There was a deafening clatter, and Rachel Moore skidded around the doorjamb and into her father's cluttered office, wide-eyed and shaken.
"What is it? What's wrong, dad?" She rested her hands on her knees and struggled to catch her breath. "And what is this mess?"
Conan was lounging on the couch, fingers laced casually behind his head. He rolled his eyes as Richard sputtered in indignation, launching into another tangent on the case he'd been following for nearly a month.
"I can't believe this idiocy!" the middle-aged man sputtered, tugging at his hair in frustration until it stuck up at all angles. "No one can outrun the police that many times! It's just not possible!" He shook a crinkled copy of the newspaper at his daughter. "Don't look at me like that, young lady. No one can figure it out. And they still haven't asked me to start investigating!"
That's because they don't want you on the case, you buffoon, Jimmy thought hostilely, while Conan swung his legs back and forth on the sofa.
Rachel's shoulders sagged, and she began to dutifully clear the surface of her father's desk. "That again, dad? You have to stop obsessing over a case that doesn't involve you. Look at all the paperwork you have piled up! There are other people counting on you to solve their cases." She sighed.
"That's right!" Richard shouted, springing up from his chair and striking a heroic pose, "Because the world depends on the famed Richard Moore!"
Conan was busy holding back a snigger, but he stopped when he spotted the look on Rachel's face. The pretty brunette hadn't been herself lately; she frequently appeared as if she were sleepwalking, mechanically going through the motions of the day while her mind was preoccupied with something deeper.
"Th-this is ridiculous," she muttered, while Richard let out an obnoxious victory laugh, oblivious to her reprimands. "This would never be happening if Jimmy were still here."
A bolt of guilt flew through him, and the young detective softened just slightly. Rachel, I'm sorry. I miss you too. He hadn't called her for weeks, maybe months. Again he'd let the thrill of the chase overtake him as he solved case after case, building Richard Moore's reputation for him, and still not once could he edge closer to the truth behind his big shrink. Silently, he cursed his child form, and Rachel quickly brushed aside a stray tear.
"Don't cry, Rachel," Conan said, brightening as he remembered something that would cheer her up. "Come on. Let's go to Dr. Agasa's, he said yesterday that he had a surprise for you."
Rachel looked down at the little boy clutching her hand, and she couldn't help but smile. "For me? This better not be a trick, Conan Edogawa."
"I swear, it's not."
"Now hold on just a second, you two," Richard called. "What about everything I've just been saying? You can't go out there alone."
"It's not that far," Rachel sniffed. "Besides, Mr. Famous Detective, didn't I just hear you say that you were going to solve this case? Why don't you stop wasting time and start researching?"
Richard Moore's face was the picture of confusion. "What's wrong with you? Huh, women." He scratched the back of his head defensively. "Just watch your step, that's all. That guy out there is a sick, twisted killer. I don't wanna read about another murder, you got that, missy?" But Rachel had already slammed the door.
Conan winced as she tightened her vise-like grip on his hand. "Rachel, you're hurting me."
She blinked, and immediately loosened her angered grasp. "I'm sorry, Conan. It's just that…"
They had almost reached the home of the elderly inventor. Conan watched Rachel's gaze wander to the looming, empty house that stood next to it. It belonged to Jimmy Kudo.
Maybe taking her here wasn't such a good idea after all.
To his astonishment, it wasn't long before Rachel tore her eyes away and straightened her back defiantly, her features hardening in determination. "We're here, Conan," she announced, reaching out to open the front gate. "I hope he's home." She pressed the matter of the missing Jimmy Kudo from her mind once more as she led the child onto the doctor's property.
The door was flung open before she could knock. "Ah, Rachel, there you are," Dr. Agasa greeted in his curious accent, beckoning her inside and throwing Jimmy a wink behind her back. "Come on in, everything is all ready for you."
The girl's eyes widened in bafflement, and Jimmy couldn't help but plaster his face with a huge smile as well. If this didn't cheer her up, nothing would. The doctor put a guiding hand on her lower back and steered her into the study, where he positioned himself in the center of the room, hands on his hips. Rachel waited expectantly, but Jimmy detected a bit of suspicion behind her blue eyes.
"Now, this is a gift from Jimmy," the doctor explained with a grin. "He told me he wanted me to make it for you especially." He held up a hand to silence her as she began to protest. "We both knew you would object, but Jimmy insisted. I think he was feeling guilty for not calling you lately." He sent a knowing smile in Jimmy's direction, and Conan flushed furiously.
"You can use this in the household," the elderly man continued, adjusting his round glasses and smoothing the wrinkles from his lab coat. "It automatically picks up trash and stray papers, and its specialty," he drew a remote from his pocket and punched a blue button, "beer cans."
Rachel almost laughed as she recalled the permanent tangle of cans on her father's desk, and she clapped her hands in glee as a panel on the wall slid aside to reveal a gleaming metal contraption that whirred and buzzed. Hovering at least three feet above the floor, it zipped out and extended a trio of metal claws. One held open the lid on the top, while the other two arms scooped up any mess that the radar detected. Even the doctor looked amazed.
Incredible, Jimmy mused to himself, Dr. Agasa actually got it to work without a hitch. I'm really gonna owe him after this…
The machine halted, folding up its extendable claws and coming to a rest on the floor. The whirring ceased, and Rachel smiled.
"It's amazing, and really useful," she crouched down next to it and poked it carefully. It coughed up a tiny puff of smoke and fell silent again. "I'll make sure to thank Jimmy next time I talk with him. It's wonderful, Dr. Agasa."
Jimmy was relieved. "I'm glad you like it, Rachel," he said aloud, and Rachel turned to look at his tiny child form with a grin.
"I do. Isn't it great, Conan? I can't wait to put it to work in dad's office."
The tension ran out of his shoulders, and Jimmy allowed himself to relax again. As long as Rachel was happy, he knew everything would be okay. And he would find a way to get back to his normal size, even if it took him years. When that day came, Rachel would be the first one he'd run to. He ignored his longing to tell her the truth, and instead bounced up and down on the balls of his feet eagerly.
"Let's take it home and try it out, Rachel," Conan suggested with all the infatuation of a child with a new toy. "I bet Richard will like it too."