Final chapter, with Shinichi and Ran goodness. Thank you to everyone that's come this far with the story...yes, even my phantom readers. ;p
I might write a couple follow-up one-shots to cover how they're all handling their lives after such a big event, and, of course, the much written about "Shinichi reveals the truth of Conan to Ran".
But, I felt that it just wasn't appropriate to include any of those in this story (that, and the ideas are only half formed).
Just as Shinichi had predicted, it didn't take Ran long to find out he was in the hospital. When she got concerned that he hadn't called again in almost a week since he last called saying that his case was coming to a close, she rushed to Agasa's. The old man, of course, almost was able to cover it if Ran hadn't noticed Shinichi's parents were back.
Add another red flag.
So, by Sunday afternoon, she was on her way to Beika Hospital.
She didn't really know what to expect…nobody told her much of anything, though Yukiko had implored her to "please not perform any karate on him…he just woke up yesterday".
That honestly scared Ran. If he called on Monday…what had he done and how long had he been unconscious?
She swore she passed Heiji on her way up, about to exit one of the rooms, but the door quickly closed after she caught sight of the dark-skinned face and surprised teal eyes.
At this point, Ran wouldn't be surprised if it was him. But, she was more interested in the one she had only seen a couple times in the past half a year.
Though, when she finally got to the door that was labeled with the tag of 'Kudou Shinichi', she just stood outside, unable to enter.
What if it was bad? What if he was hooked up to a bunch of equipment?
What if he lied about how he got there?
Didn't he promise her an explanation?
That was right…he promised her an explanation.
But…how hurt was he? What were his injuries? How long would he stay in the hospital?
The questions kept on building.
What would she say to him when she saw him?
Ran didn't know.
She was so deep in thought that she nearly jumped a couple feet in the air when a familiar voice broke the silence.
"Aha! I thought it was you, neechan!"
Ran spun around and blinked. "Hattori-kun…?"
The teen was on a pair of crutches, his left leg favored, grin on his face. "Yo!"
"What are you…? Are you alright?" Ran blinked.
"Noth'n too big of a deal. I'll be outta here soon enough. I wasn't gonna say anything, but then I figured you would prolly get the jitters." What he said was the truth. He was worried that Ran would be too worried or get scared and leave without seeing the other teen.
So, he got out the other pair of crutches that he hid in the room, and snuck out to encourage her.
He didn't leave to call Kazuha. Nope. Just to encourage Ran. Ran being there did not give him an excuse to sneak out of his room to call Kazuha.
"He's…really back…?" Ran stared at the name on the door.
"Yep. In one piece, I might add."
"What happened? Why are you here, in a hospital, in Tokyo? Does it have to do with Shinichi?"
Heiji sighed. "Sorta. Well, yea. It does. I'll leave the explain'n for him to do, though. I only know half the story first hand, anyway." That way, you hafta go in.
"Is…is he really hurt…?"
Heiji averted his gaze. "If he wasn't, he wouldn't be in the hospital. But, it's not as bad as it might look. It ain't as bad as the docs first thought, either."
Ran was silent.
Heiji forced a smile and a laugh. "And, hey…last I saw, he wasn't doped up on pain medication, so you two can actually talk to each other! It ain't like there are wires hooked upta him…" …not anymore, at least…
Ran didn't respond. She didn't know exactly how to. "Do your parents know? I take it Shinichi's parents at least know he's here…what about Kazuha-chan?"
"My folks know…okaa is board'n with Kudou's folks. So, yea, they know. Kudou's father helped us out. Kazuha…I haven't called her, yet…"
"You should. She's probably worried…"
Heiji looked at the ground guiltily. "Well…"
Before he could answer, there was an angry shout that seemed to echo down the entire hallway.
Ran glanced curiously at the teen, since she didn't recognize the voice.
Heiji had paled, eyes wide and slightly scared.
Ran's question was answered a moment later as a very angry looking nurse stormed into view and grabbed Heiji by the ear.
"Ow, ow, ow…!" Heiji complained.
"Why are you always leaving your room! Do you not feel pain! Three broken ribs, Hattori-kun! Maybe I should talk the doctors into making you stay longer for all the times you've escaped!"
Heiji looked positively terrified.
Ran was astonished…and holding back her laughter.
"Ah! You got another pair of crutches! Where did you hide this pair? No, wait I don't want to know. I'm confiscating this pair as well as soon as we get back to your room. Do you not understand that all you have to do if you want to go somewhere now is ask for assistance!"
"I ain't an invalid, though!" Heiji protested. "I can walk! Sorta…"
"You're on 'absolute rest'! What part of that don't you understand! Isn't there anyone that can control you! I was joking earlier, but I might just request to have those restraints put on you! If nothing else then to get you to rest and stop sneaking out of your room!"
Heiji whimpered slightly.
"Now…back to your room! If you want to go somewhere, I'll escort you there in the wheelchair!"
Ran actually giggled. "You're famous in this hospital already, Hattori-kun."
The nurse sighed and smiled at the girl. "Famous for sneaking out of his room. He's been doing it since the day after he arrived!"
"Well, if you need someone to keep him in line…" Ran started to grin, all worries forgotten.
Heiji paled. This is my thanks for gett'n her to chill out? Then again…would it be that bad if Kazuha came? No, no…
"He has a friend in Osaka…they were childhood friends, so he should know her number. She'd probably rush over to see him…"
Heiji gave her a look that screamed "why".
Ran just crossed her arms and addressed the teen detective directly. "Because Kazuha-chan is probably worried sick about you! Shinichi called me last Monday, and I haven't heard from him since! Then, when I go looking, I find he's in the hospital!"
Heiji frowned guiltily.
Ran softened, then smiled at him. "Go call her. You don't have to tell her where you are…just tell her you're alright. It probably won't be enough…you should tell her everything, but…as long as she hears from you that you're alright."
"Y-yea…" Heiji stammered. "I…should do that…"
Ran nodded. "And…thank you, Hattori-kun."
Before Heiji could question her on it or respond, the girl opened the door to Shinichi's room, stepped in, and closed it behind her.
Then, the nurse turned to the teen. "I'll bring you to one of the phones in the lobby that you can use. Let's go fetch the wheelchair, first. You do have broken ribs, after all."
"Alright…" Heiji relented to it.
The nurse just shook her head and wondered if all of these people that came in on Tuesday were crazy…and that she should have gone to law school like her father wanted instead of medical school.
Ran had closed her eyes when she entered, and was almost afraid to open them. When she did, she was a bit relieved.
Like Heiji had said, nothing was hooked up to him. There were a couple machines near him that she recognized as monitors, but none were actually in use.
As for Shinichi…
He was really there.
He had a bandage around his head, and a gauze pad on his right cheek. Going down, his left arm was in a sling and, by the position, appeared completely immobile. There was an IV feed leading into his arm, and a couple band-aids on his left fingers. Anything below his chest was hidden by the blanket.
…was fast asleep.
He had a peaceful expression on his face, his breathing soft and even.
Ran slowly walked over to his bedside.
He was pale.
But, at least he wasn't sweating, and his face wasn't flushed. The last times she had seen him, he hadn't been very well. But now, though he was injured, he at least didn't seem to be ill.
Ran sat down on the chair by the bed on his left side and placed a hand to his left cheek since his right had the gauze on it. His temperature seemed normal, which she found a relief.
Tears welled up in her eyes and started to run down her cheeks in steady rivulets. Her vision blurred from the tears as she stared at him. Shinichi…
For the second time that day, she was startled out of her musings.
"Ba'a'rou…there's nothing to cry about."
Ran bit her lip, then removed her hand from his cheek and saw his brilliant blue eyes staring back at her. They were half lidded with sleep and probably pain medication, but otherwise clear.
Shinichi smiled up at her. I'm back…this isn't the ideal way to meet again, but…I'm with her as me…not as Conan.
"Who's crying…?" Ran protested as she stifled a sob. "Just because you suddenly show up after so long, covered in bandages…"
Shinichi frowned as his eyes shone with remorse. "Ran…"
Shinichi sighed, then smiled weakly. He knew she would start asking questions soon…but some, he wasn't ready to answer. Maybe when he was at least mobile and could run away from her fists…
Then again, she was less likely to deck him if he was injured…
Ran finally wiped the last of her tears from her eyes. "Are…are you back for good, this time?"
Ran held his gaze, then nodded when she found the sincerity in it. "I saw Hattori-kun before coming in here."
"Mm…the nurse that chased him down mentioned broken ribs. He didn't have a cast, but he was on crutches, too…"
Shinichi resisted a chuckle since it wouldn't be appropriate. Snuck out again, Hattori? Did he see Ran? The poor guy…
"He told me that him being there was related to you being here, too. But he wouldn't tell me anything else. Shinichi…what happened?"
Shinichi sighed and closed his eyes. He was exhausted just thinking about it. Where should he start? There was no way he was telling her about the Conan thing right now. He wasn't prepared for it.
Plus, he wouldn't be able to handle it if she walked out in anger and he couldn't at least go after her. Especially if she walked out mid-explanation without letting him clarify anything.
No…until he could move around on his own, he wouldn't tell her about Conan.
"Are you alright, Shinichi? In pain?"
Shinichi opened his eyes. "No…they have me on enough medication for that, it's amazing I can still feel my toes."
Ran didn't smile at the joke. "Shinichi…"
The other teen looked up at her seriously. "We went after an underground organization. We've been tracking them…that's why I vanished. There's a back-story to that…my 'disappearing act'…but I don't want to go into details on it right now."
Ran was about to protest that statement…demand that he tell her. But before she could, she caught a glimpse of weariness in his eyes. A hidden pain in the depths…a strange light that made him suddenly appear older than he was.
The girl started at that. Shinichi had always been more mature than the rest of their class, even when they were kids. But this was something beyond maturity. It was as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders…or maybe, it was the weight of memories that he wanted to forget.
"Okay," Ran finally said. "You don't have to tell me right now. But…will you, eventually?"
"Only because I promised I would tell you everything. It's just that right now…"
"I understand," Ran stated when he trailed off.
Shinichi smiled gratefully at her.
"Are you safe? Can you at least tell me that?"
"Yep. I'm safe." Safer than I have been for months. "We took them down."
"That underground organization?"
"Yea. Hattori and Kuroba helped…ah, Kuroba is someone we met along the way. Hattori had already known about the organization, and tried to get information. We got our final tip-off from the hands of an FBI agent presumed to have lost his memory. We had their location…and on Tuesday, that's where we were."
Ran's eyes were wide as she listened. The way he told it was in a detached way, as if he was talking about a crime scene. But she knew…she could see it. Lurking under the surface of his eyes.
The fear that came with it.
With whatever happened that landed him in the hospital.
"We infiltrated the building, and forced most of them into the hands of Interpol, with tousan in the midst as well. Some were knocked out and tied up in the building since they struggled. Then…Hattori and I separated. I went after the boss. With some help from Kuroba, we caught him."
It was awfully vague. Exceeding vague.
And Ran knew it. She knew he was leaving out details, and on purpose.
That angered her. But at the same time, she could understand. She knew, though he didn't show it, that whatever happened was bad enough to shake even Shinichi. And it was still very fresh in his mind.
"You'll tell me more, right? When you tell me the back-story. You'll go into the details you're leaving out…right?"
Shinichi stared at her in shock. How'd she know…?
For a moment, Ran was reminded of the look behind Conan's glasses whenever something surprised the boy. But that was silly…wasn't it?
"You promised to tell me everything."
Shinichi looked away. "I think you're better off not knowing some things…"
This time, she did get angry. "No! You promised, Shinichi! I want to know! You were gone for over half a year! I want to know why!"
Shinichi closed his eyes against her angry and hurt expression. "I'm sorry."
"You're 'sorry'? 'Sorry' doesn't give me reasons! 'Sorry' doesn't tell me where you've been while presumably tracking that organization! 'Sorry' doesn't change the facts, or alter a story! It doesn't make up for actions that were taken beforehand! Always running off…disappearing after the cases when you finally showed up again…"
Shinichi said nothing…though, he secretly worried how she would take the news about him being Conan if this was how she reacted to what she was told so far…or, what she wasn't told. If she was this angry at a half-truth…what would she be like when he told her everything?
Did he even have the nerve to tell her everything, anymore?
He had promised…
Not much scared him.
The Black Organization had scared him.
When he first realized he had been shrunken, that had scared him.
Whenever he thought Ran was in trouble…that scared him.
Even the thought of telling Ran that he loved her scared him a bit.
But even bigger…even more than those fears…was that constant thought in the back of his mind that Ran would hate him for the rest of his life if (and now when) she found out the entire truth.
And that terrified him more than any of the above could possibly come close to.
"Shinichi…since when have we kept secrets from each other? Since when have we lied to each other?"
Oh, yea…she was going to hate him for sure.
His voice was slightly hoarse when he answered, but he still spoke honestly, "Since knowing back then would have put your life in danger…and that was something I wouldn't take the risk of."
That silenced her.
Ran had often thought of it…that Shinichi had gotten into some sort of trouble, and was hiding out. But each time she asked, he denied it…
A chill ran down her spine. No…he never denied it. He always changed the subject afterwards. Then, his behavior…not having the police mention his name in the cases, disappearing right afterwards, even wearing Hattori-kun's hat that one time…
"I wouldn't have told anyone if you told me. How would they have found out?"
Shinichi would have shaken his head if he knew it wouldn't hurt. "Like I said, I couldn't take that risk. They had connections seemingly everywhere."
"They're not omnipotent. They were caught, weren't they?"
"After years of operating from the shadows, and over half a year of having not just Hattori and me after them, but also the CIA and FBI. And if that one agent hadn't distanced himself from the FBI with supposed memory loss…they'd still be at large."
"There were a couple times they almost caught me. A couple times, I thought I was dead for sure. They almost found out…" Shinichi cut himself off.
Ran was silent a moment. Then, she reached out and took his hand. She would worry about the details later. She didn't even want to think that there had been a deadly crime organization after this boy, and that was why he had been so fleeting in the past half a year.
Didn't want to think what could have happened.
Ran desperately pushed back her tears.
They were lucky.
He was lucky.
She didn't know the extent of his injuries…but they could have been a lot worse. Yet, here he was, a little worse for the wear but still alive.
"Ran?" Shinichi questioned as he opened his eyes with effort. Damn drugs…
Ran smiled at him. "Don't run off, this time…you have a lot of explaining to do."
"I can't run off even if I wanted to," Shinichi joked tiredly.
Ran noticed the lines of fatigue around his eyes, and the tone of his voice, and shook her head. "I guess not. I'll wait, then. What's a little longer? I can be patient."
Shinichi smiled softly, and gratefully. But there's still…one thing. One thing I don't want to wait any longer in saying. Because I don't know if it'll still be the same once I tell her the truth about Conan.
"You're fighting sleep…get some rest. You look like you need it."
Shinichi tossed her a dry look, to which she responded with laughter.
But he wouldn't close his eyes just yet. He couldn't. All the times he had been interrupted…every single time he returned and ran into a case before he could say it…
He knew he might lose his nerve once he told her about Conan. Not only that, but if his old luck came back and he was interrupted…
Here, there was nobody to interrupt them.
It wasn't the ideal place…telling her what he always wanted to say while laying on a hospital bed.
But, when was the right time? If his luck had anything to say about it, the right time wasn't at a fancy restaurant like he had wanted.
I might not get another chance. I have to say it.
Oh, he'd say it again after he told her about Conan, but at that point, she might be too angry with him to really listen to anything else he said.
"You know, typically, one has to close their eyes to go to sleep," Ran informed him when he just continued to stare into space.
That snapped Shinichi back to the present. He wanted to go back to sleep…he was exhausted from his healing injuries. But…no. He had to say it now. He wasn't able to over the phone nearly a week ago…but he had to this time.
"Say, Ran…there's something…I've known for a while, now. About how…we are."
Ran said nothing, but a blush started to rise to her cheeks. She just knew what this was about. Feelings…she realized very well how she felt about him. Obviously, he knew the same thing.
The girl shook her head. "I know, Shinichi…"
"No…I have to say it. Actually say it…"
Ran nearly laughed at the half somber, half pleading look on his face. If it was what she thought it was, she certainly wouldn't mind hearing it. "From a hospital bed?"
"What better time? You're determined to stay until they kick you out, right? And, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon."
Ran closed her mouth as she felt her heart beat a little faster in her chest.
Shinichi took a deep breath, then let it out. Come on…you can put together obscure clues that lead to a rather intricate trick and boldly declare that. You can easily point out the culprit of a crime…you can at least tell this girl how you feel, Shinichi! Just open your mouth and say it!
"Maybe…we should wait…" Ran said softly. "You're tired…and we both know what it is, and that it's mutual, so…"
"I love you."
He hadn't meant to just blurt it out like that. He wanted to start out with some cool sounding speech, or make it a bit mysterious with some mini-deductions. He had sometimes thought of the scenario when he would tell her the truth. When he got his own body back, and was able to say it.
Saying it with so little abandon wasn't what he had in mind.
It was hardly romantic at all.
Ran must have picked up how he felt on his slightly flushed face, and started to giggle. Then, the giggles turned into chuckles, which turned into laughter.
"H-hey!" Shinichi stammered. That hadn't been how he imagined her reacting, either.
"Wow…no prelude…just saying it straight out…!" though, she might have been laughing due to happiness. He actually said it…he means it…
Shinichi blushed a bit more. "W-well…you know, I was going to recite this speech and all, but…! It's…the medication! That's it!"
That just made Ran laugh harder.
Shinichi decided he was better off with his mouth shut, and sulked.
"Aw, don't make that face!" Ran giggled and wiped tears of mirth from her eyes. She then squeezed his hand. "If you had made a speech, it wouldn't be as sweet as this."
"Sweet?" Shinichi quirked a brow.
"It's just you. Completely you. So, you can stop pouting."
"I'm not pouting."
"You so are!"
"I love you, too, Shinichi."
Shinichi's mouth clicked shut, eyes wide. Then, he smiled softly and gave her hand a squeeze.
Ran squeezed back.
Then, Shinichi yawned and closed his eyes again, a smile of contentment on his face. Even if things went downhill when he told her about Conan, this was certainly enough for now.
Though, for some reason…subconsciously, he had a feeling that it wouldn't be as bad as he imagined.
The red string that tied them together wouldn't even be damaged.
How he knew, he didn't know. But as he drifted off to sleep, he knew he wasn't wrong.
It'll be alright.