Pairing: Kudo Shinichi/Mouri Ran
Fandom: Detective Conan
Theme: #15—perfect blue
Disclaimer: All characters are the property of Gosho Aoyama. I claim none, I merely borrow them and dress them up in frilly smocks and make them dance to my ever-changing will like the puppets they are.
Summary: Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?
The first thing Kudo Shinichi noticed upon waking up was that his arms were far longer than he was accustomed to. He noticed this, in fact, when he moved to put one hand to his forehead, and managed to smack himself in the nose in a complete misjudgment of distance.
He then realized that the hand currently checking his nose for breakage was…larger.
Shinichi’s eyes flew open and dropped to scan over himself.
His seventeen-year-old self.
Now completely awake, he sat up and looked at his hands, down his torso and long legs.
He was back to normal.
Shinichi reeled, trying to think back. He’d been Conan, and then something had happened, he’d felt pain, he’d fallen over, and then…and then…he didn’t know. He was waking up, himself. How had this happened? Did the drug wear off? And the clothes he was wearing—regardless of how he’d gotten back to himself, how had he ended up clad in his high school uniform?
But that wasn’t the real question he had at the moment, he realized as everything started to sink in. And it was a question that didn’t seem horribly eager to be answered right up front. Momentarily forgetting his elation at being himself again, Shinichi tentatively looked around.
Where was he?
He noticed a line of people standing nearby; they just seemed to be milling around. Perhaps someone there could tell him where he was? Climbing slowly to his feet, he wandered towards the restless gathering over there—
—only to find himself swept up into the line by a rather large…being. Being, because he wasn’t quite sure that it was human. Humans did not have skin that color: red-orange. And humans definitely didn’t have horns. The being shuffling him along towards the queue possessed both of these.
Unsure of what else to do, he waited. No one seemed to even notice he was there; he cleared his throat, and received no glances. So he stood in line and waited uncertainly to find out what exactly he was waiting in line for.
“Ran-chan, what’s the matter?”
Giving herself a quick mental shake, Ran sought the source of the voice. “Huh?”
One of her teammates was standing beside her, arms folded across her gi-clad chest. “Ran-chan, you’re not paying attention at all. It’s like you’re a million miles away. Come on, focus! The tournament’s coming up, and we need you at your best!”
Ran nodded quickly. “Sorry, I’ll try to focus in.”
In truth, Ran’s thoughts were anything but focused.
She had started feeling uneasy several days before, when Conan had left them to go to see his parents for a week. He’d seemed so happy to be going, but he was young and he probably missed his mother and father dearly; it wasn’t easy being away from them for so long at such a young age.
Still, her heart clenched every time she thought of him walking away, smiling and laughing and waving cheerily at her. She smiled and waved back, seeing him off. And yet she had that strange feeling, the same premonition she’d had so long ago…
It was like watching Shinichi walk away all over again. But he wasn’t Shinichi, he was Conan.
Either way, he was leaving, and she had a horrible feeling.
Someone was tugging on her arm now—one of her teammates, demanding a spar. Managing a weak smile, she let herself be dragged along to the mats and the mock-fight began, though Ran’s heart wasn’t really in practice today.
She was thinking about Shinichi again. She hadn’t heard from him in a while. In fact, his rare, precious phone calls had stopped after Conan had left. But as always, she pressed on and tried her best to keep smiling and ignore the worry and pain that kept clawing her into pieces.
And then two days ago, she’d been going about her business when something had just hit her, like a bullet between the eyes. She couldn’t talk, think, breathe, save for one precious thing…
She heard numerous voices calling out her name—she swore she had only slipped away from herself for a moment, why were they all yelling at her like that—and her eyes suddenly narrowed in on her sparring partner.
Who was swinging a perfect roundhouse kick right at Ran’s head—the foot was right there…her teammate’s kick crashed into the side of her head. She saw her opponent’s eyes widen in horror just before her head was turned by the force of the blow. She heard something crack, a very loud cracking noise, and she heard someone scream…
Then the world went very numb and swimmy and her head felt like it was full of sand and wow that was one amazing kick and why couldn’t she stay standing everyone was calling her name it sounded like it was coming through water and the ground was coming up to meet her there it was…
Mouri Ran hit the mats, her head splayed at a very unnatural angle.
She did not move.
She did not hear her teammates scream.
She did not hear anything, really…
“Yes, you heard correctly,” the enormous being intoned.
Were he not in shock, Shinichi might have been a bit intimidated by the large form looming over him. But all he could manage at the moment were strangled, choking noises and wide eyes. The deep, booming voice of the inhuman being above him kept echoing in his head, over and over again, repeating the same horrible proclamation.
“You’re here because you’ve passed on.”
Shinichi slowly slid down to his knees, slumping forward to rest his weight on his hands. A soft groan slipped away from him, carrying with it a single word. His thoughts at that moment were not for himself and his as-yet-unknown fate, but for the one who continued to suffer because of him. The one he had failed yet again, this time forever.
Ran was terrified, to say the least. Where in the world was she?
She had opened her eyes and found herself in a place she did not recognize. There seemed to be a line of people, though, with some interesting-looking beings herding people here and there, and in short order she was ushered into the queue.
The line inched forward, and finally, Ran was at the front, looking up at an enormous desk. Behind the desk sat what looked like a monster, a giant blue creature with large horns protruding from either side of his head. “Name?” he boomed; it was amazing how such a deep, thunderous voice could actually sound so…bored.
Swallowing hard, she squeaked out, “Ran. Mouri Ran.”
“Mouri—Mouri Ran?” the large horned being came halfway out of his chair.
She instinctively stepped back at the outburst, but steadied herself and nodded. “That’s my name.”
“You’re the girl that one guy mentioned!” the demon cheered; the finger he pointed at her was the size of a large tree trunk. “Oh, what was his name? He was a young guy, ‘bout your age—new arrival, too. He got here a couple days ago. It’s on the tip of my tongue…” As if to accent his point, the aforementioned forked tongue flicked out between his purplish lips while his face scrunched in thought.
The name dropped from Ran’s hopeful lips before she could even think to be alarmed. “Shinichi?”
“That’s it!” the demon snapped his fingers and pointed at her. “The Kudo kid! Man, poor guy was really broken up when he realized where he was…” The blue face softened in pity. “Didn’t even know he was dead until we told him. He just kinda slumped over…and I swear he said your name.”
“Wait,” Ran cut him off. “Dead? What do you mean, dead?”
The demon looked at her for a moment before glancing down at the book in his hands; he nodded, as if what he saw there that seemed to explain something to him. “Yours was a sudden one, too. In that case, it’s not surprising that you don’t know.”
“Know what?” she asked nervously.
“Those who come through here are those that have passed on,” he explained.
Ran stared at him before chuckling. “What—what do you mean? What are you talking about?”
“You’re standing in the gateway to the Afterlife,” the large being said matter-of-factly. “Both you and your pal Kudo shuffled off the mortal coil and wound up here. Now we’re going to see what spot you’ve earned here and send you on your way.”
She shook her head. No, this wasn’t possible! Then she remembered a sparring match gone awry and a foot swinging at her head at top speed and the strange numbness that had caught her then…it was crazy, but somehow, sickeningly, she knew that he wasn’t lying. But another thought hit her then—if she was here because of that, then… “Shinichi—how did he die?” Ran demanded breathlessly.
“…let me look,” the demon picked up a book and began paging through it, muttering to himself. After several pages and indeterminate moments, his expression brightened. “Here he is! Let’s see, Kudo…” He leaned back in his chair. “Shot. Back of the head. From the looks of it, though, he’d been hiding out from that killer for a while now—that guy really screwed up the poor kid’s life, what with that poison and all that rot.” He closed the book and sat back, still muttering uncomplimentary things about murderers and their assured destinations after death.
Meanwhile, Ran’s underworld had just dropped out from under her.
Shinichi had been…shot? Poison? Hiding?
Suddenly, she needed to sit down. So she did, right in the middle of the floor.
“Are you gonna be all right?” the large blue being asked.
“Where can I find him?” she asked after a moment of silence. “He’s here—where is he? Do you know?” She surged back to her feet, hands clenching into white-knuckled fists at her sides. “If you know where he is, then please tell me!”
“I can’t give you any specifics,” the demon boomed. “This place is huge. But I can tell you this—you’re both in the same area. Through that side door over there,” he pointed at one of the large doors. “He’s in there somewhere. You’d be better off asking the locals if anyone’s seen him.”
“Thank you!” Ran nodded, ever the polite one, before turning and sprinting towards the door. Somewhere beyond that door was Shinichi. She just had to sift through a part of the Afterlife to find him.
Still sitting at the desk, Enma smiled and shook his head. Every once in a while, something like this came along. Poor kids, to go so young—his a senseless murder, hers a tragic accident. “Hope you find him,” he said quietly after her before turning back to the next incoming soul.
A butterfly landed on Shinichi’s cheek; without thinking about it or really meaning to, he flicked one hand up to brush it away. Immediately, he regretted it, and sat up to watch the colorful insect flutter away, up into a sky that was painted in oranges and reds, like a sunset.
He’d dozed off—yes, surprising as it was, apparently souls could take naps, though it wasn’t so much a necessity as a method of relaxation. And now it seemed that a fair amount of time had passed. How long had he been out of it, anyway?
Still, he didn’t quite feel like getting up. It was awfully nice, sprawled out in the grass by the tree. Pity he was all alone here…no, no, he wouldn’t think like that. If none of the others were here, that meant they were still alive, and that was wonderful.
But it didn’t change the fact that he was lonely, even in this place that was supposed to be Heaven.
He missed the kids, the Shounen Tantei—a lot more than he thought he would, honestly. They’d grown on him, from the moment they’d followed him home from school and demanded he be their friend. He missed his parents—he would have gladly let his mother hug him and call him Shin-chan in public if it meant that he could see her! Hell, he even missed Mouri and the whole Metro PD gang.
But most of all, he missed Ran. Even if he was stuck as Conan, he’d never really been apart from her before. Not like this. And it hurt. It was her absence that struck the most painful chord to make the loneliness sing deep within him.
She wouldn’t know about his fate. Not for a long time, if ever. How would she react?
Sighing, Shinichi mentally ordered himself to stop thinking such thoughts. He stretched out under the tree and told himself to go back to sleep, if only so he didn’t have to think anymore. But even as he let himself drift off, back to relaxed slumber, he couldn’t help feeling strange.
Like there was someplace he was supposed to be right then.
It was hopeless.
Ran sat down on a bench. This place reminded her so much of home—well, her home on Earth, she supposed. It was still so difficult to wrap her mind around the fact that she had died, a freak accident during a karate practice.
She wondered about her family. How would her father take the news? Her mother? Her friends—Sonoko? Conan-kun? They wouldn’t know that she was more or less all right, there actually was a better place waiting for those who lived their lives the best way that they could.
They would be fine, even if it didn’t happen tomorrow.
But Ran wasn’t sure she was completely fine at the moment.
She couldn’t find Shinichi. She’d been all over the place, asked person after person. It seemed like a lot of people knew who he was; it had taken her a while to realize that a good number of the people who had been crowing his praises were the victims of the cases he had solved. It made a morbid sort of sense that they would know him. But no one knew where he was now, it seemed.
Tears were superfluous in this place, she knew. This was supposed to be Heaven.
There shouldn’t be tears here.
Yet Ran felt them fall, let them fall, and put her face in her hands.
She was scared. She was alone. She wanted Shinichi, and he was so close…
Was she ever going to see him? There was no reason to presume that he would be looking for her, he probably didn’t even know she was here now—he’d be horrified to find her in this place. Dead.
But even here, she couldn’t see him, no matter how much she wanted to.
Things really weren’t so different…
Shinichi turned at the sound of his name.
The speaker—an attractive young woman with long, dark hair—stepped from the other side of the tree he’d taken up residency beneath and regarded him with a raised eyebrow. “Still moping?”
“A little,” he replied, managing the weakest of smiles.
“Can’t say I blame you,” she replied, leaning against the tree trunk and folding her arms. “But rejoice, for I bring you good tidings—at least, I hope they’re good tidings. I think you’re really going to…well, you’ll react to this news, at least.”
Shinichi frowned. “What?”
“There was a new arrival earlier today—been searching for you since she got here,” the woman went on. “I can’t believe nobody actually found you and told you that you were being looked for. But anyway, she’s been all over the Afterlife, trying to find you.”
“She?” Shinichi echoed. Something deep inside him clenched painfully with suspicion.
The woman saw that he already had a guess, and nodded. “Mouri—she’s here. Someone told her that you’d check in recently, too, and she’s been running all over the place trying to find you.”
Shinichi was already on his feet. “Where is she?”
“Last seen over by the Crossroads,” she pointed. “That way.”
He was already dashing off in the appointed direction. “Thank you!” he called back over his shoulder as he fled, leaving the woman standing alone by the tree.
A smile crossed her face as she watched him sprint away.
After all, Akemi reasoned, he’d protected Shiho, now Ai. He’d kept an eye on her sister.
She did owe him a few.
How long had she been sitting here? Long enough for her tears to run out, she supposed. Her eyes were burning, but there was nothing left to fall from them. So she settled for just sitting there, hunched forward with her folded arms resting on her elbows; her head was hanging forward, letting her hair hang down in front of her face. She couldn’t see anyone, and no one could see her face.
God, she just wanted to see him. She wanted to know why he was here, what had happened to him, why he had been gone so long…why he had broken his promise to come back to her, no matter what.
Well, in a morbid sort of way, they were in a position where he could return to her—be it Fate, coincidence, or the imp of the perverse, or what-have-you. To use the old cliché, they were so close, and yet so far away.
And he didn’t even know she was here, there was no reason that he would be looking for her.
She jumped upright at the sound of her name. But that voice…oh God, his voice…Ran rose slowly to her feet, turning to look at the speaker. It had to be…it had to be…
Shinichi was standing beside the bench, both hands gripping the wooden back of it tightly enough to make his knuckles turn white. And he was just staring at her, jaw slightly dropped and eyes wide. And for some reason, for that second she couldn’t see anything other than his eyes. They really were beautiful—they always had been, she’d always thought so. Deep and full, with knowledge and pain and laughter and sorrow and caring and…
…there was something else shining in his cerulean gaze that defied immediate definition. Had that been there before? She tried to remember a life that had slipped away from her like water from a sieve. Yes, yes, she had seen that in his eyes before—that night at the restaurant, when he’d reappeared, only to flee again, leaving her to her tears and Conan’s childish comforts…
He had moved—he was directly in front of her; his hands were on the sides of her face, his fingers pressed against the back of her neck, removing any remote chance that she might look away. “Ran, what’re you doing here?” he demanded, giving her the tiniest shake, though not enough to hurt her. “You shouldn’t be here, Ran, not yet. Why are you here?”
Ran didn’t answer right away. She just wanted to spend one more moment like that, spellbound by his perfect blue eyes…but he was giving her that same small shake to catch her attention and repeating his question. He seemed so horrified to find her here. “I—I was in karate practice,” she said softly. “And I wasn’t paying attention. I got kicked in the head—it was an accident, but I heard a crack and then…” It occurred to her then that although she could guess what had happened and probably be accurate, she didn’t actually know what had caused her sudden departure.
“…a broken neck,” Shinichi sighed, an echo of her own assumptions. “Ran…”
“I didn’t feel much,” she added. “I mean, it all went dark pretty fast.”
He leaned forward then, still holding onto her face, and gently pressed his forehead against hers as he murmured her name. “Ran, Ran, Ran…” She was surprised at the gesture; he wasn’t usually one to initiate contact like that, especially something of that nature.
Without even realizing she was moving, her hands moved up to wrap around his wrists. Her voice took on a life of its own and she blurted out, “Do you not want me here?” No, that was a bad question…
He jerked back like he had just been stung. “Do I not want—no, no, Ran, it’s not that. But…Ran, this is kind of the Afterlife. If you’re here, then you’re…you’re dead. And…” And I never wanted to see anything happen to you. I would rather die than see you hurt. I lied to you because I wanted you to live…
“And so are you,” she replied. “Shinichi, what about our families?”
“My parents don’t know yet,” he said solemnly. “I asked. Your parents probably already know, though, given the circumstances. You can check in on them anytime, if you want.”
Ran shook her head. No, she didn’t want to see right now, when the news was still so fresh in everyone’s minds. She just couldn’t handle that right now; it would hurt too much. Coupled with the shock of dying…no, that wasn’t something she thought she could take right now.
He was still holding onto her neck, her face; his forehead was still touching hers, letting their noses brush. They had been close before—with as long a friendship as they’d had, they were no strangers to physical contact—but this wasn’t the same. She stared at him, taking in every detail, all the things that made him a boy and made him different from her. If he would just open his eyes…
As if her thought had somehow reached him, his perfect blue eyes opened.
If she just moved forward, just inched her head forward…
Again, he seemed to be taking cues directly from her subconscious. Shinichi moved his head forward. Ran’s breath hitched…until she realized that he was sliding his head past hers to her shoulder. His hands released their hold on her neck and face; one slid to the back of her head and tangled in her hair, while the other found its way to her lower back.
A hug. He was hugging her, and speaking into her ear. “Ran…I really missed you.”
By now, she was already returning the embrace—quite enthusiastically. His declaration surprised her a little, though; he didn’t usually admit to such things, and it had to be hard for him to say that out loud for her ears to hear. But she didn’t question it, knowing how difficult it was. The words warmed her from head to toe. “I missed you, too, you nerd.”
Teasing. Heckling. Just like old times.
They just stayed like that for a long time. Ran reflected that she had been right: his arms felt like…well, just this side of Heaven was the phrase she’d always mentally connected with that state, not that she would have ever admitted it out loud. And together, finally together…
When she felt him shift to move backwards, she reluctantly moved in turn—and once again, they found themselves nose to nose. Both froze. Until—
It probably wasn’t the right thing to do—wasn’t she supposed to be an angel or something? They were in Heaven, after all. Chances were that angels weren’t supposed to do something like that without a by-your-leave or any sign that it was at all acceptable…
But Ran did it anyway, and…well, to hell with the consequences, as it were.
It was a combination of things that led her to just throw caution to the four winds and latch onto him for dear life (again, as it were). First of all, simply the fact that he was here and she was here and they were together and he wasn’t disappearing. Secondly, he was so close, and he was reaching for her like she’d always wished he would.
And, she reasoned sadly as she rose up on her tiptoes to catch his lips with her own in a surprise attack, even if he turned and walked away for the rest of the eternity they were to spend here, then at least for this one moment, she could pretend he was hers.
He was still for an instant, one of his hand frozen on her back, the other cradling the back of her head. It was long enough for Ran to think that she had done something horribly wrong and break the kiss by jerking her head back.
Ran had conveniently forgotten, however, that one of Shinichi’s hands was resting on the back of her head. And Kudo Shinichi tended to be a man of action when properly motivated. It didn’t take much—just a small application of pressure from his hand stopped her head from moving any further back, and a slight motion of his own head told her that she wasn’t getting away so easily.
Not after how long it had taken them to actually find each other.
Neither knew how much time passed. But when they finally released their possessive holds on each other, they were both red-faced and gasping heavily for air. And Ran’s hair was a bit more on the tangled side than it had been before.
“Ran…” Shinichi breathed, “are you sure you’re okay?”
She pretended to think it over carefully. “Well, I just kissed you. You’re right—there has to be something wrong with my head.”
He had the grace to smile. “That’s not what I meant…”
“We’re together, right?”
“Then we’ll be okay,” Ran nodded firmly. “We can survive death, we can make it through anything!” She glanced around. “Soooo…what is there to do in this place?” she asked conversationally.
“…don’t know. Haven’t really taken a good look around yet,” he replied just as casually, though his fingers tightened slightly around hers. “But it is Heaven, after all.”
Hand in hand, the two young spirits began wandering around the Elysian Fields, reunited at long last, even if it was in death. But to the casual observer, all that could be seen were two more stars, shining in the vast expanse of blue-black sky.
Did you know?
When the light first came upon us
And we saw the everglow
And the moment’s magic swept us away
And a young man’s dream
Was almost seen so plain
PS. Since my Grand Master Plot of Evil is to take over the world one character death at a time, it had to be done! Plus, it presented a perfect multiple pun for the title, because of A) they both have blue eyes, B) Ran’s codename is Angel, and C) now they’re both angels. And yes, that was a cameo by Miyano Akemi. Just couldn’t resist :)
The lyric cut at the end is from the song “We’re So Far Away,” by the group Mae. Little Sister just shoved the CD into my hands one day, and it’s really been growing on me. Hope you enjoyed. Five more to go—scary, huh? Much love, all!