Author's note: "lll" are purely for organizational purposes. "lllll" mean a time change or shift. Italics are thoughts or emphasis (the latter will be of course in quotes). Bold italics mean heavy emphasis.

Enjoy...

lllll

Doubt thou the stars are fire;

Doubt that the sun doth move;

Doubt truth to be a liar;

But never doubt I love.

Hamlet (2.2.115-118)

lllll

Don't Walk Away

lllll

Conan looked across the room from his corner. His hands were in his pockets as he leaned casually against the wall.

From his shadowy sanctuary, he could see everything going on before him.

Kogoro and Eri were arguing over how many drinks he had already consumed that evening and Kogoro was saying he hadn't meant what he said about her being so nagging.

Sonoko was dancing with her husband of seven years or so, Makoto.

He noted the presence of Ran's former high school English teacher, and FBI agent Jodie Sainte-million, casually talking with some gentlemen in a corner, two of them being Aiki Shuichi and James Black.

He could see Heiji talking with Kazuha as his daughter, Akane, slept in her mother's arms.

He could see Inspector Megure chatting with Inspector Nakamori, congratulating him on his daughter's recent marriage. Said daughter was tugging at her husband's arm away from the fancy paintings with jeweled frames that hung on the walls.

He noticed for the umpteenth time that evening that the lights were dimmed and the lighted ice sculptures cast a glow on the red streamers that danced along the ceiling.

He even occasionally noticed the rain falling softly outside.

What he dared not look at was the graceful woman in the middle of a crowd of people.

She was smiling and holding a champagne glass as her colleagues congratulated her repeatedly for her victory in a long, brutal, and highly profiled case. A few minutes before, it was announced she was now a partner in her mother's law firm.

Conan looked down at his glass.

It had been so long since he was this close to her. So long…

lllll

lll

lllll

It had been one month short of twelve years now since he had become Edogawa Conan. Or to be more precise Edogawa Conan was literally 11 years and 11 months old today. Of course, he looked 18, but his mind was 28 and age had left its scars.

lll

The first two years of his new life were scattered with appearances as himself to Ran. They were short and too far apart for anything to be said.

But, it was not as if it mattered anymore.

The day before Ran graduated from high school the truth was known.

There was no cure.

None permanent enough to withstand the reproducing, regressing qualities of the Apotoxin.

lllll

"This drug is a devil," Ai told him that day, "I will undoubtedly be damned for creating it."

"Do you mean there's nothing?"

Ai could not look into his eyes.

Conan froze in shock. It came fast, his breath shortened and then it hit him full force.

lll

He ran from there.

He ran as fast as his eight-year-old legs would take him.

He ran to get away from it.

That poison fused with the blood in his veins.

He ran so that he could disappear.

Like his real-self had in those few moments on that fateful day.

He wanted the wind to block out the sound of that voice…

That voice that cried…

That voice that yelled at him when he hadn't called…

That voice that could—should hate him.

That voice that had always said she loved him.

That voice that could make him cry and feel like the scum of the earth.

lll

He continued running, but no matter how intent he was on getting away his legs led him home.

Home had long since ceased being his former house. No, now his home was the Mouri residence.

He stepped inside to find no one home.

Then he remembered.

Ran said she would go shopping with Sonoko.

Kogoro was buying Ran a gift.

His sweat froze on his skin.

He was alone.

He realized the weight in his hand and noticed he was clutching the cell phone.

He pressed "one" and held his bow tie to his mouth.

lllll

Ran looked down at her cell phone.

It read "Shinichi."

Her heart jumped into the air as she answered it.

"Hello?" she said trying to keep calm.

"Hi, Ran," she noted the feeling in his voice.

"Shinichi? How are you? Are you coming home? Tomorrow is the graduation ceremony. Are you going to come?"

He smiled at the eagerness in her voice, but it did nothing but push the knife that was his sorrow even more into his heart.

"I'm fine. I'm sorry but I can't make it. Also it looks like I'm not going to be home for a long time. I'm really sorry Ran."

She heard the quiver in his voice.

"Shinichi are you crying?"

"Just out of breath. And I would never cry as long as you're happy."

Ran's heart skipped a beat.

"What's wrong, Shinichi?"

He stayed silent.

"Shinichi?"

"Ran, promise me. Promise me that you'll live as you want to. Be happy. Don't be sad anymore. Don't…"

"Don't hang on right?"

Shinichi looked at the phone in surprise.

"Shinichi, I'm not going to make stupid promises to let go now. Not after all this time."

"Ran I- You have to be happy. I can't hold you back anymore."

"It sounds like you're leaving me."

"Dammit Ran – I can't stand knowing I make you cry."

"AND HOW WOULD YOU KNOW WHEN I CRY!"

He heard the tremble in her voice and an echo in the background.

Where is she?

"YOU'RE NEVER HERE TO SEE ME CRY! And so what if I've been waiting, it doesn't matter! As long as I know you're coming back someday I'll wait as long as I have to whether you want me to or not!

lll

Jesus Ran.

lll

"Ran…"

"And here I am, at your house, wishing for you to be here and this is what I get!"

He heard her dry laugh.

"You must think I'm a fool," she said in defeat.

"Ran, I never thought that about you. I never could. Never. I'm sorry. Forget what I asked. It's just that…"

"It's just that you really don't want me to wait anymore. Do you?"

lll

If he could stop this moment and never move on would be heaven. Her dedication and loyalty was unwavering. To break a force like that would be monstrous. It would unleash hell upon himself.

Not that it mattered, he was already cursed.

lll

"I don't want you to be sad. I hate that I can't stop not being there for you."

"Shinichi… I cry because I don't know."

"Know what?"

"Know… I don't know if… if you… if you love me.

"I love you."

Shinichi held his breath.

The air in his lungs seemed to disappear as a cold wind swept over him.

"Shinichi, are you there?"

He gulped the lump in his throat down, "I'm here."

He heard nothing for a few seconds, and then a sob.

"IS THAT ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY!"

lll

She thinks… but I can't just do that to her. I can't do it that easily. I can't tell her I hate her. I can't. But I have to...

lll

Whatever he was going to say was pushed aside as the words tumbled out of his mouth.

lll

"RAN! Did it ever seem like I didn't love you? What motive would I have not to love you? Is it plausible that I took you to that damn restaurant to ask you to marry me? Did I show up to that play planning to kiss you and tell you everything. Yes I did!"

Ran's heart skipped as she took in every word he was saying with that husky voice breaking her heart.

Shinichi breathed in, "The evidence makes me guilty as charged, and you have my confession as well. I can't stop loving you, but I have to let you go and you have to let me. Otherwise, I don't think I could live with myself knowing I killed a woman's soul."

He heard Ran's sobs and breathing, "See! There you go saying something like that. Making it impossible for me not to love you and look what you're asking of me!"

"Well, when you realize that your life is going a certain way you want it to start quickly so it doesn't hurt as much after you've let in sink in!"

"Shinichi!"

"Ran, I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I can't change this…the way my life is. So please. Let go."

"You let go!"

"I can't. Not knowing that you haven't yet!"

"But you can't be gone forever?"

"There is no forever."

"Then you'll come back, right?"

He wished he was six feet under.

"Ran, please."

"You will?"

"Ran, I have to go now."

"Shin -?"

"Sayonara Ran."

"Shinichi," muttered Ran as the dail tone beeped in her ear.

lllll

lll

I will always love you.

lll

lllll

The next day at Ran's graduation ceremony, she couldn't help but pity Conan. He was wearing a gauze mask due to a cold that came on during the time that Ran was at the morning rehearsal. She couldn't help but notice how detached he was during his Ran-neechan's graduation.

As she was speaking and looking at her audience, she noticed a figure standing at the top of the bleachers clearly, his stance and form recognizable.

Shinichi?

lll

Once it was over, she found Heiji and Kazuha; they had come to congratulate her.

The lawn was crowded and she looked around desperately.

Then she saw him.

He was so close.

But he was walking away…

His hair was messy from the wind blowing. His walk looked a little tired and worn.

But still… it was him.

She knew it was deep down.

But he was walking away…

and…

waving goodbye behind him?

Is it goodbye forever?

She turned and looked at Conan.

He was looking at her with a hint of sadness in his eyes.

She smiled and turned to her father and her mother and Heiji and Kazuha, all of whom were arguing and said, "Let's go now," with a bright smile.

lllll

The next morning, Conan went left to Dr. Agasa's house early.

Conan took off the mask and turned to the figure lying in the hall.

Just as I thought, down to 6 hours. This temporary cure is practically useless for him now. Not as if it matters, his heart can't take another transformation. I warned him.

"Kudo! Wake up."

"Ehh… I feel like-"

"Just stop Kudo, I know. Now you should get home soon Ran will be expecting you."

"I don't know if I can do that."

"She saw you yesterday."

"What?"

"You got to close and she saw you walking away. Then she did too. There's nothing else to it, you left. She left too."

"Damn it."

He let himself continue lying on the floor, tangled in the oversized clothes.

"I don't even know why I went..."

"You wanted to see her," Ai said as she started walking out, "one last time… the way you really are. It was rather selfish of you to watch her like that. But that was all you had left didn't you?"

He reached into his pocket and put on his glasses.

lll

This is all I have left now.

This life of nothing.

lll

lllll

Ran looked out the plane and stared at the planes reflection on the glass of Tokyo's international airport.

What are you doing this for?

To get away...

From what?

From Shinichi.

But you don't even know where he is.

He is where I am not and if I go where I am he won't be there either.

lllll

Ran left for America in July.

She had applied, with her mother's insistence, to Harvard.

Conan was left with Kogoro and Eri for four long years.

And you didn't live with Kogoro's habits or Eri's cooking without finally learning how to cook decently for yourself.

In his old life, he would have just gone out to eat, but now he was bound to his new life.

lllll

Ran came back each year, during the summer for a few weeks and then for winter breaks.

Conan stayed out of her way except to say hi, to eat, or say good-bye. He couldn't really stand to be around her. It hurt now more than it ever had.

lllll

When Ran finally graduated and came back to study law in Japan, he was already twelve years old. His face had already started thinning out, he was taller and now his voice had already begun to take different tones. He wouldn't let Ran see him. He'd lock himself in his room if she came over unannounced, or head to Professor Agasa's. It was rude, that he knew, but it made sense to him somehow- have her angry with him, even if it was Conan-kun, rather than depressed and confused.

lllll

Finally, the year came when Ran was finished with her three years of law school at the University of Tokyo.

Ran and Conan hadn't talked to each other in a long time, much less seen each other.

The day of her graduation from law school, Kogoro had pulled Conan by the collar to make him come, after Eri had pulled his to make him stand still as she tied his tie.

lll

Conan stood at the top of the university bleachers and watched Ran accept her diploma and walk back to her seat.

She had graduated top honors, first in her class.

He had to be proud.

Once it was over Eri, Kogoro and Conan walked down into the crowd to find Ran.

"Hey! Mom! Dad!"

They turned to see Ran standing there.

The wind that day was blowing her gown into her body, outlining the curves of her body.

"Congratulations!" The happy parents exclaimed over their daughter.

Conan would have had the chance to slip away unnoticed if he hadn't waited that extra second.

"Conan-kun? Is that you?"

The teenaged figure stepped back a bit, keeping his hat low over his eyes.

"Hi Ran."

The voice chilled Ran's heart, her pulse quickened.

Then she noticed the glasses over his eyes.

"Conan!" The smile plastered itself naturally on her face.

She pulled him in to a hug, "How have you been?"

"Fine, just fine." He smiled.

lll

That smile…

lll

"Come on, let me get a good look at you. I haven't seen you in a while. What are you now, 15?"

"Yeah, ah no!"

She had pulled off his hat.

The hair was a little messy, but the eyes.

Ran's eyes locked with his and for a moment was lost in a wave of familiarity.

They showed the depths, as they always had, of someone older.

"Uh, Ran, I have to get going, I'll see you later," said Conan as he broke the link.

lll

That was Shinichi's voice.

lll

"Hey- didn't I make it clear today? It's been awhile since we've all been together, so forget whatever you were planning." Kogoro said, glaring.

"Sorry old man but I'm going." He waved behind him as he started to walk away.

"That punk. When he gets home..."

"Calm down Kogoro, I told you to give him his space. Now Ran do you want to go out for dinner?" Eri turned to her daughter.

Only to find Ran was no longer there.

lllll

"Conan-kun, wait!" Ran yelled after him.

Conan turned.

"Ran-neechan, what are you doing? I thought you'd be spending time with your parents…"

"I'll spend time with whoever I want to. It's my graduation and I want to spend time with you. But don't call me Ran-neechan, Ran is just fine."

She grabbed onto his wrist, "Now come on or we'll be late for the dinner reservations mom set up to invite me to work at her firm."

"Those where supposed to be a surprise," said Conan.

"Like they could keep a surprise around me," Ran smiled, "I've really sharpened my detective skills. I bet I could beat Shinichi now."

"I don't know. Shinichi-san was pretty smart."

"I'll never really know. So… what are you up to. You were so smart last time I saw you, are you still helping Dad on his cases?"

"A little, sometimes they just hire me now. I tend to cheaper than your Dad."

Ran laughed, "I know. He's down to a few cases a month now. But he's older now and I don't want him in too much danger."

"That's why I'm around; too keep him out of trouble."

Ran looked at Conan, he wasn't looking at her but the side profile was exactly like Shinichi's when Shinichi was his age.

lll

Too alike for distant cousins.

Ran, what are you thinking? Even if Conan was Shinichi what reason would you have to reveal that you know? He's obviously over you.

lll

Conan noticed Ran's gaze, "Why are you looking at me like that Ran?" he said softly.

lll

She knows now, she has to. Will she say anything?

Please let her say anything...

lll

"Uhh… no it's nothing. I was just wondering… if you've heard from Shinichi."

Her voice faltered at that last part.

She felt a touch at her cheek.

"You don't even know you're crying…" He whispered as he wiped away her tears.

She looked up at him.

lll

That kindness…that pain behind his eyes.

lll

He had to get away… away from those tender eyes that could pull him in, sedate him, and leave him sinking in an ocean of madness, regret and most important of all - love.

"Ran … I'm sure he's fine. I'm sure he wishes he could be here." He was looking away from her.

lll

Who are you?

lll

"Conan? Why won't you look at me?"

He turned and looked into her eyes.

She was overwhelmed by a feeling of depth and loss and most of all - regret.

"But how… who…" She stopped from the sudden arms around her waist.

He hugged her close and held her for a few moments, taking in all he could of Ran to fill that hunger that had been left unquenched for so long.

Ran knew this embrace. To be lifted by strong arms, pulled in and held as if she would slip away at any moment.

Oh how she longed to be held like this.

And then he let her go.

He let her go even when he didn't want to.

It hurt more than anything he had ever known, and he knew pain very well.

"I have to go Ran."

"Conan…no… Shin-" she whispered.

He smiled, "Be happy," he said and started walking away, waving behind him as he did.

Ran stood rooted to the ground.

Shinichi…

Shinichi...

lll

"Shinichi!"

Conan turned and looked at her, surprised.

She ran forward to him and held him.

"It's you. It's you. Somehow… it is."

"Ran…" surprise marked in his voice, "I..."

She looked up at him, "You are, aren't you?"

Silence descended upon their hearts.

"Ran... I..."

Conan looked into her eyes and felt a barrier coming up.

"Ran?"

"No. You're right. You're not. Just like you always said," she said.

She stepped back a bit, "Not anymore," she breathed in just loud enough for him to hear.

And then she turned, and walked away.

lllll

Heiji and Kazuha watched the scene from the side.

"Good, they haven't seen us yet," commented Kazuha.

"What are you talking about?"

"Conan-kun and Ran-chan."

"What about them?"

"Conan's been treating Ran terrible! Did you just see that?"

lll

Just like that Shinichi… always leaving her alone

lll

"I don't know. He looked a little lost for words too."

"What happened to them? Remember whenever Kogoro or Eri mentioned Ran was coming and we were there visiting, Conan would leave for Professor Agasa's. Or that one time when Ran came over unannounced, he stayed in his room. Why does he do that? He used to love his neechan."

lll

He couldn't let go…

lll

Kazuha looked at Heiji.

"Hey, I know that look. What do you know?"

Heiji looked at her, "Nothing, nothing. I swear," he raised up his hands to show he had nothing.

"Don't give me that!"

"Hey look Conan's walking away!" he pointed, "I should go and…uh… follow him. I'll call you soon okay?"

"Heiji, you idiot. This isn't over!" Kazuha shouted as Heiji went running off.

Suddenly Heiji ran back, "You're right honey… it's not."

He kissed her quickly and set off leaving Kazuha in a blush that had never faded away from whenever he did that.

lllll

Ran could feel Conan's gaze on her back as she walked away.

lll

Yes- Conan. Not Shinichi.

lll

She felt soft tears welling in her eyes.

She wiped them away as she walked around the lawn looking for her parents.

"Hey Ran-chan!" came a voice from behind.

"Kazuha-chan, you made it!" she turned and was swept in a hug. "It's so good to see you."

"Congratulations on the top honors! I know! What has it been now, a year since I last saw you?"

"Thank you. Yeah we don't have enough time anymore."

Kazuha nodded in agreement.

Ran looked around, "So where's Heiji-kun?"

"Oh," Kazuha looked down, "He couldn't make it. A case came up as we were heading to the airport. He said to tell you he was sorry he couldn't make it."

"Oh…" Kazuha noticed a little disappointment in Ran's eyes, "Well tell him 'hi' for me and all that."

lll

As expected.

lll

"Okay. Oh! I saw your parents by the refreshment stand, were you looking for them?"

"Yeah."

"Well let's go."

They started walking towards the refreshment stand and chatted for a while until...

"So how are things going between you and Heiji?" asked Ran.

"Well when you've been married for almost six years, you really get used to each other and how everything is. There isn't anything too much different until you're three."

Ran stopped and looked at Kazuha, "Don't tell me you're…"

"Muhum," nodded Kazuha grinning.

Ran squealed in delight and hugged Kazuha, "Oh my god! Congratulations! How long have you known?"

"I found out yesterday! I haven't told Heiji yet. Heck, I haven't told anyone but you!"

Ran looked at her surprised, "Why haven't you told him?"

"Well knowing him," Kazuha started, "He wouldn't let me out of sight, and he'd be fussing…"

Ran smiled as she listened to Kazuha's reasons.

lll

She's so lucky to have that, more than she knows.

lll

"…yes but our anniversary is tomorrow so I'll surprise him then."

"Well, good luck afterward then. Do you want to come to dinner with us? Conan was supposed to go but he left."

"Umm I think I have time," she said as she looked at her watch.

A ring came from her pocket. She took out the cell phone and smiled.

"It's Heiji. Oh," she pointed up ahead, "there are your parents. I'll be there in a minute okay?"

"Okay," said Ran as she walked off.

lll

"Heiji?" said Kazuha as she answered the phone.

"Hey honey, listen Conan just bought a ticket for a train to Osaka. It leaves in an hour."

"Did he see him following you?"

"No, but I'm sure he noticed something."

"What should we do? Ran invited me to dinner, so that'll be about two hours. I think you should talk with Ran. If my hunch is right she wants to talk with you."

"But Conan's heading to Osaka now to see me."

"Well I'll catch a plane, it only takes little more than an hour. I'll be home before he is, The train takes 3 hours afterall."

"But…" started Heiji, confused.

"Those three and the hour wait Conan has gives me plenty of time. I want to be there to talk to him."

Heiji heard the tone in her voice and sighed, "Okay. What should I do until it's logical that I get here from Osaka?"

"Go out and eat. You were complaining how hungry you were… or go shopping."

"How about I meet you at the airport? I'll be waiting inside that western coffee house place you like so much."

"The Starbucks?"

"Yeah. Then I can kiss you good-bye."

"Sounds great."

"Okay I'll see you in two hours. Bye."

He kissed her over the phone and hung up.

He looked around and started walking to the mall.

Time to do some shopping, he grinned, but first some chow mein.

lllll

Kazuha joined Ran and her parents. "Heiji was telling me the case finished fine and to get home soon. I told him I'd get home after dinner with you. That's fine right?"

Kogoro looked at her, "Yeah it's fine."

Ran smiled.

lll

Company sounds nice.

lll

lllll

Conan boarded the train and looked out the window, it'd be awhile until the train left but he could relax now. It seemed as if whoever had been following him had disappeared.

He didn't want to be bothered with a trivial one time stalking anyway. He had other thoughts to concentrate on.

lll

Damn it! This was why I didn't want to see her anymore! I can't stand to see her anymore.

But I can't say I don't love her.

lll

His thoughts fell back to holding Ran and he took off his jacket.

It smelled like Ran.

That orchid smell to her that cleared his mind.

lll

I could have come out of all the lies. I could have told her the truth.

Ran gave me that chance, but what would that do?

She already knew.

And I already told her to let go.

And just what did she mean by that?

That I'm not Shinichi anymore…

Does she really think I don't love her anymore?

lllll

Ran said good-bye to her parents and Kazuha and headed home after dinner. It was still early but she had nothing else to do.

She looked around her new home. It was an apartment she had just began renting a few days ago.

It was a small one bedroom apartment with a kitchen and bath. Thankfully, there weren't too many things to unpack. Mostly her clothes, personal belongings and she only had a couch, a TV set, and a table in the living room.

Her bed still needed to be put together.

I can get to that tomorrow. Right now I'd really like to get some sleep.

Then she noticed the time.

It's only nine o'clock on a Friday night and here I am thinking about sleep, how pathetic.

Then she felt how tired she was.

Not for sleep, but of everything.

She lay on the couch, quite comfortable until a knock came on the door.

Who could it be at… she looked at the clock… 10:15?

Wow, I must have been dozing off…

She got up from the couch and pulled herself together.

The knock came again.

"I'm coming!" she shouted.

She opened the door and was a little stumped.

"Heiji-kun?"

"Well that's a fine hello. How are you doing?"

Ran shook her head, "I'm fine. What are you doing here?"

"I'm just checking up on you. And you don't look okay. Were you asleep? Or were you crying earlier?" He walked in.

Ran smiled and closed the door, "I knew it. You were here earlier. What are you and Kazuha up to? You couldn't know I was crying by just looking at my face."

"I remember the days I could pass something by you. Not anymore. Yeah I was here and we kind of saw…" he sat on the couch.

"Oh…" Ran sat down.

"It was Kazuha's idea really. I talk to you mainly because she wanted to really let Conan have it."

Ran's eyes opened, "But she doesn't know!"

Heiji looked at Ran surprised, "Know what?"

Ran realized what she had said.

She looked away, "Nothing."

Heiji gently took hold of Ran's wrist, "Neechan, what happened?"

Ran looked at Heiji, "You know… don't you?"

Heiji's eyes locked on hers.

"Did he tell everyone? Why couldn't he tell me?"

Heiji watched the tears in Ran's eyes spill over.

"I always told him that he shouldn't keep this from you," the last words were harsh and regretful, "I shouldn't have let him."

He held Ran for awhile letting her cry on his shoulder wishing he didn't have to.

He felt as if he failed Ran, a girl that was like his sister since the day they met.

"Let me get you some tea okay?" he said when she had calmed down some.

He gently pushed her off his shoulder and set her against the cushion, "Then we'll talk."

Ran nodded.

lll

I really hate you Kudo. You've put me in a spot I never wanted to be in.

Damn you.

lll

Heiji went to the kitchen and took out two cups from the cupboard.

He tried his best not to take his anger out on the new apartment after he slammed a cupboard shut.

He looked through a box and found some instant tea packets; he really had no idea how to make the real stuff.

Some five minutes later, he was back in the living room with the tea tray.

He looked at Ran. She was leaning back and looking out the window. A faint drizzle had started. "Are you okay Neechan?"

Ran snapped back into reality, "Oh, yeah, just day dreaming a bit."

Heiji smiled, "Well here's your tea."

Ran began to sip the hot liquid and felt the soothing effects quickly begin to work.

After a few minutes Ran began to talk.

lllll

Conan stepped off the train in Osaka and quickly made his way to the Hattori residence.

The street was wet from the summer's rain and his light jacket didn't add much protection.

He took out a key from his pocket and made his way to the back entrance to where Heiji's study was at.

The windows were dark.

He let himself in and slipped into some slippers.

"Heiji-kun?"

The lights flipped on and Conan froze.

"Heiji isn't here."

"Kazuha-san!"

"Hi, Conan-kun. I'm sorry where are my manners. Heiji is currently in Tokyo helping me solve something."

"A case?"

"You could say that," said Kazuha as she casually made her way to the door Conan came through and locked it, "Come on, you're here and you must be tired, let me get you some tea. Take off your jacket, its soaked."

Conan's signals were on high alert.

lll

It's a trap! It's a trap!

Get away!

lll

He followed her to the living room and handed her his jacket, which she hung in the bathroom to dry.

"Well Conan-kun, what did you want to see Heiji about?"

"Oh just about something…"

"Did you want to tell him about Ran-chan's graduation?"

"Eh… something like that."

"How she graduated top honors and at the top of her class? How happy she was to see you?" suddenly Kazuha's voice turned like stone, "Or how about how you made Ran-chan cry? How you were trying to leave her there and were being terrible to her!"

"That's not what happened!"

Kazuha stepped back as Conan looked shocked at his own outburst.

She quickly gained her stance and started, "We saw what happened! You were ready to leave Ran after you hugged her. What's wrong with you? When you were little I clearly remember all you cared about was your neechan, and now you don't even have the decency to spend the day with her!"

"Kazuha... you don't understand… I can't just keep on… seeing her…"

"And why ever not?"

Kazuha's eyes pierced his face trying to decipher what was going on beneath.

Conan sighed, "I'm tired of never being able to do anything for her. I'm tired of being me."

Kazuha stared at Conan, "What do you mean! You leaving Ran-chan without a word, except your way of leaving is much worse because you're right in front of her face every time she goes home!"

"You don't know what you're talking about! Just stop!"

"There was a time I thought you were the sweetest kid in the world, boy the teenage thing did wonders for you didn't it! You're acting like…" Kazuha's mouth opened and closed trying to find the words that would perfectly describe his behavior.

And those lips found them.

"You're acting just like that Kudo Shinichi!"

Conan's went ridged at the sound of those words.

lll

No!

Not after all this!

I'm still not that heartless jerk that I used to be?

Can I?

But CONAN is just a façade, whispered a voice in his head that sounded like his voice, CONAN isn't so much different from Shinichi because CONAN is only an extension of Shinichi. There really isn't a difference, you know that. Kazuha's words just proved that. You keep on doing the same damn thing over and over again. And you'll keep on doing it until it kills you.

So just admit it, the voice continued, you know that's the first way of fixing the problem you know that.

You're me aren't you?

Always have been and I'll agree with you that was a low comment but you can't blame her because she doesn't know.

lll

"Kazuka-kun," he slipped off his glasses and stood straighter, "I'll let you now what Heiji-kun has known for a long time. What Ran has suspected for forever and now knows…"

Kazuha gasped at the person in front of her and realized just how much he looked like the famous missing detective Kudo Shinichi.

lll

He can't be…

lll

lllll

"Conan is Shinichi. I know that now. I remember the day before I graduated high school he called me, somehow. He said he could love me forever but he had to let me go. I swore that day I would always love him."

Heiji could see the raw feeling in Ran's voice reflected in her eyes.

"He didn't want me to be sad. But couldn't he see I'd be just as sad without him."

Heiji took a hold of Ran as she began to shake.

"Neechan, its okay. It's okay."

"The day I graduated, he was there, as Shinichi. Why, I don't know. How, I can't begin to fathom… but he was there. He waved goodbye and walked away. Today he tried to do that again, but I couldn't… wouldn't let him. It seemed as if he were finally going to tell me, but I didn't want to let him."

"Why not?"

"Because…. he's not the same person. I mean he looks the same but he's not the same. Shinichi would never had left. Shinichi… he wouldn't have…"

Heiji could see Ran's lips move but couldn't hear her, "He wouldn't have what?" he asked softly.

"He wouldn't- he wouldn't have stopped loving me. He wouldn't have tried to run away if he loved me. He wouldn't have… told me to be happy. He would know… He would know I couldn't be happy, not without him."

"You really still love him? Don't you?"

"What good does that do?" Ran hiccupped, "He doesn't love me!"

Ran cried into Heiji's shoulder and she felt him shaking a bit.

"Heiji-kun? What's wrong?"

"I shouldn't have let him. I should have made him tell you everything. But you know the most important things, Conan is Shinichi but you have one fatal flaw in your theory neechan -"

Ran looked at him confused.

"He still loves you Ran, very much."

"No…" Ran whispered, "No he doesn't - he can't."

"What makes you so sure he doesn't?"

"He didn't stop me… from walking away."

Heiji sighed, "What does that matter? He still went to see you. He held you. That must mean something and you won't know until you ask him."

"But-"

"Just ask him."

Ran leaned away from him, "I don't think he would let me anymore…"

"You have to try Ran. Please. His world has been shattered over the past nine years. You have to let him know. I've seen mostly his side for the past few years but I know you and I know you don't want to let him go. It'll end up tearing you up more than it would by not asking. You'd come to regret not asking, not knowing for sure. He did this believing you wouldn't live like that, but he failed to see you will. You have to let the great detective know he's wrong."

Ran's eyes opened wide at the last few words in realization.

There is only one truth…

lllll

"You're, you're… Kudo."

Conan sighed, "Yes I am."

"But how? You should be older! And, and…"

Conan gripped Kazuha's arms and whispered urgently, "Calm down. It's a long story I'm sure Heiji can tell you later, but right now I'm leaving. I… I need to go."

Conan turned and headed for the door when he heard Kazuha whisper something.

"What?" he turned sharply, eyes wide open.

"She still loves you!"

He walked across the room and leaned over Kazuha, "Hear me once okay? She doesn't love me. She can't love me. There's no reason in the world she would!"

Kazuha pushed him away and slapped him.

"Don't be stupid. She loves you. You've heard her say it. She isn't married! She lives alone! She's never been kissed! She's been waiting for you don't you get it! There's no proof that she doesn't love you. Get it through your head!"

Conan looked away and suddenly seemed to go limp.

"She walked away. She didn't want to hear it. She said I wasn't Shinichi anymore… or maybe she just said it so it wouldn't hurt when she walked away."

Kazuha stared wide-eyed at the young man in front of her realizing…

Conan pushed the lump in his throat and continued, "I can't just come back, like that. It isn't fair at all… she's been waiting all this time, and so have. I swore the day I left I would always love her but I can't have her live like that. I can't demand that she wait for me… I can… I can live believing she is happier without me."

"But…"

"Do you believe if I had continued telling her I would be back soon that'd she'd be half of what she is today? No, she would have never left to America, never would have taken that risk if there was the possibility of the day of my return and her not being there for it." There was a slight smile on his lips as if he were remembering something.

"Get out of my house…"

Conan looked over at Kazuha, she was pale and shaking but looking very determined.

"What?"

"You heard me. Get out. You will not stand there and talk about Ran like that. She isn't needy or frail. She is strong on her own but you of all people should know how lonely she is without you. Maybe you were trying to spare her pain but overly protecting her didn't help at all!"

Conan went into the bathroom and came out with his jacket. It was still soaked but he didn't care about that at the moment.

"I'm going. Tell Heiji I came by. Don't tell Ran about this and don't speak to anyone you don't know about me," he said. As he headed to the door he sighed and turned taking Kazuha by surprise.

His face was painfully strained into a smile, "I wish I could have seen you on better terms."

And with that he went out into the dark night blanketed by the hard rain and sung to sleep by the howling wind.

lllll

lllll

Heiji looked over at Ran asleep on the couch. Her eyebrows were furrowed and it seemed as if she were mumbling something in her sleep.

His cell phone vibrated in his pocket and he fumbled trying to pull it out without disturbing Ran.

"Hello."

"Heiji come home!"

"Kazuha?"

"We need to talk."

"Huh what?" he got off the couch and went out onto the balcony. "What happened with Conan? Is he still there?"

"No he left. And you failed to tell us in our six years of marriage that Conan is Shin-"

"Stop! Not over the phone. I'll be home soon. I just need to make sure Neechan is okay."

"Oh… how did that go?"

"I think she'll be okay. She's asleep right now but I want to say good-bye when I'm sure she's all right."

"Well hurry home because we're not going to be all right much longer if we don't get answers!"

"We?"

"Yes, me and the baby silly."

Heiji gulped, "The baby?"

"Yes aho the baby."

"You're…"

"Yeah I was waiting till you got home but I need you home ASAP and I didn't think anything would make you come faster."

"Why… HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN?"

"Come home and find out."

Heiji opened his mouth to speak but stopped when he heard the beep in his ear.

She hung up on me! Six years and I still don't understand that woman…

Heiji sighed and suddenly became aware of how cold it was outside.

He went in and found Ran awake.

"Was that Kazuha?"

"Uhh yeah?"

"So how did that go?"

"I don't know but I've got a feeling that it was not good."

Ran looked at the floor, swaying a bit.

"Are you okay neechan?"

Ran looked up at Heiji, "Umm yeah… I just need time to think. But I'll be fine. You should get home. If you leave now you can make the one o'clock train to Osaka."

"Are you going to be all right?"

"Yeah," she replied smiling.

Heiji looked at her almost in pity, "I understand now, what Kudo said once."

"Huh?"

"He said your smile isn't real. It's to make others feel good, to think you're okay. Stop smiling when you don't want to. It's the healthiest thing in the world to wear your emotions on your sleeve. Trust me I know one guy that doesn't and he's got problems. No it's not Shinichi, I don't think you'd know him. Well I should go…"

He put his arms over her to hug her and was relieved that Ran hugged him back.

"Bye," said Ran as she opened the door.

"Yeah. Take care of yourself. I'll call you when I get home. Good night," he waved.

"Good night," she waved back.

Heiji left and Ran watched him leave.

She closed the door and leaned against it.

What am I going to do?

How am I going to do this?

A thought struck her and she quickly grabbed her car keys and her jacket and ran out the door.

lllll

lllll

Conan caught the soonest plane out of Osaka when he reached the international airport. He bought the cheapest ticket on his credit card and sighed as he slumped into his seat.

He promptly fell asleep.

lllll

Ai looked up as she heard the doorbell.

"Wonder who that could be?"

She looked out through the peephole.

"KUDO!"

She wrenched the door open.

"Ai… I need your help…"

She raised an eyebrow, "I don't get a hello at the least."

"Look I just came off the longest flight, I'm not in the mood."

"Fine."

She shut the door.

"Hey!" she heard Conan yelling through the door.

She opened it, "You look desperate. What happened?"

"She knows."

"Come inside."

She closed the door behind him.

"Don't bother with the shoes they don't bother with that stuff here in London."

"I know."

"Good otherwise I thought you would have lost more than your touch."

"Didn't I say I wasn't in the mood for the sarcasm?"

"Yes but it's only because you've let Ran know haven't you?"

Conan stared at his shoes, nodding.

"I expected as much by the fact you don't have a bag at the least or seemed to have," Ai sniffed the air, "changed since your flight ended."

"You're right. I came straight here."

"I take it nothing is going well?"

"I'm trying to make it by."

"So you rejected her right?"

"No."

"No? You mean she rejected you?"

"Something like that."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah."

"She said 'I hate you and I never want to see you again!' ?"

"No."

"Then she doesn't hate you."

"But…"

"If she turned away she probably had a good reason for it. The most likely was that she was confused."

"Why?"

"You're a really lame detective Kudo if you can't figure that out," said a voice.

Shinichi turned, "Oh, it'd just you."

"That's a hello. But that doesn't really matter considering that you think she hates you."

"She walked away!"

"Did you think she possibly walked away from you for the same reason that her mother walked out on Mouri-san?" suggested Ai.

"Now that's an idea cousin."

"Hakuba… you aren't even familiar with that."

"How would you know? I make it my business to know about everyone. Now, Conan… Shinichi?"

"Shinichi's fine."

"Okay Shinichi. You know why Eri walked out on Kogoro right? Or why any woman walks away from any man right?"

Conan looked at him confused.

"Ai, why does he claim to be a meitantei when he can't solve this simple puzzle?"

"You'd be surprised how many men can't figure that one out Hakuba. But I don't know why he doesn't get it. As I understood it his father figured it how quite easily, and took Yukiko-san down a notch or too."

"Tell me already!" yelled Conan.

"She wanted you to…"

"Go-after-her."

"What?"

Tea was spilled at that point and they proceeded to toss him out.

"Think about it Edogawa-kun."

"Call us for the wedding."

lllll

Ran unlocked the upstairs door and walked in. She walked past her parents room and looked into her old room.

Which was now Conan's or rather Shinichi's room.

She looked at the chest of drawers and opened it.

Underwear, shirts, clothes, clothes… aha! Personal belongings. Not exactly the best place to keep them.

At top was a photo album. Pictures of his second childhood filled it. No signs that he had had a girlfriend in the time she had been gone. Underneath the album was a wooden box.

Notes, papers. Nothing Shinichi related. Nothing saying anything.

As she was putting the papers back into the box she noticed something. The box was twice as thick as the inside. She pulled out everything looked for a way to open the base. She picked at it with her nail but is seemed as if it wouldn't move. She felt the box over looking for an explanation.

She found it. On the underside of the box was a hole just larger enough ot push your pinkie though. A smaller box fell out.

In that one was everything. The wrapper to her chocolate. A red thread. Phone bills. Letters.

She poured over those. Reading and rereading them.

She cried but was careful enough to be sure that none of her tears marked the already tear-stained page.

The morning light came through the blinds.

Conan would be home soon. It was odd that he hadn't come home already.

She put everything back in the order it had been and closed the drawer.

It was all there. Everything in black and white but she could scarcely believe it.

It was too much.

lllll

Conan laid back into his seat. He was tired. That and other matters were not helping.

"So what where you doing in London Kudo?"

"Same as you."

"Seeing Hakuba-kun?"

"Well the both of them, him and Ai."

"Oh I was there before you got there. I was just talking to Hakuba, trying to convince him to call Akako. Hasn't talked to her in months and she's been depressed, been making flowers wilt just by looking at them. But of course Hakuba doesn't believe in magic-"

"I don't believe in magic."

"That's your thing, but one day you're going to have to realize the truth."

"Of what?"

Kaito turned to look at him deadly serious, "There are things in heaven and hell that human beings can't possibly understand and that the road to hell was paved by good intentions Kudo."

"You were there weren't you?"

"Eh, I might of heard something…" he said as he picked something from his ear, "but seriously Kudo, you can't keep trying to protect Ran. Especially now that she knows… it's not good…" his expression darkened, "It's not good… for either of you. You should know what I mean."

"Kaito…"

The small cloud that had hung over Kaito's expression was shooed away and he smiled, "It's okay. It's not anyone's fault. It never is."

The rest of the flight back to Japan was silent.

lllll

Ran sat on her couch flipping through the channels.

It was dark out already and felt completely unproductive for the entire day.

She was half-tempted to watch the Yaiba marathon.

But thinking of it's happy ending just made her feel even more lethargic and numb.

Her mother had called earlier asking if Ran would be able to come into work later but Ran had to decline.

Since she had moved back to Japan she worked occasionally at her mother's firm. It was really the only time with classes and her other job that she had been able to see her mother. At the Kisaski Firm, she had done filing and looking at cases and organizing, things her mother promised would stop once she graduated law school.

Now she would actually be a lawyer and handle cases. Not that she hadn't done it before.

This time she would get to actually be head of the team and handle everything.

A very busy task.

And concentrating on work would be best.

She had waited for Conan to come back to her parents place until noon but he still had not returned.

So now as she laid on her couch lethargically she was bothered that thinking of Shinichi/ Conan was all she had to do.

It was funny that he had even stayed there after she left putting up with her parents.

He could have just gone to live by himself in that house.

The phone ringing shook her out of her thoughts.

"Hello?"

"Ran-chan?"

"Yukiko-san?"

"Ah, congratulations for graduating. How are you?"

"I'm fine… just."

"Excited aren't you? I expect a pretty girl like you working with all those handsome lawyers just won't know what to do with herself!"

"Who exactly are we talking about here?"

"Oh right. I just got caught up in the past for a second."

"So I noticed."

"Uh anyway, I'm calling you mainly because I got a call from Shinichi earlier telling me you 'know'?"

"You guys knew!"

"Why of course we did, though he didn't tell us until we kidnapped him."

"Eh?"

Ran was thoroughly confused.

"Well I just called to tell you that Yusaku and I are heading back to Japan and that we plan to stop and see you!"

"But didn't you just talk with…"

"Shinichi doesn't know and I think he's carried out this entire affair painfully wrong. He's now even making the mistake of moving back to his old house."

"What? Where did he go? When did he get back?"

"Uh his plane landed an hour ago. It seems as if he went to London to see Ai and Hakuba-kun."

"Ai?"

"You do know the entire story do you?"

"Yeah but Heiji had told me that Conan had no idea where she was."

"I think she called him up a few months ago to tell him where she was settled. Lots of family in Britain so she's safe up there. Oh were arriving at the house now. I'll call you back soon or we'll stop by tomorrow okay?"

"Okay."

"Don't feel to bad Ran. He just didn't inherit his father's skill with women… oh his uncle or cousin's either…"

"Eh?"

"Nothing nothing. But don't you worry about a thing! Don't dwell on what you're feeling right now and just try to think as to why he's done everything he has, umm. He might be a little stupid but nothing a good talking with won't sort out."

"Okay."

"Okay then. Bye."

"Bye."

"Bye."

Ran hung up the phone.

As she did so, she looked around her apartment.

"I need to clean up if I'm going to have the Kudo's here…"

lllll

Kudo Shinichi, in the disguise of Conan Edogawa, walked up the steps to the Mouri Detective Agency and opened the door.

"Where have you been, young man!" were the first words to his ears from a very stern Kiseki Eri.

"Out," deadpanned Conan.

"I don't care," said Kogoro to Eri, "Because he's out of here now. He can go live with his Aunt Yukiko. Or he can be like his dead beat cousin and disappear."

Eri looked at Kogoro who had now gone behind his newspaper, "You can't just kick him out!"

"Why not? Ran was the one who was supposed to take care of him and besides because of him I'm not doing so well in my cases anymore. His luck has run out."

"Well that's fine," replied Conan. Kogoro lowered his newspaper to look at him.

"Because I'm moving out. I was just talking with Aunt Yukiko and she's letting me move into the Kudo mansion. I'll be upstairs packing."

Eri looked at Kogoro, "See what you did!"

"Did what?"

"You made him leave!"

"He was already going."

"But didn't you see Ran here this morning waiting for Conan to come home?"

"So. What about it?"

"Obviously something happened."

"Something did," said Conan as he held a box with his belongings and put it down on Kogoro's desk.

"Well what was it?" asked Eri.

"She found out."

"Found out what?"

"That I'm Shinichi."

"What?"

"Kudo Shinichi is 25 and you're only 15."

"Fine don't believe me."

He took off his glasses and put them in the box as well, "All the better in fact, because to the rest of the world I'll forever be Edogawa Conan and having a few people know who I really am won't change anything."

Eri, unlike her husband, wanted answers, "Say you are really Kudo Shinichi, how did you get this way?"

"It's a long story and both of you will undoubtedly be angry at me but you want to know right?"

"You're right we'll be angry!"

"Kogoro—stop! He's obviously been through a lot. Listen to him all right?" she turned back to Conan/Shinichi, "We won't be angry okay?"

"You might say that now but…"

An hour later…

"MY FAME IS BECAUSE OF YOU!"

lllll

End of Part 1


AN: There's that part. I've been tinkering with this story since November... I was planning it as the longest one shot ever... and then I realized exactly what that would mean. It'll be awhile before I post the rest but it looks as if you've got enough to read through right now.