Case Closed Fan Fiction ❯ Small World ( Chapter 20 )

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

Chapter Twenty
Small World
Small world indeed,” she mused, taking a sip of her soda as she covertly watched the four teenagers. This was an unexpected surprise, but with both of them together she had been certain that their combined luck would result in Gin developing an inexplicable fondness for video games. No such luck, thank goodness. In fact, the two were happily playing their girlfriends and each other at the games, each pretending, for a while, like they were normal kids with normal lives, each pretending like he didn’t know that the other was his mortal enemy.
It must be nice to be young,” she thought with a slight smile. “When you’re young and in love, it’s so easy to put pain and fear out of your mind… so easy to heal… so easy to look forward, when you still have so much to look forward to. Even these children, who have suffered more in a few short years than many do in their lives…
She checked her watch, her sharp eyes catching the early warning signs. “It is lucky that the young heal well… especially when there is so much more still to come…
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First I got shrunk by a strange drug. Then I found out that I’m inadvertently the primary test subject on the elixir of immortality. Then I actually told Ran how I felt about her and she kissed me. I think, on balance, I can forgive myself for pretending not to know that I’m playing a racing game against the Kaitou Kid, because I think that would finally be me at my limit.
Still, he was having a good time. Getting sucked into the games with Ran, Aoko and even Kaito was proving highly therapeutic. Pretending for a few hours that there were no black assassins hunting for him, no erratic drug burning away its lifespan inside of him, no murderers and thieves running free- it gave him a forgotten sense of peace, even if it was only pretending. The only hint to anything more all day had been the moments when he and Kaito, if not currently playing a game, would surreptitiously watch each other, each pretending that he hadn’t noticed the other doing so.
Well, that would be cleared up soon enough. Once he returned to Conan, he’d have to confront Kaito and discover what information he had on the Syndicate. The main problem would be getting the thief to trust him, but his father had already pointed out that if they wanted Kaito to tell them everything he knew, they might as well return the favour. Besides, Kaito probably wouldn’t be too fussed about working with anyone who could help catch his father’s murderers- Kaito had spoken of Kuroba Toichi a few more times, and always did so with near-reverence- as long as he was sure that doing so wouldn’t get himself turned in.
That was the other problem he’d have to attend to. There must be some legal means to examine those jewels. Shinichi didn’t intend to work with a criminal- though, admittedly, the things Kir had to do to maintain Gin’s trust were far worse- but aside from that, there was something innately likeable about the guy, and Shinichi had no desire to see him dead.
Speaking of which…
“Holy crap!” Kaito yelped as Shinichi wrenched his wheel to the side, knocking Kaito from a cliff. The white car vanished in an improbable fireball. It would be replaced momentarily, but that moment, along with a shortcut achieved through some nifty- and, as Shinichi knew all too well, not impossible- manoeuvres, was all Shinichi needed to win the race. Kaito groaned as the “Game Over, Loser” screen appeared.
“You drive like obachan,” Ran giggled, echoing his thoughts.
“I’m not certain that’s a compliment,” Shinichi commented, wiping some sweat from his forehead as he climbed from the seat.
“Geez, could they turn the AC up any higher?” Kaito complained. Shinichi froze, staring at the sweat on his hand and feeling more break out on his forehead. He’d thought it was just the exhilaration of the game, but driving skills notwithstanding, Kaito had been far more into it than he had.
It was baking
Crap.
He composed himself, furtively slipping his hand into his coat pocket and flipping his phone open just enough to hit send.
“Geez, two already?” Aoko complained, glancing at her watch. “Hey, what say we all grab lunch?”
“That sounds great!” Ran enthused. “Where to?”
Shinichi’s phone rang.
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“Uh-oh,” Ai said softly, adjusting the focus of the microscope to ensure that she wasn’t mistaken. Something in Kudo’s post-transformation blood sample was reacting, causing the cellular makeup to shift. That could only mean one thing.
As if right on cue, her phone beeped with an incoming text. It had only one word.
Call.
She tapped in Kudo’s number as she climbed the stairs. He picked up after a single ring. “Moshi moshi?”
“It’s me,” she said. “Do you have the fever?”
Uh, yeah,” he said. “But now’s kinda-”
“Ah, Ran-san can hear your end of the conversation, can’t she?” Ai surmised. Kudo was going to have to talk like he desperately didn’t want to leave, but had no choice. Which, in a way, was true. “Where are you?”
Xtreme Gaming in Shibuya. Look, are you sure this can’t wait?”
“You know it can’t,” she replied. “Get to the nearest train station and hide in a bathroom. Try to get out of sight before the pains start. Your parents will be there soon.” By this point, she was in the front room, where Yukiko, Yuusaku and the professor were all listening attentively to her end of the conversation. At her words, Yuusaku and Yukiko rose, Yukiko grabbing a bag containing Shinichi’s child clothes, and headed for the car.
Fine… Okay, I understand. No, I guess I can make it, just… damn. Give me fifteen minutes to get to the station, all right?
“Don’t cut it too fine,” she warned him, before hanging up.
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“Crap,” Shinichi muttered as he put his phone away. Ran felt her heart drop. He caught her look, his facing falling. “Damn,” he muttered, shuffling towards the door. “The lead of the century has to pop up today?”
“You have to go, don’t you,” she said softly, not a question but a statement. She stepped away from Aoko and Kaito to talk to him in the corner by the door, as private as it got in a bustling arcade like this. She took his hand, but she knew that she’d have to let him go. “It’s important, isn’t it?”
“Well… yeah,” he said, shifting uncomfortably, glancing down the street. “I’m sorry.”
She shook her head. “It’s all right,” she said. “If it’s an important lead, then maybe it’ll bring you closer to solving the case, right? When that happens, you don’t have to leave anymore…”
“When that happens, Ran,” he promised, “I won’t leave anymore. Never again.” He leaned forwards and kissed her softly, sweetly, his lips warm on hers. She closed her eyes, ignoring as Kaito wolf-whistled. Shinichi leaned back, smiling as he waved and ran off, pausing only slightly in order to swing at Kaito’s head as he passed. Then he turned the corner, and was gone. Ran just watched after him for a long moment. Each time he vanished, each time he ran from her, she was sixteen and at Tropical Land all over again, watching him run from her, swallowed by the darkness that caused him to vanish. But this time felt a little different. She could still feel the warmth of his lips on hers, like the kisses sealed his promise to return forever. She could keep up hope and wait for him. What else could she do?
“Wow, Ran-chan… you didn’t mention he was your boyfriend.”
Ran jumped. She’d forgotten that Aoko and Kaito were there. Aoko was staring at her in an odd mix of awe and jealousy, while Kaito was staring after Shinichi with a thoughtful look on his face. It made him look oddly reminiscent of Shinichi in full-fledged deduction mode.
“H-he’s not…” Ran began to stammer, out of habit, but then she blushed when she realized that Aoko was dead on. “Well, I guess he is.”
“Lucky,” Aoko muttered. Ran realized that she was looking at Kaito.
“Aoko-chan,” she giggled, “You like Kuroba-kun, don’t you?”
NO!” Aoko yelped. Kaito stared at the two of them, and looked like he was about to come over, but he stopped dead in his tracks when Ran gave him Evil Eyes and dragged Aoko a little further away from him. The girl was still babbling nervously, her face crimson. “He’s just this baka that I’ve hung out with since we were kids, I mean he’s funny and all, but he’s always pulling some stupid trick and he’s never serious about anything and on top of that he’s a fan of that stupid thief and… and…” Ran let her stutter into silence. “…And I’m just digging myself deeper, aren’t I?”
“Heard it all before, Aoko-chan,” Ran said sympathetically, “mostly from me. Come on, I won’t tell, I swear.”
“Wellll…”Aoko’s blush fired even redder, making a lot of headway towards purple. “I guess… the tricks are really funny, and kinda cool… he’s kinda cool… and nice… but…” she was wringing her hands nervously now. “Sometimes… I feel like he knows he’s not being serious, he’s deliberately not being serious, like he’s hiding who he is, or something… how do I say it? It’s like he’s been hiding something for a long time now, since we got into high school. It’s made him really distant, and kind of… cold. I mean, he’s not mean or anything. He’s nice, he’s… sweet, but cold. Like ice cream. You know? Oh, that sounds weird.”
“No, I understand,” Ran said. And she did. She knew that Shinichi had been hiding something from her, ever since that day. He was hiding the truth about the case, about where he was, about what was happening to him, about that mysterious illness of his… but… “Aoko-chan… has he ever hidden anything from you before?”
“Well… no, not really,” Aoko admitted. “Nothing bigger than trick secrets, and you know, you can’t give those away… even after Toichi-Ojisan’s death… obasan said I was the first person he talked to. He wouldn’t even talk to her; just shut himself up in his room with Ojisan’s doves…”
“Then it must be really important,” Ran said, to Aoko’s surprise. “And I’m sure, someday, he’ll tell you. You just have to trust him. If you’re the first person he spoke to, when he was hurting like that, then I’m sure you’re just as important to him as he is to you. If you just trust him, I’m sure that, one day, he’ll give you the truth… out of guilt, if nothing else.” She smiled slightly as she remembered one of Shinichi’s favourite phrases. “Shinjitsu wa Itsumo Hitotsu.”
“Sure,” Aoko said with a nervous little giggle as her cheeks started to pale again. “I guess I can do that… senpai.” Ran burst out laughing, and, both of them laughing, arm-in-arm, they returned to a now worried-looking Kaito.
“Why do I feel like the joke’s at my expense?” he asked. The girls looked at each other and started giggling all over again. He sighed. “Well, where shall we dine, ladies? Somewhere public, I hope. That way, everyone can see me dining out with the two most gorgeous girls in Tokyo…”
“How will you taste your food with that silver tongue?” Aoko teased, as they began walking away, in the opposite direction from Shinichi.
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Shinichi gasped for air as he tore down the street, the fever now so high that people stared as he tore his scarf and coat off, slinging them under his arm as he ran for the station. He tripped and slowed as his racing heart sent the first wave of pure fire down his veins, pain shooting to every inch of his body before contracting around his heart, squeezing it like a fist. He knew he should stop running soon, but he couldn’t just collapse and change out here on the pavement, the station was in sight…
And so was a familiar silver rental car, parked out front. Shinichi gasped in relief as he hurtled down the pavement towards it, the back door popping open at his approach. He collapsed inside as another wave of fire rushed through his body.
Someone reached back to close the door behind him. The car instantly revved up, accelerating away. Through the red haze of pain around his vision, he could make out his mother in the driver’s seat, his father in the back with him, pulling down sunshades to prevent people from seeing into the car. He grabbed Shinichi’s arm to steady him as the car turned a sharp corner, speeding back towards Beika, but Shinichi knew he wouldn’t make it to the Professor’s; the pain was coming fast now, every heartbeat agony, and his bones were starting to melt, and his father lost his grip as Shinichi’s arm shrank under his hand. Shinichi fell to the floor of the car, into the cool, comforting darkness…
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Kaito didn’t have far to walk between the block of flats where Aoko lived and his house, but he walked it slowly, giving himself time to think about Kudo Shinichi. He’d heard of the guy, of course. He’d come into his own as a teen Meitantei around about the same time that Kaito had become Kid, so he’d seen him in the papers a lot, but- and he always thanked his lucky stars for this- he’d only crossed paths with the Meitantei once. That heist had been a real wake-up call. He hadn’t had to think on his feet during a heist in ages, but Kudo had certainly given him a thorough workout. He’d only gotten away out of sheer jamminess. He’d been half hoping for and half fearing another showdown with the guy who’d practically read his mind, but it didn’t really make a difference, considering that Kudo pulled one hell of a disappearing act not long after. By the time Kaito set off to mess with Nakamori-keibu the night before the Black Star heist, the newspapers and magazines were already trading rumours that he’d stuck his nose into something a little too deep and been offed. Overall, Kaito had been relieved; getting the Black Star would be tricky enough without that psychic on his heels every step of the way.
As he’d thought, Kudo Shinichi didn’t turn up on the rooftop that night. It was just a first-grader with a bottle rocket.
He very quickly dropped the just.
It hadn’t been a difficult escape- the usual combination of crowds, confusion and flash grenades had done the trick- but he had had to wing it again, which he’d never had to do with just Nakamori before.
Again, scratch the just.
Edogawa Conan was a creepy kid. No way had a first-grader been able to figure out the necessary maths to decode his note, but the boy had evidently been expecting him, and not just then. He hadn’t been hugely worried about Mori Kogoro being on the ship- no matter what the papers said, it was evident from the first instant that the man was an idiot- but he had been surprised that Conan had showed up. Evidently, Mori and his daughter were looking after the boy, which would be keeping him at close range to the pearl the whole time. It also ended up keeping him close to Kaito- he knew he would soon be found out when he heard the Suzuki girl say that she was calling her sister, so he ditched the costume in the bathroom and lay in wait for the first person to walk past who would allow him to get close to Suzuki Tomoko.
Unfortunately, the first person had been Conan. Too small. Still, the expression on his little face had been strange, like the moment he’d introduced himself on the rooftop- too serious, too focused for a seven-year-old. It was like his childishness was only a Poker Face, like Kaito’s light-hearted silliness. He was a weird kid, all right, but still, he was just a kid. Disguising as Mori Ran shouldn’t be too much of a risk.
He really needed to learn his lesson about the word just.
For the third time, he’d been cornered, seen right through, as if his thoughts were being broadcast out of his head like a damn BS radio wave- and for the second time, by a kid with unnervingly confident eyes…
Maybe that sapphire-hard stare- or that crazy-strong football- was the reason that, by the time Conan had finished laying out every aspect of his plan in a Holmesian display of logic and deduction, he’d forgotten that it was a kid and not a man in front of him. Maybe that was why he’d dared the underwear trick. Didn’t explain why it had worked, but Kaito wasn’t going to curse his only bit of good fortune that night.
Time and again it had happened. He’d planned and practiced, spending longer planning perfect tricks and heists than he’d ever bothered to for Nakamori or Hakuba- hell, for them he often just resorted to good old-fashioned cat burglary- but the kid always latched onto the tiniest thing, be it an almost invisible scratch on a wall or a vague incongruity in the background of a news report, and he’d spun everything out from there, reading Kaito’s mind like a book. He quickly grew to regard the boy as a worthy adversary. And, in some of his more introspective moments, he’d wished that the tiny Meitantei was alive when his father was murdered. Edogawa Conan’s razor mind might just have been able to find what the police had missed.
He’d had a minor mental freak-out- blessedly concealed by a well-honed Poker Face- when they’d run into the Mori girl today and she’d introduced them to her boyfriend, Kudo Shinichi. He’d calmed himself by reminding himself that the guy wasn’t psychic any more than Kaito could teleport, but he’d almost dropped his Poker Face entirely when he’d locked eyes with Kudo- and found himself on the receiving end of a piercing sapphire stare which went right through his mind, dragged out his innermost secrets, and screamed BUSTED! An unnervingly familiar stare.
But that was crazy. Kudo Shinichi didn’t know he was the Kid, and there was no way he was anything more than possibly distantly related to Edogawa Conan- after all, he sure wasn’t related to the guy, and Aoko and Ran hadn’t stopped needling them about secret twins and cloning. The idea that Kudo Shinichi and Edogawa Conan were any closer… that was just crazy.
And a jewel that cries the elixir of immortality is…?
He shook those thoughts from his head. It wasn’t like he bought that Pandora story, anyway. It was just a pretext to mess with the bastards who killed his father. Besides, he had other things to worry about. Like the part where, thanks to some very sharp hearing, he’d heard every word that Aoko and Ran had said. It had thrilled him to pieces. It had broken his heart. It had scared him to death.
Ran was right. Aoko deserved the truth. But if he lost Aoko because of it…
His mind was still spinning by the time he finally reached home, thinking back to the night he’d found out the truth about his father. What had hurt more- the truth or the lies?
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Here’s more Kaito, Mel7200!
The game is vaguely based on a Pokemon game that my cousin and I designed (on paper only) a long time ago, Silver Shadowbreeze, for 2-on-2 battles (before Ruby and Sapphire came out). Since he lives in Colorado and I live in Scotland, we wanted to be able to battle together online, and as such we spent a lot of that summer battling against each other and coming up with combo battle plans in case it ever happened and, being on opposite sides of the globe, we were unable to communicate. Since Magic Kaito established them as two -player gaming nuts, I figured it would be the kind of game they’d be good at. Shinichi already knows who Kaito is, though he didn’t say anything because an arcade is not exactly the best place for such a conversation. While as of the third movie Kaito knows about the connection between Shinichi and Conan, in the manga there’s no indication that he’s made any link between the two, and manga canon takes precedence over anime canon in my fic. So no, Kaito doesn’t know who Conan really is.
Hajimemashite, Zeodyme Delacross! I’m glad you like the fic ^_-
It’s something Shinichi’s slightly worried about, twilightserius, but on the other hand of course Kaito’s mildly worried that, if the Syndicate knows who he is now, they’ll mistake Shinichi for him. Not that that’ll really be an issue, but he doesn’t know that.
Each to their own, Pretztailfan95, but I do agree that Heiji isn’t incompetent. Actually, I think it’s good that he’s a little hot-blooded. After all, they didn’t know that the guy was dead yet- he could have just been concussed, and if that was the case then Heiji breaking in could have bought them the time that they needed to save him. It was Hakuba’s reaction to Heiji that first made me dislike him, and while I like him a little more now that I’ve thought a little deeper about him, I still think he has an unfortunate tendency to be a smug prick. Ah, well. Everyone has their faults. I can’t wait to get volume 29, but I think I’m going to have to *broke and owes her next two months’s allowance to her parents* oh the joys of being a penniless teen in a town with no jobs. I often think fanscans are a little better, although they can be hard to follow during explanations. But in important scenes, like when Kazuha and Heiji are dangling off of the cliff in volume 28, the fanscans are so much better. Like the Viz line was “I’m sorry, Harley… but you’ve gotta live… for both of us…” but I personally prefer the fanscan line, which is “Sorry, Heiji…. I’m giving my long life… to you…” which is so much sweeter and also ties in with the arrow. In the next chapter, in the Viz version Heiji goes “Don’t move, Kazuha… if ya move… I’ll kill ya…” which is a little O.o I like the fanscan line better, which is “Kazuha… I ain’t letting go… so don’t you let go either!” I love the fanscans, but you’ve gotta buy the Tankoban too, don’t you? After all, who wants Aoyama-sensei to go bankrupt? And now I’m slightly scared of your next chapter… O.O
You’re welcome, Eyeinthesky!
I know you’re probably not going to get here for a while, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but… yep, 800. His hand just felt like polished wood. A surprising amount of his face was intact. Freaked out yet? >;) I know people aren’t ignoring me NOW, but at the time of writing I was only posting on MM.org and not FF.net, and everyone THERE ignores me… or at least, doesn’t comment. 🙁 And no, it’s nowhere NEAR complete (writing chapter 40 and still barely halfway ;P)
A Peaceful Day
Waking