Disclaimer: No, I do not own Detective Conan (in a perfect world, I do, but as you already probably know, the world is neither perfect nor fair)

Every fan thinks of the great detective of the east as perfect. With good looks, great athletic built and academic results, a nice career waiting, a famous family, and the respect of the Japanese police force, it is easy to understand why people think he can do anything, be anything. The perfect guy.

But he was far from it. There are many things Kudou Shinichi cannot do. First of all, he has no idea how to cook. And then, there is the strange catch of despite having perfect pitch, he can't sing a note to save his life. But above all, Kudou Shinichi cannot cry. A reasonable person, his belief in logic can match that of his idol, Sherlock Holmes. There is nothing logical about crying. Only quick thinking and intelligent deductions can solve problems and crimes, never tears. Though people respect him, some see him as someone who can be quite cocky and arrogant, too intelligent for his own good. But it wasn't that. Over time, he has just learned to master himself, master his poker face. Even when a criminal breaks down and confesses the reason for their cold crime, he just stands there, keeping his own emotion in check because someone has to fight for justice. Even as he watches Ran cry almost every night, he stops himself, because someone has to stay strong.

…It was quite a tiny thing really.

Ayumi convinced the Detective Boys to join her in a dessert-making class. As usual, Haibara Ai excused herself. Without needing an excuse, she slowly turned around and walked away. Conan, of course, tried to do the same but without success. Glares from Mituhiko and Genta, because no boy dares to disappoint Ayumi, stopped him in his tracks. He sighed and started the long walk with the carefree kids, who are now belting a tune from the Kamen Yaiba show.

Needless to say, it has been a disaster. No, he can't crack an egg. And no, he can't stop the caramel from burning. Every time was the same. While all the other's sugar have melted into a sweet, golden syrup, Conan's has always managed to burn black. Even if it wasn't completely black, it was still too dark and bitter to taste. He was beginning to sweat amidst the fumes. He muttered angrily and was just about to give up when he heard Ayumi besides him, unable to stifle her giggling anymore.

"Gomen Conan-kun," she replied softly at his questioning glare. "But you can't give up now. You never give up so you should do the same thing here, just keep trying. Imagine if you can make this dessert for Ran-neechan. She'll be really happy, yes?"

Conan smiled hopefully, quietly thanking Ayumi. She was right. Ran needed this, especially these days. She's been looking lonelier over the past few days. Shinichi hasn't called (What new things could he tell her after all? More lies?) and Kogoro-san has been burying them deeper and deeper in debts with his gambling and drinking. This is the least he could do to try to cheer her up.

It's getting late and Conan has just thrown out a pan of burnt melted sugar for the third time. He's getting tired and frustrated. He hoped to master this before Ran wakes up to surprise her. He has never failed at anything before. Why couldn't he perfect the simple matter of melting sugar?

But that's not true, he thought. He has failed before. He has failed a lot of times, which is the main reason why he is still stuck in this 9-year old body. It has been two years, and still, he is not closer to the truth as he was that fateful night.

That was the time a simple sugar reduced the great detective to tears. It was quite a tiny thing really. But just like a snowball effect, all his failings started piling up on top of each other until one quiet night, he couldn't stop it anymore from rolling down the hill.

If only they could see the great detective now, he thought bitterly. He hated himself for breaking down. He was supposed to be the strong one. He threw the spatula he was holding at the sink in his frustration. He couldn't do anything right. Everything he touches burns. With Heiji almost getting killed, bodies falling wherever he goes, the Detective Boys in constant danger. Even the trained Shuichi Akai. Miyano Akemi. And Ran. The girl he is fighting to protect. The girl he would willingly die for. The girl whose head he fills with a web of lies. He couldn't do anything right for her.

Tears continued falling down his cheeks. But as he tried to stop, his silent sobs just slowly grew louder with gasps as he tried to catch his breath. He never realised how much he has been holding in. The burning pain he feels every time he transforms. The fear of having faced death so many times. The worry whenever someone close to him is in danger. The anger at those who seek to hurt him and the people he loves. The chase that never ends. The madness. The darkness in his nightmares. Not even Kid's white cape can cover the black. The shadow that lurks around every corner. When can he stop looking over his shoulder? When will it stop?

"Conan?" A soft whisper cut through the air. Shinichi refused to look. He would know the voice anywhere. He must have woken her up with his crying. Baka, how could I be so stupid? He furiously thought.

But without a word, the figure from the doorway moves to him silently and covers his small body with her arms. She pulled him down so they could both sit on the floor, his head on her chest while her head was over his. He could hear her heart beating and somehow this calms him down.

"What is it Conan-kun?" She asked quietly.

"It burns…every time. Everything burns." His voice cracks, and with that, fresh new tears threatened to fall again but Shinichi let it for he does not care anymore. For once, he let himself be a child again, exhausted and afraid. Far from perfect. Simply because he realised that he does not always have to be strong. His strength comes from her, and he will fight for her, no matter how long or hard it takes.