It's been so long! I'm sorry. I was only able to give out a warning in my last chapter for Moonlit Blood. I wrote most of this on paper along with the next chapter. I noticed that when I write before typing, I get better chapters. I hope that's the case for this one too. Meep.

Anywho, this chapter has been beta'd by dear nataeiy1. I must also declare Shadow to be my official researcher, bouncing board and plunny-provider…since she refuses to be completely spoiled so I could make her my co-writer XD Well, I'm not forcing her. She's enjoying herself enough—though she gets even more curious to read my stories when I ask her to look up information for me. Teehee.

I need to give out a warning: Updates may come slower than before—my classes will be starting this week. All of you students out there know how busy college life can get. I have six subjects this semester (I usually only get four, though with more units due to laboratory) and I must really give more effort for my academics. For that, I'm really, really sorry. I assure you though that I will not be abandoning either of my DC/MK stories. I enjoy writing them too much.

Also, I tried my best to keep the people here in character. It's my first time writing them.

Well, have fun!

Notes/Translations:
Keibu—inspector
Hakase—doctor/professor
Kaitou—phantom thief
Yokohama, Chiba, Osaka and Kagoshima are found below (south) of Tokyo. Sapporo is up north.
Heisei is the name of the current era of Japan. It started from January 8, 1989 after the death of Emperor Hirohito. When Shinichi is dubbed the 'Heisei Holmes', it is meant that he is considered the Sherlock Holmes of the Heisei era of Japan.

Dedication: This chapter could not have been possible without the motivation given by Shadow's Rage. I mean it. She threatened not to give me free Rockband time if I didn't post this. She knows how bad I want to play…

Disclaimer: All characters and elements of Detective Conan and Magic Kaito belong to Gosho Aoyama.


Opus 1: Amazing Grace
By Milky Étoile
Chapter Five: Interlude

Three hours. It's been three long hours since that infuriating detective left Mouri Ran in Tropical Land.

She was seething. First of all, he had kept blabbering about Sherlock Holmes, even when they were supposed to be celebrating her championship in the karate competition. Next, another person had been murdered during their turn in the roller coaster, and, of course, Shinichi just had to solve the mystery; never mind that she had been frightened by the whole ordeal. Now, he had the gall to abandon her without informing her that he didn't intend to return.

Oh, that detective geek would surely get a knuckle sandwich for his efforts…

She took a calming breath and ignored her dad's grumbling for supper in favor of attempting to call that annoying idiot. He deserved an earful for not being a good gentleman.

She picked out his number on her mobile's phonebook and pressed the call button. She frowned at the response that the number she dialed was unreachable. Checking that the number was right (she'd naturally memorized it after using it so many times), she tried again and received the same message.

She decided to try the landline phone so she walked over to Kogorou's desk. She scolded her father for leaving so much trash that the phone was already buried in it. After shoving aside the empty cans of beer and other various things to be thrown later amidst her dad's protests, she dialed the Kudou mansion's number and waited. However, she was turned over to the answering machine. The message was what Shinichi probably recorded earlier in the day before he headed for Tropical Land.

It made her frown as she set the receiver back. Where on earth was he?

She assured herself that the idiot was probably just caught up in some case and forgot to turn on his phone (or charge it, which was more possible for him). With a grumble about detectives and their stupidity, she started to clean up her dad's mess before complying to his pleads for dinner. She'd just head over to Shinichi's abode after eating to give him a scolding about worrying her. He was just asking for it.


An hour or so later, Ran held an umbrella above her head to shield herself from the pouring rain. She was composing her spiel for Shinichi in her head while walking the familiar path to the Kudou mansion. When she started walking by the large houses of Nichoume, she was already done with her lecture about being a good gentleman and was halfway through the one about giving her cause for concern. The rain had stopped by this time and she was careful not to stumble on the slippery road.

Nearing her destination, she was only slightly surprised when she saw Agasa-hakase, a family friend and neighbor of the Kudou's, picking at chunks of his now-broken wall. It was a normal occurrence for him to wreck some part (or even whole) of his house due to explosions caused by his various experimentations with technological inventions.

"Hakase," Ran called when she was sufficiently close to him. When he turned and recognized her with a warm smile, she asked, "What happened here?"

The man let out a sheepish laugh. "Ah, Ran-kun. Just a small accident with my latest invention. Nothing to worry about." Obviously not eager to discuss his mishap, he gave a query of his own. "Here for Shinichi-kun?"

She nodded and started to ramble about his most recent slight against her. When she realized what she was doing, she stopped with a blush and apologized. After Agasa assured her that it was fine, she asked about her friend's whereabouts.

"Well, I'm not too sure," he answered with a scratch on his bald patch. "I haven't seen him since this morning. Maybe he's already home."

"He hasn't been answering any of my calls, even those to their landline," she muttered in refute.

He, too, frowned then. "That isn't like him. But he could be asleep already. We could check if you'd want. I have the spare set of keys back in my lab." When he received an affirmative response from her and an advice to change his attire, Agasa scuttled back into his mansion through the hole in the wall separating the street and his front yard.

As Ran waited, she tried to keep down the growing worry in her. It wasn't easy, considering how much Shinichi attracted trouble with his being a detective.

When the professor came back out, he was in another lab coat that covered most of his yellow sweater and dark brown pants. He first thought to ring the doorbell to the Kudou mansion, but when there was no response for five whole minutes, he picked the right key to the gate. He opened it and beckoned for Ran to follow him. He unlocked the front door and entered. As he switched his shoes with slippers, he called out for Shinichi. When there was still no reply, he turned to Ran.

"Ran-kun, I'll go and check upstairs to see if he's already asleep," he said. "Why don't you check if he's in the library?"

They agreed to meet up in the foyer after their respective searches.

As Ran walked around without seeing any sign of her childhood friend, that feeling of dread she felt back when Shinichi left her in Tropical Land came back with a vengeance.

She looked up from her clasped hands abruptly at the sound of her name. Seeing the rotund professor making his way down with an expression of worry made her stand up while mirroring the look. "Not up there either, Hakase?"

He shook his head. "No. Perhaps he got caught up in an investigation…? We could ask Megure-keibu-san."

Using the house phone, Ran dialed the direct line for Inspector Megure. Thankfully, he was by his desk and responded.

"Konbanwa, Megure-keibu-san. This is Mouri Ran. I'm sorry to call you so suddenly but we wanted to ask if Shinichi's there at the station or maybe if he's involved in some case at the moment."

"Kudou-kun?" Ran could already imagine the frown crossing the inspector's features. "No, he's not here and, as far as I know, he's not investigating any cases. Well, at least, none that my officers are involved with. I haven't seen him since that murder at Tropical Land. Weren't you there with him?"

"Yes, but he went off somewhere on his own shortly after that case," she answered. "I tried to contact his mobile but it was out of reach. And Agasa-hakase and I have looked for him in his house but he's not around anywhere. We're both concerned because it's not like him to go somewhere without giving us some idea as to where he would be unless it's a mystery that he's gone off to solve."

"That is quite unusual," Megure replied. "But I'm sure Kudou-kun can take care of himself well enough. Let's give him some time. He could just be somewhere else with a case. If he doesn't turn up tomorrow evening, let me know and I'll see if I can pull a couple of officers to do an advanced search."

Giving an affirmative response reluctantly and thanking the inspector profusely, she returned the receiver to its place and relayed the message to the professor. They eventually agreed to let each other know of any news.


Ran grew increasingly worried as the next day passed without any contact from both Shinichi and Agasa. When evening came, she phoned the professor and received nothing on her friend's status. She called Megure afterwards. He assured her that he would be looking into it if Shinichi's parents allowed him to.

"We're not supposed to look for him yet since it hasn't been forty-eight hours," he explained. "But if Yuusaku-kun knows nothing of his son's whereabouts, we might have to assume that something happened to him."

It was clear that even he knew of the teenaged detective's penchant for trouble.

Less than half an hour later, Ran received a call from the inspector.

"Yuusaku-kun informed me that he also didn't have any idea as to where his son could be," he relayed with a gruff sigh. "If we don't find a trace of him by tomorrow, he and his wife will be heading back into the country to aid in the official search. Takagi-kun and Chiba-kun are not too busy at the moment so I can have them start looking. However, I will first need you to tell me what happened the last time you saw Kudou-kun."

Toning down her anxiousness, she recounted everything she remembered from the time that the murder case was wrapped up to the time Shinichi left her.

Megure let out a hum. "That doesn't give us much of a clue. Are you sure there's nothing else? Did he act suspiciously, even only for a few moments?"

Ran frowned and tried to recall. "Well…he acted a bit distracted before he left but I'm not sure with what."

"He might have seen something then," the inspector inferred. "A familiar person, a shady deal—it could be anything. Anyway, I'll ask Takagi-kun and Chiba-kun to investigate the area you were separated in. I'll keep you updated."


The next day, Ran wasn't able to concentrate on her classes. She kept glancing at Shinichi's empty seat. Sonoko, of course, noticed her unusual behavior.

"Well?" the shorthaired blond demanded as they waited for their next teacher to come. "What did your husband do now?"

Ran, despite her great worry, flushed at the question. "For the last time, Sonoko, Shinichi's not my husband!"

Sonoko nodded amiably at her with her arms across her chest and her eyebrows raised at her. "Keep telling that to yourself. Now, where is that guy? Did he play hooky just to solve another mystery?"

The brunette frowned. "I don't know. No one has seen him since he left me at Tropical Land last Saturday."

"Tropical Land?" her loud friend repeated. "You had a date and you didn't tell me?"

Ran blushed at the sudden attention that the blonde's exclamation brought to her. "It wasn't a date! It was only to celebrate my win at the karate tournament!"

Sonoko easily waved off her protest. "You must tell me everything that happened."

Ran felt rather cowed by her best friend's demanding gaze and her other classmates' leering stares. Thankfully, she didn't need to acquiesce to them due to the arrival of their teacher. Sonoko's pointed glare let her know that she wouldn't be able to get out of spilling everything though.


When evening came around, Ran was quick to answer when the phone in the Detective Mouri Agency rang.

"I'm afraid we still haven't seen any signs of Kudou-kun yet," Megure informed her with a weary sigh. "The official search started three hours ago. We've sent his information to the other districts. Also, his parents will be in the country in about an hour. Apparently, Yukiko couldn't wait. Yuusaku-kun will probably want to ask you some questions before anything else."

More than three hours later, the writer did come to her, though without his wife.

"I had hoped we would meet again in a better situation," he said with a small smile. Unsurprisingly, he answered the question that was about to spring from her lips. "I managed to convince Yukiko to bring our things back home before we start our search. Anyway, I'm sure the inspector has already warned you. I would like to hear how your last encounter with Shinichi went."

Dutifully, after seating him and giving him something to drink, she relayed everything, from the moment they met that day to the point that Shinichi left her. She didn't dare exclude any details, knowing that, like his son, Yuusaku paid much attention to them.

After she finished recounting the tale, he was clearly thinking deeply. He then asked, "About those men in black—do you recall exactly how they looked?"

With a frown, she described, "One of them was somewhat large, similar to Megure-keibu-san's build. He was wearing a black suit with matching pants. He also had a fedora hat and black sunglasses. The other guy was taller and slimmer. He had long, blond hair and a pale complexion. He was wearing a high-collared, long black coat too." She shivered when she remembered his fierce expression. "He looked frightening too."

"Hm…" The spectacled man leaned back into the sofa with furrowed eyebrows. After a whole minute of silence, he nodded and stood from his seat. "Thank you, Ran-kun, for your assistance. I'll be heading over to Megure-keibu to coordinate with them in the search. I'll let you know if we find anything."

Ran was uncertain as she led him back outside. She gathered her courage and concern and asked, "Can I join you in searching?"

The writer stared at her for a moment before shaking his head with a smile. "Not today, you can't. You have classes tomorrow, don't you?"

"But—"

"I'm sure you're extremely worried about Shinichi, possibly even more than I am." He put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "However, it's still too early to be this concerned. He might have just gone somewhere on his own without leaving a note. We'll have to see first if that isn't the case. Besides, I'm sure he wouldn't want you to put your life on hold for his sake." He chuckled. "For now, you can prepare to give him the greatest scolding he'd ever receive, all right?"

Ran had to agree grudgingly. There was nothing else she could do.


Days passed. Then, it became a week, then two. It turned to three, and then a whole month. Still, Shinichi wasn't found. When summer vacation came, Ran insisted becoming part of the search. A second month went by without any clues of his whereabouts.

At first, they thought he went somewhere else in the country. They checked various records of companies of different modes of transport and ruled out that possibility, as well as his leaving of Japan. After receiving no notices from potential kidnappers (his parents were rich and even more well-known than he was), they were forced to abandon that probability too. They checked hospitals, other schools and various other establishments. They moved outside Tokyo, to Yokohama, Chiba, past Osaka until down to Kagoshima and went back up to Sapporo, but still came up blank. Eventually, they even looked into morgues (all of them were undeniably anxious when they were searching there—and, consequently, they were marginally relieved when that venture wasn't fruitful either).

More months passed. Yukiko refused to pull out Shinichi's name from Teitan High School. Yuusaku pulled in various friends and acquaintances, people from the International Criminal Police Organization, more commonly known as Interpol or ICPO, included, and, still, they didn't find him. Ran even got both of her parents to aid in the search.

They kept up their fervent search, even when Inspector Megure had to drop the case and file the Detective of the East as 'missing' (it didn't take long for that to happen since the first division of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police wasn't meant to investigate that). He was immediately replaced. People they didn't even know became interested in the case of "The Missing Heisei Holmes". Journalists, reporters, lawyers, detectives, as well as a diverse collection of people that the teen had previously helped pitched in their efforts as well.

His Western counterpart, Hattori Heiji had come around and started his own investigation until he had to return home—though not without promising to keep an eye out for the detective he had gone against before.

The oddest person on the lookout for the missing detective was Kaitou KID, who dropped by the Kudou residence for a few minutes, just to inquire about the developments and to inform Yuusaku and Yukiko that he would be searching when he can as well. He had the tendency to leave messages via his heist notes—which got the couple to get into the habit of procuring a copy for each heist. Yuusaku did not attend the events though. Then again, all they got from the phantom thief were further confirmation of the teen's absence in Japan.

Everyone was vexed and worried. No matter the number of people searching for him, they couldn't find him. It was almost as if Kudou Shinichi had vanished from the face of the earth. But, of course, that couldn't be true.

LINEBREAK

On a rainy April day, ten months after Kudou Shinichi's disappearance, Agasa Hiroshi was making his way back to his mansion while pondering on a new device to help in searching for his neighbor that he had treated almost like a nephew or grandson. Like Shinichi's parents and Ran, he didn't believe in the possibility that he could be dead, so, he continued to pour his efforts in looking.

He was startled out of his calculations for a small searching robot when his eyes caught sight of a figure slumped over in the middle of the street in front of the Kudou mansion. Immediately, he approached it and tossed his umbrella aside in favor of turning the person over. He was hit with concern when he observed that it was a girl, possibly six or seven years of age, with damp blond curls and pale skin. She was unconscious.

The balding inventor carefully lifted the child into his house, abandoning his shield from the rain. Taking care of the girl was more important.


He switched her clothes with an old but dry shirt and a pair of shorts that belonged to Shinichi when he was eight. He gently towel-dried her hair before setting her in his bed and tucking her into it. Thankfully, she didn't seem to have caught a cold or fever from the cold temperature. After changing into different attire as well, he bustled around his kitchen to prepare some hot porridge and tea for the child for when she woke up.

He was surprised when he brought tea later and found that the girl was up and looking around cautiously. When she turned her light blue eyes on him, she demanded, "Where am I?"

Chuckling nervously at her sharp gaze, he set down the tray he carried on the bedside table. "You're in my house. I found you passed out in front of the Kudou mansion. Yuusaku and Yukiko are away at the moment." He turned a curious expression on her. "Why were you there anyway?"

She narrowed her eyes at him. "Who are you?"

"Ah, right! I haven't introduced myself yet." He scratched the back of his head, faintly offended by her behavior. "Erm, I'm Agasa Hiroshi. I've been a friend of the Kudou's for a long time. Were you waiting for them?"

The girl didn't answer and continued to scrutinize him, making him rather nervous at the intensity of her stare. When she, at last, spoke in her even tone, he heard the best news in almost a year.

"I may know how to find Kudou Shinichi."

To be continued…


It's short; incredibly so! This is just an interlude anyway. A filler chapter, you may call it. Except this was supposed to be the prologue for the sequel…

Yes, I admit it. There will be a sequel. But that doesn't mean this story's going to end any time soon. Oh, no. Four chapters and I'm still not done laying out the foundation for my plot. This story's going slower than I thought it would. Well, I don't mind—I hope you guys don't either. It means more chapters anyway. I told Shadow's Rage that this would be at least twenty chapters long…

Ehm. Don't have much time. Onto review replies!

Ginshi-chan, when I wrote 'as he was wont to do' I meant 'as he usually does'; and 'storey' is what I prefer to use when referring to floors in buildings n.n Thank you! I'm glad you like my story. And I have read that story that you mentioned. It was funny and adorable and it tickled me so when I read that someone was named 'Milky' XD (Shounen Tantei's teacher is Kobayashi). adeline02, I think not putting up the chapter with the case now makes me evil-er (I'm aware there is no such word XD).Thank you, kuroange1, also for your review to my other story. I'm flattered that you think me that—I think I may be partial to the word 'awesome' XD

If I wasn't able to reply to your reviews, I would like to thank all of you: milaneechan, Renkin-chan, Katty008, Tsubasa96, Madame of all Manga (I will reply to your message the next time I go online XD), Ceirwy, GoddessSumizofVenus, MsBenzedrine, Mysteryfan17 (two reviews o.O), Cheshire XIII ('all that jazz'? XD), animechick789,and ShiroLight. And to all those who put my stories on favorite, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

The next chapter will be out within the next two weeks. For now, here's a short preview:

The scream that brought everyone's attention to the man who lay motionless on the floor triggered panic. Soon, others echoed various sounds of distress and moved frantically from their places to get away from the horrific sight.

"No one is allowed to leave the premises until the police arrive."

"This man is dead, mister."

"What do you think you're doing, boy?"

"My fiancé's dead and you're accusing me?"

"That's the same kind as the one we saw earlier! It's supposed to have a matching charm with their initials engraved at the back."

"That doesn't prove anything."

"What's happening there?"

"I mean, you should wait for your appointment! It's not safe to do that here."

"See? I've nothing to hide from you."

"I know who it is—the one who killed him."

Hope that preview makes you look forward to it! For those reading Moonlit Blood, the sixth chapter will be up next week. See you then!

Posted on June 10, 2010.

Edited chapter posted on June 25, 2010, beta by nataeiy1.