A Meitantei Conan fic by Orla
Disclaimer: I lay no claim to the characters; they all belong to Gosho Aoyama-sama! ^^
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! ^^
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.
AN: The events in this epilogue take place one month after the end of Part 12.
Regarding Vermouth's new age… I've placed her in the same age bracket as Ai and since Ai is the same class as Ayumi and the others, `Christine Saintemillion' will be placed there too.
And sorry to Kaito Kid fans, but he only gets a brief mention, but remember that this is not a Kid-centric story! ^_^
"One day I AM going to kill you,"
Ai looked up from her magazine, a hint of a smile on her lips. "Don't you ever get tired of saying that? " she asked coolly. "After all… it's been a month ."
Christine arched an eyebrow. "I have to relieve my feelings somehow," she looked away and slurped her drink before nudging the young man seated in front with her toe. "Hey… how long before her match starts? I'm boooooored!"
"As I told you five minutes ago… Ran's up after this bout," Shinichi said irritably. He twisted around to glare at her. "Don't you think you're taking this kid thing a bit too far?"
Christine smirked. "Hey, if you hadn't been such a bastard and put the Organisation on my tail then I wouldn't have to! Besides," she tossed one of her pigtails over her shoulder. "As an actress I take professional pride in making my roles completely believable."
"And you also get a kick out of being a pain in rear," Ai murmured.
"I just wish that Yukiko wouldn't insist on coming over and tying my hair in ribbons," Christine said, pointedly ignoring Ai. She tugged at the pink ribbon tied jauntily around one of the pigtails. "It's so… cute…" she sighed and then nudged Shinichi again. "By the way, what's happening with Akai?"
"If you keep kicking me in the back then I am NOT going to tell you," he snapped. "Anyway, all I know is that the FBI have him in custody and are dealing with him."
"Poor Akai," Christine oozed false sympathy. "He must be feeling so disheartened now…" she grinned viciously. "I sure HOPE so!"
"Keep acting like that and no one will believe you're eight," Ai muttered.
"Heeeeey! Shinichi!" Sonoko bounded up and flung herself down beside him. "Wow! Ran wasn't kidding when she said you'd put on a growth spurt since we last saw you! It almost looks like you're twenty!"
Christine snickered and Ai sighed. Shinichi smiled weakly. "Ah… yes… uh… how was your holiday?"
"Very, very nice!" Sonoko chirped. "And for once no murders or weird things happening! I wonder if that's because Ran and Chibi-chan weren't there? I swear that kid was ALMOST as bad as you when it came to finding dead bodies!" she looked around. "Where is the kid anyway?"
"Well… he had to go home," Shinichi said slowly and Sonoko's eyes widened.
"Home? But…" she looked sad. "And I didn't even get to say goodbye…"
"I thought you didn't like him."
"Oh… he was alright… for a kid," Sonoko said with a shrug. She glanced at Ai and Christine. "But I see you've acquired a new one."
"This is Christine Saintemillion, Sonoko-neesan," Ayumi walked up carrying two pottles of shaved ice. "She's just come here from America," she held out one of the pottles. "I got some shaved ice for you, Christine-san, with melon syrup."
Christine looked surprised. "Ah… but I didn't… thank you…"
Ai smirked behind her magazine as Christine accepted the ice. The former Vermouth was still dangerous, still ruthless and calculating, but Ayumi's relentless friendship might just work some miraculous change. And it was fun to see her thrown off track by cute little girl!
"Saintemillion?" Sonoko blinked. "Is she related to Jodie-sensei then?"
"My cousin," lied Christine smoothly. "She had to go back to America suddenly."
Ayumi settled down in between Christine and Ai. "We met this funny guy at the ice stand who looked a lot like Shinichi-niichan," she said. "He was doing some cool magic tricks, but stopped when he saw us and said something a little weird…."
"And what was that, Ayumi-chan?" Christine nibbled at the shaved ice.
"He said 'I'm glad that you three and Miss Ran are all okay… and I'll be seeing your niisan around'."
Ai and Christine exchanged glances over Ayumi's head. "Bold kid, isn't he?" Christine commented.
"Has Ran-neechan's tournament started yet?" Genta asked as he and Mitsuhiko squeezed in beside Ai. Shinichi pointed.
"Just about to start," he said, smiling at the distant figure of Ran walking into the centre.
"GO RAAAAAANNNNN!!!" Sonoko screamed, jumping up and down and waving her arms.. Shinichi's face went bright red as not only Ran's eyes turned in their direction and he waved weakly at his fiancée. Ran grinned and waved before turning her attention to the match.
"Phew! Looks like we made it just in time!"
Shinichi grinned. "Hey Hattori, Kazuha! I thought you weren't going to make it."
"Yes, well someone overslept this morning and we missed the first train," Kazuha looked pointedly at Heiji who scowled.
"Alright already! I've apologized about fifty times!"
"Huh," Kazuha tossed her ponytail. She smiled at Sonoko. "Hello Sonoko-san, how're you?"
As the two girls exchanged pleasantries, Heiji sat down on Shinichi's other side, glancing back at Christine. "So… how're things going with the… uh… clean up? I know what my Dad and the Osaka police are doing, but what's going on here?"
"Pretty well," Shinichi said. "Christine started school last week…"
"<<Don't remind me,>>" the little girl shuddered.
Heiji grinned. "Ooh… looks like iron bars are turning out to be a much nicer prison, heh?"
Christine stuck out her tongue. "Go and jump off a building, Hattori-niisan!"
Ayumi looked shocked, but semi-admiring. "That's rude, Christine-san."
Christine grinned her. "I'm a hopeless case, Ayumi-chan."
"You got that right," Ai murmured.
"Anyway," Shinichi continued. "Vodka hasn't divulged much, but Megure is fairly confident that the Organisation has been so severely weakened that they're unlikely to be a big threat ever again – although Dad has been hassling his Interpol connections about the foreign branches…"
"How long are your parents sticking around?" Heiji asked.
"Well… they've already stayed a month longer than I expected," Shinichi rubbed the back of his neck. "And Mum has been muttering something about redecorating so I have an awful feeling it's going to be for quite a while."
"Shinichi!" having overheard the last comment, Kazuha looked a little shocked. "Surely that's no way to talk about your parents!"
He simply rolled his eyes. "Hey, there was a reason why I chose to stay behind when they went to America."
"Yeah, but I don't think your parents driving you crazy was the only reason!" Heiji teased, a sly look on his face and Shinichi flushed.
"Shut up, Hattori," he mumbled and turned his attention back to Ran's match.
"Alright, alright… So, what about you, Kudo?" Heiji murmured, clapping enthusiastically as Ran landed a blow on her opponent. "How's the… er… new you affecting things?"
Shinichi grimaced. "But it's been weird… luckily since the truth is almost unbelievable most people are ready to accept that I had a growth spurt over the past year."
Heiji lightly punched him on the upper arm. "At least you'll be taken more seriously while you're on a case now!" he said. "I still have to do some fast talking around my Dad. Especially now that Otaki-han is…" he sobered and his eyes darkened.
Shinichi put a hand on his friend's shoulder. "I'm sorry, I couldn't make it to the funeral, Hattori."
The Osaka boy shook his head. "Hey, not your fault," he smiled. "Besides, I shouldn't mope like this, not when it looks like Neechan is going to win this tournament!"
As Heiji predicted, the championships ended with Ran winning the prefectural trophy and, after Ai, Christine and the kids had gone home, the victory celebration was held in a swanky roof-top restaurant and for a while the conversation revolved around very casual topics until Sonoko and Kazuha decided it was time to bring up something very, very important…
"So when IS the wedding?" Sonoko asked Ran point-blank.
"And where are you going to have it?"
Ran's eyes widened. "Well…" she blushed and glanced at Shinichi who was also flushed. "We decided that it would be best to wait until we graduate at least…"
"Hmmm… so less than a year…" Sonoko rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "We'll have to start looking for bridal dresses…"
Shinichi coughed. "Um…. We're not necessarily getting married straight after graduation," he said. "There's university… so maybe not for another two or three years…"
Heiji, Kazuha and Sonoko exchanged glances and then laughed loudly.
"Shinichi, you and Ran-chan are not going to wait that long," said Kazuha firmly. "It's a sure bet that you'll be married as soon as you can get away with it!"
Ran opened her mouth to object, and then paused and looked at Shinichi. He met her gaze and took her hand. "Well," he said. "I suppose our friends are correct…"
"They usually are," she said, smiling.
"I wish Makoto was here," Sonoko murmured.
"I wish…" Kazuha stopped and looked at Heiji. His eyes widened slightly, but then he grinned and lightly touched her wrist. *Always here, Kazuha… always.*
"Well," said Sonoko. "I think…"
"Oh no…" Kazuha sighed. "What is it about you two that murders happen around you ALL the TIME?"
Shinichi spread his hands helplessly. "I swear it's not my fault!"
"Or mine!" Heiji said quickly, half out of his seat.
Shinichi also stood up, looking apologetically at Ran. "I…"
She rolled her eyes. "Just go… but this time, come back as yourself or I will never forgive you!"
He touched her shoulder, eyes intent. "I promise, Ran. I'll always come back," he said and ran off, Heiji close on his heels.
Kazuha's expression was bemused. "Ran-chan, I swear you are the most tolerant person I know, letting him go like that when it's your celebration lunch!"
Ran smiled and rested her chin on her hands. "If I made him stay he'd be restless and unhappy, Kazuha-chan, and because I… I love him and mysteries are part of who Shinichi is, so I can't resent them," her eyes sparkled mischievously. "I know you feel the same way, Kazuha-chan."
Kazuha blushed. "That's unfair, Ran."
"But it's the truth," she looked at Sonoko and winked. "Right?"
Sonoko raised her glass. "Absolutely! To truth!"
The other two cheered and also raised their glasses. "Truth!"
"And gorgeous bridal clothes!"
Author's final note: Wow… it's over! When I started this I never imagined it would go on so long! Thanks to everyone who has commented! I think my next story with be shorter… and a little less emotionally demanding. ^^
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