Conan Edogawa was a shrimp. Even amongst kids his 'own' age, he was freaking small. Most of the time this didn't bother him too much, or rather, no more than losing more than a meter of one's previous height would bother anyone; he had to reach up to get at doorknobs, use a stepstool to get to the bathroom sink, and couldn't see over the top of most tables, but it was surprising how naturally the human mind adapted. By the time Conan had been three feet tall for a week, he was almost used to it - even the ache in his neck from always looking up (and up, and up) at people had faded. There were even advantages to it, especially on murder cases - he saw things some people didn't just from being so close to the ground, and of course few people paid much attention to a gradeschooler fooling around near their feet.

But there were certainly days.

Today was one of those days. Conan was up a tree with this one - literally. One shoe was gone, lost to the predator that had left him high and dry, and his clothes had seen better days. Conan tried in vain to clean the palms of his hands of sap and bark bits by wiping them on his dirty jeans and glared down at his attacker.

The dog took a moment to issue Conan a warning growl before going back to chewing on his tennis shoe.

Conan sighed. If I were big ... But of course wishful thinking wasn't going to get him anywhere. The dog was a pitbull with vicious teeth and while even Shinichi would have been uncomfortable dealing with an animal like that even normally, at least he wouldn't have had to run for his life and scramble up the first tree with low-hanging branches he saw. "Where the hell is your owner?" Conan asked of the dog, scowling.

The dog had no comment on that, unsurprisingly.

For the time being, all Conan could do was hope that Agasa-hakase arrived soon, preferably with help. Ayumi would have gone to find him and they would eventually figure out where he had run to. Who knew how long the dog would hound him, after all? No pun intended, he thought.

The dog let the shoe have a rest for a moment and got back to its feet, growling at Conan and starting to bark again, jumping into the air towards Conan's feet and coming a little too close for comfort. Conan startled and scrambled higher up the tree, clinging to one of the branches, before giving a rueful laugh. "Hah hah ..." How pathetic was this, really?

He was high enough up in the branches that Conan was mostly obscured by the leaves. The dog began to settle down again, and Conan's heartbeat started to slow. He could hear voices coming up the street, which was about twenty feet to the left of the tree Conan was currently occupying. The abandoned lot was an open one and a fun place for kids to play, but right now Conan felt more like it was a prison.

"Kid-sama is just the greatest, isn't he!?"

"He's a really great magician, yeah ..."

Teenage girls, Conan surmised, and sighed. Should he call for help? There was a chance the dog would attack them, though. As he debated, the voices came closer.

"I can't wait until he announces his next heist! No matter what, I'll be there! Maybe he'll see me in the crowds," the first girl enthused, and Conan realized he knew the speaker. Sonoko ...?

"Sonoko ..." the other girl said, confirming Conan's suspicions while sounding as if she was incredulous, and Conan's eyes widened. And Ran!? "What about Makoto?"

"Well, you know," Sonoko said dismissively. "He's never around, and I need someone who is here. I'm not like you, Ran, I can't wait around forever for my husband--"

"Shinichi's not my husband!" Ran protested. Conan could imagine her face, her cheeks red as she shouted in embarrassment.

"Who said anything about Shinichi? That was all you!" Sonoko snickered.

Conan felt his face heating up despite his situation, and his hands tightened on the branch he was holding for balance. In one of those series of events that seemed to conspire against Conan's peace of mind, a piece of bark broke off the branch and landed squarely on the head of the pit bull, which naturally took offense and jumped back to its feet, barking furiously.

Conan made a split-second decision in his surprise. "Ran-neechan!" he shouted, grasping the branch more tightly. "Help!"

He immediately regretted it, although not as much as he would later have liked to pretend. After all, the pit bull was obviously vicious - there was no reason why it wouldn't attack Ran too. He cringed and banged his head against the branch. Idiot, idiot! It might take a little while but Agasa will be here!

But it was too late. Although he could only barely hear Ran over the dog, he heard her shout, "Conan-kun!?" in alarm. Through the leafy branches he saw Ran dart into the yard, looking around before her eyes flew naturally to the excited pit bull.

The pit bull planted its paws on the tree trunk and growled at Conan; Conan looked back at it with wide eyes before glancing back at Ran. Ran was standing very still, her eyes fixed on the animal. The dog looked over to her, and there was a moment of standoff before the dog made its decision. It abandoned its post at the foot of Conan's refuge and leapt towards Ran.

Conan's heart leapt into his throat. "Ran--!" he gasped.

But he needn't have worried. Ran took a stance, and with the calm, self-centered karate she had won so many championships with, she kicked out with one foot at exactly the right moment. It caught the dog in the throat, and it fell to the ground with a heavy thump. After a moment the dog scrambled to its feet and whined, darting off with its tail between its legs.

Ran took another deep, calming breath before her brows again drew together with worry. "Conan-kun? Where are you?"

Conan relaxed slowly. His hands were shaking from adrenaline, he realized, and it made his voice shaky as well. "I-I'm here," he called. "I'm in the tree, Ran- Ran-neechan ..." He started to try to pick his way down the branches.

Ran stepped underneath the tree, looking down at his chewed-up shoe before looking upwards. "Conan-kun! Are you okay?" she asked, smiling her reassuring older sister smile.

"I'm okay," Conan assured her, struggling to reach a lower branch. He felt himself start to blush. What an embarrassing situation! "I got chased by that dog and--"

Ran reached up then, grasping Conan around his middle and hoisting him off the branch he was half-dangling from. Conan felt a sharp pang of annoyance - the ground had looked so far away, but for Ran it wasn't even an effort to grab him from here - but it immediately faded and turned to embarrassment when she adjusted her grip so Conan was cradled against her chest. He wrapped his arms around her neck reflexively in self-defense, keeping his hands from touching anything they shouldn't, and very sharply aware of her breasts against his chest and stomach. "It's okay," Ran comforted him, stroking the hair on the back of his head briefly. "I've got you."

Sonoko had joined Ran by this time, picking up Conan's abandoned shoe with an air of disgust. "Ugh, it's got dog drool all over it," she grumbled. She looked at Conan. "What did you do to the dog, throw a stick at it?"

"No!" Conan protested indignantly before he rethought his statement. "Well, it was growling at Ayumi and--"

"I'll clean it up when we get home," Ran interrupted, making a face at the shoe herself. She lifted Conan a little higher so she could get her arm under his rump properly, and Conan abruptly realized she had no intention of putting him down. "Let's get you cleaned up, okay?" she said with a smile for Conan, and started to walk back to the sidewalk.

"You mean I have to carry this all the way to your house!?" Sonoko protested.

"Oh, it won't kill you," Ran teased, rolling her eyes. "It's not that far of a walk."

"But Agasa-hakase was coming to get me," Conan said quietly. After all, he'd left Ayumi in the dust when the dog had picked him to chase, and Ayumi wasn't the sort of person to do nothing.

"Then we'll call him when we get home and tell him you're safe," Ran assured him. "Just rest, okay? You look like you had quite a day."

Conan rested his chin on Ran's shoulder after a minute or so of walking, embarrassed in more ways than one. If it wasn't bad enough that he was being carried home by the girl he liked, he was also resting against her chest. If he was a little bit bigger - if he wasn't almost as small as a kindergartener - it wouldn't be possible for Ran to carry him back to the Mouri residence.

Maybe, a tiny part of him thought, it wasn't so bad being this small after all.