The automatic door slid open. A soft chime sound played near the entrance to alert the employees that a customer had come inside.

"Quit dragging your feet and act like a big boy," Eri scolded.

"I dun wanna!" Conan whined. "I dun wanna!"

"Well you have to," Eri said. "You've been outgrowing your old clothes, and apparently that man never bothered to bring you shopping for anything new."

Eri was holding Conan's hand and dragging him across the clothes store.

"Ooh! The clearance rack!" she exclaimed. "Let's see if we can find anything for cheap there."

Conan just groaned.

Opening

(Cup of Trembling by B'z)

(Each fresh breath of life is a fresh chance to start anew! Cruel and unusual punishment: a boy forced to shop for clothes! A sudden death makes matters worse, as does a sinister presence! With the body of a child but the mind of an adult, my name is...DETECTIVE CONAN!)

Above all, I'm afraid of you seeing me like this

The youthful vigor sapped from my bones

Too afraid to proceed, too afraid to turn back

A wretch, recoiling from my own shadow

Wallowing in self-pity like a pig wallowing in its crap

I can't check my phone, lest you might try to call

I can't live at home, lest you might try to visit

All I have left is the clothes on my back and

That dreaded bottle, whose contents I dare not drink

Oh I'm going nowhere, a pinwheel spinning in circles

This Cup of Trembling I now raise to my lips and swallow

So I may face the demons haunting my restless nights

I can't show my face to you until I can call myself a man

Until I've walked a full moon carrying my cross

The Killer Lines in the Clothes Store! Part One!

Earlier That Day

They left Teitan as a group.

Nancy shivered. "If I'd have known it'd be like this, I would've put on a little more to wear."

Conan looked up. "It's a little too early in the year for snow, isn't it?"

"Ah, I know!" Genta said. "The snow's part of that global warming grownups on the news are always talking about!"

"Genta," Conan said with an exasperated sigh.

"Ah, Ayumi-chan!" Mitsuhiko said. "You must be some kind of psychic or something!"

"Huh?"

"Yeah, come to think of it, today was the first day this season that it's been so cold," Shiro said. "How'd you know to leave your home with a scarf and mitts?"

"Well, actually, I got these recently and I just wanted to show them off at school," Ayumi said.

"Heeehh?" Conan said. "You went shopping for winter clothes this time of year?"

"W-well no, not exactly," Ayumi stammered, blushing.

"Hmm, come to think of it, that scarf looks like it's got some stains all over," Shiro said. "And from different stuff; I'd say that somebody'd already been using it for a while before you got it. Did you get those at a garage sale? Or maybe it's a hand-me-down from an older brother or sister?"

"Uh, no, Ayumi-chan's an only child," Mitsuhiko said.

Nancy tapped Conan on the shoulder.

They slowed down to let the rest of the group get way ahead of them.

"So, were you able to contact her?" Nancy asked. "About Torishima-sensei, that is."

Conan shook his head. "Well, I dropped by the professor's place before school, and it turns out Haibara left her phone there."

"Say what? Did she really do that?"

Conan nodded. "Apparently Elena-san wanted to make sure their whereabouts can't be traced by GPS or by intercepting a call to or from her. I even tried Line Zero, so that I could contact Elena and ask her to put Haibara on the phone, but apparently that line's been discontinued for the time being. I guess we're going to have to wait about 7-9 days before we can ask her about that matter."

"Do you think he's Mezcal?" Nancy asked.

"Like I said before, since then I haven't really observed anything suspicious about him," Conan said. "Well, I guess he could be some of master of disguise like Vermouth was, but considering that he's just supposed to be some scientist who was cooped up in a lab somewhere? I doubt he'd possess a skill set like that. So the real Mezcal should exhibit, well, something...something that lets me know he's one of the Men in Black. There should be observable signs of such."

"You've learned to smell them, right?"

"Yeah, but there're limitations to the ability," Conan said. "At first I could smell Shiro, but he's lost that scent after this much time. Likewise, I haven't been able to smell It on Haibara at all, since by the time my nose learned to detect that distinct smell she'd already been far removed from the clutches of the Organization for quite a while. There's probably a million different variables; it could very well be the case that Mezcal doesn't give off any noticeable smell at all."

They were nearing home.

"If they recognized Shiro's face in the newspaper, then if Torishima-sensei were Mezcal then they'd already have received confirmation by now that we chose to hide him as a child at Teitan Elementary. Then again, they could simply be investigating a possible connection between that child and their person, as a precautionary measure after noticing a striking resemblance between the two."

"...Are you scared?" Nancy asked.

Conan scoffed. "By this point it takes a lot more than this to-"

"Conan-kun."

As soon as they opened the door, Eri was waiting.

Something about the expression on her face unnerved Conan deeply. "Y-yes, auntie Eri?"

"I've decided on your punishment," Eri said. "For lying to me the day before last about going to the Professor's house when you were really someplace else bothering some random grown men."

"Yes ma'am," Conan said meekly.

Whatever it is, it can't be too bad, he thought. No Kamen Yaiba for a week? Please. I'm grounded for a month? Endurable. Corporal punishment? I'm ready for anything that she can-

"Let's go, Conan-kun," Eri said with a strange grin.

"Huh? Go where?"

"Shopping for clothes."

"NOOOOOOOO!" Conan shrieked, falling to his knees and breaking out into a half-sob. "Anything but that, Auntie Eri! Anything but...!"

Scene Transition

Eri was holding Conan's hand and dragging him across the clothes store.

"Ooh! The clearance rack!" she exclaimed. "Let's see if we can find anything for cheap there."

Conan just groaned.

They were walking over to the clearance rack when:

"Oh, hi there!"

"Hmm? Sonoko-kun?" Eri said.

"I see you've brought the four-eyed brat with you," Sonoko said. "How about Nancy-chan? Is she here too?"

"No, it's just me and Conan-kun today," Eri said. "I think I'll take Nancy-kun next week. So, you here to get some shopping in?"

"No ma'am, I'm just looking around today," Sonoko said.

"Ah! I just thought of something!" Eri said. "Sonoko-kun, how'd you like to help me pick out some clothes for him?"

Conan saw Sonoko let out an evil grin. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end.

"N-no thank you, Auntie Eri!" Conan said. "I can pick something out myself if you don't-"

"Why, I'd love to!" Sonoko said, a deliberate air of fakeness to her voice.

"...This is part of my punishment, isn't it?" Conan said sullenly.

"Yes."

Scene Transition

"Hurry up in there, runt!" Sonoko said. "We wanna see how it looks on you!"

All the more reason not to come on out, Conan thought.

But knowing that he had no choice, he opened the door and stepped out of the fitting room.

He was wearing long green socks, denim overall shorts (with a teddy bear print on the stomach area) and a colorful hat with a spinny thing on top.

It was pretty obvious to him that Eri and Sonoko were struggling to stifle their laughter.

"Well, what do you think, Conan-kun?" Eri asked.

"I'd rather go around butt naked than be seen wearing...H-HEY WAI-"

Too late. Sonoko and Eri both snapped pictures of the boy with their phones.

"You'd better not be putting that on the internet!" Conan said, flustered.

But he knew that was exactly what they were doing, and that he was powerless to stop them.

"Alright, Conan-kun, now let's try on the next one," Eri said.

Next...one? Conan thought.

Scene Transition

He stepped out of the fitting room clad from head to toe in a heavily stereotypical cowboy outfit.

"Now give us a pose, kid," Sonoko said.

Conan sighed and did a finger pistol as Eri and Sonoko gleefully took pictures on their phones.

Oh well, it can't get worse than this, he thought.

Scene Transition

As he emerged wearing pink bunny footie pajamas, he realized just how wrong he was.

And again, they whipped out their phones to snap photos, as did even one or two passersby.

This is the worst it can possibly get, he thought.

Scene Transition

Nope.

I'm not coming out this time, he thought, looking at himself in the fitting room mirror.

He was wearing a dress with a tiara.

Screw them, I'm not doing it, he thought. I'm just gonna take this thing off and-

*flash*

"H-Hey, no fair!" Conan whined.

Sonoko had stuck her hand, which was holding a phone, in from above the door.

Sonoko got down from the stool and checked out the image on her phone.

"That look on his face is priceless!" Eri said, chuckling.

A few seconds later Conan came out, wearing his normal clothes. "That's it, I'm not doing any more."

"Fair enough," Eri said. "That part of your punishment is over."

"Yeah, we got some great pictures anyhow," Sonoko said.

"Now let's go find you some decent clothes to buy," Eri said.

Scene Transition

As they checked out shoes in an aisle near the front, they couldn't help but overhear some of the employees talking:

"It still feels really weird, though."

"Like there's something missing inside your mouth!"

"Yeah, exactly like that!"

"But isn't it gross, having to stick those things in your mouth every night?"

"Yeah. The worst part is the container that I leave them in all day. It can get nasty fast, so now I'm making time every night to clean it out with wendex. Just a pinch, of-"

"Oi, you two! Tomomi, have you finished restocking the sweaters?"

Tomomi Wakahara, age 25, nodded. "Yeah, I got done with that about ten minutes ago."

"Oh, and again, congratulations on your marriage, Tadamasa-kun," Yuniko Hidaka, age 23, said.

"That's Fujiki-san to you," the manager, Tadamasa Fujiki, age 24, said coarsely.

"Hmph, don't act so pretentious," Hidekazu Aohashi, age 22, said. "We all know you only got to where you are by sleeping with my sister."

Tadamasa growled. "However it happened, don't you ever forget that I'm your boss now. All of you!"

And with that he stormed off.

"What a swell guy," Sonoko muttered sarcastically.

"Ehh? If it isn't Conan-kun! And Mouri-san's wife too!"

Sonoko was just about ready to flip when she saw...

"Sonoko-neechan, meet Misato, Inspector Yamamura's twin brother," Conan said. "We met him in a case recently."

"Hi," Misato said.

"U-uh, hi," Sonoko said awkwardly.

"So what brings the two of you here?" Eri asked.

"Ah, well, while he was in Tokyo Misao figured he might as well take me shopping and help me pick out some new clothes," Misato said. "My own wardrobe's quite bland, to be honest."

"Bland's an understatement," Misao said. "Ever since we were little this doofus has had no good taste in fashion. I'd reckon he spends most his time in that lab coat."

He's even wearing it here, Conan thought with a deadpan look.

"So what about the three of you?" Misao asked. "What're you up to?"

"Oh, we came to buy Conan-kun some new clothes," Eri said.

"We also snapped some glorious photos of him trying stuff on," Sonoko said. "Wanna see?"

"No!" Conan protested. "Don't you dare show that to them!"

"Or what, br-"

*POP*

"What on earth was that?" Eri asked.

Sonoko looked around. "Hmm, come to think of it, there's all these balloons being flown around the-"

*POP*

"It's probably just some naughty kid," Misato said.

"Yeah, a gunshot would've been a lot louder than that," Misao said.

"YAAAAAAAHHHHH!"

Scene Transition

Nobody dared say a word as they slowly made their way through the pitch-black, 100-metre passageway.

Shiho kept her hand on the left side wall as she walked. She reflected on her life, on her past and her future.

"Ah, we're through it," Atsushi said.

They left the underground and re-entered the well-illuminated grounds of Zentsu-ji Temple.

Elena was waiting.

"You should've gone in with us," Atsushi said. "It was a blast."

"No thanks," she said. "In my line of work honest self-reflection is generally something I try to avoid."

"Don't be like that," Atsushi said.

"So, where to next?" Satoshi asked.

They passed by the magnificent camphor tree looming high over two small shrines. The tree is said to have been over a thousand years old, having been around in the days of the legendary Japanese Buddhist monk Kukai, the man credited with having developed the Japanese alphabet.

"Um, well, I'll have to consult the map," Atsushi said.

"Why couldn't we have just done the Shikoku Pilgrimage in proper order, dad?" Shiho asked, annoyed.

"W-well, I figured we might not have time to do them all so we might as well have visited Zentsu-ji first, right?" Atsushi said apologetically. "It's the big one, after all."

"If we're not doing the pilgrimage in order we might as well just find a better way to spend this vacation," Elena said.

"Ah! I know!" Satoshi said. "We could visit Matsuyama city! They've got Matsuyama Castle, as well as the Dogo Onsen."

"Dogo...Onsen?" Elena repeated.

"One of the most renowned onsens in the country," Atsushi said. "The author of Botchan famously frequented the place."

"...Before we go anywhere else, there was something I've been meaning to ask you, mom," Shiho said, looking very hesitant and serious as she spoke.

Elena sighed. "Oh boy. This concerns some highly unpleasant topic of conversation that could and probably should wait until later, doesn't it?"

"No, it can't wait, because later you'll just brush me off again," Shiho said.

"Should we just wait for you two in the van?" Atsushi asked.

"I suppose so," Elena said.

After they were gone...

"Did you kill Ran Mouri?" Shiho blurted out.

"...Not personally, no."

"But you had something to do with it?"

"Now see here, if you mention any of this to Shinichi, he'll..."

"That's not what I had in mind," Shiho said. "Are you or are you not responsible for Ran's murder?"

"Yes. How did you know?"

"It became clear when you threatened to 'undo' her revival: that you saw her as a puppet string to manipulate Kudo-kun with. When I realized this, it wasn't much of a stretch to assume that you're the one who killed her in the first place. And also, Ran remembered."

"Huh?"

"She remembered the moment of her death."

"How on earth did she do that that?!"

"I don't know. It was some kind of fluke, I guess. But anyways, she said that the man who killed her wasn't Gin, but rather someone who went through no small deal of effort to disguise as him, even if on a superficial level. And who would want to frame this on the Organization but the people starchly opposed to them?"

"Hmm, interesting that she would remember that. I guess it's way too late to...correct that slip-up now."

"Indeed," Shiho said. "But why?"

"Why? Why...what?"

Upon seeing this reaction, Shiho was shocked and outraged. "WHY would you do something like that?! Is NOTHING SACRED to you?!"

"Sacred?! Really? Did you really just use that word? Sacred is when a bunch of imbeciles adamantly refuse to ask any questions about the very subjects that demand the most questioning. Well I have news for you: I'm not like that! I don't believe in rules. I simply have values, and make no mistake, I will do anything to protect those things which and those people whom I value. I will cross any line, up until the point where logic would refute a course of action on my part."

There was a pause.

"Are we done talking about this?" Elena asked.

"Yeah, for now at least," Shiho said.

"Good. Because I'm hungry. Are you hungry?"

Scene Transition

"YAAAAAAAHHHHH!"

And with that, Conan and the two Yamamuras ran towards the source, the store's office room, where normally only employees were allowed.

The discoverer of the scene, Yuniko, had sunken to her knees, a traumatized look on face.

Tadamasa sat slumped in his desk chair, unresponsive.

In the background, a smoke detector mounted on the wall was beeping wildly.

Misao checked his pulse, and then shook his head as to signal "No use, he's dead."

Misato and Conan looked at the beeping alarm. A few seconds later, it stopped.

By this time Eri, Sonoko, and the two other employees had gathered.

"Who's worked here the longest?!" Misato demanded.

"I-I have," Hidekazu said.

"I have a question for you then," Misato said. "It's about that smoke detector."

He put his mouth up to Hidekazu's ear and whispered.

Conan stood next to them as was able to make out Misato's question.

"Yeah," Hidekazu answered. "It is. How'd you know?"

I see, Conan thought, taking another look around the room. It's clear, then: this man was murdered!

Ending

(Hoshi Monogatari by Egoist)

I know you've taken this from my cold dead fingertips

I wrote this to tell you what I never had the nerve to say

Because I know that right now, you're punishing yourself

Because you of all people deserve to know the whole story

Once I was only a child, but I was old enough to understand

Something important was missing, though I didn't know what

I wandered in the dark, calling to the crowd, "Excuse me, sirs!"

"Somebody, anybody, please, tell me what I'm doing wrong!"

Finally, on the starry night of Tanabata, I looked out my window

And said, "Kami-sama, if you could let me have a friend, just one.

One who's true and faithful, and funny, but most of all spirited.

This one thing I ask, and I'll never ask for anything ever again."

And then I met you, and in what seemed like an eternity I had

The chance to know you, and for the first time I was really happy

It never ended, you see, that initial bliss: it grew, as we grew closer

Thank you, my one and dearest friend, for teaching me how to love

Next Conan's Hint: Green Light