Disclaimer: No matter how many times I say it, it's not going to make me own any more of Detective Conan than I already do…which is nothing anyway. So I don't own Detective Conan.

Author's Notes: Sorry for the long delay with this update, minna-san!

(crickets chirp)

…Alright, well, here it is, even though certain problems delayed this longer than I had hoped. Better late than never, ne? I've had some questions about this and whether it is the last chapter; it isn't. There is at least one more…maybe two if I split it apart. So we'll see what happens. Anyway, read, enjoy, and review!

Chapter Summary: Conan confronts Haibara with an odd request. Will the truth about Ai's feelings come out? Will Conan make what could be the biggest mistake in his life?

Star-Crossed Lovers
A Detective Conan Fanfiction

File 7: Apothecary

She was only slightly aware of the presence behind her before the voice came.

"Haibara," Conan said.

"Kudo-kun," she replied levelly, turning to face the boy. "I wasn't sure if you'd be able to raise your spirit and show up here today. Has Mouri-san left for the airport already?"

"Yeah, she did," Conan replied, any emotion he was feeling masked deep in his voice. "That's somewhat why I'm here. Is Agasa-hakase around?"

"No, he left some time ago to travel to the store and buy some supplies. Do you need to talk to him?" she inquired. He shook his head slowly.

"No, I was just wondering…" He walked around to stand beside her seat, glancing absentmindedly at the computer screen she was working at. There was a stretched silence as Conan watched the girl quickly entering data on the keyboard. He cleared his throat. "Actually, with what went on today, I wanted to talk to you about something."

Ai blinked, glancing up to look at him before saving the work she was doing and closing the program. Mouri-san had left, preparing to leave Japan entirely. Then, Conan showed up, asking to speak with her alone. She didn't want to hope, lest she be hurt, but…Could he actually reciprocate the deep feelings she harbored for him? Could this visit be his admittance, now that she was the other one in his life? Ai wasn't sure. She didn't feel comfortable being Kudo-kun's replacement girlfriend, since Mouri-san had left…

But wasn't that better than nothing? Could she really believe that there was a chance for the two of them now?

"What is it?" she finally asked. Conan steeled his jaw and looked at her.

"I need one of the 24-hour antidotes. Where are they?" he said strongly. Ai blinked.

"You…what?" she said, scrutinizing the boy under her intelligent eyes. "Kudo-kun, why…I mean, what are you going to do? You're not really…" Conan waved a hand to cut her off before pressing it hard to his forehead, slowly rocking back and forth. He stilled his movements and looked at her.

"I…I want to go see Ran before she leaves. Not like, well…" he gestured halfheartedly at his diminutive body and wiped a trickle of sweat from his brow, "but as Shinichi. The real me."

"I see," Ai said coolly after another strained silence. "Well, Kudo-kun, I'm sorry but I don't think the situation warrants you using one of the antidotes and exposing yourself in such a public place. I won't give it to you." Conan drew back as if slapped.

"Haibara…come on! You don't understand; Ran's leaving! I can't stop her anymore, but I need to see her! Please do this for me!"

"I understand perfectly, Kudo," Haibara said in a low hiss. "You plan to risk your life and take one of the antidotes where you will rush out to see Mouri-san, unable to change anything whatsoever. In the meantime, you will undoubtedly be recognized by others, leading to the word being spread about your reappearance. Eventually, all of our enemies will know about this and they will take you. But it won't stop there…they'll take Mouri-san, everyone who you knew just in case you let word get out! And one of those people will be me, their precious…Sherry!" She stuttered on the last word, but regained her composure quickly, glaring at Conan. He shuffled his foot embarrassedly.

"You know, I told Ran. Before she left," he finally said. Ai groaned.

"You did, then? I honestly can't be too surprised, but…What exactly did you say, and why did you have to do something like that, Kudo?"

"I told her the works. What happened to me, the details of the Organization…who you really were," he explained as she drew back. "I thought…if I made her understand, that maybe it wouldn't be too late…maybe she would stay with me. I just-"

"I can't believe this…" she muttered. "I can't believe that after all this time, you chose now to tell her this? Listen to me! She's leaving for another country in an hour, a place where you won't be able to protect her! The Organization isn't confined to Japan, you know! Do you realize what kind of mistake you've made?"

"Don't tell me how to live my life, Shiho," Conan turned on her, his patience almost gone. "I made my decision. You don't have to worry about her…she understood that it has to be kept a secret. As long as we're safe, she is too, meaning she can't tell anyone anything. So now will you give me an antidote?"

"My answer still stands; absolutely not." Ai sat back down in her seat. "You should return to the Mouri residence and think this through."

"No!" Conan slammed his fist on the computer desk, making Ai flinch. Something uncharacteristic was shining in his eyes. "Ran said goodbye to Conan-kun. Not me! I didn't even get a chance to tell her good luck, goodbye; I couldn't even begin to get into how I felt! Ran might be leaving, and I have to accept that now, but dammit, I won't let things end like this! I can't! I have to see her as Shinichi…because…this could be the last time we ever see each other…"

Ai shook her head. He was this hopeless? This obsessed with her? It was crazy…She thought she felt things for Conan, but the absolute emotion that was now present in the boy's voice…the pain in his face…

Her thoughts were interrupted by Conan stepping away. He ran a hand through his hair before speaking.

"Fine. If you won't give me the antidote, I'll go find it myself," he said smugly. "I already know you have at least one in the house." With that, he left the room at a brisk pace. Ai slowly pushed her chair back, questioning if he was really serious. Her puzzlement was solved by the sudden sounds of searching, Conan searching through the house.

"You can't be serious!" she called tentatively.

"Yep!" his reply came, oddly cheerful.

"Kudo, you can't…just listen to me!" she began shouting. "The odds of your survival from taking another antidote are already low! And considering the stress you're under right now, your heart may not be able to take the strain of transforming!"

"I've beat the odds before," came his reply.

"Why won't you listen to sense!" she tried. "This isn't like you, Kudo! If you would just think about what you're doing-!"

"That's the thing, Ai!" he laughed. "I am! I don't need logic when my heart is telling me what's right! I need to do this, for me, for Ran, for our feelings!"

Ai shook with emotion, finally running into the adjacent room, where Conan held a medicine case victoriously. She shook her head at him as he grinned, holding the pill that was so small, yet so potent.

"You really have lost it…" she muttered. "Say what you will about emotion, but all this truly is, is an over glorified suicide! You're going to throw everything away for no reason!"

"But there is a reason," he countered quickly, pocketing the antidote and hopping from the table. "I can't believe you think I'm just doing this on a whim."

"Kudo…" she hissed. "If you're doing this for Mouri-san, think of what she would do if you died! For something as trivial as this?" She sighed. "If you have told her, then fine. What's done is done. But even still, if you go now, just when she's found you again…"

"That's not it at all," he said, looking at her. "I'm not doing this because I can't be with Ran, and it's not suicide. I'm just…seeing her on my terms. As Conan…I can't talk to her the way I need to. So it's not to suffer, and it's not to punish her for leaving. I'm just going to talk to her…and if I can, then I'll be happy even if she's gone." He began walking towards the door. "Thanks anyway for caring. I almost wouldn't have expected it from you."

He rested his palm on the doorknob and slowly began to open the door, and then Ai grabbed his shoulder roughly and spun him to face her. She took a deep breath, knowing that this could be the last moment she had to make her feelings known.

"Please!" she gasped. "When will you realize…that more people than that girl care about you! Please…Conan!" He drew back from her slightly, staring into her eyes. Something was there…something he had never noticed before…

No, that wasn't it. Maybe he had seen it all along, yet…he never wanted to admit it was possible. So he acted like he didn't notice, and things continued on as normal. But now…he understood. It was hard to believe, but he understood.

"I'm sorry, Ai," he said. "Sorry that it has to be this way. Maybe if circumstances had been different, we could…" He shook his head. "Because of the way things are, it wouldn't work." He turned back to the door. "I'm gonna go now. I…wanted to say, thanks for working so hard to try and find a permanent antidote, Ai. See ya!" With that he silently flung open the door and headed on his way. Down to the abandoned house where so many old memories lived.

Ai stared at him from the window. He was going. Really going, he had made his choice and because of it he might never come back…

A single tear slowly dropped to the floor.

Alone again, he stared at the small object in his hand. So innocuous, so innocent-looking…

'Ha, ha,' he mused. 'Will this be the poison that Romeo takes upon the discovery of his Juliet's demise?' He closed and opened his fist, glancing up into the mirror. 'That may well be, but…my feelings for Ran aren't fated to lead me that way. I'll make it through this.'

'Wait just a while longer, Ran. I'll be there soon.'

Author's Notes: Whee. I don't have much to say after this one comment-wise. Just leave a review, please. And I hope that the next part will clear up a lot of things…any comments are appreciated!

I'm always up for people contacting me about my writing in any form. Contact information is in my profile, as well as my new procedure dealing with updating and reviews.

As always, a big thanks to Firestorm2004 for beta-reading my work, even after I continually pester him on AIM for the longest time.

I didn't forget; it's time for everyone's favorite, reviewer response!

Crystal Snowflakes—I burst out laughing when you said Ran was being a total bitch. And I guess I should take it as a compliment that you like my story while commenting that most ShinichiXRan are badly written. Yeah, I tried not to use dub names because of the fact that there were more characters that hadn't been dubbed, like Haibara. Glad you liked it, anyway!
Cowgirl—Hope it wasn't too long between updates! Glad you think it's getting good!
SacredAliance—I'm happy to get a new reader, even if you didn't read it before. Glad you think it's so good! No, this isn't the last chapter; there will be one more and then an epilogue. Maybe I'll tack on some random omakes if they don't ruin the mood of the story. As for a sequel…I have an idea floating around in my head, but I'm not sure if I'm gonna do it. It would work out regardless of the decision I make, but I'd want to see if there was enough interest in a sequel before I committed to writing it.
Kudo—I might have overreacted a little bit as well. I don't think you were rude, and I appreciate your critique. I am aware that I'm writing Ran out of character, and I'm doing it for a reason. You might see a difference in the next update.
YumeTakato—Glad you liked the way I wrote it. And thanks for your continued reviewing and support!
Sapphirestars—Ran isn't being cold as much as she is…well, something else. It'll make sense in my next chapter. If you look at how Ran's justification changes as the story has progressed, you might be able to guess at the real reason she is leaving. Thanks for overlooking the slight character issues to see the story as a whole…
LostArtofRock—Alright! Yes! Ran's out of character! Ha, sorry…everyone notices it, but I am aware that I'm writing her like that a little. It's kind of how I want to do it. As for Shinichi's revelation…think about it. It's a little farfetched, eh? Enough for a suspension of belief, even though she went along with it…but I digress. Glad you want to keep reading, and I hope you stay with this up to the conclusion.
Inu-youkai 911—Thanks for your support, although I don't understand…what is there to be sadistic about? Heh…
Random—Thanks for reading and reviewing! Glad you liked it!
Shonzu—I don't think Conan would go live with you, he wants to be with Ran. But I'm glad you liked it. As for humor…keep checking my profile, I guess…

Thanks to everyone who reviewed! Now do it again! Again I say! And, last but not least...

Next Time! Alone at last, Ran realizes she has run out of excuses to make. What is she going to do when the biggest surprise shows up only moments away from her departure? One truth prevails in the dramatic conclusion to Star Crossed Lovers!