Feb 27, 2011

Where are you, Shinichi-niichan?

This was my second fanfic, consisting of diary entries made by Shinichi's little brother Conan a little bit before and after Shinichi disappears. There is a sequel after this called 'Saving Conan-otouto'. Sound intriguing? Please read.

Where are you, Shinichi-niichan?

Chapter 1

December 8th

Shinichi-niichan bought me a diary today! He told me that I should write what I feel like in this. I think I will! It’s very fun, I’ll show it to Genta-kun, Mitsuhiko-kun, and Ayumi-chan tomorrow!

December 9th

Today, I showed my new diary to my friends. Ayumi-chan thought it was so cool that my brother got me a diary. I love Shinichi-niichan; he’s so nice! He played soccer with me today, but he’s too good. I couldn’t block a single goal, even with Mitsuhiko-kun helping me.

December 10th

Shinichi-niichan says he going with Ran-neechan to the amusement park tomorrow! I wanted to go with him, but he says only him and Ran-neechan are going. I know, I’ll invite my friends to come with me! That way, I can go to Tropical Land!

December 11th

No one could come today, so I stayed home. I finished my homework like my brother told me to, but he’s taking an awfully long time. He said he’d be back before dinner, where is he? Oh, the phone’s ringing, better pick it up…

Ran-neechan just called and asked where Shinichi-niichan is. I told her I didn’t know. She said I should come over to her house because I haven’t had dinner yet. Where did Shinichi-niichan go?

December 13th

Shinichi-niichan hasn’t been seen since yesterday. Ran-neechan told me not to worry about him. But I’m scared; Ayumi-chan is too. She says maybe Shinichi-niichan has been kidnapped. Genta-kun and Mitsuhiko-kun tried to cheer me up today, but how could I cheer up? Shinichi-niichan, I need you back now.

Chapter 2

December 14th

Now I’m really worried, Shinichi-niichan. Okaa-san and otou-san came over from America today so they could talk to police officers. I heard your name; what happened? Okaa-san played with me, and tried to teach me how to sing to cheer me up. It was fun, but she says I sing worse than you. Shinichi-niichan isn’t a very good singer.

Otou-san read me a Sherlock Holmes book. I like them because the author has my name. Conan! He says he named me after him when you suggested it. Sherlock Holmes is so cool, I wanna be a detective when I grow up, like him and Shinichi-niichan!

December 15th

Okaa-san and otou-san were busy today, they couldn’t play with me today, so I went to my friends. We played soccer for a little bit, and I was on Ayumi-chan’s team. We beat Genta-kun and Mitsuhiko-kun by one point. I like Ayumi-chan, but I think Genta-kun and Mitsuhiko-kun feel the same way, what should I do?

Ran-neechan came looking for you after school today, Shinichi-niichan. She’s just about as worried as I am about you. Are you two a couple?

When okaa-san and otou-san came back, they also looked very worried. I think something happened to you, and nobody will tell me. Why not?

December 16th

I snuck out of school and went to Tropical Land to investigate by myself. My friends wanted to come with me, but I told them no. I asked people if they saw you, but I couldn’t find anybody. Being a detective is hard. You never find any clues. How do you do it, Shinichi-niichan?

December 17th

I went back to Tropical Land. I found a person who saw you! She said you went into an alleyway, and I looked for stuff. The ground was all trampled and messed up. I think you got into a fight or something. There was also a piece of ripped up paper. But I couldn’t read it. I think it looked like this.

I’ve been capt-

I haven’t learned too many words yet. But I don’t want otou-san to know I skipped school, so I can’t show him. I know, I’ll show it to Ran-neechan! She knows lots of words, right?

December 18th

Ran-neechan says the last word is ‘captured’ like kidnapped. Have you been kidnapped, Shinichi-niichan? Ran-neechan made me show it to otou-san, and he got all mad. Not at me or Ran-neechan, but at something else. He yelled a curse word, but it’s bad, so I won’t write it. He told the police, and ignored me. If you’ve really been captured, then please escape soon. Everyone wants you back, Shinichi-niichan.

Chapter 3

December 19th

Okaa-san was crying today. We got a letter in the mail from the kidnapper. He says that you’re still alive, and sent a photo to prove it. Otou-san says a photo can’t prove anything, but I think it’s a real photo. But you look really scary, Shinichi-niichan. There’s blood running from the corner of your mouth, and you’re all tied up. Are you okay? The kidnappers said they want ransom, but they won’t give you back until you do a job for them. They said okaa-san and otou-san will have to pay them every month to keep you alive. Ran-neechan came over crying like okaa-san. Make sure they don’t kill you, okay, Shinichi-niichan?

December 20th

Otou-san got an email from the kidnappers, and they had a live video chat. Me and okaa-san were watching it with him. They were pointing a gun at your head the entire time, and I almost couldn’t breathe. I was so scared. They said to put the money in an envelope and leave it under a bench in Tropical Land. And if we told the police, they’d shoot you through the head.

They let you talk for a little bit, and you talked to me. “Hey Conan-otouto. Don’t worry about me, I’m okay at the moment. Just focus on school, and soccer. Be with your friends. I won’t be able to come back for a while. Do good during gym class at school, okay?” Then they hit you really hard in the face, and turned off the video. Why did they do that? Was it a clue?

December 21st

It’s the first day of winter, and it was snowing today. Usually, you’d take me outside and play with me, but you’re not here. Otou-san put the money under the bench like your kidnappers told him to. I thought about why they would hit you, and then I thought that what you said was really weird. “Do well in gym class.” Does it mean you’ve been locked up in a school warehouse somewhere?

That would mean the school has to be abandoned, right? That’s the only way. I told Ayumi-chan, Genta-kun, and Mitsuhiko-kun, and they’re coming to help me search for you tomorrow. I stole a map of Beika and Tokyo from your room, I hope you don’t mind. I’m coming to find you, Shinichi-niichan.

Chapter 4

December 22nd

We didn’t manage to find anything today. The first thing we did was see if the money under the bench had been taken, and it was. I thought if it hadn’t been taken yet, we could look and nobody would suspect us because we’re just kids. But that didn’t work.

I tried to find an abandoned school warehouse, and only managed to find one. But you weren’t there, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t it. Mitsuhiko-kun found some dried blood on the floor though. Did they move you? Try to hold on, Shinichi-niichan.

December 23rd

Okaa-san and otou-san got really mad at me for sneaking off yesterday. They said it was too dangerous, and they didn’t want me skipping any more school. I told them that Mitsuhiko-kun found a blood spot, but they thought I was just trying to get out of trouble. We’re all going to sneak out tonight and go to the warehouse again, I’ll write again once I get home.

************************************

Okaa-san and otou-san are asleep, good. They didn’t see me sneak out. But I’m sure that’s where you are! I saw you, but you were unconscious. We were going to call the police, but they heard Ayumi-chan, and threatened to shoot. Then, they left, and I think they put you into a van. We were so close! I’m not sure if I should tell okaa-san and otou-san. They’d get mad at me. What would you do, Shinichi nii-chan?

December 24th

It’s Christmas Eve today. We invited Ran-neechan and Mouri-ojichan and Kisaki-obachan over for dinner, but Kisaki-obachan couldn’t come. She said she was busy.

I was too scared to tell okaa-san I snuck out, so I told Ran-neechan. She said I did a good job, and she’d tell okaa-san and otou-san for me. They listened for her, and then otou-san called the police and told them to inspect the warehouse. They said the blood on the floor matched your DNA. I’m happy. I’m actually helping. We’re closer to finding you now. Oh, and merry Christmas, Shinichi-niichan! I’ll try to save you as a Christmas present!

Chapter 5

December 25th

I got lots of presents from okaa-san and otou-san. They gave me a new skateboard, a toy airplane, toy cars, and some detective gadgets that record noises and stuff. I didn’t manage to get out and try to save you, since okaa-san wouldn’t let me go. They found a present that you hid in your room for me, and it was the best present! To everybody else, it might just be a Sherlock Holmes book, but it was yours. And anything that Shinichi-niichan gives to me is the best thing ever!

December 26th

Okaa-san and otou-san had to leave for America today. They wanted me to come with them, but I told them no. I said I was going to find you. They said that it was too dangerous and otou-san would get the police to find you, but I said that I was a detective, and nothing was going to stop me. Ran-neechan offered to let me stay at her house, so that’s where I am right now.

***********

I had a nightmare about you, Shinichi-niichan. I dreamt that those people who kidnapped you shot you in the head, and you died. I went to Ran-neechan’s room because I was scared, and she let me sleep with her. She told me that you were good enough to find a way out, and that you’d be back soon. But, everybody says that, and you’re not back yet. I’m not sure if I can believe that anymore.

December 27th

Ran-neechan was crying this morning. I asked her why, and she said it was because she was worried about you. I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t know what to say. She made me pancakes for breakfast, and they were really good. After breakfast, I went outside to play with Ayumi-chan, Mitsuhiko-kun, and Genta-kun.

It snowed again last night, so we found a hill and went sledding. Once, when I was sharing a sled with Ayumi-chan, our sled tipped over and we both fell into the snow. It reminds me of when we did that, Shinichi-niichan. I wanted to find you today, but Genta-kun said that his parents told him to be home by 4, so we couldn’t go. I’m definitely going tomorrow though, Shinichi-niichan.

December 28th

Nobody could go with me, so I went to the abandoned warehouse by myself. I searched and searched for clues, but I only found a CD in a case. I went back to Ran-neechan’s house, and played it, in case it was from you. It was.

Ran-neechan started crying when she saw you on the screen because your face was all bloody and you looked sick. I was hugging her, because I was scared. It was like my nightmare. “Conan-otouto, please don’t worry about me. I’m sorry I couldn’t be with you for Christmas. I hope you got my present for you.

“I know you’re searching for me, but I have to tell you to stop. It’s too dangerous for a little kid like you, and I’m not going to let you do it. I just have to do a job for these guys. If it goes well, I’ll be back by New Years. Make sure you take your medicine if you’re sick. Bye, Conan-otouto.”

Don’t look for you anymore? Why Shinichi-niichan? I’m not listening to you say that. I’m coming to find you no matter what anybody says. I just need more clues to work with. I’m a detective after all, even if I’m not as good as you, Shinichi-niichan.

Chapter 6

December 29th

I was thinking all day and all night about what you said in the video. ‘Take your medicine’? It’s another clue for me, isn’t it? It has something to do with sickness. A hospital, a factory, and Ran-neechan just suggested an abandoned drug pharmacy. The last place I saw you was that abandoned school warehouse, so you’d probably be in a place like that again, right?

Ran-neechan called over all of my friends for me, and says she’ll come with us to find an abandoned warehouse. I hope we’ll find you. We found you easily last time, Shinichi-niichan.

December 30th

I’m starting to wonder if you’re still in Tokyo. We must have searched every single building for you. But you weren’t in any of them. Maybe they hid you in a hospital? I’ll rewatch the video. Just wait a second while I put it up…

The background actually looks pretty nice as I look at it again. Maybe the people who kidnapped you are really rich? I just told Ran-neechan, and she said it’s a possibility. Maybe it’s one of the yakuza in town. They’re pretty powerful and rich. But where does the medicine come in now?

December 31st

It’s only ten minutes until the new year. You said you might be back by now. It’s snowing, just like last year. Last year, we celebrated New Years together. Just us, you made an entire party for me. You carried me around, and let me stay up until midnight. Ran-neechan wanted me to go to sleep early, so I’m writing using a flashlight. Kogerou-ojichan wouldn’t let us outside today because he wanted us to prepare for New Year’s.

We had a big dinner with sushi, sashimi, and a bunch of other things. I wish you were here to celebrate New Year’s with me. Oh yeah, I started the book you gave me, Shinichi-niichan. It’s really good!

January 1st

It’s a new year, and I snuck out again. I went around this neighborhood that looked really nice, and heard something weird. Some screaming about ‘Solve it you *****’ I’m not writing down the word because you said it was a bad word, Shinichi-niichan. But maybe it was your kidnappers, because they want you to solve a puzzle. I’m definitely taking Ran-neechan there tomorrow. She wants you back nearly as much as I do, Shinichi-niichan.

Chapter 7

January 2nd

Ran-neechan came with me today. She pretended to selling magazines and she said I was her little brother. The woman who opened the door was a foreigner. She had really blonde hair and these creepy eyes. She was really pretty, but really scary. Like a snake.

I ran into her house, saying it was really cool. I was really trying to see if I could find a room where you might be. Ran-neechan scolded me, but the woman said it was fine. I asked if there were other people living with her, and she said there weren’t. I listened really carefully, but I didn’t hear a thing. Maybe I made a mistake?

January 3rd

Something really weird happened today. I went to our house to clean it, because it was getting dusty, and I found a little girl about my age at the front door. She was dressed in really baggy clothing, and she had strawberry-blonde hair. I asked her why she was here, and she said she wanted to see Conan Kudo. When I said it was me, she said she had information about you. She said her name was Haibara Ai. She asked if she could stay in our house tonight, and I showed her to my room. I wonder who she really is.

January 4th

She told me what she had to say. I took her to Ran-neechan’s house first, because I thought Ran-neechan might want to know what happened to you too. She said she was in the woman’s house we visited yesterday, and was hiding in a cupboard. She said the woman’s name was Vermouth, and she was protecting her. We asked from what, and she said the Black Organization. She says they kidnapped you because they need a problem solved in order to catch a traitor. They left behind a puzzle that they couldn’t solve. She says she was part of the Organization until she left and they tried to kill her. Vermouth protected her, and kept her in her house along with Shinichi-niichan.

She says that you weren’t treated very well because you wouldn’t cooperate. You’re being kept in the basement, with the puzzle. You have a week left before they’ll kill you. I asked her if she would help me go back for you. She said yes. Ran-neechan asked why Vermouth would protect her if the rest of the Organization wanted to kill you. She said that Vermouth was her mother.

January 5th

We went back to Vermouth’s house today. When she saw Ai-chan with me, she was more open. But she said we couldn’t talk for long because there were other people in her house today. They were beating up Shinichi-niichan. She said not say anything, or else they’d kidnap me and kill me. She said to come back when Ai-chan comes to me again, that way, I’ll know when a good day to release Shinichi-niichan is. I’ll have to do it alone, because she thinks it’s too dangerous for her and Ai if the Organization finds out. I’m almost there, Shinichi-niichan.

Chapter 8

*End of story one. There will be a sequel. And hopefully something after that.*

Somethingth of January

I don’t know what date it is. I just know that I’m in a dog crate, and it’s been a couple days at least since I rescued you, Shinichi-niichan. Ai-chan came to Ran-neechan’s house like she said she would if it was a good day. Vermouth showed me to your room, and said she couldn’t help me anymore than that. She said that the men who kidnapped you were coming back in about thirty minutes. The door was locked, so I had to search for key. It was under the carpet. I wonder if Vermouth put it there so I could find it.

When I got into your room, you were all tied up and half unconscious. I managed to wake you up and untie most of the knots. You hugged me and thanked me, and got up, but it looked like you were struggling. Vermouth smiled apologetically at you as we passed her, and Ai-chan looked on emotionlessly.

“I wish you luck, Silver Bullet-kun.” I don’t know who she was talking to. She was looking at both of us. You acknowledged her with a nod.

You opened the door, and the men in black were standing there. I was terrified, you pulled on my hand and started running in the opposite direction. Vermouth and Ai-chan had somehow already disappeared. Down the hallway, we saw a back door. You had just reached in and gotten when I tripped. One of the men grabbed me, and pushed a cloth over my mouth. They stuffed me into a burlap sack and I fell asleep.

I woke up in a weird place; it’s all crystalline like a laboratory or something. I’m being kept in a cage like I said earlier. They put a cloth over it after a little while, so now I can’t see anyone who comes into the room. They said you managed to escape, but they’re going to use me as ransom to get you back. You have a month before they decide I’m ‘disposable’. They only thing they’re letting me keep with me is this diary.

I’m really scared; I think they might kill me. I’m really hungry and thirsty, but no one really seems to care about that. It’s cold and dark in this cage, like a cave. It’s hard to sleep, because there’s hardly enough space to lie down. But at least I got Shinichi-niichan out. It’s the only thing I can be happy about now.

~Conan Kudo

To Shinichi-niichan

Feb 26, 2011

Chapter 43

Chapter 43

Chapter 43 of MSK, please enjoy! ~Aeyra

Chapter 43

Turning the Tables

The woman spoke no words as she approached him slowly, her unhurried footsteps contrasting with Ryuu’s racing heart, so much like the beating of a hummingbird’s wings. Her face was expressionless, and filled with a sense of confidence and determination that he couldn’t comprehend. It made him shiver even more, trying to back up into the bed when he came to realize that he was already leaned up against the headboard.

She bent down to the boy, still lying on the soft feather mattress, and smiled- a grin that was enigmatic and sly, a mystery. “A secret makes a woman, woman, but I’ll tell you later. It’s a promise,” she answered as a loud knock sounded from the door. Voices called from the other side, but they were indistinct and Ryuu couldn’t hear them over the pounding of his heart. Ba-dump, ba-dump, ba-dump! “I’ve got things to do. Just wait here while I finish up, ‘kay?” She placed her two fingers to her lips, and winked at him.

Patting him gently on the head, she turned around and retreated towards the door where she had come from; letting in light for a split second- and then it disappeared, leaving him in near-darkness once more.

What should I do now? thought Ryuu, head spinning with fear. The last time he’d been a situation close to this was the kidnapping incident a few weeks ago, but then he’d had someone tell him how to escape, Ai telling him exactly what to do. This woman had a very similar aura to the one who had hit him in that cold, dark room, after he’d been kidnapped- what did she call herself again?- oh right, it was Viura.

He hadn’t seen this new woman’s face through his terror clouded vision and the dim lighting, but he was almost sure it was the same person. Blonde, with piercing eyes- and the same exact feeling- confidence, with a touch of grief and a need for revenge at the edge of it. However, something felt a little off. Now what was it…?

He lay back down, pulling the blanket off to see his ash-tipped clothes and sneakers. At least nobody had changed his clothes. That would have been rather awkward. But, the ash confirmed his nightmare. There really had been a fire, and he had been taken here.

It couldn’t be a hospital; it was much too comfortable for that. There was no sickly medicine smell or the fresh scent of cots; it was just a straight, calming perfume, something that reminded him of the cologne his dad would wear to big meetings. At the thought of his dad, tears started to well up in his eyes. What had happened to his parents?

As far as he remembered, they had not mentioned any plans of leaving the house that afternoon. His mom had said she was going to cook a big welcome-back feast and his dad was helping her with it. He knew that a fire of that degree and magnitude was impossible to survive unless you happened to run out the front door the moment it started. The kitchen wasn’t right next to the front door.

He recalled the gentle fragrance of his mom’s silky blonde hair as she hugged him tight; she was a foreigner and she had given Ryuu her determined green eyes. His dad’s eyes were a deep chocolate brown, but they were filled with strength and courage. He had inherited his raven black hair from his father, along with the spirit of an officer. So many memories, so many things. He prayed with all his heart that they weren’t dead, and that the woman who had been in this room with him wasn’t going to kill him; he had felt her aura, and she had definitely murdered people in the past, but her motives were unreadable.

Ai had said that being in their business was dangerous, and he was at risk if he told anybody. But, he had kept his word! He hadn’t even made a single suggestion to his parents! Hell, he hadn’t even had time to see them before that fire. Searing, angry, devouring flames, eating away at whatever was left, killing anything inside. No mercy given, nothing held back, a full-powered onslaught of death.

Would it have happened if he hadn’t walked back home? If he had stayed at the hospital a little longer? Was it possibly his fault? Please don’t let it be that way! Kaa-chan! Tou-chan! Please don’t tell me you’re dead! he prayed silently, bowing down his head in fervor.

A slight rustle from the corner alerted him to the woman’s return, and she walked up to him, smiling painfully as if she had just heard some bad news. Her mouth opened, and she spoke, but not the words he had wanted to hear. “I’m Jodie Starling from the F.B.I. We’re here to protect you.”

Surprise much?

******************************************

Somewhere in a different place, a different woman was talking to a different boy. Where you ask? Beika Central Hospital.

“Where did you come from?” asked Kaito, hostility and fear in his blue eyes as he stared at the platinum blonde woman standing at the edge of his cot. She was silent and still, a feline quality to her, looking like she was ready to pounce on him.

She stared at him seductively, red irises glowing with something indefinable- what could it be? He tried to figure out what emotion was behind those bloody red orbs that scared him to absolute death, but the only word he could come up with was powerful.

“My dear Kaito-kun, I couldn’t help but hear your argument with- what was that girl’s name again? - Aoko, was it?” She avoided his question, throwing her own into the spotlight and causing him to be greatly confused. How would this stranger know about Aoko? About the argument? It was nearly impossible to hear what was going on inside the room when the door was closed, and the only people there had been the usual posse. Heiji, Kazuha, Ran, Hakuba, and Aoko- no Ai.

“Who are you? What do you want?” His tone implied ‘Get out of here before I kill you’ but it was obvious he had neither the strength- nor the courage to do so. His voice was quavering as he stared at her, looking like a bird locked into the eyes of a snake, terrified, but unable to look away. Hypnotized.

“My name is Viura, but feel free to call me anything.” She smiled, hiding her fangs behind her lips, winking at him so for a moment she looked like a normal teenager, cheerful, definitely not evil. “I’m here to help you, Kaito-kun. I can get you out of here for good.”

“I’m leaving in three days anyways. I don’t need you to get out.” It was easy to detect the doubt behind his uneven speech, the urge to fall captive into Viura’s eyes, drawing him deeper and deeper into a mysterious new place, a true enigma….

Suddenly, he jerked his head around; trying to make sure he didn’t stare into those crimson orbs, not wanting be sucked into their depths. Something told him he shouldn’t look no matter what; make sure he wasn’t tricked by those rose-colored eyes, to hold his ground.

“Don’t be like that, Kaito-kun.” She made sure to repeat his name, putting more and more honey into her voice as she continued. It had been a while since she had last used her hypnosis abilities, but they were sure working well. It wouldn’t be long before the boy cracked. She chuckled mentally. The fun hadn’t even started yet. “I only want to help you. You want freedom right? Freedom like that Ai girl suggested?”

She had meant to kill the little girl when she walked by, vulnerable and an easy target, but realized if they noticed Ai was missing, it would cause them to be even more protective of her real target, Kaito. Standing a whole corridor away, using a listening bug she had attached near the room, she heard their banter about ‘going outside’ and ‘don’t leave this room’ giving her all the tools she needed to seduce the boy into her hands.

After the main fire of the dispute was over, she proceeded to her next goal, the assassination of Miyazaki Ryuu. She had snuck into his house, taking note of the voices and scent which told her how many people were in the building. Two adults- and one young boy. Smiling, she poured the gasoline on the ground and dropped the match.

An explosion immediately erupted from where she was standing and she skillfully avoided the plume of flame that threatened to singe off her already short hair, tinted a unique strawberry pink that the inferno made all the more vivid. She heard the screams as the fiery tongues made their way into the kitchen where the family was, and the desperate shoving of chairs as they started to run, much too late, towards the front door, which, unfortunately for them, was quite far from the kitchen. It was a very large house.

A second blast emanated through the building, and she knew that the blaze had found the gas-fueled stove. It was over, her job was done. Skipping out of the house, the fire licked her feet and fire-proof suit, but it felt like a pleasant sauna, warm and comfortable. Not the burning inferno of hell she had made it.

She had left well before the fire trucks arrived, knowing that no matter what they did, there was no way they could bring the dead back to life. Her mission had succeeded; not even all the luck in the world could protect that dragon twice. Especially not from her.

Only thing was, there was part of her that denied she had actually killed Miyazaki Ryuu. This whining, doubtful, annoying part of her that said she had failed. How could she have? What she heard and smelled clearly confirmed the presence of two adults (his parents) and him, the boy. Why the heck would there be another kid in his house at FREAKING dinnertime?

Maybe they had brought another boy over for a ‘playdate’ or whatever they call it now? What if he had a friend, then it could easily be explained. Just because you never had a friend doesn’t mean the possibility doesn’t exist. You have to make sure, Viura. She hated her inside voice that reminded her of Vermouth even though they sounded completely different. It was probably the fact that they were almost always talking trash about her.

She hid her now constantly conflicting emotions about herself and Vermouth behind a well-developed Poker Face, still smiling at Kaito, luring him into her eyes, her being, letting him sink…

“Can you really give me freedom?” he asked, hope in his voice. It was the response she had been waiting for; she had unlocked the tightly sealed gate.

“Quite easily. But I won’t be able to take you back. I wouldn’t want to. Not back to those liars.” Now the true deception began, starting the ruse she would implant in his head.

“Who are you talking about?” he inquired, eyes filled with confusion, suspicion- desire. “Are you talking about my friends?”

“They’re just trying to trick you, Kaito-kun.” Okay, Viura. Don’t break eye contact, and make sure to keep it smooth, realistic. Even if he forgot everything, this kid isn’t stupid. “Don’t you remember me? I’m your best friend, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen you. I missed you so much.”

“I don’t recall ever seeing you before. I remember seeing my friends though. I can remember Aoko.” He narrowed his eyes as he skeptically scanned her face for a hint of pretense, but he couldn’t find anything, only blatant honesty that raised his doubts even higher.

“She tricked you into thinking those things. That sneaky witch.” She put the perfect mixture of emotions into her voice, hatred, disbelief, and disgust. It was done with such perfection that Kaito was starting to feel himself falling in step with her words, believing them despite his intent to look beyond them.

“Where did I know you from?” he asked, curious to learn more about this new, alluring, friend of his.

“You worked with me in the Black Organization. We’re not the bad guys she said we are; we’re trying to save the world. They just want you on their side. Trust me; they’re not here to help you.” She shook her head solemnly, trying to get her point across.

“How do I know whether or not I can trust you?” His face suddenly filled itself with fury as he retaliated, letting out his fear, like a cornered animal. “How do I know who to believe?”

“You don’t, and that’s the problem, Kaito-kun.” She sounded crestfallen, as if truly beaten down by a friend. “I wish I could help you, but if you don’t want it, then I guess I can’t.”

She’s giving me a choice? he thought wonderingly. Even Aoko didn’t do that… “Before we leave for good, can you just let me go outside for a while? Please?”

“You’re going with me? Really, Kaito-kun?” Her features suddenly lit up with delight, while on the inside she was laughing deviously. If Kaito hadn’t chosen to come with her, she’d have been forced to use harsher tactics, more than just plain hypnosis and seduction.

“Yeah, I’m sick of this place.”

*******************************************************

“I feel like something’s wrong,” murmured Ran to Kazuha and Aoko. They were having a sleepover in Shinichi’s house, the girls gathered in Kazuha’s room. Heiji was talking with Hakuba in the library downstairs. “What about you guys?”

“I don’t feel anything.” Kazuha stretched luxuriously, yawning as she extended her arms above her head. She was tired, but not quite ready to go to sleep yet. She was much too tense for that. Aoko and Kaito’s fight had shaken them all.

“I think I know what you’re talking about, Ran-chan,” Aoko said, staring out the window at the half-moon, shrouded slightly by the dark clouds. “I can’t tell exactly what it is, but it makes me think of Kaito.”

She thought their discussion was over. He seemed content enough after she had shot him down, and she hugged him to let him know it was all right. She hadn’t expected him to explode on her.

“I don’t want this!” he screamed, pushing her off. His blue eyes were filled with a fire she hadn’t seen in what felt like absolutely forever, something that was pure determination and a trace of loathing. “I want to go outside! I don’t want to be trapped in here! I hate this frickin’ place!”

“Kaito!” she gasped, taken aback by his sudden outburst. “I thought I promised you that you can leave this place soon!”

“How can I believe you?” he challenged, hopping off of the bed. “You’ve said the same thing for the past few weeks! I took one step out of this room with Ai, and you kicked her out. Do you really know what’s best for me? If you do, then tell me why you think that way!”

The other teenagers sat solemnly on the bench beside the wall, watching the fight unfold right in front of them, unable to do anything to stop the two former best friends from starting all-out nuclear warfare. Ran made a move as if she was about to stand up, but Hakuba pulled her back down. “It’s probably for the best to let them duke it out themselves. It’s their problem, not ours, not even if we want it to be.”

“But-“ she protested, then she calmed down, listening to Shinichi.

Ran, he said. Hakuba’s right, this is their fight. Don’t interfere. They need to decide this for themselves. He heard her small squeak of dissent, but she settled back onto the crowded bench, putting her hands over her ears so she wouldn’t have to hear the arguing. It made her think of when her parents separated. A painful memory she never wanted to revisit.

Curses, insults, heated cries flew across the room, from Aoko to Kaito, Kaito to Aoko, and then silence, as both of them stopped, staring each other angrily in the eye. It was far from a conclusion, but it was the end of round one of which Aoko had won at a bitter cost.

Kaito refused to even go within two feet of her, causing her to cry and beg. With an arrogant, rude ‘hmph!’ he hopped back onto the cot and faced the wall, wishing that there was a window instead of cold hard concrete to look at.

Crying, Aoko walked back towards Ran and Kazuha’s comforting hugs that were half-filled with sympathy. All of them were split between Aoko and Kaito’s decisions, between freedom and safety. Which was the better choice? Not even the high school geniuses Shinichi, Heiji, and Hakuba could figure it out.

All of them fervently hoped they would never have to make that choice. Except Shinichi, who wouldn’t even have the chance to decide. I almost wish I could, he thought, with only Ran to hear. It would at least mean I was still living.

The phone started ringing from downstairs, a distant, impatient bellowing. None of them bothered to get up, knowing that one of the boys would get there first anyways.

“I got it!” cried Hakuba and Heiji at the same time, placing their hands, light and dark, onto the receiver.

“I got here first you know!” said Heiji, a playful, semi-angry frown on his face.

“So what?” scoffed Hakuba, arrogance dancing around in his icy blue eyes. “It’s not like it really matters.”

“Then take your stinking hand of the phone!” cried Heiji, trying to pick it up. “It might be something important!”

“I’ll take it then!” Hakuba pulled the telephone out of Heiji’s grasp, picking it up with a formal voice, his foreign accent ringing through his pleasant words. “Hello, this is the Kudo residence.”

“I usually answer the phone with, ‘This is Heiji speaking’,” protested Heiji, crossing his arms in annoyance.

“That doesn’t really apply here, does it?” questioned Hakuba. “You have to be polite while talking on the phone. This still is Kudo-kun’s house, and if it’s not his, then it’s his parents.” He held put a finger to his lips to tell the dark-skinned teen to shut up, and listened intently. “Mm-hm, mm-hm… WHAT?! WHAT DID YOU SAY?!”

“Oy, Hakuba!” Heiji shook Hakuba furiously when he didn’t respond, the manners that the blond had been spouting about no longer applying based on the shouting that was done into the receiver. Something was really wrong. “What happened? Tell me!”

Hakuba’s face whitened, contrasting with his honey-blond hair, eyes frozen in shock. “Okay, I understand. Give us about half an hour. Thank you.” Shaking, he put down the phone.

“We heard you screaming, Hakuba-kun!” panted Aoko, who had sprinted down the stairs followed by the other two girls. “Did something happen?”

“It-it’s Kuroba-kun. He’s not in his room, and he’s not in the surrounding corridors or anything! His door was found unlocked, as well as nearby emergency exit. They think he escaped.” He looked at Aoko’s devastated face, waiting for the barrage of insults that he had become so used to.

“Kaito,” she whispered, nearly inaudible, lips forming the name several times more, silent as she took in the news. “Are you sure about this?”

“Positive. The doctor wants us to go over right away; he says there’s something that we need to see.” He walked towards the coat stand where his thick leather jacket was hanging. “What’re you waiting for? We can’t let anything happen to Kuroba-kun!”

They stood still for a few moments more, shell-shocked. Then Ran jolted to her senses and followed Hakuba’s lead. “Call a taxi; it can be hard to flag one down from this street. They don’t come very often.”

“Got it.” Hakuba whipped out his cell and started dialing the keys, letting out their little musical beeps. “I would like to request a taxi to Beika District 2-chome, 21-banchi, please. Okay, we’ll be waiting. Thank you.” He turned around to look at the others. “It’ll be here in five minutes, ten minutes tops.”

Aoko fidgeted nervously as she put on her coat, looking as if she were about to throw up from fear and guilt. “It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have been so mad at Kaito; if anything happens to him, I’ll-“

“Nothing’s happened to him yet, Aoko-chan,” assured Kazuha, secretly thinking about when she had thought Heiji had gone missing. “Maybe he’s just sulking and hiding in a corner somewhere. He’ll be fine; he can take care of himself even without his memory.”

She nodded, tears falling down her face, singeing her skin as they rolled down. Kazuha’s words meant nothing to her. Why did I have to be so darn harsh? Maybe if I had just listened for a while, maybe if I hadn’t been so damn stubborn this wouldn’t have happened!

“Could you get yourself to the hospital right now, Ai-chan?” Ran was talking on her cell phone, explaining the situation to a sleepy Ai. “I’m sorry for waking you up, but it’s important. Please?”

It must have been a yes, because Ran was smiling in a half-hearted way as she ended the call. “If he’s hiding, Ai-chan probably has the best chance of calling him out right now. She was on his side.”

“I thought I knew what was best for him. Funny how an elementary-schooler beat me there, isn’t it?” Aoko murmured, voice cracking.

“She’s had a lot of experience with things like this; maybe even worse things.” Heiji started walking out the open door, waving at a bright yellow car. “Taxi’s here, let’s go!”

*********************************

“You haven’t been able to find him yet?” cried Aoko in disbelief as she burst into the room, shouting at the doctors. “Why?” They had gathered into Kaito’s empty room, staring at the floor, avoiding Aoko’s harsh glares. One of them approached her warily, swallowing before he spoke.

“We’ve tried searching most of the wings, but we didn’t see him anywhere. And I think it might have been-“ The doctor mumbled something indecipherable. Heiji strained his ears to hear, but he couldn’t even make it out.

“What was that?” she asked, an accusing tone in her voice. “What do you think it might have been?”

“A kidnapping,” a nurse answered for the incoherent doctor. “Somebody left a note on the bed. Here it is.”

The rest of them gathered around Aoko as she read the note, realizing quickly that it was Kaito’s handwriting she was reading. A beautiful messy scrawl that she could recognize anywhere.

I’m not really sure what to do anymore and I don’t know even what the truth is. Someone came in to pick me up, someone I think I can trust. I don’t know if I can trust any of you after what happened today, and I don’t want to face it again. Viura said you were all lying to me and I listened to her. I’m leaving to go with her. If this is the wrong choice, then sorry to you all, but I don’t think it is. Send the little girl Ai my regards; she’s the only one who thought like I did.

Kuroba Kaito

Or is it Bordeaux?

Aoko’s knees gave in, and her tears smeared the messy inked handwriting as she cried into her hands, feeling the full effect of her mistake. She felt somebody tap her on the shoulder, but she didn’t react, preferring to sniffle alone.

“The ink is still smudging, and it’s a kind I recognize.” Heiji rubbed his finger against the paper, his detective instincts taking over. “It hasn’t been over an hour since he wrote this, we might still be able to find him; it would be impossible for him to have gone very far.”

“Viura,” whispered Ai, who had just arrived, wearing a coat and striped pajamas underneath. She hadn’t had time to change when Ran’s desperate call woke her out of deep slumber. “I recognize that name.” Her face blanched with fear, and her eyes stared straight forwards, remembering those fearful blood red irises. Viura. A woman who was part of- No, this could not be happening.

“Wait, Ai-chan, do you mean-“exclaimed Ran, remembering how Ai had explained the camping incident to them, the phantom bomber who had disappeared. A young woman, slightly older than a teenager, with a wicked smile, short strawberry-tinted blonde hair, snake fangs...

With her face as pale as the snow lying on the ground outside, she spoke, her voice quavering, eyes staring at the ground. “He’s been taken by the Organization.”

Feb 25, 2011

Blog Update

We've been tinkering around a bit with the blog here and there as you can see, but this marks the first major blog update.
At 9:40 P.M EST, the blog will be shut down to all members except authors. Authors, please do not post until 9:00 A.M EST the next day.

Feb 23, 2011

The Leap

The Leap

Part One: I Jump

"Ran-neechan!" calls Conan, who is waist deep in the azure water. He wears slightly lopsided snorkels, and is waving at me, urging me to come into the ocean with him. He wears a bright smile on his now nine year old face, but it hasn’t really changed since the first day I met him. I want to smile back at him, but I can’t seem to get my lips to form the shape I want them to.

I've found it very hard to smile since that day, even just a little bit. The day where Shinichi left and never came back, when he broke all his promises, and left me alone, crying in his room. I still try to cling to the memory of his arms wrapped around my waist, and the feeling of his lips as we kissed. His strong, powerful voice, full of confidence, his eyes, every single detail of that glorious week where he was mine, and mine alone…

It's been one month since that then. He told me he loved me more than anything else in the world, and that he never wanted to leave my side. He told me that he was going to stay, and that he was sorry for disappearing for so long. He told me that he wasn't leaving again. Ever.

"Ran." I can hear his voice in my head, see his beautiful eyes. They are glowing a brilliant blue, like a sapphire, and are radiating with fiery warmth. The intensity of his gaze washes over me like a wave, and I can't seem to breathe. "I love you." He leans in towards me, and I can feel the sparks fly-

"Ran-neechan, are you okay?" Conan is standing in front of me now, dripping wet with salt water. He has a concerned look on his face. It appears much too often now; an expression filled with much more worry than a boy his age should be. It's almost as if he knows the depth of the pain I'm going through even though I do my best to hide it.

I feign a comforting smile; trying my best to make him think I'm the same neechan he had two months ago. The bright, happy Mouri Ran who was never down for long, always strong, always waiting for the day her best friend would come home.

Two months ago, Shinichi had called and said he might be coming home soon, news I was almost tired of hearing. Conan's parents also called, saying they wanted to take him back to the US with them. Surprisingly, he hadn't argued, and left willingly with his mom who picked him up. Three days later, Shinichi appeared at my front door.

"Ran, I'm back!" yells a much too familiar voice as loud steps sound from the stairway. I freeze in my dad's office where I'm cleaning up, unable to believe my ears. It’s been so long since I’ve heard that voice for real, I feel like I’m dreaming. Because it’s only in my dreams that he comes back to me.

But it’s not a dream, and the door opens to reveal Shinichi, who is dressed in casual attire and has a huge smile on his face. Without warning, he approaches and hugs me. His warm arms are around my waist, his sweet breath in my ear as he whispers, "I've missed you so much."

"I'm fine, Conan-kun. You shouldn't worry about me so much. It's not something you need to be concerned about. I'm alright." I cannot keep myself from crouching down and looking him in the eye, seeing sorrow in his eyes, the ones identical to Shinichi's.

I grab him and squeeze him tight, needing to feel his tiny body against mine. There's no protest, and I can feel him hug me back. There are no glasses hiding his face, so I can see every detail clearly. His evenly toned skin, his bangs, the little blush spreading across his face. Everything about him just reminds me about Shinichi.
It hurts so much to even think about him, remember the note he left behind.

I'm so sorry I couldn't keep my promise, Ran. I'm sorry I couldn't stay. –Shinichi

After all he'd done, all he could say was sorry. It was the only thing he said during his only phone call following his departure. "I'm so sorry, Ran. If I had a choice, I'd be with you now." It had sounded like he was about to cry, something I could never imagine him doing. I was crying as I screamed my anger at him, asking him why he couldn’t come home, and why he just couldn’t stay like he promised.

"Conan-kun, I'm so hopeless, aren't I?" There are warm tears spilling down my face. They fall onto his shoulders, where they blend in with the drops of water dripping from his wet dark-brown hair. He frowns and opens his mouth to answer, but I don't let him speak. I want him to know just a little bit more of my feelings, how much it hurts. "I just can't forget about that deduction geek no matter how hard I try. I don't want to remember him anymore, it hurts so much. But it hurts too much to forget him too; I love him more than anything. I'm so utterly hopeless. Conan-kun, what do you think I should do?" It probably isn’t a good idea to ask a seven year old about love, a topic he probably doesn’t understand, but I want to hear what he’s going to say, because it always sounds like what I feel Shinichi would tell me.

"Ran-neechan," he starts, hesitating as his blue eyes flicker. He looks as if he is about to cry, but he wears a strong mask. His deep blue irises are filled with guilt that I can't comprehend; he has nothing to blame himself for. "Ran-neechan. You should probably try to forget Shinichi-niichan." He looks away from me, shifting his gaze to the pale sand with beautiful seashells scattered across the surface. "I don't think he can come back. He'd understand."

Conan will always say things beyond his age. He tends to talk about what Shinichi would want me to do, how he would be okay with it, just as if he were Shinichi.

I have long since shoved that theory out the door, knowing Shinichi won't keep something as big as turning into a little kid secret from me. Even before he confessed his love, I know he would care enough to tell me something that was hurting me so much. Shinichi won't let me suffer like this, not if he is the boy standing in front of me.

But sometimes, the theory isn't so farfetched and I almost have myself believing it. With how much I miss him, and their nearly identical looks, it isn't difficult for me to mistake Conan as Shinichi. I almost see Shinichi now, reflected in those bottomless blue orbs. "Conan-kun, do you really believe that? That Shinichi would want me to forget about him?"

It becomes one of those moments where everything seems to come to a standstill; the frolicking kids playing around us, the noisy sea gulls, and even the crashing of waves. It is an endless moment where Conan closes his eyes as if in pain, then blinks them open, warmth and sorrow in his gaze. "He wants what's best for you, Ran-neechan. Even if it means cutting him out of the picture."

"You remind me of him so much, Conan-kun. I wish that you could be him, that way I wouldn't hurt so much." He is silent now, not knowing how to respond. I realize not for the first time that I never know what he's thinking. What exactly is behind that enigmatic gaze.

I'm so glad he convinced his parents to let him come back to Japan; I don't think I could live without him. That smile, those bright blue eyes are all that have kept me wanting to live on. His childish chatter, his cute innocence, the things that keep me from remembering Shinichi. All my friends will talk about is him, and I shut them out. All my parents will talk about is finding another guy, and I shooed them away. Conan avoids all of those touchy topics, and just plows right ahead with anything else; a movie, a TV show, what’s going on in his class, anything to keeps me from thinking about Shinichi.

My father and mother were extremely worried about me at first, when I spent all day locked in my bedroom crying. I might have died from malnutrition had it not been for Conan's adorable boyish voice calling for me from the other side of the door, begging for me to come out. I had opened the door, bent down and hugged him, whispered out my sorrows the same way I am now.

"Shinichi-niichan never meant to hurt you. He wants to come back, but he can't. He's so sorry." His voice is cracking, and now he is crying with me. I wipe away the tear from his eye, and apologize for dropping all of my troubles onto him. I am really such a selfish person. Why should Conan have to worry about me?

"I'm so sorry for leaving you all these months without even a phone call, Ran." Shinichi is smiling apologetically, still grasping my arms. He looks so happy; unlike all the other times he returned. He does not appear sick, a first. It’s as if nothing ever happened; nothing ever tore us apart.

"When are you leaving again, Shinichi?" I ask, knowing every time he came back, he would suddenly disappear, leaving me heartbroken once again. I wanted to know how much time I would have before that happened- so I would at least have a warning.

"I'm staying for good this time. Forever. It's because I love you Ran. More than anyone else in this world." His eyes smolder, making me melt in the intensity of that sapphire gaze. He leans forwards, and gently pressed his lips to mine. "Will you accept my feelings, Ran?" How can I not? His kiss was sweet and delicate, and want more…

"Yes, Shinichi. I do." He smiles, and then kisses me again, and this time, it's more forceful, more passionate, and is fueled by a surprising. It's like I can't breathe...

"Conan-kun, how about I go swimming with you? Maybe I'll cheer up a little bit." He nods, his bangs bobbing up and down, and starts pulling me towards the waves. I need a distraction from my torturous memories- they only make me want to see Shinichi more.

"You'll love it, Ran-neechan! The water's really nice!" His worries seemed to have evaporated instantly as a huge grin is set in place, made real by his childish energy. However, it seems slightly forced, and I am struck with a thought that he might be pretending as much as I am. Don’t be silly, Ran. Conan’s biggest concerns are probably about whether or not he’ll be able to play. Not love troubles.’

"Wait a second, Conan-kun! I need to put my hat away!" I take off my hat and place in on the chair I had brought for our trip to the beach. My dad had won a free night's stay at a local hotel during a lottery, but had been too busy to come with us.

We are on an island a few miles away from the mainland; a beautiful place famous for its coral reefs and rocky beaches. Conan has been thoroughly enjoying himself until my little 'incident' and I didn't mean to spoil his fun. I tried to treat the vacation as a temporary reprieve from the constant troubles of home, but the majority had followed me here. Why couldn't I stop thinking about Shinichi?

Maybe it was because he'd always been part of my life, one way or another. The annoying boy at school, the deduction geek who became my best friend, my savior, my most important person. We were always linked, hand in hand, until he disappeared without a word.

He'd left me in the dark, without even a hint of his whereabouts. When he called me the first time after that, he told me he'd be back soon, and not to worry about him. 'Soon' turned into months, and he became merely a voice, a ghost that kept on calling. A ghost that couldn't even tell me where he was; a ghost that gave me little more than empty promises.

I was always so worried about him; there was no case or even a string of cases that could keep Shinichi occupied for so long. When he came back the first time, he claimed Conan had told him to come, but he left just as quickly as he arrived. During the school play, he appeared, and it seemed as if I were living a dream. I'd had a whole day with him and I believed he was back for good. Out of all the times he could have left, it was in the middle of what I now referred to as ‘the date’, breaking my heart worse than he had before.

I won’t go back to the several other times where he’d appear for just a single day, telling me that he needed to tell me something important, and leaving before he could. I skip straight to that week where he came back, and told me that he loved me.

“Ran, I don’t want to let you go, ever.” He buries his face in my hair, and whispers into my ear. We are still standing in my dad’s office, his arms around me again, pulling me against his body. I can’t believe this is real, and that he is actually back. That he promised he was never leaving again.

“Shinichi, did you finish your case?” I ask curiously, wanting to know what has kept him occupied for so long.

“No, it’s not finished yet. But I decided I didn’t want to work on it anymore. I wanted to be free.” I don’t ask for the meaning behind his words, I just accept it.

We spend the week as if we were in a dream, making up for all the lost months that we missed. We explore Tokyo; go back to Tropical Land, where he tells me his case started. He tells me that somebody had tried to murder him, and that he had been trying to catch that man. However, he had to keep himself hidden, or else he’d be made a target again.

“Is he still out there?” He nods, noting the distress in my eyes. Shinichi had almost been killed, and it was why he had been hiding. But he never told me why one person could be so dangerous.

“I couldn’t capture him, but I don’t think anybody can. It’s out of my ability. But don’t worry about me; he won’t come back, I swear.” He leans in, and presses his lips against mine. “All we have to worry about, is you and me. Nothing else. Okay, Ran?”

“Okay.”

A cold wave washes over my face, taking the happy memory with it. I gasp in shock as Conan laughs wholeheartedly, and I join in to the melodious sound of his giggles. “You look so funny, Ran-neechan! There’s seaweed in your hair!” I pick out the offending object, and throw it at him. It smacks him on the nose and sticks there, starting our seaweed battle.

I am actually entertained, throwing myself into it, having fun for one of the first times since Shinichi left. Conan seems to have the ability to lift my sorrow replace it with joy using his enthusiasm, and I truly appreciate it. I could not have a better boy as my little brother.

We stay in the ocean until about dinnertime, where I force him out of the water, despite the protests.

“But Ran-neechan! I wanna play some more!” he whines, trying to win me over with puppy dog eyes. It further confirms that Conan is Conan, and not Shinichi. Shinichi would never debase himself to acting like such a little kid.

“You can play tomorrow, Conan-kun. We’re not leaving until the afternoon.” I flick his nose, and he turns his nose and pouts. I giggle, and start pulling him back towards where our chairs are set up. “Carry your stuff, okay? I’ll handle the chairs.” I hand him his beach toys, a shovel and a bucket, and I take the heavier cargo. He takes one last glance at the beach before we set up towards the hotel.

“Two seats please,” I tell the maĆ®tre as we enter the formal and expensive restaurant. Dad’s lucky win had covered all costs, so I was definitely going to take advantage of this. It required women to wear dresses, and men to wear tuxs, so I put Conan in his little suit even though kids could be dressed casually. I thought it looked cute. My dress was long and white; it made me think of a wedding dress. Shinichi had promised me that one day, we’d be married, and tears rolled down my face once more.

“I want us to be together forever, Ran.” He kneels down, and takes my hand, blue eyes glittering with emotion. “Will you marry me?” I am taken aback by this, and I can hardly breathe, hardly take in this sudden turn of events.

“Shinichi, we’re only twenty!” I reply blushingly, the red spreading to my ears as the people around us begin to stare.

“Is that a no?” he teases playfully, knowing full well that I wouldn’t refuse him. “You know I really mean it, right? I bought you a ring.” He takes out a small box covered in purple velvet, and opens it to reveal a small red ruby set in a perfect gold circle. “You said red was the color of the string that connects us, didn’t you? Do you like it?”

“Shinichi, you know I’m saying yes, but isn’t it a little bit early? We should wait a little bit, so perhaps my dad won’t kill you.” I don’t feel I’m ready to walk down the aisle, all eyes on me, but I do want him beside me. Marriage just seems like an extra, a step that isn’t necessary at the moment.

“Fine, but when the time comes, you will marry me. Promise?” His sapphire irises are glittering with hope, and the setting sun tints his face a slight red. He wears a gentle smile so different from his usual arrogance. This is a different type of confidence.

“I promise.”

“Ran-neechan, our table’s ready!” Conan is jumping up and down, trying to pull me towards the open chairs. I let myself be driven forward, and sit down on the opposite side of him. The waitress hands him a kid’s menu, and he scans it quickly, looking for his favorite dish. I view mine a little slower, trying to keep myself from remembering all the memories.

“I’ll just take this pasta dish right here.” I point to an Italian dish that I can’t pronounce without bothering to read the description. I don’t want to read it; it might make me think of that night in the restaurant.

“Good choice,” agrees the waitress. “Can I get you two something to drink?”

“I want a juice! Lemonade please!” calls Conan loudly, smiling widely. The waitress smiles back at him, and writes down his drink. “I want the chicken tenders too!”

“Just give me an ice water.” She walks away, leaving just me and Conan. He doesn’t seem very talkative, and hardly brings up anything during our dinner. When he does talk, he seems to be trying to pry into my thoughts, and I ward him off.

We stop by our room after dinner, where Conan changes into more comfortable clothing. My dad calls and asks how we’re doing. “I’m fine, dad. It’s great out here. I wish you could have come.” I sound like a postcard, and I know it. He seems concerned, but eventually he forgets about it and tells me about his latest case.

I take out the hotel notepad and start doodling on it while he’s talking, not wanting to be rude and hang up. With just a couple ‘mm-hm’s and ‘yeah’s in the right spots, he thinks I’m actually giving him my full and undivided attention. I look back at the hotel notepad, and realize I’ve drawn an eye; one that looks shockingly like Shinichi’s- or is it Conan’s?

“Ran-neechan, didn’t you say you wanted to go out on the cliffs?” asks Conan innocently, peering out the window at the soon to-be setting sun. It’s beautiful, and I nod. It’s one of the reasons I agreed to come on this vacation.

“Dad, we’ve got to go. The sun’s setting soon and we don’t want to miss it.” I hear a protest from the other line before I end the call, but I get up and put the notepad and pen in my pocket. I want to finish the drawing.

I hold Conan’s hand as we walk up the steep, rocky path to the cliff, where there is a clear view of the sun, a red jewel set in a pink sky. There are several other people there too, spread out across the flat, smooth surface, perfect for watching the scene in front of us.

Conan leans over the edge of the cliff, and I slowly pull him back, not wanting him to fall down the fifty feet into the rocks and water below. The sun is starting to sink into the ocean now, turning the crystalline blue into a bloody red, and drawing several ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’. Conan suddenly jumps up and smacks his forehead.

“Ran-neechan! Where’s the camera?” He looks around, trying to see if I have brought it. I haven’t; I had forgotten it in the hotel room.

“I left it on the desk, let me go get it.”

“No let me, Ran-neechan. I’ll be right back. Can I have the key?” I hand it to him, and he sprints off, dodging the others who are walking up the hill.

“Don’t lose the key, Conan-kun!” I yell after his retreating figure, seeing it fade into the crowd.

Now that I’m alone, my pain comes back to me, and I sit on the edge, letting my legs dangle over it. I stare at the rocks, the crashing waves, and suddenly an idea comes to me. A way to escape my pain.

I hesitate, thinking about the consequences. Who will be hurt? Who would suffer from my death? I shrug these off, knowing that Conan will be back in an instant and my resolve will be shattered. I have only this one instant.

I pull out the notebook, and write three notes. One is for my parents, one is for Conan, and the last one is for Shinichi. I do not blame him, but I let him know I couldn’t stand waiting anymore. The one I write to Conan is the hardest, because I truly do not want to hurt him. I know he will cry, and he will have lost his neechan. But I tell him I want him to move on, because he deserves better than to waste away on my death.

I place the notes under a rock, and stand up, the dying rays of the sun lighting up my face. The people behind me don’t notice; they think I’m merely admiring the view just like them, not slowly moving my feet towards the edge.

I don’t look down, not wanting to see the churning water. I place my toes on the precipice, feeling the wind in my hair. I pretend I’m on a diving board, and bend my legs. I hear gasps behind me, and the scrambling feet. I hear Conan’s scream, but I do not stop.

I jump.

Part Two: I Follow

I climb up the ridge just in time to see her disappear over the edge. Her hair was flowing like a dark chocolate river, shining in the dying rays, her dress fluttering in the breeze, and I could see tears running down her face, glistening like diamonds as they fell to the rocks below. I see her rise as if she is about to take off in flight, a smile on her face, and then she falls- she can’t have jumped- into the ocean below.

I run to the edge, hoping somehow I can stop her from falling, bring her up again. I am about to jump over myself but a pair of strong arms grab me, restraining me. Looking up, I realize it’s a grizzled old man with the air of a seaman. He closes his eyes and shakes his head, willing me to understand that it is much too late.

It does not keep me from trying to fight my way out of his grip, wishing that I could. If I were Kudo Shinichi, it would have been easy. If I were Kudo Shinichi, maybe I could make my way down and save Ran. But Kudo Shinichi would never walk the earth again.

“Kudo-kun, here is the permanent antidote.” Haibara hands me a small pill that looks almost identical to all of the previous ones. I look at it in hope, a huge smile on my face. This means I could lose Conan forever, and become Shinichi once more. This means I can be with Ran. “Remember, there’s no changing back so make sure to say your good-byes before Edogawa Conan is gone.”

I nod, almost ready to jump up and down in joy. I cannot wait to feel the burning sensation this time, the feeling of pain spreading across my body, killing Conan in the flames, and letting Shinichi being born from the ashes. Like a phoenix. I have the professor call Ran using my ‘mom’s’ voice, telling her that Conan was leaving for America. I say good-bye to the Detective Boys, and Ayumi cries. I comfort her, but it sounds fake. I am looking forward to changing back.

I can hardly stand waiting as I hide out at the Professor’s house. Haibara says it’ll look suspicious if Kudo Shinichi appears right after Edogawa Conan disappears, and I agree unwillingly. Three days later, I take the antidote, and become Shinichi once more.

“Stop struggling, boy. It’s no use. The water’s too strong. Not even the fish’ll can swim in there.” I am called back into reality, where the waves are crashing upon the rocks, at least fifty feet below. The water is white and foaming, impossible to survive in. I still don’t want to believe it though- Ran was always so alive, she wouldn’t let herself be killed by the current, would she?

The crowd is taking in the full effect of what has just happened, and they are now in a panic. ‘Call the police!’ I hear them cry. ‘Call in ambulance!’ Many lean over the precipice, trying to see if they catch a glimpse of the body. I stop struggling in the man’s arms. It’s been at least two minutes, not even Ran could hold her breath for that long.

Say it, Kudo. She’s dead. D-E-A-D dead. My inner voice tortures me, and I can’t stand the sound of it. I don’t want to say it out loud, because it will make it real. Maybe I’m dreaming, maybe I can still wake up from this nightmare.

I pinch myself, once, twice, thrice, and still find myself on the cliff, where the light is fading quickly, turning the crimson rose petal red to a midnight blue, stars sprinkled like glitter across the horizon. The police are running up the hill and they fight their way through the masses of people who have gathered. The old man finally lets me go, knowing that this time, I will not run. I cannot move my feet, only my eyes still capable of motion.

Everything seems to be moving in slow motion, the waves are crashing, taking several seconds to hit the rocks where they took barely one before, the seagulls spiraling in the sky seem to be still, no longer letting out their squawking. The police are barely walking speed, and the crowd even more sluggish. My eyes point to the ground, finding a rock with a corner of paper sticking out from under it. It can’t be.

Somehow, my legs unfreeze, and I crouch down and move the rock, snatching up three small notes from under it. Suicide notes. I can’t process it. Ran committing suicide. It must be my fault; I should never have gone back to her and told her all those things. I shouldn’t have promised her all those things.

One is addressed to her parents, and I place it in my pocket. I can see occhan’s crying face and obaa-san’s tears as they learn about the death of their daughter. They can’t possibly have heard the news yet; I am the only one who knows the girl who leaped over to her death. The second is to Conan. I carefully unfold it, and read it in the last rays of the sun.

Dear Conan-kun,

I’m sorry that I can’t be there for you anymore, and I’m sorry that you won’t have a neechan. I’m sorry that I wasn’t brave enough to live on for you, but I want you to know that you’re the one that has kept me living all this time. I’ve loved your laughter, your smile, everything. I would have loved to see you grow up, but I can’t stand another day here. It hurts too much. Even if you can’t understand it, I feel only death can give me the peace I want. Please don’t blame yourself for anything, and don’t grieve too much. What I’m about to do might be a mistake, but I feel it is necessary. Please live on after this, if for nothing else, for me. You deserve a future at least, and I hope you make it there.

I’m sorry,

Ran

I cry. This letter is meant for the innocent nine-year old that she has known; the one that didn’t understand exactly what she was going through. This letter is meant for Edogawa Conan, a boy that doesn’t exist, a boy that was just a ploy in the first place. This letter is meant for her little brother, who will only miss her as a sister. This letter isn’t meant for Kudo Shinichi.

There is one last note, and I know exactly who it is for. It is for me, the Shinichi me. I don’t have the courage to read it now, and the light is much too dim for any hope of reading it. The police are around me now, and one of them lays a hand on my shoulder. It is Inspector Takagi, and he has a frown on his face.

“Conan-kun, what happened?” His face is filled with worry, and I have to pause and swallow my tears before I answer, voice shaking.

“It’s- it’s Ran-neechan.” I have to force myself to say it. Neechan. At the moment, it doesn’t feel right to say the words, when the reason she jumped was because of Shinichi. “She-she jumped over the cliff. She’s gone, Takagi-keiji!” He lets me embrace him, because I simply need somebody to hold onto. At least he knew Ran, and he knew me. Maybe not Shinichi, but he knew Conan, and that part of me needs comfort too.

“There, there, Conan-kun.” I can hear him about to say ‘It’s alright’ but he knows it would be lying. There is nothing that anybody can say to me to make me feel better. There is nothing.

Soon, the news spreads, and occhan and obaa-san arrive, crying into each other’s arms. I hand them the note that Ran has left behind, and they cry even harder. I still do not have the courage to read the note she has left for Shinichi, knowing that if I do, I might break into two.

We go back to the hotel room while we wait for news. The Coast Guard has been sent out to try and find her body; however the chances that it has sunk into the ocean are greater. The part of the water that she has jumped into is full of rocks, and it is much too dangerous for the boats to enter. We wait, and no news comes.

“Ran, I’m back!” I call to her, running up the stairs of the detective office. It feels so great, running up these stairs at my normal size instead of being a child, having to stretch my legs for each step. It feels effortless, my legs taking the once long strides easily, and I open the door.

She looks so surprised, and a smile lights up her face. Her eyes are like sapphires, twinkling and shining in the fluorescent light and the golden rays that come through the window. I know I’m smiling too; I haven’t been so happy in a long time. I rush forward and embrace her, hear her sudden ‘oh’ of shock, and I whisper into her sweet chocolate brown hair. “I’ve missed you so much.”

I miss her now, but I know that I will miss her forever. That I can wait all I want, but she’ll never, ever come back. And it’s all my fault. I still haven’t opened her last letter, but I have snuck a peek. There is a drawing of an eye on the front, one that is tearing up with emotion, one that looks so much like her own.

I do not show the note to occhan or okaa-san, knowing that if I do, they’ll start blaming me, Shinichi, and I’ll blurt out my secret.

But the secret was meant for her, wasn’t it? taunts the evil little voice inside my head. If she’s dead, then you have nothing to hide anymore. You can tell anybody, can’t you? Wouldn’t it be a relief for the Black Organization to hunt you down? Kill you? Wouldn’t it?

No! I’m still Edogawa Conan. There’s more than one person I was lying to. The secret was meant for Ran, but now it’s for so many other people as well. She’s not the only person who was protected by it. I’m keeping it safe.

You’re just afraid everybody will blame you for her death. But it’s true, isn’t it? If you didn’t leave her, it would never have happened. She was happier before you went to her and broke her heart. I want that voice to shut up, but I know it’s telling the truth.

I don’t want to say my secret, because everybody will blame me. I don’t want them to blame me, because it already hurts so much. It hurts so much because I know it’s my fault.

“Ran, I don’t want to let you go. Ever.” I tell her, my face still buried in her hair which smells of flowers. I’ve know this scent as Conan, but it feels so special now; I’m the one who is holding her, instead of the other way around. I am no longer a defenseless child. I am Kudo Shinichi.

I’ve promised her I’m not leaving this time, that I’m staying for good. The antidote’s supposed to be permanent, so I can stay this time. I’ve never left because I wanted to; I’ve only left because I was forced to. Because in a way, I was too cowardly and too noble to tell her my secret.

I am afraid that she’d be angry at me, for never telling her something so important. I know that the sooner I tell her, the less angry she’ll be, but it won’t stop her anger from coming. I end up never telling her, the secret that I’ve hidden.

“Shinichi, what about your case?” she asks, eyes glittering with worry and curiosity. Those eyes melt me to the core, and make me want to cry. I can actually look into those eyes now, and tell her that everything will be fine. She never truly believed me as Conan, now she will.

“No, it’s not finished yet. But I decided I didn’t want to work on it anymore. I wanted to be free.” I tell her the truth; I was sick of fighting the Organization and never winning. I was sick of losing every single time when victory seemed so close at hand.

She accepts my answer, and we make up for all of those lost months. I tell her all I can without revealing the truth about Conan, and she listens readily. She doesn’t interrupt, she just takes it in and accepts it, and it feels like I’m living in a dream. I bring her to Tropical Land and explain how everything started, her expression fluctuates from interest, to worry, to fear, to anger, to sorrow.

She smiles and says, “I understand. If I were you, I might have done the same thing.” She hugs me, and I embrace her. We kiss, and I know that everything is okay.

Her body was never found, so we go back to Tokyo and attend her funeral, but it’s more like a memorial service. She’s not there, so I find it hard to sit quietly during the mourning period. When I am asked to speak, my voice catches in my throat and I can hardly let it out.

“Ran-neechan was a great sister, and I’m so sad that she died. I will always remember her.” It’s all I can say before I burst into tears. Occhan hugs me and then takes the stand, talking about how great she was, her accomplishments, and what kind of person she was. Kind and caring to the end.

Obaa-san can’t talk; she can hardly keep her eyes open through the tears. Almost everybody that knew Ran is here. Sonoko is crying onto Makoto’s shoulder, because he has come despite the fact that he had a competition. He knew he needed to comfort Sonoko during this hard time. I should have been there for Ran when she needed me, so maybe she would still be alive.

Kazuha and Hattori are here, and Hattori comes over and says he’s sorry. “I’m sorry that things worked out this way, Kudo,” he whispers to me after occhan lets me go and nobody is in earshot. “I’m sorry that she died.”

“Thank you, Hattori,” I say. Haibara and the Professor are here, but neither approach me. Haibara is blaming herself for not making a better antidote, and in a way I blame her too. She had promised me it was permanent, and I believed her.

Just that afternoon, I proposed to her. She had accepted. Even though she said she wanted to wait a year or two, we were happy and content. We were staying the night at my house; we were inseparable ever since I had turned back. Nothing improper of course, it was more like a sleepover. Like what we’d do when we were little kids.

I said, “Good night, I love you Ran.” She murmured good night back. Her azure eyes close, and she smiles, drifting off into peaceful slumber. I watch her as I slowly drift off, marveling at how beautiful she is. Then, a burning pulse beats through my body, lighting me on fire.

At first, I don’t know what it is. Then, I remember the feeling. This is the feeling of changing back into Conan, the feeling that I hated above all others. I hardly hold in the scream when it comes, but I manage to do it, and Ran is sleeping through my pain. I am Conan once more.

I charge to the Professor’s house demanding to see Haibara despite the late hour. She comes up to me, and can only stare in shock while she says, “It was supposed to be permanent. I don’t know why.” She spends the next hour absorbed in her research, and I wait impatiently on the couch, wanting to know the reason why I was Conan again.

When she comes back up, I am devastated. “It would have been permanent, had you not taken the drug so many times before. Your body was almost immune to it, therefore, you changed back. I don’t think it’s possible for you to ever turn back into Kudo Shinichi again. I’m sorry, Kudo-kun.”

Crying, I run back to my house, and leave a note where I had been sleeping.

I’m so sorry that I couldn’t keep my promise, Ran. I’m so sorry I couldn’t stay.

~Shinichi

‘Sorry’ is the only word that people say to me that day. ‘I’m sorry you lost her’, ‘I’m sorry she died’, ‘I’m sorry.” I am sick of ‘sorry’; it’s a terrible excuse for hiding the truth. It’s a terrible excuse in general. There needs to be a better word for saying sorry, but if there is, I don’t know it. I just wish that somebody would say something else.

The days fly by, and I am almost a living rock. Emotionless, silent, just living life as it came to me. The Detective Boys started avoiding me, not wanting to incur my wrath. Not even Haibara talked to me, knowing that I would explode on her.

Hattori stays in Tokyo, and is the only one who can comfort me, even just a little. He can understand me; he has a girl who is like Ran, except she is still alive. He can imagine what it would be like if she killed herself to free herself from the pain of living without him. He doesn’t say ‘sorry’ after that day; he just brings back old memories of Ran, and they hurt. But they’re better than the pitiful excuses that everybody else gives me.

I still have not opened the note, the one that she has left for Shinichi. I still do not tell the truth to everybody, as it will tear me apart. I feel like I am living Ran’s final days, where she is hopeless with longing for me. Except I was always there with her. She’s gone forever.

I sneak out of the detective office, destination in mind. I have money for a taxi and a ferry; just enough for a one way trip. It’s afternoon, and the sun is beating down.

Nobody is with me as I climb onto the boat, and wait in the cabin for the three hour journey to the island where she died. The note that she has left me is in my pocket, and I am going to read it soon.

I climb up the ridge as the sun starts to set, and there is nobody there. It has become a much less popular spot since she died, and there is a small cross where she jumped off. I look down into the crashing waves, the white foam speckled with fire from the dying rays, and they look like rose petals. I smile.

I pull out the note she left, and I read it.

Dear Shinichi,

I’m not sure about what to say, and I don’t know what to do. I just want you to know that it’s not your fault I’m about to jump, and I don’t want you to blame yourself. I am not going to commit suicide because of you, I’m committing suicide because I don’t have you.

The last time you called, it felt like a good-bye, like a death sentence. I’ve had a bad feeling since then. It was like you died, because you promised you’d stay no matter what. Even though you left, I know you would never break such an important promise.

I can’t stand living without you; that one week was enough to tell me that. I wanted to marry you, have children, and live our lives together. I wasn’t brave enough to live another day and wait for you. I’m sorry for that.

I want you to know that you should live on, and not grieve over me. I want you to live your future, and live for me. Please help Conan-kun through this, because I know he’ll have a hard time. That is, maybe, if he isn’t you.

I’ve suspected it for a while, but you probably think I’m being ridiculous. I think I am, but I had to write it down. Sometimes I feel Conan-kun is closer to me than you, but it feels like you are there with me. Strange, isn’t it?

The sun is setting, and I wish you could see it with me. It’s quite beautiful, and I’m glad I can die with the sun. I’m sorry that I couldn’t wait for you. I’m sorry.

~Ran

It does nothing but make me approach the edge faster, and I look out at the same sun that she had written about. A beautiful bloody red mixed with orange, a bright orange, like an orchid, all spread out over the deep blue sea, which is showing tints of yellow and pink. I let go of the note, and it flies behind me, carried by the wind.

I take one step. Then another. I smile.

I follow.

………..

…………

………….

………………..

………………………..

Why haven’t I fallen yet? The distance between me and the ocean hasn’t changed a bit. My collar feels unnaturally tight. I look up and see Hattori holding onto the hood of my jacket, teeth clenched, emerald eyes filled with determination.

“Do you really think I’d let you die, Kudo?” he asks, starting to pull me up.

“Let me go, Hattori!” I start to unzip my jacket, wanting to fall into the waves below. “I want to die! I want to be with Ran!”

“Don’t talk like that, Kudo-kun.” It’s Haibara speaking, and I can see her leaning over the edge, staring into my eyes. “A lot of people would miss you; not to mention a lot of people would miss Edogawa Conan.”

“I don’t care! A lot of people miss Ran, but they can move on!” I scream at them, why have they come? I want to die more than anything else right now. Why can’t they just understand? “I can’t! That’s why I’m jumping!”

“Kudo, she would want you to live! Haibara, read him the note!” I freeze, it must have flown towards them.

“I want you to know that you should live on, and not grieve over me. I want you to live your future and live for me. That’s quoted right from this, you know.” I’m back on solid ground again, trying to fight Hattori’s tight grip.

“Nobody wants you to die, you should know that Kudo. Didn’t you say that suicide was murder? You can’t kill yourself.” Hattori’s words take me back to that day, where I remember saying, Fool. A detective who corners a culprit with logic and then let’s them commit suicide is no different from a murderer.

“What does that have to do with now? There was no crime! I want to die!” I put emphasis on each word, willing them to understand.

“Kudo-kun, you have a future. Trust me. Live your life like she wanted you to. Just make sure you never forget her. It might hurt, but you have to keep her memory alive. I know what it’s like. I wanted to commit suicide after my neechan died, but I’m still living on. It hurts, and sometimes I can’t stand it, but I need to live for her. I need to live for Akemi. Can’t you live for Ran?” asks Haibara.

I slowly nod, their words dawning on me. What Ran did was a mistake, and I was about to make the same one. I cry, letting my tears pour onto the rocks, and the sun sets, leaving us in darkness.

I’ll never forget you, Ran. I’ll always live on for you.