A Meitantei Conan fic by Orla
Disclaimer: I lay no claim to the characters; they all belong to Gosho Aoyama-sama! ^^
I have kept the honorific endings such as `-san', `-kun' and `-neechan' in Japanese as there is no real English equivalent. `-kun' is used for boys and sometimes for girls (when addressed by their elders), `Ran-neechan' can be translated as `big sister Ran' (the male equivalent is `-niichan') and Heiji often refers to or calls Ran `Neechan' even though he is the same age as her, it's just a more casual mode of address.
"She'll be okay," the old man smiled with what he hoped was clear reassurance. "She's a strong young woman."
"You seem to forget who is chasing her," the light, cold voice of the person seated before the computer floated over to them. "There is nowhere that isn't within their reach."
"Ai-kun!" Professor Agasa spoke sharply to his young charge while his
eyes remained fixed on the face of the boy in front of
"Maybe Ai is right," Conan spoke slowly. He didn't look at his next-door neighbour or the girl at the other end of the room; his eyes were fixed on the glasses he held in his hands. "But I have to trust Ran now, Haibara. She's practical and she'll find a good place to go," he put down the glasses and pulled his mobile phone out of his pocket. "Although I wish she'd call and tell me she's okay... it's been three hours!"
The words and the crack in his voice indicated that Conan Edogawa, really Shinichi Kudo, was near to losing his self-control.
Three hours ago Conan had walked through Agasa's door, Haibara behind him, tired from an energetic game of hide and seek with the Detective boys and ready to sit down, shed his childish attitude and go back to talking naturally. However these thoughts were abruptly shelved when Agasa shoved a package under in his nose.
"Ran-kun brought it by a little while ago," the scientist said, a worried wrinkle on his brow. "She said that it was from her English teacher to Shinichi... and that Jodie-sensei had claimed that he would know what to do with it."
Conan remembered looking at the package in suspicious confusion. Not long ago, he and Hattori had 'investigated' Jodie Saintemillion(1) when he had suspected that she might really be the famous American movie star, Chris Vineyard, and a possible link to, or member of, the Black Organization. They hadn't really uncovered anything conclusive, except for a certainty that Jodie was _not_ a simple English teacher, and Conan had been too busy with other matters lately to continue looking into the matter. As he cautiously unwrapped the package his attention hadn't diverted.
Taking away the plain paper, Conan was left with a black velvet ring box sitting in his hands. Looking over his shoulder, Ai sucked in her breath.
He glanced irritably at her. "C'mon Haibara, black _is_ a pretty common colour, you can't associated everything with...." his voice trailed away as he opened the box and saw the contents. "Oh shit..." he held up a small, innocuous looking pill... APTX 4869, the poison responsible for his current situation.
Ai's face went white. "I knew it..." she said breathlessly. "They've found us... we're dead..."
"NO!" Conan turned on her, his blue eyes narrowed. "Ai, they haven't found _you_, it's only me that they're after and that's what this is all about," he frowned and looked back at the box. "But I don't understand..." he mumbled, half to himself. "Why give me this? Wouldn't it be easier to leave me fumbling around in the dark? What is she up too? WHO is she?"
"Vermouth..." Ai forced the name out through trembling lips. "I should have guessed... after the bus jack(2) that she was tracking us."
"But if she's as dangerous as you claim why is she giving me this?"
"She likes to play games... or so I've heard," Ai shivered and rubbed her arms in a futile attempt to comfort herself. "I only met her a couple of times and I was young then, but I'll never forget the terror she inspired... even Gin and Vodka don't scare me as much," a faint, almost mocking smile crossed Ai's lips. "Maybe because I knew better what drove them, whereas I have no idea about Vermouth's motives."
"So this is a challenge then," Conan mused. "She's giving me a chance
to confront her as Shinichi Kudo..." he paused, his frown
deepening. "A bit risky on her part - although I'll assume she likes risk - what's going to stop me talking to the police? It would be easier for me to gather support in my real body..."
"She'll use something against you, to make sure that you confront her on her own terms," Ai shook her head. "Vermouth plays to win, Kudo-kun, that should be obvious."
Her words fell on deaf ears; Conan was staring into space, a look of horror on his face. "Ran..." he breathed. "Oh God... she'll take Ran!"
"Kudo-kun!" Ai called out as the small boy pulled out his mobile phone and began to dial. "It may be too late!"
"I have to try," he said, lifting his bowtie and turning the dial to his Shinichi voice. "Ran! You have to leave NOW!"
Conan shook his head, trying to shake off the memory of Ran's confused, frightened voice. *I'll make it up to you Ran, somehow... I swear, I'll never make you feel that way again!* He looked over at Ai. The former Black Organization scientist was calm now, masking her fear beneath her habitual cold expression.
"How are you doing, Haibara?"
"As well as can be expected," she answered. "Agasa and I have broken it down to the basic components, but a full analysis will take a while, so don't expect anything until tomorrow... of course this may take less time if the ingredients I used in the `cure' I made after you were shot(3) are on track."
"You could just make a batch of the..."
"NO!" she whirled to face, her voice sharp. "Are you eager to die, Kudo-kun? The stress that would put on your body... much good you'd do _her_ if you died!"
Conan reluctantly had to acknowledge that Ai was correct. He still remembered the pain; the way his heart had felt like it was going to burst when he had changed back and forth. Quickly he changed the subject.
"Do you think it's likely that Vermouth will come here?" he asked.
Her fingers flying over the keyboard, Ai glanced briefly over her shoulder. "No, I don't think so... I think she wants you to find a cure and she'll probably give you time to find it... _if_ you're correct and she doesn't know about me that could give us more of a break."
"It's only logical to assume that she doesn't know where you are," Conan
said, unable to resist a chance to show off his
deductions. "She might be suspicious after the bus jack, but you haven't run into her since and she never got to see where you went nor did she find out your name."
"She could look up the school records."
He smirked. "She hasn't, I checked... or rather the principal did, even though he doesn't know it."
"How clever of you," Ai's tone was faintly mocking, but she smiled slightly indicating that Conan's words had reassured her a little.
"I don't think you should go back to the Agency or your home, Shinichi," Agasa said. "If Ran-kun did get away, then this Vermouth woman might change her plans and try to snatch you."
Conan sighed. "Unfortunately that is a viable risk... Okay then, I'll call Mouri-san in the morning and let him know that I'll be staying with some friends for a few days. Hopefully he'll be so glad to get rid of me that he won't be worried..." he rubbed his chin. "I hope Ran left something so the old man doesn't get all uptight..."
"I'm sure she did, Shinichi," Agasa reassured him.
"After all," Ai shot Conan a sly glance. "You did say she is a _practical_ girl, Kudo-kun."
Heiji insisted that Ran take his parents' room, despite her protests.
"They won't mind, certainly not after we explain why you're here and..." he coughed. "The... er... guestroom isn't made up, so..."
Ran let out a little laugh. "Okay, Hattori-kun," she bowed slightly. "Thank you so much for everything."
He flushed and scratched the back of his neck. "It's no problem, y'know... don't get all formal on me!"
Ran laughed again and went into the master bedroom, wishing the Osaka boy a good night. Heiji remained outside the room for a while, listening to her movements in the bedroom and the ensuite. Finally, satisfied that she was settling down, he went to his own room.
Once inside, Heiji took down the genuine katana that his father had given him for his sixteenth birthday. The sword was for decorative purposes, but Heiji knew it was a good, sharp blade and he felt a little more reassured with the weapon in his hands. Heizo Hattori never kept guns in the house, Heiji's father was proud of Japan's strong gun laws and did all he could to ensure that were rarely seen in his own household, although he _had_ taught his son how to shoot.
Heiji lay down on the covers, the sword in his arms. He was hoping that there would be no unexpected visitors tonight, but if there were he was going to be ready. With a yawn, Heiji closed his eyes and rolled over. Tomorrow was going to be one hell of a busy day.
The muffled sound of breaking glass caused his eyes to snap open and he sat up immediately. Glancing quickly at the clock, Heiji saw it read three am. So he had managed to get _some_ sleep...
There was a creaking sound coming from the North end of the house... Quickly getting to his feet, Heiji crept to his door, the katana held in his hands, still sheathed. He had left the door slightly open and now he stood behind it, his ears straining. Yes, he had heard correctly... someone was making their way down the corridor, towards his room. Silently Heiji moved into position, raising the sheathed sword, keeping his breath quiet even though his heart was racing and part of his mind was frantic with concern about Ran's safety.
The tip of a gun snaked into view, followed by the rest of it and a large hand holding it, pointing to Heiji's bed. Before the owner of the hand could see the bed was empty, Heiji brought the sword straight down on his would-be assassin's wrist.
The gun clattered to the floor and Heiji whirled gracefully around, thrusting the sword forward in a well-executed kendo move, aiming for the jaw of the man who stared at him in astonishment. There was a sickening crack as the sword broke the man's jaw and Heiji followed this up with a sharp crack on the man's head, knocking him unconscious before he could say a word.
"Shit... he was gonna kill me..." Heiji breathed, staring down him. His eyes widened. "Ran!"
Scooping up the gun and jamming it into the waistband of his trousers,
Heiji pelted towards his parent's room and arrived there
just as a man crashed through the thin shoji screens, hit the corridor wall head on and slid to the floor in an unconscious heap.
Heiji blinked. "Whoa..."
"Heiji?" Ran poked her head around the hole she had created. "Are you okay?"
"Um... yeah... you?"
She took a deep breath. "I'm okay, sort of... it was lucky I hadn't fallen asleep properly."
Heiji stepped over her attacker and slid open the door. His parents' room was mess and the body of another man lay sprawled on the floor. Ran rubbed her arms, shivering again and becoming tearful as the adrenaline rush vanished. "I don't think he's dead," she gulped. "But... I didn't... I couldn't pull back..."
Heiji checked. "He's alive, neechan, not that he would've deserved..."
he stopped when he caught the expression on Ran's
face. "Err... these were the only ones?"
She nodded mutely. Heiji ran a hand through his hair. "Well, if there were more then I guess they'd have come by now. Looks like it was just the three..."
"Yeah, two to grab you and one to kill me."
Ran sucked in her breath and Heiji cursed himself for being so flippant.
"Don't worry, he's down and out. Still..." he stood
up. "That doesn't mean that there won't be more. I don't think it's safe to stay here, Ran."
She bit her lip. "Oh Heiji... this is all my fault... I shouldn't have come... I'll go back to Tokyo..."
"NO!" he grabbed her wrist and looked directly in her eyes. "Ran, I am involved anyway... sooner or later something like this would have happened, it's just... Look," he smiled. "This is NOT your fault, you did what you thought was right and, yeah, maybe it wasn't, but I still would've heard about this AND I'd still have made sure I was a part of it. So, don't beat yourself up about this, okay?"
She bowed her head for a moment and then looked back up, a resolute expression on her face. "Okay."
"Good," Heiji grinned. "Now, we gotta tie these goons up... and then get the heck out of here... have a look through my Dad's drawers and see if there are any spare handcuffs lying around will ya?"
Ten minutes later, the pair crept out of the house, both carrying knapsacks and Heiji still holding the katana. Only the soft drone of traffic from a main street a couple of blocks away met their ears and the car that the men had arrived in sat silently in the drive way. Heiji looked a bit wistful when he glanced at it.
"You can't drive, can you?" he whispered to Ran.
She stared at him. "Of course not! I'm not eighteen yet.(4)"
"Yeah, yeah... oh well, it's the bike then."
Soon Ran found herself riding pillion on Heiji's motorcycle, a helmet on her head and her arms around his waist as they spend through the streets of Osaka. Heiji had said he knew a place that they could stay and she knew she had to trust him, but she couldn't help feeling a little apprehensive when he drove straight into the heart of America-mura, one of Osaka's most happening night-life spots.
Heiji stopped outside of a building that had the words `Hot Nite' printed on the front and a pulsing beat spilling out from the inside. Young people, all decked out in the latest fashion were coming in and out, most of them unsteady on their feet. Ran flushed when some of the night-clubbers stared at them and chuckled.
"Hattori-kun, why are we...?"
"Don't worry, neechan," he grinned at her. "Stay here and I'll rustle up our accommodation."
"But you can't go in there! You're not old enough!"
"I know that," he said patiently. "I'm going to get our temporary landlord to come to us."
"Huh?" Ran's eyebrows shot up, but she didn't say another word and just watched as Heiji sauntered nonchalantly up to the large man at the door. The two conversed for a while until the bouncer went inside and reappeared with a slim man who greeted Heiji with a big smile. Heiji brought him over to the bike and Ran.
"Hiroyuki Yamada, this is Ran Mouri, a friend of mine from Tokyo."
"Pleased to metcha," Hiroyuki bowed slightly and Ran did likewise.
"Pleased to meet you, Yamada-san,"
"Ain't you the polite one! Call me Hiro," Hiro raised an eyebrow and looked at Heiji. "Are you cheating on Kazuha-chan, now?"
Ran turned bright red and choked.
"NO!" Heiji flushed. "I wouldn't... Kazuha and I are not..."
"Relax, kid, relax," Hiro patted the spluttering boy on the back. "Now, what can I do for you?"
Heiji pulled himself together. "Hiro, you once said if you could do me any favour, you would. Do you still mean that?"
"Absolutely," Hiro spread his hands. "You saved my butt, I owe ya."
"Then... do you still have that little place above Hot Nite?"
"Can we borrow it for the rest of this night and the morning?"
"Heiji, you IDIOT!" Kazuha stamped her foot, much to the shock of several passers-by. "WHY do you NEVER call me when you're going to be LATE?"
She was standing in front of the entrance to the park not far from both their houses, dressed in a comfortable, yet appealing outfit, and holding a basket in her hands. It was clear that she was all ready to go on a picnic, but was lacking the friend she's planned to picnic with.
Grumbling under her breath, Kazuha set the basket down and pulled put her mobile phone. She punched in Heiji's number savagely, almost wishing it were her errant friend she was hitting instead. As the phone rang in her head, Kazuha continue her muttered tirade.
"Stupid, stupid Heiji... so unreliable... planned this for ages and he..."
"Hi, this is Heiji Hattori..."
"AHO! Where are..."
"I'm busy now, so leave your name and number. I'll get back to ya soon!"
Kazuha shoved her phone back into her shoulder bag and picked up her basket. With an expression like thunder, which caused many to look at the pretty teenager in alarm, she turned sharply and stalked down the road.
"I'll bet he's asleep! Probably turned off his phone too! Well... fine, I'll wake him up..."
Kazuha reached the Hattori residence just as Heiji's parents pulled into the driveway.
"Kazuha-chan!" Shizuka, Heiji's mother, got out of the car and smiled at her. "How nice to see you, are you going somewhere with Heiji?"
"Um... yes, we're going on a picnic." *After I beat him around the head and pour ice-cold water down his front!*
"That's nice," Shizuka's eyes twinkled. "I suspect he's delaying you though?"
"Ah-heh... a little," Kazuha confessed.
"The boy is probably asleep," Heizo said disapprovingly, putting his key in the front door lock. "He..."
"What's the matter, dear?" Shizuka's voice was sharp with concern as Heizo stopped abruptly and stared at the door.
"The door is unlocked," he said.
Kazuha shivered despite the warm sunlight. "Heiji wouldn't forget to lock the door... I don't think."
"Hmmm," Heizo waved them back and cautiously opened the door. He stepped inside and then called for them to follow. "Nothing looks wrong," he admitted as they crowded into the genkan.
"Maybe Heiji _did_ forget," Shizuka shrugged. "I'm sure he won't do it again."
Kazuha removed her shoes and followed Heizo down the corridor, Shizuka behind her. As they went past the living room, Heizo glanced inside and halted abruptly.
"Dear, what... OH!"
Shizuka's exclamation was understandable to Kazuha when she looked at the devastated room. Everything was overturned, cushions torn, furniture broken and there were a pile of handcuffs and some rope scattered around. Heart thumping, Kazuha torn her eyes away and ran further up the corridor, towards Heiji's room.
"You better be okay..." she muttered as she flung open the door. "HEIJI!"
There was no Heiji in the room, only open overturned drawers and a messy bed, which included his phone lying on the covers, it's message light blinking. Kazuha looked around and noticed two things that made fear swell up inside her even more... Heiji's katana was gone and there were spots of blood on the floor.
"HEIZO!" Shizuka cried out and Kazuha darted out of Heiji's room to the older woman. She reached Shizuka at the same time as Heizo; he was barking orders into his phone, but the sight in front of him stilled his words for a moment.
Shizuka looked helplessly at the ruins of the master bedroom. "What _happened_ here? And WHERE is Heiji?"
Kazuha put her arm around Shizuka and squeezed her slightly. "I don't think he's here, so I bet he's okay," she said reassuringly. She would mention the blood to Heizo later, Kazuha decided, when Shizuka was not in the room. Heiji's mother was a strong woman, but she was looking awfully distraught right now.
"It almost looks as if someone was _thrown_ through this," Heizo said as he examined the large hole in the shoji screen.
Kazuha helped Shizuka sit down and then moved to join Heizo by the screen thinking that she could whisper her information to him. Her foot struck something partially hidden by a pillow and she bent down, pushing the pillow aside.
It was a mobile phone, a perfectly ordinary DoCo model, but for one thing that made Kazuha's eyes widen as she stifled a gasp of surprise.
She knew the charm attached to it.
The phone belonged to her friend, Ran Mouri.
1. Conan and Heiji went to see Jodie in manga volume 34
2. The Bus Jack case happened in manga volume 29. Ai showed then that she could `sense' members of the Black Org. and that Vermouth terrified her. Ai's head was covered, so Jodie couldn't see her properly, however it seems that she has suspicions about Ai's identity.
3. Conan returned to being Shinichi for 24 hours in volume 26.
4. 18 is the legal age to get a car license in Japan. However I'm not sure what the age is for motorcycle licenses, but since Heiji rode one publicly in the 3rd Conan movie (Last Magician of the Century) I guess he has a license.
Gun laws are VERY strict in Japan, which is probably one of the reasons why Shinichi was taught to shoot in Japan. However I imagine that Heiji's dad would teach Heiji the basics at least.
DoCo is the name of one of the popular mobile phone companies in Japan.
`Genkan' = entrance area where shoes are removed. All Japanese homes have these.
`Shoji' = Thin, paper screens which are commonly found in traditional
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