Case Closed Fan Fiction ❯ Perceptions ( Chapter 5 )

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

Chapter Five
Perceptions
“It’s going to take us a while to get over the shock, of course,” Charlotte was saying to Eri, “but… well, Arigato Gozaimasu.”
“I’m glad your name was cleared.” Eri glared back at Kogoro, who was going over case details with the unfortunately only marginally less smug Hakuba. “I guess he’s good for something.”
“Hey, kiddo.”
Shinichi glanced up to realize that Laura had appeared next to him, staring at him calculatingly. Then she smiled.
“I’d just like to thank the Meitantei who cleared my friend’s name,” she said lightly. Shinichi gulped.
“Um, Oji-san’s over there…” he said with a nervous laugh, waving his hand at Kogoro. Laura shook her head as she knelt down to his eye level.
“And?” she said. Shinichi stepped back slightly. She winked. “Arigato Gozaimasu. Watch out for stormclouds and shadows, Meitantei.” She stood up and walked away to chat to Charlotte. Shinichi shuddered nervously. “What the hell?
That witch thing?
Wicca, you moron.
“Wicca… western white magic, right?” he laughed nervously again. “No way.
“So, why were you here, Hakuba-kun?” Ran asked. “I thought you lived in England most of the time.”
“I live near here now,” Hakuba said. “I elected to move back in order to pursue a case which is very important to me.”
“Huh? A case?” Ran said in surprise. Shinichi wandered up beside her and narrowed his eyes. “What case?”
“What else?” Hakuba said, glancing down at Conan as he smiled. “The Kaitou Kid, of course.”
“Ran,” Eri called, “I need to ask you something…” she glared at Kogoro, who glared back, before both looked away with a snort. “Before I head back to the office.”
“So what’s in Haido?” Shinichi asked as Ran hurried away.
“Well, my house, for one,” Hakuba said, “but as a matter of fact I was on my way to a certain address when I heard the screaming.”
“Are you saying you have Kid’s address?” Shinichi said sarcastically, only to be surprised when Hakuba nodded.
“I know who he is,” he said quietly, “and although the evidence is almost purely circumstantial- no hard proof- It’s enough to know for a fact that I’m on the right track, unlike today. I was intending to go to his house to find some decisive proof.”
“Really…” Shinichi said with a sigh. “How were you going to get in?”
“Well, he is in my class,” Hakuba said, “so I suppose there’s always the old “what’s the homework” nugget.” He clapped Shinichi on the shoulder and strolled away, leaving Shinichi spluttering.
I think I could use some sleep, because I’m clearly hearing things,” he thinks as he glances up at the dark sky. They’d been there longer than he’d thought. Luckily, Ran had clearly finished her conversation with her mother, so she’d presumably be dragging him and the old man home soon.
“It’s fine, it’s fine,” she insisted, before taking Shinichi’s hand. “Ready to go home, Conan-kun?”
“Yeah,” Shinichi said with an exaggerated yawn. At nine o’ clock, he wasn’t actually tired, but he knew an eight-year-old would be. Ran took the act with a smile, before looking over her shoulder to yell at her father.
“Otou-san!” she called. “Time to go! Sayonara, Okaa-san!”
“Sayonara, oba-san!” Shinichi called. Eri waved and smiled, but as he turned his head away, he caught her staring at him with a calculating look. He fought back a wince.
What is it with women today?” he wondered feverently. “Do I have a flashing sign above my head or something?
However, they soon left Eri’s sight, and Shinichi settled once more into the friendly, childish chatter of Conan.
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“No way!” Sonoko said incredulously. “Are you serious? Those weird foreigners from the Karaoke box? Geez, that’s freaky…”
“Not as freaky as Okaa-san actually asking Otou-san to help out…” Ran said with a grin. Sonoko laughed.
“Seriously, though, I’m starting to think it’s not just your Otou-san,” Sonoko commented thoughtfully. “I mean, anywhere any of you go, someone gets murdered! I swear, being a Shinigami must be in the Mori blood or something…”
“Don’t joke about that!” Ran groaned. “It’s horrible. You would not believe how many things remind me of death by now. I mean, I can’t even play arcade games any more, or eat cake when it rains.”
“Just don’t go bringing death to Kid-sama when you’re in Osaka, all right?” Sonoko reprimanded. “Why are you even going, for that matter? I thought you weren’t interested in Kid.”
“Not really,” Ran said, “but Conan-kun is, and Otou-san got asked to come by Hattori-san and Nakamori-keibu, so I’d better go to make sure they don’t starve to death… plus, I might get to say hi to Yuusaku-ojisan and Yukiko-obasan at the Mystery novel convention…”
“Ah, it all comes clear now,” Sonoko said with a smirk. “Hoping to learn the whereabouts of your wandering husband?”
“Sonoko!” Ran yelled, knowing she was blushing. “For the millionth time, we’re not-
“Yeah, yeah, I get it,” Sonoko said, waving her hand dismissively. “You guys aren’t married.”
“Right.”
Yet.”
Sonoko!”
Ran stomped ahead as Sonoko doubled up laughing, feeling her cheeks heat up again. She wasn’t sure if she was angry about the teasing or embarrassed that Sonoko was right. The first thing she’d thought of, when Yukiko had written to her saying that they were coming to Japan for a while and that she was hoping to see them, was that, if Shinichi wasn’t with them, they might at least know where he was. That was why she had suggested going to the convention in Osaka even before Heiji had called with the news of Kid.
I can’t help it, though,” she sighed. “I’m worried…” she’d always been worried about Shinichi, but the worry had been that little bit more acute for the past few months, ever since the day that she, Sonoko and a few other friends had gone to Tropical land for a day together. Ran hated to admit it, even to herself, but she hadn’t gone to spend time with her friends. She’d gone because, by some quirky coincidence, they were going on the very day that Shinichi had disappeared, two years ago.
And you thought that meant something, didn’t you?” she reprimanded herself. “What did you think, he’d turn up on the Mystery Coaster? Come running out of that alleyway? Why do you even know the exact date that he vanished?
“Ran! Hold up! Hey, I’m sorry,” Sonoko said, panting as she caught up to Ran. “All right, no more jokes. Gomen. Gomen.”
“It’s all right,” Ran sighed.
“No, it’s not,” Sonoko said. “Because you are worried about him, aren’t you?” Ran couldn’t contain a tiny wince. Sonoko could be a little airheaded, but she wasn’t dim. “Gomen. You want to talk about it?”
“N-no, It’s all right,” Ran insisted. “I’m fine. Really.”
“He should call more often,” Sonoko insisted. “I mean, Makoto-san does that too. Vanishes for weeks, doesn’t even tell me when his tournaments are, and then when he finally does call…” Naturally or deliberately, Sonoko diverted the conversation onto her own vanishing boyfriend, and for that, Ran was grateful. She wasn’t actually sure whether she wanted to talk about it or not. She wondered whether her worries would sound a little paranoid to anyone who didn’t know Shinichi as well as she did. It was just that, once she’d realized that Shinichi had been away on this case for two years, her wondering about his return turned from when to if. The less he called and the more reticent he was about the details, the worse it got.
Two years,” she thought. “He’s never taken anywhere near this long on a case before. What is it that he won’t even tell me about it? That’s keeping him away for so long? That’s so much more important to him than anything else, including…” She always tried to bite off the thought there. Inevitably, however, it led to the worry that Shinichi was in danger- that the case, whatever it was, was threatening his life. If that was why he had disappeared, why it was taking him so long…
You’re not Holmes, Shinichi,” she thought sadly. “Please don’t get yourself into anything over your head…
“Huh?” she said, jerking out of her thoughts as her cellphone rang once.
“Better turn the ringer off, Ran,” Sonoko warned as they went through the school gates. “Is it a text?”
“Yeah,” Ran said, slipping the phone open.
How’re you doing? Sorry I haven’t called in a while. I might later, once you’re out of school. Figured I should contact you since I haven’t in a while and you’re likely to be worrying yourself to death, even though you don’t need to. Baka.
That, and I’ve sorta missed you lately. Later.
Shinichi.
Sorta missed you?” Ran thought in surprise as she read over the text, turning away as she sat down at her desk in order to hide it from Sonoko. “Has he missed me… like I’ve missed him…?
She quickly turned off and hid her phone as the teacher walked into the room, standing up to bow with the others. She caught Sonoko’s eye as she did so.
“You’re showing me that text later,” Sonoko hissed. Ran groaned quietly.
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“Are you feeling all right, Conan-kun?” Ayumi said worriedly. “You’ve been real quiet.”
“Ah! No, I’m fine, really,” Shinichi insisted. “It’s just… I, uh, think I’m getting a cold, that’s all.” Minor illnesses were generally a sufficient cop-out.
“If you’re sick, maybe you should’ve stayed home,” Mitsuhiko said a little testily. He and Genta were a little grumpy this morning, as they always were when Ayumi was fussing over Conan- which, due to his black mood, she had been doing a lot. He tried to brighten up a little, pulling up his “chibi” act in full force, but it only took reaching the locker-room for his depression to return. It was the label on his locker that did it.
Edogawa Conan
3-B
Third grade. He was in third damn grade. He should be in twelfth. He should be preparing for finals, then canvassing jobs and colleges with everyone else his actual age. Instead, he was surrounded by kids who were getting excited about entering the fourth grade. Been there, done that, didn’t want the t-shirt, he wanted to scream. Normally, he could handle it- the acting, the re-education, being held back- but every so often, something happened to remind him that he wasn’t where he should or wanted to be. Starting second and third grade had been bad enough, but birthdays had really done it. He hadn’t paid much attention to the passing of his seventeenth- too busy helping Ran survive being an amateur bomb-disposal team, only thinking that it was ironic that he’d actually gotten younger that year- but the passing of his eighteenth had been almost painful. It was a vivid reminder of the havoc that that damn drug had wreaked on him.
He should be graduating and turning nineteen this year, not nine.
At times like these, his frustration and anger generally manifested itself as a deep depression. He was mostly able to keep it limited to this until it passed, but if he ended up alone, he couldn’t stop lashing out. On what should have been his eighteenth birthday, he’d looked into the mirror in the morning and smashed it. Luckily, Ran had bought his story that he’d slipped on his stool- he had to use a damn stool to reach the sink- and was only concerned that he’d cut himself, but it had been all he could do not to just tell her everything. For a long moment, staring at his shattered reflection and a bleeding cut on his fist, he’d wanted more than anything to stop lying to her- to tell her the truth, all of it, beg her forgiveness, beg her not to leave him alone. More than anything, he’d wanted her to stay with him, like that would somehow make it all better. Maybe, just for a moment, it would have.
But then something would happen to remind him why he couldn’t. Like the nightmare.
Maybe it had been the case, maybe that freaky Wiccan girl, he didn’t know what, but when he fell asleep, it had happened.
He was Kudo Shinichi again, running down that alleyway. What did he think he was looking for? He didn’t know, but he knew he had to go. And there, at the end of it, was that little back clearing near a still and silent Ferris wheel. But Vodka and the president were nowhere to be seen. There was only a dark shape lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
He ran frantically to it, thinking he needed to call an ambulance. He reached for his mobile as he reached the body. His hand froze when he saw the face, saw the blank, lifeless eyes, eyes he knew.
Ran. She was dead. Because of him.
He fell to his knees, reaching to her with shaking hands, but he knew she wouldn’t wake. Not anymore. All thanks to him.
He looked up, into Gin’s cold eyes.
“Can you solve this case, Meitantei?” he said quietly. His lips curled into a sneer as he raised his gun and pulled the trigger.
In a bang, Shinichi sat bolt upright, gasping for air, gulping back screams. Kogoro snored and turned over in his sleep. Shinichi fought to slow his breath, wiping sweat from his forehead with shaking hands. He’d stared at them, tiny, damp hands. Then, slowly, he lay on his side, curling into a tight, shuddering little ball under the covers. He hadn’t slept again all night.
Even now, hours later, he still saw it whenever he closed his eyes, still lurking at the forefront of his mind: Ran, cold, lifeless, dead. No matter how much he wanted to tell Ran the truth, stop her worrying and fear, he couldn’t. The risk was too much. No matter how much he stood to gain, the stakes were just too, too high. No matter what the odds, he would never put Ran’s life on the table. Never.
He reached the classroom alone, ahead of the others. Only Haibara was there ahead of him, digging through her bag for her pencil case.
“Depression again?” she asked calmly as he sat down at his desk- his tiny kiddy desk- and put his head down on it. “I hope you didn’t break anything again.”
“Doesn’t it ever get to you?” he asked, his voice slightly muffled by the desk. “Being stuck like this?”
“Not really,” she said. “Perhaps it’s because I’ve got nothing to go back to. You do.”
“At the rate things are going, I’m going to grow back into my old age before we find the antidote. By that point, I won’t have anything to go back to.”
“You think she’ll have moved on in the next eight or nine years?” Haibara asked mildly, even though it wasn’t really a question. There was no need for Shinichi to ask who she was.
“In that scenario, I hope she does,” he said, sighing and clicking his phone open as it buzzed. “I could never do that to her. I wouldn’t make her wait that long. Not for me.”
“Well, if it makes you feel any better, just remember that that scenario isn’t exactly plan A,” Haibara said. “After all, I invented that stuff once, I’m fairly certain I can do it again. After that, the antidote’ll be a walk in the park.”
It was two texts, both from Max-san- he’d given Conan his number, promising to explain some of the more colourful scotch-English terms that Conan had been asking about. The first text was a very long of words that Conan was “too wee to know”. The second was phrases and words that he presumably wasn’t. He stared for a long moment at the first one.
The fat lady’s still at the pre-show buffet.
He couldn’t help grinning at the explanation and translation, before clicking off of the text and selecting compose. It wasn’t over yet. He couldn’t give up. He wouldn’t. He’d keep the frustration and despair and turn it into anger. And the second he got his old body back, he’d bring it all to bear on the head of that twat Gin.
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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 Ran and Heiji, the back button is at the top there. The fic may not make sense if you have not read up to chapter 679, which you can do at Onemanga.com, but I advise you to buy the official Tankoban novels (up to volume 27 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).
 
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