A Meitantei Conan fic by Orla
Disclaimer: I lay no claim to the characters; they all belong to Gosho Aoyama-sama! ^^
Considering recent events in the Conan storyline, I'd just like to point out that while my story is canon (well, attempts to be ^^) up until the end of the bomber storyline at the beginning of volume 37 after that it's all my imagination and probably bears no relation to what is going to happen! ^^
Although I try to use as little Japanese as possible, 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. Heiji also uses the Osaka dialect and the version of '-san' there is pronounced'-han'. I will also use some Japanese terms for items, which are unique to Japan, which makes the English translations a little clumsy.
Words between the brackets <...> are in English.
"Dad!" Ran jerked awake and sat up. She remained still, breathing hard and trying to recapture the dream that had pulled her out of sleep.
"What's wrong?" Heiji's worried face appeared beside her bed. He had been sleeping on the floor nearby and Ran's cry had awoken him.
She shook her head. "Sorry... I didn't mean to wake you... I was dreaming about... I don't know, but Dad was in it and something happened to him..." she closed her eyes and swallowed hard. "I hope it was just a dream..."
Heiji squeezed her arm. "Hey, hey... of course it was! You're not turning psychic on me!"
Ran managed a weak giggle. "No way!"
"Glad to hear it," Heiji stood up. "Now let's eat breakfast and get ready to go... we overslept a little..."
"What?" Ran grabbed her watch. "Eight o'clock? But that means we won't get to Tokyo until after ten!"
"Don't stress, Neechan, it's not going to make a huge difference. Besides, it might be safer this way."
"How do you figure that?"
"If there are any goons watching the train station then they may have given up by now."
"Nice try, Hattori-kun."
At eight thirty, the receptionist at the front desk halted in mid yawn
as a pair of casually dressed boys exited the elevator. Her
eyebrows twitched slightly, but she maintained a professionally blank expression as one of the boys, handsome with slicked back black hair and wearing glasses, handed her the key. His nervous companion, slim and dressed in a puffy jacket and ripped jeans, kept his distance, tugging his baseball cap down to hide his face. The boys departed hastily, hand in hand, and the receptionist let out a little squeal of delight. Wait until she told her sister that she'd seen such a cute pair!
"Do you think she thought I was a boy?" Ran asked once they were out of the doors.
"I think so," Heiji said, adjusting his backpack and the katana so that they settled comfortably on his back. "Don't tug too hard on the cap, Nee... Ran, you don't want your hair to come down," he unlocked his motorbike and pushed it forward. "The real test is going to be at the station."
Ran gulped and plucked at the front of the jacket, trying to make it more concealing. She wasn't sure that she could pull off a convincing boy, especially when her only aids were Heiji's baseball cap and jacket. Still, there hadn't been much to work with and at least she felt a little more decent than she had before in her torn clothes.
"What are you going to do with your bike?" she asked eventually and Heiji pointed to a local police box.
"Wait here," he said and pushed the bike over, he managed to avoid the policeman's gaze and left the bike leaning against the building.
"They'll trace it and it'll get back to my Dad... eventually," Heiji
sighed as he returned to Ran and they resumed their trek to the
station. "Although whether I ever see it again is another question! Dad's either going to kill me or lock me up forever for all this."
Ran looked guilty. "Hattori-kun, I'm sor..."
"Don't say it!" his expression was stern. "I would've gotten mixed up in this anyway... actually I already _was_... so _how_ it happened doesn't really make a difference."
Ran sighed. "So you say, but I can't help thinking that I shouldn't have come... Kazuha-chan will never forgive me if something happens to you and..."
"What does Kazuha have to do with anything?" Heiji snapped. "Besides being such an idiot to get herself mixed up in this!"
Ran bit her lip and remained silent. Starting a fight with Heiji about Kazuha's decision wasn't going to help anything, she knew why her Osaka friend had run to Tokyo, it was the same thing Ran would have done under the circumstances. Ran only hoped that by the time they reached Tokyo Heiji would have calmed down enough to listen to Kazuha.
"Here we are," Heiji broke into Ran's thoughts. "Remember, walk confident."
"Tell yourself that," Ran said a little tartly noticing the way his eyes were darting about as they walked inside the station.
He had the grace to look a little sheepish, but then his grip tightened
on her arm and he pulled her behind a pillar. "Don't look,"
he muttered. "But one of the guys who grabbed you earlier is at the ticket office."
It took a tremendous amount of will power for Ran not to look, but she managed. "What do we do?" she whispered.
"Hmmm... He's probably listening out for people going to Tokyo and I don't know how well our disguises will hold up to close scrutiny..."
Ran's eyes widened as an idea struck her. "Yokohama!" she exclaimed. "We'll go to Yokohama!"
"Shhh! What? Why?"
She forced her voice back down to a low murmur. "We can get a local train from Yokohama to Tokyo, it'll mean that we'll be a little later than we planned, but it might just throw him off. Plus if we buy a return ticket - which won't cost too much more - it'll be even better."
Heiji considered this and grinned. "Good thinking!" he winked at her. "You'll make a detective yet, neechan!"
"Hattori-kun... guys don't call other guys 'Neechan'... unless they're _very_ close and I really don't feel about you that way."
Shinichi drummed his fingers on the table and looked at the clock, impatience written all over his features. Ai, seated at the computer, sighed. "Time isn't going to speed up just because you want it. Kudo-kun, so it's no good glaring at the clock ever five minutes," she smiled in a cat-like fashion. "And I am _not_ going to give you the antidote before eleven."
He looked over at her. "You enjoy this, don't you?" he accused angrily. "You like watching me suffer!"
Kazuha, sitting on the couch at the other end of the room, winced at the harshness in Shinichi's tone, but Ai remained impassive.
"I do not enjoy it," she said, the heat in her voice betraying her hurt at Shinichi's accusation. "I am trying to keep you from killing yourself!"
Shinichi's cheeks reddened and he looked away. Kazuha bit her lower lip and stared down at her hands. She had awoken that morning half convinced that she had just had a crazy dream, then she had run into Shinichi and realised that everything she had been told last night was horrifyingly true. It was all a bit much to absorb and the worst thing was trying to equate the cute little girl sitting at the computer with the woman who invented such a horrible drug. Then there was the information that the people Ai used to work for were prepared to kill to protect their secrets, even if it meant annihilating ignorant friends and family members. Kazuha shivered at the thought. Thanks to his association with Shinichi Kudo and the knowledge he had insisted on knowing, Heiji was a prime target and by being close to him and now coming here, Kazuha was ghoulishly aware that her own death was on the cards. She looked up and saw Ai was looking at her, eyes cool and analytical.
"So you've finally realised it?" Ai said softly and Kazuha swallowed, hard. There wasn't any need to ask what Ai was referring to.
"Yes, but..." Kazuha forced her fear down and managed a defiant smile. "I don't regret coming here!"
"I wish you did," Shinichi's voice was muffled. He was still looking away and seemed to be covering his face with his hands. "I don't want Heiji to..."
"Let me worry about Heiji!" Kazuha interrupted, her eyes flashing. "You
have to worry about Ran-chan! How you're going to
explain all this to her and how you're going to beg for her forgiveness! I wouldn't blame her if she didn't want anything to do with you after this!"
Shinichi whirled around to face her, his eyes red and raw pain radiating from them. "Is that what you would do, Kazuha-san? If Heiji did the same to you?"
Kazuha stopped breathing momentarily. Would she really spurn Heiji completely if he was in Shinichi's position? Then she shook her head and laughed slightly. "I don't know... I really just don't know... if his reason was well... I guess I might... not?"
Some of the pain in Shinichi's eyes was replaced by amusement and a faint echo of his confident grin tilted his lips. "Then you can hardly rail at me, Kazuha-san."
The phone shrilled loudly, interrupting Kazuha's indignant reply. Four pairs of eyes focused on the handset and nobody moved for a while before Agasa picked it up on the sixth ring.
Shinichi laughed softly and rubbed his eyes. "I'm getting way too paranoid... thinking that would be..."
"Shinichi Kudo?" Agasa spoke sharply, his eyes darting to Shinichi. "I'm sorry, miss, but he isn't at home right now."
Ai sucked in her breath. "It was only a matter of time."
Kazuha's eyes were wide. "You mean that could be one of _them_?" she whispered.
Shinichi gnawed on one of his knuckles, expression grave, listening to Agasa trying to put off the caller as politely and normally as he could. Finally Shinichi nodded to himself and got to his feet, picking up the voice changer bow tie as he did so. "Give me the phone, professor," he said, holding out his free hand.
"Kudo!" Ai exploded. "You don't know..."
"This could be my one final chance to make contact, Haibara!" he interrupted and took the phone from Agasa, putting the bow tie close to his lips. "Hello? This is Shinichi Kudo."
"Ahhh! Finally I get to talk to the real you!" the voice emitting from
the phone was young and rich, full of barely suppressed
amusement. Shinichi frowned, he didn't recognise this person, but he had his suspicions.
"And I get to talk to the real you as well," he said calmly. "Miss Jodie."
She laughed. "Well done, cool guy! I guessed you'd discover me sooner or later, but still... I think I'm ahead in the game as I recognized you almost immediately."
Shinichi winced; he didn't really need to hear that. Gathering all his
bravado, he replied in the most off-hand manner he could
manage. "Perhaps you did, but I don't think you called to discuss points, right?"
Kazuha crept over to Ai. "Who's he talking to?" she whispered.
"V... V..." Ai was white and shaking. "Vermouth..."
"I'm wondering," Vermouth said sweetly. "Are you back to normal, cool guy? I'm so sorry I couldn't give you a little longer, but events are moving very fast you see. Even I have to obey a certain set of rules... in a manner of speaking."
"Really," Shinichi licked his lips. "And where does Ran fit into this?" he asked, ignoring her question.
She tutted. "Come on now... surely you understand why I wanted her with me?" she laughed again. "Love can make people do very silly things I've found. So are you back?"
Shinichi smiled wryly. Despite himself, he was feeling quite stimulated by the mental sparring. This woman was dangerous, but it was frighteningly enjoyable to match wits with her. "Oh, I'm as close to normal as I can get now."
"Oh, good..." Vermouth purred. "I take it you haven't seen the news today, otherwise I doubt you'd be speaking so pleasantly to me."
Shinichi's enjoyment was thoroughly doused by a wave of fear. "Why? What did you do?" he asked. *Please God, not Ran... not Ran...*
"Well... oh! If you switch on channel ten now then you'll see."
He scrabbled for the TV remote and turned on Agasa's little TV that sat on the table. Flicking through the channels he soon reached channel ten and what he heard made his blood chill.
"As yet the police are refusing to release any further details on the shooting of Detective Mouri and while this famous detective has amassed a number of enemies in the criminals he has helped convict, all of these are currently behind bars... leaving the assassin's identity a mystery worthy of 'Sleeping Kogorou' himself. We now go to..."
"You killed him!" Shinichi cried harshly, rage and unexpected grief cracking his nonchalant disguise. He had never seen eye to eye with Ran's father and often sneered at the man's slovenly behaviour, but after living in the same home as him for over a year, Shinichi could hardly be blind to Kogorou's _good_ qualities, especially his love for his only child. The thought of Kogorou lying dead, shot by Vermouth or another of the Black Organisation was almost more than Shinichi could bear. "Why? He knew _nothing_ about you!"
"Oh don't get so emotional, cool guy," she chided, not the slightest bit ruffled by his rage. "You should know by now that we eliminate even the _slightest_ link to us. Besides... you were the one that signed poor Mr Mouri's death warrant, in a manner of speaking."
"What do you mean? I..." Shinichi paused, recalling his instructions to Mouri. He had told the man to find out about the missing case files and even Mouri, lazy as he was, would have been curious... especially if there was the possibility that it related to Ran's disappearance. "He didn't know... he wouldn't have found out..." Shinichi said dully. "Shooting him was... unnecessary."
"Perhaps," she said coolly. "Now... the main reason for my call today was this... I want to meet, you and me, face to face... alone. I have a proposal to put to you, and after what happened to Mr Mouri, I think you'll want to hear it."
He let out a bitter laugh. "Really? And what guarantees do I have that this isn't a trap? Getting rid of me would surely solve _all_ your problems."
"Some people would agree," her rich voice mocked. "But killing you isn't my intention... yet. No, no one else will be there... I swear on..." she chuckled. "My, my... what can I swear on to make you believe me? My honour, perhaps?
Shinichi closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath. Prudence told him to refuse, that she was lying and would kill him at the first given opportunity. But he remembered how she had helped him in several cases, had passed up opportunities to kill him and even, on one memorable occasion, placed herself in his (and Heiji's) power(1). She was playing a game, one he didn't fully understand, but he was almost convinced that in this case she would honour her word. Almost...
"Alright," he said finally. "I'll meet you."
"Nothing," Miwako Sato said, entering the office from the upstairs apartment. "Looks like our paranoia was unwarranted this time."
Wataru Takagi popped up from behind Kogorou's desk and smiled. "Well, better to be safe than sorry," he said. His smile faded and he frowned. "After what happened to Mouri-san..."
"Oh, I agree," Sato said, sweeping her gaze around Kogorou's agency.
"And also to see if there were any clues to explain Ran
"Has anyone told Conan-kun about what happened?"
She shook her head. "No, but we should... perhaps after this we could go to Professor Agasa's?" Sato sighed. "Poor kid... he'll be upset about this and Ran's disappearance."
"Mmm..." Takagi leaned against the window. "Uh... Sato-san... What do you think of Conan-kun?"
Sato raised an eyebrow and looked at her partner. "What brought this on?"
He tugged a little nervously at his collar. "Well, he's one of the most
unchildlike children I've met, really mature for his age and
sometimes he says things..."
"I know," Sato interrupted. "But I don't think he's _that_ unchildlike,
not compared to that little girl who lives at Professor
Agasa's. What's her name? Ai...?"
"You're right, she's very strange, but I still think Conan's keeping some sort of secret from us," Takagi gazed out of the window. "And I have this gut feeling that if we found out that secret then perhaps some of the things that have been happening lately might make more sense."
Sato's mouth quirked into an amused smile. "Well, well... look at you! Wataru Takagi, all serious!"
He reddened. "Sato-san!"
She let out a little giggle. "You are too easy to tease, you know that?"
"I... hey!" Takagi froze, his eyes fixed on something in the street below. Sato frowned. "What is it?" she murmured, hand moving towards her concealed gun.
"There's a guy in the alleyway directly opposite," Takagi said, his lips barely moving. "A dark-haired man smoking a cigarette and wearing what looks like a wool hat. He keeps looking up here."
"No," Takagi moved back slowly. "He just seems to be watching... waiting almost," he glanced at her. "I think we should..."
"Approach him? Alright," Sato loosened her gun. "Lead on, Detective!"
They hurried down to the street, but made sure their exit from the building appeared quite casual. However, as soon as Sato saw the man Takagi had mentioned, she froze and let out a small exclamation. "I know him!"
Either the man's hearing was phenomenal or he sensed the intentions of the two policemen, whatever the cause, he threw down his cigarette and turned, walking quickly down the alley. Takagi immediately broke into a run, shouting for the man to stop, Sato directly behind him.
Coming out of the alleyway, the man turned left, picking up speed until he was quite a fair distance away from the young policeman. Takagi forced himself to run faster, but was foiled by the appearance of a black car with blank number plates that the man jumped into.
Sato caught up and patted Takagi on the shoulder. "Good try!"
He turned to her. "Sato-san, you said you knew him?"
She nodded, expression grave. "Don't you remember? About a month or two ago there was that bus hijack that Conan was involved in? That man was one of the passengers(2). I think he gave his name as Shin... no... Shuichi Akai."
Takagi stared down the road. "So what is he doing standing outside the Mouri agency?"
Sato strapped her gun back into place. "I'd like to say that he just wanted to thank Conan for helping to stop the hijackers, but somehow I don't think that's the case... There's definitely something more sinister going on here and personally, I think the sooner we talk to Conan, the better."
"We made it!" Ran breathed. "Yokohama!"
"Yeah, that's all good, but we still have to get to Tokyo," Heiji muttered, glancing around at their fellow passengers. "And then get to Kudo's."
"Don't be such a worrywart," Ran scolded as she practically leapt off the train. "The bay guys are probably all gathered at Tokyo station waiting for us, all we have to do now is get a local train that'll put us near the main line for Beika. Easy!" she danced on ahead, mood buoyed by the closeness to home and (even if she refuse to consciously admit it) the anticipation of seeing Shinichi.
"Did you never see that American move 'Labyrinth'?" Heiji asked, catching up with her. "Every time someone said this phrase... er.. 'cake pieces', everything went wrong."
"'Cake pieces'?" Ran blinked. "That sounds like a really silly phrase to _me_."
"Well that wasn't exactly it, but it meant the same as you're doing now... thinking everything's okay when you haven't quite finished the task."
Ran's expression turned stubborn. "After all the stuff that's happened I think I'm allowed to be a little more relaxed!"
Heiji groaned. "Girls... never understand them..." he grumbled as they approached the Yokohama shinkansen exit. "Oh! 'It's a piece of cake'! That's the phrase!"
Heiji whiled around and Ran stifled a cry as her arm was grabbed and something hard poked at her side. Tadashi bared his teeth in an almost feral grin. "Not a squeak out of you, bitch, or you Teen Detective-san," he moved slightly so Heiji could see the gun Tadashi was holding although it was hidden from the sight of the other people milling around the station. "This thing isn't on safety and it'll tear a great big gaping hole in you, Miss Karate champ, if I let it!"
Heiji swallowed. "I knew that phrase was unlucky..."
"Shut up and move back, just a little... and no stupid heroics, got me? If I have to kill her, I don't care anymore... in fact, I'd enjoy it!"
"Okay, okay..." Heiji did as Tadashi instructed. "I'm curious though, how did you find us?"
"You thought you were so clever, didn't you?" Tadashi sneered. "Well, it just so happened I have a photo of her," he nudged Ran painfully in the ribs with the gun. "I showed it to the guys at the ticket counter and one of them recognized your fine eyes, missy. So I get a ticket, hop on the Hikari and wham! I'm here before the Kodoma gets in with you two."
Heiji cursed. He didn't know what to do, Tadashi was clearly thirsting for revenge on Ran and was holding her in such away that using her karate was a very risky option. Nor was Heiji sure if he could move fast enough to disarm Tadashi and get Ran out of the line of fire. He gritted his teeth, frustrated. They had been so close!
"Whoa! Watch out!"
"Ow!" Heiji stumbled back rubbing his head.
"Whoops! Sorry about that!" the schoolboy who had slammed into him apologized. "Should've been looking where I was going..."
Ran's eyes widened. "Shin... ichi?" she gasped.
The boy, who did look remarkably like Shinichi, turned to look at her. "Eh? Sorry, miss, but my name's...?"
"Go away!" Tadashi snarled, tightening his grip on Ran's arm and drawing her closer to him. "Get back to your class!"
The boy looked offended. "Hey, I said I was sorry!" he glared at Tadashi. An odd expression flickered across his face as he took in the man and the girl in front of him, but it vanished immediately and the boy simply smiled and bowed again. "Farewell!" he cried, turning away.
Tadashi grunted and fixed his eyes back on Heiji, shoving Ran forward. "Just keeping moving."
"Hey, mister!" the boy turned around. "Pick a card!"
"What the f...?" Tadashi yelped as a flurry of playing cards flew around him. Before he could react, Ran was suddenly yanked from his grasp and when the playing cards finally fell to the ground he found himself bereft of hostages, and holding a gun in plain view of the policeman who had come to investigate the fuss.
"Yes!" Heiji murmured in satisfaction from his vantage point behind
a pillar. He turned to the boy who was grinning from ear to
ear. "Thanks for that."
"Not a problem," the boy said graciously. He smiled at Ran who was looking a little stunned. "As soon as I saw there was a lovely lady in distress I just couldn't leave her to a horrible fate."
Heiji raised an eyebrow at this flowery speech. "What am I? Chopped squid?"
Ran blushed as the boy kissed her hand. "Thank you so much... er... what is your name?"
"KAITO!!!" a angry female voice rang out and the boy flinched. "I'm afraid I have to go," he said. "Take care, Ran Mouri-san!" and with that he was gone... literally in a puff of smoke.
"Who the hell...?" Heiji coughed.
"How did he know my name?" Ran wondered.
They looked at each other. "Kaito?" Heiji murmured. "As in...? Nah... no way..."
"I wonder..." Ran murmured.
Heiji shook himself. "Whoever he is, let's not waste Kaito's good turn... what say we _leave_ here... _now_."
"I'm right behind you! And Heiji?"
"You were right about the cake thing."
"Shhhh! Let's not tempt fate any further!"
1. Volume 34
2. Volume 29
The Hikari and the Kodoma are 2 of the names for the shinkansen (bullet train). The Hikari is the fastest of the two and only stops at a few stations whereas the Kodoma commonly stops at every station. So it is possible for Tadashi to have reached Yokohama before Heiji and Ran despite leaving Nagoya later. Yokohama only has one exit for the shinkansen, so it was fairly easy for Tadashi to anticipate where they would turn up.
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