Saying it has been forever is an understatement obviously, but here you go. The next chapter. It took me forever to write… and I'm not promising its perfect.. But it's a chapter, and now that this is out of the way maybe I can get along with the story again. It's not on hiatus… I'm just very busy and it has been a long time since I've written Shinichi/Ran-- so I struggle a bit.

So here you go~

For all you reviewers who have been reading, and rereading, and bugging me and begging me and who are keeping this fic alive (because I would have in likelihood stopped it completely if it wasn't for all of your comments) This is for you

Disclaimer: I don't own them still… Whodya thunk?

"So I was talking with the scientist friend of mine who made a drug. Did you know it slowly kills its victims after shrinking them? You wouldn't know anyone whose taken this recently would you?"

"….So I was thinking… Ran… What if I had the antidote?"

"You know Ran… Torturing me is all well and good but--"

"So Sei… You remember that girl I knew?"

"…I know who you are so stop with the act-"

He went over the conversations again and again in his head as he tried to figure out how the hell he was going to get Ran to confess.

In the end it took him until the weekend to both formulate the rest of his plan, and gather the courage to face her. He knew she probably was well aware he had caught on by this point, for that matter it was pretty hard not to have noticed, but then he probably deserved every bit of torture he was receiving.

He figured he was going through purgatory, and wasn't sure if he was going to get some sort of heaven or hell by the time he'd fought his way through it. Either way he was well aware that he'd never live "Tousan Kudo" down again.

He was already dressed and making breakfast when "Sei" came down the stairs. He turned to the girl and smiled not letting on anything he planned for today. That many years as Conan had taught him something at least, and he could put on quite a nice mask if necessary.

"Morning!" he said setting down a plate for her. "I thought we'd go out today, the weatherman said it was going to be nice and I heard they were having a special opening at one of the gardens in the park downtown. What do you say?"

Sei bounced to her seat at the table with a wide grin on her face, "That sounds fun Kudo nii-san! I didn't know you liked gardens."

He grinned back at her with something akin to the look he gave out as Conan, "Mmm they're fun every now and then, especially this season. They have a beautiful collection of orchids…" the last bit was added as an afterthought, although he watched as the girl shifted awkwardly in her seat.

"Oh.. Yeah… they're umm…. Pretty…." she said going on to stuff her mouth with food in an attempt to ward off conversation. Shinichi left her alone and went back to making sure he had everything set up for that afternoon.

"I'll be right back Sei-chan."

She nodded and he dodged to the side room to make one last call to Ai, making sure she'd have the antidote ready within the next couple days and see if she'd come up with any last minute problems. Then a quick call to Kuroba to make sure he hadn't seen any further interaction.

"…your certain there wasn't anything around? I know you said you talked to Akai, but I just wanted to reconfirm that I won't have us both tossed into the trunk of a black Porsche by doing this."

"I checked that area out. No hide and hair of them, and I'll try to see if I can stop by later in the vicinity. Don't worry I won't eavesdrop, but believe me the last thing I need is you two taken hostages and then having to bail you both out.."

"Thanks Kuroba."

"Just worry about getting chibi girl there back to normal size. If I have to face her again like that I might end up blabbing more than I want to. The only thing worse than a woman, is a woman who can look up at you with the innocence of a five year old and still probably beat you at karate."

Shinichi's laugh was genuine although he secretly agreed with the thief, "Thus the precautions. Who knows- After confessing today I might need you to come and pick up what's left of me anyway."

Shinichi heard the thief chuckle and a moment later the man hang up. Shinichi took one last deep breath and went back to face the chibi.

…He'd really have to ask her how on earth she managed with Conan so long, and not go crazy.

That was if he even survived…

-.-.-.--.-.-

It was much later that they found them in the park having just come from a nice meal of sukiyaki and mochi. Thus far he'd managed to ignore the subject on hand, and go on like it was a normal day. They were walking towards the gardens when he looked down at her and said softly, "Hey, would it be alright if we took a detour before we went to the opening. There's a nice place over here that's on the way I want to stop by if you don't mind."

The little girl shook her head enthusiastically and he smiled, "Thanks."

"I don't mind at all Kudo-san! It's all pretty anyway. I like it here!" She was smiling up at him again and he had to smile back.

"That's good… I think you'll like it too. This is that orchid section I told you about this morning. They should be in bloom right now as a matter of fact…" He kept a hold on her hand, but felt it stiffen slightly in his hold.

She didn't say anything initially but as they grew closer to the clearing she asked softly, "Kudo nii-san?"

"Wait…" he told her just as quietly.

Neither of them spoke until they got away from the trail to the clearing. Sei didn't look up and Shinichi took one last glance around the perimeters to check that nobody could over hear. He saw a few couples and friends playing together a distance away, but they were being loud enough to drown out what they might say.

Ignoring "Sei" for the moment he looked at one of the orchids planted along the wall, "You know. I found this place years ago with a friend of mine. She loved seeing them in full bloom, and a whole garden just like it had been planted for her, but we couldn't find it again. I found it again but by then too much time had passed and she'd already left for college… It wasn't quite the same."

The girl didn't say a word and Shinichi turned slightly to look at her, "What do you think of it?"

She smiled weakly up at him; her eyes not quite reaching his, "It's beautiful."

"Yeah it is…" he let out a long sigh and inhaled the sent of the flowers. "You know that was my one regret. Not being able to tell her exactly how beautiful she was. Why did I ever let her leave? I figured it was the sure fire way that she would be safer. Out of the way from idiot detectives that could get her killed. I knew quite well she could handle the world, but I also thought the only way I could protect her completely was by keeping her away. I guess the only other regret I had was not being able to tell her that I…" He kept his back turned to the whole time not trusting himself to actually look at her while he spoke.

This was one deduction that he couldn't look the subject in the face while talking. He could hear her breath catch and then…

"Shinichi-"

It was enough to make him turn and face her, even walk to her as he saw she had tears trapped behind her eyes. He gave her a smile, "It's alright Ran. I know…"

"I'm sorry…" she muttered, and he noticed she almost had a look of shame on her face, something he was positive he'd never seen on her-- and only once when she was that little, and that had been caused by her parents splitting not her.

"Don't be stupid. I deserved it quite completely. You should know that you did have me fooled for quite a while too," she looked at him skeptically and he rubbed the back of his head with a laugh, "Alright I guess it was mostly because I couldn't figure out if I really did want you to be "Ran" or the thought horrified me too much to even consider it… You can thank Kuroba for finally knocking sense into me." He felt himself grin and he felt better as she gave a slight laugh and hiccupped. He went to sit down across from her, and she looked away again.

Her voice quivered as the words started pouring out, "…I- I knew I should have told you immediately. I mean I didn't know you were going to show up and I didn't think Megure knew anything, so I prepared my story in advance… But when you came I… I should have told you… I just-" his eyes didn't leave her face as she turned back towards him, "I was scared Shi-- Shinichi. I mean I knew it was the same group, but you'd managed to get yourself out of it for so long I didn't think it was fair to drag you back in."

His eyebrows darted up as he chuckled at the girl, "And obviously I'm not going to catch on that you're Ran."

She blushed, "You weren't suppose to. What were the chances I'd have the same poison that shrunk you? And the poison worked differently too… I was shrunk more than ten years."

"And you look nothing like the little girl I played with as a kid…" his voice was thick was sarcasm as he grinned at her.

"I had glasses!"

"The idea which you stole from me!"

"Well its not like I haven't had practice!" she said scowling up at him, and looking very little like the child he'd been playing at hours before. "You know, what with raising a fake child myself for all that time." She crossed her arms in a far more childlike pout, "I even had a valid excuse as to why I was wearing them."

He looked down at her "serious " face… which by now looked completely ridiculous on a child. Finally be began laughing and found that he couldn't stop even when he received a kick for it.

"Stop it Shinichi!"

"I… I can't…" he said laughing. "Its just so… so ridiculous…"

"….It is not! It's…" she found a giggle bursting from her lips too though. "Oh… I suppose it is…"

He got out his laughter before looking at her and brushing back a lock of her hair, more the way a brother might then he would have should it have been his Ran… but even now she was still eight speaking of, "So now the question is… do you want to work on getting yourself un-shrunk?" He grinned at her, "Unless your enjoying reliving your childhood a little too much."

"Oh kami!" she said shaking her head, "No… Honestly if I wasn't so worried about the men after me I'd probably have asked you for the cure from day one. How did you get yourself un-shrunk? I can't imagine you chose to stay that long too--"

"Gah… no. I didn't even consider staying as Conan. I didn't have a choice either… it took Haibara-- you remember the little girl you knew yeah?" Ran nodded eyes wide. Shinichi looked around making sure no one overheard again, but no one had come any closer, "She was the one who made the poison. She tried to kill herself after they killed her sister Akemi, but ended up getting shrunk as well. She was the one who found the cure for me."

"Oh.. I suspected some, but I was never positive. I was able to get some of your case files, but I didn't really think to go into Ai-chan."

He chuckled, "Its fine. Anyway she's working on a cure for you-- it might not work since whatever they gave you seems to be slightly different strand they've experimented with, which should explain the age difference. She wants to start with the basic antidote and see how long it lasts, what it does, and then build off that. You should have at least three or four days, maybe as long as a week--" it had been hopeful to him, but then when he was Conan he never got more than three days or so.

"Like a fairy tale," she said with a smile, "Sunset on the third day I'll turn back into Sei-chan yeah?"

He'd never thought of it like that, of course it would be Ran to think of APTX like some sort of magical spell… He wondered what she'd think if he mentioned the other part of this new drug… Although he wouldn't bother telling her that part just yet, no point in worrying her needlessly without knowing for sure.

"Yeah… I suppose it is… Something always went wrong whenever I changed though…"

"Because you're a mystery otaku and body magnet-" she said with a grin. "You wouldn't be Shinichi if you weren't…" Bright blue eyes beamed up at him and Shinichi felt a little leap of hope jump up in the way she looked up at him.

She let out a long sigh and brushing herself off looked back towards him and shyly took his hand, "Well I suppose you should take me to go see Ai-chan and see about an antidote hmmm?"