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RE: [conan] shinichi kaito

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  • Coco catz
    sure, send me the link, but so far, all the officical comic book ive read doesnt say that they are related, ive read up to vol.55 ...unless in the newer comic
    Message 1 of 15 , Jun 21, 2007
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      sure, send me the link, but so far, all the officical comic book ive read doesnt say that they are related, ive read up to vol.55  ...unless in the newer comic that i havent read says that they are related @_@

       




      Always try to have a good time-
      When in Doubt, Chase something.
                          =^.^=
                  ~~Coco Catz~~

      From: "light swan" <mercy_seat91@...>
      Reply-To: conan@yahoogroups.com
      To: conan@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [conan] shinichi kaito
      Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 15:11:04 -0000

      well
      yesterday i entereed in a webs in fact i don't remember which one
      so i read a story it look like an episode if you want me to send it i
      will. the story is telling that kaito and shinichi are related.




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    • light swan
      ((Disclaimer: Shinichi/Conan, Ran, Kaito, Heiji, and all the rest belong to Gosho Aoyama. Meitantei Conan and Majiku Kaitou are all his! I don t own anything;
      Message 2 of 15 , Jun 21, 2007
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        ((Disclaimer: Shinichi/Conan, Ran, Kaito, Heiji, and all the rest
        belong to Gosho Aoyama. Meitantei Conan and Majiku Kaitou are all
        his! I don't own anything; I'm only borrowing them. Standard
        legalities apply. Please enjoy!))


        Relative Truth
        by Becky Tailweaver


        File 6: Double Checkmate

        *Flashback*

        Kaito immediately cornered Jii and demanded to know about Yuusaku
        Kudo--and his connection to Shinichi. Who were they, and how was it
        that they could defeat even the matchless Kid? It couldn't be a
        coincidence--not with Shinichi's uncanny mind and the way Kaito's
        father described Yuusaku's skills.

        Jii was, again, saddened and disturbed. But when Kaito pressed him,
        he relented, taking a deep quiet breath to tell his tale.

        "I don't know how you'll take this, young Master," the old man
        began, "but all I can tell you is what I know of the truth. It
        started many years ago, when your father was still a young man, not
        yet famous as the Great Magician Toichi Kuroba. As you know, your
        grandfather was a bandit magician as well, and he trained his sons in
        the art of the phantom thief--"

        "Hold on a sec," Kaito interrupted, puzzled. "Did you just
        say 'sons'...?"

        "Yes, young Master, you heard me correctly," Jii replied. "Your
        father had a younger brother, who trained alongside him under your
        grandfather, the old Master. The brothers were in their late
        teens...that's when I first became privileged to serve the Kuroba
        family as manservant and assistant. It was at about that time that
        your father and his brother had finished their training, and were
        finally allowed to operate on their own."

        Kaito leaned back, eyebrows high. "I've got an uncle somewhere? Che,
        why didn't Mom tell me anything about this...?"

        Jii looked down sadly. "Because she had promised not to. It was long
        ago, young Master...you were only a tiny child then. You wouldn't
        remember him."

        "So who is he? Is he still alive? Where does he live?" Kaito's
        questions were quick and curious.

        "This information must never leave this room, young Master," Jii
        responded, surprisingly direct. "It's a secret your father kept to
        his grave, and I was not to speak of it either, but..." He took
        another breath. "Your uncle is still alive; his name is Yuusaku
        Kuroba, although when he and your father had their quarrel and parted
        ways, he changed his name to--"

        "Yuusaku Kudo?" Kaito jerked upright, his quick wits having already
        jumped ahead of the old man. Jii nodded, and Kaito's jaw
        dropped. "Holy cow, that renowned mystery novelist? Geez, he's as
        famous as Dad in some places! It's him? He's my uncle? And that would
        make Shinichi Kudo my...my...!" His voice ran out as his eyes went
        wide, his mind running wild. He gaped for a moment, gulping...and
        then began to laugh.

        Jii blinked. "Ah...young Master, are you...?"

        Kaito held his sides, trying to speak between chuckles. "Oh, this is
        too rich! I'm related to the little twerp!" He broke out in another
        gale of laughter. "Ah, the irony! No wonder--brains must run in the
        family! I should have seen it--damn, he's the only one who ever
        cornered me!"

        After a while, Kaito was finally able to breathe normally; he wiped
        his eys, chuckling, and looked to Jii once more. "So...here's a good
        question--just why did Ojisan change his name and take off like that?
        Did he blow his cover or something?"

        Jii shook his head sadly. "No, young Master. Your uncle was every bit
        as good as your father; they made a powerful team, each with his own
        strengths and talents. However...Master Yuusaku was always the
        quieter of the two. Where your father loved to lead the police on a
        merry chase, loved to perform puzzling tricks and feats of deviltry
        in the spotlight, Master Yuusaku preferred to work from the shadows,
        stealthy and quick--he was a silent ghost where your father was a
        boisterous poltergeist. The most delicate, secret operations were his
        greatest performances."

        "Hn...so Ojisan wasn't a showoff, huh? Bet he never made a good
        standup magician."

        Jii smiled a little, wryly. "No, he didn't; he was more suited to
        quiet table shows and private exhibitions. But he was good--make no
        mistake, young Master, he was very good. Were he still in the
        business today, I doubt you'd find him an easy opponent."

        "Why isn't he still in the business?" Kaito asked curiously, eager
        eyes hiding his concern.

        "Your father and your uncle were phantom thieves by heritage and by
        trade," Jii explained. "However, in the daylight they each had their
        own hobbies and jobs. Your father, as you know, loved sleight-of-hand
        and illusion just as you do; over time, he became the famous
        magician, Toichi Kuroba."

        "And Ojisan?"

        "Master Yuusaku, being the quiet person that he was...had a love of
        books. Oddly enough, it was detectives and mysteries that enchanted
        him the most. As a youngster he loved reading about murder mysteries
        and famous detectives like Sherlock Holmes. Since he became quite an
        expert on investigation and deduction, he became the strategist for
        many of the heists he and your father planned; he could think ahead
        and accurately predict how the police would react. His reasoning
        saved them both many times."

        Kaito listened with rapt attention, absorbed in the tale.

        "When he was about your age," Jii continued, "Master Yuusaku started
        writing books, and called himself 'Kudo.' He took on the pen name to
        protect his privacy, since it wouldn't be safe if his growing fame
        revealed his shadow life as a phantom thief. He loved writing
        detective stories--so much, in fact, that he even began to live the
        life by day. He was nearby when a murder was committed, and although
        he was a thief, both he and your father abhorred the thought of
        taking a human life. Master Yuusaku used his strong deduction skills
        to assist the police investigator with finding the real culprit.
        After that, he continued solving murder cases whenever the police
        called upon him--and even to them, he was known only as Yuusaku Kudo,
        novelist and deduction expert. They never knew his real name."

        "That must be where Shinichi got it from," Kaito murmured
        thoughtfully. "The guy can't help but jump on any murder case that
        comes his way."

        "I haven't seen Master Yuusaku's son since he was a baby," Jii said,
        almost wistfully. "If he has even half of his father's wits and
        charisma...he must be a worthy opponent for you indeed."

        Kaito scowled a bit, somewhat petulantly. "Hell yeah...he's annoying.
        Remember the 'bad feeling' you got about the Clock Tower job? Well,
        that was him."

        Jii hid his chuckle. "I expect that was a harrowing experience, from
        what you've told me."

        The youth just snorted. "Feh...anyway, what happened to make Ojisan
        leave the family?"

        "I'm not quite sure about that," Jii replied sadly. "There are
        obvious reasons for what he did...but no one knows for certain
        exactly what was said the night he left, except your father and
        Master Yuusaku themselves. I believe that things began to change when
        Master Yuusaku met Miss Yukiko, and he began to realize that his life
        in the shadows might be a danger to her. You see, by then your father
        and uncle had made some enemies in the underworld--"

        Kaito sat up immediately. "The guys who killed Dad?"

        Jii nodded. "Yes, and others like them. You know it as a rule, young
        Master--a phantom thief doesn't always keep what he steals. In truth,
        he should give back nearly everything he takes--the art of the return-
        -"

        "'--is as worthy an art as the theft itself,'" Kaito quoted for
        him. "I know, I know..."

        "Yes, young Master. And because they often found out about these
        darker syndicates' planned robberies due to their underworld
        contacts, they would usually steal the items in a flamboyant manner
        before the other organizations got to them--and when the stolen items
        were returned, they would be guarded that much more carefully. In a
        way, it is a phantom thief's duty to protect the beautiful and
        valuable things of this world..."

        "Hey, don't get sappy on me now, old man," Kaito prodded, seeing the
        wistful look in Jii's eyes. "Keep going with the story!"

        "Ah...yes..." Jii cleared his throat. "As you know, this greatly
        angered these shadowy organizations, and eventually led to the
        Master's murder...but Master Yuusaku had left long before then." The
        older man looked sad, and somehow more elderly than he usually
        did. "At first, Miss Yukiko dated Master Yuusaku knowing him only as
        the famous writer, Kudo. As far as I know, he told her the truth
        about himself just prior to their engagement, and she kept his secret
        when they were married."

        "Mom and Dad were married by then, weren't they?" Kaito asked.

        "Yes...a couple of years before that, actually. Those were some happy
        times; both your father and your uncle had someone to love, and for a
        while everything went well. Phantom thieves by night, magician and
        novelist by day, they were content even though there was constant
        danger of discovery by one of their enemies." Jii smiled, eyes full
        of memory. "All of them were very close; your mothers became the best
        of friends, and even shared a little of the Masters' secret lives,
        learning some skills in disguise. Because their marriages were
        several years apart, it came as a great surprise that their sons were
        born at nearly the same time. It was thought that you and the other
        young Master, Shinichi, would be raised and trained together as
        phantom thieves just as your fathers before you."

        Kaito's brows went up at that. "Hm...come to think of it, Kudo would
        make one hell of a thief if he put his mind to it. He's sneaky enough
        as it is, with the little problem he's got right now..."

        "But it was not to be, young Master," Jii went on, face
        darkening. "You and Master Shinichi weren't even a year old when it
        happened..."

        "When what happened?"

        "There was an attack--somehow, someone from one of the organizations
        had followed the Masters, and found one of their safehouses. It was
        extremely unlucky...horrible...I wasn't there but I wish I had been--
        I might've been able to do something..."

        "Hey, tell me!" Kaito insisted. "What did those bastards do?"

        "Miss Yukiko and your mother were there at the safehouse, waiting for
        the Masters' return--it was a dangerous mission that time, something
        of such importance that even Master Toichi never told me what they
        had been going after. When the attack came, the Masters were forced
        to stand and face their enemies, to protect their wives and
        sons...Master Yuusaku managed to get you and your mother to safety,
        but Miss Yukiko was badly wounded by an assassin's bullet, and young
        Shinichi was almost taken hostage--if not for your father's
        intervention, he would have been killed."

        Kaito's eyes were wide, transfixed. "Dad...saved Kudo...?"

        Jii's gaze didn't waver. "He could not let his brother's child become
        prey for those wolves. He risked his life for his nephew, just as he
        would have done for you."

        The youth sat in silence, thinking, his face unusually pensive.

        "It was after that incident that Master Yuusaku left," Jii continued
        softly. "He had nearly lost both his wife and his son in a single
        blow, and I believe that frightened him badly--so badly that he felt
        he could not continue the life of a phantom thief in the darkness.
        Even I don't know what happened the night your father and uncle had
        words, but...from what I've gleaned, Master Yuusaku tried to persuade
        your father to quit as well, but Master Toichi wouldn't hear of it--
        the incident had only strengthened his resolve to bring those
        organizations down. After that, Master Yuusaku changed his identity
        completely, moving away from the family home, falsifying his
        credentials, and slipping completely into the role of Yuusaku Kudo,
        mystery novelist. He severed all ties with the Kuroba family, to keep
        their enemies from ever finding them again."

        "He knew, didn't he?" Kaito asked breathlessly. "He knew they'd track
        down Kaitou Kid's true identity eventually..."

        "Yes...and he was right. Years later--"

        "--Dad was murdered," Kaito finished, his face hardened with a shadow
        of anger and sorrow. "Ojisan tried to stop him from being Kid
        because..."

        "Master Yuusaku always had a way of knowing these things," Jii said
        quietly. "After he became Yuusaku Kudo, the writer, he also tried to
        stop Kaitou Kid by force--by assisting the police in his capture. I
        suppose he thought alive in jail was better than murdured in the
        dark..."

        Kaito's head jerked up. "That's why Dad was so upset? In his notes he
        talked about Ojisan betraying him--"

        "The separation hurt both of them deeply--I could tell that Master
        Toichi was very depressed after his brother left us." Jii sighed,
        shaking his head. "I never saw Master Yuusaku after that night, not
        until your father died. He came to see your mother after the funeral,
        and we talked for only a while. He was grief-stricken at the Master's
        death, and felt that it was his fault for not being there to help,
        for not stopping Master Toichi from being Kid. Master Yuusaku had
        your mother promise that she would keep you away from the life of a
        phantom thief, to spare you the same fate your father suffered--and
        in her sorrow, she agreed. He was very concerned about you, young
        Master, and even saw to you and your mother's care from that day on."

        "What?" Kaito blinked. "You mean Ojisan didn't just--?"

        "Even your father's considerable savings could not last forever," Jii
        explained. "The reason you have been living so comfortably these last
        few years is because Master Yuusaku has been sending your mother a
        fair sum of money on a regular basis. That's why she hasn't had to
        work all this time, and you can afford to pay for your nightly
        activities of late..." He caught Kaito's boggled look and raised an
        eyebrow. "Come now, young Master...you didn't think all that money
        came out of thin air, did you?"

        "Uh...well..." The youth gulped. "I guess I just never really thought
        about it before. I thought it was all Dad's money..." He cleared his
        throat. "So Ojisan didn't really abandon his family, did he?"

        "No...he told me he was always following Kaitou Kid's exploits,
        getting more and more worried about the risks your father was
        taking," Jii replied. "That day after the funeral was the last day we
        spoke--and the same day I left your family's formal service. Your
        mother asked me to go--she felt I had too much connection to your
        father's past, and obviously she never told you anything, until you
        discovered it for yourself..."

        "Whoa...Mom took Ojisan seriously, didn't she?" Kaito mused, almost
        sadly.

        Jii nodded. "Yes...and I imagine Master Yuusaku has already guessed
        what's been going on, ever since Kaitou Kid 'reappeared.' He probably
        knows everything by now--he was always very quick in his
        observations. I'm sure he hasn't said anything because of his
        secrets, but...without a doubt, he's been watching after you very
        closely."

        "It's nice to know he cares, at least," Kaito remarked. "But I've
        never met him--he's never come to visit, even on a pretense..."

        "He still keeps his secrets," Jii explained somewhat sadly. "Even to
        this day, he fears what will happen if someone realizes that the
        brother of Toichi Kuroba still lives."

        And Shinichi's gone and gotten himself into deep shit with some of
        the same bastards that caused all this, Kaito reflected. I wonder how
        Ojisan's handling that. Not well, I'd guess...he must have one hell
        of a Poker Face... "So...you think Shinichi probably doesn't know
        anything about this?"

        Jii frowned. "I would imagine he doesn't. That day after the funeral,
        Master Yuusaku said that ignorance is sometimes a child's best
        defense--the very reason your mother kept the secret of Kaitou Kid
        from you. And I know that Master Yuusaku is quite determined to
        protect his family. Young Master Shinichi probably knows nothing of
        you or his uncle; it's doubtful he even knows his true name."

        "Heh..." Kaito leaned back once more, grinning a bit
        ironically. "Wouldn't that arrogant little meddler blow a gasket if
        he knew he's related to the infamous Kid...!" He chuckled shortly to
        himself. "Hell, I'd love to tell him myself, just to see the look on
        his face!"

        "Young Master..." Jii said warningly.

        Kaito rolled his eyes. "I know, I know...it's all a big secret, blah
        blah blah....I get it already. Besides, if I told him anything, I'd
        get arrested in a cold second. 'The Great Detective Kudo' takes no
        prisoners--and he's especially annoyed with me, since I keep giving
        him the slip." That last sentence was accompanied by a completely
        unrepentant grin.

        Jii looked relieved. "I'm glad you undersand, young Master."

        Kaito shrugged nonchalantly. "Ojisan can keep his secrets, and Kudo
        can stay ignorant--all I need to do is keep on being Kaitou Kid,
        until I uncover the bastards who killed my father and see that they
        pay for what they've done." His grin returned as he rose from his
        place, turning to leave. After a pause, he glanced back. "Thanks a
        lot for telling me the truth, Jii. I know to be extra careful around
        Kudo from now on--after all...same blood, same brains!"

        With that, Kaito Kuroba walked out, bearing with him the newfound
        knowledge of his own past--and his true link to Shinichi Kudo.

        *End Flashback*


        * * * * *
        The two boys sat on the stairs with a sleepy dove and a pack of cards
        for a long time while Kaito related his tale of secrets and discovery
        in a quiet, even voice. Silent, Shinichi petted the bird in his lap
        and honestly listened, taking in the youth's words without rebuttal
        or interruption. Kaito fixed his eyes on middle distance as he spoke,
        his hands fiddling absently with the pack of cards, shuffling them to
        and fro with careless, unthinking precision.

        When the narrative was finished, Kaito wound to a halt, and for a few
        moments there was uneasy silence between the two. Kaito licked his
        lips and waited--for what, he wasn't sure. Disbelief, anger, a sharp
        retort--the sort of response he'd been expecting from the small boy
        beside him.

        Shinichi took a deep breath, at last looking up from Shiro's drowsy
        form to meet the youth's questioning eyes. "So...Kaito...you're my
        cousin."

        It was a statement of fact, only partially a question, spoken in a
        soft uncertain tone as if Shinichi were trying to confirm it in his
        own mind. Kaito managed a half-smile in response, shrugging
        lightly. "Yeah. Kinda funny, isn't it? Talk about ironic..."

        Shinichi's snort of reply was almost inaudible. "You can pick your
        friends..."

        "...but you can't choose your relatives," Kaito finished for him, his
        half-smile becoming full. "You actually believe me?"

        "Why not?" Shinichi replied quietly with a fatalistic chuckle, his
        eyes dropping again. "I talked to my father already, and what little
        he said...seems to confirm your story. And there's that..." He
        gestured vaguely in the direction of the forgotten birth certificate,
        not really wanting to look at it. "You were right--there is only one
        truth...and my father's been hiding it all this time..."

        Kaito eyed him for a moment. "You're really upset about this, aren't
        you?" he observed keenly, voice hesitant.

        There was a catch in Shinichi's next breath, and his words were heavy
        with sarcasm that sounded alarming when spoken with the voice of a
        small boy. "No, not at all. I just found out my father's been lying
        to me my whole life, and Mom's been in on it...and everything I knew
        to be true is all a pack of lies he fed to me and the rest of the
        world...just to keep his damn secrets..." The catch in his breath
        became a roughness in his voice as he went on. "No, I'm not upset at
        all. I'm just fine..."

        The next breath he took was shaky, and he ran trembling fingers
        through his bangs with a frustrated murmur of "Dammit..." as he tried
        to hide his emotions. Kaito caught the glimmer of tears in the boy's
        eyes when Shinichi glanced at him.

        "Hey, um..." Kaito carefully set a hand on one thin shoulder in an
        attempt to comfort, pulling back quickly when Shinichi jerked at his
        touch. "For what it's worth...I'm sorry. Maybe I should've kept my
        stupid big mouth shut..."

        "No," Shinichi interrupted, wiping his eyes. "I'm glad I know. I'm
        always searching for the truth, so I'm glad. It's just...knowledge
        itself can sometimes hurt as much as lies. But it's a clean sort of
        hurting, like when you have to wash a wound. Getting a wound hurts,
        and sometimes cleansing it hurts worse than the wound did...but it'll
        heal better in the end..."

        "'Zat so? Feh, then it's some job I did with the wound cream, huh?"
        Kaito snorted at himself, at his own coarseness. Before seeing how
        Shinichi reacted to the revelation, he hadn't really thought about
        how he'd handled it. "I didn't make it very easy on you."

        Shinichi glanced away. "There is no easy way to hear something like
        this." He frowned, looking down at the dove once more, his voice
        still hoarse. "So now what? Where do we go from here?"

        Kaito shrugged, hiding his sudden touch of nervousness, gazing at the
        boy. "I dunno. I guess that all depends on you. You've got me by the
        tail, Shinichi--you've got my name and my identity, and you could
        have the cops knocking on my door in a second. It's up to you."

        Shinichi glanced up at him quickly, surprised; that thought actually
        hadn't crossed his mind since the conversation began. "But...you've
        also got me," he observed suddenly, almost thoughtfully. "You could
        blow my identity too, and give me away to the Black Organization if
        you wanted..."

        "Huh, I hadn't thought of that," Kaito mused, unconsciously echoing
        Shinichi's thoughts. "I guess you're right. But the operative phrase
        here is 'if I wanted.'"

        Their eyes met, identical gazes of dark blue. Shinichi saw honest
        hope, a tentative earnestness, behind the impish playfulness of the
        Kid; Kaito saw wariness, fear, and the first hesitant glimmers of
        acceptance, maybe trust.

        In the end, it was Kaito who spoke first. "I've got a good idea," he
        announced. "We should take some time to think about this, both of us.
        Let's say...'til the weekend? I cut class to come talk to you, so
        Aoko's gonna ream me out for sure..." He shook his head. "I think
        it'd be best if we meet again at a time when we don't have to worry
        about school or our companions."

        "School?" Shinichi blinked. "Crap, what time is it...? Ran's gonna
        come and I can't meet her like this." He didn't even have to gesture
        to indicate his sweat-tousled hair, tear and grime-streaked face, and
        the dust and dried perspiration that covered his small body.

        "Whoa, slow down..." Kaito checked his watch. "You've got time yet."

        "I can't stay here...she can't find me here...!" Gently lifting the
        dove from his lap, Shinichi stood up from the stairs, his eyes
        brightening as if he were just waking up. Roused from his nap, Shiro
        fluttered; Shinichi released him to fly back to Kaito's shoulder.

        "Relax, you've got at least an hour," Kaito said, stroking the dove's
        feathered breast. He stood as well, towering over Shinichi, who took
        an involuntary step back. "Guess I should get going, too. Places to
        go, people to see..."

        "Kaito..." Shinichi's voice was low, almost warning.

        "Hm?" The youth glanced at him. "Oh, don't be concerned with Kid,
        Shinichi. There won't be any more heists until you and I work this
        out. Okay? You can sleep soundly--I won't pull anything."

        Shinichi frowned at him for a moment, measuring the honesty in his
        expression, before looking away again. "Alright. But...this
        weekend...?"

        "How about Friday afternoon? Don't worry, I'll find you. And I won't
        blow your cover--you have my word on that." Kaito's pack of cards
        went into a pocket; Shiro the dove just seemed to vanish somewhere
        along the line as the youth turned toward the hall and the door,
        waving as he went. "Take care, Shinichi. I'll see you around."

        Shinichi stood still, watching him leave. When the teenage thief was
        gone, out of his sight and out of his house, he took another deep,
        shaky breath. Alone with his own thoughts now, he struggled to
        assimilate everything he'd heard, everything he'd learned.

        His eyes fell to the birth certificate, still lying innocently on the
        floor. It hadn't been a dream, or a hallucination--the paper was
        real, smooth against his fingertips as he picked it up. The document
        still displayed the same incriminating kanji in stark black ink.

        Shinichi Kuroba--his name, his real name; his true heritage, the
        secret that his father had been keeping all these years...

        His gaze turned to the stairway, his mind's eye focusing on the attic-
        -on the trunk and its little secret chamber in the lid. He had to
        hide this certificate, never let anyone see it...at least until he
        decided what to do about Kid--his cousin, Kaito Kuroba--his parents,
        and his whole situation.

        He had two days to think about it.


        * * * * *
        Right after school that day, Ran said goodbye to Sonoko and hurried
        toward home, swerving off course to take the slight detour that would
        lead her by Professor Agasa's house. And Shinichi's, too;
        strange...this route had been her usual way to and from school,
        before Shinichi had become so scarce.

        Shinichi was on her mind, as usual--more so now because of the gift
        she had given him and their recent conversation over the phone. That
        day occupied her thoughts constantly; it was the first time he'd
        called in so long, and she'd missed his voice so much. She missed his
        face too, but he so rarely ever appeared. He was becoming a ghost...

        A ghost whose image she saw so often in the little boy that lived at
        her house--a little boy who always made her wonder, no matter how
        many times he or Shinichi denied it...

        Conan and Shinichi were just barely relatives, right? Distant cousins
        only through Shinichi's mother and Professor Agasa. One of those
        genetic flukes that cropped up amongst cousins, that made them so
        alike not only in features but in manner, personality,
        intelligence...in their blue eyes that would sometimes just look at
        her like that... Even with the word of Agasa and the Kudos, even
        through all she'd seen and heard, little Conan still just made her
        wonder.

        Last Friday night was on her mind for more than one reason.

        That evening, she'd been too excited to notice; she'd just heard from
        Shinichi, and she was overjoyed that he'd received his gift and liked
        it so much. Then there was her little half-joking demand of him--the
        stuttering promise he'd made...she hadn't even thought about it,
        because after that, Conan had come home and she'd had a wonderful
        present for him, too. And Conan had seen Shinichi--he'd been with
        Shinichi at Agasa's and could tell her how he was doing.

        Conan had been so cute and shy, giving her that kiss on Shinichi's
        behalf just to cheer her up. The curious little scamp was such a
        lovable dear when he wanted to be; whenever her heart was broken by
        Shinichi, Conan was there trying in his sweet childish way to make
        her feel better.

        There was a discrepancy in that evening's events that she hadn't
        realized until the next day. She'd been so elated at hearing
        Shinichi's voice, and so touched by Conan's thoughtfulness. It took
        some extremely boring math homework and a long stare out an empty
        window to make the facts fall into place for her; she'd been
        concentrating on things other than algebraic equations, running over
        the previous evening's events in her head--when realization had
        struck.

        How did Conan know that Shinichi had promised her a kiss?

        The question still turned over and over in her head, even now.
        According to Shinichi, Conan had left Agasa's house before Shinichi
        had made his call, so there was no way Conan could have overheard--
        and even if he did, hearing only half the phone conversation wouldn't
        let him know that Ran had demanded that "payment" from Shinichi. And
        Conan wouldn't have heard her on the phone, either--she'd hung up the
        telephone and had been salvaging dinner long before he'd ever showed
        up, and even if he had heard, he still wouldn't have known about the
        kiss because he wouldn't have heard what payment Ran was talking
        about. On top of that, Shinichi couldn't have told him because he
        hadn't walked Conan home--and Shinichi didn't talk about such
        embarassing things anyway.

        Those long-familiar old suspicions were back again, full force since
        last Saturday. She hated the uncertainty; even through all the things
        she'd been told, she still couldn't quite believe...because there was
        always something.

        And Conan had been acting different the last few days as well. Ever
        since that evening and the books, the boy had been withdrawn and
        moody when she watched him in secret, though whenever he noticed her
        presence he would immediately brighten into innocent cuteness, pick
        himself up, and start off on a chatter with "Ran-neechan!" and from
        there on be the perfectly sweet little boy she'd always known--until
        he thought she'd left. But he'd spent so much time at Professor
        Agasa's this week...and why had it not been a surprise when Agasa
        called her to say that Conan wasn't going to school this morning?

        She'd almost been expecting that...as if she knew in her heart that
        something other than a fun new experiment had happened last night...

        Her speculations had distracted her all day at school, and she was
        still pensive about it. Now she had to pick Conan up...and the state
        he was in when she did would determine her pattern of thought for her
        next set of theories. If he was a happy, bouncing little boy with a
        sniffle, she would be reassured that it had indeed been a fun project
        and he had been brought out of his moodiness by Agasa's invention,
        and had just caught a cold from the excitement--he did seem prone to
        respiratory infections, after all--and she could shove all her crazy
        Ran-musing back into the closet in her mind. But if Conan was
        depressed and not all that ill, if he was just being silent and
        hiding something, she would know that something else had happened.
        But what...?

        Ran was not stupid; she lived with a private investigator and
        participated in cases, and had spent nearly all her life in fairly
        close proximity to police, mysteries, and detectives. She was no
        stranger to clues and deductions--years of hanging around with
        Shinichi had taught her some critical thinking and logic skills.

        And from that, she was coming to some suspicious conclusions once
        more. Something was coming to a head--she could feel it. Another
        confrontation--another demand for the truth that would be answered by
        a rock-solid alibi or excuse--another reason why she shouldn't
        suspect...but she still did.

        She put on her happy Ran-neechan face as she turned in Agasa's gate;
        if it was all just her wild ideas acting up again, she didn't want to
        upset Conan after he'd had a fun evening and spent the morning with a
        sniffle. Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door.

        Ai answered it, quiet as usual, and led Ran into the living room to
        wait for Conan. Ran greeted the Professor warmly; Agasa responded but
        seemed somewhat distracted, while Ai disappeared into the back
        without a word.

        Ran frowned, sitting on the couch. Is it just me or are those two a
        bit...preoccupied? she asked herself. Something must have happened--
        more than the usual "Agasa-blew-up-his-lab-again" stuff. If Conan's
        involved...

        The object of her current musings came into the room rather abruptly,
        looking rumpled and missing his glasses, pausing to blink at her in
        surprise as if she'd just appeared out of thin air in front of him.

        "Hello, Conan-kun!" Ran greeted brightly. "I came to get you on my
        way home from school. Professor Agasa said you caught a bit of a cold-
        -are you feeling okay?"

        The odd look turned into a bright Conan-smile. "Yeah, I'm a lot
        better this afternoon," the boy replied. He seemed a bit tense
        despite his smile as he came over to her, snatching his glasses from
        the coffee table and slipping them on.

        Ran smiled, reaching out to run her fingers through his oddly
        disheveled--and slightly damp--brown hair. "Did you just take a
        bath?"

        Blushing faintly, Conan moved to sit on the couch beside her,
        unobtrusively--but noticeably--just beyond her arm's reach. "Yeah,
        but I couldn't find my comb, so my hair's messy."

        "That's strange," Ran contemplated aloud. "I could've sworn I packed
        your comb yesterday..."

        "Uh, I must've shuffled it around and dropped it when I was getting
        out my pajamas last night," Conan offered quickly, smiling. "It's
        okay."

        "Are you ready to go home?"

        Conan nodded. "Yeah!"

        "Alright then, go get your stuff and let's get going."

        The little boy pattered off, leaving Ran to watch him go. Her
        pleasant expression had shifted to thoughtfulness; Conan was her
        familiar happy little boy...but some of the sparkle was gone from his
        smile. He was still depressed--just skillfully hiding it; she knew
        him well enough to know that. He also didn't sound like he had a
        cold.

        And with her thoughts lately, she had to wonder...

        In short order they were walking home, both carrying their bags.
        Conan trotted obediently at her side, his small hand clutching hers
        as they quietly followed the familiar sidewalk that would lead them
        to the Mouri Detective Agency. She watched him out of the corner of
        her eye, worried and curious; his face was downcast beneath his
        tangled bangs and all he did was watch the concrete go by, not paying
        any attention to her.

        "Conan-kun, what's the matter?" Ran asked softly. "You're awfully
        quiet today...are you okay?"

        "Hm?" He glanced up at her with a morose expression that only halfway
        made it to a Conan-smile. "Yeah, I'm fine! I had fun at Professor
        Agasa's."

        "You did, huh?" Ran tried to sound agreeable even though she was
        unconvinced. With a sigh, she let the matter drop, sadly turning her
        gaze back to the world in front of her.

        They had arrived at the Mouri Detective Agency, climbing the steps to
        the flat above, when Conan made a sound--a small strange sound, like
        a gulp mixed with a sigh. His soft quavering voice spoke up, barely
        audible, as his pace slowed enough that he tugged at her hand.

        "Ran-neechan, if...if I did...something bad...would
        you...still...like me?"

        Startled by his question, Ran stopped just outside the door and
        whirled to him, staring down at him. His eyes were fixed on the
        floor, though his small hand tightened on hers. Concerned, she knealt
        down to his level, squeezing his fingers reassuringly. "Oh...Conan-
        kun...of course I would!" she replied honestly. "Everyone makes
        mistakes--I couldn't stop liking you just because of that. Whatever
        made you ask?"

        He still wouldn't look at her, so she put two fingers to his chin,
        drawing his gaze up. His eyes met hers once, then flicked away as
        though remorseful, guilty. His lips were drawn into a thin taut line
        that refused to open and answer her question.

        "Oh, Conan-kun..." She drew him into a warm, affectionate embrace,
        startled to note how uptight he was, how he tensed at her touch. She
        held him close, wanting to protect him from whatever was hurting him.
        He must've done something wrong, at school or at Agasa's, and was
        feeling horrible for it--he was usually such a well-behaved little
        boy, despite his oddities. If he'd gotten into unaccustomed trouble
        and thought that everyone would abandon him because of it...! "Conan-
        kun...you know you can tell me anything. If something happened...if
        it's bothering you...I promise I'll listen no matter what it is. We
        can work it out, you'll see--you can tell me, I promise I won't hate
        you. I can't hate you, Conan-kun...you're too special to me."

        For an instant her speculations filled her mind--for an instant she
        wasn't sure who she was talking to, but she meant every word
        regardless.

        She felt his tension melt; his face buried itself in her shoulder and
        his thin arms came up to wrap around her in return, trembling. His
        breaths were thick and shaky as if he were about to cry. "Ran-
        neechan..." he whispered. "Ran-neechan..."

        "It's alright, Conan-kun...no matter what happened, I'll understand."
        She rubbed his back until his trembling ceased and it seemed that
        he'd relaxed. When his arms finally loosened and she released him,
        his face was red, but there were no tears on his cheeks. He stepped
        back from her and straightened his shirt, running one hand through
        his hair in an embarassed gesture that she found startlingly
        familiar. Pushing her own thoughts aside once more, she managed a
        good smile for him. "When you're ready, you can tell me. For now,
        let's go in and get dinner started, shall we? I bet you'll feel
        better once you get something to eat."

        He nodded mutely as she rose and led him inside.


        * * * * *
        Ran was right; Conan did feel a little better with a stomach full of
        her warm, delicious cooking. He didn't think he'd made it all the way
        back to his usual self, but he was no longer hanging by a thread. He
        even felt well enough to go start on his almost forgotten--and
        unbearably easy--grade-school homework.

        Scooping up his backpack and duffel from where he'd left them by the
        door, he headed to the bedroom to get started in private--he didn't
        like Ran to watch him unless he felt he had to show off
        his "scholastic aptitudes"...i.e., make her think he really was a
        dumb little seven-year-old just starting to learn things like math
        and spelling. But with the way he was feeling tonight, he didn't want
        to prolong the torture any more than was absolutely necessary. He
        opened his backpack to fish out his books--and froze in shock,
        dismayed, coming to a horrified realization.

        He'd unloaded his books and papers at Agasa's to stock his pack with
        the tools he'd needed to break into Kyozou's mansion--and those tools
        and equipment were still inside.

        "Crap--!" he hissed, cutting himself off before someone heard. Oh
        damn, I gotta hide this stuff! How could I just forget? How many
        times have I caught a murderer because he still had the weapon on
        him? Geeze, I must've left my whole brain unplugged today--!

        Zipping up his pack and half-hiding it under the blankets of his
        little futon, he raced back to the living room, not even having to
        wear a Conan-mask to appear as frantic as he needed to. "Ran-neechan!
        I left my books at Professor Agasa's house!" he blurted as soon as he
        was in the door. "Can I go get them? I'll only be a few minutes--" He
        was already grabbing up his shoes.

        "Hold it, hold it!" Ran strode across the room, wiping her hands on a
        towel--she'd been in the middle of washing the dishes. "It's after
        dark, Conan-kun. You know the rules about when you can go out alone."

        Dammit... He gritted his teeth, quickly hiding his frustration. "But
        Ran-neechan, I need my books!" he whined, putting on his very best
        whimpering tone, aided by his irritation. "I can't turn my homework
        in late! Teacher will be mad!"

        Ran smiled. "Don't worry. As soon as I get done with the dishes, I'll
        go get them for you. Okay?"

        But I really need to go myself to take this junk back to
        Agasa! "Okay..." he sighed. Crap...beggars can't be choosers. But if
        Ran or Ojisan catch a glimpse of what's in my pack right now, I'm
        dead.

        Immediately, he smiled widely for her benefit. "Thanks, Ran-neechan!"

        "You're welcome, Conan-kun. It'll just be a bit."

        He was already heading back out, already hard at work on his next
        problem--how he was going to hide those tools here, and then at
        school tomorrow, until he could get them back to Agasa's and get rid
        of them.


        * * * * *
        True to her word, Ran put on her coat and headed back toward Agasa's
        as soon as she finished with the dishes and dinner cleanup. It was
        just after dark so she kept her steps quick and purposeful, her eyes
        open for trouble just as her parents had always cautioned her. As she
        walked, her mind drifted back to Shinichi and the previous Friday,
        just as it had done all week; her thoughts were as confusing as ever
        and were beginning to frustrate her.

        Her theory about Conan's identity wasn't really what bothered her--it
        was the uncertainty that hurt the most. Ambiguity upset her more than
        truth or lies.

        Agasa's gate was just ahead; she pulled out of her usual long,
        meandering reverie and shaking her head in chagrin. She picked up her
        pace, passing the Kudo residence without a second thought--

        Wait a second... She pulled up short several steps past Shinichi's
        gate, surprised. Eyes wide, she reversed direction and peered in the
        gate, startled to see... Lights? There's lights on at Shinichi's
        house? Her mind went wild with unreasoning hope. That means he might
        be--!

        She was through the gate and dashing up the walkway without an ounce
        of hesitation, face lit with a single solitary wish. Shinichi...!

        His porch light wasn't on, although the front door was unlocked. She
        all but tore the door down, kicking off her shoes as soon as she was
        across the threshold and darting into the living room. "Shinichi?
        Shinichi?" she called, her voice echoing shrill through the corridors
        as she went from room to room, until...

        ...until she stumbled into the study/library, and found the desk and
        filing cabinets torn apart, their contents scattered across the
        floor. Her jaw dropped at the sight; never had she seen such a mess
        in Shinichi Kudo's home--this clutter was more Professor Agasa's
        style.

        Oh no...could it be...? She gasped aloud, then whirled to go back
        through the house, checking every room. The study was in ruins, the
        elder Kudos' bedroom was a shambles, and the contents of the upstairs
        hall closet were strewn all across the carpet.

        It didn't take a detective to figure this out--a detective's daughter
        could easily see that someone had gone through these rooms like a
        buzz saw, thorough and hurried, looking for something important.
        Probably money or valuables, though none of the more obvious things
        were missing from their places.

        The front door unlocked...the rooms torn apart... Ran all but fell
        down the stairs, rushing outside and turning toward Professor
        Agasa's. There's been a thief in Shinichi's house!

        She banged on Agasa's door, shouting for him to hurry. When the older
        man appeared in the doorway, he was alarmed to see Ran in such a
        state of panic.

        "Ran-kun? What's happened? Is everything alright?"

        "Professor...Shinichi's house...!" She took great gulps of air,
        trying to speak. "Shinichi's house has been robbed! We need to call
        the police! Oh, it's all torn apart...!"

        "Oh my!" Agasa gestured her in quickly. "Hurry now, but don't panic.
        Here, why don't you go sit down and catch your breath, and I'll take
        care of it."

        "Thank you, Professor...thank you..." Still panting from her sprint,
        Ran slumped down on Agasa's couch and explained to him what she'd
        found, then rested while the scientist hurried to the kitchen phone.

        When Agasa got to his kitchen, however, the first place he called was
        not the police station. The auto-dial button set for the Mouri
        Detective Agency was quickly stabbed, and Agasa waited nervously
        through three rings before the other end picked up and a weary-
        sounding Conan recited, "Hello, Mouri Detective--"

        "Shinichi!" Agasa broke in quickly. "Hold on, it's me."

        "Professor Agasa?" There was a pause, and the semi-cheerful little
        boy was replaced by a tired young-man-speaking-with-little-boy-
        voice. "Ran's on her way to you. Did something--?"

        "Yes, something's happened, but I wanted to check with you first.
        Shinichi, were you aware that your house has been ransacked?"

        "Huh? Oh..." Conan's voice cleared its throat. "Sorry, that was me.
        Thanks for making sure."

        "Er...was there any particular reason for that? Ran said she saw
        lights on and went in to see."

        "Aw...crap..." Shinichi sighed loudly. "I'm completely forgetting
        everything today. I left those tools from last night in my backpack
        and they're over here now, my kiddy homework is over there with you--
        Ran's picking it up--and now this. Just great..."

        "What should we do? If it was you, then--"

        "Gimme a sec and I'll call back with my other voice," Shinichi
        replied. "Ojisan's snoring drunk on the floor over here, so I think I
        can get away with it."

        "Be careful."

        "I will."

        Agasa hung up, and waited. A minute later, the phone rang, and he
        snatched it on the first ring. "Hello, Professor Agasa's residence--"

        "Okay," said the smooth tenor of Shinichi Kudo. "I got it. Let Ran
        talk to me if she wants."

        "Alright," Agasa said quietly--then raised his voice for Ran's
        benefit. "Oh, how are you, Shinichi? Forgot something, did you say?
        Ah, that's alright, I can take care of it..."

        Predictably, Ran was in the kitchen in a matter of seconds, eyes lit
        up like stars in her pale face. "Is that Shinichi? Did you tell him--
        ?"

        Agasa hushed her with a gesture. "Yes, that's Ran--she just got here
        a few moments ago--put her on? Okay." The older man handed her the
        phone with a wink. "He wants to talk to you."

        Ran snatched the phone with all the desperation of a starving woman
        reaching for bread. "Shinichi? Where are you? Your house is all
        messed up--there was someone--!"

        "Hey, take it easy, Ran! You don't have to worry about the mess,"
        said Shinichi's voice--music to her ears, so wonderfully even and
        reassuring. Even if he did sound...tired. "I did all that--bad
        manners, I know, but I was in an awful rush and I had to find
        something. I'll clean it up when I get the chance, I promise."

        Agasa was already stepping unobtrusively out of the room. Ran's
        tension eased upon hearing Shinichi's words--what little tension was
        left after hearing his voice again. "Well, I'm glad it wasn't a
        robbery! What's the matter with you, leaving such a mess in your own
        house? What would your parents think?"

        "Heh, they'd think I was growing a snout and a curly tail, like my
        mom used to say," Shinichi chuckled. "Sorry to make you worry, Ran.
        I'm glad you're looking out for me, even though I've been such a jerk
        to you all the time."

        "Someone has to keep an eye on you, with your parents gone so much,"
        Ran replied. "Shinichi, are you okay? You sound exhausted."

        "Oh..." Shinichi sighed. "It's just...some things about this case
        and...some family problems. I've been under a lot of stress lately,
        and I guess it's starting to show."

        "So the Great Detective Kudo really is human," Ran teased gently.

        "Yeah...I'm learning that, slowly..." After his faint chuckle,
        Shinichi was quiet for long moments, as if gathering his
        thoughts. "Uh, Ran...if I was a total idiot and really screwed up
        with...um, if I did something pretty bad...what would you think?"

        The question struck her, having been asked for the second time on the
        same day--and by two people who shared so many similarities... "Well,
        I...I'd probably be upset with you, depending on what it was.
        But...if you're asking if we'd still be friends...of course we would!
        That's what friends are for, right? Mistakes are something to learn
        from, and if you didn't ever make any I'd really start to wonder
        about you. But I could forgive you for anything, Shinichi--I could
        never hate you...you're very special to me."

        Shinichi's breath caught, just before she realized that she'd said
        the same thing to Conan. She waited for a small eternity for Shinichi
        to speak again--while her own mind whirled at the
        parallel. "Shinichi? Are you...still there?"

        "Yeah, Ran...I..." He gulped audibly. "Thanks, Ran. I'm glad you'd
        still... I really...appreciate... I just..." He stumbled over his own
        words, as if her honest statement had touched something. "I...I gotta
        go. This goddamn case is...well..."

        Ran smiled faintly. "It's okay, Shinichi. You can tell me when you're
        ready. I'll be waiting."

        "Ran..."

        "Goodbye, Shinichi. I'll see you soon."

        She hung up without waiting for his response, sighing as she set the
        phone in the cradle. When she walked out of the kitchen, Agasa stood
        there in the hall with a small stack of books and papers in his
        hands.

        "Professor?"

        The older man smiled at her. "I found these earlier, so I thought
        Conan-kun might need them. Here you are."

        Ran took the books with another sigh. "Thanks. I guess I should get
        going before it gets any later. Goodbye, Professor."

        As Ran walked home, her steps were not so quick, and her mind was
        full of Shinichi once more--Shinichi and Conan.


        * * * * *
        Predictably, Conan pounced on her the moment she came in the door. He
        was in his pajamas and slippers, ready for bed--it was getting rather
        late, and if he wanted to finish his homework before bedtime he'd
        have to get through it lickety-split. He took the small books and
        papers from her with a grateful smile, thanking her brightly as he
        did.

        "You're welcome, Conan-kun," she replied as she removed her coat and
        hung it up. Her father was still asleep on the floor, sprawled
        uncaringly with a pillow clutched in his arms like a life
        preserver. "You'll have to thank Professor Agasa next time you see
        him," she continued, stepping past Kogoro's sleeping form. "He's the
        one who found your books and gathered them."

        "'Zat so?" Conan responded. "Okay, I will. Thanks again, Ran-neechan--
        I'm gonna go do my homework now."

        She was across the room by now, facing away from him, trying to keep
        her hands from curling into tense fists. "Conan-kun..."

        "Hm?" His small hand was reaching up for the doorknob, and he half-
        turned at her soft utterance.

        "Can I ask you something?"

        Curious, he faced her fully, though she didn't turn around. "Sure."

        "Conan-kun...the other day--on Friday...when I gave you the book..."
        She took a deep breath, plunging on. "How did you know that Shinichi
        had promised me a kiss?"

        Oh shit-- In shock, Shinichi froze, eyes going wide behind the
        concealing Conan-glasses. Startled by her question, he nearly dropped
        his books, his mouth falling open as he realized what an utter,
        complete blunder he'd made. Ran still didn't turn to face him, but he
        could feel her focused attention as if she were standing right over
        him and glaring down. Every line of her seemed rigid, and there was a
        certain tension in the way she held her head up, the way her back
        stayed ramrod-straight.

        "Uh...well....actually I just...um....you know..." His mouth
        automatically produced his Conan-voice, automatically began spouting
        nonsense. He was shaking all over, realizing there was no way in hell
        he could talk his way out of this--he'd known it the instant the
        words had come out of her mouth. She'd obviously put the evidence
        together--she wasn't stupid, she hadn't forgotten it; he'd been just
        plain careless to have done that...and his cover was so totally
        blown...!

        His frantic stuttering fumbled to a halt when Ran turned to him at
        last; she was almost tremb
      • william_dec9
        hi! can i have the copy of story? please ! thanks!!!!!
        Message 3 of 15 , Jun 21, 2007
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          hi! can i have the copy of story? please ! thanks!!!!!
        • joclbu_girl
          No, i don t think shinichi is kaito. it s just that in Japan, i think, the person who speaks shinichi also speaks kaito.
          Message 4 of 15 , Jun 22, 2007
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            No, i don't think shinichi is kaito. it's just that in Japan, i think,
            the person who speaks shinichi also speaks kaito.

            --- In conan@yahoogroups.com, "light swan" <mercy_seat91@...> wrote:
            >
            > i just want an answer please
            > is really kaito related to shinichi?
            >
          • ran ling
            shinischi doesn t related to kaito lah.they juz rival btwn each other.if gt, they also helping each other lo.shinichi of cuz is nt kaito.shinichi is conan
            Message 5 of 15 , Jun 29, 2007
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              shinischi doesn't related to kaito lah.they juz rival btwn each other.if gt, they also helping each other lo.shinichi of cuz is nt kaito.shinichi is conan

              joclbu_girl <joclbu_girl@...> wrote:
              No, i don't think shinichi is kaito. it's just that in Japan, i think,
              the person who speaks shinichi also speaks kaito.

              --- In conan@yahoogroups. com, "light swan" <mercy_seat91@ ...> wrote:
              >
              > i just want an answer please
              > is really kaito related to shinichi?
              >



              Take the Internet to Go: Yahoo!Go puts the Internet in your pocket: mail, news, photos & more.

            • Anne Lorraine Delaon
              light swan, i guess this story isnt finish yet. can you pls post the continuation... i cant sleep at night just thinking of the next event. BIG PLS.... ...
              Message 6 of 15 , Jun 30, 2007
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                light swan, i guess this story isnt finish yet. can you pls post the continuation...
                i cant sleep at night just thinking of the next event. BIG PLS....

                ----- Original Message ----
                From: light swan <mercy_seat91@...>
                To: conan@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2007 11:27:58 PM
                Subject: [conan] shinichi kaito

                ((Disclaimer: Shinichi/Conan, Ran, Kaito, Heiji, and all the rest
                belong to Gosho Aoyama. Meitantei Conan and Majiku Kaitou are all
                his! I don't own anything; I'm only borrowing them. Standard
                legalities apply. Please enjoy!))

                Relative Truth
                by Becky Tailweaver

                File 6: Double Checkmate

                *Flashback*

                Kaito immediately cornered Jii and demanded to know about Yuusaku
                Kudo--and his connection to Shinichi. Who were they, and how was it
                that they could defeat even the matchless Kid? It couldn't be a
                coincidence- -not with Shinichi's uncanny mind and the way Kaito's
                father described Yuusaku's skills.

                Jii was, again, saddened and disturbed. But when Kaito pressed him,
                he relented, taking a deep quiet breath to tell his tale.

                "I don't know how you'll take this, young Master," the old man
                began, "but all I can tell you is what I know of the truth. It
                started many years ago, when your father was still a young man, not
                yet famous as the Great Magician Toichi Kuroba. As you know, your
                grandfather was a bandit magician as well, and he trained his sons in
                the art of the phantom thief--"

                "Hold on a sec," Kaito interrupted, puzzled. "Did you just
                say 'sons'...?"

                "Yes, young Master, you heard me correctly," Jii replied. "Your
                father had a younger brother, who trained alongside him under your
                grandfather, the old Master. The brothers were in their late
                teens...that' s when I first became privileged to serve the Kuroba
                family as manservant and assistant. It was at about that time that
                your father and his brother had finished their training, and were
                finally allowed to operate on their own."

                Kaito leaned back, eyebrows high. "I've got an uncle somewhere? Che,
                why didn't Mom tell me anything about this...?"

                Jii looked down sadly. "Because she had promised not to. It was long
                ago, young Master...you were only a tiny child then. You wouldn't
                remember him."

                "So who is he? Is he still alive? Where does he live?" Kaito's
                questions were quick and curious.

                "This information must never leave this room, young Master," Jii
                responded, surprisingly direct. "It's a secret your father kept to
                his grave, and I was not to speak of it either, but..." He took
                another breath. "Your uncle is still alive; his name is Yuusaku
                Kuroba, although when he and your father had their quarrel and parted
                ways, he changed his name to--"

                "Yuusaku Kudo?" Kaito jerked upright, his quick wits having already
                jumped ahead of the old man. Jii nodded, and Kaito's jaw
                dropped. "Holy cow, that renowned mystery novelist? Geez, he's as
                famous as Dad in some places! It's him? He's my uncle? And that would
                make Shinichi Kudo my...my...!" His voice ran out as his eyes went
                wide, his mind running wild. He gaped for a moment, gulping...and
                then began to laugh.

                Jii blinked. "Ah...young Master, are you...?"

                Kaito held his sides, trying to speak between chuckles. "Oh, this is
                too rich! I'm related to the little twerp!" He broke out in another
                gale of laughter. "Ah, the irony! No wonder--brains must run in the
                family! I should have seen it--damn, he's the only one who ever
                cornered me!"

                After a while, Kaito was finally able to breathe normally; he wiped
                his eys, chuckling, and looked to Jii once more. "So...here's a good
                question--just why did Ojisan change his name and take off like that?
                Did he blow his cover or something?"

                Jii shook his head sadly. "No, young Master. Your uncle was every bit
                as good as your father; they made a powerful team, each with his own
                strengths and talents. However...Master Yuusaku was always the
                quieter of the two. Where your father loved to lead the police on a
                merry chase, loved to perform puzzling tricks and feats of deviltry
                in the spotlight, Master Yuusaku preferred to work from the shadows,
                stealthy and quick--he was a silent ghost where your father was a
                boisterous poltergeist. The most delicate, secret operations were his
                greatest performances. "

                "Hn...so Ojisan wasn't a showoff, huh? Bet he never made a good
                standup magician."

                Jii smiled a little, wryly. "No, he didn't; he was more suited to
                quiet table shows and private exhibitions. But he was good--make no
                mistake, young Master, he was very good. Were he still in the
                business today, I doubt you'd find him an easy opponent."

                "Why isn't he still in the business?" Kaito asked curiously, eager
                eyes hiding his concern.

                "Your father and your uncle were phantom thieves by heritage and by
                trade," Jii explained. "However, in the daylight they each had their
                own hobbies and jobs. Your father, as you know, loved sleight-of-hand
                and illusion just as you do; over time, he became the famous
                magician, Toichi Kuroba."

                "And Ojisan?"

                "Master Yuusaku, being the quiet person that he was...had a love of
                books. Oddly enough, it was detectives and mysteries that enchanted
                him the most. As a youngster he loved reading about murder mysteries
                and famous detectives like Sherlock Holmes. Since he became quite an
                expert on investigation and deduction, he became the strategist for
                many of the heists he and your father planned; he could think ahead
                and accurately predict how the police would react. His reasoning
                saved them both many times."

                Kaito listened with rapt attention, absorbed in the tale.

                "When he was about your age," Jii continued, "Master Yuusaku started
                writing books, and called himself 'Kudo.' He took on the pen name to
                protect his privacy, since it wouldn't be safe if his growing fame
                revealed his shadow life as a phantom thief. He loved writing
                detective stories--so much, in fact, that he even began to live the
                life by day. He was nearby when a murder was committed, and although
                he was a thief, both he and your father abhorred the thought of
                taking a human life. Master Yuusaku used his strong deduction skills
                to assist the police investigator with finding the real culprit.
                After that, he continued solving murder cases whenever the police
                called upon him--and even to them, he was known only as Yuusaku Kudo,
                novelist and deduction expert. They never knew his real name."

                "That must be where Shinichi got it from," Kaito murmured
                thoughtfully. "The guy can't help but jump on any murder case that
                comes his way."

                "I haven't seen Master Yuusaku's son since he was a baby," Jii said,
                almost wistfully. "If he has even half of his father's wits and
                charisma...he must be a worthy opponent for you indeed."

                Kaito scowled a bit, somewhat petulantly. "Hell yeah...he's annoying.
                Remember the 'bad feeling' you got about the Clock Tower job? Well,
                that was him."

                Jii hid his chuckle. "I expect that was a harrowing experience, from
                what you've told me."

                The youth just snorted. "Feh...anyway, what happened to make Ojisan
                leave the family?"

                "I'm not quite sure about that," Jii replied sadly. "There are
                obvious reasons for what he did...but no one knows for certain
                exactly what was said the night he left, except your father and
                Master Yuusaku themselves. I believe that things began to change when
                Master Yuusaku met Miss Yukiko, and he began to realize that his life
                in the shadows might be a danger to her. You see, by then your father
                and uncle had made some enemies in the underworld-- "

                Kaito sat up immediately. "The guys who killed Dad?"

                Jii nodded. "Yes, and others like them. You know it as a rule, young
                Master--a phantom thief doesn't always keep what he steals. In truth,
                he should give back nearly everything he takes--the art of the return-
                -"

                "'--is as worthy an art as the theft itself,'" Kaito quoted for
                him. "I know, I know..."

                "Yes, young Master. And because they often found out about these
                darker syndicates' planned robberies due to their underworld
                contacts, they would usually steal the items in a flamboyant manner
                before the other organizations got to them--and when the stolen items
                were returned, they would be guarded that much more carefully. In a
                way, it is a phantom thief's duty to protect the beautiful and
                valuable things of this world..."

                "Hey, don't get sappy on me now, old man," Kaito prodded, seeing the
                wistful look in Jii's eyes. "Keep going with the story!"

                "Ah...yes... " Jii cleared his throat. "As you know, this greatly
                angered these shadowy organizations, and eventually led to the
                Master's murder...but Master Yuusaku had left long before then." The
                older man looked sad, and somehow more elderly than he usually
                did. "At first, Miss Yukiko dated Master Yuusaku knowing him only as
                the famous writer, Kudo. As far as I know, he told her the truth
                about himself just prior to their engagement, and she kept his secret
                when they were married."

                "Mom and Dad were married by then, weren't they?" Kaito asked.

                "Yes...a couple of years before that, actually. Those were some happy
                times; both your father and your uncle had someone to love, and for a
                while everything went well. Phantom thieves by night, magician and
                novelist by day, they were content even though there was constant
                danger of discovery by one of their enemies." Jii smiled, eyes full
                of memory. "All of them were very close; your mothers became the best
                of friends, and even shared a little of the Masters' secret lives,
                learning some skills in disguise. Because their marriages were
                several years apart, it came as a great surprise that their sons were
                born at nearly the same time. It was thought that you and the other
                young Master, Shinichi, would be raised and trained together as
                phantom thieves just as your fathers before you."

                Kaito's brows went up at that. "Hm...come to think of it, Kudo would
                make one hell of a thief if he put his mind to it. He's sneaky enough
                as it is, with the little problem he's got right now..."

                "But it was not to be, young Master," Jii went on, face
                darkening. "You and Master Shinichi weren't even a year old when it
                happened..."

                "When what happened?"

                "There was an attack--somehow, someone from one of the organizations
                had followed the Masters, and found one of their safehouses. It was
                extremely unlucky...horrible. ..I wasn't there but I wish I had been--
                I might've been able to do something... "

                "Hey, tell me!" Kaito insisted. "What did those bastards do?"

                "Miss Yukiko and your mother were there at the safehouse, waiting for
                the Masters' return--it was a dangerous mission that time, something
                of such importance that even Master Toichi never told me what they
                had been going after. When the attack came, the Masters were forced
                to stand and face their enemies, to protect their wives and
                sons...Master Yuusaku managed to get you and your mother to safety,
                but Miss Yukiko was badly wounded by an assassin's bullet, and young
                Shinichi was almost taken hostage--if not for your father's
                intervention, he would have been killed."

                Kaito's eyes were wide, transfixed. "Dad...saved Kudo...?"

                Jii's gaze didn't waver. "He could not let his brother's child become
                prey for those wolves. He risked his life for his nephew, just as he
                would have done for you."

                The youth sat in silence, thinking, his face unusually pensive.

                "It was after that incident that Master Yuusaku left," Jii continued
                softly. "He had nearly lost both his wife and his son in a single
                blow, and I believe that frightened him badly--so badly that he felt
                he could not continue the life of a phantom thief in the darkness.
                Even I don't know what happened the night your father and uncle had
                words, but...from what I've gleaned, Master Yuusaku tried to persuade
                your father to quit as well, but Master Toichi wouldn't hear of it--
                the incident had only strengthened his resolve to bring those
                organizations down. After that, Master Yuusaku changed his identity
                completely, moving away from the family home, falsifying his
                credentials, and slipping completely into the role of Yuusaku Kudo,
                mystery novelist. He severed all ties with the Kuroba family, to keep
                their enemies from ever finding them again."

                "He knew, didn't he?" Kaito asked breathlessly. "He knew they'd track
                down Kaitou Kid's true identity eventually.. ."

                "Yes...and he was right. Years later--"

                "--Dad was murdered," Kaito finished, his face hardened with a shadow
                of anger and sorrow. "Ojisan tried to stop him from being Kid
                because..."

                "Master Yuusaku always had a way of knowing these things," Jii said
                quietly. "After he became Yuusaku Kudo, the writer, he also tried to
                stop Kaitou Kid by force--by assisting the police in his capture. I
                suppose he thought alive in jail was better than murdured in the
                dark..."

                Kaito's head jerked up. "That's why Dad was so upset? In his notes he
                talked about Ojisan betraying him--"

                "The separation hurt both of them deeply--I could tell that Master
                Toichi was very depressed after his brother left us." Jii sighed,
                shaking his head. "I never saw Master Yuusaku after that night, not
                until your father died. He came to see your mother after the funeral,
                and we talked for only a while. He was grief-stricken at the Master's
                death, and felt that it was his fault for not being there to help,
                for not stopping Master Toichi from being Kid. Master Yuusaku had
                your mother promise that she would keep you away from the life of a
                phantom thief, to spare you the same fate your father suffered--and
                in her sorrow, she agreed. He was very concerned about you, young
                Master, and even saw to you and your mother's care from that day on."

                "What?" Kaito blinked. "You mean Ojisan didn't just--?"

                "Even your father's considerable savings could not last forever," Jii
                explained. "The reason you have been living so comfortably these last
                few years is because Master Yuusaku has been sending your mother a
                fair sum of money on a regular basis. That's why she hasn't had to
                work all this time, and you can afford to pay for your nightly
                activities of late..." He caught Kaito's boggled look and raised an
                eyebrow. "Come now, young Master...you didn't think all that money
                came out of thin air, did you?"

                "Uh...well.. ." The youth gulped. "I guess I just never really thought
                about it before. I thought it was all Dad's money..." He cleared his
                throat. "So Ojisan didn't really abandon his family, did he?"

                "No...he told me he was always following Kaitou Kid's exploits,
                getting more and more worried about the risks your father was
                taking," Jii replied. "That day after the funeral was the last day we
                spoke--and the same day I left your family's formal service. Your
                mother asked me to go--she felt I had too much connection to your
                father's past, and obviously she never told you anything, until you
                discovered it for yourself..."

                "Whoa...Mom took Ojisan seriously, didn't she?" Kaito mused, almost
                sadly.

                Jii nodded. "Yes...and I imagine Master Yuusaku has already guessed
                what's been going on, ever since Kaitou Kid 'reappeared. ' He probably
                knows everything by now--he was always very quick in his
                observations. I'm sure he hasn't said anything because of his
                secrets, but...without a doubt, he's been watching after you very
                closely."

                "It's nice to know he cares, at least," Kaito remarked. "But I've
                never met him--he's never come to visit, even on a pretense..."

                "He still keeps his secrets," Jii explained somewhat sadly. "Even to
                this day, he fears what will happen if someone realizes that the
                brother of Toichi Kuroba still lives."

                And Shinichi's gone and gotten himself into deep shit with some of
                the same bastards that caused all this, Kaito reflected. I wonder how
                Ojisan's handling that. Not well, I'd guess...he must have one hell
                of a Poker Face... "So...you think Shinichi probably doesn't know
                anything about this?"

                Jii frowned. "I would imagine he doesn't. That day after the funeral,
                Master Yuusaku said that ignorance is sometimes a child's best
                defense--the very reason your mother kept the secret of Kaitou Kid
                from you. And I know that Master Yuusaku is quite determined to
                protect his family. Young Master Shinichi probably knows nothing of
                you or his uncle; it's doubtful he even knows his true name."

                "Heh..." Kaito leaned back once more, grinning a bit
                ironically. "Wouldn't that arrogant little meddler blow a gasket if
                he knew he's related to the infamous Kid...!" He chuckled shortly to
                himself. "Hell, I'd love to tell him myself, just to see the look on
                his face!"

                "Young Master..." Jii said warningly.

                Kaito rolled his eyes. "I know, I know...it's all a big secret, blah
                blah blah....I get it already. Besides, if I told him anything, I'd
                get arrested in a cold second. 'The Great Detective Kudo' takes no
                prisoners--and he's especially annoyed with me, since I keep giving
                him the slip." That last sentence was accompanied by a completely
                unrepentant grin.

                Jii looked relieved. "I'm glad you undersand, young Master."

                Kaito shrugged nonchalantly. "Ojisan can keep his secrets, and Kudo
                can stay ignorant--all I need to do is keep on being Kaitou Kid,
                until I uncover the bastards who killed my father and see that they
                pay for what they've done." His grin returned as he rose from his
                place, turning to leave. After a pause, he glanced back. "Thanks a
                lot for telling me the truth, Jii. I know to be extra careful around
                Kudo from now on--after all...same blood, same brains!"

                With that, Kaito Kuroba walked out, bearing with him the newfound
                knowledge of his own past--and his true link to Shinichi Kudo.

                *End Flashback*

                * * * * *
                The two boys sat on the stairs with a sleepy dove and a pack of cards
                for a long time while Kaito related his tale of secrets and discovery
                in a quiet, even voice. Silent, Shinichi petted the bird in his lap
                and honestly listened, taking in the youth's words without rebuttal
                or interruption. Kaito fixed his eyes on middle distance as he spoke,
                his hands fiddling absently with the pack of cards, shuffling them to
                and fro with careless, unthinking precision.

                When the narrative was finished, Kaito wound to a halt, and for a few
                moments there was uneasy silence between the two. Kaito licked his
                lips and waited--for what, he wasn't sure. Disbelief, anger, a sharp
                retort--the sort of response he'd been expecting from the small boy
                beside him.

                Shinichi took a deep breath, at last looking up from Shiro's drowsy
                form to meet the youth's questioning eyes. "So...Kaito. ..you're my
                cousin."

                It was a statement of fact, only partially a question, spoken in a
                soft uncertain tone as if Shinichi were trying to confirm it in his
                own mind. Kaito managed a half-smile in response, shrugging
                lightly. "Yeah. Kinda funny, isn't it? Talk about ironic..."

                Shinichi's snort of reply was almost inaudible. "You can pick your
                friends..."

                "...but you can't choose your relatives," Kaito finished for him, his
                half-smile becoming full. "You actually believe me?"

                "Why not?" Shinichi replied quietly with a fatalistic chuckle, his
                eyes dropping again. "I talked to my father already, and what little
                he said...seems to confirm your story. And there's that..." He
                gestured vaguely in the direction of the forgotten birth certificate,
                not really wanting to look at it. "You were right--there is only one
                truth...and my father's been hiding it all this time..."

                Kaito eyed him for a moment. "You're really upset about this, aren't
                you?" he observed keenly, voice hesitant.

                There was a catch in Shinichi's next breath, and his words were heavy
                with sarcasm that sounded alarming when spoken with the voice of a
                small boy. "No, not at all. I just found out my father's been lying
                to me my whole life, and Mom's been in on it...and everything I knew
                to be true is all a pack of lies he fed to me and the rest of the
                world...just to keep his damn secrets..." The catch in his breath
                became a roughness in his voice as he went on. "No, I'm not upset at
                all. I'm just fine..."

                The next breath he took was shaky, and he ran trembling fingers
                through his bangs with a frustrated murmur of "Dammit..." as he tried
                to hide his emotions. Kaito caught the glimmer of tears in the boy's
                eyes when Shinichi glanced at him.

                "Hey, um..." Kaito carefully set a hand on one thin shoulder in an
                attempt to comfort, pulling back quickly when Shinichi jerked at his
                touch. "For what it's worth...I'm sorry. Maybe I should've kept my
                stupid big mouth shut..."

                "No," Shinichi interrupted, wiping his eyes. "I'm glad I know. I'm
                always searching for the truth, so I'm glad. It's just...knowledge
                itself can sometimes hurt as much as lies. But it's a clean sort of
                hurting, like when you have to wash a wound. Getting a wound hurts,
                and sometimes cleansing it hurts worse than the wound did...but it'll
                heal better in the end..."

                "'Zat so? Feh, then it's some job I did with the wound cream, huh?"
                Kaito snorted at himself, at his own coarseness. Before seeing how
                Shinichi reacted to the revelation, he hadn't really thought about
                how he'd handled it. "I didn't make it very easy on you."

                Shinichi glanced away. "There is no easy way to hear something like
                this." He frowned, looking down at the dove once more, his voice
                still hoarse. "So now what? Where do we go from here?"

                Kaito shrugged, hiding his sudden touch of nervousness, gazing at the
                boy. "I dunno. I guess that all depends on you. You've got me by the
                tail, Shinichi--you' ve got my name and my identity, and you could
                have the cops knocking on my door in a second. It's up to you."

                Shinichi glanced up at him quickly, surprised; that thought actually
                hadn't crossed his mind since the conversation began. "But...you've
                also got me," he observed suddenly, almost thoughtfully. "You could
                blow my identity too, and give me away to the Black Organization if
                you wanted..."

                "Huh, I hadn't thought of that," Kaito mused, unconsciously echoing
                Shinichi's thoughts. "I guess you're right. But the operative phrase
                here is 'if I wanted.'"

                Their eyes met, identical gazes of dark blue. Shinichi saw honest
                hope, a tentative earnestness, behind the impish playfulness of the
                Kid; Kaito saw wariness, fear, and the first hesitant glimmers of
                acceptance, maybe trust.

                In the end, it was Kaito who spoke first. "I've got a good idea," he
                announced. "We should take some time to think about this, both of us.
                Let's say...'til the weekend? I cut class to come talk to you, so
                Aoko's gonna ream me out for sure..." He shook his head. "I think
                it'd be best if we meet again at a time when we don't have to worry
                about school or our companions."

                "School?" Shinichi blinked. "Crap, what time is it...? Ran's gonna
                come and I can't meet her like this." He didn't even have to gesture
                to indicate his sweat-tousled hair, tear and grime-streaked face, and
                the dust and dried perspiration that covered his small body.

                "Whoa, slow down..." Kaito checked his watch. "You've got time yet."

                "I can't stay here...she can't find me here...!" Gently lifting the
                dove from his lap, Shinichi stood up from the stairs, his eyes
                brightening as if he were just waking up. Roused from his nap, Shiro
                fluttered; Shinichi released him to fly back to Kaito's shoulder.

                "Relax, you've got at least an hour," Kaito said, stroking the dove's
                feathered breast. He stood as well, towering over Shinichi, who took
                an involuntary step back. "Guess I should get going, too. Places to
                go, people to see..."

                "Kaito..." Shinichi's voice was low, almost warning.

                "Hm?" The youth glanced at him. "Oh, don't be concerned with Kid,
                Shinichi. There won't be any more heists until you and I work this
                out. Okay? You can sleep soundly--I won't pull anything."

                Shinichi frowned at him for a moment, measuring the honesty in his
                expression, before looking away again. "Alright. But...this
                weekend...?"

                "How about Friday afternoon? Don't worry, I'll find you. And I won't
                blow your cover--you have my word on that." Kaito's pack of cards
                went into a pocket; Shiro the dove just seemed to vanish somewhere
                along the line as the youth turned toward the hall and the door,
                waving as he went. "Take care, Shinichi. I'll see you around."

                Shinichi stood still, watching him leave. When the teenage thief was
                gone, out of his sight and out of his house, he took another deep,
                shaky breath. Alone with his own thoughts now, he struggled to
                assimilate everything he'd heard, everything he'd learned.

                His eyes fell to the birth certificate, still lying innocently on the
                floor. It hadn't been a dream, or a hallucination- -the paper was
                real, smooth against his fingertips as he picked it up. The document
                still displayed the same incriminating kanji in stark black ink.

                Shinichi Kuroba--his name, his real name; his true heritage, the
                secret that his father had been keeping all these years...

                His gaze turned to the stairway, his mind's eye focusing on the attic-
                -on the trunk and its little secret chamber in the lid. He had to
                hide this certificate, never let anyone see it...at least until he
                decided what to do about Kid--his cousin, Kaito Kuroba--his parents,
                and his whole situation.

                He had two days to think about it.

                * * * * *
                Right after school that day, Ran said goodbye to Sonoko and hurried
                toward home, swerving off course to take the slight detour that would
                lead her by Professor Agasa's house. And Shinichi's, too;
                strange...this route had been her usual way to and from school,
                before Shinichi had become so scarce.

                Shinichi was on her mind, as usual--more so now because of the gift
                she had given him and their recent conversation over the phone. That
                day occupied her thoughts constantly; it was the first time he'd
                called in so long, and she'd missed his voice so much. She missed his
                face too, but he so rarely ever appeared. He was becoming a ghost...

                A ghost whose image she saw so often in the little boy that lived at
                her house--a little boy who always made her wonder, no matter how
                many times he or Shinichi denied it...

                Conan and Shinichi were just barely relatives, right? Distant cousins
                only through Shinichi's mother and Professor Agasa. One of those
                genetic flukes that cropped up amongst cousins, that made them so
                alike not only in features but in manner, personality,
                intelligence. ..in their blue eyes that would sometimes just look at
                her like that... Even with the word of Agasa and the Kudos, even
                through all she'd seen and heard, little Conan still just made her
                wonder.

                Last Friday night was on her mind for more than one reason.

                That evening, she'd been too excited to notice; she'd just heard from
                Shinichi, and she was overjoyed that he'd received his gift and liked
                it so much. Then there was her little half-joking demand of him--the
                stuttering promise he'd made...she hadn't even thought about it,
                because after that, Conan had come home and she'd had a wonderful
                present for him, too. And Conan had seen Shinichi--he' d been with
                Shinichi at Agasa's and could tell her how he was doing.

                Conan had been so cute and shy, giving her that kiss on Shinichi's
                behalf just to cheer her up. The curious little scamp was such a
                lovable dear when he wanted to be; whenever her heart was broken by
                Shinichi, Conan was there trying in his sweet childish way to make
                her feel better.

                There was a discrepancy in that evening's events that she hadn't
                realized until the next day. She'd been so elated at hearing
                Shinichi's voice, and so touched by Conan's thoughtfulness. It took
                some extremely boring math homework and a long stare out an empty
                window to make the facts fall into place for her; she'd been
                concentrating on things other than algebraic equations, running over
                the previous evening's events in her head--when realization had
                struck.

                How did Conan know that Shinichi had promised her a kiss?

                The question still turned over and over in her head, even now.
                According to Shinichi, Conan had left Agasa's house before Shinichi
                had made his call, so there was no way Conan could have overheard--
                and even if he did, hearing only half the phone conversation wouldn't
                let him know that Ran had demanded that "payment" from Shinichi. And
                Conan wouldn't have heard her on the phone, either--she' d hung up the
                telephone and had been salvaging dinner long before he'd ever showed
                up, and even if he had heard, he still wouldn't have known about the
                kiss because he wouldn't have heard what payment Ran was talking
                about. On top of that, Shinichi couldn't have told him because he
                hadn't walked Conan home--and Shinichi didn't talk about such
                embarassing things anyway.

                Those long-familiar old suspicions were back again, full force since
                last Saturday. She hated the uncertainty; even through all the things
                she'd been told, she still couldn't quite believe...because there was
                always something.

                And Conan had been acting different the last few days as well. Ever
                since that evening and the books, the boy had been withdrawn and
                moody when she watched him in secret, though whenever he noticed her
                presence he would immediately brighten into innocent cuteness, pick
                himself up, and start off on a chatter with "Ran-neechan! " and from
                there on be the perfectly sweet little boy she'd always known--until
                he thought she'd left. But he'd spent so much time at Professor
                Agasa's this week...and why had it not been a surprise when Agasa
                called her to say that Conan wasn't going to school this morning?

                She'd almost been expecting that...as if she knew in her heart that
                something other than a fun new experiment had happened last night...

                Her speculations had distracted her all day at school, and she was
                still pensive about it. Now she had to pick Conan up...and the state
                he was in when she did would determine her pattern of thought for her
                next set of theories. If he was a happy, bouncing little boy with a
                sniffle, she would be reassured that it had indeed been a fun project
                and he had been brought out of his moodiness by Agasa's invention,
                and had just caught a cold from the excitement-- he did seem prone to
                respiratory infections, after all--and she could shove all her crazy
                Ran-musing back into the closet in her mind. But if Conan was
                depressed and not all that ill, if he was just being silent and
                hiding something, she would know that something else had happened.
                But what...?

                Ran was not stupid; she lived with a private investigator and
                participated in cases, and had spent nearly all her life in fairly
                close proximity to police, mysteries, and detectives. She was no
                stranger to clues and deductions-- years of hanging around with
                Shinichi had taught her some critical thinking and logic skills.

                And from that, she was coming to some suspicious conclusions once
                more. Something was coming to a head--she could feel it. Another
                confrontation- -another demand for the truth that would be answered by
                a rock-solid alibi or excuse--another reason why she shouldn't
                suspect...but she still did.

                She put on her happy Ran-neechan face as she turned in Agasa's gate;
                if it was all just her wild ideas acting up again, she didn't want to
                upset Conan after he'd had a fun evening and spent the morning with a
                sniffle. Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door.

                Ai answered it, quiet as usual, and led Ran into the living room to
                wait for Conan. Ran greeted the Professor warmly; Agasa responded but
                seemed somewhat distracted, while Ai disappeared into the back
                without a word.

                Ran frowned, sitting on the couch. Is it just me or are those two a
                bit...preoccupied? she asked herself. Something must have happened--
                more than the usual "Agasa-blew- up-his-lab- again" stuff. If Conan's
                involved...

                The object of her current musings came into the room rather abruptly,
                looking rumpled and missing his glasses, pausing to blink at her in
                surprise as if she'd just appeared out of thin air in front of him.

                "Hello, Conan-kun!" Ran greeted brightly. "I came to get you on my
                way home from school. Professor Agasa said you caught a bit of a cold-
                -are you feeling okay?"

                The odd look turned into a bright Conan-smile. "Yeah, I'm a lot
                better this afternoon," the boy replied. He seemed a bit tense
                despite his smile as he came over to her, snatching his glasses from
                the coffee table and slipping them on.

                Ran smiled, reaching out to run her fingers through his oddly
                disheveled-- and slightly damp--brown hair. "Did you just take a
                bath?"

                Blushing faintly, Conan moved to sit on the couch beside her,
                unobtrusively- -but noticeably-- just beyond her arm's reach. "Yeah,
                but I couldn't find my comb, so my hair's messy."

                "That's strange," Ran contemplated aloud. "I could've sworn I packed
                your comb yesterday... "

                "Uh, I must've shuffled it around and dropped it when I was getting
                out my pajamas last night," Conan offered quickly, smiling. "It's
                okay."

                "Are you ready to go home?"

                Conan nodded. "Yeah!"

                "Alright then, go get your stuff and let's get going."

                The little boy pattered off, leaving Ran to watch him go. Her
                pleasant expression had shifted to thoughtfulness; Conan was her
                familiar happy little boy...but some of the sparkle was gone from his
                smile. He was still depressed--just skillfully hiding it; she knew
                him well enough to know that. He also didn't sound like he had a
                cold.

                And with her thoughts lately, she had to wonder...

                In short order they were walking home, both carrying their bags.
                Conan trotted obediently at her side, his small hand clutching hers
                as they quietly followed the familiar sidewalk that would lead them
                to the Mouri Detective Agency. She watched him out of the corner of
                her eye, worried and curious; his face was downcast beneath his
                tangled bangs and all he did was watch the concrete go by, not paying
                any attention to her.

                "Conan-kun, what's the matter?" Ran asked softly. "You're awfully
                quiet today...are you okay?"

                "Hm?" He glanced up at her with a morose expression that only halfway
                made it to a Conan-smile. "Yeah, I'm fine! I had fun at Professor
                Agasa's."

                "You did, huh?" Ran tried to sound agreeable even though she was
                unconvinced. With a sigh, she let the matter drop, sadly turning her
                gaze back to the world in front of her.

                They had arrived at the Mouri Detective Agency, climbing the steps to
                the flat above, when Conan made a sound--a small strange sound, like
                a gulp mixed with a sigh. His soft quavering voice spoke up, barely
                audible, as his pace slowed enough that he tugged at her hand.

                "Ran-neechan, if...if I did...something bad...would
                you...still. ..like me?"

                Startled by his question, Ran stopped just outside the door and
                whirled to him, staring down at him. His eyes were fixed on the
                floor, though his small hand tightened on hers. Concerned, she knealt
                down to his level, squeezing his fingers reassuringly. "Oh...Conan-
                kun...of course I would!" she replied honestly. "Everyone makes
                mistakes--I couldn't stop liking you just because of that. Whatever
                made you ask?"

                He still wouldn't look at her, so she put two fingers to his chin,
                drawing his gaze up. His eyes met hers once, then flicked away as
                though remorseful, guilty. His lips were drawn into a thin taut line
                that refused to open and answer her question.

                "Oh, Conan-kun... " She drew him into a warm, affectionate embrace,
                startled to note how uptight he was, how he tensed at her touch. She
                held him close, wanting to protect him from whatever was hurting him.
                He must've done something wrong, at school or at Agasa's, and was
                feeling horrible for it--he was usually such a well-behaved little
                boy, despite his oddities. If he'd gotten into unaccustomed trouble
                and thought that everyone would abandon him because of it...! "Conan-
                kun...you know you can tell me anything. If something happened...if
                it's bothering you...I promise I'll listen no matter what it is. We
                can work it out, you'll see--you can tell me, I promise I won't hate
                you. I can't hate you, Conan-kun... you're too special to me."

                For an instant her speculations filled her mind--for an instant she
                wasn't sure who she was talking to, but she meant every word
                regardless.

                She felt his tension melt; his face buried itself in her shoulder and
                his thin arms came up to wrap around her in return, trembling. His
                breaths were thick and shaky as if he were about to cry. "Ran-
                neechan..." he whispered. "Ran-neechan. .."

                "It's alright, Conan-kun... no matter what happened, I'll understand."
                She rubbed his back until his trembling ceased and it seemed that
                he'd relaxed. When his arms finally loosened and she released him,
                his face was red, but there were no tears on his cheeks. He stepped
                back from her and straightened his shirt, running one hand through
                his hair in an embarassed gesture that she found startlingly
                familiar. Pushing her own thoughts aside once more, she managed a
                good smile for him. "When you're ready, you can tell me. For now,
                let's go in and get dinner started, shall we? I bet you'll feel
                better once you get something to eat."

                He nodded mutely as she rose and led him inside.

                * * * * *
                Ran was right; Conan did feel a little better with a stomach full of
                her warm, delicious cooking. He didn't think he'd made it all the way
                back to his usual self, but he was no longer hanging by a thread. He
                even felt well enough to go start on his almost forgotten--and
                unbearably easy--grade- school homework.

                Scooping up his backpack and duffel from where he'd left them by the
                door, he headed to the bedroom to get started in private--he didn't
                like Ran to watch him unless he felt he had to show off
                his "scholastic aptitudes".. .i.e., make her think he really was a
                dumb little seven-year-old just starting to learn things like math
                and spelling. But with the way he was feeling tonight, he didn't want
                to prolong the torture any more than was absolutely necessary. He
                opened his backpack to fish out his books--and froze in shock,
                dismayed, coming to a horrified realization.

                He'd unloaded his books and papers at Agasa's to stock his pack with
                the tools he'd needed to break into Kyozou's mansion--and those tools
                and equipment were still inside.

                "Crap--!" he hissed, cutting himself off before someone heard. Oh
                damn, I gotta hide this stuff! How could I just forget? How many
                times have I caught a murderer because he still had the weapon on
                him? Geeze, I must've left my whole brain unplugged today--!

                Zipping up his pack and half-hiding it under the blankets of his
                little futon, he raced back to the living room, not even having to
                wear a Conan-mask to appear as frantic as he needed to. "Ran-neechan!
                I left my books at Professor Agasa's house!" he blurted as soon as he
                was in the door. "Can I go get them? I'll only be a few minutes--" He
                was already grabbing up his shoes.

                "Hold it, hold it!" Ran strode across the room, wiping her hands on a
                towel--she'd been in the middle of washing the dishes. "It's after
                dark, Conan-kun. You know the rules about when you can go out alone."

                Dammit... He gritted his teeth, quickly hiding his frustration. "But
                Ran-neechan, I need my books!" he whined, putting on his very best
                whimpering tone, aided by his irritation. "I can't turn my homework
                in late! Teacher will be mad!"

                Ran smiled. "Don't worry. As soon as I get done with the dishes, I'll
                go get them for you. Okay?"

                But I really need to go myself to take this junk back to
                Agasa! "Okay..." he sighed. Crap...beggars can't be choosers. But if
                Ran or Ojisan catch a glimpse of what's in my pack right now, I'm
                dead.

                Immediately, he smiled widely for her benefit. "Thanks, Ran-neechan! "

                "You're welcome, Conan-kun. It'll just be a bit."

                He was already heading back out, already hard at work on his next
                problem--how he was going to hide those tools here, and then at
                school tomorrow, until he could get them back to Agasa's and get rid
                of them.

                * * * * *
                True to her word, Ran put on her coat and headed back toward Agasa's
                as soon as she finished with the dishes and dinner cleanup. It was
                just after dark so she kept her steps quick and purposeful, her eyes
                open for trouble just as her parents had always cautioned her. As she
                walked, her mind drifted back to Shinichi and the previous Friday,
                just as it had done all week; her thoughts were as confusing as ever
                and were beginning to frustrate her.

                Her theory about Conan's identity wasn't really what bothered her--it
                was the uncertainty that hurt the most. Ambiguity upset her more than
                truth or lies.

                Agasa's gate was just ahead; she pulled out of her usual long,
                meandering reverie and shaking her head in chagrin. She picked up her
                pace, passing the Kudo residence without a second thought--

                Wait a second... She pulled up short several steps past Shinichi's
                gate, surprised. Eyes wide, she reversed direction and peered in the
                gate, startled to see... Lights? There's lights on at Shinichi's
                house? Her mind went wild with unreasoning hope. That means he might
                be--!

                She was through the gate and dashing up the walkway without an ounce
                of hesitation, face lit with a single solitary wish. Shinichi...!

                His porch light wasn't on, although the front door was unlocked. She
                all but tore the door down, kicking off her shoes as soon as she was
                across the threshold and darting into the living room. "Shinichi?
                Shinichi?" she called, her voice echoing shrill through the corridors
                as she went from room to room, until...

                ...until she stumbled into the study/library, and found the desk and
                filing cabinets torn apart, their contents scattered across the
                floor. Her jaw dropped at the sight; never had she seen such a mess
                in Shinichi Kudo's home--this clutter was more Professor Agasa's
                style.

                Oh no...could it be...? She gasped aloud, then whirled to go back
                through the house, checking every room. The study was in ruins, the
                elder Kudos' bedroom was a shambles, and the contents of the upstairs
                hall closet were strewn all across the carpet.

                It didn't take a detective to figure this out--a detective's daughter
                could easily see that someone had gone through these rooms like a
                buzz saw, thorough and hurried, looking for something important.
                Probably money or valuables, though none of the more obvious things
                were missing from their places.

                The front door unlocked...the rooms torn apart... Ran all but fell
                down the stairs, rushing outside and turning toward Professor
                Agasa's. There's been a thief in Shinichi's house!

                She banged on Agasa's door, shouting for him to hurry. When the older
                man appeared in the doorway, he was alarmed to see Ran in such a
                state of panic.

                "Ran-kun? What's happened? Is everything alright?"

                "Professor.. .Shinichi' s house...!" She took great gulps of air,
                trying to speak. "Shinichi's house has been robbed! We need to call
                the police! Oh, it's all torn apart...!"

                "Oh my!" Agasa gestured her in quickly. "Hurry now, but don't panic.
                Here, why don't you go sit down and catch your breath, and I'll take
                care of it."

                "Thank you, Professor... thank you..." Still panting from her sprint,
                Ran slumped down on Agasa's couch and explained to him what she'd
                found, then rested while the scientist hurried to the kitchen phone.

                When Agasa got to his kitchen, however, the first place he called was
                not the police station. The auto-dial button set for the Mouri
                Detective Agency was quickly stabbed, and Agasa waited nervously
                through three rings before the other end picked up and a weary-
                sounding Conan recited, "Hello, Mouri Detective--"

                "Shinichi!" Agasa broke in quickly. "Hold on, it's me."

                "Professor Agasa?" There was a pause, and the semi-cheerful little
                boy was replaced by a tired young-man-speaking- with-little- boy-
                voice. "Ran's on her way to you. Did something--? "

                "Yes, something's happened, but I wanted to check with you first.
                Shinichi, were you aware that your house has been ransacked?"

                "Huh? Oh..." Conan's voice cleared its throat. "Sorry, that was me.
                Thanks for making sure."

                "Er...was there any particular reason for that? Ran said she saw
                lights on and went in to see."

                "Aw...crap.. ." Shinichi sighed loudly. "I'm completely forgetting
                everything today. I left those tools from last night in my backpack
                and they're over here now, my kiddy homework is over there with you--
                Ran's picking it up--and now this. Just great..."

                "What should we do? If it was you, then--"

                "Gimme a sec and I'll call back with my other voice," Shinichi
                replied. "Ojisan's snoring drunk on the floor over here, so I think I
                can get away with it."

                "Be careful."

                "I will."

                Agasa hung up, and waited. A minute later, the phone rang, and he
                snatched it on the first ring. "Hello, Professor Agasa's residence--"

                "Okay," said the smooth tenor of Shinichi Kudo. "I got it. Let Ran
                talk to me if she wants."

                "Alright," Agasa said quietly--then raised his voice for Ran's
                benefit. "Oh, how are you, Shinichi? Forgot something, did you say?
                Ah, that's alright, I can take care of it..."

                Predictably, Ran was in the kitchen in a matter of seconds, eyes lit
                up like stars in her pale face. "Is that Shinichi? Did you tell him--
                ?"

                Agasa hushed her with a gesture. "Yes, that's Ran--she just got here
                a few moments ago--put her on? Okay." The older man handed her the
                phone with a wink. "He wants to talk to you."

                Ran snatched the phone with all the desperation of a starving woman
                reaching for bread. "Shinichi? Where are you? Your house is all
                messed up--there was someone--!"

                "Hey, take it easy, Ran! You don't have to worry about the mess,"
                said Shinichi's voice--music to her ears, so wonderfully even and
                reassuring. Even if he did sound...tired. "I did all that--bad
                manners, I know, but I was in an awful rush and I had to find
                something. I'll clean it up when I get the chance, I promise."

                Agasa was already stepping unobtrusively out of the room. Ran's
                tension eased upon hearing Shinichi's words--what little tension was
                left after hearing his voice again. "Well, I'm glad it wasn't a
                robbery! What's the matter with you, leaving such a mess in your own
                house? What would your parents think?"

                "Heh, they'd think I was growing a snout and a curly tail, like my
                mom used to say," Shinichi chuckled. "Sorry to make you worry, Ran.
                I'm glad you're looking out for me, even though I've been such a jerk
                to you all the time."

                "Someone has to keep an eye on you, with your parents gone so much,"
                Ran replied. "Shinichi, are you okay? You sound exhausted."

                "Oh..." Shinichi sighed. "It's just...some things about this case
                and...some family problems. I've been under a lot of stress lately,
                and I guess it's starting to show."

                "So the Great Detective Kudo really is human," Ran teased gently.

                "Yeah...I'm learning that, slowly..." After his faint chuckle,
                Shinichi was quiet for long moments, as if gathering his
                thoughts. "Uh, Ran...if I was a total idiot and really screwed up
                with...um, if I did something pretty bad...what would you think?"

                The question struck her, having been asked for the second time on the
                same day--and by two people who shared so many similarities. .. "Well,
                I...I'd probably be upset with you, depending on what it was.
                But...if you're asking if we'd still be friends...of course we would!
                That's what friends are for, right? Mistakes are something to learn
                from, and if you didn't ever make any I'd really start to wonder
                about you. But I could forgive you for anything, Shinichi--I could
                never hate you...you're very special to me."

                Shinichi's breath caught, just before she realized that she'd said
                the same thing to Conan. She waited for a small eternity for Shinichi
                to speak again--while her own mind whirled at the
                parallel. "Shinichi? Are you...still there?"

                "Yeah, Ran...I..." He gulped audibly. "Thanks, Ran. I'm glad you'd
                still... I really...appreciate ... I just..." He stumbled over his own
                words, as if her honest statement had touched something. "I...I gotta
                go. This goddamn case is...well... "

                Ran smiled faintly. "It's okay, Shinichi. You can tell me when you're
                ready. I'll be waiting."

                "Ran..."

                "Goodbye, Shinichi. I'll see you soon."

                She hung up without waiting for his response, sighing as she set the
                phone in the cradle. When she walked out of the kitchen, Agasa stood
                there in the hall with a small stack of books and papers in his
                hands.

                "Professor?"

                The older man smiled at her. "I found these earlier, so I thought
                Conan-kun might need them. Here you are."

                Ran took the books with another sigh. "Thanks. I guess I should get
                going before it gets any later. Goodbye, Professor."

                As Ran walked home, her steps were not so quick, and her mind was
                full of Shinichi once more--Shinichi and Conan.

                * * * * *
                Predictably, Conan pounced on her the moment she came in the door. He
                was in his pajamas and slippers, ready for bed--it was getting rather
                late, and if he wanted to finish his homework before bedtime he'd
                have to get through it lickety-split. He took the small books and
                papers from her with a grateful smile, thanking her brightly as he
                did.

                "You're welcome, Conan-kun," she replied as she removed her coat and
                hung it up. Her father was still asleep on the floor, sprawled
                uncaringly with a pillow clutched in his arms like a life
                preserver. "You'll have to thank Professor Agasa next time you see
                him," she continued, stepping past Kogoro's sleeping form. "He's the
                one who found your books and gathered them."

                "'Zat so?" Conan responded. "Okay, I will. Thanks again, Ran-neechan- -
                I'm gonna go do my homework now."

                She was across the room by now, facing away from him, trying to keep
                her hands from curling into tense fists. "Conan-kun.. ."

                "Hm?" His small hand was reaching up for the doorknob, and he half-
                turned at her soft utterance.

                "Can I ask you something?"

                Curious, he faced her fully, though she didn't turn around. "Sure."

                "Conan-kun.. .the other day--on Friday...when I gave you the book..."
                She took a deep breath, plunging on. "How did you know that Shinichi
                had promised me a kiss?"

                Oh shit-- In shock, Shinichi froze, eyes going wide behind the
                concealing Conan-glasses. Startled by her question, he nearly dropped
                his books, his mouth falling open as he realized what an utter,
                complete blunder he'd made. Ran still didn't turn to face him, but he
                could feel her focused attention as if she were standing right over
                him and glaring down. Every line of her seemed rigid, and there was a
                certain tension in the way she held her head up, the way her back
                stayed ramrod-straight.

                "Uh...well.. ..actually I just...um... .you know..." His mouth
                automatically produced his Conan-voice, automatically began spouting
                nonsense. He was shaking all over, realizing there was no way in hell
                he could talk his way out of this--he'd known it the instant the
                words had come out of her mouth. She'd obviously put the evidence
                together--she wasn't stupid, she hadn't forgotten it; he'd been just
                plain careless to have done that...and his cover was so totally
                blown...!

                His frantic stuttering fumbled to a halt when Ran turned to him at
                last; she was almost tremb



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              • saja ali
                well,i am really sorry but i dont have the continuation of the story i was looking for the mail of Gosho Aoyama the writer of conan so i found this story.
                Message 7 of 15 , Jul 3, 2007
                • 0 Attachment
                  well,i am really sorry but i dont have the continuation of the story i was looking for the mail of Gosho Aoyama the writer of conan so i found this  story.

                  Anne Lorraine Delaon <anne_delaon@...> wrote:
                  light swan, i guess this story isnt finish yet. can you pls post the continuation. ..
                  i cant sleep at night just thinking of the next event. BIG PLS....

                  ----- Original Message ----
                  From: light swan <mercy_seat91@ yahoo.com>
                  To: conan@yahoogroups. com
                  Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2007 11:27:58 PM
                  Subject: [conan] shinichi kaito

                  ((Disclaimer: Shinichi/Conan, Ran, Kaito, Heiji, and all the rest
                  belong to Gosho Aoyama. Meitantei Conan and Majiku Kaitou are all
                  his! I don't own anything; I'm only borrowing them. Standard
                  legalities apply. Please enjoy!))

                  Relative Truth
                  by Becky Tailweaver

                  File 6: Double Checkmate

                  *Flashback*

                  Kaito immediately cornered Jii and demanded to know about Yuusaku
                  Kudo--and his connection to Shinichi. Who were they, and how was it
                  that they could defeat even the matchless Kid? It couldn't be a
                  coincidence- -not with Shinichi's uncanny mind and the way Kaito's
                  father described Yuusaku's skills.

                  Jii was, again, saddened and disturbed. But when Kaito pressed him,
                  he relented, taking a deep quiet breath to tell his tale.

                  "I don't know how you'll take this, young Master," the old man
                  began, "but all I can tell you is what I know of the truth. It
                  started many years ago, when your father was still a young man, not
                  yet famous as the Great Magician Toichi Kuroba. As you know, your
                  grandfather was a bandit magician as well, and he trained his sons in
                  the art of the phantom thief--"

                  "Hold on a sec," Kaito interrupted, puzzled. "Did you just
                  say 'sons'...?"

                  "Yes, young Master, you heard me correctly," Jii replied. "Your
                  father had a younger brother, who trained alongside him under your
                  grandfather, the old Master. The brothers were in their late
                  teens...that' s when I first became privileged to serve the Kuroba
                  family as manservant and assistant. It was at about that time that
                  your father and his brother had finished their training, and were
                  finally allowed to operate on their own."

                  Kaito leaned back, eyebrows high. "I've got an uncle somewhere? Che,
                  why didn't Mom tell me anything about this...?"

                  Jii looked down sadly. "Because she had promised not to. It was long
                  ago, young Master...you were only a tiny child then. You wouldn't
                  remember him."

                  "So who is he? Is he still alive? Where does he live?" Kaito's
                  questions were quick and curious.

                  "This information must never leave this room, young Master," Jii
                  responded, surprisingly direct. "It's a secret your father kept to
                  his grave, and I was not to speak of it either, but..." He took
                  another breath. "Your uncle is still alive; his name is Yuusaku
                  Kuroba, although when he and your father had their quarrel and parted
                  ways, he changed his name to--"

                  "Yuusaku Kudo?" Kaito jerked upright, his quick wits having already
                  jumped ahead of the old man. Jii nodded, and Kaito's jaw
                  dropped. "Holy cow, that renowned mystery novelist? Geez, he's as
                  famous as Dad in some places! It's him? He's my uncle? And that would
                  make Shinichi Kudo my...my...!" His voice ran out as his eyes went
                  wide, his mind running wild. He gaped for a moment, gulping...and
                  then began to laugh.

                  Jii blinked. "Ah...young Master, are you...?"

                  Kaito held his sides, trying to speak between chuckles. "Oh, this is
                  too rich! I'm related to the little twerp!" He broke out in another
                  gale of laughter. "Ah, the irony! No wonder--brains must run in the
                  family! I should have seen it--damn, he's the only one who ever
                  cornered me!"

                  After a while, Kaito was finally able to breathe normally; he wiped
                  his eys, chuckling, and looked to Jii once more. "So...here's a good
                  question--just why did Ojisan change his name and take off like that?
                  Did he blow his cover or something?"

                  Jii shook his head sadly. "No, young Master. Your uncle was every bit
                  as good as your father; they made a powerful team, each with his own
                  strengths and talents. However...Master Yuusaku was always the
                  quieter of the two. Where your father loved to lead the police on a
                  merry chase, loved to perform puzzling tricks and feats of deviltry
                  in the spotlight, Master Yuusaku preferred to work from the shadows,
                  stealthy and quick--he was a silent ghost where your father was a
                  boisterous poltergeist. The most delicate, secret operations were his
                  greatest performances. "

                  "Hn...so Ojisan wasn't a showoff, huh? Bet he never made a good
                  standup magician."

                  Jii smiled a little, wryly. "No, he didn't; he was more suited to
                  quiet table shows and private exhibitions. But he was good--make no
                  mistake, young Master, he was very good. Were he still in the
                  business today, I doubt you'd find him an easy opponent."

                  "Why isn't he still in the business?" Kaito asked curiously, eager
                  eyes hiding his concern.

                  "Your father and your uncle were phantom thieves by heritage and by
                  trade," Jii explained. "However, in the daylight they each had their
                  own hobbies and jobs. Your father, as you know, loved sleight-of-hand
                  and illusion just as you do; over time, he became the famous
                  magician, Toichi Kuroba."

                  "And Ojisan?"

                  "Master Yuusaku, being the quiet person that he was...had a love of
                  books. Oddly enough, it was detectives and mysteries that enchanted
                  him the most. As a youngster he loved reading about murder mysteries
                  and famous detectives like Sherlock Holmes. Since he became quite an
                  expert on investigation and deduction, he became the strategist for
                  many of the heists he and your father planned; he could think ahead
                  and accurately predict how the police would react. His reasoning
                  saved them both many times."

                  Kaito listened with rapt attention, absorbed in the tale.

                  "When he was about your age," Jii continued, "Master Yuusaku started
                  writing books, and called himself 'Kudo.' He took on the pen name to
                  protect his privacy, since it wouldn't be safe if his growing fame
                  revealed his shadow life as a phantom thief. He loved writing
                  detective stories--so much, in fact, that he even began to live the
                  life by day. He was nearby when a murder was committed, and although
                  he was a thief, both he and your father abhorred the thought of
                  taking a human life. Master Yuusaku used his strong deduction skills
                  to assist the police investigator with finding the real culprit.
                  After that, he continued solving murder cases whenever the police
                  called upon him--and even to them, he was known only as Yuusaku Kudo,
                  novelist and deduction expert. They never knew his real name."

                  "That must be where Shinichi got it from," Kaito murmured
                  thoughtfully. "The guy can't help but jump on any murder case that
                  comes his way."

                  "I haven't seen Master Yuusaku's son since he was a baby," Jii said,
                  almost wistfully. "If he has even half of his father's wits and
                  charisma...he must be a worthy opponent for you indeed."

                  Kaito scowled a bit, somewhat petulantly. "Hell yeah...he's annoying.
                  Remember the 'bad feeling' you got about the Clock Tower job? Well,
                  that was him."

                  Jii hid his chuckle. "I expect that was a harrowing experience, from
                  what you've told me."

                  The youth just snorted. "Feh...anyway, what happened to make Ojisan
                  leave the family?"

                  "I'm not quite sure about that," Jii replied sadly. "There are
                  obvious reasons for what he did...but no one knows for certain
                  exactly what was said the night he left, except your father and
                  Master Yuusaku themselves. I believe that things began to change when
                  Master Yuusaku met Miss Yukiko, and he began to realize that his life
                  in the shadows might be a danger to her. You see, by then your father
                  and uncle had made some enemies in the underworld-- "

                  Kaito sat up immediately. "The guys who killed Dad?"

                  Jii nodded. "Yes, and others like them. You know it as a rule, young
                  Master--a phantom thief doesn't always keep what he steals. In truth,
                  he should give back nearly everything he takes--the art of the return-
                  -"

                  "'--is as worthy an art as the theft itself,'" Kaito quoted for
                  him. "I know, I know..."

                  "Yes, young Master. And because they often found out about these
                  darker syndicates' planned robberies due to their underworld
                  contacts, they would usually steal the items in a flamboyant manner
                  before the other organizations got to them--and when the stolen items
                  were returned, they would be guarded that much more carefully. In a
                  way, it is a phantom thief's duty to protect the beautiful and
                  valuable things of this world..."

                  "Hey, don't get sappy on me now, old man," Kaito prodded, seeing the
                  wistful look in Jii's eyes. "Keep going with the story!"

                  "Ah...yes... " Jii cleared his throat. "As you know, this greatly
                  angered these shadowy organizations, and eventually led to the
                  Master's murder...but Master Yuusaku had left long before then." The
                  older man looked sad, and somehow more elderly than he usually
                  did. "At first, Miss Yukiko dated Master Yuusaku knowing him only as
                  the famous writer, Kudo. As far as I know, he told her the truth
                  about himself just prior to their engagement, and she kept his secret
                  when they were married."

                  "Mom and Dad were married by then, weren't they?" Kaito asked.

                  "Yes...a couple of years before that, actually. Those were some happy
                  times; both your father and your uncle had someone to love, and for a
                  while everything went well. Phantom thieves by night, magician and
                  novelist by day, they were content even though there was constant
                  danger of discovery by one of their enemies." Jii smiled, eyes full
                  of memory. "All of them were very close; your mothers became the best
                  of friends, and even shared a little of the Masters' secret lives,
                  learning some skills in disguise. Because their marriages were
                  several years apart, it came as a great surprise that their sons were
                  born at nearly the same time. It was thought that you and the other
                  young Master, Shinichi, would be raised and trained together as
                  phantom thieves just as your fathers before you."

                  Kaito's brows went up at that. "Hm...come to think of it, Kudo would
                  make one hell of a thief if he put his mind to it. He's sneaky enough
                  as it is, with the little problem he's got right now..."

                  "But it was not to be, young Master," Jii went on, face
                  darkening. "You and Master Shinichi weren't even a year old when it
                  happened..."

                  "When what happened?"

                  "There was an attack--somehow, someone from one of the organizations
                  had followed the Masters, and found one of their safehouses. It was
                  extremely unlucky...horrible. ..I wasn't there but I wish I had been--
                  I might've been able to do something... "

                  "Hey, tell me!" Kaito insisted. "What did those bastards do?"

                  "Miss Yukiko and your mother were there at the safehouse, waiting for
                  the Masters' return--it was a dangerous mission that time, something
                  of such importance that even Master Toichi never told me what they
                  had been going after. When the attack came, the Masters were forced
                  to stand and face their enemies, to protect their wives and
                  sons...Master Yuusaku managed to get you and your mother to safety,
                  but Miss Yukiko was badly wounded by an assassin's bullet, and young
                  Shinichi was almost taken hostage--if not for your father's
                  intervention, he would have been killed."

                  Kaito's eyes were wide, transfixed. "Dad...saved Kudo...?"

                  Jii's gaze didn't waver. "He could not let his brother's child become
                  prey for those wolves. He risked his life for his nephew, just as he
                  would have done for you."

                  The youth sat in silence, thinking, his face unusually pensive.

                  "It was after that incident that Master Yuusaku left," Jii continued
                  softly. "He had nearly lost both his wife and his son in a single
                  blow, and I believe that frightened him badly--so badly that he felt
                  he could not continue the life of a phantom thief in the darkness.
                  Even I don't know what happened the night your father and uncle had
                  words, but...from what I've gleaned, Master Yuusaku tried to persuade
                  your father to quit as well, but Master Toichi wouldn't hear of it--
                  the incident had only strengthened his resolve to bring those
                  organizations down. After that, Master Yuusaku changed his identity
                  completely, moving away from the family home, falsifying his
                  credentials, and slipping completely into the role of Yuusaku Kudo,
                  mystery novelist. He severed all ties with the Kuroba family, to keep
                  their enemies from ever finding them again."

                  "He knew, didn't he?" Kaito asked breathlessly. "He knew they'd track
                  down Kaitou Kid's true identity eventually.. ."

                  "Yes...and he was right. Years later--"

                  "--Dad was murdered," Kaito finished, his face hardened with a shadow
                  of anger and sorrow. "Ojisan tried to stop him from being Kid
                  because..."

                  "Master Yuusaku always had a way of knowing these things," Jii said
                  quietly. "After he became Yuusaku Kudo, the writer, he also tried to
                  stop Kaitou Kid by force--by assisting the police in his capture. I
                  suppose he thought alive in jail was better than murdured in the
                  dark..."

                  Kaito's head jerked up. "That's why Dad was so upset? In his notes he
                  talked about Ojisan betraying him--"

                  "The separation hurt both of them deeply--I could tell that Master
                  Toichi was very depressed after his brother left us." Jii sighed,
                  shaking his head. "I never saw Master Yuusaku after that night, not
                  until your father died. He came to see your mother after the funeral,
                  and we talked for only a while. He was grief-stricken at the Master's
                  death, and felt that it was his fault for not being there to help,
                  for not stopping Master Toichi from being Kid. Master Yuusaku had
                  your mother promise that she would keep you away from the life of a
                  phantom thief, to spare you the same fate your father suffered--and
                  in her sorrow, she agreed. He was very concerned about you, young
                  Master, and even saw to you and your mother's care from that day on."

                  "What?" Kaito blinked. "You mean Ojisan didn't just--?"

                  "Even your father's considerable savings could not last forever," Jii
                  explained. "The reason you have been living so comfortably these last
                  few years is because Master Yuusaku has been sending your mother a
                  fair sum of money on a regular basis. That's why she hasn't had to
                  work all this time, and you can afford to pay for your nightly
                  activities of late..." He caught Kaito's boggled look and raised an
                  eyebrow. "Come now, young Master...you didn't think all that money
                  came out of thin air, did you?"

                  "Uh...well.. ." The youth gulped. "I guess I just never really thought
                  about it before. I thought it was all Dad's money..." He cleared his
                  throat. "So Ojisan didn't really abandon his family, did he?"

                  "No...he told me he was always following Kaitou Kid's exploits,
                  getting more and more worried about the risks your father was
                  taking," Jii replied. "That day after the funeral was the last day we
                  spoke--and the same day I left your family's formal service. Your
                  mother asked me to go--she felt I had too much connection to your
                  father's past, and obviously she never told you anything, until you
                  discovered it for yourself..."

                  "Whoa...Mom took Ojisan seriously, didn't she?" Kaito mused, almost
                  sadly.

                  Jii nodded. "Yes...and I imagine Master Yuusaku has already guessed
                  what's been going on, ever since Kaitou Kid 'reappeared. ' He probably
                  knows everything by now--he was always very quick in his
                  observations. I'm sure he hasn't said anything because of his
                  secrets, but...without a doubt, he's been watching after you very
                  closely."

                  "It's nice to know he cares, at least," Kaito remarked. "But I've
                  never met him--he's never come to visit, even on a pretense..."

                  "He still keeps his secrets," Jii explained somewhat sadly. "Even to
                  this day, he fears what will happen if someone realizes that the
                  brother of Toichi Kuroba still lives."

                  And Shinichi's gone and gotten himself into deep shit with some of
                  the same bastards that caused all this, Kaito reflected. I wonder how
                  Ojisan's handling that. Not well, I'd guess...he must have one hell
                  of a Poker Face... "So...you think Shinichi probably doesn't know
                  anything about this?"

                  Jii frowned. "I would imagine he doesn't. That day after the funeral,
                  Master Yuusaku said that ignorance is sometimes a child's best
                  defense--the very reason your mother kept the secret of Kaitou Kid
                  from you. And I know that Master Yuusaku is quite determined to
                  protect his family. Young Master Shinichi probably knows nothing of
                  you or his uncle; it's doubtful he even knows his true name."

                  "Heh..." Kaito leaned back once more, grinning a bit
                  ironically. "Wouldn't that arrogant little meddler blow a gasket if
                  he knew he's related to the infamous Kid...!" He chuckled shortly to
                  himself. "Hell, I'd love to tell him myself, just to see the look on
                  his face!"

                  "Young Master..." Jii said warningly.

                  Kaito rolled his eyes. "I know, I know...it's all a big secret, blah
                  blah blah....I get it already. Besides, if I told him anything, I'd
                  get arrested in a cold second. 'The Great Detective Kudo' takes no
                  prisoners--and he's especially annoyed with me, since I keep giving
                  him the slip." That last sentence was accompanied by a completely
                  unrepentant grin.

                  Jii looked relieved. "I'm glad you undersand, young Master."

                  Kaito shrugged nonchalantly. "Ojisan can keep his secrets, and Kudo
                  can stay ignorant--all I need to do is keep on being Kaitou Kid,
                  until I uncover the bastards who killed my father and see that they
                  pay for what they've done." His grin returned as he rose from his
                  place, turning to leave. After a pause, he glanced back. "Thanks a
                  lot for telling me the truth, Jii. I know to be extra careful around
                  Kudo from now on--after all...same blood, same brains!"

                  With that, Kaito Kuroba walked out, bearing with him the newfound
                  knowledge of his own past--and his true link to Shinichi Kudo.

                  *End Flashback*

                  * * * * *
                  The two boys sat on the stairs with a sleepy dove and a pack of cards
                  for a long time while Kaito related his tale of secrets and discovery
                  in a quiet, even voice. Silent, Shinichi petted the bird in his lap
                  and honestly listened, taking in the youth's words without rebuttal
                  or interruption. Kaito fixed his eyes on middle distance as he spoke,
                  his hands fiddling absently with the pack of cards, shuffling them to
                  and fro with careless, unthinking precision.

                  When the narrative was finished, Kaito wound to a halt, and for a few
                  moments there was uneasy silence between the two. Kaito licked his
                  lips and waited--for what, he wasn't sure. Disbelief, anger, a sharp
                  retort--the sort of response he'd been expecting from the small boy
                  beside him.

                  Shinichi took a deep breath, at last looking up from Shiro's drowsy
                  form to meet the youth's questioning eyes. "So...Kaito. ..you're my
                  cousin."

                  It was a statement of fact, only partially a question, spoken in a
                  soft uncertain tone as if Shinichi were trying to confirm it in his
                  own mind. Kaito managed a half-smile in response, shrugging
                  lightly. "Yeah. Kinda funny, isn't it? Talk about ironic..."

                  Shinichi's snort of reply was almost inaudible. "You can pick your
                  friends..."

                  "...but you can't choose your relatives," Kaito finished for him, his
                  half-smile becoming full. "You actually believe me?"

                  "Why not?" Shinichi replied quietly with a fatalistic chuckle, his
                  eyes dropping again. "I talked to my father already, and what little
                  he said...seems to confirm your story. And there's that..." He
                  gestured vaguely in the direction of the forgotten birth certificate,
                  not really wanting to look at it. "You were right--there is only one
                  truth...and my father's been hiding it all this time..."

                  Kaito eyed him for a moment. "You're really upset about this, aren't
                  you?" he observed keenly, voice hesitant.

                  There was a catch in Shinichi's next breath, and his words were heavy
                  with sarcasm that sounded alarming when spoken with the voice of a
                  small boy. "No, not at all. I just found out my father's been lying
                  to me my whole life, and Mom's been in on it...and everything I knew
                  to be true is all a pack of lies he fed to me and the rest of the
                  world...just to keep his damn secrets..." The catch in his breath
                  became a roughness in his voice as he went on. "No, I'm not upset at
                  all. I'm just fine..."

                  The next breath he took was shaky, and he ran trembling fingers
                  through his bangs with a frustrated murmur of "Dammit..." as he tried
                  to hide his emotions. Kaito caught the glimmer of tears in the boy's
                  eyes when Shinichi glanced at him.

                  "Hey, um..." Kaito carefully set a hand on one thin shoulder in an
                  attempt to comfort, pulling back quickly when Shinichi jerked at his
                  touch. "For what it's worth...I'm sorry. Maybe I should've kept my
                  stupid big mouth shut..."

                  "No," Shinichi interrupted, wiping his eyes. "I'm glad I know. I'm
                  always searching for the truth, so I'm glad. It's just...knowledge
                  itself can sometimes hurt as much as lies. But it's a clean sort of
                  hurting, like when you have to wash a wound. Getting a wound hurts,
                  and sometimes cleansing it hurts worse than the wound did...but it'll
                  heal better in the end..."

                  "'Zat so? Feh, then it's some job I did with the wound cream, huh?"
                  Kaito snorted at himself, at his own coarseness. Before seeing how
                  Shinichi reacted to the revelation, he hadn't really thought about
                  how he'd handled it. "I didn't make it very easy on you."

                  Shinichi glanced away. "There is no easy way to hear something like
                  this." He frowned, looking down at the dove once more, his voice
                  still hoarse. "So now what? Where do we go from here?"

                  Kaito shrugged, hiding his sudden touch of nervousness, gazing at the
                  boy. "I dunno. I guess that all depends on you. You've got me by the
                  tail, Shinichi--you' ve got my name and my identity, and you could
                  have the cops knocking on my door in a second. It's up to you."

                  Shinichi glanced up at him quickly, surprised; that thought actually
                  hadn't crossed his mind since the conversation began. "But...you've
                  also got me," he observed suddenly, almost thoughtfully. "You could
                  blow my identity too, and give me away to the Black Organization if
                  you wanted..."

                  "Huh, I hadn't thought of that," Kaito mused, unconsciously echoing
                  Shinichi's thoughts. "I guess you're right. But the operative phrase
                  here is 'if I wanted.'"

                  Their eyes met, identical gazes of dark blue. Shinichi saw honest
                  hope, a tentative earnestness, behind the impish playfulness of the
                  Kid; Kaito saw wariness, fear, and the first hesitant glimmers of
                  acceptance, maybe trust.

                  In the end, it was Kaito who spoke first. "I've got a good idea," he
                  announced. "We should take some time to think about this, both of us.
                  Let's say...'til the weekend? I cut class to come talk to you, so
                  Aoko's gonna ream me out for sure..." He shook his head. "I think
                  it'd be best if we meet again at a time when we don't have to worry
                  about school or our companions."

                  "School?" Shinichi blinked. "Crap, what time is it...? Ran's gonna
                  come and I can't meet her like this." He didn't even have to gesture
                  to indicate his sweat-tousled hair, tear and grime-streaked face, and
                  the dust and dried perspiration that covered his small body.

                  "Whoa, slow down..." Kaito checked his watch. "You've got time yet."

                  "I can't stay here...she can't find me here...!" Gently lifting the
                  dove from his lap, Shinichi stood up from the stairs, his eyes
                  brightening as if he were just waking up. Roused from his nap, Shiro
                  fluttered; Shinichi released him to fly back to Kaito's shoulder.

                  "Relax, you've got at least an hour," Kaito said, stroking the dove's
                  feathered breast. He stood as well, towering over Shinichi, who took
                  an involuntary step back. "Guess I should get going, too. Places to
                  go, people to see..."

                  "Kaito..." Shinichi's voice was low, almost warning.

                  "Hm?" The youth glanced at him. "Oh, don't be concerned with Kid,
                  Shinichi. There won't be any more heists until you and I work this
                  out. Okay? You can sleep soundly--I won't pull anything."

                  Shinichi frowned at him for a moment, measuring the honesty in his
                  expression, before looking away again. "Alright. But...this
                  weekend...?"

                  "How about Friday afternoon? Don't worry, I'll find you. And I won't
                  blow your cover--you have my word on that." Kaito's pack of cards
                  went into a pocket; Shiro the dove just seemed to vanish somewhere
                  along the line as the youth turned toward the hall and the door,
                  waving as he went. "Take care, Shinichi. I'll see you around."

                  Shinichi stood still, watching him leave. When the teenage thief was
                  gone, out of his sight and out of his house, he took another deep,
                  shaky breath. Alone with his own thoughts now, he struggled to
                  assimilate everything he'd heard, everything he'd learned.

                  His eyes fell to the birth certificate, still lying innocently on the
                  floor. It hadn't been a dream, or a hallucination- -the paper was
                  real, smooth against his fingertips as he picked it up. The document
                  still displayed the same incriminating kanji in stark black ink.

                  Shinichi Kuroba--his name, his real name; his true heritage, the
                  secret that his father had been keeping all these years...

                  His gaze turned to the stairway, his mind's eye focusing on the attic-
                  -on the trunk and its little secret chamber in the lid. He had to
                  hide this certificate, never let anyone see it...at least until he
                  decided what to do about Kid--his cousin, Kaito Kuroba--his parents,
                  and his whole situation.

                  He had two days to think about it.

                  * * * * *
                  Right after school that day, Ran said goodbye to Sonoko and hurried
                  toward home, swerving off course to take the slight detour that would
                  lead her by Professor Agasa's house. And Shinichi's, too;
                  strange...this route had been her usual way to and from school,
                  before Shinichi had become so scarce.

                  Shinichi was on her mind, as usual--more so now because of the gift
                  she had given him and their recent conversation over the phone. That
                  day occupied her thoughts constantly; it was the first time he'd
                  called in so long, and she'd missed his voice so much. She missed his
                  face too, but he so rarely ever appeared. He was becoming a ghost...

                  A ghost whose image she saw so often in the little boy that lived at
                  her house--a little boy who always made her wonder, no matter how
                  many times he or Shinichi denied it...

                  Conan and Shinichi were just barely relatives, right? Distant cousins
                  only through Shinichi's mother and Professor Agasa. One of those
                  genetic flukes that cropped up amongst cousins, that made them so
                  alike not only in features but in manner, personality,
                  intelligence. ..in their blue eyes that would sometimes just look at
                  her like that... Even with the word of Agasa and the Kudos, even
                  through all she'd seen and heard, little Conan still just made her
                  wonder.

                  Last Friday night was on her mind for more than one reason.

                  That evening, she'd been too excited to notice; she'd just heard from
                  Shinichi, and she was overjoyed that he'd received his gift and liked
                  it so much. Then there was her little half-joking demand of him--the
                  stuttering promise he'd made...she hadn't even thought about it,
                  because after that, Conan had come home and she'd had a wonderful
                  present for him, too. And Conan had seen Shinichi--he' d been with
                  Shinichi at Agasa's and could tell her how he was doing.

                  Conan had been so cute and shy, giving her that kiss on Shinichi's
                  behalf just to cheer her up. The curious little scamp was such a
                  lovable dear when he wanted to be; whenever her heart was broken by
                  Shinichi, Conan was there trying in his sweet childish way to make
                  her feel better.

                  There was a discrepancy in that evening's events that she hadn't
                  realized until the next day. She'd been so elated at hearing
                  Shinichi's voice, and so touched by Conan's thoughtfulness. It took
                  some extremely boring math homework and a long stare out an empty
                  window to make the facts fall into place for her; she'd been
                  concentrating on things other than algebraic equations, running over
                  the previous evening's events in her head--when realization had
                  struck.

                  How did Conan know that Shinichi had promised her a kiss?

                  The question still turned over and over in her head, even now.
                  According to Shinichi, Conan had left Agasa's house before Shinichi
                  had made his call, so there was no way Conan could have overheard--
                  and even if he did, hearing only half the phone conversation wouldn't
                  let him know that Ran had demanded that "payment" from Shinichi. And
                  Conan wouldn't have heard her on the phone, either--she' d hung up the
                  telephone and had been salvaging dinner long before he'd ever showed
                  up, and even if he had heard, he still wouldn't have known about the
                  kiss because he wouldn't have heard what payment Ran was talking
                  about. On top of that, Shinichi couldn't have told him because he
                  hadn't walked Conan home--and Shinichi didn't talk about such
                  embarassing things anyway.

                  Those long-familiar old suspicions were back again, full force since
                  last Saturday. She hated the uncertainty; even through all the things
                  she'd been told, she still couldn't quite believe...because there was
                  always something.

                  And Conan had been acting different the last few days as well. Ever
                  since that evening and the books, the boy had been withdrawn and
                  moody when she watched him in secret, though whenever he noticed her
                  presence he would immediately brighten into innocent cuteness, pick
                  himself up, and start off on a chatter with "Ran-neechan! " and from
                  there on be the perfectly sweet little boy she'd always known--until
                  he thought she'd left. But he'd spent so much time at Professor
                  Agasa's this week...and why had it not been a surprise when Agasa
                  called her to say that Conan wasn't going to school this morning?

                  She'd almost been expecting that...as if she knew in her heart that
                  something other than a fun new experiment had happened last night...

                  Her speculations had distracted her all day at school, and she was
                  still pensive about it. Now she had to pick Conan up...and the state
                  he was in when she did would determine her pattern of thought for her
                  next set of theories. If he was a happy, bouncing little boy with a
                  sniffle, she would be reassured that it had indeed been a fun project
                  and he had been brought out of his moodiness by Agasa's invention,
                  and had just caught a cold from the excitement-- he did seem prone to
                  respiratory infections, after all--and she could shove all her crazy
                  Ran-musing back into the closet in her mind. But if Conan was
                  depressed and not all that ill, if he was just being silent and
                  hiding something, she would know that something else had happened.
                  But what...?

                  Ran was not stupid; she lived with a private investigator and
                  participated in cases, and had spent nearly all her life in fairly
                  close proximity to police, mysteries, and detectives. She was no
                  stranger to clues and deductions-- years of hanging around with
                  Shinichi had taught her some critical thinking and logic skills.

                  And from that, she was coming to some suspicious conclusions once
                  more. Something was coming to a head--she could feel it. Another
                  confrontation- -another demand for the truth that would be answered by
                  a rock-solid alibi or excuse--another reason why she shouldn't
                  suspect...but she still did.

                  She put on her happy Ran-neechan face as she turned in Agasa's gate;
                  if it was all just her wild ideas acting up again, she didn't want to
                  upset Conan after he'd had a fun evening and spent the morning with a
                  sniffle. Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door.

                  Ai answered it, quiet as usual, and led Ran into the living room to
                  wait for Conan. Ran greeted the Professor warmly; Agasa responded but
                  seemed somewhat distracted, while Ai disappeared into the back
                  without a word.

                  Ran frowned, sitting on the couch. Is it just me or are those two a
                  bit...preoccupied? she asked herself. Something must have happened--
                  more than the usual "Agasa-blew- up-his-lab- again" stuff. If Conan's
                  involved...

                  The object of her current musings came into the room rather abruptly,
                  looking rumpled and missing his glasses, pausing to blink at her in
                  surprise as if she'd just appeared out of thin air in front of him.

                  "Hello, Conan-kun!" Ran greeted brightly. "I came to get you on my
                  way home from school. Professor Agasa said you caught a bit of a cold-
                  -are you feeling okay?"

                  The odd look turned into a bright Conan-smile. "Yeah, I'm a lot
                  better this afternoon," the boy replied. He seemed a bit tense
                  despite his smile as he came over to her, snatching his glasses from
                  the coffee table and slipping them on.

                  Ran smiled, reaching out to run her fingers through his oddly
                  disheveled-- and slightly damp--brown hair. "Did you just take a
                  bath?"

                  Blushing faintly, Conan moved to sit on the couch beside her,
                  unobtrusively- -but noticeably-- just beyond her arm's reach. "Yeah,
                  but I couldn't find my comb, so my hair's messy."

                  "That's strange," Ran contemplated aloud. "I could've sworn I packed
                  your comb yesterday... "

                  "Uh, I must've shuffled it around and dropped it when I was getting
                  out my pajamas last night," Conan offered quickly, smiling. "It's
                  okay."

                  "Are you ready to go home?"

                  Conan nodded. "Yeah!"

                  "Alright then, go get your stuff and let's get going."

                  The little boy pattered off, leaving Ran to watch him go. Her
                  pleasant expression had shifted to thoughtfulness; Conan was her
                  familiar happy little boy...but some of the sparkle was gone from his
                  smile. He was still depressed--just skillfully hiding it; she knew
                  him well enough to know that. He also didn't sound like he had a
                  cold.

                  And with her thoughts lately, she had to wonder...

                  In short order they were walking home, both carrying their bags.
                  Conan trotted obediently at her side, his small hand clutching hers
                  as they quietly followed the familiar sidewalk that would lead them
                  to the Mouri Detective Agency. She watched him out of the corner of
                  her eye, worried and curious; his face was downcast beneath his
                  tangled bangs and all he did was watch the concrete go by, not paying
                  any attention to her.

                  "Conan-kun, what's the matter?" Ran asked softly. "You're awfully
                  quiet today...are you okay?"

                  "Hm?" He glanced up at her with a morose expression that only halfway
                  made it to a Conan-smile. "Yeah, I'm fine! I had fun at Professor
                  Agasa's."

                  "You did, huh?" Ran tried to sound agreeable even though she was
                  unconvinced. With a sigh, she let the matter drop, sadly turning her
                  gaze back to the world in front of her.

                  They had arrived at the Mouri Detective Agency, climbing the steps to
                  the flat above, when Conan made a sound--a small strange sound, like
                  a gulp mixed with a sigh. His soft quavering voice spoke up, barely
                  audible, as his pace slowed enough that he tugged at her hand.

                  "Ran-neechan, if...if I did...something bad...would
                  you...still. ..like me?"

                  Startled by his question, Ran stopped just outside the door and
                  whirled to him, staring down at him. His eyes were fixed on the
                  floor, though his small hand tightened on hers. Concerned, she knealt
                  down to his level, squeezing his fingers reassuringly. "Oh...Conan-
                  kun...of course I would!" she replied honestly. "Everyone makes
                  mistakes--I couldn't stop liking you just because of that. Whatever
                  made you ask?"

                  He still wouldn't look at her, so she put two fingers to his chin,
                  drawing his gaze up. His eyes met hers once, then flicked away as
                  though remorseful, guilty. His lips were drawn into a thin taut line
                  that refused to open and answer her question.

                  "Oh, Conan-kun... " She drew him into a warm, affectionate embrace,
                  startled to note how uptight he was, how he tensed at her touch. She
                  held him close, wanting to protect him from whatever was hurting him.
                  He must've done something wrong, at school or at Agasa's, and was
                  feeling horrible for it--he was usually such a well-behaved little
                  boy, despite his oddities. If he'd gotten into unaccustomed trouble
                  and thought that everyone would abandon him because of it...! "Conan-
                  kun...you know you can tell me anything. If something happened...if
                  it's bothering you...I promise I'll listen no matter what it is. We
                  can work it out, you'll see--you can tell me, I promise I won't hate
                  you. I can't hate you, Conan-kun... you're too special to me."

                  For an instant her speculations filled her mind--for an instant she
                  wasn't sure who she was talking to, but she meant every word
                  regardless.

                  She felt his tension melt; his face buried itself in her shoulder and
                  his thin arms came up to wrap around her in return, trembling. His
                  breaths were thick and shaky as if he were about to cry. "Ran-
                  neechan..." he whispered. "Ran-neechan. .."

                  "It's alright, Conan-kun... no matter what happened, I'll understand."
                  She rubbed his back until his trembling ceased and it seemed that
                  he'd relaxed. When his arms finally loosened and she released him,
                  his face was red, but there were no tears on his cheeks. He stepped
                  back from her and straightened his shirt, running one hand through
                  his hair in an embarassed gesture that she found startlingly
                  familiar. Pushing her own thoughts aside once more, she managed a
                  good smile for him. "When you're ready, you can tell me. For now,
                  let's go in and get dinner started, shall we? I bet you'll feel
                  better once you get something to eat."

                  He nodded mutely as she rose and led him inside.

                  * * * * *
                  Ran was right; Conan did feel a little better with a stomach full of
                  her warm, delicious cooking. He didn't think he'd made it all the way
                  back to his usual self, but he was no longer hanging by a thread. He
                  even felt well enough to go start on his almost forgotten--and
                  unbearably easy--grade- school homework.

                  Scooping up his backpack and duffel from where he'd left them by the
                  door, he headed to the bedroom to get started in private--he didn't
                  like Ran to watch him unless he felt he had to show off
                  his "scholastic aptitudes".. .i.e., make her think he really was a
                  dumb little seven-year-old just starting to learn things like math
                  and spelling. But with the way he was feeling tonight, he didn't want
                  to prolong the torture any more than was absolutely necessary. He
                  opened his backpack to fish out his books--and froze in shock,
                  dismayed, coming to a horrified realization.

                  He'd unloaded his books and papers at Agasa's to stock his pack with
                  the tools he'd needed to break into Kyozou's mansion--and those tools
                  and equipment were still inside.

                  "Crap--!" he hissed, cutting himself off before someone heard. Oh
                  damn, I gotta hide this stuff! How could I just forget? How many
                  times have I caught a murderer because he still had the weapon on
                  him? Geeze, I must've left my whole brain unplugged today--!

                  Zipping up his pack and half-hiding it under the blankets of his
                  little futon, he raced back to the living room, not even having to
                  wear a Conan-mask to appear as frantic as he needed to. "Ran-neechan!
                  I left my books at Professor Agasa's house!" he blurted as soon as he
                  was in the door. "Can I go get them? I'll only be a few minutes--" He
                  was already grabbing up his shoes.

                  "Hold it, hold it!" Ran strode across the room, wiping her hands on a
                  towel--she'd been in the middle of washing the dishes. "It's after
                  dark, Conan-kun. You know the rules about when you can go out alone."

                  Dammit... He gritted his teeth, quickly hiding his frustration. "But
                  Ran-neechan, I need my books!" he whined, putting on his very best
                  whimpering tone, aided by his irritation. "I can't turn my homework
                  in late! Teacher will be mad!"

                  Ran smiled. "Don't worry. As soon as I get done with the dishes, I'll
                  go get them for you. Okay?"

                  But I really need to go myself to take this junk back to
                  Agasa! "Okay..." he sighed. Crap...beggars can't be choosers. But if
                  Ran or Ojisan catch a glimpse of what's in my pack right now, I'm
                  dead.

                  Immediately, he smiled widely for her benefit. "Thanks, Ran-neechan! "

                  "You're welcome, Conan-kun. It'll just be a bit."

                  He was already heading back out, already hard at work on his next
                  problem--how he was going to hide those tools here, and then at
                  school tomorrow, until he could get them back to Agasa's and get rid
                  of them.

                  * * * * *
                  True to her word, Ran put on her coat and headed back toward Agasa's
                  as soon as she finished with the dishes and dinner cleanup. It was
                  just after dark so she kept her steps quick and purposeful, her eyes
                  open for trouble just as her parents had always cautioned her. As she
                  walked, her mind drifted back to Shinichi and the previous Friday,
                  just as it had done all week; her thoughts were as confusing as ever
                  and were beginning to frustrate her.

                  Her theory about Conan's identity wasn't really what bothered her--it
                  was the uncertainty that hurt the most. Ambiguity upset her more than
                  truth or lies.

                  Agasa's gate was just ahead; she pulled out of her usual long,
                  meandering reverie and shaking her head in chagrin. She picked up her
                  pace, passing the Kudo residence without a second thought--

                  Wait a second... She pulled up short several steps past Shinichi's
                  gate, surprised. Eyes wide, she reversed direction and peered in the
                  gate, startled to see... Lights? There's lights on at Shinichi's
                  house? Her mind went wild with unreasoning hope. That means he might
                  be--!

                  She was through the gate and dashing up the walkway without an ounce
                  of hesitation, face lit with a single solitary wish. Shinichi...!

                  His porch light wasn't on, although the front door was unlocked. She
                  all but tore the door down, kicking off her shoes as soon as she was
                  across the threshold and darting into the living room. "Shinichi?
                  Shinichi?" she called, her voice echoing shrill through the corridors
                  as she went from room to room, until...

                  ...until she stumbled into the study/library, and found the desk and
                  filing cabinets torn apart, their contents scattered across the
                  floor. Her jaw dropped at the sight; never had she seen such a mess
                  in Shinichi Kudo's home--this clutter was more Professor Agasa's
                  style.

                  Oh no...could it be...? She gasped aloud, then whirled to go back
                  through the house, checking every room. The study was in ruins, the
                  elder Kudos' bedroom was a shambles, and the contents of the upstairs
                  hall closet were strewn all across the carpet.

                  It didn't take a detective to figure this out--a detective's daughter
                  could easily see that someone had gone through these rooms like a
                  buzz saw, thorough and hurried, looking for something important.
                  Probably money or valuables, though none of the more obvious things
                  were missing from their places.

                  The front door unlocked...the rooms torn apart... Ran all but fell
                  down the stairs, rushing outside and turning toward Professor
                  Agasa's. There's been a thief in Shinichi's house!

                  She banged on Agasa's door, shouting for him to hurry. When the older
                  man appeared in the doorway, he was alarmed to see Ran in such a
                  state of panic.

                  "Ran-kun? What's happened? Is everything alright?"

                  "Professor.. .Shinichi' s house...!" She took great gulps of air,
                  trying to speak. "Shinichi's house has been robbed! We need to call
                  the police! Oh, it's all torn apart...!"

                  "Oh my!" Agasa gestured her in quickly. "Hurry now, but don't panic.
                  Here, why don't you go sit down and catch your breath, and I'll take
                  care of it."

                  "Thank you, Professor... thank you..." Still panting from her sprint,
                  Ran slumped down on Agasa's couch and explained to him what she'd
                  found, then rested while the scientist hurried to the kitchen phone.

                  When Agasa got to his kitchen, however, the first place he called was
                  not the police station. The auto-dial button set for the Mouri
                  Detective Agency was quickly stabbed, and Agasa waited nervously
                  through three rings before the other end picked up and a weary-
                  sounding Conan recited, "Hello, Mouri Detective--"

                  "Shinichi!" Agasa broke in quickly. "Hold on, it's me."

                  "Professor Agasa?" There was a pause, and the semi-cheerful little
                  boy was replaced by a tired young-man-speaking- with-little- boy-
                  voice. "Ran's on her way to you. Did something--? "

                  "Yes, something's happened, but I wanted to check with you first.
                  Shinichi, were you aware that your house has been ransacked?"

                  "Huh? Oh..." Conan's voice cleared its throat. "Sorry, that was me.
                  Thanks for making sure."

                  "Er...was there any particular reason for that? Ran said she saw
                  lights on and went in to see."

                  "Aw...crap.. ." Shinichi sighed loudly. "I'm completely forgetting
                  everything today. I left those tools from last night in my backpack
                  and they're over here now, my kiddy homework is over there with you--
                  Ran's picking it up--and now this. Just great..."

                  "What should we do? If it was you, then--"

                  "Gimme a sec and I'll call back with my other voice," Shinichi
                  replied. "Ojisan's snoring drunk on the floor over here, so I think I
                  can get away with it."

                  "Be careful."

                  "I will."

                  Agasa hung up, and waited. A minute later, the phone rang, and he
                  snatched it on the first ring. "Hello, Professor Agasa's residence--"

                  "Okay," said the smooth tenor of Shinichi Kudo. "I got it. Let Ran
                  talk to me if she wants."

                  "Alright," Agasa said quietly--then raised his voice for Ran's
                  benefit. "Oh, how are you, Shinichi? Forgot something, did you say?
                  Ah, that's alright, I can take care of it..."

                  Predictably, Ran was in the kitchen in a matter of seconds, eyes lit
                  up like stars in her pale face. "Is that Shinichi? Did you tell him--
                  ?"

                  Agasa hushed her with a gesture. "Yes, that's Ran--she just got here
                  a few moments ago--put her on? Okay." The older man handed her the
                  phone with a wink. "He wants to talk to you."

                  Ran snatched the phone with all the desperation of a starving woman
                  reaching for bread. "Shinichi? Where are you? Your house is all
                  messed up--there was someone--!"

                  "Hey, take it easy, Ran! You don't have to worry about the mess,"
                  said Shinichi's voice--music to her ears, so wonderfully even and
                  reassuring. Even if he did sound...tired. "I did all that--bad
                  manners, I know, but I was in an awful rush and I had to find
                  something. I'll clean it up when I get the chance, I promise."

                  Agasa was already stepping unobtrusively out of the room. Ran's
                  tension eased upon hearing Shinichi's words--what little tension was
                  left after hearing his voice again. "Well, I'm glad it wasn't a
                  robbery! What's the matter with you, leaving such a mess in your own
                  house? What would your parents think?"

                  "Heh, they'd think I was growing a snout and a curly tail, like my
                  mom used to say," Shinichi chuckled. "Sorry to make you worry, Ran.
                  I'm glad you're looking out for me, even though I've been such a jerk
                  to you all the time."

                  "Someone has to keep an eye on you, with your parents gone so much,"
                  Ran replied. "Shinichi, are you okay? You sound exhausted."

                  "Oh..." Shinichi sighed. "It's just...some things about this case
                  and...some family problems. I've been under a lot of stress lately,
                  and I guess it's starting to show."

                  "So the Great Detective Kudo really is human," Ran teased gently.

                  "Yeah...I'm learning that, slowly..." After his faint chuckle,
                  Shinichi was quiet for long moments, as if gathering his
                  thoughts. "Uh, Ran...if I was a total idiot and really screwed up
                  with...um, if I did something pretty bad...what would you think?"

                  The question struck her, having been asked for the second time on the
                  same day--and by two people who shared so many similarities. .. "Well,
                  I...I'd probably be upset with you, depending on what it was.
                  But...if you're asking if we'd still be friends...of course we would!
                  That's what friends are for, right? Mistakes are something to learn
                  from, and if you didn't ever make any I'd really start to wonder
                  about you. But I could forgive you for anything, Shinichi--I could
                  never hate you...you're very special to me."

                  Shinichi's breath caught, just before she realized that she'd said
                  the same thing to Conan. She waited for a small eternity for Shinichi
                  to speak again--while her own mind whirled at the
                  parallel. "Shinichi? Are you...still there?"

                  "Yeah, Ran...I..." He gulped audibly. "Thanks, Ran. I'm glad you'd
                  still... I really...appreciate ... I just..." He stumbled over his own
                  words, as if her honest statement had touched something. "I...I gotta
                  go. This goddamn case is...well... "

                  Ran smiled faintly. "It's okay, Shinichi. You can tell me when you're
                  ready. I'll be waiting."

                  "Ran..."

                  "Goodbye, Shinichi. I'll see you soon."

                  She hung up without waiting for his response, sighing as she set the
                  phone in the cradle. When she walked out of the kitchen, Agasa stood
                  there in the hall with a small stack of books and papers in his
                  hands.

                  "Professor?"

                  The older man smiled at her. "I found these earlier, so I thought
                  Conan-kun might need them. Here you are."

                  Ran took the books with another sigh. "Thanks. I guess I should get
                  going before it gets any later. Goodbye, Professor."

                  As Ran walked home, her steps were not so quick, and her mind was
                  full of Shinichi once more--Shinichi and Conan.

                  * * * * *
                  Predictably, Conan pounced on her the moment she came in the door. He
                  was in his pajamas and slippers, ready for bed--it was getting rather
                  late, and if he wanted to finish his homework before bedtime he'd
                  have to get through it lickety-split. He took the small books and
                  papers from her with a grateful smile, thanking her brightly as he
                  did.

                  "You're welcome, Conan-kun," she replied as she removed her coat and
                  hung it up. Her father was still asleep on the floor, sprawled
                  uncaringly with a pillow clutched in his arms like a life
                  preserver. "You'll have to thank Professor Agasa next time you see
                  him," she continued, stepping past Kogoro's sleeping form. "He's the
                  one who found your books and gathered them."

                  "'Zat so?" Conan responded. "Okay, I will. Thanks again, Ran-neechan- -
                  I'm gonna go do my homework now."

                  She was across the room by now, facing away from him, trying to keep
                  her hands from curling into tense fists. "Conan-kun.. ."

                  "Hm?" His small hand was reaching up for the doorknob, and he half-
                  turned at her soft utterance.

                  "Can I ask you something?"

                  Curious, he faced her fully, though she didn't turn around. "Sure."

                  "Conan-kun.. .the other day--on Friday...when I gave you the book..."
                  She took a deep breath, plunging on. "How did you know that Shinichi
                  had promised me a kiss?"

                  Oh shit-- In shock, Shinichi froze, eyes going wide behind the
                  concealing Conan-glasses. Startled by her question, he nearly dropped
                  his books, his mouth falling open as he realized what an utter,
                  complete blunder he'd made. Ran still didn't turn to face him, but he
                  could feel her focused attention as if she were standing right over
                  him and glaring down. Every line of her seemed rigid, and there was a
                  certain tension in the way she held her head up, the way her back
                  stayed ramrod-straight.

                  "Uh...well.. ..actually I just...um... .you know..." His mouth
                  automatically produced his Conan-voice, automatically began spouting
                  nonsense. He was shaking all over, realizing there was no way in hell
                  he could talk his way out of this--he'd known it the instant the
                  words had come out of her mouth. She'd obviously put the evidence
                  together--she wasn't stupid, she hadn't forgotten it; he'd been just
                  plain careless to have done that...and his cover was so totally
                  blown...!

                  His frantic stuttering fumbled to a halt when Ran turned to him at
                  last; she was almost tremb



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                • Anne Lorraine Delaon
                  ok. tnx anyway. i just hope that detective conan DVDs are avail worldwide. im from philippines that why i have hard time coping on my fave anime s latest
                  Message 8 of 15 , Jul 3, 2007
                  • 0 Attachment
                    ok. tnx anyway. i just hope that detective conan DVDs are avail worldwide. im from philippines that why i have hard time coping on my fave anime's latest episodes. if not for you guys posting the latest happenings, i wouldn't know. tnx a lot. i owe you big. im gald im part of this group eventhough i cant contribute a lot.

                    ----- Original Message ----
                    From: saja ali <mercy_seat91@...>
                    To: conan@yahoogroups.com
                    Cc: anne_delaon@...
                    Sent: Tuesday, July 3, 2007 4:00:58 PM
                    Subject: Re: [conan] shinichi kaito

                    well,i am really sorry but i dont have the continuation of the story i was looking for the mail of Gosho Aoyama the writer of conan so i found this  story.

                    Anne Lorraine Delaon <anne_delaon@ yahoo.com> wrote:

                    light swan, i guess this story isnt finish yet. can you pls post the continuation. ..
                    i cant sleep at night just thinking of the next event. BIG PLS....

                    ----- Original Message ----
                    From: light swan <mercy_seat91@ yahoo.com>
                    To: conan@yahoogroups. com
                    Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2007 11:27:58 PM
                    Subject: [conan] shinichi kaito

                    ((Disclaimer: Shinichi/Conan, Ran, Kaito, Heiji, and all the rest
                    belong to Gosho Aoyama. Meitantei Conan and Majiku Kaitou are all
                    his! I don't own anything; I'm only borrowing them. Standard
                    legalities apply. Please enjoy!))

                    Relative Truth
                    by Becky Tailweaver

                    File 6: Double Checkmate

                    *Flashback*

                    Kaito immediately cornered Jii and demanded to know about Yuusaku
                    Kudo--and his connection to Shinichi. Who were they, and how was it
                    that they could defeat even the matchless Kid? It couldn't be a
                    coincidence- -not with Shinichi's uncanny mind and the way Kaito's
                    father described Yuusaku's skills.

                    Jii was, again, saddened and disturbed. But when Kaito pressed him,
                    he relented, taking a deep quiet breath to tell his tale.

                    "I don't know how you'll take this, young Master," the old man
                    began, "but all I can tell you is what I know of the truth. It
                    started many years ago, when your father was still a young man, not
                    yet famous as the Great Magician Toichi Kuroba. As you know, your
                    grandfather was a bandit magician as well, and he trained his sons in
                    the art of the phantom thief--"

                    "Hold on a sec," Kaito interrupted, puzzled. "Did you just
                    say 'sons'...?"

                    "Yes, young Master, you heard me correctly," Jii replied. "Your
                    father had a younger brother, who trained alongside him under your
                    grandfather, the old Master. The brothers were in their late
                    teens...that' s when I first became privileged to serve the Kuroba
                    family as manservant and assistant. It was at about that time that
                    your father and his brother had finished their training, and were
                    finally allowed to operate on their own."

                    Kaito leaned back, eyebrows high. "I've got an uncle somewhere? Che,
                    why didn't Mom tell me anything about this...?"

                    Jii looked down sadly. "Because she had promised not to. It was long
                    ago, young Master...you were only a tiny child then. You wouldn't
                    remember him."

                    "So who is he? Is he still alive? Where does he live?" Kaito's
                    questions were quick and curious.

                    "This information must never leave this room, young Master," Jii
                    responded, surprisingly direct. "It's a secret your father kept to
                    his grave, and I was not to speak of it either, but..." He took
                    another breath. "Your uncle is still alive; his name is Yuusaku
                    Kuroba, although when he and your father had their quarrel and parted
                    ways, he changed his name to--"

                    "Yuusaku Kudo?" Kaito jerked upright, his quick wits having already
                    jumped ahead of the old man. Jii nodded, and Kaito's jaw
                    dropped. "Holy cow, that renowned mystery novelist? Geez, he's as
                    famous as Dad in some places! It's him? He's my uncle? And that would
                    make Shinichi Kudo my...my...!" His voice ran out as his eyes went
                    wide, his mind running wild. He gaped for a moment, gulping...and
                    then began to laugh.

                    Jii blinked. "Ah...young Master, are you...?"

                    Kaito held his sides, trying to speak between chuckles. "Oh, this is
                    too rich! I'm related to the little twerp!" He broke out in another
                    gale of laughter. "Ah, the irony! No wonder--brains must run in the
                    family! I should have seen it--damn, he's the only one who ever
                    cornered me!"

                    After a while, Kaito was finally able to breathe normally; he wiped
                    his eys, chuckling, and looked to Jii once more. "So...here's a good
                    question--just why did Ojisan change his name and take off like that?
                    Did he blow his cover or something?"

                    Jii shook his head sadly. "No, young Master. Your uncle was every bit
                    as good as your father; they made a powerful team, each with his own
                    strengths and talents. However...Master Yuusaku was always the
                    quieter of the two. Where your father loved to lead the police on a
                    merry chase, loved to perform puzzling tricks and feats of deviltry
                    in the spotlight, Master Yuusaku preferred to work from the shadows,
                    stealthy and quick--he was a silent ghost where your father was a
                    boisterous poltergeist. The most delicate, secret operations were his
                    greatest performances. "

                    "Hn...so Ojisan wasn't a showoff, huh? Bet he never made a good
                    standup magician."

                    Jii smiled a little, wryly. "No, he didn't; he was more suited to
                    quiet table shows and private exhibitions. But he was good--make no
                    mistake, young Master, he was very good. Were he still in the
                    business today, I doubt you'd find him an easy opponent."

                    "Why isn't he still in the business?" Kaito asked curiously, eager
                    eyes hiding his concern.

                    "Your father and your uncle were phantom thieves by heritage and by
                    trade," Jii explained. "However, in the daylight they each had their
                    own hobbies and jobs. Your father, as you know, loved sleight-of-hand
                    and illusion just as you do; over time, he became the famous
                    magician, Toichi Kuroba."

                    "And Ojisan?"

                    "Master Yuusaku, being the quiet person that he was...had a love of
                    books. Oddly enough, it was detectives and mysteries that enchanted
                    him the most. As a youngster he loved reading about murder mysteries
                    and famous detectives like Sherlock Holmes. Since he became quite an
                    expert on investigation and deduction, he became the strategist for
                    many of the heists he and your father planned; he could think ahead
                    and accurately predict how the police would react. His reasoning
                    saved them both many times."

                    Kaito listened with rapt attention, absorbed in the tale.

                    "When he was about your age," Jii continued, "Master Yuusaku started
                    writing books, and called himself 'Kudo.' He took on the pen name to
                    protect his privacy, since it wouldn't be safe if his growing fame
                    revealed his shadow life as a phantom thief. He loved writing
                    detective stories--so much, in fact, that he even began to live the
                    life by day. He was nearby when a murder was committed, and although
                    he was a thief, both he and your father abhorred the thought of
                    taking a human life. Master Yuusaku used his strong deduction skills
                    to assist the police investigator with finding the real culprit.
                    After that, he continued solving murder cases whenever the police
                    called upon him--and even to them, he was known only as Yuusaku Kudo,
                    novelist and deduction expert. They never knew his real name."

                    "That must be where Shinichi got it from," Kaito murmured
                    thoughtfully. "The guy can't help but jump on any murder case that
                    comes his way."

                    "I haven't seen Master Yuusaku's son since he was a baby," Jii said,
                    almost wistfully. "If he has even half of his father's wits and
                    charisma...he must be a worthy opponent for you indeed."

                    Kaito scowled a bit, somewhat petulantly. "Hell yeah...he's annoying.
                    Remember the 'bad feeling' you got about the Clock Tower job? Well,
                    that was him."

                    Jii hid his chuckle. "I expect that was a harrowing experience, from
                    what you've told me."

                    The youth just snorted. "Feh...anyway, what happened to make Ojisan
                    leave the family?"

                    "I'm not quite sure about that," Jii replied sadly. "There are
                    obvious reasons for what he did...but no one knows for certain
                    exactly what was said the night he left, except your father and
                    Master Yuusaku themselves. I believe that things began to change when
                    Master Yuusaku met Miss Yukiko, and he began to realize that his life
                    in the shadows might be a danger to her. You see, by then your father
                    and uncle had made some enemies in the underworld-- "

                    Kaito sat up immediately. "The guys who killed Dad?"

                    Jii nodded. "Yes, and others like them. You know it as a rule, young
                    Master--a phantom thief doesn't always keep what he steals. In truth,
                    he should give back nearly everything he takes--the art of the return-
                    -"

                    "'--is as worthy an art as the theft itself,'" Kaito quoted for
                    him. "I know, I know..."

                    "Yes, young Master. And because they often found out about these
                    darker syndicates' planned robberies due to their underworld
                    contacts, they would usually steal the items in a flamboyant manner
                    before the other organizations got to them--and when the stolen items
                    were returned, they would be guarded that much more carefully. In a
                    way, it is a phantom thief's duty to protect the beautiful and
                    valuable things of this world..."

                    "Hey, don't get sappy on me now, old man," Kaito prodded, seeing the
                    wistful look in Jii's eyes. "Keep going with the story!"

                    "Ah...yes... " Jii cleared his throat. "As you know, this greatly
                    angered these shadowy organizations, and eventually led to the
                    Master's murder...but Master Yuusaku had left long before then." The
                    older man looked sad, and somehow more elderly than he usually
                    did. "At first, Miss Yukiko dated Master Yuusaku knowing him only as
                    the famous writer, Kudo. As far as I know, he told her the truth
                    about himself just prior to their engagement, and she kept his secret
                    when they were married."

                    "Mom and Dad were married by then, weren't they?" Kaito asked.

                    "Yes...a couple of years before that, actually. Those were some happy
                    times; both your father and your uncle had someone to love, and for a
                    while everything went well. Phantom thieves by night, magician and
                    novelist by day, they were content even though there was constant
                    danger of discovery by one of their enemies." Jii smiled, eyes full
                    of memory. "All of them were very close; your mothers became the best
                    of friends, and even shared a little of the Masters' secret lives,
                    learning some skills in disguise. Because their marriages were
                    several years apart, it came as a great surprise that their sons were
                    born at nearly the same time. It was thought that you and the other
                    young Master, Shinichi, would be raised and trained together as
                    phantom thieves just as your fathers before you."

                    Kaito's brows went up at that. "Hm...come to think of it, Kudo would
                    make one hell of a thief if he put his mind to it. He's sneaky enough
                    as it is, with the little problem he's got right now..."

                    "But it was not to be, young Master," Jii went on, face
                    darkening. "You and Master Shinichi weren't even a year old when it
                    happened..."

                    "When what happened?"

                    "There was an attack--somehow, someone from one of the organizations
                    had followed the Masters, and found one of their safehouses. It was
                    extremely unlucky...horrible. ..I wasn't there but I wish I had been--
                    I might've been able to do something... "

                    "Hey, tell me!" Kaito insisted. "What did those bastards do?"

                    "Miss Yukiko and your mother were there at the safehouse, waiting for
                    the Masters' return--it was a dangerous mission that time, something
                    of such importance that even Master Toichi never told me what they
                    had been going after. When the attack came, the Masters were forced
                    to stand and face their enemies, to protect their wives and
                    sons...Master Yuusaku managed to get you and your mother to safety,
                    but Miss Yukiko was badly wounded by an assassin's bullet, and young
                    Shinichi was almost taken hostage--if not for your father's
                    intervention, he would have been killed."

                    Kaito's eyes were wide, transfixed. "Dad...saved Kudo...?"

                    Jii's gaze didn't waver. "He could not let his brother's child become
                    prey for those wolves. He risked his life for his nephew, just as he
                    would have done for you."

                    The youth sat in silence, thinking, his face unusually pensive.

                    "It was after that incident that Master Yuusaku left," Jii continued
                    softly. "He had nearly lost both his wife and his son in a single
                    blow, and I believe that frightened him badly--so badly that he felt
                    he could not continue the life of a phantom thief in the darkness.
                    Even I don't know what happened the night your father and uncle had
                    words, but...from what I've gleaned, Master Yuusaku tried to persuade
                    your father to quit as well, but Master Toichi wouldn't hear of it--
                    the incident had only strengthened his resolve to bring those
                    organizations down. After that, Master Yuusaku changed his identity
                    completely, moving away from the family home, falsifying his
                    credentials, and slipping completely into the role of Yuusaku Kudo,
                    mystery novelist. He severed all ties with the Kuroba family, to keep
                    their enemies from ever finding them again."

                    "He knew, didn't he?" Kaito asked breathlessly. "He knew they'd track
                    down Kaitou Kid's true identity eventually.. ."

                    "Yes...and he was right. Years later--"

                    "--Dad was murdered," Kaito finished, his face hardened with a shadow
                    of anger and sorrow. "Ojisan tried to stop him from being Kid
                    because..."

                    "Master Yuusaku always had a way of knowing these things," Jii said
                    quietly. "After he became Yuusaku Kudo, the writer, he also tried to
                    stop Kaitou Kid by force--by assisting the police in his capture. I
                    suppose he thought alive in jail was better than murdured in the
                    dark..."

                    Kaito's head jerked up. "That's why Dad was so upset? In his notes he
                    talked about Ojisan betraying him--"

                    "The separation hurt both of them deeply--I could tell that Master
                    Toichi was very depressed after his brother left us." Jii sighed,
                    shaking his head. "I never saw Master Yuusaku after that night, not
                    until your father died. He came to see your mother after the funeral,
                    and we talked for only a while. He was grief-stricken at the Master's
                    death, and felt that it was his fault for not being there to help,
                    for not stopping Master Toichi from being Kid. Master Yuusaku had
                    your mother promise that she would keep you away from the life of a
                    phantom thief, to spare you the same fate your father suffered--and
                    in her sorrow, she agreed. He was very concerned about you, young
                    Master, and even saw to you and your mother's care from that day on."

                    "What?" Kaito blinked. "You mean Ojisan didn't just--?"

                    "Even your father's considerable savings could not last forever," Jii
                    explained. "The reason you have been living so comfortably these last
                    few years is because Master Yuusaku has been sending your mother a
                    fair sum of money on a regular basis. That's why she hasn't had to
                    work all this time, and you can afford to pay for your nightly
                    activities of late..." He caught Kaito's boggled look and raised an
                    eyebrow. "Come now, young Master...you didn't think all that money
                    came out of thin air, did you?"

                    "Uh...well.. ." The youth gulped. "I guess I just never really thought
                    about it before. I thought it was all Dad's money..." He cleared his
                    throat. "So Ojisan didn't really abandon his family, did he?"

                    "No...he told me he was always following Kaitou Kid's exploits,
                    getting more and more worried about the risks your father was
                    taking," Jii replied. "That day after the funeral was the last day we
                    spoke--and the same day I left your family's formal service. Your
                    mother asked me to go--she felt I had too much connection to your
                    father's past, and obviously she never told you anything, until you
                    discovered it for yourself..."

                    "Whoa...Mom took Ojisan seriously, didn't she?" Kaito mused, almost
                    sadly.

                    Jii nodded. "Yes...and I imagine Master Yuusaku has already guessed
                    what's been going on, ever since Kaitou Kid 'reappeared. ' He probably
                    knows everything by now--he was always very quick in his
                    observations. I'm sure he hasn't said anything because of his
                    secrets, but...without a doubt, he's been watching after you very
                    closely."

                    "It's nice to know he cares, at least," Kaito remarked. "But I've
                    never met him--he's never come to visit, even on a pretense..."

                    "He still keeps his secrets," Jii explained somewhat sadly. "Even to
                    this day, he fears what will happen if someone realizes that the
                    brother of Toichi Kuroba still lives."

                    And Shinichi's gone and gotten himself into deep shit with some of
                    the same bastards that caused all this, Kaito reflected. I wonder how
                    Ojisan's handling that. Not well, I'd guess...he must have one hell
                    of a Poker Face... "So...you think Shinichi probably doesn't know
                    anything about this?"

                    Jii frowned. "I would imagine he doesn't. That day after the funeral,
                    Master Yuusaku said that ignorance is sometimes a child's best
                    defense--the very reason your mother kept the secret of Kaitou Kid
                    from you. And I know that Master Yuusaku is quite determined to
                    protect his family. Young Master Shinichi probably knows nothing of
                    you or his uncle; it's doubtful he even knows his true name."

                    "Heh..." Kaito leaned back once more, grinning a bit
                    ironically. "Wouldn't that arrogant little meddler blow a gasket if
                    he knew he's related to the infamous Kid...!" He chuckled shortly to
                    himself. "Hell, I'd love to tell him myself, just to see the look on
                    his face!"

                    "Young Master..." Jii said warningly.

                    Kaito rolled his eyes. "I know, I know...it's all a big secret, blah
                    blah blah....I get it already. Besides, if I told him anything, I'd
                    get arrested in a cold second. 'The Great Detective Kudo' takes no
                    prisoners--and he's especially annoyed with me, since I keep giving
                    him the slip." That last sentence was accompanied by a completely
                    unrepentant grin.

                    Jii looked relieved. "I'm glad you undersand, young Master."

                    Kaito shrugged nonchalantly. "Ojisan can keep his secrets, and Kudo
                    can stay ignorant--all I need to do is keep on being Kaitou Kid,
                    until I uncover the bastards who killed my father and see that they
                    pay for what they've done." His grin returned as he rose from his
                    place, turning to leave. After a pause, he glanced back. "Thanks a
                    lot for telling me the truth, Jii. I know to be extra careful around
                    Kudo from now on--after all...same blood, same brains!"

                    With that, Kaito Kuroba walked out, bearing with him the newfound
                    knowledge of his own past--and his true link to Shinichi Kudo.

                    *End Flashback*

                    * * * * *
                    The two boys sat on the stairs with a sleepy dove and a pack of cards
                    for a long time while Kaito related his tale of secrets and discovery
                    in a quiet, even voice. Silent, Shinichi petted the bird in his lap
                    and honestly listened, taking in the youth's words without rebuttal
                    or interruption. Kaito fixed his eyes on middle distance as he spoke,
                    his hands fiddling absently with the pack of cards, shuffling them to
                    and fro with careless, unthinking precision.

                    When the narrative was finished, Kaito wound to a halt, and for a few
                    moments there was uneasy silence between the two. Kaito licked his
                    lips and waited--for what, he wasn't sure. Disbelief, anger, a sharp
                    retort--the sort of response he'd been expecting from the small boy
                    beside him.

                    Shinichi took a deep breath, at last looking up from Shiro's drowsy
                    form to meet the youth's questioning eyes. "So...Kaito. ..you're my
                    cousin."

                    It was a statement of fact, only partially a question, spoken in a
                    soft uncertain tone as if Shinichi were trying to confirm it in his
                    own mind. Kaito managed a half-smile in response, shrugging
                    lightly. "Yeah. Kinda funny, isn't it? Talk about ironic..."

                    Shinichi's snort of reply was almost inaudible. "You can pick your
                    friends..."

                    "...but you can't choose your relatives," Kaito finished for him, his
                    half-smile becoming full. "You actually believe me?"

                    "Why not?" Shinichi replied quietly with a fatalistic chuckle, his
                    eyes dropping again. "I talked to my father already, and what little
                    he said...seems to confirm your story. And there's that..." He
                    gestured vaguely in the direction of the forgotten birth certificate,
                    not really wanting to look at it. "You were right--there is only one
                    truth...and my father's been hiding it all this time..."

                    Kaito eyed him for a moment. "You're really upset about this, aren't
                    you?" he observed keenly, voice hesitant.

                    There was a catch in Shinichi's next breath, and his words were heavy
                    with sarcasm that sounded alarming when spoken with the voice of a
                    small boy. "No, not at all. I just found out my father's been lying
                    to me my whole life, and Mom's been in on it...and everything I knew
                    to be true is all a pack of lies he fed to me and the rest of the
                    world...just to keep his damn secrets..." The catch in his breath
                    became a roughness in his voice as he went on. "No, I'm not upset at
                    all. I'm just fine..."

                    The next breath he took was shaky, and he ran trembling fingers
                    through his bangs with a frustrated murmur of "Dammit..." as he tried
                    to hide his emotions. Kaito caught the glimmer of tears in the boy's
                    eyes when Shinichi glanced at him.

                    "Hey, um..." Kaito carefully set a hand on one thin shoulder in an
                    attempt to comfort, pulling back quickly when Shinichi jerked at his
                    touch. "For what it's worth...I'm sorry. Maybe I should've kept my
                    stupid big mouth shut..."

                    "No," Shinichi interrupted, wiping his eyes. "I'm glad I know. I'm
                    always searching for the truth, so I'm glad. It's just...knowledge
                    itself can sometimes hurt as much as lies. But it's a clean sort of
                    hurting, like when you have to wash a wound. Getting a wound hurts,
                    and sometimes cleansing it hurts worse than the wound did...but it'll
                    heal better in the end..."

                    "'Zat so? Feh, then it's some job I did with the wound cream, huh?"
                    Kaito snorted at himself, at his own coarseness. Before seeing how
                    Shinichi reacted to the revelation, he hadn't really thought about
                    how he'd handled it. "I didn't make it very easy on you."

                    Shinichi glanced away. "There is no easy way to hear something like
                    this." He frowned, looking down at the dove once more, his voice
                    still hoarse. "So now what? Where do we go from here?"

                    Kaito shrugged, hiding his sudden touch of nervousness, gazing at the
                    boy. "I dunno. I guess that all depends on you. You've got me by the
                    tail, Shinichi--you' ve got my name and my identity, and you could
                    have the cops knocking on my door in a second. It's up to you."

                    Shinichi glanced up at him quickly, surprised; that thought actually
                    hadn't crossed his mind since the conversation began. "But...you've
                    also got me," he observed suddenly, almost thoughtfully. "You could
                    blow my identity too, and give me away to the Black Organization if
                    you wanted..."

                    "Huh, I hadn't thought of that," Kaito mused, unconsciously echoing
                    Shinichi's thoughts. "I guess you're right. But the operative phrase
                    here is 'if I wanted.'"

                    Their eyes met, identical gazes of dark blue. Shinichi saw honest
                    hope, a tentative earnestness, behind the impish playfulness of the
                    Kid; Kaito saw wariness, fear, and the first hesitant glimmers of
                    acceptance, maybe trust.

                    In the end, it was Kaito who spoke first. "I've got a good idea," he
                    announced. "We should take some time to think about this, both of us.
                    Let's say...'til the weekend? I cut class to come talk to you, so
                    Aoko's gonna ream me out for sure..." He shook his head. "I think
                    it'd be best if we meet again at a time when we don't have to worry
                    about school or our companions."

                    "School?" Shinichi blinked. "Crap, what time is it...? Ran's gonna
                    come and I can't meet her like this." He didn't even have to gesture
                    to indicate his sweat-tousled hair, tear and grime-streaked face, and
                    the dust and dried perspiration that covered his small body.

                    "Whoa, slow down..." Kaito checked his watch. "You've got time yet."

                    "I can't stay here...she can't find me here...!" Gently lifting the
                    dove from his lap, Shinichi stood up from the stairs, his eyes
                    brightening as if he were just waking up. Roused from his nap, Shiro
                    fluttered; Shinichi released him to fly back to Kaito's shoulder.

                    "Relax, you've got at least an hour," Kaito said, stroking the dove's
                    feathered breast. He stood as well, towering over Shinichi, who took
                    an involuntary step back. "Guess I should get going, too. Places to
                    go, people to see..."

                    "Kaito..." Shinichi's voice was low, almost warning.

                    "Hm?" The youth glanced at him. "Oh, don't be concerned with Kid,
                    Shinichi. There won't be any more heists until you and I work this
                    out. Okay? You can sleep soundly--I won't pull anything."

                    Shinichi frowned at him for a moment, measuring the honesty in his
                    expression, before looking away again. "Alright. But...this
                    weekend...?"

                    "How about Friday afternoon? Don't worry, I'll find you. And I won't
                    blow your cover--you have my word on that." Kaito's pack of cards
                    went into a pocket; Shiro the dove just seemed to vanish somewhere
                    along the line as the youth turned toward the hall and the door,
                    waving as he went. "Take care, Shinichi. I'll see you around."

                    Shinichi stood still, watching him leave. When the teenage thief was
                    gone, out of his sight and out of his house, he took another deep,
                    shaky breath. Alone with his own thoughts now, he struggled to
                    assimilate everything he'd heard, everything he'd learned.

                    His eyes fell to the birth certificate, still lying innocently on the
                    floor. It hadn't been a dream, or a hallucination- -the paper was
                    real, smooth against his fingertips as he picked it up. The document
                    still displayed the same incriminating kanji in stark black ink.

                    Shinichi Kuroba--his name, his real name; his true heritage, the
                    secret that his father had been keeping all these years...

                    His gaze turned to the stairway, his mind's eye focusing on the attic-
                    -on the trunk and its little secret chamber in the lid. He had to
                    hide this certificate, never let anyone see it...at least until he
                    decided what to do about Kid--his cousin, Kaito Kuroba--his parents,
                    and his whole situation.

                    He had two days to think about it.

                    * * * * *
                    Right after school that day, Ran said goodbye to Sonoko and hurried
                    toward home, swerving off course to take the slight detour that would
                    lead her by Professor Agasa's house. And Shinichi's, too;
                    strange...this route had been her usual way to and from school,
                    before Shinichi had become so scarce.

                    Shinichi was on her mind, as usual--more so now because of the gift
                    she had given him and their recent conversation over the phone. That
                    day occupied her thoughts constantly; it was the first time he'd
                    called in so long, and she'd missed his voice so much. She missed his
                    face too, but he so rarely ever appeared. He was becoming a ghost...

                    A ghost whose image she saw so often in the little boy that lived at
                    her house--a little boy who always made her wonder, no matter how
                    many times he or Shinichi denied it...

                    Conan and Shinichi were just barely relatives, right? Distant cousins
                    only through Shinichi's mother and Professor Agasa. One of those
                    genetic flukes that cropped up amongst cousins, that made them so
                    alike not only in features but in manner, personality,
                    intelligence. ..in their blue eyes that would sometimes just look at
                    her like that... Even with the word of Agasa and the Kudos, even
                    through all she'd seen and heard, little Conan still just made her
                    wonder.

                    Last Friday night was on her mind for more than one reason.

                    That evening, she'd been too excited to notice; she'd just heard from
                    Shinichi, and she was overjoyed that he'd received his gift and liked
                    it so much. Then there was her little half-joking demand of him--the
                    stuttering promise he'd made...she hadn't even thought about it,
                    because after that, Conan had come home and she'd had a wonderful
                    present for him, too. And Conan had seen Shinichi--he' d been with
                    Shinichi at Agasa's and could tell her how he was doing.

                    Conan had been so cute and shy, giving her that kiss on Shinichi's
                    behalf just to cheer her up. The curious little scamp was such a
                    lovable dear when he wanted to be; whenever her heart was broken by
                    Shinichi, Conan was there trying in his sweet childish way to make
                    her feel better.

                    There was a discrepancy in that evening's events that she hadn't
                    realized until the next day. She'd been so elated at hearing
                    Shinichi's voice, and so touched by Conan's thoughtfulness. It took
                    some extremely boring math homework and a long stare out an empty
                    window to make the facts fall into place for her; she'd been
                    concentrating on things other than algebraic equations, running over
                    the previous evening's events in her head--when realization had
                    struck.

                    How did Conan know that Shinichi had promised her a kiss?

                    The question still turned over and over in her head, even now.
                    According to Shinichi, Conan had left Agasa's house before Shinichi
                    had made his call, so there was no way Conan could have overheard--
                    and even if he did, hearing only half the phone conversation wouldn't
                    let him know that Ran had demanded that "payment" from Shinichi. And
                    Conan wouldn't have heard her on the phone, either--she' d hung up the
                    telephone and had been salvaging dinner long before he'd ever showed
                    up, and even if he had heard, he still wouldn't have known about the
                    kiss because he wouldn't have heard what payment Ran was talking
                    about. On top of that, Shinichi couldn't have told him because he
                    hadn't walked Conan home--and Shinichi didn't talk about such
                    embarassing things anyway.

                    Those long-familiar old suspicions were back again, full force since
                    last Saturday. She hated the uncertainty; even through all the things
                    she'd been told, she still couldn't quite believe...because there was
                    always something.

                    And Conan had been acting different the last few days as well. Ever
                    since that evening and the books, the boy had been withdrawn and
                    moody when she watched him in secret, though whenever he noticed her
                    presence he would immediately brighten into innocent cuteness, pick
                    himself up, and start off on a chatter with "Ran-neechan! " and from
                    there on be the perfectly sweet little boy she'd always known--until
                    he thought she'd left. But he'd spent so much time at Professor
                    Agasa's this week...and why had it not been a surprise when Agasa
                    called her to say that Conan wasn't going to school this morning?

                    She'd almost been expecting that...as if she knew in her heart that
                    something other than a fun new experiment had happened last night...

                    Her speculations had distracted her all day at school, and she was
                    still pensive about it. Now she had to pick Conan up...and the state
                    he was in when she did would determine her pattern of thought for her
                    next set of theories. If he was a happy, bouncing little boy with a
                    sniffle, she would be reassured that it had indeed been a fun project
                    and he had been brought out of his moodiness by Agasa's invention,
                    and had just caught a cold from the excitement-- he did seem prone to
                    respiratory infections, after all--and she could shove all her crazy
                    Ran-musing back into the closet in her mind. But if Conan was
                    depressed and not all that ill, if he was just being silent and
                    hiding something, she would know that something else had happened.
                    But what...?

                    Ran was not stupid; she lived with a private investigator and
                    participated in cases, and had spent nearly all her life in fairly
                    close proximity to police, mysteries, and detectives. She was no
                    stranger to clues and deductions-- years of hanging around with
                    Shinichi had taught her some critical thinking and logic skills.

                    And from that, she was coming to some suspicious conclusions once
                    more. Something was coming to a head--she could feel it. Another
                    confrontation- -another demand for the truth that would be answered by
                    a rock-solid alibi or excuse--another reason why she shouldn't
                    suspect...but she still did.

                    She put on her happy Ran-neechan face as she turned in Agasa's gate;
                    if it was all just her wild ideas acting up again, she didn't want to
                    upset Conan after he'd had a fun evening and spent the morning with a
                    sniffle. Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door.

                    Ai answered it, quiet as usual, and led Ran into the living room to
                    wait for Conan. Ran greeted the Professor warmly; Agasa responded but
                    seemed somewhat distracted, while Ai disappeared into the back
                    without a word.

                    Ran frowned, sitting on the couch. Is it just me or are those two a
                    bit...preoccupied? she asked herself. Something must have happened--
                    more than the usual "Agasa-blew- up-his-lab- again" stuff. If Conan's
                    involved...

                    The object of her current musings came into the room rather abruptly,
                    looking rumpled and missing his glasses, pausing to blink at her in
                    surprise as if she'd just appeared out of thin air in front of him.

                    "Hello, Conan-kun!" Ran greeted brightly. "I came to get you on my
                    way home from school. Professor Agasa said you caught a bit of a cold-
                    -are you feeling okay?"

                    The odd look turned into a bright Conan-smile. "Yeah, I'm a lot
                    better this afternoon," the boy replied. He seemed a bit tense
                    despite his smile as he came over to her, snatching his glasses from
                    the coffee table and slipping them on.

                    Ran smiled, reaching out to run her fingers through his oddly
                    disheveled-- and slightly damp--brown hair. "Did you just take a
                    bath?"

                    Blushing faintly, Conan moved to sit on the couch beside her,
                    unobtrusively- -but noticeably-- just beyond her arm's reach. "Yeah,
                    but I couldn't find my comb, so my hair's messy."

                    "That's strange," Ran contemplated aloud. "I could've sworn I packed
                    your comb yesterday... "

                    "Uh, I must've shuffled it around and dropped it when I was getting
                    out my pajamas last night," Conan offered quickly, smiling. "It's
                    okay."

                    "Are you ready to go home?"

                    Conan nodded. "Yeah!"

                    "Alright then, go get your stuff and let's get going."

                    The little boy pattered off, leaving Ran to watch him go. Her
                    pleasant expression had shifted to thoughtfulness; Conan was her
                    familiar happy little boy...but some of the sparkle was gone from his
                    smile. He was still depressed--just skillfully hiding it; she knew
                    him well enough to know that. He also didn't sound like he had a
                    cold.

                    And with her thoughts lately, she had to wonder...

                    In short order they were walking home, both carrying their bags.
                    Conan trotted obediently at her side, his small hand clutching hers
                    as they quietly followed the familiar sidewalk that would lead them
                    to the Mouri Detective Agency. She watched him out of the corner of
                    her eye, worried and curious; his face was downcast beneath his
                    tangled bangs and all he did was watch the concrete go by, not paying
                    any attention to her.

                    "Conan-kun, what's the matter?" Ran asked softly. "You're awfully
                    quiet today...are you okay?"

                    "Hm?" He glanced up at her with a morose expression that only halfway
                    made it to a Conan-smile. "Yeah, I'm fine! I had fun at Professor
                    Agasa's."

                    "You did, huh?" Ran tried to sound agreeable even though she was
                    unconvinced. With a sigh, she let the matter drop, sadly turning her
                    gaze back to the world in front of her.

                    They had arrived at the Mouri Detective Agency, climbing the steps to
                    the flat above, when Conan made a sound--a small strange sound, like
                    a gulp mixed with a sigh. His soft quavering voice spoke up, barely
                    audible, as his pace slowed enough that he tugged at her hand.

                    "Ran-neechan, if...if I did...something bad...would
                    you...still. ..like me?"

                    Startled by his question, Ran stopped just outside the door and
                    whirled to him, staring down at him. His eyes were fixed on the
                    floor, though his small hand tightened on hers. Concerned, she knealt
                    down to his level, squeezing his fingers reassuringly. "Oh...Conan-
                    kun...of course I would!" she replied honestly. "Everyone makes
                    mistakes--I couldn't stop liking you just because of that. Whatever
                    made you ask?"

                    He still wouldn't look at her, so she put two fingers to his chin,
                    drawing his gaze up. His eyes met hers once, then flicked away as
                    though remorseful, guilty. His lips were drawn into a thin taut line
                    that refused to open and answer her question.

                    "Oh, Conan-kun... " She drew him into a warm, affectionate embrace,
                    startled to note how uptight he was, how he tensed at her touch. She
                    held him close, wanting to protect him from whatever was hurting him.
                    He must've done something wrong, at school or at Agasa's, and was
                    feeling horrible for it--he was usually such a well-behaved little
                    boy, despite his oddities. If he'd gotten into unaccustomed trouble
                    and thought that everyone would abandon him because of it...! "Conan-
                    kun...you know you can tell me anything. If something happened...if
                    it's bothering you...I promise I'll listen no matter what it is. We
                    can work it out, you'll see--you can tell me, I promise I won't hate
                    you. I can't hate you, Conan-kun... you're too special to me."

                    For an instant her speculations filled her mind--for an instant she
                    wasn't sure who she was talking to, but she meant every word
                    regardless.

                    She felt his tension melt; his face buried itself in her shoulder and
                    his thin arms came up to wrap around her in return, trembling. His
                    breaths were thick and shaky as if he were about to cry. "Ran-
                    neechan..." he whispered. "Ran-neechan. .."

                    "It's alright, Conan-kun... no matter what happened, I'll understand."
                    She rubbed his back until his trembling ceased and it seemed that
                    he'd relaxed. When his arms finally loosened and she released him,
                    his face was red, but there were no tears on his cheeks. He stepped
                    back from her and straightened his shirt, running one hand through
                    his hair in an embarassed gesture that she found startlingly
                    familiar. Pushing her own thoughts aside once more, she managed a
                    good smile for him. "When you're ready, you can tell me. For now,
                    let's go in and get dinner started, shall we? I bet you'll feel
                    better once you get something to eat."

                    He nodded mutely as she rose and led him inside.

                    * * * * *
                    Ran was right; Conan did feel a little better with a stomach full of
                    her warm, delicious cooking. He didn't think he'd made it all the way
                    back to his usual self, but he was no longer hanging by a thread. He
                    even felt well enough to go start on his almost forgotten--and
                    unbearably easy--grade- school homework.

                    Scooping up his backpack and duffel from where he'd left them by the
                    door, he headed to the bedroom to get started in private--he didn't
                    like Ran to watch him unless he felt he had to show off
                    his "scholastic aptitudes".. .i.e., make her think he really was a
                    dumb little seven-year-old just starting to learn things like math
                    and spelling. But with the way he was feeling tonight, he didn't want
                    to prolong the torture any more than was absolutely necessary. He
                    opened his backpack to fish out his books--and froze in shock,
                    dismayed, coming to a horrified realization.

                    He'd unloaded his books and papers at Agasa's to stock his pack with
                    the tools he'd needed to break into Kyozou's mansion--and those tools
                    and equipment were still inside.

                    "Crap--!" he hissed, cutting himself off before someone heard. Oh
                    damn, I gotta hide this stuff! How could I just forget? How many
                    times have I caught a murderer because he still had the weapon on
                    him? Geeze, I must've left my whole brain unplugged today--!

                    Zipping up his pack and half-hiding it under the blankets of his
                    little futon, he raced back to the living room, not even having to
                    wear a Conan-mask to appear as frantic as he needed to. "Ran-neechan!
                    I left my books at Professor Agasa's house!" he blurted as soon as he
                    was in the door. "Can I go get them? I'll only be a few minutes--" He
                    was already grabbing up his shoes.

                    "Hold it, hold it!" Ran strode across the room, wiping her hands on a
                    towel--she'd been in the middle of washing the dishes. "It's after
                    dark, Conan-kun. You know the rules about when you can go out alone."

                    Dammit... He gritted his teeth, quickly hiding his frustration. "But
                    Ran-neechan, I need my books!" he whined, putting on his very best
                    whimpering tone, aided by his irritation. "I can't turn my homework
                    in late! Teacher will be mad!"

                    Ran smiled. "Don't worry. As soon as I get done with the dishes, I'll
                    go get them for you. Okay?"

                    But I really need to go myself to take this junk back to
                    Agasa! "Okay..." he sighed. Crap...beggars can't be choosers. But if
                    Ran or Ojisan catch a glimpse of what's in my pack right now, I'm
                    dead.

                    Immediately, he smiled widely for her benefit. "Thanks, Ran-neechan! "

                    "You're welcome, Conan-kun. It'll just be a bit."

                    He was already heading back out, already hard at work on his next
                    problem--how he was going to hide those tools here, and then at
                    school tomorrow, until he could get them back to Agasa's and get rid
                    of them.

                    * * * * *
                    True to her word, Ran put on her coat and headed back toward Agasa's
                    as soon as she finished with the dishes and dinner cleanup. It was
                    just after dark so she kept her steps quick and purposeful, her eyes
                    open for trouble just as her parents had always cautioned her. As she
                    walked, her mind drifted back to Shinichi and the previous Friday,
                    just as it had done all week; her thoughts were as confusing as ever
                    and were beginning to frustrate her.

                    Her theory about Conan's identity wasn't really what bothered her--it
                    was the uncertainty that hurt the most. Ambiguity upset her more than
                    truth or lies.

                    Agasa's gate was just ahead; she pulled out of her usual long,
                    meandering reverie and shaking her head in chagrin. She picked up her
                    pace, passing the Kudo residence without a second thought--

                    Wait a second... She pulled up short several steps past Shinichi's
                    gate, surprised. Eyes wide, she reversed direction and peered in the
                    gate, startled to see... Lights? There's lights on at Shinichi's
                    house? Her mind went wild with unreasoning hope. That means he might
                    be--!

                    She was through the gate and dashing up the walkway without an ounce
                    of hesitation, face lit with a single solitary wish. Shinichi...!

                    His porch light wasn't on, although the front door was unlocked. She
                    all but tore the door down, kicking off her shoes as soon as she was
                    across the threshold and darting into the living room. "Shinichi?
                    Shinichi?" she called, her voice echoing shrill through the corridors
                    as she went from room to room, until...

                    ...until she stumbled into the study/library, and found the desk and
                    filing cabinets torn apart, their contents scattered across the
                    floor. Her jaw dropped at the sight; never had she seen such a mess
                    in Shinichi Kudo's home--this clutter was more Professor Agasa's
                    style.

                    Oh no...could it be...? She gasped aloud, then whirled to go back
                    through the house, checking every room. The study was in ruins, the
                    elder Kudos' bedroom was a shambles, and the contents of the upstairs
                    hall closet were strewn all across the carpet.

                    It didn't take a detective to figure this out--a detective's daughter
                    could easily see that someone had gone through these rooms like a
                    buzz saw, thorough and hurried, looking for something important.
                    Probably money or valuables, though none of the more obvious things
                    were missing from their places.

                    The front door unlocked...the rooms torn apart... Ran all but fell
                    down the stairs, rushing outside and turning toward Professor
                    Agasa's. There's been a thief in Shinichi's house!

                    She banged on Agasa's door, shouting for him to hurry. When the older
                    man appeared in the doorway, he was alarmed to see Ran in such a
                    state of panic.

                    "Ran-kun? What's happened? Is everything alright?"

                    "Professor.. .Shinichi' s house...!" She took great gulps of air,
                    trying to speak. "Shinichi's house has been robbed! We need to call
                    the police! Oh, it's all torn apart...!"

                    "Oh my!" Agasa gestured her in quickly. "Hurry now, but don't panic.
                    Here, why don't you go sit down and catch your breath, and I'll take
                    care of it."

                    "Thank you, Professor... thank you..." Still panting from her sprint,
                    Ran slumped down on Agasa's couch and explained to him what she'd
                    found, then rested while the scientist hurried to the kitchen phone.

                    When Agasa got to his kitchen, however, the first place he called was
                    not the police station. The auto-dial button set for the Mouri
                    Detective Agency was quickly stabbed, and Agasa waited nervously
                    through three rings before the other end picked up and a weary-
                    sounding Conan recited, "Hello, Mouri Detective--"

                    "Shinichi!" Agasa broke in quickly. "Hold on, it's me."

                    "Professor Agasa?" There was a pause, and the semi-cheerful little
                    boy was replaced by a tired young-man-speaking- with-little- boy-
                    voice. "Ran's on her way to you. Did something--? "

                    "Yes, something's happened, but I wanted to check with you first.
                    Shinichi, were you aware that your house has been ransacked?"

                    "Huh? Oh..." Conan's voice cleared its throat. "Sorry, that was me.
                    Thanks for making sure."

                    "Er...was there any particular reason for that? Ran said she saw
                    lights on and went in to see."

                    "Aw...crap.. ." Shinichi sighed loudly. "I'm completely forgetting
                    everything today. I left those tools from last night in my backpack
                    and they're over here now, my kiddy homework is over there with you--
                    Ran's picking it up--and now this. Just great..."

                    "What should we do? If it was you, then--"

                    "Gimme a sec and I'll call back with my other voice," Shinichi
                    replied. "Ojisan's snoring drunk on the floor over here, so I think I
                    can get away with it."

                    "Be careful."

                    "I will."

                    Agasa hung up, and waited. A minute later, the phone rang, and he
                    snatched it on the first ring. "Hello, Professor Agasa's residence--"

                    "Okay," said the smooth tenor of Shinichi Kudo. "I got it. Let Ran
                    talk to me if she wants."

                    "Alright," Agasa said quietly--then raised his voice for Ran's
                    benefit. "Oh, how are you, Shinichi? Forgot something, did you say?
                    Ah, that's alright, I can take care of it..."

                    Predictably, Ran was in the kitchen in a matter of seconds, eyes lit
                    up like stars in her pale face. "Is that Shinichi? Did you tell him--
                    ?"

                    Agasa hushed her with a gesture. "Yes, that's Ran--she just got here
                    a few moments ago--put her on? Okay." The older man handed her the
                    phone with a wink. "He wants to talk to you."

                    Ran snatched the phone with all the desperation of a starving woman
                    reaching for bread. "Shinichi? Where are you? Your house is all
                    messed up--there was someone--!"

                    "Hey, take it easy, Ran! You don't have to worry about the mess,"
                    said Shinichi's voice--music to her ears, so wonderfully even and
                    reassuring. Even if he did sound...tired. "I did all that--bad
                    manners, I know, but I was in an awful rush and I had to find
                    something. I'll clean it up when I get the chance, I promise."

                    Agasa was already stepping unobtrusively out of the room. Ran's
                    tension eased upon hearing Shinichi's words--what little tension was
                    left after hearing his voice again. "Well, I'm glad it wasn't a
                    robbery! What's the matter with you, leaving such a mess in your own
                    house? What would your parents think?"

                    "Heh, they'd think I was growing a snout and a curly tail, like my
                    mom used to say," Shinichi chuckled. "Sorry to make you worry, Ran.
                    I'm glad you're looking out for me, even though I've been such a jerk
                    to you all the time."

                    "Someone has to keep an eye on you, with your parents gone so much,"
                    Ran replied. "Shinichi, are you okay? You sound exhausted."

                    "Oh..." Shinichi sighed. "It's just...some things about this case
                    and...some family problems. I've been under a lot of stress lately,
                    and I guess it's starting to show."

                    "So the Great Detective Kudo really is human," Ran teased gently.

                    "Yeah...I'm learning that, slowly..." After his faint chuckle,
                    Shinichi was quiet for long moments, as if gathering his
                    thoughts. "Uh, Ran...if I was a total idiot and really screwed up
                    with...um, if I did something pretty bad...what would you think?"

                    The question struck her, having been asked for the second time on the
                    same day--and by two people who shared so many similarities. .. "Well,
                    I...I'd probably be upset with you, depending on what it was.
                    But...if you're asking if we'd still be friends...of course we would!
                    That's what friends are for, right? Mistakes are something to learn
                    from, and if you didn't ever make any I'd really start to wonder
                    about you. But I could forgive you for anything, Shinichi--I could
                    never hate you...you're very special to me."

                    Shinichi's breath caught, just before she realized that she'd said
                    the same thing to Conan. She waited for a small eternity for Shinichi
                    to speak again--while her own mind whirled at the
                    parallel. "Shinichi? Are you...still there?"

                    "Yeah, Ran...I..." He gulped audibly. "Thanks, Ran. I'm glad you'd
                    still... I really...appreciate ... I just..." He stumbled over his own
                    words, as if her honest statement had touched something. "I...I gotta
                    go. This goddamn case is...well... "

                    Ran smiled faintly. "It's okay, Shinichi. You can tell me when you're
                    ready. I'll be waiting."

                    "Ran..."

                    "Goodbye, Shinichi. I'll see you soon."

                    She hung up without waiting for his response, sighing as she set the
                    phone in the cradle. When she walked out of the kitchen, Agasa stood
                    there in the hall with a small stack of books and papers in his
                    hands.

                    "Professor?"

                    The older man smiled at her. "I found these earlier, so I thought
                    Conan-kun might need them. Here you are."

                    Ran took the books with another sigh. "Thanks. I guess I should get
                    going before it gets any later. Goodbye, Professor."

                    As Ran walked home, her steps were not so quick, and her mind was
                    full of Shinichi once more--Shinichi and Conan.

                    * * * * *
                    Predictably, Conan pounced on her the moment she came in the door. He
                    was in his pajamas and slippers, ready for bed--it was getting rather
                    late, and if he wanted to finish his homework before bedtime he'd
                    have to get through it lickety-split. He took the small books and
                    papers from her with a grateful smile, thanking her brightly as he
                    did.

                    "You're welcome, Conan-kun," she replied as she removed her coat and
                    hung it up. Her father was still asleep on the floor, sprawled
                    uncaringly with a pillow clutched in his arms like a life
                    preserver. "You'll have to thank Professor Agasa next time you see
                    him," she continued, stepping past Kogoro's sleeping form. "He's the
                    one who found your books and gathered them."

                    "'Zat so?" Conan responded. "Okay, I will. Thanks again, Ran-neechan- -
                    I'm gonna go do my homework now."

                    She was across the room by now, facing away from him, trying to keep
                    her hands from curling into tense fists. "Conan-kun.. ."

                    "Hm?" His small hand was reaching up for the doorknob, and he half-
                    turned at her soft utterance.

                    "Can I ask you something?"

                    Curious, he faced her fully, though she didn't turn around. "Sure."

                    "Conan-kun.. .the other day--on Friday...when I gave you the book..."
                    She took a deep breath, plunging on. "How did you know that Shinichi
                    had promised me a kiss?"

                    Oh shit-- In shock, Shinichi froze, eyes going wide behind the
                    concealing Conan-glasses. Startled by her question, he nearly dropped
                    his books, his mouth falling open as he realized what an utter,
                    complete blunder he'd made. Ran still didn't turn to face him, but he
                    could feel her focused attention as if she were standing right over
                    him and glaring down. Every line of her seemed rigid, and there was a
                    certain tension in the way she held her head up, the way her back
                    stayed ramrod-straight.

                    "Uh...well.. ..actually I just...um... .you know..." His mouth
                    automatically produced his Conan-voice, automatically began spouting
                    nonsense. He was shaking all over, realizing there was no way in hell
                    he could talk his way out of this--he'd known it the instant the
                    words had come out of her mouth. She'd obviously put the evidence
                    together--she wasn't stupid, she hadn't forgotten it; he'd been just
                    plain careless to have done that...and his cover was so totally
                    blown...!

                    His frantic stuttering fumbled to a halt when Ran turned to him at
                    last; she was almost tremb



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                  • ran ling
                    ya.shinichi is not related to kaito.kaiti is kaiti.shinichi is shinichi.shinichi is conan oso o is that difficult to understand????????????? soli, i am quite
                    Message 9 of 15 , Jul 5, 2007
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                      ya.shinichi is not related to kaito.kaiti is kaiti.shinichi is shinichi.shinichi is conan oso o
                      is that difficult to understand?????????????
                      soli, i am quite rude !!!!

                      joclbu_girl <joclbu_girl@...> wrote:
                      No, i don't think shinichi is kaito. it's just that in Japan, i think,
                      the person who speaks shinichi also speaks kaito.

                      --- In conan@yahoogroups. com, "light swan" <mercy_seat91@ ...> wrote:
                      >
                      > i just want an answer please
                      > is really kaito related to shinichi?
                      >



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                    • light swan
                      well,thanks 4all who answered me about my qustion but i meant if shinichi and kaito are closed to each other?
                      Message 10 of 15 , Jul 5, 2007
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                        well,thanks 4all who answered me about my qustion but i meant if
                        shinichi and kaito are closed to each other?
                      • ran ling
                        I don think they are closed to each other. but they are rival rite.kaito n shinichi got challenge each other once b4 he become conan o. i gt c a ending that
                        Message 11 of 15 , Jul 6, 2007
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                          I don think they are closed to each other.
                          but they are rival rite.kaito n shinichi got challenge each other once b4 he become conan o.\
                          i gt c a ending that kaito die at the end.but i don noe is it real o not!!!
                          but i hope it is not true!!!
                          light swan <mercy_seat91@...> wrote:
                          well,thanks 4all who answered me about my qustion but i meant if
                          shinichi and kaito are closed to each other?



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                        • Stephanie Pakar
                          Yes, shinichi and kaitou are rivals. to shinichi@conan, kaitou is the only culprit that he haven t caught and to kaitou, shinichi is the only one who almost
                          Message 12 of 15 , Jul 14, 2007
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                            Yes, shinichi and kaitou are rivals. to shinichi@conan, kaitou is the
                            only culprit that he haven't caught and to kaitou, shinichi is the
                            only one who almost catch him (but still haven't)

                            about an ending where kaitou almost died...where did you see it? maybe
                            you were looking at the original kaitou (the one who taught acting to
                            sharon vineyard and yukiko kudou). Original kaitou kid got killed by a
                            black organization (maybe the same group of people in detective conan)

                            --- In conan@yahoogroups.com, ran ling <ling_lang88@...> wrote:
                            >
                            >
                            > I don think they are closed to each other.
                            > but they are rival rite.kaito n shinichi got challenge each other
                            once b4 he become conan o.\
                            > i gt c a ending that kaito die at the end.but i don noe is it real
                            o not!!!
                            > but i hope it is not true!!!
                            > light swan <mercy_seat91@...> wrote:
                            > well,thanks 4all who answered me about my qustion but i
                            meant if
                            > shinichi and kaito are closed to each other?
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > ---------------------------------
                            > Building a website is a piece of cake.
                            > Yahoo! Small Business gives you all the tools to get online.
                            >
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