Truth, Trust and Promises

A Meitantei Conan fic by Orla


Disclaimer: I lay no claim to the characters; they all belong to Gosho Aoyama-sama! ^^

Continuity note:

Considering recent events in the Conan storyline, I'd just like to point out that while my story is canon (well, attempts to be ^^) up until the end of the bomber storyline at the beginning of volume 37 after that it's all my imagination and probably bears no relation to what is going to happen! ^^

Author's notes:

Although I try to use as little Japanese as possible, I have kept the honorific endings such as '-san', '-kun' and '-neechan' in Japanese as there is no real English equivalent. '-kun' is used for boys and sometimes for girls (when addressed by their elders), 'Ran-neechan' can be translated as 'big sister Ran' (the male equivalent is '-niichan') and Heiji often refers to or calls Ran 'Neechan' even though he is the same age as her, it's just a more casual mode of address. Heiji also uses the Osaka dialect and the version of '-san' there is pronounced'-han'. I will also use some Japanese terms for items, which are unique to Japan, which makes the English translations a little clumsy.

Words between the brackets <...> are in English.


Part Seven


"This is a very bad idea. That woman is evil through and though... this is a trap and you're just going to end up like Mouri-san!"

"I have to take this chance, Haibara, can't you see that? The information I could get out of her..."

"Anything she tells you is a lie."

"Haibara..."

There was silence, and then a choked sigh. "Fine... but don't blame me if you die."

"Thank you."

The bathroom door gently closed and two of the rooms remaining three occupants looked at the third, standing with her back to them, staring out of the window, her small body noticeably tense.

"Why didn't you stop him, Professor?" Ai asked eventually. "Everything we've worked for... he's just going to throw it away..."

Agasa cleared his throat uneasily. "Because I actually agree with him."

Ai spun around and stared at him with wide eyes. "What? Why?"

Agasa tugged on the end of his moustache. "Well, Shinichi does have a point... this woman could have hurt him or someone else quite easily before, so it doesn't seem that unreasonable for her to want to talk to him face to face. Besides, if he doesn't meet her then she and her cohorts might just vanish and we'd be back to square one... only worse off because they would know more about us."

"Also, if we do nothing then they may decide not to wait and just come to get us unexpectedly. At least now we have some breathing room."

Ai gave Kazuha a cold look. "You shouldn't speak of things you really don't understand."

"Well," Kazuha said slowly. "Maybe I don't know much, but I've heard enough to think that we have to do everything we can to stop them... if for no other reason than to make sure that they don't hurt the people we lo... care about."

"Well said, Kazuha-san!" Agasa beamed at her and Ai sighed.

"Oh well," she said softly, a strange smile gracing her lips. "However trite it is, I suppose there are worse things than placing yourself in danger to be with the boy you love."

Automatically, Kazuha opened her mouth to furiously deny this, but abruptly shut it and looked down at her hands. *The boy I love, huh? Maybe... I just wish I knew if he...*

There was a sudden agonised scream and all other thoughts vanished from Kazuha's mind as she stared in horror towards the bathroom. "Kudo-kun!" she leapt to her feet and dashed forward. Only to be halted by Ai's small hand reaching out and snagging her shirt, pulling her back.

"Calm down, Toyama-san," she said calmly. "This is, unfortunately, a natural part of this unnatural process."

"It sounds like he's being murdered in there!"

Ai looked faintly amused. "His body is regrowing at an accelerated rate, Toyama-san, do you really think such a thing would be painless?"

"Um... no, I guess not..." Kazuha winced as another cry reached their ears.

Another uncomfortable silence fell and was only broken when Shinichi fumbled at the door. It took him a while to open it and this problem was explained when they saw him.

"Oh... No wonder you were so uncoordinated..." Ai murmured. "This is a little unexpected."

Shinichi's mouth quirked into a wry, weary smile. "Somehow I'm not that surprised, given my luck... it could've been worse though."

Kazuha swallowed. "So... how old do you think...?" her voice trailed away. She thought of her friend and bit her lip, imagining Ran's shocked reaction to Shinichi's changed body.

Agasa shook his head. "It's amazing how much you look like your father, Shinichi."

Shinichi blinked. "Like Dad? Wonderful..." he looked down at his body. "I suppose that's good though, at least I can borrow his clothes... mine are going to be a little tight."

***

Eri Kiseki walked quickly down the corridor, her heels clicking loudly on the polished floor. Her face was set, lips tight and compressed. On her chest a tag fluttered in the wind caused by her fast pace, the information on it relieving her from any interrogation by the police officers stationed at various points as she passed by. She barely noticed them, her gaze was fixed straight ahead and it was only when she passed a nurse's station and heard the television placed there that she paused. The pretty newsreader's voice dispassionately reported the biggest news of the day and Eri's lips thinned even more. She blinked, feeling the hot prick of tears pressing at her eyes, but she wouldn't cry.

"Kiseki-san..." a smooth, well-bred voice murmured in her right ear and she turned swiftly.

"Shiratori-san," she inclined her head.

"They told me that you were on your way," the tall policeman said calmly. "So I decided to come and meet you."

"Thank you," Eri's mouth relaxed slightly into a tight smile. "How are you doing, Shiratori-san? Ran told me that you were injured a couple of weeks ago(1), I take it that you're recovering well?" Her eyes flickered to the small bandage wrapped around his head.

He smiled. "Yes, I've been in the hospital most of the time, but I am well on my way to a full recovery," he stepped back and gestured for her to go forward. "Shall we?"

"Thank you."

They walked down the corridor in silence until they came to an unmarked door guarded by a lone police officer that looked faintly bored. He perked up at their arrival and busied himself by thoroughly checking Eri's ID. "Sorry Ma'am, but Inspector Megure doesn't want us taking any chances."

"That's quite alright," Eri assured him. "And I completely support Megure-san's stance."

Kogorou looked away from the TV as his wife and Shiratori entered and quickly turned it off. However, Eri still heard a snatch of sound before it died, just enough to know that he had been watching a horse race. Her lips tightened. "Clearly a brush with death doesn't change your bad habits much, dear!"

Kogorou scowled. "And clearly almost losing your husband has very little effect on your sharp tongue... _dear_."

Shiratori coughed, reminding them of his presence and they both flushed slightly. "How are you feeling Mouri-san?"

Kogorou smirked. "It's going to take more than a little bullet to slow _me_ down," he boasted. "I'm perfectly fine, in fact... I don't why I can't go home!"

"Yes, well..." Shiratori smiled apologetically. "Until your apartment has been thoroughly searched, it is safer that you stay here... just as Inspector Megure and I have felt it best to keep your current condition a mystery while we track down the people responsible, the assassin may try again if he knows you're still alright."

Eri bit her lower lip. "Shiratori-san, what about Ran?"

"Yes," Kogorou sat up straighter in his bed. "Have you had any leads?" he looked worried. "If she sees the news reports she'll be scared, or she'll come home and the bastard might try to get her!"

Shiratori made a reassuring gesture. "Mouri-san, Kiseki-san, remember that Ran is a sensible girl, I'm sure she won't do anything foolish and we've posted people near the Agency, if she comes back then we'll protect her. As yet, we haven't found out where she is, but Inspector Megure has contacted all the police in the greater area and we're working very closely with the Osaka police."

Eri did not look that reassured, but she sighed, "I suppose there isn't much more we can do, is there?" she murmured. "By the way, Shiratori-san, do you know if there are any leads as to who is behind the attack on my husband?"

Shiratori shook his head. "I'm sorry, no. The weapon was likely to be a long range rifle and the bullet wasn't anything special that could give a clue to where it came from."

"Hmmm..." Kogorou leaned back. "And I can't think of anyone who has that big a grudge against me... not anyone who isn't already behind bars at any rate," he frowned as a thought occurred to him. "Shiratori, could this attempt have anything to do with those stolen case files?"

Shiratori raised an eyebrow. "How did you...? Ah, Takagi-kun, right?"

Kogorou nodded. "Although he did volunteer the information it was only because Shinichi Kudo had already called and told me."

Shiratori blinked, momentarily taken aback, then he smiled wryly. "And I'm guessing Kudo-kun got his information from Conan-kun?"

"_What_ stolen case files?" Eri asked sharply and both men looked warily at her. She folded her arms and glared. "Would one of you mind telling me _exactly_ what you're talking about?"

After a quick explanation, which involved Kogorou spilling all he knew and Shiratori adding what he could reveal, Eri's expression was one of angry concern. "So what you are saying is that not only did someone break in and steal the files but they had the sheer audacity to put them _back_?" She shook her head. "No wonder Shinichi was the so-called saviour of the Japanese police if this is the state of your security!"

"Well..." Shiratori attempted to defend his office, but Eri continued to scold.

"In fact I'm not even sure if my husband is going to be safe here now. And when was the last time any of you checked to see if there was _any_ word of my daughter?"

"I shall find out immediately," Shiratori said quickly as she paused for breath. "Excuse me," he bowed and then made his escape, feeling quite relieved to be out of the line of fire. It took a lot to shake him, but Eri Kiseki in a rage was more than most men could handle.

Robbed of Shiratori, Eri turned to confront her husband who had wisely kept silent. Kogorou was a fool, but he wasn't that stupid, plus he had lived with Eri for many years and knew when it was definitely _not_ the time to argue.

"Well?" Eri planted her hands on her hips and loomed over him. "When were you going to tell me about this?"

"Well I..." Kogorou shrank back. "I didn't want to worry you..."

"What?" Eri's voice went up in pitch. "You thought I would be less worried seeing you _shot_ before my eyes?"

"Listen! I..." Kogorou's angry words abruptly died when he caught the gleam of tears in her eyes. "Eri... I'm sorry," he said softly, reaching out and taking her hand.

She sighed and dropped into the chair beside his bed. "I'm glad you're alright," she said and her voice cracked slightly.

He smiled. "You can't get rid of me that easily, Eri."

She frowned. "Don't joke! If you hadn't been wearing that bullet proof vest..."

"I'd be deader than my police career," Kogorou finished for her. "Yes, well... in retrospect I'm very glad I let Sato-san persuade me. Although I thought it was a damn silly idea at the time."

"Sorry to interrupt a tender moment!"

Eri and Kogorou started violently and both looked in the direction of the speaker, Eri unconsciously moving into a defensive posture.

The newcomer was a young man dressed in a hospital orderly's uniform. He carried a medicine tray and was grinning broadly with a mischievous glitter in his eyes. However, without him saying a word, it was clear he was _not_ an employee of the
hospital.

Eri placed herself squarely in front of Kogorou. Perhaps it was a futile gesture, she was sure a hardened killer would have no doubts about taking her down as well, but it was the only thing she could think of at that moment. The young man laughed.

"Please don't worry, Kiseki-san! I haven't come here to hurt anyone," he winked. "Even that oh-so-efficient policeman outside is just having a harmless little nap for a few minutes."

"Who are you?" Kogorou demanded, pushing Eri out his line of vision.

"I suppose I should introduce myself properly... it's only polite after all!" the young man laid the tray down, bowed with a flourish and then ripped off the uniform.

"You!" Kogorou spluttered. He stared, astonished, at the figure now clothed all in white. "Kaito Kid!"

Kid laughed and bowed again. "At your service, O great detective," his tone was faintly mocking.

Eri's eyebrows shot up. "And just _what_ is the infamous Phantom thief doing here?" her eyes narrowed. "Unless you're the one behind the attempt on Kogorou's life!"

"Madam!" Kid looked hurt. "I'm a thief, not a murderer."

"So why are you here?" Kogorou growled.

"Well, basically I'm a nice guy," Kid grinned. "And I figured it would be my little good deed for the day to ease your minds about the safety of a certain lovely young lady whom you call your daughter."

Eri's breath caught. "You saw Ran?"

"That's correct, Ma'am, I saw her at Yokohama station not too long ago. She was in a spot of trouble, but she's alright now and the Osaka detective, Heiji Hattori, is looking after her. If I'm not mistaken they're on their way to Tokyo... perhaps she's even here now."

Husband and wife exchanged brief, relieved glances. However, there was still a hint of wariness as neither was prepared to take the young thief's word entirely on trust.

"Why are you telling us this?" Eri asked and Kid shrugged.

"Because as I said, I'm a nice guy," he said and then, before they could blink, he rushed forward and landed on the edge of the window. He paused and looked back at them. "Besides, I'd really love to mess up _their_ plans!"

"Whose plans?" Eri cried as Kid jumped from the window, but he was gone already. With a sigh, she looked back at Kogorou. "Do we believe him?"

He exhaled heavily. "For some reason I think he _is_ telling the truth this time I have no idea how he fits into all of it though."

"Things just seem to be getting stranger and stranger..."

***

The noonday sun beat hotly down on the back of Shinichi's neck as he stood at the entrance to the subway station and orientated himself. True, he had been to this place once before (2), but it was amazing how much one's perception of surroundings and  distance altered according to height. All the little directional cues in his head were now considerably lower down. Even assessing things from his old teenage height wasn't much help. *I must ask Dad whether he had a growth spurt in his late teens... it's the only thing that could explain this! Oh well, I'm not going to achieve anything standing around here, I'm pretty sure I turn left down that way...*

Five minutes later, Shinichi smugly congratulated himself as he stood in front of a plush apartment block. The pale walls gleamed in the sunshine, the beige colour interrupted with splashes of colour from the futons and covers that hung over many of the occupants balconies. It certainly didn't seem like the place to harbour even a hint of evil, but Shinichi knew better than most that the most innocent face could be just a facade.

Swallowing against an unexpected lump of nerves, Shinichi strode purposefully into the building. The lift was smooth and fast, depositing him on the twenty-first floor before he had finished running over his strategy again. Exiting, he turned right
and briefly placed his hand on the side of his jacket, feeling the weight of the gun resting inside it. Shinichi halted in front of the door being the innocuous nameplate `Jodie Saintemillion' and paused, wondering if he needed to announce his arrival via the intercom or if... On a whim, he turned the door handle and flinched as it gave way beneath his hand and the door swung open. Taking several deep breaths, Shinichi entered.

He paused in the genkan (3), one foot automatically lifting so that he could slip his shoes off, but he suppressed the ingrained habit and put his foot firmly down. Keeping his footsteps quiet, Shinichi stepped up into the corridor and moved towards the main room clearly the place where she was waiting as light streamed from it and all the other doors were firmly closed.

The large room was empty save for two pieces of furniture and the woman leaning against the windowsill, her long blond hair fluttering in the breeze. She looked very girlish, her posture completely unthreatening, but her expression was one of malicious amusement.

"I've been waiting, Cool Guy."

***

(1) Shiratori was injured by a car bomb in vol. 36
(2) Heiji and Conan went to see Jodie in vol. 34
(3) Genkan = the entrance way in Japanese homes where you take off your shoes.


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