He entered the rich girl's bedroom, just to find that she wasn't there, when-
He noticed that the glass door was slid open. Sonoko stood outside, leaning against the balcony, looking out at the moonlight.
He went out and stood next to her, looking up at her head.
"Hmm? What are you doing out here?" Conan inquired. "Didn't you call me here because you wanted to talk to me about something?"
"...It feels nice, doesn't it? This breeze."
"W-Well, I'm shorter than the railing, so I wouldn't know."
Sonoko took a deep breath, and then blurted out:
"I don't buy that, not for one second. Who are you to make a decision like that for someone else, without even asking them what they think? Me personally, I don't believe that I could move past a broken heart if I didn't have the faintest clue of why it happened. I would demand the facts, surely, no matter how terrible they may be. And I know I'm not the only person who thinks like this! So who do you think you are?"
"Huh?" Conan said. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"...It doesn't ring a bell to you at all?" Sonoko asked.
"No. Should it?"
There was a pause.
"O-Oi," Conan protested, "why are you looking at me like that, Sonoko-neecha-
"You can cut the act," Sonoko said. "Man, the audacity. Bailing on all your friends like that. How long did you make Ran wait for you? I'll bet she didn't even know until a couple months ago, when you faked her death and had her shrunk."
Conan felt like there was a frog in his throat. He knew what was coming next.
"Well? Aren't you going to say anything...Shinichi?"
(Shameless by CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE)
Whoo girl you're as cool as ice
Deal me another full deck o' lies
Dontcha dare break yer poker face
Empty my heart's vault at record pace
(Not all that glitters is gold! A pearly white smile can mask a heart as black as coal! The line between ours and the netherworld is disturbed, resulting in a crisis of identity! Perceiving the one and only truth! With the body of a child but the mind of an adult, my name is DETECTIVE CONAN!)
And so we find ourselves at this crossroad again
Per my count, you've lied to me five times tonight
You've woven a tale that'd leave J.R.R. Tolkien speechless
A carefully constructed narrative flimsier than a house of cards
I don't know if I should let you walk away
I don't know if you're worth the trouble
But what I care enough to demand an answer to
"What did I have that you wanted for your own?"
You shameless thing, a web of deceit left in your wake
Antithetical to the driving force that binds people together
A thick veil of mist shrouds the true you that you can't let slip
In the name of all that's true, I'll deconstruct you piece by piece!
The Hand That Grabbed Her Ankle, Part One!
Sonoko Suzuki, age 18. By any indication, a normal Japanese teenage girl. She was a straight B student at Teitan High School, located in Beika, Tokyo. She had a martial artist boyfriend, and her family was extremely wealthy. However, she generally played down her wealth when around her friends, who were all of middle or working class background. Her best friend was Ran Mouri, a girl who passed away at the tender age of 18.
No, that wasn't right. Ran didn't pass away. She was murdered, late at night, in her own home, by gunshot inflicted by a mysterious man. All Sonoko knew was that the man's name was Dylan Cliffberg, part of some shadowy mafia group, one that was more dangerous than any yakuza group. This singular hint about Ran's killer was provided by Shinichi Kudo, childhood friend and love interest of the deceased Ran. How he came across this information Sonoko did not know; her parents went to the police and then hired a private investigator whenever the police failed to track the man down, but all they were able to find were old records of an adolescent American national named Dylan Cliffberg who, with his brother Max, disappeared without a trace; on the day of their disappearance, a girl named Akane was found dead by the police. Forensics evidence traced the murder back to the two of them.
In the months following Ran's murder, the family gradually lost hope in getting justice for Ran, and after a certain point Sonoko's parents lost interest in pursuing the matter further. Sonoko felt betrayed by this attitude, and this would remain a point of contention to some extent, but for the most part it quickly fell into the backdrop of everyday life. And in the weeks following Ran's murder, Sonoko learned how to fill all that extra time that she used to spend were her best friend in a reasonably productive or gratifying way. The family was happy to receive some overdue distraction from their troubles in the wedding of their elder daughter and Sonoko's sister, Ayako.
At that wedding, an unexpected guest showed up: Nancy Akechi, a young girl who looked exactly like Ran. After getting over her initial shock, Sonoko became curious: how far did the comparison between those two people go? And so, she decided to test it out. She asked Nancy if she wanted to hang out sometime.
They did that, and Sonoko found the results promising. For her occasional guardedness, Nancy just couldn't keep a lid on how much she behaved, talked, and even sounded like Ran. She had a level of maturity more akin to a girl Sonoko's age than one Conan's, even if at times she made blatantly fake gestures to seem more like a child.
In short, being around Nancy felt almost the same as being around Ran. Obviously, it had to be some sort of coincidence. Maybe she was a relative of Ran's, and she served as Nancy's role model. But then she remembered Ran's parents saying Nancy wasn't related at all to their knowledge. Ultimately, Sonoko had little choice but to shrug her shoulders and dismiss it all as a freak accident of nature, a statistical anomaly of the universe.
And for that accident or anomaly, Sonoko did not cease to be grateful. She considered the girl to be a kind of lifeline, one that allowed her to regain a large aspect of the way things were before Ran died. A return to normalcy, the good old days. She figured Nancy probably didn't understand any of this, the reason why a teenager would invite her out to do stuff together, but what she didn't know wouldn't hurt her, right?
There was one more problem, of course: when Sonoko began hanging out with an eight year old girl, it turned heads. Granted, the fact that Sonoko was a woman and not a man made the strange situation near infinitesimally more acceptable for the general public and for the people Sonoko and Nancy knew. But only one other girl seemed entirely onboard with the situation: Masumi. The flat-chested tomboy would often join them in their outings, and when the three of them were together, it was even more like old times.
Little did Sonoko know that her whole world was about to be flipped upside down.
As Conan and Nancy walked in the door:
"Finally!" Sonoko said.
"Sorry," Nancy said. "It took us longer than we thought getting back from that case. And to wrap it up too."
"You both know it starts in fifteen minutes, right?" Sonoko said.
"Yeah, so?" Conan said. "It's not like you have to buy a ticket before it starts. We can just show up at any time, free of charge. Worse case, we'll miss a few songs."
Sonoko sighed. "Man, I was hoping we could get there early so we could watch the hands play from up close. But there's no chance of that now."
"This event is gonna be packed from what I hear," Conan said. "If you wanted to be up in the front I doubt twenty minutes would've made much of a difference anyway. Your Atomic Romance is gonna be there, right?"
"Yeah. This is gonna be their third public concert total since the band got back together last year," Nancy said enthusiastically. "It's really surprising to me that we in Japan are getting this chance to see them perform live."
"Are we gonna talk or are we gonna go?" Sonoko pressed. "Get ready as fast as you can so we can leave! The car's waiting, so chop chop!"
Now I know
That I can't make you stay
But where's your kidney
But where's your kidney
But where's your
And I know
The car driven by the Suzuki family's chauffeur pulled into the parking space. Of course, her parents would pay the bill on the parking meter.
"Dang it!" Sonoko said. "You hear that? They already started!"
The only available parking space was about two blocks from the open air gathering at Tokyo Bay, the site of the "Down By the Bay Music Festival", an annual public event that drew in more than 4,000 people the year prior.
They got out of the car and and began dashing across the street.
They entered the thick mass of people and made their way towards the stage.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please give them a round of applause for their exceptional performance and now let's welcome AKBAR."
"Dang it, we missed the big attraction," Sonoko said.
"It's fine," Nancy said. "They said on their website they'd be doing three songs tonight. Given that it should've just started about five minutes ago, they couldn't have had time to run through all of them already. They'll be back on stage later."
A group of about twenty girls dressed in strange, skimpy fruit-themed costumes took the stage. And then the teen idol group began singing something about fruit.
Three and a half minutes later...
"AKBAR is proudly sponsored by Fruit of the Loom, underwear made from ultra-comfortable fabrics for the horny middle-aged men who make up nearly 50℅ of AKBAR'S fan base."
"I'm gonna go buy me a light snack or something," Conan said. "Looks like there's a lot of yatai stalls around here."
(Author's Note: Yatai is a traditional Japanese cart which carries and sells foods such as ramen, tempura, and beer.)
"Wait, didn't you just hear the guy?" Sonoko said. "B's is next!"
"Yeah, whatever, I'm just gonna get something and come back."
"I'm coming with you," Nancy said.
Sonoko sighed. "Alright. If you see anybody selling churros, buy me one and I'll pay you back later."
As they were leaving:
"Don't wanna lie, don't wanna lie, ikiteru to, kanjite ikai...!"
"I could've sworn I know that song from somewhere," Nancy said.
"Lalala, I can't hear anything, and neither can you!" Conan said, covering his ears.
"Hmm...okay, one medium popcorn, please," Conan said.
The man handed the bag to Conan and Nancy with a grunt.
"Thank you," Conan said, handing him the yen.
The man just grunted again.
"You know, you're not being very polite to your customers," Nancy said.
"Look, kid, I'm a Korean migrant worker who makes 200 yen an hour, in one of the world's most expensive cities. I don't give a flip."
And with that, Conan and Nancy made their way back to where Sonoko was. To their surprise-
"Jodie-sensei?!" Conan said.
"Oh, Conan-kun! Nancy-chan!" the American woman who spoke better Japanese than she did English, even though she recently served as an English teacher, said. "I came here because I wanted the chance to attend a Japanese rock concert. It has always been a dream of mine."
"What's your favorite band?" Sonoko said.
"Oh this one for sure," Jodie said. "They have gureito sekusu appiru."
Alright, that one was a little jarring, even for a Japanese voice actor, Conan thought with a deadpan look.
"But you know," Nancy said to Conan, "that was a little weird. All the stalls-
"Yeah. They all had the same signature on the side of the cart. And it looked like there was a great deal of uniformity in what they were selling. I'm guessing they all work for one person or company."
"That sucks," Nancy said. "Normally, you can expect each vendor to have his own unique recipe, and menu. But even yatai carts are being commercialized now."
"That's just the way progress works," Conan said. "Economy of scale dictates that when you have so many carts working for one business entity, that drives their prices down. I mean, just think about how crazy cheap that popcorn was just now. Furthermore, such a company can afford to spend the money making sure that all their products are as appealing to the masses as possible. You just can't get that with a mom and pops joint."
"I totally disagree with that! Half the time fast food tastes like processed glop. You don't have to worry as much about that with local businesses. They put their hearts into their cooking."
"Cooking is a science. It has nothing to do with 'heart'. If it did, would your mom be so terrible at it?"
He does have a point, Nancy thought sheepishly.
It was now 8:10. The concert had just come to an end, after lasting two hours.
"Oh man, that end song," Nancy said. "I know everything they've made, so that must've been a new one. Definitely worth coming, just for that."
"I couldn't make out what they were saying," Jodie said.
"Huuh? But weren't they speaking English?" Sonoko said.
Yup, sounds about right, Conan thought with a deadpan look.
Conan, Nancy, and Jodie instinctively ran towards the direction of the scream.
Underneath a table beneath a dimly lit tarp, somebody had just discovered a body.
Within a few minutes time, the body was identified:
It was Masashige Konno, age 48, the owner of the numerous yatai carts that'd been present at this event.
(Secret of my Heart by Mai Kuraki)
Donna kotoba ni kaete
Kimi ni tsutaerareru darou
Arekara ikutsumo no kisetsu ga
Itsumo soba de waratteru
Watashi nimo ienai koto ga mada hitotsu dake aru
SECRET OF MY HEART
Utagattemo nai ne
Itsu datte sukoshi no mirai ga areba
Shinjitsu wa te ni irerareru hazu
I CANNOT SAY mou sukoshi dake
I'M WAITING FOR A CHANCE
Next Conan's Hint: Bar Stool