Shinichi opened his eyes, glancing at his surroundings. Around him lay the bloodied and broken bodies of people who had been both comrades and enemies, the majority of whom still breathed. Looking down at himself, he saw that he too was bloodstained. How much of it was his own?
His eyes widened as consciousness overcame his mind and he recollected the events that had taken place only moments ago.
They had managed to locate the Black Organization's headquarters and had stormed it. So many of them. Haibara, Agasa, the FBI... During the battle which had ensued, Rena had also switched sides to reveal her true identity as a CIA agent, something which had shocked most on the enemy side while others seemed to have known all along.
How many had been injured? Killed? On which side had the fallen resided?
Looking again, Shinichi, for the first time, fully took in his surroundings. The room was painted in blacks and grays, with the only windows being close to the ceiling and too small for even a child to fit through. The doors were cold steel, polished so that they reflected the gruesome scene around him like a mirror.
Looking at the reflection, Shinichi saw himself. Or a form of himself. He was still Conan.
The antidote! They had infiltrated the headquarters. Surely there was information about the Apotoxin on the computers. Jumping up, he began to limp towards one of the metallic doors which lay slightly ajar, cringing as he felt pain ripple from where he'd been shot in the shin.
Pushing the door aside, he paused as he saw who was in the room.
"It's no use," Haibara voiced blatantly from a computer. "There's no information on the drug that shrank us." Shinichi stared at her for a moment, shellshocked. He noticed, as he stared, that she too was covered in blood. Her shirt, which had originally been a light cream, now closer resembled the alcohol her former codename had come from.
"N-none...?" he asked, trying to unravel his thoughts which had become so entangled with recent events. "How can there be none...?"
"Gin erased it," she replied nonchalantly, nodding towards a wall behind her.
When Shinichi looked, he was surprised to see the body of the man who'd shrunk him down to this miniature form slumped against the wall, a splatter of crimson liquid dripping down from a few feet above his head.
"After Vodka knocked you out, I noticed Gin sneaking in here and followed him. You can guess what the end result was, but he managed to wipe the hard drives before I could get to him," she explained.
Shinichi was silent for a while, trying to comprehend her words. "But..." he finally breathed, "But you can still change us back, right? You created the Apotoxin in the first place, so you can find the antidote...?"
"I'm afraid that that's impossible. I didn't want to have to tell you, but I've reached a dead end on the antidote. As well, it was my parents who started the research, so even if I could remember everything I've done on it I wouldn't be able to make it again. I was hoping that I could get some data here, but no such luck. We're stuck like this. Forever."
A month later, Shinichi was released from hospital after a full recovery. Ran and Kogoro had been told by the FBI that Agasa had been in an accident with his Volkswagen Beetle while Conan and Haibara were in the car; not a bad excuse considering the car had been blown up during the battle thanks to some trigger-happy Black Org members.
That controversy seemed to have beed solved, but there was still a problem. Shinichi was now fully aware that he would never be able to return to being him, a concept that had haunted his dreams since he had first become Conan.
He'd put so much hope and effort into being able to return to his true body for good. All the things he'd wanted to do and say. What about Ran? She was still waiting for him to return, not knowing that he'd been there all along. What would happen if she learned that Shinichi was never coming back?
He had to do something. Leaving her waiting forever would only be cruel.
But he didn't want to admit defeat. Not now. Not yet.
These thoughts swam through his head as he sat in a rental car being driven back to the Mouri Detective Agency by the man who ran it. Ran sat in the seat next to him like she always had, staring out the window absently. What was she thinking?
As he sat there in silence, a sudden notion appeared in his mind, freezing his heart.
Please, don't wait for me anymore... he thought as he looked at her, wishing, for what must have been the millionth time, that right then and there he could be himself. But he never again would be. Not permanently.
A shiver crawled up Ran's spine as a single sentence entered her mind: Please, don't wait for me anymore... What was that? She could almost have sworn the voice had been Shinichi's. But... no. That was impossible. He was probably hundreds of miles away right now. But still...
Where are you, Shinichi? Why won't you return...? A tear managed to escape her eye, flowing down her cheek in its slow decent.
Several days later, Shinichi arrived at Agasa-Hakase's house. After ringing the doorbell, he was slightly surprised by who opened the door. However, it was just the person he needed to talk to.
"Haibara, do you mind if we talk for a bit?" he questioned, stepping across the threshold.
"It's about the Apotoxin, isn't it?" she replied with a lazy yawn.
"Am I really getting to be that predictable?"
The two sat down in the living room on opposite chairs so that they were facing each other. "I need to say goodbye to Ran." Shinichi stated determinedly
"And I suppose you want to see her yourself instead of simply calling. Otherwise you wouldn't have bothered to talk to me. I can supply you with a temporary antidote. It was the last one I managed to make before coming to a dead end. However, considering the amount of times you've already taken experimental antidotes and the little new information I had while making this one, I doubt you'll stay as yourself for more than a few hours."
"Then you're letting me use it?"
"...Yes. But you have to remember that this will be the last time you can before it won't work anymore. Say what you need to, then leave. When do you want it?"
Shinichi took a deep breath before answering. "Now."
Shinichi stepped out of the house after a while in a body that should have made him feel on top of the world. But the scene that would take place shortly kept playing over and over in his head, each with a different outcome.
Lost in his thoughts, the walk that he'd hoped would feel as long as ever seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye as the Mouri Detective Agency lay only a few meters ahead.
Climbing the stairs slowly, he took what little time he had to try to think of how he should do this. He would have to be blunt. No hesitating. As Haibara had said, he wouldn't be getting another chance to do this.
He rang the doorbell.
As he listened to the gentle pad of footsteps on the other side of the wall, panic overcame him. Just as he was turning to flee, the door was flung open to reveal Ran, her face brightening immediately as her eyes fell on him.
"Shinichi! You're back!"
Ran lunged forward swiftly to throw her arms around her childhood friend. Shinichi was back! After she'd worried for so long that she would never see him again, he was here.
"There's... something I need to talk to you about..." Shinichi said, pulling away from her. What was with the nervousness? That wasn't the way Shinichi had always been.
The two of them walked in silence until they reached a park a few blocks away from Ran's house where the two of them had sometimes played when they were younger. As they reached a sakura tree atop a hill, Shinichi suddenly turned to face her. His eyes were closed and his face hard as he spoke: "I don't want to see you anymore."
Ran froze as the words slashed at her skin like broken glass and sudden tears pricked at her eyelids. "What...?"
"You heard me. I don't want to see you." His eyes flew open as he spoke the words and the gaze that they held was colder than any she'd seen before.
"But... why?" This couldn't be true. She'd been waiting for him all that time to hear this? Impossible!
"The time I've spent away from you has opened my eyes. I've realized that I'm happier when we're miles apart."
By this point, tears were beginning to flow freely down Ran's face as she gasped for words to come to her lips. "I..." Desperation filled her as she said the only thing clear to her. "I love you!"
Shinichi seemed to pause for a moment, his expression only changing as his eyes closed once again. "I don't care. It doesn't matter how you feel towards me, because there's nothing in this world that can change the way I feel about you."
Ran flinched as something inside her chest felt as if it had shattered. She tried to speak, but her words caught in her throat, her lips aching to speak the words that would make him stay.
With Shinichi's final word, she spun on her heel and fled. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she tried to figure out how this had happened. She would never return to this place. To him. That, and her eternal love for the man who hated her, were the only things she knew now to be true.
Shinichi watched Ran leave as the first tear he'd cried in years slowly trickled down his cheek. He knew that this was the right thing to do, so why did it feel so wrong? Unwilling to gaze upon Ran's retreating form any longer, he turned slowly and treaded away from all he knew and loved as the first spasm rocked through his body, promising that his time as himself would shortly be drawing to a close for the last time.
It was twenty years later when Ran returned to that park for that first time since that day. She had never married, as her heart had always remained Shinichi's despite how she knew he felt about her.
As she neared the hill with the sakura tree where she'd last seen her beloved, she could almost swear she saw his form, silhouetted by the sunset as he departed from the place where he'd waited annually for her for twenty years...
A/N: Finally finished! Please review, as this is my first time attempting a one-shot, so I'd like to know whether or not you liked it. Also, please note that this has absolutely NO relation to my current project, Growing Shadows. The reason I haven't released any new chapters in a few months? Technology hates me. That's all I'm gonna say.
Finally, in case it wasn't clear, in the last little bit I'm trying to show that Shinichi never stopped loving Ran, just as she never stopped loving him, so every year on the anniversary of their last meeting he would go to hill and wait all day in hopes that she would return, thereby showing that she'd never forgotten about him. Sorry if the characters are a little OOC in this...
Edit: I've gone through this and fixed it up a bit. Nothing major. Just fixing some spelling and grammar, using some more descriptive vocabulary, double checking a couple things in relation to the original series and getting rid of a bit of repetition.
I do not claim ownership over any characters or settings of Detective Conan/Case Closed... yada, yada, yada... All rights reserved to Aoyama Gosho. You rule, dude!