Title: Out in the Wash
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Conan and Rachel (and Richard for a moment).
Summary: Upon waking in the hospital, Conan is confronted by a little problem.
Disclaimer: "Detective Conan/Case Closed" belongs to Gosho Aoyama.
Notes: Written for the prompt word "voice" at Fan Flashworks.
"Conan? Can you hear me?"
As I blinked my hazy vision into focus, I saw Rachel hovering anxiously over me. My head hurt, there was a funny taste in my mouth, and my first deep breath induced a violent cough.
"Easy," Rachel said swiftly, putting a hand on my shoulder to ease me back against a pillow. "You're in the hospital, but the doctor says you're going to be alright now. Do you remember what happened?"
With a grimace, I pushed past the throb in my skull, and dredged up my last recollections. Richard's latest case led us to a research laboratory, where one scientist poisoned another for stealing his discoveries. I managed to solve the crime easily enough, but I didn't anticipate the killer's trump card. Choosing to die rather than be arrested, Doctor Shan sealed himself inside a quarantine room that was filling with toxic gas—along with myself, two other doctors who had been suspects, and Richard, who was unconscious from my usual tranquilizer dart.
The last thing I could remember was using my super-sneakers to kick a microscope through the glass observation wall… and then, nothing. My small body must have been overcome by the gas more quickly than the adults. At least I was able to provide an escape route first.
"…I remember that crazy doctor tried to poison us," I conceded to Rachel, rubbing my sore head. "Did everyone make it out?"
"Yeah. And get this—they're calling Dad a hero! Apparently he snapped out of his mystery-solving trance just in time to break the glass and get everyone clear of the poison. I guess you passed out before you reached the door, but he carried you to safety. He even went back in for Doctor Shan." Rachel chuckled. "The gas must have gotten to Dad's head a little, though. The other scientists said he forgot about how he'd just proven Shan was guilty!"
Stifling a groan, I buried my face in my hands. I didn't know which was worse: Richard making himself look like an idiot, or my making him look heroic. It figured that he'd wake up just in time to take advantage of my efforts—and by this point, he was sure to be completely convinced that he really had saved everyone single-handed. Good for the protection of my identity, but boy, did it sting to see him get all the credit.
Mistaking my dismay for an expression of pain, Rachel smoothed my hair. "Just relax. You'll be fine in another day or so. They've been treating you with oxygen and something to counteract the poison for the last twenty-four hours."
"Twenty-four hours?" I parroted, as I looked up sharply enough to make the room spin. "I've been here a whole day?"
"That's right. Your system was hit a lot harder by that gas than the grown-ups were." Rachel's eyes glistened, and for just a moment, I saw the same look that came over her face when she was worrying about Jimmy… about the real me. "You really gave me a scare, Conan. I know how much you like watching Dad solve crimes, but you shouldn't have been someplace so dangerous."
My cheeks flushed. The heat under my skin came from an embarrassment at Rachel's concern, and a sudden anxiety that she might try to keep me away from crime scenes—for what she would think was my own good.
"I'll be more careful, I promise!" I exclaimed hastily. Then, to divert her thoughts in another direction, I rubbed my throat and asked, "Can I please have a drink of water?"
Rachel turned to pour a glass from the pitcher on the bedside table. It was a distraction that gave me a moment to take stock of myself. When I put my hand to my neck, I'd realized I was wearing a hospital gown instead of my own clothing. That wasn't surprising, if I'd been there as long as she said… but I knew I'd better get hold of my clothes quick. Obviously Rachel hadn't noticed the voice changer hidden in my bowtie, and I needed to keep it that way.
"Where are my clothes?" I queried, after taking a long drink from the glass she raised to my lips.
"Oh, I took them home and washed them. Don't worry, I'll bring you another change of clothes before they let you go tomorrow—"
"What?" I shrilled, jerking upright and almost knocking the glass from her hand.
"Hey, relax!" She gripped my shoulder again to still me. "It was the doctor's orders. He said every piece of clothing you and Dad were wearing at the lab needed to be put through the wash a few times, to get rid of any trace of the poison gas. What's the matter? Did you have something in your pocket that shouldn't get wet?"
"…Something like that," I muttered in defeat, sagging against the pillows.
So much for that. A sensitive piece of electronics like Doctor Agasa's voice changer wouldn't survive one trip through the washing machine, let alone multiple times—and that was my spare. I had taken the original to Agasa for repairs, but the old coot became distracted by some other gadget he was working on, and hadn't gotten it back to me yet.
I knew I should just be incredibly thankful that Rachel hadn't discovered the secret hidden in my bowtie… but at the moment, all I could think of was that I needed to get Agasa on the job fast.
"Rachel, may I make a phone call?" I asked. If the treatment of my clothes was any indication, my cellphone was probably off somewhere being decontaminated, but I could see a land-line telephone on the table across the room.
"I don't know about that. The doctor said you should be resting. Who do you need to talk to?"
By this point, "the doctor said" was a phrase I was getting really tired of.
"Um… well, Doctor Agasa was going to go over some science stuff with me for school, but I need to tell him I won't be able to make it until the next day."
"Is that all? Don't worry about it. I'll call him. You just take it easy, while we make sure you're really alright."
So much for that, again. Rachel had assumed that firm, mom-mode look that told me there was no use arguing. I slumped and sighed, giving up. "Fine."
Maybe I could reach the phone when Rachel left the room for a few minutes. That was all I could do. In the meantime, I just had to hope I could get Doctor Agasa to fix my voice changer before any new cases came up—or else I'd be without a voice to solve them with.
…So naturally, at that moment, Richard skidded through the open doorway: unshaven, grimly excited, and still wearing a hospital gown.
"Rachel, call Inspector Meguire! A nurse just found the body of the hospital's chief administrator in a supply closet. He was hanged with a roll of gauze!"
© 2016 Jordanna Morgan