound. "I don't remember being shoot," he admitted, in a soft voice. "In fact, I can't recall anything that happened in that entire week."

"Were you hurt in the head?"

"No, I wasn't."

Her eyes narrowed. "Repressed memories, huh?"

"Most likely."

Their conversation was left right there, as Conan opened the door and, after giving her an unreadable look, walked out the room. He didn't question her, however, when Haibara decided to come along to the crime scene.

Once Conan was back, it didn't take the case long to be solved. He guided a very hesitant Agasa and made him play the role of the detective, and with his friends they did a demonstration of the crime using only a dead starfish, a sea shell, a basin, sand and some water.

Inspector Yokomizo stared as the sea shell floated in the water for a few moments, until he realized it. "Could it be that boat?!"

"That's right," Agasa nodded. "The culprit first got Aramaki-san drunk and entangled him in the net, before digging a hole and putting him inside. Then, he just had to place a boat on top of the victim. This way, even if the victim did come to, he would be trapped and would ultimately drown," he then frowned in the criminal's direction. "Shimojo Noboru-san, everything went exactly according to your plan."

The culprit tried to argue, but eventually ended up messing it up by mentioning the victim's time of death when he didn't have a way to knowing that. Like so, Noboru fell into his knees, realizing that the truth had come into light.

"Don't tell me... it was for our fathers?" Nobutsugu asked him, shocked.

"Yeah. You should thank me," he replied, with a rather sinister smile. "Eight years ago, Aramaki killed our fathers while at the sea. It took all my courage to kill him."

At those words, Ran frowned deeply, for some reason.

"They went out to bring back Aramaki, who went fishing without paying attention to the storm. But that bastard... He lost control of his own boat due to the waves and ended up hitting our fathers'! Then, after they had fallen into the ocean, he just left all there to die! A sailor who was on the boat with Aramaki confirmed it for me."

"Then, why...?" Nobutsugu felt cold sweat rolling down his forehead. "Why didn't you take him to the police as a witness?"

"He suddenly disappeared," he told them. "When I asked Aramaki about him, he just calmly said 'Do you want to know how to commit the perfect crime? Two people go sailing, and one pushes the other into the ocean. The body's gone and there aren't any witnesses around.'"

The two fishermen gasped at that, knowing well the implications of that sentence.

"Even so," Nobutsugu said. "You still shouldn't have killed him."

Noboru laughed creepily, exactly like someone that had just lost his mind, while his two friends looked back at him, completely disappointed.

"The hell are you saying? I took down our enemy for your sake as well! Even after I took it upon myself to be the sacrifice and summoned all my courage to carry out divine punishment on the bastard... How... How could you say that?!"

While she listened through his speech, Ran bit her lip, "You can't do that," and spoke before she could stop herself. "Courage is a word that gives you the strength to do what's right. You can't use it as a reason to take a person's life."

As if a magic spell had been casted, everything went suddenly silent and nobody dared to make a sound, except for the waves that gently washed over the shore.

With a sad smile the culprit let himself be taken into custody. Calmly, the police left with the murderer.

And Haibara quietly watched the older girl, a thoughtful expression adorning her delicate face.

But it wasn't until the next day, as the sun was setting down, that she decided to act. The little girl stared at Ran and Sonoko, who were quietly chatting in the shore surrounded by the seagulls that were resting in the sand after a long day hunting for food, a wide distance away.

Courage...

Haibara took a deep breath, before starting to move forward.

...gives you the strength...

They didn't notice the girl coming their way until the seagulls suddenly flew away, chased away from something they didn't know. That was, at least, until Sonoko saw the little child standing behind Ran, with a rather serious expression on her face.

... to do what's right.

Blinking twice at her friend's look of surprise, Ran turned around and silently watched Haibara, patiently waiting for her to put her feelings into words.

"I am Haibara Ai," finally she said and, stretching her hand at her, smiled kindly. It was only then that Ran noticed she hadn't seen the girl doing that before. "Nice to meet you."

So, she smiled back at her.

"The pleasure is mine," Ran replied easily, reaching towards the little hand and giving her a handshake. "Nice to meet you too."

From his spot close to his friends, who were playing with the seagulls, Conan looked over his shoulder. Blinking twice, he realized what was going on, and a faint smile drew itself on his features.

Chapter Text

"If I could, in this world, grasp your love..." Conan mentally cringed as he listened the two kids sitting at his left in the car, and Genta that sat in the front, singing ─ shouting ─ at the top of their lungs. "Watching the dancing lights, I shall not forget... Aa-ah! The mystery is getting solved!"

At that point, the child physically winced. There was a giggle at his right, and he didn't need to actually look to know that Haibara was giving him one of her amused and teasing smirks.

"I doubt you can do better than them," she told him, softly. "I have been told your singing abilities are similar to those of a cat being run over by a truck, at best."

His eyebrow twitched at that. "That's oddly specific, if you ask me."

"Well, Yoshida-san only said you sing pretty bad," she shrugged. "With that, and the way her face twisted at the memory, I could only imagine," Haibara gave the annoyed boy a pointed look. "I think you gave the poor girl some sort of PTSD."

"It's not my fault I was born with my father's genes," he crossed his arms in front of his chest. "And my brother sings even worse than I do."

"He sure does," she nodded, massaging her temples as if she was recalling a tragic scene she had been in. "But the fact that your brother sings poorly doesn't make you sing like an angel either, Kudo-kun."

Conan paused. And blinked.

"You have heard him sing," it wasn't a question. "Haibara-san, where did you-?"

"Didn't I already tell you?" she interrupted him. "I'm not telling you anything about your brother until you figure that out."

His eyes narrowed and fixed back to the road in front of him. "... Singani..." he mumbled.

"Singani?" the boy flinched when he heard the female voice coming from his left question him. "What does that mean?"

"What's that?" Genta asked from the front seat. "Is it tasty?"

"N-No..." Conan tried to say.

"Many adults say it is, but I don't think any of us would like it," Haibara butted in. "Well, it's not like it matters, because you need to be over twenty to drink it."

Hey, hey... the child with glasses glared at her, and she returned it with a smug smile.

"... Alcohol... Sherry..." Mitsuhiko's eyes widened dramatically. "Sherry was also named after alcohol! Could it be that the members of that dangerous organization have alcohol-themed codenames?! Is Singani a member?!"

He cursed Mitsuhiko's sharp mind under his breath.

"Eh?!" both Genta and Ayumi exclaimed.

"Maybe," Conan sighed, not seeing another way out. "I'm still trying to figure that out."

"Why didn't you say anything?!"

"You're always doing everything in your own!"

The boy simply turned his gaze to the professor, who smiled awkwardly as he quietly drove, doing his best not to get involved in the conversation. Evidently, it looked like Agasa wasn't going to save him this time around.

"Seriously, when was the last time you told us anything about that?" Genta complained. "Wasn't your brother's case the reason we formed our club?"

"You said you wanted to find my missing brother and I have already met him a few times," he pointed out. "So that's pretty much a case closed, isn't it?"

"But you still don't know where he is, right?" Ayumi argued.

Conan clicked his mouth shut, realizing she was actually right about that. Mitsuhiko, on the other hand, seemed to be in deep thought.

"Speaking of Sherry, isn't it weird?" he spoke. "It had been a long while since she saw you, but nothing happened after that."

Haibara turned to look through the window. The boy couldn't help but glance at her for a second before replying.

"Yeah, that's a bit strange," he nodded. "That happened around December and it's mid-October already, so..."

"Ah, that long?" Ayumi was surprised. "I can't believe it's October already... I haven't even planned my birthday yet..."

"But, Ayumi-chan... Your birthday is in March..."

Conan was glad for the random change of topic. His relief was short lived, however, since Agasa looked at him from the rear mirror. "Now that I think about it, Conan," the boy blinked. "Isn't your birthday close by?"

He tried to hide his internal flinching when four pairs of curious eyes suddenly fixed on him. "It's not that close, actually..." he tried off.

"When is it?" Ayumi asked.

"... November 13th."

"Eh?!" Genta exclaimed.

"That's a bit over two weeks from now!" Mitsuhiko pointed out.

"Why didn't you say anything, Conan-kun?" Ayumi frowned at him.

"Because it's not that big of a deal," Conan shrugged. "It's just a normal day, really."

"It's not!" she argued. "It's the day you were born, Conan-kun. And that, alone, is a big deal!"

They stared at each other for a while, until Conan sighed and crossed his arms behind his head, letting his gaze stray to the ceiling and doing his best to ignore Ayumi, who was grinning, triumphantly.

"Do you really dislike being the center of attention that much?" Haibara teased him.

"Shut it."


It was another mundane day for Kato Momoka ever since her lover left her. Today, she didn't have to work and was free to do whatever she wanted. Maybe she could watch some TV, read a book or two, cook something...

But why was she now, sitting in the middle of the living room, pressing her phone against her ear, letting her tears roll down her face?

"You know, once I'm free to go, I will pass by your house, is that alright?"

Hearing all those voice messages she had forgotten to erase, she couldn't help but press her hand against her face, sobbing. His voice, sweet and kind as she remembered only made her heart ache.

"Everything will be okay, I promise."

"Tanaka-san?" somebody had called him. She blinked at the voice of a young man, she hadn't realized he was there before. "Inspector Nakamori is calling for you. You need to give your statement."

Then she remembered that day was the one Watanabe Satoshi had died on the fire. It had been a wreck, and her lover had to stay overnight because he had been nearby when it had happened.

After that, she didn't see him again, for four long months until he appeared again on her doorway with a bouquet of roses. At that time, she hadn't even asked him why he had left, just smiled and kissed him passionately.

The next day, he had disappeared without a trace again, before appearing once more a month later. This had became an habit up until a few weeks after his death. She had screamed at him, telling him that she felt so lonely.

And he had promised he would never leave her alone again. True to his word, he had stayed in her city.

Until he had left her for good this time.

Now, Momoka couldn't stop wondering what had happened. At that time, she had thought that her lover was just shaken because his superior's death, who he admired a lot. That he hadn't had the courage to stay in the same city he had died.

But now...

Come to think of it, she pondered, where had she been at the time of Watanabe's death?

Ah, that was right. Eating on a restaurant a few blocks away... with Tanaka...

... Wait, what?


"Hey!" Conan called, standing up with his arms full of firewood. "I think we have enough. Let's go back already!"

"Yeah!" both Ayumi and Genta pumped their arms in the air.

"Wait, everyone!" Mitsuhiko called. "Come here for a second. I found something interesting!"

The three kids went instantly to the way his voice had been heard and it wasn't long until they found him in front of some sort of limestone cavern. More specifically, the boy was kneeling in front of a message engraved in a rock.

"Take your steps towards the path of the dragon

and you shall be showered by the light of happiness."

Which, of course, stood right beside an ordinary Danger! Do not enter! sign. It seemed none of his friends cared enough about that, since they were all focused on the more interesting one.

"Light of happiness?" Genta wondered.

"It means a light full of joy!" Mitsuhiko told him.

"Could that mean..." Ayumi gasped, and the other two joined her and exclaimed together. "A treasure?"

Conan honestly how did they seemed to always reach that sort of conclusion, yet he paid no mind to that. He just stared at the To character that was drawn over the message, and wondered. "What does 'To' stand for...?" he mumbled.

"To... Tokujyou unagi rice...?" Genta pondered.

"Topaz?" Mitsuhiko did the same.

"Tunnel...?" Ayumi tilted her head, questiongly.

"Tokugawa's hidden treasure," Conan said, with a smirk, before turning back to his friends. "Just kidding..."

Then he realized he was all alone. It didn't take him long to figure out where they went, so he instantly stood up and ran up to the entrance. Sure enough, three beams of light were shining in the middle of the darkness.

He wished he had just stayed silent. But of course he had to say that...

"Hey, hey, you guys!" he yelled.

"Come on!" Ayumi brushed him off. "Just for a little while!"

For a couple of seconds, the boy just watched them go deeper and deeper into darkness, and let out a long sigh. It's never just a little while, he lamented and, with a last glance at the very threatening warning sign from before, he decided to just go with them.

If they were going to get into trouble, he figured he might as well be there to help, just in case.

Had he known what dangers lurked deeper in that darkness, the young Kudo would've insisted harder and drag all of his friends in the safety of the sunlight outside.

But as things were now, the four friends were oblivious to those dangers so they went deeper and deeper inside the cave, their watches lighting up their path as they continued walking. At some point, Mitsuhiko spotted a light in the distance.

"Someone's there," he noted.

"Maybe someone else found the treasure first," Ayumi commented.

"Are you serious?" that thought made Genta angry.

So the children were forced to watch him roll up his sleeve and stomp towards the light, ignoring the way Conan called his name, in a feeble attempt to stop him from causing trouble.

Genta disappeared around the corner, only to return not a second later. His face looked much different than a few moments before ─ pale, sweating, terrified ─ and it only made his friends wonder about such an abrupt change.

"A corpse..." he managed to croak.

Mitsuhiko and Ayumi exchanged fearful glances, while Conan frowned deeply, mentally cursing his ever-present corpse magnetism ─ he blamed his brother.

But Genta had failed to tell them about the living people he had seen carrying the body away. One of appeared in front of them in an instant, cursing loudly. Conan quickly noticed him pulling something from his jacket. A gun?! his eyes opened, widely.

Without thinking about it twice ─ because there was absolutely no time for stuff like that ─ he tackled his friends, who merely stood there, frozen in fear, and pushed them aside.

Pain flared into his stomach, but at the moment he couldn't think much of it. Like that, the little boy gritted his teeth and settled behind the rock, pulling his friends with him, and clamping a hand over a sobbing Ayumi.

So, the four children stayed hidden, just as if they were playing a deadly game of hide and seek.

"What's going on?" both of the man's partners made their appearance.

"Kids!" the man with the gun exclaimed, looking as if he was in the verge of freaking out. "We were seen by kids!"

"Hey, hey..." the one who seemed to be the leader sighed. "Their parents aren't with them, are they?"

"No, just four kids..."

"Damnit, how unlucky," the third one cursed. "When we robbed the bank, our companion's face was seen."

"We thought that killing and hiding him here would get rid of any leads. But kids now?"

Conan frowned as he listened, knowing well what could happen to them if they found them now. So, he struggled to keep his raspy breathing under control, soft enough so they wouldn't know where they were.

"In any case, go find the kids," the leader ordered, pulling out something that reflected the little light inside the dark cave, which Conan identified as a handgun right away. "We're going to make them sleep for all eternity in this dark cavern. After placing a hole in their heads, that is."

His friends' eyes went wide, in horror, but at least refrained themselves from gasping. Conan remained quiet throughout it all and watched them going back to the entrance. Only when he made sure they weren't around, he pulled his detective badge out.

"Haibara-san, can you hear me?" he hurriedly called. "Haibara-san! Give me a reply! Haibara-san!"

Yet she wouldn't reply. With a groan, he slumped against the rock and cursed inside his head over and over.

Then, he began feeling faint, and the spot that had been hurting before felt as if it was in fire. Hesitantly, he moved the hand that was pressing against it and took a look.

He wished he hadn't. His hand, clothes, everything was stained with his blood. Even Ayumi's back had gotten red without her noticing.

Okay, this can't be good.

His friends had started discussing with each other, but he felt himself having trouble focusing in their words. Gasping as if he had been running for hours, the boy closed his eyes shut, struggling to compose himself.

"I bet Conan-kun will think of a bright idea for us!" he did catch Ayumi reassuring the other two boys. "Right, Conan... kun...?"

The way the girl had trailed off and the other two gasped told Conan that they had all seen the sorry state he was currently in. Because of that, he clenched his wound with his already bloody hand and managed to crack his eyes open.

"C-Conan-kun," Ayumi's eyes were watering.

"What's with all that blood?" Mitsuhiko paled.

"Did the bullet that guy just fired hit you?" Genta asked, concerned.

Had he been in a different circumstance, Conan would probably have sarcastically pointed out the obviousness of the situation and the stupidity of their questions, but he chose not to say anything and slid his hand inside his pocket, looking for something.

"Conan-kun, if we don't run soon, those bad people are going to come back!" Ayumi said, doing her best to hold back her tears.

"W-Wait," he managed. "Sooner or later, the Professor and Haibara-san will come to this cavern... We need to let them know that this place is dangerous... or else..."

"But what can we do?" Genta asked.

"This," he finally pulled several transmitters and put them on a shocked Mitsuhiko's hand. "I don't have... time to explain. Do as I say!"

Like so, Conan guided both boys as he tried to catch his breath, leaning tiredly against the rock, a worried Ayumi at her side. Once they managed to get the message across ─ the number 110 ─ Conan set his glasses on the ground, earning three confused looks from his friends.

They didn't get to ask, though. Their confusion turned into panic at the realization that the wounded boy was standing up, with difficulty.

"Conan-kun!" Mitsuhiko was the first to react, rushing to him as the Conan struggled to keep himself upright. "What do you think you're doing?"

"We need to go, now," he breathed out, glancing towards the way they had came in. "If those men catch up with us..."

"But Conan-kun, your wound..." Ayumi tried to reason.

"Acting so tough," Genta scoffed, before turning around, his back facing his injured friend. "Come on, I'll carry you."

But the boy did not move, just chose to look away with a frown on his face. For a moment, the three looked at him, cluelessly, wondering why he was doing that.

"If those criminals start chasing us, my weight on you will make it more difficult for you to escape, Genta," Conan explained. "That's why..."

His friends got angry, for some reason, as they listened to those words.

"Do you really think I would leave you behind?" Genta sounded offended. Conan did not reply.

"We would never do that!" Ayumi argued. "Would you leave us behind to save yourself, Conan-kun?"

"I would," he replied, a serious look crossing his face. "If my life was in danger, I would..."

None of Conan's friends said anything, and the boy closed his eyes so he couldn't see their hurt expressions. He had, after all, said he would betray them if given the chance.

So, he waited for them to leave.

He didn't expect Mitsuhiko talking, though.

"You are a liar," he simply said, taking Conan off guard. "If that was the case, you wouldn't have gotten hurt in the first place," the fact that the boy didn't even look at him, told Mitsuhiko he was right. It took a little longer for the other two to understand, but they grinned widely when they did. "That's because, Conan-kun, you got shot while trying to protect us."

A look of determination crossed Ayumi's face. "So that's how it is, Conan-kun," she said, crossing her arms. "I'm not moving from here until you climb up Genta-kun's back."

"None of us is," added Mitsuhiko, and Genta nodded.

Giving them another last, hesitant look, Conan silently nodded and settled in Genta's back, not wanting them to waste more time than they already had.


"Are you okay, Conan-kun?" asked Mitsuhiko, after a long time walking, concern filling his voice.

"Y-Yeah," Conan tried to reassure him. "My wound isn't bleeding that much now."

Both boys gave their friend a long, suspicious look, and he sighed having figured out that they had seen through his lie. Ayumi, on the other hand, was walking a few feet ahead, head down and eerily quiet. "Ayumi-chan?" he called, concerned. "Are you okay?"

The girl paused for a moment. "It's not fair," she mumbled, and none of her friends understood it at first, until she spun around, tears rolling down her face. "Why is that you get hurt and still you get to worry about us, when we can't worry about you in turn? How is that fair, Conan-kun?"

Conan silently looked at her, not finding the words to say in a situation like this. In a way, she was technically right, but...

She frowned a bit, then looked back to the path ahead. "Besides, it's my fault," she admitted, as they continued walking. "I said a little while wouldn't matter. If we never entered this cave, Conan-kun wouldn't be like this..."

"No, it's not your fault, Ayumi-chan!" Mitsuhiko stopped her. "It all started because I found this kind of place!"

"Idiot, I'm the one to blame!" Genta shouted. "I got excited and then saw the bad guys doing their thing."

"... And I didn't stop any of you, even if I thought this was a bad idea," Conan said, weakly, causing them to look at him. "This is our fault, but the self-blame game will get us nowhere. All we can do is try to get out of this so can have that barbeque, together."

They all looked at each other and nodded, with tiny smiles adorning their faces.

"You're so silly, Conan-kun," Ayumi let out a watery laugh, as she viciously wiped her tears away. "You can't have a barbeque with that wound."

"Try me," he jokingly said, with a chuckle.

"Conan is right!" Genta argued. "There's no way we're not getting that barbeque after everything we went through!"

"Seriously, Genta-kun," Mitsuhiko sighed.

With a relieved smile on his face, Conan let his head rest against Genta's shoulder, feeling overly exhausted. Despite how awful he currently felt, the boy was glad that his friends were talking, very softly, but in good spirits. If we want to get out of here, we need to keep this positive mindset.

At some point the path splitted in two and Conan decided to throw Genta's watch, turned up and neatly closed, in the path they had chosen. If those men had committed a robbery, he figured that at least one of them had half a brain, and would instantly think they were tricked.

He hoped they weren't smart enough to figure his trick, though.

Conan also hoped they were going in the right direction. Throughout that time inside the cavern, he found himself feeling worse and worse. He was sweating heavily, yet at the same time he felt cold. Very cold. His head also pounded so badly that he was having trouble focusing in what happened around.

Severe blood loss, he kept his eyes open with difficulty as he listed his symptoms. I need to hold on a little longer, his gaze fell on his friends and frowned. For them...

Ayumi suddenly let out a gasp, causing Conan to look up to see they were currently walking beside a source of water. "There are fish here!" she pointed out.

"Hey, do those fish have eyes?" he asked.

"Yes, they do," Mitsuhiko instantly informed him. "I believe they're trout."

"What, do we get to eat them?" Genta exclaimed.

Hadn't Conan currently been riding on his back, Genta would have noticed the way his friend let out a resigned, but amused smile. "Fool," he said, with a chuckle. "If there are fish with eyes in a cavern like this, then they came here from a nearby river... S-So, if we go against the flow of water..."

"We could get outside!" they all three exclaimed.

"Exactly," he nodded weakly. "So, let's hurry up..."

... because I don't know how much longer I can endure this.

So they did, and Conan held on with what little strength he had left.

Eventually, the group reached what it seemed to be the source of the water, falling down from the top of the cave. The three children whined, seeing their only chance to escape vanishing into the thin air, at least until Conan pointed out the roots on the ceiling ─ the ground was near, and so had to be the exit.

"But I don't see an exit anywhere," Mitsuhiko said.

"Ah!" Ayumi noticed something. "There's something there!"

"It's an egg!" Genta noted.

Conan looked over his friend's shoulder, confused, and found out they were actually right. There was an egg shaped rock sitting on top of a boulder, which made him wonder. There was no way that could've been formed by the forces of nature, no. A living, human being had put it in there, for some reason.

But why?

The path in front of them was splitted into five. It couldn't just be a coincidence.

"Look!" Mitsuhiko exclaimed. "There are some words engraved on it!"

So, he read them:

"Those who are lost in the dark

take your steps towards the path of the dragon.

then you shall be showered by the light of happiness."

The light... of happiness...

He didn't get to think about it any further, because Ayumi suddenly shrieked and then they were surrounded by a swarm of bats. Conan winced, as his friends screamed, so loudly that he wouldn't be surprised if those men had heard as well.

"Don't move!" he yelled and, with all his might, threw his detective badge a few feet away.

As he had expected, they went towards the small sound immediately. And his friends awed when he explained that bats were sensible to small moving objects because they ate little bugs and insects.

Yet, they didn't notice the way his breathing had quickened. That swift movement had left the boy winded, gasping for air, and his wound screaming in pain. He wouldn't have surprised he had opened it even more by doing that.

But he didn't say anything. He merely told his friends that bats lived within a three-thousand meter radius of a cave entrance and that seemed to work. They all smiled, cheerfully, hope rising in their chests once more.

Even if his sight was beginning to blur.

"Keywords are... 'To'... path of the dragon... egg..." he mumbled while in thought, willing himself to think faster.

Then, it hit him. His eyes opened, wide. Just then, the rest of the group had decided to try all five paths in order.

"... You only need to enter one..." he said, so softly that they almost didn't hear. Yet, the way they stopped walking let him know he had their attention. "T-The engraved words 'those who are lost in the dark' means people who are lost in this cave... 'The light of happiness'... is the light coming from the exit. That means the rock... at the entrance and on that boulder shows the way out..."

His gaze flickered, but he managed to stay awake only by his willpower.

"The exit, the path of the dragon is..." he struggled, but managed to raise his arm, his index finger stretching so he could point. "...T-That path is..."

Before it dropped unceremoniously against Genta's shoulder. Shocked, and confused, they all looked over their friend. His entire body had gone limp in the bigger boy's back, and blood was covering Conan's entire backside, dripping into the ground.

The fact that the young detective had passed out from his injury, and that they now could hear footsteps coming closer, rapidly so, sent the three children into a panicked state.


"...our.. cha... Le.. go...!"

Strange noises filtered through Conan's ears, but his slow mind didn't seem to be able to understand what they were saying. The voices were muffled, rushed with urgency, yet he still couldn't tell what was happening.

Then something beneath him started moving, breathing heavily as he shook him from side to side. It hurt his abdomen, a lot, but he couldn't complain even if he wanted to. His entire body felt heavy, cold, and sweat was uncomfortably collecting on his brow. His mouth wouldn't move and nothing would come out of it even when he tried to speak. Just remained there, partly open, as the air he so desperately needed went in and out.

A loud noise ran through his ears and the next thing his dull senses registered was that he was falling down, besides a groan under him. That hurt, too, a lot. But his limbs felt like lead, so he just lied there, motionlessly.

That noise... it sounded like...

By the time he recognized what was that 'bang' sound, he felt himself raised into the air and something that he guessed was an arm around his neck keeping him still, pressing his body against someone's chest. A strange coldness pressed against his temple and the person behind him started to say something, loudly so, that he couldn't decipher.

That feeling however... It was like he had lived through this before.

"... I'll punch a hole through this kid's head!"

Then, on the middle of the darkness, he saw him. Cold, murderous eyes, and a gun pointing at his face. And, unlike other times when he would probably feel scared, the child fell confused. He could clearly feel the gun on his temple... Then, how...?

A strong light shone through his eyelids, making the image he had been seeing vanish.

"This is the police!" he heard someone saying. "You're completely surrounded!"

... The police...?

The memories of everything that had happened in the last few hours filled his head. The robbers, the gunshot, the path of the dragon...

He tried to open his eyes, but the brightness was too much for him to handle. Everyone, he panicked. Are they alright?

"Fools! Can't you see this?" he heard the robber that was most likely holding him hostage saying, as he pressed his weapon further against Conan's head. "If you don't want to see this kid in pieces, open up the road!"

Despite how bad he was feeling, Conan found the strength to smirk. "... You fool," he said, between gasps. "It's already checkmate for you."

Managing to crack one eye open, the child looked at the robber, who turned to him, annoyed and equally surprised. So, the kid used all strength he had left to flip the lid on his watch open, then point at the criminal.

"So stop..." he shot the needle at him. "... struggling."

As expected the robber fell into the ground, completely unconscious, letting the little boy free to just drop beside him, exhausted. Hands were then all over him, turning over, and voices filled the room, speaking urgently.

He didn't even try to move a muscle as they raised him and settled him into a stretcher, except for, maybe, his eyes. Conan forced them open one last time.

His blue orbs met with Haibara's serious ones, before settling on Ayumi's, who was standing at her side while staring at him, undoubtedly worried. Straining his ears, he managed to faintly hear Genta and Mitsuhiko's voice, explaining the situation to the police and Professor Agasa.

... They are safe...

That was all the little boy needed to know, so he smiled at his friends briefly, before finally drifting off.

Chapter Text

"Eh?! Surgery?!" Kogoro shocked shout resounded in the entire hospital. "It wasn't just a regular cut?"

Agasa shifted, uncomfortably, and mumbled a bit while he struggled to find the right words. Kogoro just stared at him, blinking, before an annoyed expression took hold of his face. Feeling anxiety gnawing at him he was about to press the older man to tell him what was going on for once and for all.

Surprisingly though, it was the little girl who spoke first.

"He was shot by a gun," Kogoro would have been lying if he said that he wasn't a bit disturbed by the way this kid talked ─ coldly, calmly and too mature, far too different from other children to be deemed normal. "His left abdomen was injured. The bullet pierced through, but there was a great deal of blood loss. There's the possibility of nephropathy."

For a slight moment, the man wondered what kind of seven year-old knew word 'nephropathy'but he shook it off when the meaning of her words dawned on him.

"I hear he's in critical condition."

Conan, the freeloader that had lived in his own house for the better part of the year had been shot. The thought of an innocent child whose age didn't even reach two digits had to go through all of that made his skin crawl.

Once the initial shock had subsided, worry started to settle in. Mostly when he heard his daughter calling the child's name and saw her, running with the doctors as they rolled a stretcher towards the operation room.

And the little boy just laid there, a mask attached to his face. Pale. Fragile. Motionless.

"Doctor, it's an emergency!" it looked like Conan's bad luck wouldn't end just like that. "Our last spare of blood matching this boy's blood type was used on our last surgery! We don't have enough!"

"What?" the doctor frowned. "Even if we send a message to the blood center, they won't make it in time!"

Ran glanced towards Conan and, without hesitating, stepped closer to the doctors. "Excuse me," she said, with an outstanding certainty. "If my blood is alright, then... I have the same blood type as this boy."

Everyone looked back to Ran, relieved after hearing that.

Nobody noticed however the way the little boy's eyes opened in an amazing display of willpower, struggling to focus on the older girl, at least until she turned around to see him. She must have realized the terrified expression he currently had, because she leaned over and rested her hand on top of his.

"You will be okay, Conan-kun," she smiled, sweetly. "Just hold on a little longer, okay?"

Ran then turned to the nurse, nodding at her, before rushing over the clean room to verify that they actually were compatible. Kogoro watched the retreating form of his daughter with a very serious expression, before turning back to the little boy.

There was a distressed look on Conan's hazy eyes which surprised the man, his gaze still focused on the way the girl had just went away. He seemed to be scared about something, which was weird considering how courageous the boy was, and Ran's words hadn't seemed to help.

So, the man stepped closer, completely confused. If he was honest, the child seemed even more scared than he had been before Ran had tried to comfort him. Then, it fell on him.

His arm moved over the boy, then hesitated. For a slight moment, he just stood there with his hand on the air, before he sighed. Awkwardly, it rested on his little head.

Blue eyes darted towards him, startled, but he didn't even turn his head to look. So, the man crouched down, so he would be in eye level with the injured child.

"Ran will be okay, she's a strong and healthy girl," he whispered to him. "Losing a few droplets of blood is not a big deal to her."

The boy didn't say anything, probably because he lacked the strength to do so, but he seemed to relax a tiny bit against the pillow.

"So you better focus on getting better, squirt."

Kogoro held on his gaze for a few moments, until Conan weakly nodded his head while closing his eyes again. Once he was out of the child's sight, the detective stood up and shook his head.

What was all of that about, anyway?

The next thing he knew, Kogoro was looking at the 'Operating' sign on the door that had just turned on, sitting on the waiting room beside his daughter. Agasa and the little boy's friends were also there, oddly silent probably due to worry.

He focused on Ran, however, who just stayed there, staring at the gauze on her arm with an empty look. Then, the man sighed, and pulled out his phone.

Ran looked up at him, curious by his actions.

"I'm going to call the kid's parents," he said as he stood up.

"Ah," she nodded, suddenly realizing that that was one of the first things that she should've thought of, and also pulled her phone. "Then, I'm going to tell Shinichi about Conan-kun."

When he saw the teenage girl suddenly standing up, then wobbling a bit because of the quick motion, Kogoro panicked a bit. "It's okay, I can do it," he told her. "Just give me the detective brat's number and..."

He trailed off when he saw the female shaking her head and staring at him with a resolved and determined expression.

"It has to be me."

Kogoro couldn't argue.


Despite of it all, it was quite a peaceful night at the hospital after Conan was wheeled out the operation room ─ which had taken far too long for everyone waiting. Once the boy had been deemed safe, the professor personally had taken the exhausted children back home.

Conan was fast asleep, recovering from his long surgery, that had been deemed a success by the doctors, and the stitched wound that had yet to completely heal. So, relieved by the fact that the child was going to be just fine, Ran had dozed off in top of Conan's bed, definitely tired after giving the kid so much of her blood but not wanting to leave him alone.

All in all, everything was going well.

At least, until the little boy's eyebrows were brought together.

"Please, let me do this!" that voice rang through Conan's mind. "My blood... My blood is fine, right?!"

"But Kudo-san, you can't do that in such a condition. Your injuries are quite serious as well!"

Conan tried desperately to open his eyes, to shout, to do anything. To stop his brother from doing something like that when he was so severely hurt...

... But how did he get so badly injured anyway?

His head whipped to the side, pressing against the pillow as his facial expression twisted.

Then he was back again to that same place. Something sharp was pressing against his neck, and Shinichi's gun was pointed at his face once more. His breath hitched and tears welled up on his eyes.

And now Conan saw blood. Blood everywhere. His hands. His back. His brother's torso.

There was also something on his little hands. Heavy. Cold.

"... Onii... chan..." still captive of his own cruel mind, the child softly mumbled.

A finger gently caressed his forehead, brushing away sweaty strands of his mussed hair. Blue eyes slowly blinked open at the tender motion, flickering at the unfocused, blurry figure sitting at his bedside.

When the attention first shifted to him, the person seemed to flinch, before calming down instantly. He continued with the ministrations on his head and even Conan, in his confused, sleepy haze, understood it was to help him calm down.

And it really helped. The child felt himself sinking deeper into his pillow and closing his eyes with a sigh of contentment.

There was something nostalgic and warm about this person. This familiar, yet foreign kindness was something that, at the bottom of his heart, missed dearly.

Yes, just like...

The teenage boy pressed a hand against his bloody side. The child was running towards him, desperate, hands stretched forward.

"Onii-chan!"

Before he knew it, the child was standing up on his bed and about to get up for some reason and the person beside him, startled by that sudden motion could only catch him as the kid stumbled forward. The person just sat there, confused, as he stared at the back of the child's head.

At least, until Conan's hands weakly latched on his shirt. "... I'm... sorry... Onii-chan," his voice was soft and weak, muffled by the boy's clothes. "... I..."

He couldn't really tell if Conan was fully conscious at this point. "Shh," still, the teenage boy smiled sweetly and held the child closer against his chest, rubbing his hand against the kid's back. "It's okay, Conan," he reassured the young child. "It's okay."

As Conan was settled back into the bed and the blankets tucked tightly around him, his sleepy eyes, which hadn't left the figure speaking comforting words at him, blinked lethargically.

The hand started to brush through his hair again.

Just then, just for a moment, the blurry figure came back to focus.

There, at his side, he saw the face he missed the most.

He blinked slowly again and realized, with a sense of panic, that he really didn't like doing that. Every time his eyes closed, they opened a tiny bit less.

Against his will, he blinked once. Twice.

... Thrice.

At the fourth time, his eyelids were too heavy to open again. So, with a terrible ache on his heart, he allowed himself to be swallowed by darkness once more.

Even after the little boy's breathing had evened out and he had settled down into a hopefully dreamless slumber, the person didn't leave. With uppermost care, he dried down the lone tear that had escaped from the child's eye as he had fallen asleep against his own wishes.

And for hours he just sat there, at his bedside, stroking through his hair and hoping no more heart wrenching nightmares were plaguing this poor boy's mind.


The next time Conan woke up was to the sight of a bag of clear liquid at his side. He just stared at it, blankly, before turning his head to look out the window.

Birds were chirping and the sun was up in the clear blue sky.

He had lived to see another day.

Being alive, however, also meant he was able to feel pain. Because of that, he couldn't help but groan quietly when he sat up, a bit too quickly, and press his hand to the place it hurt.

By the corner of his eye, Conan noticed something on the end of his bed, so he looked up. His eyes opened, surprised, at the sight of Ran, who slept with her face buried in her arms, which in turn rested on the mattress.

"You should thank Ran," a voice suddenly said, so his eyes shifted away from the girl to the doorway. Kogoro yawned, loudly, as he stepped inside the room. "Even after giving 400cc of her own blood to you, she stayed here all night watching over you."

Conan said nothing, just glanced at the IV needle sticking on his arm as Kogoro leaned over his daughter, adjusting the coat he had placed over her shoulders last night.

"We're lucky your blood just happened to be the same as Ran's," he said to the child. "If your blood was any rarer, you'd have passed to the other world from blood loss."

The boy stayed silent, as some fragments of what happened last night passed through his mind. He faintly remembered Ran saying that she would give her blood to him, and that alone had triggered another distant memory he hadn't been able to reach before.

"... you can't do that in such a condition. Your injuries are quite serious as well!"

Everything was fuzzy, but he recalled Kogoro calming him down, saying things he couldn't remember at the moment.

Said man was currently standing in front of him, a stern expression on his face. "Hey, Ran gave you a lot of blood," he told him. "If you don't get better soon, I won't forgive you!"

Conan blinked twice, before a teasing smirk appeared in his features. "Oh?" he raised an eyebrow. "I haven't expected Occhan to be such a tsundere."

Kogoro scowled at him. "You're lucky you're injured and I can't hit you, because..."

"You're only proving my point there."

The pair was so deeply immersed in their banter that they didn't notice Ran stirring and sitting up. Silently, she stared at the two as they argued.

Conan deadpanned, saying something that definitely irritated her father. His voice was still a bit hoarse and his face was a bit too pale for her liking, but he looked so much better than he had when she had first seen him upon arriving at the hospital.

He then laughed about something and Ran couldn't help but smile a little, feeling relief washing over her for the first time since last night.

It was the child the first one to notice Ran was up.

"Good morning, Ran-neechan," he said to her, causing Kogoro to stop his argument where it was to turn to look at his daughter.

"Good morning, Conan-kun," she smiled wider at him. "How are you feeling?"

Before he could say anything back at her, Kogoro snorted. "The brat is fine," he gave him a side glare, which he returned. "More than fine, actually."

"You, on the other hand, don't look fine," Conan raised an eyebrow at him. "Did you sleep well, Occhan?"

"Dad, did you really go back home as you said or did you sleep in the waiting room?" Ran giggled.

"Whatever," Kogoro grumbled "I'm going to go get a doctor."

Right after that, the man left the room, closing the door behind him and the two occupants of the room looked at each other before laughing at his oh-so-obvious concern.

Conan however hissed in pain at the sudden movement, sending Ran into a nervous fussing panic state, which took at least five entire minutes to subside. As a result, the child was gently pushed back into the mattress and told not to move, under any circumstances ─ he had just gotten out of surgery, for goodness sake.

It weren't her words, the sense they made or the pain of his injury that caused the kid to agree so easily, but the sight of the black bags under her eyes that contrasted against her sickly pale face. Well, she did stay all night taking care of me after giving me so much blood...

Then it came back to him, prompting his hand to reach for his own forehead.

That comforting warmth...

"Sorry, Ran-neechan," he said after a while, with an apologetic smile on his face. "After everything you've done for me, I caused you a lot of trouble last night, didn't I?"

"Ah, no, not at all," she laughed, a bit embarrassed, scratching the back of her head. "In fact, I fell asleep right after you got out of surgery and didn't wake up until now."

Her smile faltered, however, when she noticed Conan's eyes widening, like two plates.

"... Conan-kun?" she called him, feeling worried.

He composed himself with a flinch, probably after being jerked away from any line of thought he had been until now. The kid didn't have time to explain, because the door opened and the doctor entered the room, Kogoro in tow.


"Conan-kun!"

"Are you okay, Conan?"

"Does anything hurt, Conan-kun?"

If the way the door bursted open wasn't an indicative enough for the child to know about his friends' presence, their loud voices surely did. "Ah, guys," he let out a smile, trying to comfort them, after he ate the piece of apple that Ran had kindly peeled for him ─ after fifteen minutes or so of the child arguing that he could still peel an apple, thank you very much, in vain, obviously.

Ran glanced at her watch and giggled a bit, amused to see that barely ten minutes had passed since the time they had been supposed to get out school. "Hello, everyone," she smiled at the four kids.

Three of them nodded, eagerly, at the older girl, while Haibara stared at her with a blank expression. Conan noticed that and couldn't help but let out a dry laugh.

"How is Conan-kun?" asked Ayumi, with such a serious face that Ran thought it was cute instead.

"He will be okay," she explained to them. "As long as he doesn't open his stitches and rests quietly for a while."

There was a collective sigh of relief before they all turned to Conan, who flinched at the sudden attention, before directing his gaze away from them and towards the window.

"By the way, Ran-san," Mitsuhiko spoke up, concerned eyes looking up at her. "Are you okay?"

"You don't look good," Ayumi added.

"I bet she's hungry," as expected Genta commented.

Ran tried to wave the comment off, but Conan pipped in before she could.

"She is," he replied with a sigh. "She hasn't eaten anything since morning, even if I, her father and every single living soul on this world tells her to, she refuses."

The three children gasped. "Eeeh?!"

"Conan-kun," she chastised, quietly, before turning to his friends. "There's nothing to worry about, I..."

"Iron," Haibara's calm voice sounded through the room, prompting everyone to pause to look at her. "Primary component of hemoglobin, extremely important for the transport of oxygen through the body. Lack of this mineral causes, among other symptoms, fatigue, headaches and nausea. In that case, it's strongly recommended to eat foods rich in iron, such as meat, fish, eggs and raisins."

Conan tried hard not to wince at the last word, but the teasing look and smirk Haibara sent his way told him he hadn't done a good job.

It went unnoticed by the others, however, who just stared at her. The three children mostly because they hadn't understood a word she had said, and Ran because she was surprised a seven year-old knew that much, in the first place.

She then remembered the weird amount of random stuff that Conan knew and the shock passed quickly.

"Go eat something, Ran-neechan," he told her, for the seventh time that week. "I'll be fine, I promise."

"Conan-kun is right!" argued Ayumi, as the other two children nodded behind her. "Don't worry, we'll take care of him!"

Ran couldn't help but laugh lightly at their determination, while Conan rolled his eyes. "I'll call you if something happens," the child said, holding his phone up.

The girl gave a worried glance towards Conan direction before sighing, loudly and nodding to him. "Then, I will be back soon," she smiled at them, and soon she was out the room.

None of the children saw, however, the girl leaning against the now closed door, pulling her phone out of her pocket. She stared at the screen with a sad look.

"...Ran, what do you want?" she remembered his sleepy voice from the other night. "Do you have any idea of what time it is?"

"Shinichi," the seriousness of her voice prompted him to click his mouth shut. "I'm currently at Beika General Hospital."

There was a pause and Ran heard Shinichi's breath pick up at those words. "What..?"

"Conan-kun was shot."

Upon realizing there was no way to sugarcoat things, she had decided to go for a rather straightforward route. Ran stayed silent for a while as the teenage detective had gone quiet as well, probably letting that fact sink. "... How is he?" finally, he found his voice to ask.

"Not so good," she answered, frankly. "He's undergoing surgery right now," then, with a pause, she added. "Shinichi, the doctor said that there was a big chance that... that he..."

Her mouth went dry at that, not finding in herself the courage to say those words, especially when it was about little Conan.

For a few minutes, it was silent.

And then...

"I understand," she heard Shinichi's voice say.

Before he hung up on her.

Ran frowned deeply, putting her phone back on place. What's that stupid detective maniac doing anyway? she thought, feeling the urge of kicking him in the face rising at every waking second. He doesn't even answer my calls or my texts... That idiot.

She didn't notice, however, the pair of blue eyes staring at her, a sad glimmer visible on them.


Three pairs of eyes were owlishly blinking at him while the boy, who was receiving all that attention, couldn't help but try to back off their sight, just to sink deeper into the pillow he was propped up with.

And Haibara was having so much fun with this, he could tell by the way she laughed softly under her hand.

"... What did you just say, Conan-kun?" Ayumi asked, sitting with Mitsuhiko and Genta at the end of Conan's bed, eyes wide open.

"That I will tell you everything," he said, with slight hesitation on his voice. "There are things I've kept you in the dark about, and you deserve to know."

Mitsuhiko's eyes opened. "Is it about that mysterious organization?"

Conan nodded.

"You guys told me before that you wanted to know," he said. "And that's the least I can do for you," then, with a sincere smile, the child added. "You are my saviors, after all."

Mitsuhiko, Ayumi and Genta looked at each other for a moment before turning back to their friend, whose expression remained unchanged.

"You got me out of that place, instead of leaving me there to save yourselves," the child continued. "I was told that, had I arrived at the hospital a minute later, I wouldn't have made it. So, for all of that... Thank you."

"There's no need for that!" Mitsuhiko argued, instantly. "You saved us first from the gun, didn't you?"

"That means we are even," Ayumi glanced towards her other two friends. "Right?"

While the three children exchanged grins as they nodded at each other, Conan chuckled lightly, closing his eyes. Idiots, he thought, fondly. At that time, I was actually paying you back.

Because they had already saved him, almost a year ago.

Even when he had pushed them away. Even when he had believed he would be better off on his own. Even when he had been so hurt and alone...

They had reached out for him. These three kids had saved him.

Like so, he spent the next thirty minutes talking about every single encounter he had gone through ever since. His encounter with Gin and Vodka on the train, the explosion that had taken Tequila's life and even that his 'suspicions' about the drug Shinichi had taken ─ he couldn't exactly tell them about the Apotoxin-4869 without telling that Haibara was actually Sherry.

He also decided not to say anything about Haibara's dead sister ─ he would tell them some of that when the girl wasn't present, but honestly Conan didn't want to bring up such a touchy topic with the young scientist around.

"And who is that Singani person you were talking about before?" Mitsuhiko asked.

Haibara gave him a look, wondering how he was going to deal with that kind of question. "I heard Tequila saying that word, along with my brother's, at that time," then her lips curved upwards, amused at his ability to lie without batting an eye. "I think he has something to do with Shinichi-niichan's disappearance."

"Have you figured it out?" Conan's head spun to her place on the chair beside the bed and noticed her icy-cold eyes narrowing a bit. "Do you know who Singani is?"

The girl saw the boy pausing, hesitation glinting on his eyes for a moment before he glanced out the window. "... No," he settled with that answer. "I have no idea."

Ai did not say anything in return.

Conan said nothing either, yawning tiredly as he leaned against the pillows, listening intently as the other three started discussing about that mysterious character and coming up with multiple theories that ranged from coherent but probably wrong to what's-wrong-with-you-Genta? kind of wrong. Seriously, the kid genuinely believed Singani was the owner of the bakery next door because they had run out of bread ─ and what kind of bakery doesn't have bread, right? That's definitely suspicious!

At some point Ayumi sighed, exasperated. "I don't have a clue," she admitted, with an embarrassed laugh. "Do you have any theory, Conan... kun?"

She trailed off, causing the rest of the children to look at her, questiongly, before they noticed what she was staring at. They couldn't help but be surprised when they saw Conan's slightly laded head, fully resting his entire body against the pillows. A closer look let them see his eyes were closed and soft breaths were coming in and off his barely open mouth.

"Rude," Genta scoffed. "To fall asleep on us just like that..."

"Do you think he's okay?" Ayumi wondered, a concerned frown in her features.

Mitsuhiko inched closer to him, hand hovering over his friend's shoulder, when he was stopped. "Stop," Haibara's voice prompted the child to freeze. "Let him sleep."

The children just stared at her, blankly, as she shifted her glance towards the boy. "Kudo-kun must still be exhausted after the surgery he went through last night," she explained to them. "We should let him rest for now."

"That's true, but..." Ayumi looked away from his friend to look at Haibara. "What do we do now?"

"Didn't you promise Mouri-san that you would take care of Kudo-kun until she returns?"

Ayumi blinked at that, then looked at her other two friends and the three nodded determined. Haibara chuckled at their display of determination while Conan just slumbered away, unaware of what was happening in his own room.


Kazuha at first was a little confused to see a grown up woman standing in front of her school gate that afternoon, but it turned into mild confusion when she fixed her eyes in Heiji and then into what-the-hell-is-going-on-here? confusion when she started heading towards him.

"Eh?" Heiji stopped in his tracks to blink at the woman. "What are you doing here?"

When she realized that the two of them seemed to know each other, Kazuha's confusion was overtaken by surprise. She stared at Heiji, for a few moments, before turning to the woman, and then to her childhood friend again.

"Heiji, do you know this person...?" then, it occured it to her and her eyebrow began to twitch. "Don't tell me that all those times you went back and forth to Ekoda you met with this woman over there?"

"Yeah," he replied, without hesitation, not understanding what the problem with that was.

"EH?!" she seemed to shout, angry for some reason. "What did you think you were doing?! She's too old for you!"

"... Eh...?" when he realized what she really meant with that, he blushed furiously. "I didn't mean that, I swear!"

"So you didn't?" her eyebrow rose, highly unconvinced. "Then, who is-?"

"Kato Momoka," the woman replied, with such a serious expression that Kazuha couldn't find in herself to answer. "I was a receptionist at Ekoda Hospital, where he had been investigating a death that had happened more than a year ago."

Heiji frowned at that. "So," he spoke. "Why are you here?"

"I want you to resume your investigation," Momoka's eyes narrowed. "I want you to investigate Watanabe Satoshi's murder case."


Haibara was just eyeing a random magazine when she heard the sound of the door slowly opening, to reveal a young male nurse, whose hair was covered by a surgical cap, peeking inside while tugging the facemask up, before stepping inside.

"I didn't expect this to become a slumber party," said the nurse, a bit shocked.

The girl examined his face for a moment, until her eyes widened slightly in recognition. She recovered quickly, though, shrugging with a small smirk while shifting her gaze to her friends.

Mitsuhiko, Ayumi and Genta had fallen asleep a few minutes ago, limbs and bodies all tangled with each other at the end of Conan's bed. They had decided to be as quiet as they could for the sake of the bespectacled boy, and when Haibara had looked up they all were already like that.

"They all stayed up until late last night," she shrugged, returning to her magazine. "So I guess this was bound to happen."

The nurse chuckled, good heartedly, at that before walking towards the patient. Slowly and with extreme care he positioned the bed so the child could rest lying down, instead of the semi-recumbent position he had just been sleeping in.

"Aren't you tired, also?" he asked softly, so he wouldn't disturb the children.

"I'm used to pull all-nighters, so it's normal for me."

He thought about scold her about how dangerous that habit could be but decided not to since he knew it would only fall in deaf ears, so he just shook his head to show his disapproval.

His eyes then fell on the little boy in the bed and softened instantly. Honestly, he thought, fondly, tucking the blankets tightly around him before going to reach for his glasses.

A small hand latched to his arm at that and, oh boy, he downright panicked.

There was little reason not to do so. The child was blinking the sleep out his eyes, rubbing them roughly with one hand while he kept his grip on the hem of the nurse's sleeve.

Said nurse did not move, just stood there. Frozen.

"Edogawa-kun," the child heard the girl say, with a light chuckle tainting her voice. "I think it would be best if you let this poor hospital worker go."

It took a couple of seconds more than usual to let go. "... Ah," Conan smiled, feeling embarrassed. "I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else."

"N-No, it's okay," the nurse laughed, good heartedly, as he slowly walked backwards before turning around so quickly that Conan didn't even have the time to see his face clearly.

Just as he was opening the door, however, somebody did it for him. A overweight man with a black suit and blonde hair stepped forward, almost bumping into the guy. The nurse bowed slightly, apologizing for his actions, before disappearing out the door.

The man that had just entered glanced over his shoulder, towards the hospital worker that had just left. Conan could swear he just saw him smirking for some reason.

Until he was pushed away from the doorway as a woman made her way through, and at the sight of the plump, raven-haired female with black clothes Conan couldn't help but open his eyes, widely.

He could clearly remember seeing that very same face when he was kidnapped from Kogoro's office last February.

"Co-chan!" if it hadn't been so painfully obvious who this woman was, now he definitely knew. "Oh, my poor baby!"

Conan's eyes opened in fear and he tried to scramble away, but he didn't succeed. Her arms were all around him in an instant, cuddling him against his chest. "Mom, let me go!" he cried, annoyed. "Ouch, my wound! Watch it!"

"Oh, sorry, sorry!" she smiled, apologetically, and loosened her grip on him. That didn't mean, to his displeasure, that she had let him go.

A blush blossomed into his features when he heard Haibara laughing, under her breath, at the scene in front of her, and struggled a little to free himself from her clutches.

"Conan-kun? Who is she?"

The boy became redder, if possible, when he heard Ayumi ask that, before realizing that his three friends were wide awake ─ probably due to the ruckus from before ─ and staring at them both, curiously.

"We're his parents," the man, who Conan now identified as his father, explained with an amused smile. "I see you have been taking good care of our son, didn't you? Good job."

"Eh?" Mitsuhiko blinked. "But weren't Conan-kun's parents supposed to be Kudo Yusaku and Yukiko?"

"Yeah, but right now we're Edogawa Conan-kun's parents," Yukiko told the children, with a wink. "Keep that as a secret for now, okay?"

"Okay!" they all cheered.

And Conan decided he would have preferred to die from blood loss last night.

Haibara, surprisingly, said nothing about it at all. Just sighed and went to the door. "We should get going, everyone," she told them, with a rather indifferent expression. "We can leave Kudo-kun with his parents for now."

They nodded and hopped off the bed before rushing out the door. "Haibara-san," Conan stopped her, before she could leave, and gave her a serious look. "Thank you."

She paused for a moment, then seemed to smile and nodded. The door closed right after that.

With all the children gone, the room fell into a deep silence. Conan looked up at his parents, and they stared at each other, without knowing what to say for a moment. The child, however, didn't care.

He just genuinely smiled at them, because he didn't need them to talk to know what was through their minds.

His hand went to his own shoulder, mind-absently, while his smile faltered a bit. Yeah, he realized. It's just like that time...

Except Shinichi wasn't there, wearing that expression as he watched his parents embrace his little brother. That expression Conan couldn't read, no matter how much he tried.

"Feels like a deja-vu, right?" Yusaku spoke first.

Obviously, his father could read him like a book as well.

"There are things that are different, however," he said to him. "Like, for example, Shinichi-niichan didn't try to give me his blood this time."

The pair froze at that, staring at the kid, wide eyed for some reason that Conan couldn't comprehend ─ in fact, it made him even more suspicious. "Do you remember that?" Yusaku asked, after a moment.

"Some of it, not much though," he replied, eyes narrowing a bit and hands clenching around the blankets. "Say, at that time, was Shinichi-niichan hurt?"

"It was just a cut, nothing to worry about," his mother tried to reassure him, yet accomplishing on making him frown, instead. "You can't donate blood if you're injured, however. We were lucky that Ran-chan had the same type of blood than Shin-chan and could give some to you."

He blinked at that. Ran-neechan did?

Yusaku smirked. "Be sure to thank her properly later, alright?" he told him.

Conan could only nod.

The Kudo couple left not long thereafter, deciding to fly back to America before the media would notice them missing and make a fuss about it.

Like so, ten days passed by in a flash.

Chapter Text

By the tenth day Conan was almost feeling like his normal self, besides the slight cold that made his throat tickle from time to time ─ the doctor had said that he had post-surgical symptom and that it was quite normal.

But, to be honest, the child pretty much prefered having a ordinary cough than a hole through his abdomen.

"Hey, that game is pretty good, huh?" Genta commented.

"It's all the rage at school right now!" Ayumi added.

"Ah, right there, there!" Mitsuhiko leaned closer to the screen. "Turn left there!"

Conan couldn't say anything, just grinned wider as he moved his character as he was told. His friends had, after all, just made him download a game into his phone, and it was pretty addicting.

A hand came suddenly and plucked the device from his hands. He blinked up at Sonoko, who stood there, putting his phone inside her pocket, before his eyebrow started to twitch. Don't just take things that aren't yours...

"Alright, playtime is over now," she announced, as Conan's three friends groaned. "The patient will go straight to his room."

Ran just giggled a bit at the children's displeasure, smiling apologetically at them while gently pushing Conan's wheelchair forward.

"And the kids should go home because it's getting late!" Sonoko added raising her fist in the air.

"Alright then, see you later, Sonoko-neechan," he said to the older girl, with a fake smile on his face.

She paused for a moment, before his words really dawned. "What did you say, little brat-?!" Sonoko stepped up and, just in that moment, the phone slipped out her pocket.

Before clattering into the ground with a sickening sound. Everyone paused at that, closing their eyes on instinct. When they opened, Conan saw his phone on the floor and gasped. "Ah!" he shouted, before glaring at the older girl. "You did it in purpose, didn't you?"

"Ah, no," she blinked. "It was an accident."

Conan gave her a long look, before scoffing. "I knew you were actually a kid, but didn't think you would have a level of coordination akin to those of a toddler."

"Now, now, Conan-kun, stop it," Ran spoke quickly, picking up his phone and giving it to him while gracing Sonoko with a long look, who scoffed lightly while looking away, offended. She really is a kid sometimes.

Conan gave out at annoyed groan, inspecting his phone. He wasn't happy to find out that there were scratches everywhere, as a product of such a fall. "Guess it's goodbye to you, guys," he sighed, turning to his friends, as Ran began to roll him away. They waved at him, big smiles on their faces, until they disappeared from his sight.

As the three went back to his room, Conan ignored the girls chatting above him, more preoccupied at the moment with his phone. He frowned, annoyed, when he noted the game app opening in a slower pace, bugging every once in a while.

Great, this thing is practically broken, he directed a dirty look to Sonoko, who remained unaware of it.

"If he's released in two to three days, it'll be during the festival," she commented. "Three days from now we'll be performing our play."

Conan's attention diverted to the conversation at that. He remembered Ran practising for the play a few weeks ago. She had been chosen for the role of the princess and had tried to act her part with Kogoro. At that time, Conan had confirmed that the man definitely wasn't fit for the role of the knight ─ he had decided that wearing a paper bag as a mask was a good idea, for goodness sake!

The scene of the kiss had worried the detective, but soon he was calmed down when she told him Sonoko had decided to dress as a man and do what she could ─ all boys had been cowards, Ran had explained.

"What are you going to do about picking up this kid?" Sonoko asked.

"Don't worry," Ran assured. "I'll ask my dad to."

"Oh yeah, did you call him?" she suddenly said, with a big grin on her face.

"Him?" her friend blinked.

"Shinichi-kun," she stated, as if it was obvious ─ which it was. "If you tell him you'll be the heroine of the play, he might fly back."

Conan laughed lightly, picturing that. "Be careful, Sonoko-neechan," he piped in. "He might steal your role as the knight to kiss Ran-neechan."

"Ah, not my role, actually," she laughed, awkwardly, as she raised her arm. Only then did Conan notice the bandages covering her arm. "I sprained it during the play rehearsal. I had to give up playing the knight."

"Then, who is it?" he asked, curiously.

"You know, Araide-sensei," Ran explained. "He was helping with the directing and decided to do the role."

"Eh?" he said, with a mischievous smile on his face, before turning to his phone. "Don't worry, Sonoko-neechan, leave this to me."

"H-Hey, Conan-kun..."

"Now we're talking the same language, kid."

"Sonoko!"

Despite Ran's loud protest, Conan managed to type:

"Remember that nice and cool doctor I talked you about last February?

He's going to play the role of the protagonist at your class' play for the Cultural Festival, along Ran-neechan, the princess.

... And now that I think about it, I believe I read something about a kiss at the end of the play..."

His finger hovered over the 'send' button.

"... Besides I know he won't come," he heard Ran say. "I haven't heard of him ever since I called to tell him about Conan-kun."

Conan hesitated, realizing he hadn't really heard about him for a long time either. Now, the child hadn't have the time to actually call him, but Shinichi certainly could've done it instead.

If he knew about his situation, why wouldn't the detective call? Conan frowned.

For someone who went all the way to Beika just because he had heard about an incident that he guessed Conan was involved with, almost six months ago, it didn't really make any sense.

His eyes focused on the text he had just written and frowned, not having the sightless idea of what to do.

At least until he spotted a male nurse on the end of the corridor, going the opposite direction from them, a facemask and a surgical hat tightly kept in place. Time seemed to slow down as he passed by them and, slowly, Conan began to turn his head towards his direction.

Every single thing around them seemed to stop moving as the two pairs of identical bright blue eyes met.

And then it came back to him suddenly, again. Those reassuring words and that calming warmth.

He didn't miss the way the nurse's eyes opened, slightly, when the kid reached for his own forehead. That confused him, greatly, for a moment until he remembered...

Those same eyes looking at him, with a rather tender expression, while their owner sat at his bedside.

So, without breaking his gaze, Conan pushed the 'send' button.

Ping.

The nurse went white at that instant, not failing to notice the way Conan's shocked stare turned into a rather angry glare.

Naturally, the teenager started running away before the child had the chance to say anything.

As if I would let you!

Impulsively, the kid jumped off his wheelchair and took off running, badly startling the two girls who, after recovering, shouted his name. He ignored them, in favour of going faster.

He didn't care if he wasn't supposed to run in the halls. He didn't care that his abdomen was hurting, clearly complaining about the rough treatment it was receiving. He really didn't.

All he cared about at the moment was about catching up with that person.

Conan couldn't let him go, not when he was this close.

Not again.

Sadly his little legs did not manage to catch up. The nurse took a sharp turn, then another, and soon he was out of Conan's sight, lost among the crowd of people in the waiting room. Damn it, he cursed, desperately searching for any hidden spots, doors but he was basically gone. He couldn't have gone too far.

People were beginning to stare at him, as he wandered around, mostly annoyed about a child roaming bothering all around them while playing what it seemed to be a game of hide and seek.

Any other day he would've cared, but not today.

His eyes fell on the restroom doors and opened, slightly. As he was about to go there, however, a pair of hands held him in place. "Conan-kun!" he heard Ran's unmistakable voice behind his head. "What do you think you're doing?!"

Panic settled in, as he turned around to face her. "Eh... I..." he struggled to come up with a decent response. "I... I needed to go to the toilet!"

Her eyebrow raised. "You just went there."

"But I really need to!"

"Conan-kun, you better-"

He didn't get to listen to the end of her scolding because he managed to get away from her grip and rush towards the restroom. There's no way I'm letting him away with this, he decided, looking through every single stall.

You can't hide forever, Onii... chan.

Or maybe he could, he realized as he stared with a blank expression at the completely empty stall, which happened to be the last one. He was the only one in that restroom.

He was alone.

He must have escaped when I was distracted talking with Ran-neechan.

So he just stayed there, silently still, until the quietness was broken with Ran's angry call. He didn't complain, as the girl took him by the hand and started to drag him away, promising to get a pot for him to pee instead if he didn't behave.

He didn't complain at all. That, above everything, got Ran seriously concerned.


"What were you thinking?! Why buy lilies?!"

"Man, you're annoying! Anything is fine as long as it's flowers!"

Conan felt his wheelchair stop moving as the two girls paused, looking at each other, confusion written all over their faces. At first, he was feeling puzzled as well, until he recognized those Osaka-accented voices coming from his room.

"You idiot! Lilies symbolize 'beheading', it's bad luck! We came to visit a sick patient!"

"If that's the case, say so from the start, dumbass!"

Evidently so, the child's confused stare shifted to a pretty blank look when he saw them both yelling at each other's faces, not noticing them watching the pair from the doorway.

"Hattori-kun and Kazuha-chan!" at Ran's voice, the other two finally turned around. "What are you doing here?"

"Ah, I heard the kid got injured so we got on a plane right after school," Heiji told her.

"So how is he doing?" Kazuha asked.

"They say he's recovering steadily and should be out in two or three days," Ran explained.

Kazuha was genuinely relieved to hear that, but her relief was soon replaced by annoyment when Heiji sent her to buy some different flowers, alongside Ran and Sonoko ─ so she wouldn't get lost, he had said.

"So, why?" Conan asked immediately after the girls were gone, climbing up the bed.

"How cold!" he grinned, sitting beside him. "After I came all this way to see you!"

"What I'm asking is why did you choose lilies on purpose?" the little boy replied, with a raised eyebrow. "Do you really want me dead that much?"

"So you knew," Heiji laughed a bit. "Of course you did."

Conan's expression did not change.

"I called you this morning because there was something I wanted to talk about, but Occhan picked up instead," Heiji told him. "He said you somehow managed to get shot and almost killed in a camp with your friends. Seriously, how do you-?"

"You're stalling," Conan pointed out, eyes sharpening. "What is it what you wanted to tell me?"

Heiji paused, giving the kid a long look, before sighing. "I investigated Watanabe Satoshi's death, just like you asked," Conan's eyes opened slightly wider at that. "I went to Ekoda Hospital and I found someone that witnessed something interesting."

"Something interesting?"

"The victim talking with some suspicious character late into the night. Long silver hair. Black clothes."

Conan frowned at that. Gin.

"The witness was Tanaka Taro," Conan's eyes lowered to the mattress as the older boy said that. "He was shot in the head a few days ago. Nobody could found the killer, not even me, no matter how hard I tried. It was like he had vanished into the thin air."

"He was silenced," the child concluded, stroking his chin in deep through.

Heiji settled the flowers in the spot beside him. "Before that, I saw the victim taking with somebody else," he explained, as he leaned back into the mattress. "He seemed to be threatening him and Tanaka-sensei refused, even if this person said they would kill him and his lover."

"Threatening him?!" Heiji was startled at the sudden exclamation. "What do you know about him?"

"Close to nothing, really," the teenage detective blinked. "Only that he's a highschool student... Oh yeah, and he was visiting a friend. His name is Kuroba Kaito."

Conan pondered about it for a moment. Kuroba Kaito. Now, that sounded familiar, for some reason. "Then again, that person..." he mumbled to himself, deep in thought. "Could he be Singani?"

"Singani?"

"I asked Haibara-san about the reason for my brother's murder attempt, but she refused to say anything more than the codename 'Singani'," Conan explained. "I suppose that member has something to do with Shinichi-niichan's disappearance, but..."

Heiji gave him a long look. "That guy couldn't be Singani," he said, with certainty. "When he said that his lover could die he was probably just bluffing to pressure Tanaka-sensei to do whatever he wanted him to do. Kato-san is still alive even if a long time has passed ever since."

For some reason that made Conan frown even more.

"You know, Kato-san came to me a few days ago to resume that investigation after her loved died," he told him. "She told me he had told her they were investigating him when Watanabe-sensei died, but he had been nowhere close to the scene of the crime. There wasn't anything that could make him a suspect either."

"So what?" the child replied, lowly, and with a tint of annoyment on his voice.

Hattori sighed. "He was interrogated by Kudo," he said. "Her lover had told her once and she hadn't given any further through, but..."

Now, Hattori had expected any kind of reaction from this kid ─ he had believed nothing could ever surprise him when it came to Conan ─ but indifference was none of them.

Then he realized, it wasn't that he didn't care. Probably, Conan cared too much.

"Say," Hattori spoke but Conan didn't even look at him. "How did you know there was something wrong with that fire?"

The child was silent for a few seconds, before sighing. "More than a year ago, Shinichi-niichan sneaked out pretty late into the night, so I followed him," he confessed, fists clenching around the blankets, tightly. "I saw him talking with Gin."

Hattori sat up at that, eyes wide as he stared at the young boy. "Kudo did?!" He really didn't like where this was going.

"Yeah," he nodded, slowly. "I was almost caught by Vodka and had to run away so I didn't hear much, but... I heard that. I clearly heard the victim's name. That happened the night before the fire."

None said anything about it. Conan could see Hattori was clearly shaken by the news as he quietly sat there, pale-faced, letting those news dawn on him. When his eyebrows were slightly brought together, the child directed his gaze towards the window.

Conan knew what kind of conclusion Heiji was coming to, and he didn't like it in the sightless.

"Hey, Conan-kun," he started, softly, but the child did not seem to be able ─ or want ─ to acknowledge him. "Conan-kun, look at me," he called, a bit louder. Conan's eyes closed tightly, refusing to do so. "Conan!"

"He is not, okay?!" the child suddenly snapped, angrily, as he turned to face him. When he noticed Hattori wincing a bit at his loud outburst, he paused, then gazed at his hands. They were shaking now. "He... He can't be..." Conan forced a smile, which only caused him to look even more miserable. "He wouldn't..."

Heiji did not find the words to answer.

Just sat there, staring at the little boy that had just pulled the covers above his head, hiding himself from the outside word inside the safety of a cocoon of blankets.

And he knew he couldn't help the young detective, even if he desperately wanted to.


Night had fallen hours ago, yet there he was. Not a soul was supposed to be awake in such an ungodly hour, besides a certain little boy.

The child paid no mind to the late hour as he continued to scroll down in his phone. His eyes rapidly read everything he could find in the web, but there was no difference. Watanabe Satoshi's dead was dubbed an accident, and Tanaka Taro's a mystery. Singani was still an ordinary alcoholic drink, and certainly not related to any scary criminal syndicate.

He knew his entire search would be fruitless, but he needed to find something ─ anything ─ that could prove Hattori wrong. Conan was sure there must be proof there ─ there had to be ─ and he needed to find it ─ he definitely would ─ so the mystery could finally be solved.

As he continued to look, his phone screen suddenly froze, and mentally cursed Sonoko for letting it fall. He tried to make it work again, anxiety gnawing him from the inside ─ he had to hurry ─ and finally, finally, it worked.

Then, in the silence of the night, he heard it.

Click.

Slowly turning his head to the side, he realized what the sound was at the sight of a gun muzzle pointed right at his forehead. Eyes opened, widely, he stared at the face of the girl he certainly didn't expect to be there.

... H-Haibara-san?!

"I'm sorry," she said to him, the grip of her gun unwavering. "It seems like the cruel, black blood still circulates inside me."

"What?" Conan managed to choke out.

"Ah, you don't understand? My identity has been discovered," Conan's eyes went wide at those words. "By those people you call 'men in black'."

The child remained perfectly still, frozen in place. He couldn't understand how this came to happen.

To think she would pull something like this...

"How?" he asked, struggling to keep his voice even.

"Singani," she said, and Conan frowned slightly at that. "Turns out he was close to you, very close to you, yet you had no idea. He figured out you were aware of the existence of the Organization and started investigating you. It wasn't long until he found out about me and my real identity."

"Then, why aren't you already dead?" Conan's eyes sharpened.

Haibara let out a very cold, yet amused laugh at his response.

"I also thought I'd be killed immediately but they told me that if I return to the Organization, they'd dismiss my betrayal and pretend it never happened. The reason is... they want to continue the Apotoxin-4869 research that came to an abrupt halt from my absence."

"So you came to kill me because I know about the Organization's existence?" Conan forced a confident smile, even if he was sweating profusely and had yet to move a muscle.

"Yes, that was the required condition for taking me back. Of course, all of those that are closest to you will be taken care of tomorrow," her head tilted to a side, and her smirk widened. "I'm sorry, the Professor is being held hostage. Right now, all I can do is try to save him alone."

Conan's teeth clenched. There's something wrong with what she just said... Very wrong.

"Too bad you didn't realize who Singani was before it was too late."

"... You're lying," he suddenly said, taking the girl by surprise. "He... He wouldn't do that."

"Oh?" her smirk returned. "How do you know?"

Haibara saw hesitation behind those blue eyes, but paid no mind as she placed the gun closer to his head. The boy flinched away, yet remained perfectly still after that.

"Sorry," finally, she said. "I don't have any other choice."

Blue eyes went wide with terror as her finger began to curl around the trigger.

Bang!

His heart did not stop, yet started pounding heavily due to the scare he had just gone through. He was shaken, terrified, out of breath and, above all, confused because he had suddenly found himself face to face to a bouquet of small white flowers.

"What would you do?" the flowers were moved away so Conan could be the faint smile on Haibara's face.

"Huh?" he raised an eyebrow.

"If I really was discovered and given the choice, I'd definitely do what I just did," she replied, her voice quiet and even, as she recollected the flowers from the tip of the gun. "Although if that really did happen, they'd probably just kill me and everyone else involved with me."

He watched her go and put them in a nearby vase and found his eyebrow twitching. She had played him like a song, yet again.

"Well, if that were to happen, you'd most likely die first," she laughed, amused. "Seems like even the brightest minds would not work properly if they are in panic, failing to make a escape plan even with a phone on their hands."

The boy blinked twice, before glancing at the device in his hand and groaning, loudly. God, he felt so stupid now.

"Did you come here to roleplay or just to laugh at me?"

"I came to help you face the truth," Haibara replied and at first, Conan did not understand what she meant with that. "It has been more than three months. There's absolutely no way you have no idea of who Singani is."

"I told you I still don't know."

"Ah, really?" Ai smirked. "But, just now, it seemed to me that you knew him pretty well, Kudo-kun."

She didn't get a verbal reply to that, but the way he stared at her for a long moment before his gaze flickered to the night sky behind the window gave her the answer she had been searching for.

So, quietly as ever, the little girl left him alone with his own thoughts.

And he just sat there, a serious expression on his face as he began to think over it again. His gaze fell on the lilies Hattori had brought before and remembered.

"Lilies symbolize 'beheading'!"

I recall Mom saying something about it before...

Then, beside them, stood those that Haibara had just left behind and slowly slid off his bed. Standing right in front of them, his eyes focused in the snow white, little flowers.

Hanakotoba, language of flowers.

Ai had brought him a bouquet of edelweiss.


Conan's lips twitched upwards as he read the ultra-girly sign in front of him. It didn't really take a detective to figure out who was behind that.

"The Super Love Romance That Surpasses Romeo and Juliet!

Shuffle Romance

Class 2-B"

Well, he had read the script before ─ courtesy of the one and only Suzuki Sonoko ─ and he could only describe the play as incredibly corny and sickly sweet.

Hadn't Ran been the protagonist and the fact that he had promised her he would come to see her, he would probably have just played the sick card and stayed home. As things were now, however, the child could only re-positionate his facemask and continue walking inside.

Even if his glasses constantly fogged up from his breath with the mask. So annoying.

Speaking of annoying, Conan couldn't help but sigh tiredly when he saw two people talking with Sonoko and Ran behind the stage. "Hattori-san and Kazuha-san are here, too?" he said with a plain voice.

Kogoro scowled behind him.

Grinning at him, Hattori waved his hand while Kazuha just smiled at him. Ran, on the other hand, rushed to him.

"Conan-kun, you came!" she smiled at him.

"I told him to stay in bed today since his cold isn't over yet," Kogoro leaned forward to mess with the kid's hair, which only earned him an irritated grunt. "But he wouldn't listen. He said 'I promised, so I have to go'."

Ran looked concerned for a moment before bending down to look at him in the eye. "Are you sure you're okay?"

He seemed to hesitate for a second. "I'm fine," he forced a smile behind his mask.

It didn't seem to convince the girl. "You don't have to force yourself-"

"Don't worry, I'm really okay," he hurriedly said, before glancing up to Kogoro. "Maybe we should get going, or we aren't going to get any good seats," before starting to walk away. "Good luck, Ran-neechan!"

"Don't get stage fright," Kogoro told her before following the child.

"Do your best!" Kazuha grinned, before pulling Heiji with her. "Come on, Heiji!"

"I'm going, I'm going... Geez."

Despite all their support, Ran didn't find herself smiling back. Instead, her lips pressed together in a thin line as she watched Conan's back.

Just now, his usually bright and lively eyes were dull and empty and she could see it, even if he had tried to hide it from her. He didn't look too sick but that made her even more worried instead. Because if it was just a cold, she might know what was going on.

As things were now, she had absolutely no idea of what was going through his young, bright mind.


"You need to do better than that, you know that, right?"

Conan blinked up at Hattori, who was sitting right beside him. "What do you mean?" he asked, genuine confusion plastered in his features.

"You aren't fooling anyone with those unusually awful acting skills," the detective of the West explained. "Anyone can see you aren't okay from a mile away."

Finally understanding the meaning behind his words, Conan looked away from him and towards the stage, even if the curtains had yet to be risen.

"What do you expect me to do?" the little boy replied, with an exasperated sigh. "I can't just tell Ran-neechan... It would break her heart."

"But what about yours?" Heiji frowned, slightly.

And as he had expected, the kid did not reply. His eyes were hidden by the light reflecting on his glasses, making it impossible for Heiji to know what he was thinking.

"Tell me, Conan," the child didn't even look at him, yet he could hear the genuine concern on the Osakan voice. It didn't make it better for him, though. "What's in your mind, at this moment?"

The fragments of old forgotten memories he would see in his dreams. Articles he had read about the incident from one year ago. Hattori's words as he told him about his investigation.

The gun. That sharp feeling on his neck. The scar on his shoulder. Blood transfusions. Pain. Fear. Tears.

"Onii-chan!"

A hand gently stroking his hair as he fell asleep.

Shinichi's icy cold eyes.

It all came into his mind, jumbled together without making any sense, but managed to give the little child a mild headache.

"A lot," he simply replied, finally facing him, honest for the first time in a while.

Heiji's stared into those troubled eyes before his gaze softened and placed his hand on top of the child's little shoulder.

Conan did not flinch away at the contact, just smiled softly. "I'm sorry for snapping at you the other day. It wasn't right," his eyes closed and his hands clenched against each other. "It's just that... I don't know, there's so much going on."

"I know, kid," Heiji's hand squeezed his shoulder, trying to show his comfort. "I know."

After all, Hattori could tell. He could be a brilliant, mature and impressively perceptive child, but at the end of the day Conan was just that, a young little boy that had a far too heavy burden on his small shoulders. He shouldn't be dealing with all of this.

But Heiji knew that, even if it was still very young, Conan was a detective. If he, or anyone, tried to stop him, he would still find a way to search for the truth.

Heiji understood that feeling perfectly. Because they were the same.

Before he could say anything, however, the lights suddenly went off.

"We will now begin Class 2-B's play, 'Shuffle Romance'," a voice said over the speakers. "Please enjoy it."

Conan smiled to himself, leaning against the seat and watched the curtains open to show Ran, dressed as a princess, standing behind a castle's tower window, hands clasped together.

"Oh, almighty God Zeus, why do you ignore me like this?" Ran began, before pressing her hands against her face, sobbing. "Or are you saying that I should accept this cursed marriage I do not desire?"

"Yo, I've been waiting for your big entrance!" Kogoro's yell echoed in the entire school theater. As a result, every single soul stared at him, so he laughed awkwardly. "That's my daughter."

Laughter erupted in the room prompting Kazuha, who sat right beside him, to try to shrink away from sight. "How embarrassing," she blushed. "I don't like this seat."

Sighing tiredly, the child focused back on the play. Now Ran was sitting in a carriage, knights surrounding her as they advanced. Suddenly, a group of bandits attacked and Conan couldn't really be impressed. It was obvious this was going to happen.

"Who goes there?" one of the knights suddenly yelled. "Don't you know this is the Bridge Kingdom's Princess Heart?"

Heiji scoffed. "Of course they knew, isn't it obvious they want to attack her?" Conan watched as he rested his cheek on his open palm.

"Believe me, I have been forced to watch loads of plays by my mother," Conan rolled his eyes. "This is far from the most nonsensical one I had seen."

"Really?"

"It was an adaptation from the Greek myth 'The Golden Apple'," he commented. "Turned out Paris was actually the archangel Michael."

"That was so random," Hattori stifled a laugh. "Well, at least nobody died, right-?"

"The actor who played Michael. Shot in the chest. In the middle of the play."

"Ouch."

"Yeah," Conan frowned, turning back to the play. "I hope nobody gets killed this time around..."

"Hey, no need to be so gloomy..."

When Ran's bodyguards were all defeated and the princess dragged away from her carriage, Kazuha suddenly raised from her seat and started screaming. "Ran-chan, use your karate!" at that Heiji, who sat beside her, visibly winced. "You can take care of these freaks!"

Heiji sweatdropped. "Not it's me who doesn't like this seat."

A pitch black, crow's feather danced into the air in front of their eyes, causing the princess' kidnappers to look away from their victim. Then, a dark figure fell from the sky, slashing through one of the men's chest.

"T-The Black Cloaked Knight!" the other screamed.

The black knight said nothing as he slowly stood up, letting the audience to see a boy, covered in a black cloak and a helmet that hid his face to everyone else. Kazuha squealed ─ because he was oh-so-cool! ─ while Conan could only stare.

"What a show off..." Heiji commented.

Yet the child said nothing, as he gazed at the cloaked figure in the middle of the stage, completely dressed in black. Black, he sighed, with a resigned smile. Now that he thought about it, Ran had said that the knight's image was based on Shinichi's. How ironic.

"Oh, unnamed knight with your black cloak, if you will grant me my wish," Ran continued, once the enemy had retreated in fear. "Please take off that dark mask and show me your true face!"

The knight didn't do as he was asked and, instead, turned around to face the princess. Wordlessly, he walked closer to her and tenderly enveloped Ran in a hug.

The entire audience was thrilled. Kogoro was pissed.

And Conan was surprised. That wasn't in the script, was it?

It seemed like Ran didn't expect it either if the genuine shock on her face was something to go by, but then decided to play along. "Oh, might you be Spade?" she broke the hug to look at his hidden face. "Long ago, you were banned from this land by my father, but now you've become prince of the Trump Kingdom," she leaned closer. "If you have not forgotten about our childhood promise... Then please... please show me on these lips."

As they face slowly inched closer, Kogoro lost it so badly that Kazuha had to physically restrain him. Heiji only watched them, amused, before turning to the child.

There was a frown carved on his face. To suddenly change the script so he would hug Ran-neechan... It's so unlike Araide-sensei, he realized. Then... Then who is beneath that helmet?

Princess Heart and the Black Knight didn't get to kiss, however. A scream broke through the room, startling everyone.

And man laid dead on the floor, his empty cup open and forgotten at his side.

Chapter Text

The victim's name was Kamata Kouhei, a doctor that worked at Beika General Hospital. He had suddenly dropped during the romance scene of the play ─ at around 14:40, according to Ran.

When Inspector Megure noticed the girl, he began looking around for someone else. He found Mouri Kogoro right away walking towards him, and he couldn't help but sigh. That murder magnet. He even brought a disaster case to his own daughter's high school.

"So, no one came near the body, right?" the inspector asked him.

"Of course not, Inspector. Maintaining the scene of a crime is an investigative no-brainer-"

"It smells like almonds."

At the young voice all eyes instantly fell on the source. None of them were actually surprised to see little Conan, crouched next to the body. Before they could say anything, he turned to Heiji, who was kneeling down right next to him.

"Does that mean it's Potassium Cyanide, Hattori-san?" he asked innocently.

"Yeah, most likely," Heiji nodded. "You can also tell by looking at his lips and nails. They're pink, instead of purple. Maybe, next time, you can focus on those things instead of just sniffing. It's so dangerous you could die."

Conan rolled his eyes. He knew it was, but there shouldn't be any problem if he was careful.

"Conan-kun!"

When he was suddenly raised into the air, he looked up at Ran's serious face and he understood why he had said those things. Heiji was looking him with a big grin on his face, and he couldn't help but groan, annoyed.

That's for getting me in trouble all those times, Hattori thought, holding up two fingers in a 'V' shape.

Just wait until I get back at you, Hattori, Conan's eyebrow twitched.

Hattori wasn't intimidated at all by his glare, just grinned even wider before turning back to the Inspector, causing the child huff in irritation.

Then, the little boy suddenly felt something. A weird burning sensation into the back of his neck prompting him to slowly turn around and look over his shoulder.

The black knight was there, standing right behind Ran and, therefore, standing right behind him. Unmoving. Eerily still.

Now, he couldn't really see his face, but Conan knew. Whoever was beneath that helmet was staring at him, if the way his skin tingled was something to go by. Yet, the child couldn't understand why.

Then, the knight seemed to smile, faintly, at him.

And Conan blinked, feeling officially lost.


Kogami Mai, the one that had bought the drinks and left it with her friends before going to the bathroom.

Ninagawa Ayako, the victim's former fiance that had poured the drinks in the cup, hoping that he would return for a change.

Mitani Yota, the one that had handed the drinks Kogami had bought.

And Yumemi Noda, the one that sat right next to the victim.

Even if he had absolutely no idea of how they had made the victim drink the potion, Heiji was sure that the culprit was one of those four.

At least, until Takagi told Megure that he had found some unused milk and gun syrup in Kamata's pocket and Ayako confessed that she had put coke in purpose so he would come back for a change.

"So, that's why my drink was also coke!" Mai realized. "I almost put in gum syrup and milk."

After that, everything began to make sense to him.

Claiming that Kamata had been acting strange, searching around the dashboard for stuff, so all three of them had to take Takagi to the car, to look for clues.

The black knight watched out the window as the four ran under the heavy rain, covering their heads with their arms in a fruitless attempt to not get soaked.

Conan's eyes narrowed as he watched the black figure pulling the curtain back and head to the door, before stepping up to follow him.

When a hand suddenly fell on his shoulder.

"Hey, kid, you realize it too, right?" he looked over Hattori, who had a smile on his face. "The culprit who placed the poison is most likely that person. The drink Kamata-han left open, the mixed up iced coffee, plus that person's strange lines... I know how the trick was done!"

The child said nothing as he looked back at the doorway and realized, with a heavy sigh, that the black knight was nowhere to be found. He must have gotten away when he was distracted with Heiji, the kid realized.

"Now, if only there was proof, everything would... Hey, are you even listening?"

Conan blinked twice. "Ah, sorry," he offered him an apologetic smile under his face mask. "I don't have a clue who the criminal is."

"Eh?" now it was Heiji's turn to blink. "Hey, hey, were you even paying attention to the testimonies?"

Conan looked away and that was enough for Hattori to realize he hadn't heard a thing.

"Now I'm worried," he commented. "That's so unlike you."

"It's not a big deal. That's probably just my cold messing with me."

"The other time you had a cold, it was so bad that you fainted, if I remember correctly," Hattori raised an eyebrow at him. "But you still solved the case."

The child said nothing in return and just shrugged, barely paying attention to Takagi returning with what seemed to be a vial of cyanide. Even Conan himself was surprised about his lack of focus in this case, but it wasn't like he could help it.

Everytime he wanted to pay attention, his eyes would drift to that mysterious black knight. He couldn't point it out, but something was amiss with that person... There was something familiar about the way he walked and observed his surroundings.

Speaking of which, where did he go?

"From these circumstances, we can conclude this was a suicide," decided Inspector Megure.

"Please wait, Inspector Megure!"

The voice boomed in the entire room, earning the attention of everyone. All gazes fell on the dark figure standing at the entrance, quietly still even as thunder violently roared and the sky flashed behind his back.

"This wasn't suicide," the Black Knight declared. "But rather, a simple and basic... murder."

And, like so, he began to slowly walk closer to the inspector, unaffected by all the states currently following his movements, the way Ran's eyes opened, widely, or Conan's narrowed.

"Right, Kamata-san was poisoned," the figure dressed in black stated. "Under the cover of darkness, in front of the floating stage. Where his incurable habit was used against him. Furthermore, the culprit should still have that evidence. If my deduction of this bold crime is, in fact, the truth."

"Y-You are...?!" Megure stammered.

The Black Knight smirked.

"Long time no see, Inspector Megure," and, just like that, he took off his helmet.

Conan took a look of his face. His eyes opened, wider than ever before, as he stared. Shocked. Speechless. Dumbfounded.

"I'm Kudo Shinichi."

Everyone gasped, astonishment written all over their features. Ran merely stared at him, mouth slightly open in shock as if she still could not believe that the person she was seeing in front of her was real.

And Conan just stared.

Once the shock had somewhat receded, the students started to cheer for their local detective. Shinichi, in turn, just glanced at them from over his shoulder, before placing his finger in front of his mouth. "Shh, silence," he shushed them. "We'll continue the celebration after I lower the curtains on this bloody stage."

They all obeyed instantly.

At the sight of that, Conan's shock drained a little bit, feeling his eyebrow starting to twitch. "Still a show off," he said under his breath.

Despite of how low the child had pronounced his words, Shinichi still heard. His gaze fell on the little boy and he found himself smiling, crouching down next to him and placing a gloved hand on top of his head.

"It has been a long time, Conan."

"We both know it hasn't been that long," the kid replied with a slight smirk.

Shinichi couldn't hold back a laugh. "Nothing ever escapes you, does it?"

"Nothing, except you."

The teenage detective ruffled his hair at that, earning a grunt from his younger brother, before standing up, grinning wider at the sight of the glare sent his way.

"Shinichi?" Ran's hesitant voice came from behind him, so he turned around to see a pair of surprised eyes staring at him. "Are you really Shinichi?"

"Huh? You silly," he sighed. "Stop talking like you just got out of bed," then, he leaned closer and whispered. "I have something important to tell you later, so don't run!"

Ran blinked, cluelessly.

"By the way, Hattori," Heiji started when he noticed Shinichi's attention on him. "Do you have a dime?"

"Yeah, I have one or two, but what are you going to...?" he saw his fellow detective smirking towards the culprit's way and understood. "Ah, I get it."

Shinichi gave a perfect deduction thereafter. Kamata had the habit of munching on the leftover ice and, therefore, the killer had decided to put the poison on the ice cubes, which had been brought in a small purse, which he had found on the washroom's garbage, alongside dry ice.

Therefore, the only one that could've put them in was Kogami Mai. She had pretended to eat the ice on her drink, then hid it somewhere else.

So, he flipped a coin. It landed on her hood, and came out rust-free and sparkling.

The killer had no other choice to confess. She told everyone that she had, indeed, murdered Kamata Kohei because he had given a patient, whose symptoms contradicted his thesis, the wrong medication on purpose. As a result, the patient had passed away to protect his theory.

Soon, the culprit was taken away.

"Somehow, Heiji seemed more like the assistant than the magician today," Kazuha teased.

"There's nothing I could do," Heiji tried to defend himself. "This is Tokyo, I had to let Kudo hold the flowers."

Conan rolled his eyes. "It seemed to me that you had to let Shinichi-niichan hold the flowers because you didn't have the sightless idea of how to."

"Like you're the one to talk," Heiji scoffed. "You didn't even know who the culprit was until now."

"How was I supposed to know?" he protested, whining childishly. "I'm only a child. There's a lot of things I don't know!"

"Yeah, Conan-kun is right!" Kazuha argued. "It's not okay to bully a child, Heiji!"

"E-Eh, but..." he glanced the child stifling his laugh with his hand and felt irritation blossoming on him. I'm the one getting bullied...

Conan laughed a bit louder before something else caught his attention. Megure was excitedly talking to his brother now, offering him to meet with the reporters for the case hearing, but expectedly so, the boy declined.

He asked for his name to be kept a secret. And for Conan, it made sense he would ask such a thing.

Even if he wished it didn't.

"Hey, Kudo," Hattori spoke. "Why didn't you go to the case hearing?"

"A trick is nothing but a puzzle mankind came up with," he said, with a soft groan that went unnoticed by everyone, except from the child, whose eyes narrowed a bit. "If you use your head, you can uncover the logical answer."

Conan examined his brother and realized, with a faint sense of panic, that he was sweating profusely. His breathing was also becoming more ragged and shallow, as he was feeling an incredible pain.

"It's disappointing. No matter the explanation I think of, I cannot understand why one person would kill another," Shinichi managed to say between gasps. "Even if I can see why, I can't understand why. Not even..."

Heiji looked at him for a second, stunned for some reason when he heard those words. He opened his mouth to speak, but didn't have the time to say anything because Shinichi was suddenly clenching a hand against his chest, and giving out a loud grunt of pain.

"Shinichi-niichan," Conan tried to say. "Are you...?"

The little boy couldn't even finish his sentence, because the Great Detective of the East suddenly dropped into his knees, breathing rapidly while still holding his chest, tighter than before.

Everyone panicked.

"Shinichi? What's wrong, Shinichi?" Ran's sweet voice came through the pain and soon saw her face, her expressive eyes looking at him, filled with confusion and concern. "Are you okay? Does it hurt?"

While it greatly upsetted Shinichi to no belief seeing his dearest childhood friend worried about him, there was something else that shook him to the core.

"Onii-chan..."

The young voice, low enough so nobody but him would hear, prompted him to look at the pair of big blue eyes staring right into his. While the worry was evident on them, there was something about it that threw him off. The tiny frown and the sharp glint they took, as if he, somehow, could understand what was going on.

And Conan was scared. Terribly so.

His muscles failed him, and soon he found himself dizzily pitching forward into the ground.

Conan's little hand was on his shoulder, desperately shaking him, screaming at him to hold on. Yet, soon, his voice was too far away for Shinichi to understand.

Before passing out, he managed to give his little brother another look. His bright blue eyes were staring right at him.

He doesn't know... does he?

That was his last thought before everything went pitch black.


Fortunately, the problem had been solved by Hattori and Conan right away.

The teen had instantly called out to everyone, pleading them not to say a word about Shinichi's involvement to anyone, while the child somehow convinced Ran that his brother had probably been sleep deprived ─ which wasn't that far fetched, considering the teen had the habit of not sleeping until a case he was working on was closed or simply collapsed from exhaustion.

Thankfully, everything had more of less settled down. With a tired sigh, Hattori leaned into the wall of the infirmary as they waited for Shinichi to wake up. He briefly glanced towards Conan, who sat on the bed right next to him, worry etched on his features.

The kid had told him about the drug Kudo had been given so he could understand the child's concern. Even if he still isn't certain of Kudo's involvement with the Black Organization, that kid is still worried sick, he observed. Understandable, considering he's still his brother.

Still, there was something that didn't fit at all with Hattori's suspicions. Right before he fainted, Kudo had said something about not being able to understand why a human would murder another. Heiji could have brushed that comment off, label it as another criminal lying his way off.

Except this wasn't the case. As a detective, Heiji was used to read the body language of the people he considered suspicious, and he wasn't afraid to say that he was pretty good at it.

So he either was a professional liar, or Kudo was simply telling the truth.

What was really going on?

"Shinichi-niichan," Conan's voice brought his attention back to the real world, and he realized that Kudo's eyes were flickering open.

"Oh, Kudo!" Heiji smiled. "You're awake!"

"I'm so relieved you woke up," Kazuha sighed.

"Geez, don't worry me like that!" Ran scolded him, lightly.

Shinichi said nothing in return, just sat up while staring, wide eyed, at the people gathering around his bed. Conan noticed his mouth opening and closing, as if he had no idea of what to say, so he spoke first.

"When was the last time you slept?" the very incriminating look he was given prompted him to blink. "I just asked you a question that is not very hard to answer, so now I'm getting worried."

"Eh...?"

"So you really didn't!" Ran shouted at him. "Really, Shinichi, when are you going learn how to get care of yourself?!"

Shinichi seemed to be confused for a moment, until he realized what everyone believed that had happened to him, so he let out an awkward laugh, deciding that it was better to just play along for the time being.

As Ran scolded him, sternly so, Shinichi briefly glanced at his younger brother, who was currently muffing his laugh with his hand at the sight of the girl reprimanding him.

So that was what was going through his mind at that time, he thought, mentally sighing in relief. Conan doesn't know, then.

"Hey, Shinichi, are you listening to me?!"

He didn't notice, however, the child's eyes sharpening as soon as Shinichi's gaze focused back on Ran.

Soon the commotion died down enough for the people to leave Shinichi to rest for a bit before he could return home. It took a while to convince Ran that it would be okay to leave the teenage boy alone for awhile, but Conan managed, after assuring her that he was going to call her if something happened.

Like so, the two brothers were left alone.

An uncomfortable silence ensued thereafter, none of them having an idea of what to say to each other. Because of that neither of the siblings tried to start a conversation, just stared awkwardly at each other.

After an undetermined amount of time, which passed by excruciatingly slow, Conan saw his brother groaning softly, cradling his head with his hand as if he was having a massive headache.

"Here," Shinichi blinked, cluelessly when the little boy in front of him pulled out a small vial from his pocket and took out a weird pill, offering it to him.

He accepted it, blinking owlishly, before briefly examining it. It definitely didn't look similar to any painkiller he had seen in his entire life. Eyes narrowing, as he noticed it was a capsule, half red and half white.

It looked exactly like...

The silver haired man gave out a sickening smile as he pulled out something from his black cloak, holding it in front of his eyes so he would see it. The drug was so tiny and innocent-looking that nobody would ever think of it as anything else than an ordinary medicine.

Oh, how wrong they would be. Because Shinichi knew perfectly what it was capable of. And he didn't like it one bit.

Yet, he didn't show it. He wouldn't give the man in front of him the satisfaction.

At least until the pill was forced down his throat.

Then, he genuinely screamed. The pain was so much to handle.

When the vial was suddenly whisked away from his hands, Conan couldn't help but let out a startled yelp. But he said nothing, just silently stared as his brother turned the vial over and over again, inspecting its contents with the look of a madman.

Then he read the label and practically felt his blood draining:

"APTX-4869 ─ Prototype Antidote."

Then, he looked up to his younger brother, staring at him so intensely that actually made the child back up a little. How did he...? he couldn't even put his thoughts in order. Just... Just how?!

"Onii-chan?" the child gave him the most innocent look he could muster. "Are you sure you are okay?"

He only watched his brother's mouth opening and closing, repeatedly and without making any noise. Conan struggled to maintain a straight face and not to show how amusing Shinichi's confusion actually was to him.

"Conan," he finally managed, motioning to the vial on his hands. "Where... Where did you get this?"

And how in the actual hell did you know I was poisoned and how exactly did you figure out how to make an antidote for such an extremely secret and dangerous drug?!

Then, he remembered the little girl he had seen before on Conan's hospital room. She didn't, did she?

"Haibara-san gave it to me. She said Professor Agasa created it," he replied, slowly, before pausing. Then, he sighed deeply. "Why didn't you tell me before?"

Shinichi looked away, not wanting to face the child. "Conan, I... The truth is-"

"You should have told me you had been suffering from migraines ever since you were my age!"

...

... Eh?

The older detective raised his head, holding Conan's glare with a clueless blink. For the longest moment, he didn't say anything, until his lips curved into a smile.

"Ah, I didn't realize it has been labeled before!" the child continued. "What does it say?"

"Oh, no, nothing to worry about," then, he peeled the label off in front of his curious eyes. "I don't want you to go search about my condition and worry yourself. Because it's not that serious, really."

"But seriously, Onii-chan, you should've told me!"

Then, with a chuckle, he apologized to the child and promised not to do that again. Whatever it was.

This is fine, he thought, giving a long look at the pill in his hand. As long as he doesn't know.

Before he took the pill, without hesitation, before returning the vial to his younger brother, who gave him a strangely pleased smile


The sound of his alarm blared in the middle of the silent morning, causing the little boy to groan and bury himself deeper in his nest of blankets, in a feeble attempt to retrain his sleep.

Not wanting to open his eyes, he just lied there, gathering enough willpower to finally get up...

There was something missing though. Dimly he wondered what it was.

Until it fell on him. Occhan. At this point, Kogoro would be probably growling at him to kill that alarm. But he wasn't.

Finally, his eyes opened to see the ceiling of his room. His old room.

Ah, right, he slowly realized, reaching with his hand to his phone to finally shutting the alarm off and grabbed his glasses from the nightstand. Sighing tiredly he sat up on his bed, trying to rub the sleep off his eyes when he noticed he could hear another different alarm from the room next to his. Why doesn't he turn it off? Did he sleep right through it or something?

Sleepily glancing at his right, towards the door, so he would shout to his brother to wake him up, he noted something strange. He blinked slowly, noticing the figure covered in blankets beside him, before taking a closer look.

Conan saw his brother, peacefully sleeping at his side, and jumped.

"What are you doing here?!" he shouted, but he only got an incoherent mumble in response. So, with a resigned sigh, he began to shake him. "Hey, Onii-chan, wake up," at his lack of response, the child opted to pull the sheets away from him. "You're going to be late."

Shinichi just snored away, and the child could only rub his temples, already exhausted even if it was so early in the morning. Seriously, and here I thought Ran-neechan was quite the heavy-sleeper...

That was until his eyes fell on something else in the nightstand and his lips curved into a mischievous grin. Like so, the child took his bowtie and turned the dial.

"SHINICHI!" he shouted, at full volume, using Ran's voice.

The angry voice of his childhood friend, who he was secretly very afraid of, prompted Shinchi to wake up with a start and instantly roll over. Conan blinked at the sight of his older brother sprawled across the floor, after his sudden awakening.

Before, of course, bursting out laughing like any self-respecting sibling would do.

"Ha, ha, very funny," Shinichi rolled his eyes as he pulled himself up. "Good morning to you, too, Conan."

Conan shrugged, watching as Shinichi began to stumble towards the bathroom.

"What were you doing here?" the child asked before he could leave.

The older brother paused for a moment. "You had a nightmare last night," at those words, Conan gave him a surprised look. "I barely managed to pull you out of it. It was pretty bad, wasn't it?"

Seeing the little boy suddenly fixing his look on the mattress prompted the teenager to sigh and walk closer to the bed.

"I heard from Ran that you've been having a lot of those lately," with that, he sat right beside him. "Would you like to talk about it?"

Yet the child did not talk, only frowned deeper, clenching his hands on top of his lap.

"You know, Conan, is perfectly normal to have nightmares," he tried to reassure him with a smile and went to give him a comforting pat on his head. "There's nothing to be embarrassed of-"

"We're going to be late for school."

Ducking his brother's hand, Conan hopped off the bed and rushed out the room, leaving the older boy cluelessly looking at the place the child had just been disappeared from, wondering what was all of that about.


When Ran stood in front of the Kudo House a weird nostalgic feeling washed all over her. Then, hesitation took hold as her finger hovered over the doorbell button. What was she going to do if nobody walked out the door even if she rung the bell?

... I'm just being silly, she thought to herself. Even if that deduction maniac doesn't appear, Conan-kun is still inside.

"Aren't you going to ring?"

The young voice at her side started her, badly, prompting her to spun around. Upon noticing the little strawberry blonde girl standing right beside her she calmed down and, ignoring the disturbingly stoic look she was giving her, Ranlet out a sigh, holding a hand on her chest.

"You scared me, Ai-chan," Ran said, yet Haibara did not reply. Even so, after recovering a bit, she offered her a smile. "Are you here for Conan-kun?"

Haibara shrugged.

"Well, it makes sense, you two are neighbors now," Ran pointed out.

The girl, again, did not answer. Not giving it another thought, Ran turned to the doorbell and finally pressed it once.

Or maybe twice.

"Hey?" came Shinichi's voice over the intercom.

Thrice.

"Hey!"

Four times. Five times.

"Geez, you're annoying!" at the sixth time, Shinichi's angry face appeared through the bars of the gate. "Just ring once and I'll hear you!"

With that, he stepped out so the two girls could go inside, walking inside without giving Ran another look, a toast on his mouth.

"Hey, Shinichi," spoke Ran. "Are you sure you understand today's school schedule?"

"I bet it's like last year, with everyone cleaning up from the festival," he rested his hand on top of the door handle. "I'm going to go get ready, so wait here."

Before she could say anything, the door was slammed in Ran's face, who blinked a bit in surprise.

"Hey, that was unnecessarily rude," she could hear Conan's unmistakably voice from inside. "I can only wonder why she's still friends with you."

The door opened, welcoming the two girls with the sight of a very annoyed looking Conan. "Good morning Ran-neechan..." then his eyes fixed to the child next to her and blinked a bit. "... and Haibara-san?"

Haibara said nothing, just squinted her eyes slightly before walking right past him and inside the house without saying a word.

"... Yeah, of course, you can come in," Conan said, sarcastically, before mumbling under his breath. "Really, what's up with her?"

Ran giggled, slightly, before coming inside when the little boy moved aside so he could welcome her inside.

"Sit wherever you want, Ran-neechan. Shinichi-niichan will be ready in a moment," he glanced towards his brother, as he slowly made his way towards the bathroom, while yawning loudly. "... I hope."

The girl just smiled, slightly. He's here. Shinichi's here! she thought, looking at the boy. It's not a dream, he really came back!

Not only that, he was actually going back to school, again, after an entire year of absence. She had been a bit confused at first until he had explained that the director had decided to make an exception for Shinichi, since the detective had once helped him out with a case and was in debt to him.

She wondered how he would be able to catch up, yet he didn't seem bothered at all in the sightless.

I should start photocopying my notes, I guess, she thought, with an amused smile on her face.

Conan blinked, wondering for a second what she was all happy about. At least, until she asked him.

"Isn't this great, Conan-kun?"

When he understood what she meant, Conan nodded with a bright smile.

Even if that smile wasn't completely genuine. Because, a part of him knew, this was too good to be true.

The Black Organization is still out there, once out of her sight, he let his smile drop. Why is he here, all of sudden, pretending that nothing happened at all?

So, to say that Conan was confused was an understatement. Was he really meant to pretend that everything ─ the fire in Ekoda Hospital, the drug, the organization, his scattered memories, every single thing ─ did not happen at all?

A part of him wondered. Wouldn't it best if he did just that? It was easier to forget and, quite frankly, the child was scared to know what secrets lied deep inside his brother's heart. Nobody would get hurt, and everything would be perfect. Just like today.

But a deeper part of him knew he would be living a lie. A fake reality that would lead everyone to live happily oblivious to the darkest secrets that lurk outside their bubble.

Yet...

What's the correct answer, really?

With a sigh, he turned around to ask Haibara what she was doing on his house, but found himself staring at Ran, sitting alone in the couch as she messed around with her phone. Where did Haibara-san...?

He found her rather quickly, exiting the bathroom with the same expressionless look she always wore, before his brother came out as well.

Conan blinked


"But I was really shocked to find you as the black cloaked knight," Ran commented as the four of them walked towards school. "I'm surprised you wanted to be the main character, since you didn't memorize your lines."

At the confusion that crossed Shinchi's face, which then turned into irritation, Conan knew Sonoko had something to do with it. That explains a lot, actually, he thought. He wouldn't just hug Ran out the blue if that wasn't the case.

"If you kept ignoring the script like that, the play would've been a disaster!"

After it had to be canceled because a murder, I can only wonder why she doesn't consider it a disaster already.

Sighing a bit to himself, Conan crossed his arms behind his head and kept on walking, listening at the conversation the teenagers were having.

At least, until he heard.

"Did you give it to him?" Haibara asked him, out the blue.

Conan gave her a nod. "It's impressive, though," he commented. "That you managed to create an antidote without the data."

"It's a prototype antidote," she stressed out. "This is supposed to help him last a little longer... Or he might just drop dead in a few hours and I will be forced to declare this test as a failure," a smirk appeared on her face. "You'd be the prime suspect if that happened."

"Hey, hey..."

"Just joking," she shrugged. "He should be okay, don't worry. I'm pretty confident on this version."

Conan glared at her for a moment, before sighing heavily. "By the way, there's something that has been bothering me ever since you gave me those pills the other day," he said. "How did you know my brother was around? I didn't tell anyone yet."

"I could tell from those times you contemplated the sky so dramatically. As if you were the protagonist of a TV drama," she answered right away. "It was obvious just by looking at you that you knew that Shinichi-san was around."

She pointedly ignored the annoyed glance he shoot her way and kept on walking. Realizing he would never get the upper hand with this girl, the boy rolled his eyes, continuing his way in silence.

It was quiet between the two, the teenagers' conversation was the only thing keeping the ambient from being too silent. Ran and Shinichi continued on talking, catching up in what they had missed, unaware of what was going on inside the children's mind.

The girl was the first one to break their silence, again.

"So?" Conan looked at Haibara, questioningly. He waited for her to continue, yet she didn't.

"So what?"

"You know what I mean, Kudo-kun," her eyes narrowed a tiny bit. "At this point you must have figured that out already."

Conan frowned a little bit, looking away from her annoyingly knowing eyes. "You know I can't come into any conclusion if I don't have any proof."

"You're in drowning in denial," the girl told him. "Living on borrowed time, attempting to maintain this fantasy of an ideal reality... Afraid of the truth."

"I'm not afraid of anything, Haibara-san."

"Oh? Are you sure about that?" Conan didn't find in himself to answer. "Every single person in this world is deeply afraid of something and you're not the exception, Kudo-kun. Even if, in your case, it's a bit contradictory."

The boy said nothing, as he glanced over his shoulder to his older brother. He was laughing loudly now, after teasing Ran about something he hadn't heard about, while adjusting his hat on his head better.

A hat that covered his hair and obscured his face from plain sight.

"Conan-kun, Haibara-san!" Ayumi's voice filled the boy's ears, prompting the two children to look that way.

They saw their three friends rushing towards them, to meet them.

"Congratulations on your recovery!" Mitsuhiko smiled to Conan.

The little boy smiled back at them and was about to say something back at them when he noticed his friends' gaze shifting away from them and towards the teenage boy, blinking curiously.

"Yo," upon noticing the looks he was receiving he waved, raising his hat a tiny bit so they could see their face.

The three children gasped, before dragging Conan away. Shinichi couldn't help but sweatdrop a little bit at the sight of his brother's friends surrounding him, asking him countless of questions in hushed voices.

"Conan-kun, isn't that Shinichi-oniisan?"

"When did he come back?"

"Why didn't you say anything, Conan?!"

He saw Conan sighing, tiredly, before beginning to explain everything to them with such a patience he had never seen in that child before. And Shinichi just stood there, watching the five kids talk with each other, without realizing the faint smile painting his features.

Never in his wildest dreams he would have imagined Conan getting along so well with children of his own age.

"Shinichi!" he hadn't realized he had stared for so long until he heard Ran, who was already walking away after giving Conan a brief wave. "Come on, hurry or we'll be late!"

"Ah, wait up, Ran!" he glanced at Conan. "See you, Conan," he told him, rushedly, before running to catch up with his childhood friend.

The little boy, in turn, just nodded and watched him go. His blue eyes narrowed slightly, as he watched his older brother walking with Ran to school, laughing about something he said to her.

A detective who fears the truth... Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.

Chapter Text

Nothing.

It didn't matter where he looked ─ newspapers, testimonies, articles on the web, TV reports ─ he found nothing. There was basically nothing about that case he hadn't heard before.

Even if he had been researching for hours, even declining his friends' invitation to go play soccer in the park so he could get home early. He had barely put his bag on the floor before sitting on the table to begin searching for more clues.

Because there had to be something out there he had missed. Anything.

His hand hurt a lot after writing non-stop for such a long amount of time. His wristwatch lied somewhere on the table, after taking it off ─ at some point, it had become uncomfortable to have it on.

Looking down at his scribbles on his notebook made Conan want to groan in frustration, bang his head against the table until realization came into his mind suddenly.

Knowing that, as his luck would have it, he would only manage to give himself a nasty concussion instead of a sense of enlightenment, he scrolled down even more on the internet search on his mobile phone.

Then his screen suddenly froze. Come on, he sighed in his mind, burying his head on his arms. Could my luck get any worse?

"I'm home!"

With a muffled yelp Conan flipped his phone close and flipped the page on his notebook over, quickly scribbling something down before replying. "Welcome back," he said, rushedly, without even looking up.

He successfully hid the newspapers he had been looking at inside his math book.

"What are you doing?" his brother peered over his shoulder to see, curiously. "Math?"

"Your observation skills are impressive, Onii-chan."

"It just that... It's weird to see you this focused in your homework," Shinichi commented, rolling his eyes. "Do you need any help?"

"No need," Conan said with a smile. "It's not that difficult, really. It just that it's simply too much. I missed more than two entire weeks of school, after all."

"Ah, of course," his brother commented, laughing a bit to himself. Of course Conan wouldn't find schoolwork difficult, that little know-it-all.

He was confused, however, when Conan suddenly stood up, taking his math book and notebook with him. "I'm doing this in the library," he decided. "It's too noisy with you here."

Shinichi's eyebrow twitched. "Hey..."

Conan said nothing in return and just left the room, leaving his brother to sigh, passing his hand through his hair. Really, what's wrong with that kid? he wondered, still staring at the hallway, where Conan had just disappeared from. He's such a brat sometimes... Most of the time, actually.

He began to walk towards his room to put his things away, until he tripped on something. Luckily, however, he was able to catch himself before landing face-first into the floor. What did...? upon noticing the little school bag on the floor, Shinichi couldn't help but shake his head. Kids, a fond sigh escaped him. I wonder why they are all so messy...

Glancing at the table, Shinichi realized his little brother had forgotten some of his stuff on top of the table, so he began to gather the books that have been scattered around when his eyes fell on the wristwatch lying on there.

Curiosity washing over him, he held it on his hand. Huh, pretty neat, he noted, examining it a little bit. When I was his age I had, what, a bright blue one? It looked definitely more childish, that's for sure.

Upon further inspection, Shinichi noticed something peculiar about this watch. Four red triangles on the border and a cross in the middle. Hey, hey, the teen blinked. Why does this look like a targeting screen?

Absentmindedly his finger went to the tiny switch and pressed it. He was startled when the lid suddenly flipped open. What the-?! he screamed inside his mind, walking around the room while watching everything through the lid. Wait a second, it actually is a targeting screen! he realized, leaning slightly against the table, facing the doorway.

Then, what does it shoot?

So, he pushed the button again.

Just in time for Conan to appear through the door.

"Say, did you see my-?" panic crossed the child's face when he saw a needle shooting towards his way and immediately threw himself to the side.

The dart wheezed right past him, stabbing itself in the wall behind him, right where his head should have been.

An uncomfortable silence ensued.

Before, after a few seconds of processing what had just happened, Shinichi's eyes fell on his little brother.

Conan, in turn, grinned sheepishly.

It didn't have the result the child wanted, though.

"Conan!" the boy in question winced at that. "What is this?!"

"A wristwatch?" he offered, quickly making his way towards the table. He let out a frustrated sigh when his older brother stood right in front of him, blocking his way. "Come on, I don't have the time for this..."

The child tried to walk past him, only to get interrupted again, and groaned loudly with a frown.

Shinichi quirked an eyebrow at that. Conan actually looked pretty frustrated and irritated, as if he was actually in a hurry, which prompted his older brother to wonder why he would act like that. He came back because he had forgotten something, and I have his watch on my hand, then he realized. His phone... Why would he be in such a hurry to retrieve it?

So, without him realizing, Shinichi grabbed the phone on top of the table, hiding his actions from the younger boy with his own body.

"I'm waiting, Conan," Shinichi said to him, tapping his foot against the wooden floor.

Deciding he had no way out of this, the child sighed heavily. "It's a wristwatch alright... With an anesthetic dart inside," he confessed. "Professor Agasa made it for me."

"What for?" Shinichi frowned.

"You know, I..." he shrugged. "I attract trouble... and death quite a lot. So Professor Agasa thought it would be best if I had a way to protect myself."

"At this point I don't really know if you attract trouble or just ran towards it."

Conan scoffed. "What makes you think I-?"

"I heard a few interesting things at school this morning," the child was a bit confused at the change of topic, until his brother continued. "I was shocked to find of that Ran's father, who has been a lousy detective ever since I can remember, now is quite a famous, efficient and respected one. "

"Well, Occhan has certainly became brighter than before," the child moved away from his brother, and went to search for his lost item. "Maybe he experienced a sudden enlightenment, or something."

Shinichi's eyes narrowed. "And Sonoko, Sonoko for crying out loudis now known as Deduction Queen Sonoko in our school," he stressed out. "Everybody in school teased me all day, telling me that she would one day surpass me, including Sonoko ─ especially her."

The little boy paused momentarily at that. "Really...?" that was all he could say, aware that it has been him secretly aiding her in a few more cases after that night at the villa.

"Ran told me you had been acting as Sonoko's little assistant."

At this point, Conan couldn't argue anymore. Not when Shinichi was giving him that knowing look he would give those he would interrogate after he had pushed them into a corner.

So he had no other option but to settle with an honest answer. "Can't really look the other way when Occhan pins every single murder as suicide," he shrugged. "Especially when the police seem to agree with him regardless the stupidity of his theory."

Shinichi's eyes opened. "So it really has been you guiding them!" he exclaimed, then smiling a little when Conan blushed a bit, clearly embarrassed. "It must have been hard, huh?"

Well, to be honest, he wasn't expecting that kind of reaction for his part. He expected him to be scolding him, but he seemed a bit... interested?

He guessed he should have expected it. His brother was weird.

"When a murder happens, at least Sonoko-neechan actually knows I'm helping her, even if she doesn't realize I'm the one practically solving the case," he rolled his eyes. "Occhan just thinks I'm pointing at random stuff and that, coincidentally, is relevant to the case. It makes things harder when he kicks me out the crime scene."

"To be fair, children shouldn't be hanging around dead bodies."

"Dad took you to lots of crime scenes when you were my age."

"Dad doesn't exactly fit in the definition of responsible parent."

"Point taken."

Shinichi watched Conan shrug, then continue looking for his missing item, before frowning a bit when he found it gone. Before he could say something, his older brother beat him to it.

"But wouldn't it be easier if you... I don't know, used this watch to knock them him out and then, with the voice-changer bowtie you used this morning, pretend you're them?"

The look the child gave him caused Shinichi to realize that clearly wasn't the saner idea that had ever escaped from his lips.

"People would definitely know if somebody is asleep in front of them. Not to say, it would be pretty weird if they saw somebody magically speaking without their mouth moving," Conan's eyebrow raised at that. "I don't think anyone would just believe that Occhan and Sonoko-neechan suddenly know ventriloquism."

"... Well... I think you have a point there," he laughed, awkwardly, scratching the back of his head.

"Besides, how would Occhan explain what happened at the case hearing when he hadn't actually done a thing?"

"Okay, okay, I got it. I wasn't really thinking..."

"Do you ever think when you're outside a case?"

"... Give me a break, you-"

"Anyway, have you seen my phone?" Conan ignored him. "I was pretty sure I left it here, but..."

Shinichi pretended to glance over the table, while keeping the object in question hidden behind his hand. "Ah," he suddenly said. "Now that I think about it, I might have heard something falling when I bumped into the table, after suddenly firing a dart out of nowhere."

"What? Oh, no, not again..." he whined, as he crouched under the table.

As soon as the little one's eyes were off him the older detective pulled the phone from behind his back and flipped it open. The screen had frozen in the last thing Conan had been doing before closing it, so he didn't need to know the password.

Shinichi's eyes widened. Conan had been reading an article about an accident that had happened more than a year ago.

"... the only victim was head doctor, Watanabe Satoshi..."

"... It's not here either..."

Shinichi flipped the phone close just in time to see his brother standing up. "Ah, found it," the older one said, handing him the device. "Sorry, I didn't see it behind your books."

With an annoyed grunt, Conan accepted the phone. He didn't notice the concerned look on Shinichi's eyes as he left, without any further word.

At least, until he stopped in the doorway. "Ah, Onii-chan?"

"Huh?"

"A few months after you left, Ran-neechan came here to clean the house," he told him. "And she said something weird..."

"Weird? How so?"

"She told me she had to throw the orchid in Dad's desk because it had withered away," he said, with a knowing look. "Wasn't it supposed to be a petunia?"

Conan didn't expect, however, the genuine shock that crossed Shinichi's face. The older boy didn't say anything and eventually the child left.

Not without glancing back at his brother one last time. He was stroking his chin, deep in thought.


"You want me to... what?"

"Please, could you please have dinner at Professor Agasa's tonight?" his brother pleaded, with a sheepish smile on his face. "This... This is pretty important."

"Oh? What is this?" a teasing smirk crossed Conan's face. "Did you finally ask Ran-neechan out?"

"... How did you know?"

"You're blushing like a fangirl who just saw his idol glancing at her."

Shinichi only blushed harder, looking away from his little brother's knowing eyes, eyebrows twitching in annoyment. Conan just laughed, loudly, at him, embarrassing Shinichi even further.

"So? Where are you taking her?"

"... Beika Center Building's observation restaurant."

Conan blinked a bit. "Wait a minute... Isn't the place where Mom and Dad...?"

"Yeah," he nodded, curtly, ignoring the shocked look on his brother's eyes. "Don't get the wrong idea, Conan. I just wanted to eat there."

"... Sure..."

"Why does it look like you don't believe me?"

"Because I don't," he stated, not even bothering to change his expression a little biy. "I'm calling Professor Agasa right now, though, don't worry."

"Gee, thanks."

Conan's hand went to the phone, but hesitated for some reason. At the sight of it, Shinichi's annoyed facade faltered, and was replaced by confusion. Before he could ask what was wrong, the young boy spoke. "Just make sure to return home safely this time around, alright?"

Shinichi smiled a little bit as well.

"Of course."


When he had called Professor Agasa, it had been Haibara the one to answer, claiming that the old professor had been showering at that very moment. So, the child had told her everything instead.

He hadn't expected her to pause for a moment, then tell him: "Sorry, something came up and the Professor and I won't be home tonight."

Conan hadn't thought much about it and told her he would just go to Kogoro's house and cook something there ─ the man would argue, but he firmly believed Ran would side up with him so no worries there.

When he had decided to tell his brother all that, however, he paused. He saw Shinichi, dressed in an elegant pale blue jacket and black shirt, putting on a fancy fedora hat. There was a serious look on his face, as he adjusted the latter in front of the mirror.

He's so serious... Wait is he really...?

So he didn't say anything about Agasa not being home. Just wished him good luck and watched him leave through the front door.

Before grabbing his skateboard and leaving as well.

Surely, Kogoro didn't expect to see the kid again, so soon, making his way inside his office as if he owned the place. But he was there, standing right in front of him, skateboard under his arm and a determined look on his face.

"I need you to drive me to Beika Center Building's observation restaurant."

"Huh? Why would I-?"

"Because that's where my brother took Ran-neechan for dinner... Also, where my father proposed to my mother."

He didn't need to be asked twice. Roughly ten minutes later, Kogoro was watching the kid stepping out his rental car inside the parking lot.

Conan wasn't sure what he was doing, even as he hesitantly stepped inside the restaurant. Looking around the place, Conan couldn't help but gape in amazement. He definitely stole Dad's credit card, he decided. There's no way his allowance could afford... all this.

If he still has an allowance, that's it.

"Hello there," he flinched a tiny bit at the sound of a woman's voice. Turning around, he came face to face to a waitress, smiling at him in such a way people would do to an innocent, young child. "Are you looking for someone, little one?"

He cutely shook his head, a matching sweet smile crossing his face. "My parents are over there, don't worry," he pointed to a random direction before running away.

Soon, he managed to get away that woman's curious eyes by going around the corner and then hiding under a random table, close to a window. If she sees me here without any adult around she might start to wonder, he said to himself. I just need to stay here until nobody...

He winced, visibly, when a pair sat on the table he had been hiding under. Just my luck.

"Are you sure it's okay? This place looks expensive."

Conan's eyes opened, widely. That's Ran-neechan's voice. Don't tell me I actually managed to...?

"Don't worry about it," it was his brother, he realized. "I brought my dad's credit card."

The child couldn't really tell if hiding under the same table their date was taking place was good or bad luck. What are the chances, really?

At least he was in a good position to overhear what they were saying. He had come here, after all, to figure out what his brother was thinking ─ because he definitely wasn't stalking them, or meddling with their love life either. He was simply curious, just that, because he was a detective.

"You careless brat."

"Silly. If anything, my parents were careless... leaving the country for fun and abandoning their sons at home."

"Like you're the one to talk," Ran accused him lightly. "Weren't you the one who left Conan-kun alone at home?"

The detective seemed to wince at those words, then pause for a moment. He recovered a few seconds later and let out a terribly fake, humorless chuckle.

"It's... It's not that I wanted to, you know."

Conan could basically hear the regret weighing down his voice and it made him frown slightly. He knew Shinichi had no other choice but to leave, yet that didn't mean he disliked the fact any less.

Yeah, because of the Black Organization...

Because Shinichi had been, most likely, involved with them.

He stopped the thought there, because he didn't like were this was going.

"So," Ran spoke up, probably wanted to dissipate the tense atmosphere she had created without meaning to. "What did you want to tell me about?"

"A-Ah... What I want to say is..." Shinichi trailed off, hesitant.

"Well?" Ran pressed, smiling at him.

Well? Conan straightened himself, anxiety gnawing at him.

"What I want to tell you is..." Shinichi fidgeted nervously.

As he shifted, Conan felt his brother's leg accidentally bumping into his shoulder. Which, naturally, caused the child to freeze and close his eyes shut, hoping with all his might that he would notice...

But then Shinichi suddenly stopped talking and casually said:

"Ah, sorry."

Please, don't ask why.

"Sorry for what?"

... Of course.

"Huh? I just kicked you..."

"Are you sure you didn't just kick the table?"

"No way, that's not possible," he commented.

And the child panicked a bit, because he knew his brother was right. The legs of this table were positioned on each edge of it, so there was absolutely no possibility of them being right in front of him.

Conan's head popped out from under the table and wildly looked around for a way to escape. He noticed a waitress passing by with a trolley and, without anybody noticing, slipped under the tablecloth.

Just in time for his brother to take a curious look at his feet and Ran to yell at him, angrily, calling him a pervert in a very loud voice. As the trolley carried him away, Conan chuckled, amused, when he heard Shinichi's lame attempts to explain himself.

Swiftly he jumped off the trolley as it passed by a darkened hallway and bolted before anyone could spot him. I need to buy time until I figure what to do next, he thought, calling the lift, clearing ignoring the fact that he could easily read the sign that said 'Use for Employees Only'.

He simply waited for the doors to close and leaned against the wall in the corner of the elevator closest to the entrance, sighing tiredly. Now, what should I do? he thought to himself. There should be a way to leave this place without gathering more attention...

If I go down, people will notice I'm using this elevator, even if I'm not allowed to, and would be in big trouble. If I just leave through the front door, people will wonder why a little child is leaving without their parents so late into the night... Not to say that Ran-neechan could spot me. I definitely don't want to be in the receiving end of her karate...

And the way to the parking lot is in the other side, so calling Occhan is not an option. If I just call him, he would also cross paths with Ran-neechan and...

Conan sighed again, clueless of what to do next.

Then, he heard steps heading closer.

"I'm not feeling well today," somebody said. His voice was getting closer. "Just tell everyone to continue supporting our company."

To his surprise, the door of the lift opened beside him and a man stepped inside. "Well," he said to whoever was on the other side ─ Conan couldn't see from his spot. "Say 'hi' to everyone for me."

And the doors closed once more.

Conan did not move, his mind running for an answer for the question that was probably going to be asked any second now...

"Ah, I didn't see you there, little boy. What are you doing here?"

"Shh!" Conan hushed, his index finger right in front of his lips. "I'm playing hide and seek with my friends."

"Oh, is that so?" the man smiled at him. "Maybe you should hide somewhere else. This is for employees use only."

"Aw, is that so?" the boy pouted childishly. "I really liked this place."

The man chuckled at him. "Maybe I can make an exception for you," he offered. "Just this time around."

"Really?" he did his best to play the role of an excited child. "Thank you!"

"Don't worry," he nodded. "I'm hiding as well, after all."

Conan blinked. "Eh? Aren't you too old to play hide and seek?" he asked, even if he was curiously looking at the way he was unbuttoning his shirt.

"I want to surprise a few friends," he explained. "That's why I'm hiding here until the time is right."

"Oh," he nodded, then gave him a bright smile with his eyes closed. "I see... That sounds fun!"

There was a loud sound, similar to that of crackers going off, and felt something splattering on his face, causing him to open his eyes, feeling confused. Then, they widened in horror when he saw the man from before, slumped against the wall.

With a hole on the middle of his forehead, blood everywhere, including his own face ─ if the red spots on his glasses were something to go by.

Dimly, he noticed that the door had opened, yet he just stood there, quietly. Luckily for him, there were no mirrors in the elevator, making the place where he currently was at a blind spot for whoever had shot that man.

He didn't move. Going for a peek was a dumb ─ practically suicidal ─ option.

So, he just waited for the doors to close again. Once they did, he inched closer to them.

"Hey," he could hear a woman talking. "The party just started."

"Right on time at 8:30 PM," there was a male voice. "But before the party, here's a present."

For a moment, Conan did not understand why they were acting so casually. He even glanced at the floor number and, indeed, they were still in the same floor.

Probably the killer, whoever they are, is creating an alibi.

"Ah! What is it?"

"It's like the piercings you're wearing right now. A pink pearl necklace."

Pink? his eyes sharpened at that.

"Thank you!"

"This is nothing," then, his warm, tender voice shifted to a cold, murderous tone. Conan even had the chills when he heard. "Today I ensured that memorable day for you."

It was a wonder how that woman hadn't suspected anything at that point.

As things were now, however, Conan stayed there, alone with the dead body in such a small elevator, feeling the scent of blood beginning to impregnate the air and fill his nostrils, to the point of actually making him feel nauseated. Even so, he did not leave. He waited for a few minutes after he heard the footsteps heading away.

Only then, he called the police.

Upon leaving the elevator, he came face to face with two other ladies and a man, who gasped at the sight of the red liquid splattered on his face, then screamed loudly when they saw the corpse behind him.

This will be hard to explain.

Chapter Text

Inspector Megure arrived at the scene of the crime not long thereafter.

It wasn't long until the victim was identified as Tatsumi Taiji, president of a game company. Apparently, it was a child the one who had called, claiming that he had been with Tatsumi right until he was shot in the head, and avoided being seen by the killer just by chance.

"So, you're saying that there was a little boy with the body when you arrived," Megure questioned three employees of the company the victim was president of. They all nodded. "Where is he?"

"He was right here a moment ago..." the man said. "But disappeared as soon as we got our eyes off him."

"That poor little thing," one of the women commented to the other. "He must be pretty scared right now."

Takagi, however, just gave Megure an odd look. "Hey..." his lip twitched upwards. "... You don't think that poor little thing is that poor little thing, do you...?"

"I wouldn't be surprised if it was actually him," Megure sighed, tiredly. "I wonder if Mouri-kun is around as well."

He hoped not.

Tiredly shaking his head the inspector leaned closer to the body, in order to have a better look. "With such rumpled clothes," he observed. "It looks like the culprit's objective was money... Wait a second, wasn't there a similar case a long time ago?"

"Eh?" Takagi blinked, cluelessly.

"I was a new officer back then... A strange young man jumped in, and said..."

"Sorry, but I don't believe this was a crime for money."

"Right, right, right! Just like that... Huh?!"

Both men stared, stunned, at the young man that was crouching right in front of the body. "If the culprit wanted money and had a gun on him, he would move his target to an area without many people," he explained. "And even if he was seeking money, he wouldn't undo the button on his shirt. Don't you agree..." he then turned around, taking his hat off so they could see his face. "... Inspector Megure?"

"K-Kudo-kun?!"

He was instantly hushed by the teenager, pleading him not to use his name so loudly. While it confused him, the inspector could do nothing but to comply.

"But why are you here?" Takagi asked him, confusedly.

Shinichi opened his mouth to speak.

Yet somebody else beat him to.

"After years and years of a painfully obvious yet unresolved romantic tension, Shinichi-niichan has finally asked Ran-neechan out," they turned around at the young voice behind them. "But as his luck would have it, their date got ruined due to this bloody murder."

Standing right in front of their eyes was none other than Conan, with a plain ─ almost annoyed ─ expression on his face. Dried blood covered his face and dirtied his glasses, yet the boy seemed to be unbothered by it.

Takagi was surprised to actually seeing him there, causing him to blink a bit, while Megure remained unamused. Your luck is rotten as well, Conan-kun, he thought, sighing loudly.

Shinichi, on the other hand, stared for a couple of minutes. "Conan?!" then gasped, far too shocked to actually be embarrassed by what he had just said. The kid shrugged at his reaction, unaffected by it, causing Shinichi to rush to him and pick him up by his armpits. "Just a moment, Inspector Megure!"

With that, he went right around the corner before placing him on the floor.

"What are you doing here?"

"You mean what am I doing at your dating place or at the murder scene, in general?"

"Both!" then he saw the teasing smirk on Conan's face and realized he really didn't want to know. "... I mean, why are you in the murder scene?"

His smirk vanished and his expression was replaced by a blank one, as he raised an eyebrow. He pointed at his face. "Pretty self explanatory, isn't it?"

"Did the killer see you?" asked Shinichi, eyes narrowing a bit.

"I don't think so. I wouldn't be here if he did," the child shrugged. "I didn't want to risk being seen, so I didn't move. Which means I wasn't able to see him either."

Shinichi sighed in relief. "I'm glad you didn't," he confessed. He wouldn't put behind the little boy to risk his integrity so he could get any other clue, but it seemed that he still had some sense of self-preservation. "So, did you notice anything else?"

"Nothing, besides the fact that the hallway was completely dark by the time I entered," Conan shook his head. "But I heard a couple talking," he told him, frowning slightly. "He gave her a gift. 'A pink pearl necklace,' he said."

By the way Shinichi's eyes narrowed, slightly, the little boy could tell his brother had also understood what was wrong with that sentence.

Before they could exchange any other word, a woman came running. "Daddy! Daddy!" she screamed, before she was stopped by Megure and Takagi from messing with the crime scene. Then, she began to cry, hysterically.

"I guess we now know who 'Miss Pink Pearl' is," Conan said to his brother.

The teenager nodded, before heading back to the scene, the little child in tow. At this point, Inspector Megure was questioning the employees that had seen the man right before he entered to the elevator. It turned out that his daughter, Tatsumi Sakurako, had came and stayed behind with Ooba Satoru.

"We discussed some plans, then went back to the party deck," he said.

"Not quite," everyone looked at Conan, who just stared back at Ooba with an innocent look. "I heard you talking actually. It sounded like you were giving her a gift of some sort."

He then turned to the woman.

"It was around 8:30, right?" he asked.

"That's right," she nodded, teary eyed. "The crackers went off and the watch pointers indicated it! I'm not mistaken!"

Shinichi's eyes shifted away from the child to the woman, instantly, when she said that. Takagi even questioned how she knew that, even without a clock, and she said that she had seen Ooba's watch when he had touched her earpiece.

Apparently, the watch pointers glowed on the dark.

"But this is weird," Shinichi pointed out, reaching to touch her earings. "If you touch the pierce using the hand your watch is on, the pointers aren't visible."

"They are if you touch the other ear," Ooba said, moving Shinichi's left hand so he was touching her right ear.

"Oh," he nodded. It was evident he would be go for that ear, since the other one was hidden by her hair. "But what about your right hand? Wouldn't it be easier to use?" he then smirked. "Of course, if something was holding down your right hand, I can understand."

Terror crossed Ooba's face. "So what?!" he shouted once he had more or less recovered. "You're saying I held a gun in my right hand?!"

"Gun? I never said anything about a gun," Shinichi blinked, playing the role of a confused boy. "Were you holding one?"

"Inspector! Who is this guy?!"

"Oh, he is-" Megure stammered.

"Despite my dress, I'm a new recruit!" he turned to the inspector. "Right, Inspector?"

Megure let out a dry laugh in response.

"Say, wouldn't it weird if he didn't have one?" Conan pipped in, with an innocent tone on his voice, earning a few questioning looks.

Nobody but Shinichi noticed the way Conan's lips curved into a knowing smile, prompting the murderer to pale considerably.

"Because Tatsumi-san died at 8:30 PM," he stated. "I heard you saying that, Ooba-san. Right after the doors closed."

Shocked silence followed that statement.

"That's impossible!" Sakurako exclaimed, desperate. "I was with him the entire time!"

"You didn't stop off anywhere?" Shinichi questioned.

"I only went to the washroom to put on the necklace he gave me. I fixed my lipstick too, it took about two to three minutes. But he was against the wall the entire time. He was still there!"

As he listened to the woman's statements, Conan couldn't help but frown a bit. He had been right, this man right there had tried to use her as an alibi.

"Are you sure about that, Conan-kun?" he glanced at Takagi, who was kneeling down right next to him. "Maybe you remember something wrong..."

"I don't," he argued, with such a serious expression on his small face that the detective actually flinched back. "I'm absolutely sure of what I saw and heard!"

"But what you are saying is impossible," he tried to reason while smiling awkwardly at him. "Sakurako-san already said that she had been the entire time with him..."

"He still did it."

"Maybe you heard wrong and he was killed as the elevator was going down..."

Conan shook his head. "The elevator wasn't moving," he explained. "Tatsumi-san said he was hiding and that he wanted to surprise some people."

Ooba's chuckle fell on his ears, prompting him to turn around to face him. At the sight of the broad smug grin Conan had to repress the urge to wipe it off his face by kicking something right at his nose.

"Do you really think that brat's testimony is actually reliable?" as things were, however, the little boy settled with a killer glare. "I bet this kid is doing all of this just for attention."

The child growled softly, fists clenching a bit, taking a step forward. A hand on top of his had stopped him short. "Conan's testimony is more than reliable, believe me," his brother spoke up. "Besides, it's our job to decide which testimony is valid and which is not."

Rendered at a loss of words, Ooba simply gritted his teeth, glaring daggers at the high school detective. The attention was soon drawn off him when a police officer came to tell them they had found a silenced handgun and a bullet shell at the garbage collection area.

Even so, Conan found himself staring up at Shinichi, whose hand hadn't yet left his hair. He thought he should feel glad that his older brother was there. That he believed in him, even when adults seemed to wave off his words just because he was a young. He should feel happy that somebody trusted him. Then why...? he frowned slightly.

Why does it hurt so much?

Eventually Shinichi noticed his younger brother's gaze and looked back at him, blinking confusedly for a few seconds, before giving him a grin.

Conan didn't find in himself the strength to return it.

His brother's smile faltered when he saw the youngest looking away. Hadn't he known any better, he would've said that Conan appeared to be... sad.


Shinichi had managed to get two facts out from Sakurako. For one, she had been kissing Ooba with her back towards the elevator. Also, she had bought the pierces she was wearing right before meeting her lover.

The three people that had found the body after Conan told him about the new mascot character that had been introduced at the party. Apparently, Ooba had been disguised as this mascot and was winking all the time.

That was why they currently stood there, in front of the suit the main murder suspect had wore a few hours ago.

"So, this is it," Megure commented.

"What an... original design," Takagi added.

"Isn't it cute?" the employee asked, a smile plastered on her face.

"It's ugly," everyone winced a bit at the honest answer that Conan gave, yet he didn't even bat an eye.

Instead, he stuck his hand inside the mouth. Both Megure and Takagi panicked for a bit, until they noticed it blinking. Just like it had done with Ooba before.

And Shinichi smirked. The puzzle had been put together inside his mind.

Yet the smile vanished when they were leaving the room.

It all started with a lot of sweating and some sort of dizziness, that caused him to stumble slightly to a side and to lean slightly against the wall. No, not this again...

As expected, he suddenly felt like something was squeezing his heart, so painfully that caused him to actually groan in discomfort. Please, not here, his breathing was becoming more ragged, even as he noticed Conan slowly turning around his way.

At least, not in front of him.

"Hey, you alright?"

"Kudo-kun?"

He paid no attention at the concern both Takagi and Megure were showing towards him. The only thing he could focus at the moment was the gradually widening blue eyes staring up to him.

Then it came. The frown. The knowing look that concerned Shinichi the most.

So he did his best to compose himself, even if the burning sensation on his chest didn't disappear.

Through his suffering, Shinichi barely noticed another officer running up the inspector to inform him that there hadn't been a trace of gunpowder found on Ooba's clothes.

"Look for any suspicious characters that left this building during the party."

"... No, there's no need for that," the teen managed. "The culprit is already within our grasp. Now then, let's enter..." despite the pain, he let out a confident smirk. "The stage where the truth will be revealed."

It wasn't long until Ooba was brought back, loudly complaining as Takagi pushed him, kindly, towards the murder scene. Sakurako did the same, claiming that there was absolutely no way her lover was involved since she had been with him the entire time.

"So, what?!" Megure backed away, startled by her outburst. "You think I'm lying?!"

"No, we're not questioning you," Shinichi told her. "I believe you were with Ooba-san the entire time... Including when he committed the crime, right next to you."

Of course the woman didn't take it well, screaming at him for even thinking that he would team with somebody else to kill her own father, until the detective pointed out that wasn't the case, since she had been none the wiser about the crime being committed in the first place.

Since her eyes had been closed and she had been facing the elevator while kissing the criminal. Then, Ooba had opened the elevator door and shot her father.

"You say the most interesting things," even then, Ooba was still calm. "But there's one large hole in your theory. Why did our president, who wasn't feeling well, stay inside the elevator after it went down?"

"Weren't you listening when I was talking?" Conan commented, ignoring the way the criminal looked down at him with arrogance. "It just stayed there. Tatsumi-san said he wanted to surprise everyone."

"If it was a surprise, I had no way of possibly knowing that," he scoffed, shaking his head. "Better luck next time, kid."

"No, you definitely knew he was going to stay," Shinichi pointed out. "He was waiting for you to wear that suit," then he looked at the disguise from before, that the officers had brought to the scene. "You probably told your president 'Pretend you went home and we can secretly switch here. Everyone at the party will be surprised!'"

He then proceeded to explain, as he put on his gloves, the reason he had been winking in the disguise and went to the suit and pulled out a bag from inside one of the eyes. There were four rubber bands and a glove, that he had used to easily retrieve the evidence.

The lights then dimmed, similarly as how the scene had been when Conan had first arrived. Nobody would see him with the gun that way.

"When Ooba-san blocked her ears and touched the earpiece, his left hand was likely uncovered," he concluded. "In other words, your fingerprints must be all over this plastic bag-"

His voice died down, abruptly, as he held a hand against his chest, causing Conan to whisper to him a worried "Are you okay?" Yet, he didn't get a reply besides his labored breathing.

Not realizing or caring about the condition of the detective, Ooba informed him that the fingerprints of many employees were there as well, since they had found the bag already and decided to leave it there, since they had believed the president had a reason behind it.

"Here's my deduction," Ooba smirked. "Someone with a grudge against me murdered our own president on the floor below, while she and I went to the washroom. They hid the bag in the suit to try and frame me," he gave Conan a brief glance, prompting the child to bristle with fury. "That little kid overheard our conversation, found the president's body when he tried to call the elevator then made up this entire story so he could play detective and avoid getting kicked out. It sure sounds better than your nonsense 'Murder during a kiss' theory.

Shinichi only breathed harder, as Ooba's smug grin widened.

"Now then, new recruit. What now? You don't seem energetic anymore. Run out of arguments? Doesn't matter. I have one hundred answers ready for all one hundred of your stupid questions!"

Gritting his teeth, the teenager struggled to speak. Before he said a word, however, a voice beside him beat him to it.

"Then, question number one hundred and one," Conan spoke up, a sweet smile on his face as he held his hands behind his back. "Sir, are you a magician?"

"... Eh?" he truly didn't expect that.

"That's because..." his smile turned into a smirk. "How did you know that her pearls were pink? You said that at the time, right?"

"Are you stupid?" he turned around to face the woman. "Something like that, you can see if you..."

When he saw her, Ooba understood where he had messed up. Even in darkness he could make out Sakurako's figure, staring at him with questioning eyes, wearing the pearl necklace he had given her a while ago, that matched with the piercings on her ears.

But they were nothing but a pair of blackened orbs. Colourless.

"That's right," Shinichi managed, standing right in front of the elevator door. "Until you kissed her..." he pushed the button behind him with one hand, while the other remained in place, clutching his chest. "... and opened the door of light!"

Light shone down on them as the door opened, letting everyone see Sakurako's beautiful pink pearls, along with her distressed face as she came to realize who she had been so passionately in love with.

Just as he confessed to the crime, the lights went back up.

Apparently, he had tried to take revenge because the president had tricked his father and forced him to commit suicide twenty years ago. As it turned out, his father had tried to make it look like the president had done it, but a young man had appeared and solved the case.

Huh, so that must be the case that Dad solved before proposing to Mom, Conan realized. Then, twenty years later, Onii-chan defeats this man's son... I hope Ooba-san doesn't have a younger sibling or something...

"But..." Sakurako whispered, still in shock. "It can't be..."

Conan's eyes fell on that woman. Her eyes were watering, yet didn't leave the man's form, even when she was slowly walking backwards. He could even see the betrayal she felt on her eyes, at the realization of that the man she loved, that she thought she knew like the palm of her hand, that she firmly believed in and trusted like none other, was a cold blooded murderer.

His tiny fists clenched, slightly. Or maybe, I'm just projecting my own feelings.

Sighing loudly, the child glanced towards the spot where his brother was supposed to be, yet there was nobody in there. So, with a frown deeply carved on his young face, he quietly slipped away from the scene.

He found him right away, breathing heavily as he leaned against the sink of the restroom, but decided not to say anything. It wasn't until a few moments that his brother recovered a bit and looked up.

Conan's reflection stared back at Shinichi through the mirror. His gaze pierced through him, as if he could see every single, dark secret he was hiding inside his heart.

Shinichi decided he didn't like his brother's eyes. Those eyes, far too wise, far too knowing. As if he could see right through his elaborate, and not so elaborate, lies.

Then the child threw something at him, which the detective caught with ease. He looked at it and couldn't help but frown at the small vial filled with pills resting on the top of his hand.

"Conan," he managed, slowly sitting on the cold floor.

The little boy wanted to ask him if he was okay, yet he couldn't. Probably because he knew he wasn't okay at all. So, he just stood there, busy with his own thoughts, as his brother opened the vial and shadowed one of the pills.

"Even if it is painful and incredibly sad, there is one and only truth," the words that his brother would tell him time and time again when he was even younger rang on his ears. "And it must always shine through."

Shinichi began to feel better right away yet it didn't bring him any real relief, just a general feeling of dread at the realization of what it implied. That Conan had seen him like that and knew these pills were just what he had needed.

So he stared at the vial on his hand for the longest time, before facing his younger brother again.

He really didn't like the sad glint on those eyes that simply knew too much for his comfort.

"Just tell me, Conan," Shinichi sighed, tiredly. "Just... What do you know?"

Those flowers that Haibara had brought him all those days ago suddenly popped into the child's mind.

"Everything," was all he said.

Shinichi just gazed at him, his serious expression unwavering as ever. It was like he had known that Conan was aware of everything, or at least it didn't surprise him.

"Apotoxin-4869," Conan's voice filled the silence that had settled between the two brothers. "The Black Organization wanted you dead, so they forced you to take it. You survived, but it's only a matter of time until you..."

The child trailed off before finishing his sentence, staring at the floor as if the tiles had suddenly become more interesting than his brother's face.

"Did Sherry tell you that?"

"Haibara Ai-san," Conan corrected, his frown deepening as he spoke. "She only told me about the drug. I've known a bit of the Organization for a while now."

"Akemi-san, then, huh?"

Conan shook his head, not telling his brother how uncomfortable he felt at the thought that somehow Shinichi knew about Hirota Masami's true identity. "I already knew a bit of it before that.."

"I see..."

They fell into another uncomfortable silence right after that, which Shinichi didn't dare to break, more occupied with trying to read what was currently going through his younger brother's mind who, in turn, just kept his eyes trained in the ground. He seemed to be conflicted about something.

The bouquet of white flowers appeared in the youngest Kudo's mind again.

Conan took a deep breath.

Edelweiss.

Then gazed into his brother's blue orbs.

They mean courage.

He opened his mouth.

... The courage needed to do what's right.

"You're Singani, aren't you?"

Deep inside, Conan hoped that his brother would just laugh at him. To tell him that that was an incredibly crazy and equally wrong theory. To laugh at him for being so silly to actually believe that he would be involved with such a dangerous criminal syndicate. To remind him that he was still his loving brother. His one and only Onii-chan.

Yet, Shinichi never denied his claim.

He just stared at him, shocked for a moment, until those words dawned on him. The high school detective didn't even try to say anything, just closed his eyes and faintly sighed.

Resigned.

Conan waited and waited for him to say something, anything, but it didn't happen. So his eyes opened widely, body shaking because of the realization of what his silence meant.

"T-Then, did you...?"

Shinichi's eyes narrowed slightly upon the memory of the article he had read on Conan's phone earlier that day. If he had somehow suspected that case was something fishy, it made sense to see him that distressed.

So, he let out an humorless laugh.

"My job in the Organization was to cover up for those that had messed up," he spoke, calmly. "I would go to those crime scenes the Organization was linked to and, while pretending to solve the case, I would identify those witnesses that were a potential threat to us..." he icy cold eyes met with terrified ones. "... and I would make them disappear."

The little boy's breath froze on his lungs, not letting his gaze break away from his older brother. No, this can't be true, he took a step back. Why...?

Suddenly, he couldn't see his beloved sibling, Shinichi, who he knew and cherished with all his heart... but a stranger. That thought, above else, hurt. It hurt more than any amount bullets on the stomach would.

Conan shifted a bit, causing his eyes to be hidden by the light reflecting on his thick glasses.

Shinichi didn't say anything. Patiently, he waited for the child to say something.

"... Leave," his voice was soft, so soft that Shinichi wouldn't have heard if the room hadn't been as quiet as it had. "... Please, just leave..." he broke right in the middle.

Wordlessly, Shinichi stood up. From that angle, he now could see Conan's eyes staring blankly at the spot in front of him, before shifting to him. His dulled, empty blue gaze met his, and for a moment Shinichi didn't think he could handle it.

But he had to.

"Just leave!" finally, some expression took hold of younger brother's gaze. Anger glimmered through the tears that were slowly collecting on the little boy's eyes. "Isn't... Isn't that what you are best at?"

Solemnly nodding at him, his brother walked right past him and towards the door, while Conan just stood there, unsure of what to do, or what to feel.

A part of him wanted his brother to disappear from his sight as soon as possible.

Another, however, wanted him to stay. Screamed at Conan to stop this madness, to ask him to stay. To forgive him, even if his actions were far from forgivable.

Shinichi stopped at the doorway.

And the kid just stood there, feeling confused and incredibly sad at the same moment.

"Well then," Conan took a hesitant step ahead at the sight of Shinichi's bittersweet smile. "... Goodbye, Conan."

And the door closed behind the detective.

An indeterminate amount of time passed ─ seconds, minutes, hours, Conan couldn't tell anymore ─ yet the small detective did not react. Just stared at the closed door, feeling as his heart ached and screamed at him for acting that immaturely. He had just hurt Shinichi.

But, to be fair, Shinichi had hurt him as well.

Or, maybe, Conan had just hurt himself, in a way.

He didn't even know anymore.

The only thing he could do at the moment was to, ever so slowly, start to walk towards the place his brother had just stood at, then sit with his back resting against the wooden door.

Burying his face on his arms, he began to cry.

Little did he know, however, that on the other side, Shinichi leaned against the door, sliding until he all but collapsed on the floor.

And for hours to an end, he didn't do anything. Just listened to the quiet, heart wrenching sobs filling the silence.