The small basement laboratory in Professor Agasa's house was filled with two noises at this otherwise very quiet saturday morning: the clicking of a keyboard and the squeaking of a spinning office chair. Haibara was busy filling out some statistics on her computer and Shinichi was just bored, hence the spinning. And yes, it was Shinichi Kudo who sat in that chair and not Conan Edogawa. They were in the process of testing a new form of antidote and Haibara was currently busy analyzing his blood values. This new antidote could be a big step towards a permanent solution, atleast that's what Haibara told Shinichi, who was still fighting his boredom with chair spinning.
"How long does it take to analyze blood?" Shinichi asked, staring at the ceiling.
"It certainly won't go faster if you ask me that all the time." Haibara sighed. "Besides, after I'm finished you'll just hide in your mansion and read the books you've read a million times already, so I don't understand the rush."
Shinichi refrained from giving an answer to that, not that Haibara waited for one, as she continued to torture the keyboard again. It was true though, Shinichi would just wait off the duration of the antidote reading books, but they'd still be more interesting than just sitting here, even if he could recite most of them by heart. Haibara and him decided to test the new antidote this weekend, as two occurences gave them the perfect opportunity for it: for one, Okiya was out of town gathering information, which opened the mansion as a place to stay. Shinichi could've just hid here in Agasa's basement, so that was just the cherry on top. More importantly, Ran and Sonoko were invited by Sera to go on a hiking trip in Nagano, which meant that Ran was gone for atleast a day. Sera also invited Conan of course, but he declined to work on a school project with Ai (not a complete lie, antidote testing was certainly a project and you could argue it had do to with their school), while also offering to stay at Agasa's place, so Ran wouldn't be worried about leaving him alone with her dad. Ran agreed, a bit reluctantly sure, but she did agree. Sera was disappointed and Sonoko didn't care either way, so he was ready and set to go testing.
This new form of antidote came in pill shape too, but the structure was revamped by Haibara. It now lasted twelve hours and taking another pill shortly before the initial time ended, would extend the period for another twelve hours, preventing a transformation. Atleast that was how it was supposed to work, hence the test they conducted right now, blood samples and all. Haibara would've told him more about what she did for the antidote to now work like that, but they both knew Shinichi wasn't versed well enough in that scientific field to fully appreciate or even understand her efforts, so he just accepted the simple facts. Which didn't mean he accepted waiting here until Haibara was finished with her analysis. He wanted to dive into The Sign of Four already and try to forget the fact that he was in his right form and would do nothing with that. Shinichi knew that hiding was for the better, but it was frustrating nonetheless.
'For science.' Shinichi thought, before sighing again.
"Alright, I'm done. You can go to your books now." Haibara said, followed by a sigh of her own.
"Thank you very much." Shinichi downright jumped from his chair, eager to leave the basement. He already opened the door, when Haibara spoke up again.
"I'm sure I can trust your ability to lay low for the next twelve hours, right?" the little scientist asked.
Shinichi groaned. "We already talked about that Haibara. Besides, the only person I would want to meet is out of town for the day and I don't know her exact location. Trust me, Sherlock Holmes will keep me entertained."
Haibara made an amused snort, which Shinichi took for her form of a goodbye. Just as he wanted to go upstairs, the doorbell rang.
"Who could that be?" he asked.
"How should I know? Just let the Professor answer it."
They already could hear the portly professor making his way to the door. His greeting made Haibara and Shinichi, who stayed close to the basement door to hear what was going on upstairs, freeze in shock.
"Ran-kun! And your two friends. I thought you were going to hike in the mountains today?" Agasa asked.
"Yeah, but Sera had to work out some issues with her hotel booking all of the sudden, so we'll have to take the next train. And since we still have some time until then, I wanted to say goodbye to Conan-kun properly, it was all a bit of a rush this morning." Ran said.
"Oh crap!" Shinichi hissed and had to grip the table next to him, as the possibility of being discovered by Ran made his legs go weak. Unfortunately, he shook the table a bit too hard, which lead to some junk noisily dropping to the floor.
"Idiot! Be quiet or they'll notice us for sure! The Professor will shush them away, so just don't move!" Haibara hissed, a bit louder than she intended, but still unhearable for the people above.
"Ah, I'm sorry Ran-kun, but Conan-kun and Ai-kun are not here right now. They went out to get something for their project. I doubt they'll return before you have to catch your train..." Agasa said, his voice a bit unstable, because he had to make up a cover story on the spot.
"Aww, that's too bad." Ran sounded truly disappointed, making Shinichi flinch.
"Heh, that brat will be fine without being cuddled everytime you go away for a bit. Besides, I bet he went out for a date with that girl instead of working on a school project." Sonoko sneered. "Although I thought he was in for that Ayumi girl."
"Sonoko! Conan-kun wouldn't lie about such a thing. Besides, I already told you my theory that he has an eye on Ai-chan!" Ran said to her friend.
Haibara and Shinichi threw each other an exasperated glare.
"Where do these girls from your high school get their crazy ideas?"
"Don't ask me, you should understand them more than me."
They both rolled their eyes.
"Are you sure they're gone?" Sera asked.
"Of course I'm sure, why do you ask?" The Professor answered, a bit too nervous for Shinichi's taste. Sera wasn't dumb, she would probably notice.
"Oh, really? I swear I just heard something in your basement. If it's not them... it can't be some burglars, right?! We should make sure everything is alright!" Sera exclaimed and Shinichi could hear that she made her way into the house. They heard Agasa protest and Ran object, but Sera was in full detective mode and as such wasn't easily stopped by words. Her steps came closer to the stairs, it wouldn't take her long now to find her way down to Shinichi and Haibara.
"Damnit, Kudo-kun, what do we do now? That detective girl is gonna find us here!" Haibara whispered.
Shinichi's mind raced. He had to get them out of this situation somehow. Then he had an idea.
"You stay quiet and hide Haibara. I'm going to salvage this."
"Listen, I'm going to prevent her from searching the basement, but you have to stay quiet as well. If they find you here without Conan they'll ask questions. So be quiet, alright?" Shinichi hissed. Haibara nodded, disapproval written all over her face. Seems like she didn't like his idea, but Shinichi thought it was his best bet right now. He grabbed some unimportant papers, atleast he assumed they were unimportant because Haibara didn't object him taking them in any form, and went up the stairs before Sera even found the entrance to the basement.
"Professor! I found the documents you were looking for!" He shouted. Judging by the gasps he could hear from upstairs, they recognized his voice. 'Alright Kudo, you can do this. You didn't suffer through your mothers acting lessons for nothing, now it's time to use them!' he thought, as a last prep talk before facing four very surprised faces.
The Professor was horrified. Sonoko was just genuinely surprised. Sera was stunned in confusion. And Ran...Ran had that shocked-longing mixture of a look on her face, similar to how she first stared at him during his second case in the East Ohuko village, but unlike the look she first gave him in London. Thank god she didn't, that kind of look on her face would kill him right now, probably not only mentally.
"Oh, I didn't notice you had guests, Professor." Shinichi said to break the silence. He turned to Sera and acted like this was their first meeting. "You must be Masumi Sera-san. I'm Shinichi Kudo. Pleasure to finally meet you in person." Shinichi extended his right hand. Sera still stared at him like he was an alien, but after another short moment, she regained some of her composure and shook his hand.
"Ahh...yes. Nice to meet you, Kudo-kun. I hope you're just as good in person as you are over the phone." Sera said, her voice still tainted with her initial shock.
Shinichi winked at her. "I'm even better." He went over to Agasa. "Here you go Professor, I believe that's what you were looking for." The Professor was still confused, but took the documents from Shinichi.
"Err, yes...you wouldn't guess how long I didn't find these papers. Thank you very much, Shinichi." The Professor replied and went off to his lab with the documents.
'Oi, oi, Professor, you just leave me alone in the hyena pit with them?!' Shinichi thought, just as Sonoko started to talk to him.
"Hey, what are you doing here, Shinichi-kun?! You're gone for such a long time, leaving Ran alone here and now you're in the Professor's house all of a sudden?!" Okay, maybe shouting would a more fitting description of her words. "Don't tell me...don't tell me you were planning to avoid Ran again like that time with the mad bomber at the Detective Agency!"
Shinichi raised an eyebrow at his classmate. "First of all, that guy wasn't mad, he was traumatized by the death of his sister. Secondly, I was just checking in on my house and wanted to see how Professor Agasa is doing, since I rarely get a chance to do that. And of course I wanted to visit Ran..." Shinichi turned his gaze from Sonoko, hoping she wouldn't notice the faint blush on his face, only to see that Ran was also blushing at his words. "...but I ran into Conan on the way here and he told me you three would be out of town this weekend, so I wasn't in rush to get out of here, if that's what you wanted to know, Sonoko."
Sonoko nudged Ran's side. "Hey, Ran, he's blushing."
"Oh, you're blushing as well! To think you're both still so shy even though you already had your tin anniversary..."
Now Shinichi and Ran blushed even more, but neither denied it. Come to think of it, Ran never denied marriage or girlfriend teases by Sonoko anymore.
"Well, we can't seperate this couple now, can we Sera-san?" Sonoko said with a smug voice, wrapping one arm around Sera's shoulders and grinning teasingly. "I guess it's just the two of us in the Nagano mountains then."
"Sonoko..." Ran said in a low voice.
"What? There is no need for Ran to stay here..." Shinichi quickly said, which he regretted immediately.
"Shinichi..." Ran said in an even lower voice, mixed with a bit of sadness.
"Ah, no...that's not what I meant to say..." He tried to defuse the situation, but he couldn't quite find the right words. Ran looked to the ground.
"Well, why don't we do it the other way around?" Sera asked, making everyone look at her. "Instead of staying here, why doesn't Kudo-kun just come with us?"