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.

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