"Being brave isn't about being unafraid. It's about functioning through the fear."

-Jessica Anderson

Everything was leading up to that moment, the momrnt they came blazing through the doors. They came through the steel doors like a tornado, their guns blazing and firing off round after round after round. It wasn't much of a surprise, he would later acknowledge. It was only a matter of time before they finally found him, what with Hattori leading the investigation. But, he hadn't expected a lot of things recently. He hadn't expected his cover to be blown, least of all by the one person who had been benefiting the most from his disappearance. Kogoro Mouri had been more than accepting of all the praise from the cases he had been solving with the help of one Shinichi Kudo - but this wasn't praise, not this time. No, this time it was blame. Blame for nissing something so simple - something Kogoro had been known to miss so shouldn't have been a shocker, but it was something Shinichi never should have missed. And so, when the wrong man was arrested and a murder happened again a day later, all eyes turned to a shellshocked Mouri, who cracked under the eyes of the nation.

A week after that televised proclamation, that Shinichi Kudo was in fact alive and still investigating, Conan Edogawa found himself knelt before red faced Gin, a .50 pistol digging into his temple. The blonde assassin's eyes skimmed over him, head cocked to the side in obvious confusion. "Shinichi Kudo," Vodka sneered from behind his partner, lips drawn back in a feral scowl. The shrunken detective merely stared back. "So the poison didn't kill you," Kudo bit his tongue to keep from snarking back. The hit came suddenly, from behind based on the roaring pain when he came to, and the darkness swallowed him.

So yes, everything lead to that moment. The moment that steel door swung open. The moment the guns stopping screaming. The moment dozens of eyes flicked to him. He knew there was no use in hiding, in fighting, in moving; he knew what he looked like, he knew no one would understand - hell, he wasn't even sure he understood it and he lived through it.

His eyes drifted down to the clothes in his hands, his clothes, Conan's clothes. The fabric bunched between his fingers as he closed his fists around them. He briefly heard Mouri's sharp inhale, the muffled pleas from Megure, but he couldnt bring himself to raise his gaze again. Familiar arms slotted around him, helping him stand on familiar legs that no longer felt like his own.

"S'alright, Kudo." A warm voice whispered into his ear. "Y'er safe now." He was safe. He was himself, though he didn't quite feel like it. His legs were too long, he was too tall. Every step he took was unstable and heavy, his feet scuffing the ground as they refused to lift and move as he wanted them to, his balance off center and foreign. The tan arm of his helper gradually slid from his shoulder to his waist to help steady him. The Osakan lead him from the building Shinichi could only describe as 'gothic', pausing only when the battered male froze in shock. Gin. Vodka. Chianti. Korn. Bourbon. Each and every one of them were being loaded away, stuffed carelessly into the backs of different squad cars. A sense of calm settled over his tired limbs as Shinichi was once again lead away, steps a bit more solid now.

Hattori didn't speak, didn't demand answers, didnt demand his attention. The teen simply helped him to a different squad car and helped settle him into the leather seats in the back and slipped in beside him. The Osakan had always been touchy, sneaking various brushes of contact whenever he could; an arm casually slung over Shinichi's shoulder, a ruffle of hair when he was Conan - but now the touches were different. The darker teen was more careful, more cautious, but the touches were more frequent. Fingers would find his thigh or wrist or bicep every few moments, as if they were a reminder that Shinichi was truly beside him and not just a fragment of his imagination. Finally Shinichi grabbed the hand when it moved to his wrist again, Hattori startling at the grip but not pulling away either. Their fingers slotted together, palms pressed flat together, and Shinichi gave the smallest of squeezes, all he could manage, his own miniscule way of reassuring his friend that he was okay, that he was safe, that he was there. Neither spoke, there was nothing they needed to say, not yet anyways. There was no urgency between them, just reassuring touch and pressence. When the officer who would be escorting them to the hospital slid behind the wheel, he said nothing either, but Shinichi could see those pittying eyes flashing back to him every so often from the rear view mirror - it made his skin crawl. 'I don't need your pity' he wanted to scream, but he was too tired, his tongue like lead in his mouth, so he shut his eyes to those looks and leaned further into his friend instead.

Hours later, when the doctors had finished their exams, when his seered flesh had been wrapped and his gashes bandaged, only the Osakan was permitted to see him. At night, when visiting hours were long over and the halls were silent, only the Osakan was there with him. When the nightmares started and he would wake with a scream on his lips and eyes wide with fright, the Osakan was there to clamber into bed with him and chase the ghosts away.

He was safe. He was himself, but he wasn't. The Shinichi Kudo they knew, the sometimes arrogant and conniving detective with a sharp tongue and taunting grin, was gone, and in his place was a shell. He was safe. He was himself, but at what cost?


hey guys! i finally am getting around to rewriting this and following the path i want it to take! i hope you guys enjoy this fic!