Title: One Night Beyond
Category: Anime/Manga » Detective Conan/Case Closed
Language: English, Rating: Rated: K+
Published: 12-29-08, Updated: 12-29-08
Chapters: 1, Words: 5,346
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Title: One Night Beyond
Disclaimer: I do not own Detective Conan. Yes. Bear that in mind. *Steals*
A/N: I have always been pretty intrigued with the relationship between the Mouri household's fighting scamps Conan and Kogorou – there must be some sort of emotion that runs deep beneath surface facades. Well, this is my first fanfic here, and I did my best to make my implications of their relationship together as clear and comprehensible as possible. Was unable to sleep yesterday night so I just scrambled up and decided to hash out some plans and scribble a few stories on scrap paper, and I did not know why this idea just struck me. I was intrigued with their relationship, not very, but I think I just happened to want to write this as a tribute to the pair with their element of humour which made Detective Conan so interesting over the years – well, just perhaps? ;D
One Night Beyond
Kogorou sighed wearily into the last trails of white, evening mist which clung unto the glass window panes, watching the film of cold droplets, as he sipped gratefully a cup of warm coffee on the shop's premises, melt drowsily into the flooding backdrop of summer night. He was in a countryside convenience store; one whole day of bustling beyond the outskirts of the city, his tired feet carrying him anywhere from nooks and crannies to shadowed alleys and long, broad streets – but Conan was nowhere to be found. It was a mystery of mildness but of such importance to which even Kogorou himself had grudgingly admitted.
For a boy like Edogawa Conan who had always taken things into his own judgment and never allowed others to put in their hands, to slip quietly out of the household at deathly hours of dawn and run all alone in the darkest time of morning, as far as Kogorou was concerned, was nothing. He would have waved it off as no big deal and lay back in his cozy chair peering at the TV over cans of beer; but there he was, alone and cold in the hostile night, looking for a boy whom he would never take into his heart - never, and not as much as Ran.
She was the only person he had ever cared for enough to give up his own life; the only person, nobody else. He thought he had made that clear enough to himself over the past few years; but it turned out the implications were not strong enough to wipe out the last instincts of his detective character.
He did not know whether he was frustrated or glad about that.
For the first time something had succeeded in drawing him out of his office and into a taxi en route to the wild unkempt borders of the city, and such was madness he was, even then, wildered at why he had chosen to follow in the first place. Ran had assured him it was intuition – a touch of sarcasm in her voice, he had clearly remembered, but that was not all of it. There was a strange, fiery determination, awakened after such a long time of dormant inactivity, so unused, so ancient, bubbling within him and reminding him of the time when Eri was in danger; he had grabbed a pistol in the last moments of hesitation and made, despite the laws which bound him, a single choice for best.
One choice, one bold choice, which saved all.
One which he had been grateful for since then, and would be grateful forever in life.
So will I be able to do it again?
His chest tightened at the prospect. Downing the last remains of his drink, he discarded the cup in a nearby bin and strode off towards the glass doors, where a wisp of slow night breeze slithered softly through the gap into the thresholds. He pushed it open.
Will I be able to make a similar choice this time, one which would save things once more, just like before?
The tormenting question hung in the crisp, mint-tainted air.
Years of depleted self-confidence had reduced him from a proud and eager police detective to an old weary man huddled in the comforts of his small house, a detective agency which used to be drab, before things had taken an abrupt – but not unpleasant – change three years ago. Conan's arrival had marked that change. The boy was in all ways many things, a crux of human nature, and even as time rolled on, Kogorou could never claim to understand all the aspects of that strange child-like existence drifting about in his household. Enthusiastic in logic and deduction, mature in his thinking, scarily surprising in his actions, surprisingly knowledgeable, and yet child-like when he wanted to be. He was too mysterious, too mysterious to be readily accepted.
There was always a hint of suspicion present in Kogorou's mind; he knew it just as well. Yet in hollow disappointment he had called it off, with indignity, that perhaps all his times of ordinary daily routines had amounted to his desire for something out of the ordinary; something abnormal, something exciting, something just enough to colour up their days and lift up their spirits for a good case. It wasn't just a slighted prayer - it was an urgent need.
And he had waited, waited for so long...every time he rose blearily from the mountain of empty beer cans before him, his mind would wander back to that wish for something even he himself did not know what it specifically was. He did not know what he hoped for. He never defined what he wanted. Anything would be good.
Then on a similar night just three years ago, the heavens had sent this boy to them. Conan was godsend; a gift which posed both a challenge and also leaked long-lost happiness into their lives, a brat who smiled up at Kogorou in the most unexpected of corners, and a little brother whose helpfulness and childish joy never failed to brighten Ran's day. Every day was a thrill, and everyone was happy. Even in those long buzzing summer afternoons when clients were scarce and mailboxes were empty, Kogorou would always find fun in Conan - punching him, or the sort, some good playful boisterousness in which bonds were strengthened and feelings ran deeper than shown.
Conan had accepted it, never querulous, never complaining. He seemed even optimistic about it, as if he was glad enough just to open his eyes and see a new day - a sign Kogorou had believed implied many folds of meanings but had chosen to believe as nothing but mere optimism. A child just couldn't have anything within which...threatened him enough to be glad of life, right?
Conan was their kid, even if he was a foster child from a family of another. He had melded enough into their household for them to call their own, finally after such a long time of adaptation, and yet fate had chosen on this dark unfateful night, just like the one three years ago, to wrest their treasured gift away from them just like that. Without preamble, without warning. It was just come and go, without a chance to say goodbye.
Life was just so sardonic, isn't it?
He sighed. Above him a pale white moon glowed mistily; the only luminance in the deeps of a black night filled with uncertainty, igniting the silver rims of her warm cloud bed as her downy light washed a few yards of rugged footpath ahead. That was all he was thankful for. The night would be long, and longer if there was no light and he was left to fumble in the dark. Slowly, achingly, he dragged his sleep-laden legs forward to tackle the last route of his unfinished journey, a loud hollow beating of his own heart echoing in his ears.
Damned brat, Conan, where are you?
Another hour ticked by with excruciating deliberateness; his body was weary, and all along he never had his mind on anything else save for the possibilities of where the child could hide. He had searched the city in the day, and afternoon the country, and never did he think his heart would pull him back to examine the further features of that rural site for the night. He wasn't even sure if he would stay there till the next dawn – but no matter what, and for Ran's sake, he would not return empty-handed. Never. A grown man seeking a little skinny child, and not finding him? It would be too shameful to give up at that point.
He was, even in his assumed stupidity and powerlessness which Eri and many others had forced him to acknowledge, still a man in charge of himself. He could still make choices, just like the one he had done to save Eri. He could still solve a case in the power of his determination. He could still love someone like he had loved Ran, and do as many things as he could for them.
And he could still believe in himself, even if others no longer did, and live up to this belief.
He was still Mouri Kogorou.
A silent wind guided his attention to an isolated corner in an alleyway he was sure he had passed umpteen times, but had failed to observe carefully enough with each turn. There, huddled in the shadows of cold and solitude, was the small frame of Edogawa Conan, knees drawn up tightly to his chest and face buried out of sight – a single soul so miserable and so insecure in its quest of seeking solace that even Kogorou's voice died immediately in his throat. He frowned. It was unlike Conan, unlike the boy he had always known; Conan wasn't a boy who cried. Conan wasn't a boy who would huddle up in dark corners all alone and mope in others' ignorance.
Conan was…invincible, he always was, a mental ford so strong that no blow was ever heavy enough to crush him.
But then, there was another side to every person that others never saw. Maybe Conan needed help just as other kids did. He was still a child, a helpless child, and his troubles needed a listening ear – which, as Kogorou reflected guiltily, he had never been there to lend.
"Conan…?" he called, surprised at the softness of his own tone.
The boy raised his face for a moment. There were no tears, to Kogorou's mild surprise, but his wide, cerulean blue eyes gazed painfully back into his uncle's, bespeaking many threads of confused emotions which ran deep down under a poker face he himself was unable to crack anymore. His pains, agonies, joys and worries…they no longer seemed to have any clear line of watershed to classify them, as evident in a pair of eyes so lost and mystified, and glazed with a million torturous hopes accumulated with every broken promise. It was all slammed into Kogorou in a sudden pang of uneasiness; one second of eye contact, a thousand messages conveyed. It was a stage of desperation which Kogorou was puzzled and bafflingly anxious that the boy had ever fallen into.
And then he recalled his memories; all those times when Conan's expression had darkened, when he had turned away, when he had hid his emotions so well from them, and now he cracked. He had finally cracked.
He was finally…human.
Kogorou took a step forward, careful not to encroach on any territory the boy's confused mind might have marked at that time. Best to take him back, he thought, and deal with him after he's recovered. Damn, he looks really sick. "Conan," he whispered, voice dropping into a strained rasp, "you…you alright?"
Conan continued gazing at him for awhile. "O-occhan…"
"Yes, I'm here." He took another step forward. "It's okay now. You're no longer lost. I've found you – there, give me your hand, and we'll get back to the car and go home, alright?"
Slowly, Kogorou, he thought to himself, don't be rash. You're in the middle of making a choice – do it well.
The boy seemed even more confused. He shook his head, as if a certain fear was crawling up the back of his spine, a fear so imposing that it was impossible to stand up against. "No," Conan averred, voice meek and shaky, "no. Please don't let me go back, Occhan. Please, don't…"
"I'm sorry, but that isn't something I can agree to," muttered Kogorou. He took another step, then stopped as he noticed Conan tense at his approach. "Look, Conan, you're hungry, tired, and sick, and if we go home you can recover and we'll get back to normal, okay? Ran's waiting. You like Ran-neechan, don't you? She's made dinner, your favourite soup…"
"No." Conan withdrew further into the shadows. "You don't understand…it isn't something I can explain, and not something anybody should know…just leave me for now, please…" He broke eye contact, choosing a pockmark on the ground on which he trained a confused gaze. "Just let me…be alone for awhile…"
"I won't let you," grumbled Kogorou. Conan remained silent. "I cannot let you run off again, no matter how bad you may feel about it. But I am in charge of you, Conan, your parents have hopes on me. I have hopes for myself, too." He took two tentative steps, then a third when Conan made no move in response. "Just come home to us, okay? If you've got any troubles we can –"
"I have mine," said Conan, his voice almost a sibilant hiss. Kogorou started, surprised by the heat and strained frustration in the boy's tone; it was just like a muffled cry from underneath a heavy rock hill, a description fitting to scribe Conan's emotions anyway. "I have my troubles, Occhan, and I solve them alone. I will be alone when I need to be, and I've always been."
Kogorou breathed, fumbling in his mind for what words to say next. Conan was stubborn, naturally – a child of obstinacy he had both admired and loathed, according to given situations. Yet this time, he pitied him. He pitied Conan. An emotion he never thought he could have or define began wavering quietly within his chest. "Conan…," he stuttered. He did not know what to say.
"Just go back, Occhan…I can handle myself. I need to be alone, and…and I have to be."
"Then will you promise to come home tomorrow?"
There was no reply.
"Good," muttered Kogorou. He halved the remaining distance and stopped for one last time, unfastening his jacket as he spoke. "We're going home. You're coming with me, Conan, and if you don't, I will force you to. I am sorry. I know you don't like it, but I have to." He crossed the last of the yard between them.
Something seemed to snap within Conan. As his uncle approached at an increasing pace, he tightened up once again, face hidden beyond view, fingers curled into trembling white-knuckled fists. A small, timid voice wavered up to Kogorou. "Then, Occhan…" He paused for a breathless moment, jaws working uneasily. Kogorou stopped in his tracks to listen; whatever the boy was planning to say next seemed difficult for him to manage, and he was contented to wait.
"Can you…can you stay with me for the night…?"
It was a ridiculous request to make – of all things, he had asked that, a simple childish request just like what a kid would ask his father; to read a story to him before bed, to leave the lamp on to scare off bad monsters, to fluff up his pillow, to talk for a little before sleep…and Kogorou wasn't his father. Yet it was as if the moon had turned blue; Conan never made such requests. Since he did, it must have been something too much for him to bear, or perhaps he was at breaking point, and as such it was best for Kogorou to fill in the boy's absent father's role.
It was a plaintive wish from a pitiable child…why not fulfill it when he could?
"Alright," he replied, sitting down in a corner right beside Conan, back against the wall, and flinging his jacket over the boy. Conan did not show any sign of childish pleasure. He merely seemed relieved, as though a heavy rock had just rolled off his chest, and his satisfaction (if he was indeed contented) was shown in nothing more than silent gratitude. Such was a complication of Conan's overall complexity that Kogorou had found hard to comprehend, and he kept it to himself, willing to allow the boy to enjoy the fullest warmth of his presence – even if it was in silence.
"Occhan," whispered Conan, his voice barely a pained rasp, "may I…may I sleep for awhile…?"
"Eh, go ahead." Kogorou forced a smile and ruffled the boy's hair. "I won't leave you. When do you want me to wake you up tomorrow, brat?"
Conan averted his gaze. "I…I don't know…"
"Well then, get to sleep. I shall wake you up early tomorrow, don't grumble, or Ran's gonna throttle you – not me, Conan. You. Her karate…"
Then he paused, noticing that Conan was not listening.
The faint spray of moonlight danced in Conan's deep blue eyes, eyes which Kogorou had, for the first time, noticed with such clarity and emotion unveiled. Slowly his eyelids were falling…deliberately, silently, painfully, as if the boy was afraid that if he ever closed his eyes he would never be able to open them again, never to see this warm world of life in which he had loved and suffered the same and found courage in unknown areas. It was as if Conan was trying his best to prolong the last few seconds he had, even whilst his last strength was flagging and he no longer found the ability to mouth any more words. The last precious moment before the time comes when sleep would reign eternal over him...just to see for one last time, with living eyes, what this world around him was like...for one last time.
One last time...
Kogorou held his breath, feeling the same anxiety pounding through his veins with crushing force. He didn't know why, and it took all of his self-control to keep himself from reaching out to give the boy a waking shake. He did not know why. Things would never reveal their reasons so easily after all, and he could only sit and look, taking in the last of what he could see of those two orbs of cerulean blue, those eyes of unspoken pain and joy and sorrow which would soon be wiped away from existence. He was anxious now - every second ticking by could be the last, the last before those blue eyes would forever be vanished and forgotten. And he gazed on, gazed on as the boy's eyes became fainter and fainter, farther and farther away, never knowing which would be the last glimpse…
And then they were gone.
A shiver of chill travelled up Kogorou's spine. Shifting uneasily, he wondered at the sudden sinking feeling in his heart which left him doubting if the boy was really sleeping…or was he…? He shook his head, and did not move. He never left Conan. Somehow…something hurt so much inside him, as if something had just been wrenched from him…he could never explain.
And right then there were only the two of them together, sitting under the moon, isolated from the rest of an ignorant world sleeping underneath the light of the heavens. Nobody else seemed to realize their presence save for themselves; two souls accompanying each other, even though Kogorou never knew what drove him to be able to do so. Right then he doubted he had ever done it even with Ran – yet what compelled him to accept such a ridiculous wish from a foster child, a kid who wasn't even his own? Perhaps it was sympathy. Perhaps it was a new aspect of himself he had just uncovered in this fateful night, something he wasn't unhappy about. And he enjoyed it.
Time flew by, and soon a faint silvery light began to spread across the northern parts of the sky. Not the sun, and definitely not stars. What was it? Hallucination? Imagination? Dream?
Was it all a dream?
Kogorou never knew. They had been sitting there for as long as he could keep track of time, and he found himself forgetting the time at which he had promised to wake Conan up. Everywhere silence reigned, but not a deafening silence, not an imposing silence. It was a soothing, cooling one…a natural quiescence, as if the whole world itself was finally given a rest from all the bustle of day. A couple of late-night sweethearts lilted past the entrance of the alleyway, a dog barked faintly in the distance, and all around the rippling wind rustled with air-borne leaves. Everything was so peaceful…undisturbed, frozen beneath a spell of deepest night…just as life should be, he thought.
Then for the first time his senses began to crystallize, and a wave of fatigue washed over him, the gentleness of a sea breeze, the soft dream-like voice of a deep, echoing night…and he gave in to it, his eyes closed, his limbs relaxed in the calming wind. A lullaby of nocturnal nature echoed in the inners of his ears, originating from his narcotized mind, and misty figures of other-worldly presence sojourned at the thresholds of his mind. Soon his dreams were the only barriers between him, his own subconscious worries, and a dormant reality, and he gave in to a long-needed sleep.
The first hour of morning dawned. When he had opened his eyes once again, the sun was already shimmering above the skyscrapers of distant edifices, and birds were chirruping in flocks amongst the leafy crowns of trees. The city was just waking up; loud car horns on the highways, motorcycles upon the rugged roads, footsteps of men hurrying off to another day of bustle and work. Everything was carrying on just as normal – daily routines, ruts of different lifestyles…and people were just going with the flow.
Then he turned to Conan, and realized with a jolting start how pale the child looked even in the rich golden glow of the morning sun. A statue whose coldness and solitaire contrasted so sharply with the wash of external warmth...something its real being could no longer feel...
"Conan?" he ventured. The boy remained silent and unmoving.
Something was wrong.
"Conan!" he cried, scrambling over to wake the boy. Oh god, that can't be it...it can't be...oh god...Conan...
He shook him, his frantic desperation evident in the strength of his white-knuckled grip, evident in the pain in the boy's name which was ripped from his tongue. He couldn't leave him. Not now. He was still alive - those eyes! They would open again, wouldn't they? He was...he was...still there, right?
But there was no reply. There was no response. There was no pulse. Everything hit him in a ruthless frenzy of emotional fracas; the boy was…
"Damn!" he hissed.
A bout of hot tears quavered precariously behind his eyes, scalding the back of his skin. He forced them back, furious, furious that he had overlooked such a deathly possibility, furious that he had let a kid slip out of everyone's life just like that, when he could've done so many things to save him. He could have driven him to a hospital or something…or get help from police, do anything…there was so much he could've done. Yet he had chosen to sit with the boy and watch him die, without knowing he actually was…?
But then…it was Conan's wish, wasn't it? Conan had asked him to stay with him, and not to drive him to a hospital. The child knew he was dying, perhaps, and had no hope of recovering. And in the last of his desperation…
He had finally given up his façade of strength and asked for one simple thing: the warmth of another's presence being with him, truly with him, alone, and not through a barrier beyond which lies the truest of emotions never to reach his heart. He had finally asked for the thing he had lacked the most. And Kogorou had granted him that wish. He had given him what he had lacked, and needed the most. He was finally there for him, even if it was in his last moments.
He had made the right choice.
Weary and exhausted, he leaned back and gazed out of the alleyway at the faraway city. More and more vehicles streamed onto the roads, the trains started circulating, students cycled off to school, kids bounced about the tracks, and windows were opened from every household to accept the air of a brand new day. Everything was just the same as it was, the same as it used to be. The world really was moving on; just as it had done so many times before, every three seconds, with so many other people. And Conan was no exception. He would soon be left deep in the ground, forgotten, left behind...
Kogorou did not think he could bear that prospect anymore. He hurt all over – physically, emotionally, psychologically. To deal with such a loss was something he had not yet experienced in his life; sure, he had stepped into the line of detectives for years numerous enough to profess himself as expert, and many cases he had seen in his days, many ways to snuff out a person's life. But never had any loss been so…personal. Conan was not his, yet overnight he had changed his opinion of the boy just like that, in a few minutes, in a few hours.
The whole world was moving on. The days will come, times will flow, but he, Kogorou, had chosen to wait. Even if it was for one night. Even if it was for a few hours. But he had made the right choice. He had been there.
He had been there for Conan.
PS: Whoa, that was a little difficult to write. I touched up a lot on Kogorou's personal views; how he looked upon himself, how he believed himself, and what troubles and personal problems he may have had. Sorry I killed off Conan! It took me a long time to write about the eyes part. It was such an intricate device to use – the correct descriptions to imply the correct feelings. Ah but it was good practice, and I look forward to training more! Reviews please~!