A/N: Words in italics indicate character thoughts and flashbacks.


Back when she was a young first-grader, Yoshida Ayumi had loved the snow.

The white stuff that fell from the sky was like something out of a fairy tale. She remembered being mesmerized by the sight as she gazed out onto the horizon from her apartment balcony, enthralled by watching small, tiny snowflakes descend upon the buildings and streets of Beika City down below.

If Ayumi could have frozen time and remained in that state forever — a young six-year-old girl dressed in pajamas, staring forlornly at the falling white snow, she most definitely would. There was just something about the chilly white of winter that entranced her, so much so that her mother had ever commented that she should have been born in the frosty Hokkaido region.

Honestly, she wouldn't mind. There was just something about snow that thrilled the girl. It felt magical to her, even way back in preschool.

But her love for snow only truly took off after she had met a very special someone. Whenever it was snowing and she found herself clad in her thick winter clothes, Ayumi took solace in the fact that the frigid weather reminded her of him — Conan-kun.

Conan-kun, full name Edogawa Conan, had been her classmate in Class 1-B of Teitan Elementary. Funnily enough, he hadn't actually been there at the start of the year. About a month into the semester, Kobayashi-sensei had led Conan-kun by the hand into their class one fine day and introduced the boy as an exchange student from America.

From the very start, being introduced as an exchange student had piqued the attention of his new to-be classmates. But unlike most passing fads and trends which slowly petered out and died off after a while (Genta-kun and Mitsuhiko-kun were living proof of the concept of short-lived attention spans, they could go on about one Kamen Yaiba toy one day and banter on about a completely new one the next), the mysterious Edogawa Conan had managed to maintain his classmates' interest in him even after he had settled down.

It was funny though, because at first glance he didn't appear too remarkable or out of place. He was a relatively small-sized, but very smart bespectacled boy. Nothing too special or out of the ordinary.

However, where he shone wasn't in class… it was out of it.

To most unassuming people, he seemingly appeared to be just a normal boy. However, after being around him for quite some time, Ayumi knew otherwise, even way back then as a kid in first grade. She had been able to tell that Conan-kun was very, very intelligent — more so than Mitsuhiko-kun, even. Nothing ever escaped his observant, razor-sharp azure eyes… not even the tiniest, most obscure clue. These unique traits of his made Conan-kun quite the undisputed master when it came to solving intriguing mysteries, and sometimes even criminal cases which had stumped the police force. He was just that good.

Genta-kun could dispute it till the sun set, but there was no doubt in Ayumi's mind that Conan-kun was the real leader of their little detective group — the Detective Boys, the Shonen Tantei-dan.

He was like glue, the adhesive which held them all together through thick and thin. With his confident attitude, he strutted past crime scenes that could chill seniors at least twice his size and managed to catch out culprits so efficiently that she'd ever heard Megure-keibu comment more than once before on Conan-kun's uncanny efficiency.

Ayumi couldn't even remember much of her life before Conan-kun had come into it. It all seemed so… uninteresting in comparison. By contrast, he brought her joy, he brought her laughs, he brought her thrills…

…he brought her meaning.

Her mind reminisced to a memory which took place even further back, to an incident that had happened less than a week after he joined their class.

Rumors of a mansion of horror, a restless apparition from a murder five years prior had piqued her interest. She'd made a plea for the enigmatic boy to follow along with their little ghost hunting adventure, which he eventually did.

Such a shame that her suggestion had went south really, really quickly.

Mitsuhiko-kun and Genta-kun both vanishing midway through their trek.

Conan-kun scaring her half to death, although it ended up being to cup her mouth so as to keep her from screaming and giving their positions away.

A phantom lady pushing a trolley and carrying a brass chandelier.

A caged man locked in a cage underneath a hidden trapdoor.

A falling mop saved from the ground, only for a bucket precariously placed atop of a cabinet to take its stead.

Said phantom lady noticing them both, with Ayumi fervently wishing that she'd never acted upon her suspicions when the lady tauntingly called for them to come out from their hiding place.

But when the woman finally lost her patience and began to strut towards them with a gleaming knife clasped firmly in her palm, a change instantly swept across Conan.

A cocky smirk adjourned the boy's face as he spun around. In that moment, it was as though he was two different people.

Ayumi swore to herself that she would never forget what would occur next for as long as she lived, not even if she was seventy, suffering from dementia, and stuck in a nursing home. It was that impactful of a memory.

Instead of freaking out and ending up a nervous wreck like she had, Conan calmly spoke up from behind the metal cabinet, coolly explaining his deductions to the lady step-by-step. It was frankly eerie just how composed he was, and to add icing on the cake, his deduction had hit the mark, so much so that the lady had howled back at him in a terrified stutter.

"Wh-who are you? Who the hell are you!?"

She could only remember blinking back tears, gaping with a mix of awe and terror as her classmate walked out from behind the metal cabinet and faced the speaker head-on.

"Edogawa Conan! Tantei-da!"

That concise introduction summed him up perfectly. It defined who Conan-kun was — a detective. A young six-year-old, but a determined junior detective nevertheless.

The dark dungeon-like catacombs underneath the mansion was the first time that Ayumi had ever heard the flashy introduction from the boy — during their very first ever case as the Detective Boys, to boot. He had said it a few times thereafter, but that first time was special and still firmly remained in a special place in her heart.

The way his voice had inflected when he announced his name and his "profession", the calm demeanor that he had when he protected her from the lady's wrath by taking the armed woman on himself—scarily, he'd almost gotten stabbed by the distraught woman for it—and lastly, the way his voice turned somber and he managed to close the cold case by convincing the lady and her son to turn themselves into the police.

And thus, the tale of the haunted mansion had wrapped up, the endgame scenario spun together in such a neat and perfect manner.

After all of that, was it really even a surprise that she harbored a crush on him?

"Yoshida-san."

Ayumi jolted at the voice, snapping out of her flashback as she whirled around to face a disgruntled Haibara Ai. "You were staring off into deep space again, Yoshida-san," she muttered flippantly to her friend. "I understand that it is snowing, but I would think that after a minute, your eyes would have taken in enough of the scenery."

Flustered by Ai's remarks, Ayumi covered her reddening cheeks with her hands. Jeez, she was definitely getting sentimental.

Shoving her hands in the pockets of her red wool jacket, Ayumi slowed down her brisk pace to allow her three good friends to catch up.

Mitsuhiko was the first to actually reach her, using his height to his advantage so as to take larger strides and end up by her side with relevant ease. Even back when he was six, the boy was already relatively tall compared to his peers. But now in present day, the difference was exponential. The passing years had caused the freckled boy to shoot up like a beanstalk to a height that Ayumi would never have even imagined five years ago.

"Are you alright, Ayumi-chan?" he asked, furrowing his brow in worry. "You seem rather quiet today."

She answered Mitsuhiko before she could even stop herself. "It's the weather."

"The weather?!" Genta and Mitsuhiko glanced at Ayumi indignantly.

"Hai," Ayumi confirmed, the petite girl stretching her hand out. "It's snowing…"

As she spoke, the soft mushy substance continued to fall from the sky in swaths, some of it landing on her chocolate-brown hair.

Yes, back when she was a young first-grader, Yoshida Ayumi had loved the snow. The cold frost reminded her of Conan-kun. A constantly cool and steadfast individual — just like ice itself.

But now…?

Suppressing a frown, Ayumi let out a tired sigh.

Leave it to Conan-kun to cause her to turn a complete one-eighty on her opinion of chilly weather.

Presently, the frigid air only reminded her of a kindled crush that would never be, snuffed out like a campfire in the cold harsh blizzard.

If only she could go back to when she was actually nothing more than an oblivious six-year-old. Because at least then, she could pretend that Conan-kun actually had the chance of returning her feelings. Of things being just like they were in a fairy tale — her, a princess playing adorably in the snow; him, a prince charming offering her a hand.

If only he was still here, then perhaps that dream might have survived…

She could clearly remember that day. It was the absolutely worst day of her life, by far.

Conan-kun had strolled into class with an excited look on his face that fine morning four years ago, finally reappearing in class after being sick and taking an extended medical leave.

His facial expression alone tipped Ayumi off that something was amiss. She hadn't spent a year in the Detective Boys without picking up on small, subtle clues like these.

Conan was always serious, an annoyed cross expression on his visage practically all the time, in a manner very much similar to Ai-chan. His smile—his actual, genuine smile—was a rarity to behold, only briefly adjourning his face whenever he cracked the trick behind a case. Whenever Ayumi was fortunate enough to bear witness to it, she would always inhale sharply and hold her breath.

It was an incredible sight, albeit one which was so uncommon that whenever the girl saw it, she would inwardly celebrate and wish that Conan-kun would flash it more often. Half the time, he just appeared bored and disinterested by everything happening around him.

So him being genuinely gleeful was definitely something unusual. Very suspicious indeed. Something had to be up.

Before she or any of her friends could ask him how he'd been, he preempted them once again, interrupting their budding questions with a stunning announcement.

"My parents are coming back!" he had exclaimed, beaming a warm smile to his fellow members of the Detective Boys.

"Your parents…? That's great, Conan-kun!" Ayumi had cheered, jumping for joy. Conan-kun's parents were never around, so with this new revelation, she hoped that perhaps the perpetually gloomy Conan-kun would slowly be more cheerful.

"Yeah! I can't wait to meet them!" Mitsuhiko flashed a thumbs-up, the lanky boy grinning. "It's been an entire year since you've come in and we've never had the chance to see your parents even once! I bet they're really smart!"

"Well, I personally bet that they are just as boring and irritating as you are, Edogawa-kun." Ai didn't even bother to look up from her book, letting out a yawn for good measure.

"Oi, oi." Conan turned his nose up, wrinkling it in displeasure. "Low blow, Haibara."

Ai flipped the book shut, staring back at the bespectacled boy. "Quit beating about the bush. Just tell them already, Edogawa-kun."

That had been Ayumi's second hint. Throughout the entire year, the girl could count the number of times she'd seen legitimate fear on Conan-kun's face with the fingers on a single hand. He was practically fearless.

So to see Conan-kun apprehensively tense up was very, very unsettling. Ayumi began to get a bad feeling in her gut that just refused to go away.

Five seconds later, that ominous sense of foreboding turned out to be a justified one.

"U-um, you see…" Conan stumbled on his words, twiddling his thumbs together before taking in a sharp breath. "Although my tou-san and kaa-san are back, they only came back for me. Heheh… they're are pulling me out of Japan and back to America to continue my studies. In fact, they already informed Kobayashi-sensei. That means that today's the last day I'll be able to attend class with you guys."

It took a few moments for her and her posse to parse his words, and another few to comprehend them to growing shock and horror.

Conan ran his hand through the bangs of his hair, a troubled expression on his face when he saw his friends' reactions. "Come tomorrow…" he reluctantly continued with a sigh, "…you'll never see Edogawa Conan ever again."

Those words were like hitting the firing pin of a rifle. Their reactions were instantaneous, as quick as a bullet fired out of the barrel.

"C-Conan-kun!" she exclaimed, her lips quivering as she latched on to his arm. "You don't have to go! Ca-Can't you stay with us? Please!?" she begged, tears beginning to form in the corner of her eyes.

"That's right!" Mitsuhiko concurred, just as distraught. "I-If you want, we can talk to your parents, Conan-kun! You don't have to go—"

The smaller boy cupped his hands over his ears, cutting Mitsuhiko off as his posture slumped. "I'm sorry, Mitsuhiko. I just can't stay here in Teitan Elementary…"

It was then that Conan strutted towards her, placing his hands on her shoulders and looking her directly in the eye.

Ayumi remembered shuddering. The expression on his face as he gripped her shoulders was indecipherable. And yet Conan remained silent, not saying a word, almost as if he was beckoning her to speak.

"Can't you stay…?" she finally managed to articulate her question with a choked sob, praying against the odds that maybe Conan would concede.

"I'm so sorry, Ayumi-chan." Conan winced as he saw Ayumi's face fall, but he continued nevertheless. "I… just don't belong here. You're all great and wonderful friends, but my true calling… is somewhere else." He averted his bespectacled eyes away at that admission, slowly releasing his hold on Ayumi and shuffling to the door. "I think I need some air. You guys can come look for me during break time," he mumbled as he walked out of the classroom.

There was a stunned silence for a moment as every single one of their classmates stared at the door that the retreating boy had left by.

The silence didn't last for very long.

"That Conan!" Genta raged, "How dare he make Ayumi cry! He has some nerve to think that he could just leave us like this! We are the Detective Boys! He can't just quit on me like that! I'm gonna march right to his parents and demand them to let Conan stay here!" Without any warning, he bolted after Conan, storming after the boy while he dashing out of the classroom.

Mitsuhiko raced after the bellowing Genta. "Genta-kun! Wait up! Don't do anything reckless! I agree with what you said about Conan-kun, but you sound like you're going to beat him up or something! Calm down, Genta-kun!"

As the boys all left their homeroom, the full reality of the situation hit Ayumi like a bullet train to the face. Alright, maybe that might not be the best example, but the general idea was there.

But with her now left all alone by the boys in Class 2-B, the illusion came crashing down that much faster.

The worst part was that deep down in her heart, she had always known that this day would be an inevitability. Conan-kun was an exchange student, after all, and his country of birth was America. Even if he was of Japanese descent, by all rights he could move back to the United States at any time.

But Ayumi hadn't wanted to accept that possibility. As such, she lived in blissful ignorance, choosing to believe that perhaps Conan would eventually migrate and take up residence here in Beika, thus remaining by all of their sides.

Evidently, she had bit off more than she could chew in terms of expectations. It really was a foolish dream in retrospect. The blow was still so sudden, however. It was like a rug had been swept off from under her feet.

And by all accounts, one day was not enough to say your goodbyes to someone who had completely changed your life.

"Really, now?" Ayumi heard Ai speak with some subdued amusement when the other girl saw that Genta and Mitsuhiko had disappeared down the corridor as well.

Oh yeah… Ai-chan was still in the room. She had been so focused on Conan-kun and the boys that she hadn't even noticed.

"Those boys forget that class is starting in ten minutes. They're all going to be late. It's Edogawa-kun's last day here, so I can cut him some slack. Tsuburaya-kun is admittedly a surprise though, he loves classes." Ai laid her head on a hand before letting out a sigh. "But Kojima-kun skipping classes? A very predictable hypothesis."

Ayumi shuffled up to the aloof girl. "A-Ai-chan…" she started with a sniff. "How come you're being so calm about this?"

"Just because I don't show it as openly as someone like that livid Kojima-kun does not mean that I am not opposed to the situation. I'm afraid that Edogawa-kun truly is an idiot," Ai mumbled under her breath as she reached into her pocket and offered her a tissue. "Here. Pick yourself up, Yoshida-san."

"Ai-chan…" she sniffed, taking the tissue from Ai and blowing her nose.

Ai let out a wistful sigh of her own. "You know Edogawa-kun. Once he makes up his mind, it's impossible for him to deviate from that course." A groan was made from that observation, albeit one accompanied by an amused smile. "So what I would suggest you do instead, Yoshida-san, is to treasure these final moments with him before he disappears."

She looked at Ai with glistening tears. "Thank you, Ai-chan!" Ayumi profusely thanked her friend, wildly shaking her hand while Ai gave an exasperated, good-natured sigh.

"Don't mention it."

And she had taken that advice. On that final day, Conan-kun smiled more than he ever had for the entirety of the past year.

He did things that he normally considered beneath him that day. After school let out, he cheerfully ate chocolate mint ice-cream, played tag and hide-and-seek with them without acting like a show-off, laughed at Genta-kun's jokes, gave a few study pointers to Mitsuhiko-kun, and just plain chatted with them.

Although she had taken Ai's advice, it was still heart-rending to Ayumi. Because even through nostalgic rose-tinted lens, she knew that the day had to end sooner or later.

And conclude, it eventually did.

"Well, guys. It was fun." Conan perkily grinned at the group. "I assume this means it's time to say our farewells."

The farewells had been poignant and short. There was a flurry of thanks and final pats in the backs — Mitsuhiko's was profuse, Genta's was reluctant yet sappy, and Ai's was with a genuine smile — something of an accomplishment when it came to Ai-chan.

But when it came to her turn…

"Ayumi-chan."

Conan's voice caused her heart to stop. "Yes… Conan-kun?"

"I'll…" The boy bit his lip, before beckoning her forward. "I'll walk you to your apartment."

She had readily agreed to his offer, and even Mitsuhiko and Genta didn't oppose either of them as they both went around the corner and began making the ten-minute walk that it took to get to her block.

There was silence as she trudged along, Conan walking by her side. Funny, she'd made this walk with him and the others so many times in the past year. But this time, it felt so different. There was this sense of finality to it, like it'd be the last time he walked with her to her apartment.

Because well, it was. No denying that.

The time of their walk passed by swiftly. Before she knew it, she could see her apartment building looming in the horizon ahead.

"So I guess this is goodbye, Conan-kun…" The seven-year-old tried her best to maintain her composure, but Conan had simply let out a harrowed laugh at her pitiful attempt.

"Ayumi-chan." Ayumi had flinched when Conan called her out. "I'm still a detective, you know? I can see your big puffy eyes and your quivering lips. Please, don't bottle it up inside. Just let it all out."

And that she did. She pulled the boy into a hug and cried right into his blue blazer.

Conan simply remained still, gently using his hand to shift the yellow hairband on the top of her head in an attempt to console the distraught Ayumi.

She continued to bawl until she felt small flecks of something land in her hair. Looking up, her eyes sparkled in amazement. "It's… snowing!" she marveled.

"Ahead of schedule. Must be a cold snap."

Although he tended to be aloof and blunt, his words were just what she needed. Leave it to Conan-kun to remain coolly analytical even in this cold weather.

In a sense, the snow was just like him.

She jolted at that realization, unable to see why she hadn't amalgamated the two by association before. He really was as cool as ice.

Ayumi finally broke the embrace, tapping the tip of Conan's nose with a bittersweet grin.

"It's okay, Conan-kun. I'll never forget you. Every time snow falls from the sky, I'll always have this memory in my heart."

And that she did. For four, long years.

For four long and cruel years, with many more to go, the winter snow became a harsh reminder of the final time she was with Edogawa Conan.

Conan-kun had left Japan abruptly on that cold winter night four years ago, right on the onset of being promoted to second grade. As a result, that final day they spent together with him was thus a very bittersweet recollection for Yoshida Ayumi.

"Look at all of that falling snow! Nice weather, eh Mitsuhiko?"

Snapping back to the present, Ayumi suppressed a glare at Genta's remark. Her friend didn't know any better. Oblivious to Ayumi's parting conversation with Conan in the snow, Genta didn't know how much that innocuous comment had actually hurt.

The cold snap was not a good weather to have. Not in the slightest.

For one, Conan had unintentionally made her apprehensive of the cold. Every time a cold spell struck, she would be instantly reminded of the first-grader she was once smitten with. It became numb after a while, especially since they ended up losing all contact with him.

The loss of contact had gotten to the point where they had asked Ran-neechan—Conan's official guardian in Japan—for help, and even she was forced to admit that she had no way to contact Edogawa Fumiyo, Conan-kun's mother.

Alas, when even the great high school detective Kudo Shinichi was led to a dead end after he'd felt sorry for their plight and took their case, there was no choice for Ayumi but to accept that she'd likely never be able to see Conan again, bar some unbelievable miracle.

"Ayumi-chan?"

She froze, putting a cheerful mask on her face as a façade before facing Mitsuhiko, noting that the freckled boy was looking at her worryingly.

"Are you okay, Ayumi-chan? You froze up back there, you know? Is it the chilly weather, perchance?"

"No… it's not," she quickly answered.

"Are you thinking about him again, Yoshida-san?"

Vicious and straight to the point. The passage of time hadn't done much to change the personality of Haibara Ai. Her sharp-eyed friend was as sharp as ever, with an equally sharp tongue which hadn't lost its edge.

"Yeah…" Ayumi quietly admitted. "I still do…"

Ai pursed her lips into a frown. "It's been four years, huh? Well, I assure you that wherever he is now, Edogawa-kun wouldn't want you to mope around."

"That's right, Ayumi-chan!" Mitsuhiko readily agreed. "I personally believe that it's the tides of fate that caused Conan-kun to lose all contact with us. But one day, we'd be reunited as the Detective Boys again!"

"Yeah! And if Conan ever steps foot in Beika City again, I'll personally find him myself and makes sure that he leaves us his contact!"

Hearing the support of her friends caused Ayumi to beam happily. "Thanks so much, you guys…" she choked out.

With a "no problem!", the group of four continued trudging along the snow-covered walkway.

Now in a better state of mind, Ayumi tilted her head up to the gray sky, the girl pausing as a small snowflake fluttered to her nose.

How poignant. Pale white juxtaposed against the soft tan of her skin.

A snowflake was a beautiful structure made of ice, a single crystal of amalgamated ice shards all held together by nature in a gorgeous symmetrical shape. And yet, its fractal beauty can never be eternally captured, for it would always melt away eventually.

But in the end, Ayumi decided that it was okay. Sometimes, true beauty could never be captured physically… only by the eye of the beholder.

And in the case of Conan-kun, if she had a choice between fervently remembering her old adventures with the plucky boy nostalgically or never meeting him at all, she'd pick the former in a heartbeat.

Even if it meant remembering Edogawa Conan at the mere sight of snow. Because as ironic as it seemed, since all the way back when she was a young first-grader, Yoshida Ayumi had always loved the snow.

And now, even though she was always going to be granted a painful reminder of what would never be at the mere sight of the white substance…

"It's okay, Conan-kun. I'll never forget you. Every time snow falls from the sky, I'll always have this memory in my heart."

"Barou!" Conan had retorted, folding his arms in a manner which Ayumi knew very well. "Don't remember me as a pillar of cold ice, Ayumi."

"Wh-what?"

He was smirking at her face, prompting Ayumi to realized that he had deduced exactly why she'd made the apt comparison with snow in the first place.

As she tried to stumble a response, Conan shushed her, pointing up to the gray sky with a wistful smile on his face.

"If you want to compare me to white snow… I'd rather you remember me as a shining beacon of white light who dazzles criminals, catching the bad guys like a merciless blizzard!"

…Ayumi wouldn't have it any other way.


Author's Note:

I've never had the chance to experience snow before, but have a snowfic regardless! Can't keep to deadlines, man… this was supposed to be a Christmas fic, but it ended up slightly late.

Yep, I somehow got suckered back into the black hole that is the DCMK fandom once again. Which means that you can expect even more of my typical Conan angst, as per usual (there's, like, only one thing I've written in this fandom so far that isn't angsty in some way). This isn't too depressing, however, I'll admit that much.

This story follows manga continuity, so they're all six and the Haunted Mansion Case is canonically the Detective Boys' first appearance. It's a great case anyway, so I can't complain.

Anyway, back on topic — the puppy love between Ayumi and Conan is one that is sadly all but guaranteed to end in heartache. No matter how much it hurts, the series makes it explicitly clear (in the earlier arcs at least, when the Detective Boys got more character development) that it's a one-sided crush on Ayumi's end. But damn, it's still sad to think about that from her point of view. If you squint a little the flashback might come off as Ayumi/Conan, but I honestly view it as Conan just being sappy and dramatic by sending her off with a special farewell.