Nothing really to say here, just hope you enjoy this chapter.
Chapter 12: Closing in
I don't like this.
Not just because I'm stuck going to primary school as Conan right now, and Kudo insisted I just pretend I have a cold and can't speak so people don't end up hearing Conan speaking with a Osaka accent and think that's weird.
That's annoying, but I can deal with that, it's not really a problem.
The real problem is that secrets are practically coming out like water through hands at this point.
Even Kudo's secret is practically on its last legs now after the shit Kid just pulled.
If Amuro is really part of the organization and PSB? Oh yeah, he definitely knows now. And the tomboy knows too. So that leaves just Hakuba, assuming Kid was telling the truth when he said he didn't tell him everything, and Kogoro since there's no way that bumbling guy managed to figure it out.
So Kudo's secret might actually end up coming out soon, and it looks like Amuro's is in a similar state, cause there's no way he's not basically out at this point after Kid answered a villainous phone call for him.
Which is not great for them, but on the brightside it puts me in the final three with secrets.
The Tomboy's probably has something to do with her mom, and that's gonna end up naturally coming out if our bodies just keep rotating. Sooner or later everyone is going to know about her secret little mom, even if they keep the details vague, so it's better for them to just let it out and do damage control.
And Kogoro's is probably something stupid like that he cheated a game of mahjong or he actually really does like Conan deep down. Problem there is that he's way too stubborn to out himself even if he doesn't have dire stakes like a lot of the others. He's really going to throw a wrench in this, maybe he'll even be the last person left standing.
Honestly, at this point I'd tell my own to go back to my own body already… but I don't actually know what mine is.
I mean sure I've been keeping Kudo's secret, but there's no way some weird magic thing would count that as my secret
Could be a secret like Hakuba's, my romantic feelings for Kazuha could be my secret- but that doesn't really feel right either. After all, I haven't been trying to hide that for a while now. Hell, I've been actively trying my best to get that one out there.
But… What else could it be? How could I have some kind of secret that a magic gemstone knows but I don't? Is that how magic works?
After the events of these past few days it feels odd to be doing something so normal as going to school. Much less doing it as myself.
Somehow it feels even stranger sitting with Kaito at lunch.
Just a week ago I wouldn't have thought it possible for the two of us to have a civil discussion with one another without at least one glare being exchanged, clearly the rest of our classmates thought the same because they're staring at us with the most incredulous looks…
Aoko is out sick today, otherwise she'd probably be joining us. For the sake of appearances maybe it would be best to make it look like we got close due to having her as a mutual friend… do I even need to worry about appearances? Perhaps I shouldn't, but I do find myself feeling a bit uncomfortable under the stares of our peers.
I had never felt this self-conscious in the fame and attention that my career as a detective had afforded me, but this feels different than that. My fans respect and admire me, but this… I'm being scrutinized. I've become an object of curiosity, of suspicion.
How does Kaito put up with this? I hope my gaze doesn't feel like this to him.
"So what do you think?" Kaito's question snaps me out of my thoughts.
"About what… specifically?" I ask, hoping I hadn't managed to space out and completely miss him talking about something before that question.
"The phone call…. What can you deduce?"
I suppose if any of our classmates were to be eavesdropping it would simply sound like I'm discussing theories for a case I'm working on with Kaito. Still, I'd best keep details vague just in case.
"Well… given the content of the call, it seems there was an attempt at murdering your 'Tantei-kun' and he managed to survive instead. The names that were used aside from the victim's were obviously codenames seeing as they followed a cohesive theme… so they're a formal group of some kind…"
Likely a very large and very dangerous group too if Kudo and Kaito haven't been able to just hand over the information they have to the police and be done with it.
And given that supposedly they tried to kill Kudo-
Ah, that was what this was about, Kaito is frustrated that he can't tell me about Kudo's situation without revealing secrets that aren't his to tell, so he's trying to point me in the correct direction. He's likely been leaving all kinds of clues, and now he's trying to lead me to put it all together.
He doesn't want to hide anything from me.
I smile a bit as I continue to vocalize the chain of logic I'm following, "And without being able to be sure what the scope of it is, the course of action 'tantei-kun' took was attempting to hide himself so that his would-be killers didn't realize he was still alive… however they got suspicious anyway, and so… Someone needed to take the heat, to direct attention away from where he's really hiding."
Kaito already told me that he and Kudo look uncannily similar, so it makes sense that Kaito is able to use himself as a decoy. However, confirming that Kudo is alive was a risk in it's own right… unless directing the attention to Kaito somehow guaranteed that the real one wouldn't be able to be recognized.
"For a plan like that to work, you'd need someone that passes as the target, and then you'd need to either completely hide or disguise the target, right?" Kaito chimes in clearly trying to lead me once again.
Plastic surgery would be out of the question, doing it properly would leave a paper trail after all.
Kaito being involved meant all sorts of things for the possibility of disguises, but Kaito himself had also claimed that their working together was something of a recent development, so that too couldn't be the answer.
Was Kudo perhaps disfigured in some way by the poison he was given? No, that seemed unlikely, surely they would have tested the poison before attempting to use it to kill-
Perhaps I need to approach this from another angle. Instead of thinking about how Kudo is hiding himself, I should think about where he may be hiding. Kaito's prompting me, that tells me that he knows I have all the necessary pieces and he's waiting for me to put them together. So if Kudo is in disguise, it's someone I've met, more specifically someone that Kaito knows that I've met- that narrows things down somewhat.
Someone that Kaito knows I've met. Someone with a suspicious background. Someone that shares some of Kaito's facial features. Someone in a position to continue working on the investigation even though he's meant to be in hiding-
"Oh, God Damn it."
Kaito blinks a bit at my use of language. Cute, did he think I only knew how to speak politely?
"He's Edogawa-kun, isn't he."
I was about to head out of the professor's house, I didn't really have a plan for what to do while in Kogoro's body, I just knew I didn't want to stick around. But I soon found myself stopped when a hand landed on my shoulder.
"Let's go somewhere private we can have a little chat, detective brat," Uncle Kogoro asks, looking quite intense with Amuro's eyes.
I feel my chest tighten a bit. He doesn't call Conan 'detective brat', that's what he's always called me as Shinichi. Why is he calling me that right now? He can't possibly know, right? I haven't even slipped up recently.
Well… even if he doesn't know I might have to tell him soon anyway. Maybe it'd be best to tell him sooner rather than later, just so he knows to not get involved. Or maybe it's better to keep him in the dark so he doesn't get in over his head because he rushes in with undue confidence.
Either way I should talk to him. At least I can find out how much he knows.
"Sure thing, I'd say we could go to the detective agency, but I want to keep Ran-neechan away from this as much as possible… how about a karaoke place?" I suggest.
He agreed and soon we found ourselves awkwardly sitting on opposite sides of a karaoke booth.
"You're Kudo Shinichi, aren't you?" He accuses, sounding somewhat uncertain, like he doesn't want to believe it.
I could probably just tell him he's wrong, and try to brush aside any suspicions he has. It probably wouldn't even be hard considering some of the things he's believed in cases I've seen him try to solve. I'd just have to ask what's made him think I'm Shinichi, and then give some childish excuse for why I'm just Conan.
But the lie catches at the back of my throat, turning instead into a vague confirmation, "How did you realize?"
"Conan showed up the same day Shinichi supposedly got poisoned, and I still remember what you looked like when you were young…" He answers me. That wouldn't be enough on it's own, but in his tone I can tell he has more evidence, little details from our daily life at the agency that must have just recently all snapped into place to form a clear picture.
All the times that I mistakenly said 'when I was little', or times when pieces of Conan's backstory didn't quite fit together, times when Conan showed to be a bit too intelligent. Kogoro had a front row seat to almost everything, and I guess I was a bit too sloppy and overconfident to notice that he was actually paying attention.
I nod, not really able to deny it, "Right… that day I was poisoned, and my body became small. I made up the identity of Conan to try to keep you and Ran from being in the same danger I was in…"
"And what kind of danger would that be?" He looked at me expectantly.
"The people that poisoned me… they're part of a large organization, I didn't know how big at the time, but I knew they were dangerous. If they knew I was alive they'd try to kill me, and anyone they think I might have told about them."
He frowns, "Then we were going to be in danger for being near you regardless of if we knew or not, you should have just told us so we could help protect you. Ran and I aren't weak, we can deal with some danger."
"But you two shouldn't have to deal with the mess I got myself into-"
"Look, you may not be family, but you've been living with us for almost a year now. We care about you." He says with a serious tone, but he can't actually be serious right.
I've been lying to him for the past year, he shouldn't be saying he wants to protect me. I guess I probably would do similar in his shoes, but not without feeling betrayed.
"I'm not exactly happy that you're dating my daughter, but she really likes you, and you keeping her in the dark about all this has been making her cry. So, right now, you and I are going to go and tell her everything."
I find myself gulping involuntarily.
At this point it's hard to deny that my identity is on the chopping block. I managed to get away with only speaking to Kogoro, but even so at this point if I don't share my side of the story to the rest I'll end up looking like a dangerous person.
Most of them probably already know anyway.
Conan knows, so it's likely that his allies know as well, so I should proceed on the assumption that Hattori and Kid both already know. Possibly Hakuba as well as he seems to be getting close to him after he confessed his secret.
So since I've already told Kogoro now the only one remaining that I can be fairly sure doesn't know is the girl.
I should just tell her.
That would be the safe thing to do. At best it would place me back in my own body and I'd no longer have to worry that someone else is going to blow my cover by doing a poor job pretending to be me. At worst she'd be another civilian that now knows a bit too much, but there's no doubt she already knows too much given how she's been snooping around Conan.
She probably already has some knowledge about the organization, and no doubt overhearing that phone call would have raised several red flags, that should probably be cleared up sooner rather than later.
I would rather not talk to her though. It's bad enough that Akai knows who I am, I don't want to have to deal with his little sister too.
Still, I will if I must.
I'll call here from a private location, the hotel room she's living in should be fine.
Hotels aren't the most secure location, but it's a place no one would find it strange for me to be in her body, and since she's a detective there likely aren't any bugs in the room- though I'll check myself before saying anything compromising.
I put my hand on the handle of the hotel room that Sera-san is staying in and instantly feel a sense of tension wash over me. Careful to maintain an air of nonchalance.
I understand the moment I'm through the door, when I see a little girl with those eyes- Akai's eyes- glaring at me while in a stance ready to attack.