Warnings: Kinda angsty, set in the future, one-shot, hints at Conan/Ayumi, I go by the manga of both series (I've never seen the anime, but I do know about the terrible Americanizations to Conan).
Disclaimers: Meitantei Conan belongs to Aoyama Gosho, Shounen Sunday, and associates of whom I am not one. xxxHolic belongs to CLAMP and associates of whom I am not one.
Featuring: Older!Conan, NotTerriblyHelpful!Yuuko, and more
The Price of Happiness
He hadn't wanted to move this far out from Tokyo, but he didn't have much of a choice unless he wanted to move in with his real parents and live in America. Not that he didn't love his parents, but he felt like it would be giving up if he were to hop on a plane.
Then again, as late as it was now, he really had given up.
"Conan, you'll be late for school if you don't hurry up!" the bright and cheery voice of Ran called out from the kitchen, and Conan smiled despite himself as he started down the stairs. "Eisuke, you need to hurry too. I can deal with Shin-chan for an hour before dropping him off at the day care."
"Are you sure? I really think you should take your maternity leave sooner," Hondo Eisuke, Ran's husband, asked worriedly. "You're five months along and certainly no one will think less of you –"
"I'm positive," Ran reassured as Conan entered the kitchen to grab his lunch and an apple. "As soon as I told Takagi-keibu I was pregnant he put me on strict desk duty, and Amano-keibu promised the same." It was her first day working with the local police, Conan knew, and she wasn't the least bit nervous. It was only desk work after all; it was a lot different from being out on the field. No danger to the baby whatsoever.
"Conan-nii!" the three-year-old Shin squealed happily in his seat as he caught sight of his "brother", and the teenager smiled.
Ten years had passed. Ten years. And nothing had happened to fix the predicament. The American CIA and FBI did their best with the Black Organization, but for every victory they were defeated thrice as often and those were only the failures they knew for certain. Kudou Shinichi was almost twenty-seven years old now; he should be in his prime, a world renowned private detective married to his childhood friend.
Instead, Edogawa Conan was in his second year of high school, starting at a new school in a town 4 hours train ride north of Tokyo. As soon as Ran got out of college, she had taken him from her father. The Sleeping Kogoro lost his touch, but over the years had become a somewhat decent detective without Conan along to guide him.
Ai gave up on finding an antidote when they were in their last year of middle school, and Conan couldn't blame her.
Even if she did make an antidote, what was the point? Kudou Shinichi was declared legally dead three years after his "disappearance", almost half a year after he stopped calling Ran altogether. Sometimes he would take one of the temporary cures, or find something that would act as one, but he could never find it in himself to go and see Ran on those days, to admit that he still existed.
She had moved on from him not long before he had stopped calling after all. It would be unfair to come back for a day and pretend everything was the same, and then have Conan return the next day to see her ripped to pieces by Shinichi's departure.
"I'm leaving; do you want me to pick up Shin-chan from daycare after school?" Conan asked before biting into his apple and edging towards the kitchen door. He had time to make it to school; he'd looked up a map on the internet and discerned the fastest way by cutting through some alleys and a vacant lot or two.
"No need, I'm sure you'll have a lot of forms for us to fill out and adding Shin-chan to your load for the day won't be necessary," Ran waved him off with a smile, and so Conan left.
They had moved here because of a lead that the CIA had on Lager, one of the Black Organization's top assassins that had cropped up in the past few years. Eisuke had been on the trail for the better part of a year, living in this town for three months before he was able to get Ran and "the kids" up there with him.
Sometimes, Conan wondered if Eisuke remembered who he was.
Conan was about to cross through one of the vacant lots from his map before he stopped dead. The lot... wasn't so vacant. The grass was a little scraggly, sort of unkempt, but it definitely was not vacant. An old Victorian style house was seated comfortably in the middle; maybe it had been moved there recently? It was feasible. Maybe it was a bed and breakfast or something that was not yet running.
Dismissing his curiosity for the moment, the young detective went around the block rather than through it and ended up arriving at school one minute later than predicted. Still, he wasn't one to fuss over those sorts of details – that was Hakuba's thing – and made his way to the office where he was to be told his class room for the rest of the year (assuming it was not a necessity for the Hondo/Edogawa household to vacate the area by next spring).
Naturally, he also had to promise the office aide that he would return after clean up for the day to pick up any additional paperwork that would be required for his sister to sign, particularly the one he wanted to have to join the school's soccer club.
Ten minutes later, Conan was standing in front of his new class, 2-A. "My name is Edogawa Conan; I'm from Tokyo. I like soccer and mysteries. Please take good care of me!" He bowed politely, as he ought to, and was told to sit in the empty seat between "Doumeki-kun" and "Matsuda-kun". (1)
Conan learned quickly the who's who of his class. The class representative was Doumeki Shizuka, Conan's neighbor to the left, who was a silent, stoic kind of guy and the school's star archer. According to the gossips during lunch, Doumeki was a loner, but he was very popular with the girls, and only associated with another of the representatives for a class in their year (the "super cute" Kunogi of 2-D), and the school's resident space case.
Next in the who's who were several other sports stars, including the soccer club captain who sat on Conan's right side. Matsuda was a ladies' man apparently, and often ditched practice in favor of chasing skirts. Conan attempted to talk to him about getting into the club, but he was blown off and ended up scouring the school for the teacher in charge of the club instead.
It was a very normal school, he decided.
By the end of the day, after Conan had done his cleaning job of litter patrol and collected his street shoes from his shoe locker, he was plenty ready to head home. It was a quiet town, and his classmates weren't gossiping ominously about any murders or anything like back at Teitan. Then again, there was less reason to without the Shounen Tantei around.
There was a tiny stab of pain as Conan thought of that. He really hadn't wanted to leave Tokyo, even if it was for Eisuke to pursue a lead on the people who had screwed up his life. He missed Ai, Mitsuhiko, Genta, and... he missed Ayumi too.
Don't think of them, he sighed in his head. He vowed to send out a volley of emails when he got home. He could do it with his cell phone – he only had the one now – but he wasn't very good at typing and walking at once, especially when he was new to the area and needed to concentrate on where he was going.
He noticed two sets of footsteps following behind him and turned his head back. He was being followed by two boys, but it was almost definitely a coincidence. They wore the same uniform, and after a moment he recognized the taller of the two figures as that Doumeki guy from his class. Recalling what the gossiping girls had said during lunch, Conan surmised that the person walking with the archer must be the "weird" guy, considering he wasn't female.
He debated momentarily that he might slow down and get to know his peers, but he was hoping that the move was temporary, and didn't want to make unnecessary connections.
Still, needing something to do, he activated the perfected soccer-ball-belt that Agasa had invented for him prior to retirement and caught the ball that was inflated from it. He was nervous, and full of energy without any cases or being a member of the soccer club. So Conan did lifts as he walked, and thought on his situation.
As he passed the entrance to the not-so-vacant lot again, he felt the urge to go inside... but why should he? Yet he had stopped doing his lifts, and was instead looking at the strange Western style building with a crescent moon weather vane, but he didn't know why. It wasn't that much of a curiosity, and even if it were, Conan didn't investigate such mundane things. He was a detective specializing in murder, not houses that were in places where online maps said there were none.
His leg was in the air, ready to step forward, without Conan even noticing. He glared at the appendage and instead put his toe under his soccer ball again and lifted it with careless ease.
Yet he still hadn't turned away from the gap in the fence that led to the house.
"It's useless," chimed in a voice that almost made Conan drop the ball. Almost. Instead he caught it on his foot sideways, lowering his leg with the momentum and flipped the sole of his shoe on top the ball as if he had meant to stop doing his pensive lifts at that moment.
Then he turned to look at both the boys who had been behind him the entire walk. Doumeki looked as stoic and disinterested as he had in class, glancing inside the gate with utterly bored gold eyes. He was not the one who spoke; that was his slightly shorter and rather lean companion.
Conan was surprised to see the other boy, who was about his own size, had different colored eyes, one a blue almost the same as Conan's, the other the same gold as Doumeki's. And, while the gold was perfectly in focus as any with 20-20 vision, the other was slightly blurred, as though he was quite near-sighted in that one eye.
Again, a curiosity, but... but it was nothing for Conan to dwell on.
"Useless?" he echoed. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you want to enter it, don't you? That shop," the boy tilted his head to indicate the house which, apparently, was really a shop of some sort. "You may as well enter it now, or else you'll still be standing there until you decide to. I'm... I'm surprised you didn't walk straight up to it, really." He only sounded very slightly surprised, more like impressed.
Rather than test it, Conan decided he might as well give in to the curiosity if it was really so gripping as this guy said. He lifted the ball again, this time simply catching it in his hands before allowing his feet to do as they so obviously wished. It was a quiet town; he wasn't about to be abducted or something.
"What do you think you're doing?! You don't need to follow me in, you idiot!" Conan paused in his stride to see the boy yelling at Doumeki. His feet wanted to keep going, but he waited at the base of the steps as Doumeki said something quietly and the other boy yelling at him again. A girl of approximately middle school age walked by and didn't turn her head to the flailing and yelling teen.
Maybe... this was normal here?
Conan opted to continue walking since his feet did not want to keep still, nor would they allow him to retreat. He ascended to the almost dilapidated-looking porch that was still somehow very sturdy and stable-looking –
And then the door burst open, revealing two little girls with pink and blue hair in froofy dresses. They each squealed happily and leapt forward, grabbing his wrists.
"It's a customer! A customer!" they cried happily in unison and dragged him through the house that, he noted blandly, was more traditional Japanese on the inside. He was taken into a room where a very tall, attractive woman was laying on a chaise lounge and smoking from an old-fashioned pipe. Her eyes were half-lidded as she looked at him, and her kimono was slipping ever-so-slightly without revealing anything.
"Welcome," she intoned, sitting up a little on the lounge. "It took you a while to enter; you have good self control."
"Thanks," Conan furrowed his brow and took a seat on the couch opposite the lounge. "I'm Edogawa Conan – detective. Care to tell me why I'm here?"
She looked at him a moment, "I see you know the importance of names, not giving me your real one. You may call me –"
"Yuuko-san! Can you please get Doumeki to leave?! He's just going to bother me while I'm work –ack! Mugetsu, get out of there!" This was the heterochromatic boy who had told Conan to go to this... shop.
A shop that didn't seem to be selling anything. It wasn't a brothel, was it? That'd be quite the conversation.
"So, how was your walk home, Conan?"
"Oh, same old same old, Nee-chan. A friend of a classmate told me to go into a weird building and it turned out to be a brothel. Could you pass the soy sauce?"
Yes, absolutely lovely.
"You'll just have to deal with it, Watanuki-kun!" the woman called out, looking and sounding highly amused. "Make some tea for the customer! And warm up some sake for me while you're at it!" She returned her attention to Conan as the flaily boy, Watanuki, yelled about killing her liver. "Excuse Watanuki-kun's interruption. As I was saying, you may call me Ichihara Yuuko."
Conan waited a beat. "Well then, Ichihara-san, why am I here?"
She smiled, took a drag on her pipe, and released the smoke in a fine silver strand, not replying until she had released all she inhaled. "That is for you to decide."
Conan stared Yuuko straight in the face. She stared back with a "cat that caught the canary" smile.
"Seriously," Conan rolled his eyes. "Why am I here?"
With a pout, she countered, "You're supposed to be mystified. Fine, whatever. This, Edogawa-kun, is a shop that exists for the express purpose of granting wishes. Your heart's deepest desires are answered here."
The young detective moved to leave. "Look, if you aren't going to tell me why I'm here, I'm going to leave and alter my route to school," he stood from the couch despite his body telling him to stay. "It was nice to meet you Ichihara-san, but this isn't my kind of mystery."
He was halfway to exiting the room when Yuuko's voice stopped him. "What you most desire is to return to Kudou Shinichi, isn't it? For your life to go back to its old order where you were the Heisei Holmes, and were sure to marry your childhood friend, the girl you now call sister?" Her voice was calm as it drifted through the room like the smoke of her pipe, but it grounded Conan's feet more effectively than anything.
"H-how..." he swallowed. No one had guessed at his identity in years. There were so few... his favored FBI agents had known once upon a time before dying, Ai had given up, Hattori rarely had time even for an email and had long since stopped calling him by his true name, and for Agasa it was like Kudou Shinichi never existed. Eisuke was the last to acknowledge him as Shinichi, and even then it was only by passing on information on the Black Organization, a small hint that he acknowledged Shinichi was his age, not ten years younger.
"Because, Edogawa-kun, it is hitsuzen that you are here," her voice drew him in, and Conan walked back to the couch, wary now of the strange woman. "This is a shop that grants wishes."
"A shop... meaning I'll have to trade you something in return for my wish," Conan straightened his spine as he sat again on the edge of the couch cushion. It was a business, and businesses didn't run on fairy dust. There was a logical reason for her knowledge and claims, and he would find it out.
"Indeed you will," she looked pleased now. "You catch on quickly. A price of equal worth must be paid to balance out your wish."
"And if my wish were to be as if Kudou Shinichi had never disappeared, what would that cost me?" He knew she couldn't grant any such wish, he knew it so well. But... somewhere deep down he believed it, like how he knew his life had equal value to anyone else's and believed his life was worth more. It was contradictory, but it was a truth, one Conan could not ignore.
"For you, Detective? Your deductive ability, the thing that makes you a detective – that is your price."
Conan didn't even have to think of it. He got up and walked out.
Being a detective meant too much to him. It wasn't just part of his identity, it was his identity. It didn't matter if he was Kudou Shinichi or Edogawa Conan, he was always a detective. It was his most precious thing.
More so than his happiness.
Author's Note: Okay, I'll explain a few things here... Ran is a police officer because I could see her going that way given her karate. To be a police officer in Japan you must hold some type of black belt, which Ran holds in karate. Ran knows the BO exists, but doesn't know about Conan's involvement – she does, however, have suspicions regarding Shinichi's "death". I called Takagi "Takagi-keibu" on purpose – he has Megure's old job now.
I don't think I need to explain why Ran married Eisuke, or why they decided to take care of Conan. If you're curious, the son's name is Hondo Shin (not Shinichi), and Ran is pregnant with a daughter who will be named after Eisuke's sister (Kir's being alive or not is questionable).
(1) Matsuda Kano is an OC created by Beauty Mouse and me for an xxxHolic RP we did back in August/September. He, like many teenaged boys (or at least the ones I'm friends with), has little on his mind other than sex. He's a good soccer player, fairly smart (when he's not thinking with his Southern head), but he's an arrogant player with a mean streak.