Ohayo! I can't believe summer is coming to a close and I haven't uploaded anything to anything yet. So, I decided to hang around an old fandom for a bit until something hit me. I adore writing character pieces, and Detective Conan has a really interesting cast to explore.
Learned behaviour is an amazing thing. Does anyone else think Shinichi would have more trouble adjusting to life as himself than he did adjusting to Conan? After all, people at least write off children's eccentricities as "cute" or assume he's trying to imitate the adults. The other way around… not so much.
BY THE WAY: This piece assumes that Shinichi came clean to Ran about Conan.
Breaking a habit can be the most difficult thing in the world, and Edogawa Conan has amassed a number of them. Ran's thoughts on Kudo Shinichi upon his return.
Since he had returned, Shinichi had picked up some odd habits. It did not surprise Ran in the least bit, in some ways, but sometimes left her completely shocked he did not realize that what was socially acceptable for at age six was different than at age seventeen.
For one, he had been unable to curb his habit of calling her "Ran-neechan." She could not blame him; after all, she had scolded Conan-kun for slipping up and calling her "Ran". Many things she had enforced to Conan became an issue upon Shinichi's return. He would automatically hold onto her hand when they crossed the street together, look for permission to do things with other people after school. Heck, he expected her to ground him when he did something wrong. His interactions with her changed on an astronomical scale. He would forget he no longer had to hide his true personality from her— actions she considered distinctively Shinichi only popped out when caught up in a case, while he would mindlessly act unlike himself at all other times.
How sad, she thought, that he became so accustomed to lying that the lie became his default behaviour.
He no longer expected people to treat him as an intellectual equal, often falling into leading the police through murder cases despite the fact they would listen to him if he allowed himself simply to explain things. He would remember his size in time not to tranquilize a detective puppet, but she had caught him taking aim a few times before realizing he did not need to do so. He sometimes expected witnesses to be as easy-going as they had been with Conan, and he would sometimes skirt around questioning because he forgot he no longer had to look like just a curious child. When an officer would honestly wonder where he learned information, he would get halfway through responding "On television" in a childish voice before correcting himself.
Sometimes he followed her home.
Her father found it disorienting, but they could not fault him. In the year he had been "gone", the agency became even more home to him than his own house. Upon entering, he simply announced, "Tadaima!" instead of knocking. Sometimes he'd show up for dinner after spending the afternoon somewhere else just because he had forgotten he had moved back home, and more than once she found him asleep on the couch or the futon because he had been half-asleep when heading "home".
And then there was his relationship with the scientist girl. Still unable to decide whether to stay a child or join Shinichi in the adult world, Ai often took temporary antidotes to spend the day with him without causing Shinichi to look like a lolicon. Apparently, they had tried spending time together alone, in public, while she was still small, and people had given them strange looks at his treatment to her. Of course they would, she wanted to scream— he acted too much like a stranger trying to get her into the back of a van sometimes, and she could not help herself from teasing about it where people could hear. When they would go places together, Ran could simply watch as Shinichi would grab onto a grown Ai's hand without remembering that they were not two children trying to stick together in a sea of adults anymore, and when adults held hands it meant something quite different.
He treated all children differently, especially the Shounen Tantei. He would listen to children just as— if not more— intently as he listened to adults. ("You don't realize how observant they are until they're the only ones who want to share their observations with you," he told Ran.) He looked out for Conan's three friends like an ideal older brother, often humouring them and sometimes falling right into their play as if he had never left. He taught them how to be proper detectives when they happened upon a case, and trusted their instincts while still managing to keep track of their childish adventures.
Sometimes she wondered if it would have been easier for him to stay as Conan-kun. Easier for her, easier for everyone around him, and easier for himself.
Whenever he realized he had slipped into Conan's habits, the frightened, lonely look in his eyes was enough to give her nightmares. It was almost as if he could no longer find Kudo Shinichi inside of himself anymore because he was too weighed down with a lie he no longer wanted to live.
And those who loved him could only watch from the sidelines and do their best to help him break his habits.