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.
Words between the brackets <...> are in English.
She walked confidently out of the JR Shibuya station, sunglasses glinting in the late morning sun, and paused for a moment. Some passers-by glanced her way, but for the most part she was ignored. Shibuya, and Tokyo, was much too used to foreigners, beautiful or otherwise, to take much notice of the blond. Any who did look at her simply assumed that she was one of the many foreign language teachers belonging to one of the schools clustered around the JR station area.
Vermouth smiled slightly; for once she hadn't had to bother about a
disguise... well, not a major disguise at least. Just a little
padding to thicken her slender figure and some clever make-up to alter her face, making her look quite different from her true
persona, Chris Vineyard, the American movie star. Tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, she strode across the main intersection and towards the famous 109 building. He had told her to meet him at the Starbucks café there and while she could think of a million better cafes in Tokyo, she had to agree that a chain popular with foreigners provided a more discreet rendezvous.
After grabbing a coffee from the main counter, Vermouth went upstairs and saw him seated at the back. He glanced up as she approached and frowned. "You're late."
She shrugged and slid gracefully into the seat opposite him. "The trains were crowded... they always are on a Saturday."
"Hm," he didn't seem convinced. "You know why I wanted to meet."
"It was fairly obvious."
"Do you have the answers I want?"
His jaw tightened. "I told you... I want to see some results! You can't keep potentially damaging secrets from the Organisation and not expect questions!"
She calmly sipped her coffee. "You'll give yourself a stroke if you keep getting so uptight."
"I said I'd reveal everything and I will, but the timing isn't right yet. There are a few more factors that need to be considered," she licked her lips slowly. "Believe me... sir... I am working in the Organisation's interests."
He exhaled heavily. "Since Sherry's vanishing act, things have been wrong. And there are all the... assignments that have been... railroaded."
Vermouth lit a cigarette and inhaled. "Haven't you ever considered changing tack? Some of those assignments were awfully flashy and counter-productive, don't you think? Things could be run much more smoothly."
His eyes narrowed. "And I suppose you consider yourself the person to do the running!"
She shrugged. "<Your words, not mine.>"
"I've heard about your exploits... you may be one of the best, woman, but don't let that go to your head!" he got to his feet. "And if you're going to continue to be enigmatic, then I'm leaving. Just remember... you only have a certain amount of time to explain yourself – time, I might add, I didn't want to give! – and after that... well, you'll know how dear little Sherry feels."
He walked away and she sat there, staring at her coffee, counting under her breath. After a count of twenty, she looked down at the street at saw him in the crowd, striding towards the station. Narrowing her eyes, she lifted one hand and curled her fingers into a gun shape.
"<Bang! You're dead.>"
Sunlight playing across her face woke Ran and she rolled over, making a little moan of annoyance. Obviously I didn't shut the curtains tightly enough last night, she thought hazily, rats... still, I'm surprised Dad let me sleep this long, he and Conan must be hungry by now. Conan...
Ran's eyes flew open as memory kicked in. She was in Osaka... in a tiny room above a nightclub, lying on a very thin futon and last night she had found out that Shinichi was Conan.
"Oh God, why couldn't this have been a dream?" Ran whispered.
She sat up slowly and looked around; Heiji was curled in one corner, lying on the only blanket, his hands gripping his katana. Ran couldn't help smiling when she remembered the fierce argument they'd had before settling down to sleep. Heiji had insisted that she take the futon, but Ran had objected to him sleeping on the floor. Finally they had reached a compromise, he would take the blanket and she'd take the futon. Neither was very comfortable, but it was better than sleeping on dusty tatami mats. Fortunately the nights were so warm that covers weren't needed.
"Morning neechan," Heiji opened his eyes and grinned at her.
Ran smiled tightly. "Good morning, Hattori-kun. Did you sleep well?"
Heiji sat up and winced. "Ow... put it this way, I don't want to repeat this in a hurry!"
"Mmm," Ran nodded. "So, what do we do now?"
"We'll do what we planned last night and go to the police station," Heiji said. He looked at his watch and whistled. "Whoa... eleven already? Must've been tireder than I thought! Anyway, it'd be a good idea to call Toyama-han first. I'd like to try and keep this as quiet as we can. I'll... oh..."
Ran frowned as Heiji blinked and then looked faintly embarrassed. "What's wrong?"
"I forgot to bring my mobile!" Heiji groaned. "I was so busy with all the other stuff that I left it in my room!"
"That's okay," Ran smiled and pulled her backpack towards her. "We can use mine," she reached in. "Oh..." she paused, remembering last night's events more clearly. "No we can't, I dropped it when those guys attacked me and I obviously didn't pick it up afterwards."
He shot her a quizzical look. "Why were you holding your phone? It was two am!"
Ran flushed. "I know, but I woke up and remembered that I hadn't called Shinichi, so I thought I'd do it then, – and it's serve him right to be woken up at two am! – but then those guys burst in before I'd brought up his number."
"Shit... Oh well," Heiji shrugged. "We'll just find a payphone or something,
or we can see if Hiro will let us use his," he grinned
reassuringly at her. "Why don't you use the toilet sink to freshen up, Ran? It's not much, but we'll be able to have hot showers after we've talked to Toyama-han and my Dad."
"And _that_ I'm looking forward to!" Ran sighed. "And something to eat would be nice."
Heiji tossed her something. Ran looked suspiciously at it. "A protein bar?"
"Better than nothing, neechan."
"I'm going to kill Shinichi..."
"I'm home, Ran!" Kogorou Mouri yelled up the stairs. "Bring me some food!"
Kogorou frowned and pushed open the door to his office. "Huh... she must be out shopping," he grumbled. "Spending my hard-earned money and... eh?"
He picked up the note on his desk. "'Gone on holiday with Sonoko, back soon, love Ran.' WHAT? But... but I'm hungry!" he crumpled up the note and tossed it aside in disgust. "And I thought she was going to train for her karate tournament."
He sat in his chair, a peevish expression on his face as he mulled over his daughter's unfeeling behaviour. Then his eyes widened. Ran was gone... she wouldn't be back for several days... and that meant...
"No nagging about rubbish, racing, mah-jongg, drink or TV!" Kogorou crowed and leaned back in his chair. "Freedom!"
With a speed he usually reserved for pretty women, Kogorou grabbed some beers, switched on the TV and prepared to watch Yoko Okino's summer special. While he was waiting for the programme to start, he listened to his messages.
"Hi Uncle!" Conan's cheerful childish voice crackled through first.
"I'm staying with Professor Agasa for a while. Hope that's
"Good riddance," Kogorou muttered and gulped down a mouthful of beer.
However, the second message nearly made him choke.
"Mouri-san, it's Shinichi Kudo. I received some disturbing information
recently, which might mean you are in some danger. I
suggest you talk to Detective Takagi about the files on your cases.(1)"
"What the _hell_?" Kogorou stared at the answering machine, completely baffled. "What is that young upstart talking about?"
He tried to dismiss it as paranoia on the young detective's part, but Shinichi's words nagged at him. "Fine... I'll call Takagi after I listen to the last message."
"Mouri-san? This is Jodie Saintemillion, Ran's English teacher. I'm trying to get in touch with Ran regarding her last test. Please call me, the number is..."
All thoughts of Shinichi, danger and Detective Takagi vanished out of Kogorou's head as he scrambled to write down Jodie's phone number. At last he'd get to meet the sexy American English teacher Ran had told him about!
"I hope Dad's okay," Ran said as she and Heiji walked down the stairs from the back room, carrying their bags. "If there were people after me, they might try and get him too."
Heiji snorted. "No offence, Ran, but Kudo's not going to put his life on the line for your Dad! He's not in lo... uh... he doesn't like him as much."
Ran coloured. "Shinichi would help _any_one!"
Heiji grinned. "Defending him now? I thought you were going to beat him up."
"Sh-shut up!" Ran's blush deepened. "I..."
"I told you, they're here!" Hiro's voice drifted up to their ears and
Heiji halted, putting out a hand to stop Ran. She looked
questioningly at him, but he put a finger to his lips.
"Yeah, yeah... Hattori and the girl don't suspect a thing. Hey, he thinks I'm his friend! Are you coming now? You'll catch 'em easy, they're sleeping like babies. I'll get my money, right?"
Ran's eyes flashed. "Why that low-down, dirty..."
"Shhh!" Heiji grabbed her hand. "Follow me, and be quiet! We can sneak by if he's not too close."
Ran nodded, but her eyes still blazed angrily and eloquently expressed her desire to pound Hiro into a pulp.
Hiro wasn't anywhere near the stairs; he was lounging by the entrance to the club and talking loudly into his mobile phone. Heiji's eyebrows shot up and a slight smile flickered across his face. He tugged Ran along and they slipped around the back of the building and to Heiji's bike. Ran half-feared that the bike had been damaged or clamped to prevent them leaving, but it was in pristine condition and within moments she was clutching Heiji's waist as he roared out and past Hiro.
"Thanks!" Heiji yelled over his shoulder.
"Huh?" baffled, Ran looked around and saw Hiro waving after them, a big grin on his face. "He was joking?"
"Not exactly," Heiji shouted above the wind. "But he made sure we had a chance to escape. I think things are a little more complicated than I thought!"
*How many people have been sent after us?* Ran wondered as they roared through the streets of Osaka, *and how did they find out that we'd gone to the nightclub? Did they know about Heiji's connect to Hiro-san? Shinichi... what have you gotten us into? And how could you leave me in the dark about it? I wouldn't have told anyone? Couldn't you trust me? Ooh... I AM going to throttle you next time I see you!*
"Ran! Ease up on the squeezing!" Heiji yelled, interrupting her thoughts. "It's hard to drive when I can't breathe!"
"Sorry!" Ran gulped, glad that her helmet hid her red face. *And that's another thing... how am I going to explain this to Kazuha-chan?*
The bike screeched to a halt before Ran could pursue her worries further. She removed her helmet and looked around.
Heiji pointed to a large building to her left. "Don't you remember when you came to Osaka last time?(2) Let's go!"
Once the bike was safely parked, Ran followed Heiji up the steps of the imposing Police Headquarters. Her nerves were tingling, which irritated her. Surely they would be safe here!
"Hattori-san!" a voice called out and Heiji halted as a policeman ran up to them.
"Yes... uh?" Heiji frowned slightly.
"Officer Koichi, Hattori-san. Toyama-san asked me to look out for you. Could you come with me?" Koichi started down the steps and Heiji's frown deepened.
"Why don't we just go in?"
Koichi glanced around quickly and leaned forward, his voice lowering. "There have been some... problems at Headquarters. Toyama-san decided it would be safer for you not to walk straight in, so I'm taking you around the back."
"Oh... that makes senses," Heiji smiled. "Say, I haven't seen you around before, are you new, Koichi-han?"
"Just transferred," the man smiled and then looked at Ran who was eyeing him warily. "It's alright, Mouri-san. Commissioner Hattori called us a little while ago and said that both of you were likely to show up here."
Ran gripped Heiji's arm tightly and pulled him back, letting Koichi get ahead of them. "Did you tell your Dad that I'm here?" she whispered in Heiji's ear. "Because if you didn't, how does he _know_?"
"I didn't... and it's not like Toyama-han to do something like this either," Heiji muttered. "Get ready to run when I say."
They followed Koichi down the steps and were just about to turn into a dark side street when Heiji grabbed Ran's cabin bag from her hands. "Hey! Koichi-han!"
Koichi turned. "Yes, Hatt... oof!" he was cut off and stumbled back as the bag Heiji had thrown at him connected with his chest.
"Run!" Heiji cried and took off down the road. Ran obeyed instantly, not even stopping to look back to see if Koichi had recovered, she ran with all the speed she could muster, following Heiji. She was a little surprised that they didn't run into Police Headquarters and instead went back to the bike, but saved her questions until they stopped.
"Because I don't know how many other people like Koichi might be lurking around," Heiji explained. "We'll call from a payphone and get someone like Otaki-han to come and get us."
"Did you have to throw my bag at him?" Ran asked, getting back on the bike behind him. "Now they have all my stuff!"
"What's worth more, neechan? Your possessions or your life?"
"Well... you have a point there," Ran glanced behind her. "Heiji! There's a car tailing us!"
"I saw it... don't worry, we can go places they can't!" Heiji speeded up and swerved sharply down a narrow street.
Ran clung to him, trying not to squeeze too hard even though her heart was pounding. He made a sharp turn and they roared out onto a main road, narrowly avoiding a collision with an oncoming car. She swallowed a scream as Heiji ignored the danger and cut across traffic, pushing the bike to its maximum speed. She risked a glance behind and saw that their pursuers had been slowed, but not stopped. Heiji knew it too and made another sharp turn, into a shopping street.
"What are you doing?" Ran cried as they zoomed through, people screaming and jumping out of the way. "You could hit someone!"
Heiji didn't answer. Maintaining such a reckless speed and not hitting anyone took all his concentration. With a deft move, he spun the bike around and down another street, one that was thankfully clearer, and then back out onto a main road. Checking the mirrors he saw that no one was pursuing them and slowed down slightly, driving into the heart of Umeda, one of Osaka's many shopping areas.
When he finally halted, Ran sprang off the bike, whipping off her helmet, and glared at him. "You could've warned me! I nearly lost my breakfast!" - she paused and considered this – "Not that it would be a great loss..."
"Sorry, Ran, but I didn't have time to discuss it," Heiji removed his own helmet. "I'll try to warn you next time."
"Look, there's a phone!" Heiji said quickly. "Let's call my Dad and you can call Kudo too," – he winked at her – "so you can yell abuse at him."
Her glare turned frosty. "Just call your father, Hattori-kun. I want this to be over!"
He refrained from teasing her any further and pulled out a phone card.
"Keep an eye out and let me know if you see anything
Ran nodded and started glancing around while Heiji dialled. Her fingers played with the strap of her backpack and she sighed again thinking about her bag with all her clothes in it that was now in the possession of the bad guys. *I wonder who they are... some sort of yakuza? But if Jodie-sensei is involved then they must be international... maybe I should try and get Heiji to tell me more... just their name would be something...*
"Dad? It's me!" Heiji was saying. "I'm okay, but I... What? Oh... shit."
Ran whirled around and looked at Heiji in concern. His face was pale, his eyes wide. "Well, that explains things... Dad... DAD! Look, this is urgent, I'm..."
"Gotcha!" someone hissed in Ran's ear and she was jerked off her feet by a pair of strong arms.
"HEIJI!" she screamed, twisting and trying to strike the people holding her, but she was shoved headfirst into a car before she could land one blow.
The car zoomed forward, causing Ran to bang her nose as she struggled to right herself. Kicking and punching, she struggled up, tears streaming from her eyes and blood flowing from her nose. Two men, one whom she recognized as 'Officer' Koichi, grabbed at her, trying to restrain her arms. She looked out of the back window and saw Heiji in the distance, frantically revving his bike.
Kazuha's head jerked up when Heizo Hattori spoke out. She had just thought that the phone call was from her father or Otaki and not worth worrying about, so she had concentrated on the task of clearing up the living room. However, now she dropped everything and ran out into the hallway, nearly bumping into Shizuka who had also heard her son's name.
They crowded around Heizo who switched the phone onto speaker mode while continuing to talk. "Yes... and the living room had been torn up as well."
"Well, that explains things," Heiji's voice crackled over the speaker, there was a lot of noise behind him and Kazuha guessed he was on a busy street.
"It might explain things to you," Heizo said testily. "But _we_ are in the dark. How could you make your mother worry so..."
"This irresponsible behaviour..."
"DAD!" Heiji shouted in exasperation. "Look, this is urgent, I'm..."
Kazuha jumped as the scream echoed over the phone. "Ran-chan!"
"What is...?" Shizuka got no further. They heard Heiji swear and there
was a clunk and then a roaring that sounded a lot like a
motorbike starting up.
"Heiji! HEIJI!" Heizo yelled into the phone although his expression indicated he thought the action futile. "Damn!" he slammed the handset down.
Shizuka pressed trembling hands to her mouth. "What's happening to him? And what is Ran Mouri doing with him? What kind of trouble is he in?"
"I don't know," Heizo snapped, and then he squeezed his wife's shoulder. "But I'll find him and the girl... I promise."
Kazuha stepped back, biting her lip. Ran had been hurt or grabbed and Heiji was trying to help her, but why was Ran in Osaka in the first place AND furthermore, why was she here alone? Kazuha moved her hand to her chest and pressed down, feeling the shape of her omamori (3). Maybe staying in Osaka wasn't the best place to find answers; perhaps she should... Her mouth tightened.
"I'll go to Tokyo."
"Give it to me!"
"For the millionth time, no!"
"I told you... it's not safe! Besides you have NO idea where she is AND it only lasts twenty-four hours... what if you can't find her in time OR what if you do, but it wears off, giving you a fatal heart attack, leaving her even more helpless?"
"She's not helpless!"
"That's not the point!"
"You don't understand! I..." Conan stopped and turned away from Ai's angry gaze. Damnit all, Ai was right... the temporary cure _wasn't_ safe or much use to him beyond it's time limit. He rubbed his eyes, no glasses hindering him since he'd stopped wearing them at Agasa's, and sighed. "I just wish she'd call," he whispered. "Even if she was saying she hated me... I don't know if she's safe or they've got her..."
Ai watched him impassively for a while, and then she exhaled heavily and reached out a hand, placing it on his shoulder. "Kudo-kun, they haven't got her."
"How do you know?" he challenged, not looking at her.
"Because they would have made contact with you by now," Ai smiled slightly. "They don't like wasting time."
Conan looked back at her and smiled tightly. "Thanks, Haibara."
She shrugged. "Well, if you're finished getting hysterical I'll get back to my work... cures aren't made overnight you know."
She started back down the stairs to her lab, but paused after a few steps and glanced back at him. "I'm sure there's a good reason why she hasn't called you, Kudo-kun, perhaps you should just trust her... oh," her smile turned mocking. "I forgot... you don't like trusting her, do you?"
Conan winced and glared after her. "_That_ was uncalled for!"
1. In vol. 33, Takagi told Conan that
the files of all Kogorou's cases had been stolen and then returned.
2. Volume 32. Kazuha took Ran, Conan & co to Osaka Castle & Heiji pointed out the nearby Police Headquarters.
3. Omamori = a charm, usually bought at Shinto shrines & used for good fortune for grades... etc. Kazuha made 2, one for herself & the other for Heiji -to protect him from harm - using the pieces of the handcuffs that held them together for a day as kids.
JR = Japan Railways.
Shibuya is one of the most popular and busiest shopping areas in Tokyo. The 109 building is very famous and visible when you come out of the JR Shibuya station or the subway. There is a Starbucks (I went to it) and a lot of English language schools around the area... also a lot of foreigners!
Go on to Part Four
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