Case Closed Fan Fiction ❯ A World Of Strangers ( Chapter 45 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Chapter Forty-Five
A World Of Strangers
“Don’t cry, Ayumi-chan,” Mitsuhiko said consolingly. “He’s not hurt or anything…”
“I know,” Ayumi sniffled. “But… He didn’t know any of us!”
“Of course he didn’t, he’s got amnesia,” Genta grumbled. “Still, Ran-neechan got better after a couple of weeks, right? So he’ll been fine soon enough.”
“I know…” Ayumi sniffled. “But…”
“We’ll just look after him until then,” Ai said, hugging her friend around the shoulders. “I’m sure he’ll be back to normal in no time. I have faith in Edogawa-kun.”
“Yeah,” Ayumi sniffled, managing to smile. “Me too. He’s strong! He’ll be alright, I’m sure!”
“Uh… yeah,” Mitsuhiko agreed, visibly jealous but also not wanting to contradict Ayumi. “We’re going this way… see you tomorrow, Haibara-san!”
“Bye, Ai-chan!” Ayumi sniffed, hugging Ai before following the boys away.
“See you,” Ai called after them, before making her solitary way back to Agasa-Hakase’s.
She shivered, though it was nothing to do with the cold. The past few days, she’d walked home alone and only just realized that she hadn’t before. Kudo had always walked her to Agasa’s and then continued on the Mori Detective Agency. She felt frightened, even though she only walked alone for five minutes, unprotected, exposed. Still, without Kudo with her, she felt completely unprotected, like Gin or Vermouth would swoop out of the shadows any second.
I had no idea how safe he made,” she thought with a gentle smile. “How much he was protecting me… Now… Now he’s…
She remembered the complete blankness in his expression as they had reintroduced themselves, his complete lack of recognition. His memory was well and truly gone. He had seemed a little frightened and overwhelmed by the number of people introducing themselves…
… But it was just a little fear, just a bit of incomprehension. There was no anger, no true fear, none of the deep sadness that had always been there, even when he was putting on his “kiddy” act in full force. The pain, the longing… had it been wiped from his mind with the memories? Was he freed?
Hell of a choice, isn’t it?” she thought. “To bring back his memories- to bring back Kudo Shinichi- also means the return of the pain and fear, the danger from the Organization… Leave him as is, let him be Edogawa Conan, and all of that will disappear. He’ll be happy… be free…
She shook herself. No, even if it was to protect him, Kudo wouldn’t want to be stuck as Edogawa Conan forever. Didn’t she owe it to him to help him find the greatest truth… who he was?
Right now…i’m scared, but… I promised I’d be brave. I wouldn’t run away. Kudo-kun’s always protected me, so maybe… I owe it to him to protect him… no matter what that entails.
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“I’ll drop you off, Kobayashi-san…”
“It’s kinda cute that he has a crush on the kids’ teacher,” Sato commented happily, watching Shiratori open his car for the young lady.
“Y-yeah,” Wataru agreed, inwardly just relieved that Shiratori would stop making life difficult for him. “Without him in the way, maybe I can build up the courage to tell Sato-san…” “It’s terrible about Conan-kun, though. He really didn’t recognize anybody. He seemed a little frightened…”
“What could do that to him?” Sato burst out, angrily slamming her car door closed as she sat down in the driver’s seat and gestured to Wataru to sit in the passenger’s seat. “That’s the bravest, smartest kid I’ve ever seen! That anybody’s ever seen!”
“Tell me about it,” Wataru sighed, clicking on his seatbelt. “I keep thinking about the bomber case…” he trailed off, suddenly remembering that the case held nothing but painful memories for her.
There was an uncomfortable silence which seemed to Wataru to go on for hours. Then she nodded tersely and said, “You and Conan-kun… were trapped in a lift with a bomb, weren’t you? Didn’t the bomb disposal team help Conan-kun to defuse the bomb halfway through the clue, though?”
“S-sorta…” Wataru said nervously. “They helped him defuse the bomb, I think… But sometimes, it seemed like he wasn’t really listening to them, like he was fine on his own. He recognized the type of bomb on his own and everything. But where would he learn stuff like that?”
“He’s definitely not your normal child, that’s for sure,” Sato said. “He knows so many things that no little kid knows… and he’s so sharp, as well. I get the feeling that he’s a better detective than Mori-san. Besides, when the situation’s serious, he seems more like a little adult than a kid… like when he’s being a little kid, it’s just acting.” Something popped up in Wataru’s mind, a strange moment driven out of his mind by subsequent shock and fear and desperation and an almost-kiss…
“In the elevator,” he said slowly, staring out of the window at the twilight of Tokyo, “It was him that decided not to disassemble the bomb… he wanted to wait for the clue because he’d worked out that it was high schools and that, somewhere in one of those schools, there might be “the someone that I want to protect most in this world”…”
“What?” Sato said in surprise. “Who did he mean? Did he mean Ran-chan? After all, I think it was her school in the end, and he does seem pretty attached to her…”
“M-maybe,” Wataru agreed, thinking of how Conan had insisted on returning to the bomb-ridden music hall where Mori Ran was… “But it’s such a mature statement for such a little kid. It doesn’t make it sound like just a kid’s attachment to his neechan… whether it was Ran-kun or someone else, he was willing to die for her.”
“True…” Sato said with a frown.
“And more than that…”Wataru swallowed heavily. “Before I’d realized what I was saying, I’d asked him… “Who are you?” and do you know what he said?” Sato glanced over at him curiously. “He said, “If you really want to know, I’ll tell you… In the Afterlife.”…”
They both fell silent as Wataru trailed off. Finally, Sato spoke.
“Okay, one, that is just not a kid’s statement, no matter how creepily mature they are,” She said. “Two… you realize that he was implying that who he is… isn’t Edogawa Conan.”
“Yeah,” Wataru said. “I wondered about that… but what does it mean? It means he’s got a past, for one thing. But we met his mother today, she seemed normal…”
“Unless she wasn’t his mother,” Sato said. “If he’s got a past to hide, if he’s changed his name or whatever… he would still have needed new papers to get a place in school and such, right? So at least one other person would have to be in on it. Or maybe an organization… like the FBI witness protection program.”
“You think he’s on that?” Wataru said in surprise. “Actually… that would explain a lot. But would that have something to do with the kidnapping? I heard that the Kaitou Kid was the prime suspect for that one, which is kinda weird since he’s non-violent…”
“Actually, I heard differently from an officer in the special unit,” Sato said.
Wataru sighed. “Oh yeah… Shiratori may be leaving the picture, but there’s still every straight male in the entire Tokyo Met to contend with…
“Did you hear that someone broke into the museum and shot at Kid on the heist?” Sato continued. Wataru nodded. “Well, it’s not a one-off. He’s been shot at on heists before… all the way back to before he disappeared ten years ago. And they think it’s the same people, who’ve never been caught or even traced. There’s a suspicion that Conan-kun may have been kidnapped by then… if he was caught in a crossfire between them and the Kid…”
“I never heard about that,” Wataru said in surprise. “So… these people who are trying to kill the Kaitou Kid and might have kidnapped Conan-kun… are you saying that they’re connected to Conan-kun’s past?”
“I don’t know,” Sato said sternly, “but as long as nobody even knows what his past is… he’s in danger.”
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Yukiko struggled to control herself as she touched up her mask in the Mori’s bathroom mirror. Edogawa Fumiyo had been pressured into sleeping over at the Mori’s tonight, on a futon in Ran’s room; she would have to get up before Ran to fix her mask, and wondered if she should even dare sleep in it at all. She didn’t think she’d be able to sleep, anyway. When Shinichi had turned up, so blank and confused… what hadn’t hurt was that he hadn’t recognized him (she was in disguise), but the knowledge that even if she took the mask off, he still wouldn’t recognize her. It broke her heart all over again, like the day they’d come home to an empty and dusty house.
Damn them,” she thought, hands fisting on the sink. “First they shrink him, then they take his memories… how much more will they take? How long will they keep killing him by instalments? Why…” she wiped her eyes as more tears surfaced, then glanced in the mirror to ensure that her mask wasn’t smudged. “Why does he have to go through this? Shin-chan…” her thoughts were interrupted by a gentle knocking on the bathroom door.
“Fumiyo-san? Are you all right?” Ran’s voice came. “You’ve been in there a while…”
“Gomen, Ran-san,” she said in Edogawa Fumiyo’s voice, which was modelled, like the face, on an old high-school teacher of hers of whom she had been fond. She opened the door, grateful at least that she didn’t have to hide her tears. “I’m just…” she dabbed carefully at her eyes with a handkerchief. “It’s so terrible… I’m so happy that he’s alive and safe, but he just doesn’t know anyone… it’s like he’s still so far away…”
“I know,” Ran said softly. Her voice was steady, but Yukiko knew Ran as well as Shinichi. She knew the girl was trying not to cry. “Oh, Ran-chan… you’ve lost Shinichi, and I’m sorry but he’s not calling any time soon… and now you don’t have Conan either… I’m so sorry…
On an impulse, she reached out and hugged Ran, making the girl squeak in surprise- while the move was characteristic of Kudo Yukiko, it was a little surprising in Edogawa Fumiyo. “F-Fumiyo-san?”
“Gomen, Ran-san,” she said again. “Just… arigato Gozaimasu for taking care of Conan-chan all this time. You’ve been a much better mother to him than I have…” she sniffed, her troubles now being poured out to Ran as well in slightly edited form. “I just feel so guilty about leaving him behind. We never meant to leave him for long, you know… we were going to get these new jobs and finally have our own house and have a wonderful new life for him but he… he’s so much happier here in Japan. And now I just don’t know what to do, because Soichiro and I are doing so well in America, but it means we can’t be with him… and with the recession and all, if we tried to come back we’d just be pulling him into poverty… I just want what’s best for him, Ran-san. It just breaks my heart to know that it means being with you rather than me…” “Still got it, able to make a story like that up on the fly…
“Oh, Fumiyo-san,” Ran said tearfully. “You’re not a bad mother. I’m sure Conan-kun understands. If he doesn’t now, when he’s a little older… he’ll forgive you, I’m sure. I’m happy to take care of him. He’s been so much of a support…” Ran trailed off, and Yukiko’s eyes welled up again at her words.
Kaa-san… no matter what you wanted, in the end you put my choices and what I wanted first... I don’t resent you or anything, all right?
“Arigato, Ran-san,” she sniffled quietly, walking away to compose herself before she went to say goodnight to “Conan”.
Shin-chan… please, please remember her… Maybe I don’t deserve you back, but… she doesn’t deserve any more pain. Please, please stop hurting her… please...”
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Ginzo shook the bottle a couple of times before decanting a little onto a cloth. He knew most of the local museum and art gallery owners pretty well by now, and one of them had given him a bottle of this stuff, which apparently shifted dirt pretty well while having no effect whatsoever on paint. He took a gamble and started to clean one side of the painting. He wiped the ash away, smiling sadly as his best friend smiled back up at him. He took care to clean every hint of ash from the always immaculate white suit and hat, the snowy doves, all the time dreading what would happen when he cleaned the other side. Was it because he feared that he’d be wrong, and then feel terrible for suspecting Toichi… or that he’d be right?
Eventually, however, there was simply no more ash or grime left. The painting was sparkling. He stuck his head out of his bedroom door, but Aoko’s door was closed and there was no light from under it- she must already be asleep. Until he knew what was going on… she worried about that idiot Kaito enough as it was without this. Then he closed the door, turned over the painting and set to work. As he worked from the top, first a crescent moon became visible, then a flying cape, then a top hat…
He expected to feel at least a little shocked or angry or something, but all he felt was saddened. So it was true. His closest friend had lied to him- at the cost of his life. And now, his son was doing the same thing to Ginzo’s daughter. “History repeating itself.” He watched the painting slowly unveil itself from under the cloth. So there it was- Kuroba Toichi, the Kaitou Kid, and Kuroba Kaito almost certainly the new one. Case Closed. Right?
Ginzo was committed to the law, but even stronger was his sense of justice. He knew Toichi and Kaito, knew that there was something bigger behind this. Some bigger crime that had claimed Toichi’s life, and nearly Minami and Kaito’s. He couldn’t let that crime go unsolved, even if he wasn’t allowed to investigate it. And dammit, why not? Why wouldn’t his superiors want this investigated? Why would they get in the way if it meant the crime going unsolved? Why? Why would they want these mysterious snipers and whoever was behind them to go free, unless…
Ginzo had been a devoted police officer for over twenty years, and the idea was repellent to him, but once it was in his mind it wouldn’t leave. His superiors wouldn’t hide criminals… unless they had something to hide. And if that was the case…
Dammit,” he thought, flipping the painting back over so that it was Kuroba Toichi smiling comfortingly at him rather than the predatory smirk of the Kid. “How can I get any arrests in if the people I’m arresting have friends in high places? If the people I have to arrest are my superiors? All that would get me… is an “accident” like Toichi-kun’s. Dammit, I just wish he’d told me… then maybe I could have protected him… and Kaito-kun and Aoko…” he looked down at the painting. “Well… you’re beyond complaints. Hell knows where Kaito-kun is now, but I’m betting it’s not travelling with any other magicians… Minami-kun’s beyond questions, too… who could I tell? Who could I ask?
“If you want to talk about what to do about it, I’m sure you know where to find me. Until then… to blatantly plagiarize my son, Shinjitsu Wa Itsumo Hitotsu, Ginzo-kun. You’ll have to face it sooner or later, so it’s best to do it sooner… before you’re too late.”
Kudo-kun,” he thought. “How much… do you know?” he sighed in exasperation. Unfortunately, the writer and his wife had apparently already returned to America, and his quick mental calculation of the time difference meant that it was still very early in the morning in LA.
Dammit, I don’t know if I can take this case alone,” he thought, pressing his face into his hands, “But I will if I have to…
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Poor you, FHP2208! I’d die without internet access XD Here’s your next chapter!
This is the beginning of me tying it all together, Mel72000… Vermouth is an enigmatic person, isn’t she? Her true motives might be beyond what you imagine…
The waitress wasn’t, it was Akako, Pretztailfan95! And she has her suspicions about li’l Conan, hence her confusion over a person who seems to confirm that he is in fact Edogawa Conan and not any disappearing Kokosei-tantei XD Patience, Pada… *shot* IT shall come! If they’re wondering, they probably figure that they can find out in due course…I just made it into sort of a joke that Ryuu was allergic to the sleeping gas rather than actually falling asleep. I thought, if we’re going for enough weird to break the fourth wall on an almost chapterly basis, why not make a fiery hell-creature as old as time allergic to sleeping gas? XD That may just be my sometimes warped personal sense of humour at work, though….
It’s all tied in with just how she wiped his memories, Marie Ravenclaw. Aoko’ll pop up more often in due course as well, but I still like Akako better 😉 Yep, I think all of the detectives in question are in for a confusing ride…
It was there, FaithlessGirl. It was just a really short moment- “Saguru stayed by the window for a moment, watching as Ran helped Conan out of the back seat of the car, only for his mother to dive on him with a sob. He looked frightened for a moment, until the woman pulled back, apparently explaining who she was.” See? Ahh, fickle time… XD
Heiji couldn’t keep himself from addressing Conan as Kudo before, TwilTye, never mind now XD yeah, Heiji and Kid’s sole meeting is in the third movie, nothing at all in the manga. I think it’s time he got involved!
I would agree with “interesting”, KageNoNeko, in the sense of the curse “May you live in interesting times”… XD
I was surprised by how many people I jammed into that Cafe myself, Kairi922… just goes to show how important Conan is to people, eh? You’ll probably only get reruns for now, since Doctor Who is the property of the BBC and all new episodes will be shown exclusively on there- it takes them a good two years to make it onto any other station. On the other hand, they should all be on the BBC iPlayer online. I know! It’s cruel! I WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO SHUU, DAMMIT! No, I can wait, it’s still not as evil as Russel T Davies…
Even Jodie doesn’t realize quite what she’s into, JapaneseAnimeFreak16….
I hope you’re enjoying your vacation, Topaz-tantei! Have you gone overseas? Must be nice- I’m going nowhere T_T
I do not claim to own any of the characters in Meitantei Conan. They are the intellectual property of Aoyama Gosho. All characters, couples and locations, if Canon, will be faithful to the manga, so if you’re into fics with weird pairings like Shinichi and Heiji, the back button is at the top there. The fic may not make sense if you have not read up to chapter 698, which you can do at a site called (read between the lines) O/n/e/ma/n/g/a, but I advise you to buy the official Tankoban novels (up to volume 29 are out in English at the time of writing) so that Aoyama-sensei can afford to continue gracing us with his imagination. Now, I hope you enjoy the fic! (If you don’t, please see my previous comments re the back button).