The clock on the wall ticked slowly, monotonously. The children were all full of energy, but every student there was confined to a desk, forbidden to talk or move around. It was like a fricking prison.
Their metaphorical jailer and captor, then, was Sumiko Kobayashi, droning on about something that probably wasn't important.
"...To sum it up, I was disappointed by the generally poor performance on the final exam," she said. "But regardless, most of you did make a passing grade in this class."
Most of the kids simply heard "bla bla bla bla bla bla bla".
But then this next part they all heard:
"And with that, class is dismissed. I wish you all a good summer break."
As soon as she said "summer break", every kid practically leaped out of his or her seat and started cheering wildly. They exited the classroom in a highly rambunctious and disorderly manner, practically trampling over each other to get through the door.
"It's like shouting 'Fire' in a crowded theatre," Kobayashi murmured, sighing.
All of the Detective Boys, after having quickly run home to grab their bags, gathered outside the Professor's house.
As they were arriving, Dr. Agasa was stuffing bins in the back of the...
"Van?" Ayumi said.
"Hey, Professor, aren't we going in your old yellow car?" Genta asked.
"There's not enough room in the Beetle," Dr. Agasa said. "Too many passengers, even if everyone shared seatbelts."
"Too many people," Nancy repeated. "Wait, does that mean...?"
"Yeah, we're coming too, kid."
Sonoko and Masumi had just shown up, laden with bags. Both looked dressed for the beach.
"You do realize we're not getting there for a whole day, right?" Conan said.
"Well, there might be some hot guys on the boat ride," Sonoko said, grinning.
"So this is everyone, right?" Haibara asked.
"No," Conan said. "That person should be coming too."
"That...person?" Haibara said. "Wait, surely you don't mean...!"
The car pulled up at that moment. Jodie Starling and Shiro Ayamori stepped out.
Haibara tensed up; it was too late to change her mind about the trip, and doing so would certainly look suspicious, but at the same time she REALLY did not want to spend the next week with one of the men in black, even if he was but a child now.
She glared at Conan, who no doubt invited him to come, she thought, considering how incredibly and uncharacteristically stupid he was when it came to that person.
Conan suddenly started hopping up and down like a bunny rabbit. "I gotta pee! I really, really, really gotta pee!"
He looked at Haibara, half expecting her to start jumping up and down too.
Instead, she just sighed. "I need to go use the toilet too, if you don't mind."
"You invited him, didn't you?" she said, cutting straight to the point, a very unhappy look on her face.
"What? No!" Conan denied. "It was Mitsuhiko who invited him, if I remember right. But irrespective of whose fault this is, that person doesn't know squat. As Ryusuke Higo he's had plenty of opportunities to see your face, and yet you're still alive today."
"Still, I don't think I can forget that twisted game he played during that car ride before," Haibara said.
"That's all the more reason," Conan said. "In the end we passed their test. The most they've got is suspicions, and the Organization's too careful to leave body trails based on mere hunches. And don't forget, my life's on the line too, you know."
"Then why the h**l did you have him enrolled at Teitan Elementary?!" Haibara fumed. "Why not in the far corner of Hokkaido somewhere?!"
"That's another conversation for another day," Conan said. "But regardless, what matters now is how we react to the situation at hand, which is why I wanted to talk to you."
"I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess you've got a plan?" Haibara said.
Conan grinned. "Yeah. It should work. No, I'm sure of it."
Conan and Haibara came back outside, and the rest of the van's passengers went to take a last-minute bathroom pit-stop as well.
"You're sure you've got everything you need?" Jodie asked Shiro.
"Yes, Auntie Jodie," Shiro said in a childish voice.
"Alright then," Jodie said, smiling warmly. "Just make sure that you don't..."
"...cause any trouble," she finished, her warm smile having been replaced by a venomous, contemptuous hate-filled glare. "We have ways of making naughty little boys disappear...forever. You'd best remember that, whatever you do or think about doing."
Shiro, being trapped in a tiny body the way he was, found himself feeling very intimidated at this moment, even downright frightened. "Y-yes, I'll be good. You don't have to worry about me."
Mitsuhiko, Ayumi, and Genta came back outside and were coming within a few feet of them.
Jodie re-applied her sickeningly nice persona. "Have a wonderful trip, sweetie."
She hugged him tightly, got into her car, and drove off.
Soon after, everyone had gone to the bathroom, the van was fully loaded, and they began the long trip to a tropical paradise.
(Cup of Trembling by B'z)
(Each fresh breath of life is a fresh chance to start anew! A quiet, laid back summer vacation in the tropics; the thrill of a jewel heist! Mix the two together and you get an explosive combination! Perceiving the one and only truth! With the body of a child but the mind of an adult, my name is...DETECTIVE CONAN!)
Above all, I'm afraid of you seeing me like this
The youthful vigor sapped from my bones
Too afraid to proceed, too afraid to turn back
A wretch, recoiling from my own shadow
Wallowing in self-pity like a pig wallowing in its crap
I can't check my phone, lest you might try to call
I can't live at home, lest you might try to visit
All I have left is the clothes on my back and
That dreaded bottle, whose contents I dare not drink
Oh I'm going nowhere, a pinwheel spinning in circles
This Cup of Trembling I now raise to my lips and swallow
So I may face the demons haunting my restless nights
I can't show my face to you until I can call myself a man
Until I've walked a full moon carrying my cross
Showdown at the Bell Tree Resort! Part One!
With every person carrying a bag or bin or two, they stepped through the revolving door into the lobby of the Bell Tree Resort, a hotel, golf course, and beachfront complex owned and managed by the Suzuki Corporation.
They were immediately bombarded with the coolness of the indoor environment. The air conditioner had been working overtime, clearly. It was much cooler than the ferry which they spent a solid 24 hours cooped up in to get to this remote island in the Ogasawara (AKA Bonin) archipelago.
The Bell Tree Resort was located on Tengai-jima (lit. "dome island"), which had a permanent population of only 85 people but hosted thousands of Japanese mainland tourists every year, as well as a decent number of foreigners.
(Author's Note: Tengai-jima is a fictional location, as is the aforementioned Bell Tree Resort.)
They put down their bags and sat in the lobby waiting area while the Professor talked to the concierge at the front desk.
"I wonder if there are any souvenir shops here," Masumi said.
"Yeah, there's one on the resort grounds," Sonoko said. "But it's just got cheesy mugs and t-shirts and key chains and stuff like that. And everything's crazy overpriced."
"Huh? Sonoko-neechan, you've been here before?" Conan asked.
"Yeah," Sonoko said. "This is my fifth trip, actually. I mean, I'm kind of the owners' daughter, in case you didn't know."
Dr. Agasa returned. "Alright, I got the room key. Ours is Room 413."
There was an awkward pause.
"W-what?" Dr. Agasa said. "Why are you all looking at me like that?"
"Professor, you need to ask for a different room!" Nancy said.
"Yeah, that's like double unlucky, isn't it?" Sonoko said. "If we stay in that room, there's bound to be another murder, right outside the door!"
"Or somebody could fall off the balcony and plunge headfirst to a gruesome death," Masumi chimed in.
"Or, more realistically, the air conditioning and Wi-Fi for the room might not work," Conan said.
"I expected you to be above silly superstitions like that one," Dr. Agasa said, looking at Conan.
"We're not about to bet our lives on this 'silly superstition', Professor!" Sonoko retorted.
(Author's Note: In Japan, as well as certain other East Asian countries, the number 4 is considered unlucky, since in the Japanese language it's pronounced the same way as the word for death. Some high rise buildings in Japan go straight from the 3rd floor to the 5th floor, so as to avoid that unlucky number. Likewise, the main characters of Detective Conan are aware of the similar unlucky connotations of the number 13 in the West.)
The Professor sighed. "Alright, I'll go see if it isn't too late to have the room number changed."
To make a long story short, they were able to switch to room...
They stood outside the door, read the room number, and sighed.
"What now?" The Professor asked, tired from the long ferry ride and in a kind of grumpy mood at the moment.
It's right next to that super unlucky room, Conan thought with a deadpan look.
It was Room 412.
"Do you think some of that bad luck will seep in from the next room over?" Masumi asked.
A light went off in Sonoko's head. "Ah! I know!"
"Know what?" Nancy asked.
"The last two times I came here, we ended up staying on the fourth floor," Sonoko said. "So Ayako found a..."
"Can we PLEASE just go inside and finish unpacking everything?!" Dr. Agasa fumed.
He put his card key up to the knob and unlocked the door.
Sonoko looked at Masumi and Nancy. "I'll tell you two about it later."
The last bin was taken out of the van and set down on the floor in their hotel room.
"Phew," Genta said, wiping his forehead. "Hey Professor, why do you always make me get the heavy stuff?"
That should be obvious, Conan thought with a deadpan look.
To the left upon entering the room was a side space with a bunk bed. The bathroom was to the left a few feet past that; a sink stood outside the bathroom. Beyond that was the main part of the room, with two large beds, a tall wooden stand with drawers and a large TV on top, a small refrigerator with a marbletop kitchen counter above it, a small wooden cabinet standing against the wall in between the two beds, a couch that unfolded to form another bed, and a small table where the Professor promptly put his laptop on. At the end of the room was a sliding glass door leading to the balcony; looking out from the balcony one had a stunning view of the resort grounds and the emerald beaches.
Ayumi emerged from the bathroom in a kiddie swimsuit, and then Mitsuhiko went in.
"I can't wait to feel the cool water and the big waves!" Ayumi declared.
"Oh, right," Dr. Agasa said. "Before you all go out and do your separate things, I think we need to cover some ground rules first."
He walked over to the small table where his laptop was sitting and grabbed the card key.
"I'll have one of these room keys with me at all times," Dr. Agasa said. "When you guys leave, I'll be taking a nap, so I might not answer if you knock on the door. And so, I'll be assigning these now."
Mitsuhiko came out of the bathroom wearing swim trunks. Genta went in.
Dr. Agasa gave cards to Conan, Haibara, Nancy, Sonoko, and Masumi.
"You must never lose these, whatever you do," he said.
"What about us, Professor?" Mitsuhiko protested.
"We were only given six cards," Dr. Agasa said. "Frankly, I'm glad we even got that many. You, Ayumi, Genta, and Shiro will have to either ask somebody with a room key or knock on the door if you want back in here. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it's gonna have to be during our stay here."
Genta came out of the bathroom wearing swim trunks, and Haibara went in.
"Those of you without a room key, do not go swimming unless someone assigned with a key is present or nearby to keep an eye out for you," the Professor said. "And DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go out into the ocean deeper than shoulder-height. Shiro, I trust you know how to swim?"
"Um, well, I-I'm from Okinawa, aren't I?" he said, chuckling nervously.
"Can you or can you not, kid?" Sonoko pressed.
Shiro sighed. "No," he admitted.
That's strange, Conan thought. I figured the number two of that Organization would at least know how to swim.
"In that case, now is a great opportunity for you to learn," Nancy said enthusiastically. "I'll teach you."
Haibara came out of the bathroom, wearing a kiddie swimsuit like the one Ayumi was wearing. Nancy looked at her and then suddenly seemed kind of downtrodden.
"What?" Haibara asked. "Do I have something on my face?"
"N-no, it's nothing," Nancy said, trying to look cheerful again.
Shiro closed the bathroom door behind him.
Masumi turned to Sonoko. "So, earlier you started to mention something about your sister?"
"Right," Sonoko said. "About two miles out from where you leave the resort grounds there's this place where you can buy good luck charms. Ayako would go there and buy two or three. And I'm telling you: on both trips, after she did that, the weather was perfect for the rest of our time here."
"Ehh? For real?" Masumi said.
"So what are we waiting for?" Conan asked.
Sonoko looked at him a bit suspiciously. "You really wanna come with us, kid? On an errand like that?"
Conan nodded. "It'd be a great chance for me to see Tengai-jima village, add a little authenticity to this trip."
Mitsuhiko, Ayumi, Genta, Haibara, Nancy, and Shiro went down to the beach and swimming pool, while Sonoko, Masumi, and Conan went to go buy some good luck charms.
After they all left, the Professor could finally enjoy some peace and quiet, and he wasted no time falling asleep.
The children plunged eagerly into the indoor pool.
"HEY, Genta-kun, don't swim in the deep end!" Haibara barked.
Shiro took a step into the pool staircase on the shallow end, so that his feet and ankles were wet. He stood there and then sat down, waiting for Nancy to come from across the room and help him learn how to swim.
Nancy was reclining in the folding chair, looking mopey.
"What's wrong?" Haibara asked.
"...It's gonna be something like five years," Nancy said.
"Before I regain it," Nancy said. "I lost it when I became like this."
"Wait, you don't mean...?"
"My WOMANLY FIGURE!" Nancy shouted, frustrated.
"He probably heard that," Haibara said, uneasy, glancing at Shiro out of the corner of her eye.
"I don't CARE!" Nancy burst out. "Do you have any idea how much dieting and exercise I put into maintaining it?!"
"Hey, come on, you're too old to be acting like this!" Haibara said.
"That's the stinking point!" Nancy said. "I'm not! Just look at me, I'm wearing a child's outfit! I've got nothing here!"
She put her hands on her chest, where as grown-up Ran two certain bulges would've been located.
"You lived the first thirteen to fourteen years of your life without breasts and you can do it again just fine," Haibara said. "Anyway, Higo-kun's waiting for you."
Nancy sighed and stood up.
"Oh, and Ran," Haibara said. "If it's any consolation, don't forget: you're not the only woman here who's going through this. If you ever want to talk, in a more private setting..."
Nancy smiled. "Thank you, Ai-chan."
Feeling a bit better, she walked over to Shiro.
"What on earth were you blabbing about?" Shiro asked. "Oh, my womanly figure!" He scoffed and shook his head.
"Nothing that concerns you," Nancy said. "So, shall we get started?"
"This is it, huh?"
"Yeah. I came here on both trips to buy some better souvenirs than those available at the resort gift shop."
The building appeared to be made out of wood. It had a thatched roof. A crooked wooden sign that read "Tengai-jima Official Gift Store" in dull red paint was hanging above the door.
"It-it doesn't look all that official to me," Masumi said, somewhat unnerved.
"Don't let the run down exterior fool you," Sonoko said. "This place has it all. Come on, let's go in and get what we came for."
They pulled open the stubborn wooden door and entered the shack.
Inside there were hermit crabs in glass cages, hermit crab food mixtures, shells, sea sponges, canned jars containing shark fins, decorative beach blankets, star fish and sand dollars, and more.
"Amazing," Masumi said in awe.
"Like I said," Sonoko said. "This place has it all."
They went past the front desk and straight to another desk on the left side of the store. The woman sitting behind the counter looked about as old as dirt, and in her advanced age she had evidently shriveled up and shrunk to about the size of a ten year old.
"Well, if it isn't that rich Suzuki girl," the old woman said. "Lemme guess, you're staying up on the fourth floor of the hotel again?"
"W-whoa," Masumi said. "How'd she know?"
"Siily girl, I am a psychic," the woman said in a haughty tone. "My mind is clear of worldly distractions and so I can channel the forces of the spirit world to...!"
"Grandma! Really? You're really gonna use that line again?"
A teenage girl carrying a box of store supplies came into sight.
"Kaori!" Sonoko said in delight.
"Sonoko!" the teenage girl named Kaori responded.
The box was set down for a moment and then they hugged.
"It's been what, three years?" Sonoko asked.
"Two years and 355 days," Kaori said. "So how've you been? Did you bring your friend Ran this time? You know how much I've wanted to meet her."
As soon as Kaori said that, the cheerful atmosphere in the room dissipated.
"...What's wrong?" Kaori asked. "Wait, don't tell me that she...!"
"Yeah, she died," Sonoko said.
There was an awkward pause, made even more awkward by the cheesy Hawaiian music playing on the radio.
"S-so, allow me to introduce you guys," Sonoko said, trying to act upbeat again. "Masumi, brat, this is Kaori Yashihama, a native of Tengai-jima. Kaori, meet Masumi Sera, and the kid with glasses, Conan Edogawa."
Kaori, age 18, had skin that was darker than Sonoko's but not quite as dark as Heiji's. Her hair was black, almost shoulder-length and slightly disheveled. She was wearing a baggy blueish-greenish tie-dye shirt and khaki-colored short shorts. She had a few hardly noticeable freckles on her face.
"So, uh, is your grandmother actually psychic?" Masumi asked.
Kaori laughed. "No, during the tourist season she sets up shop here and sells good-luck charms to tourists, most of whom ended up on the fourth floor and are worried about bad luck ruining their vacation."
"You'd think that the Resort could simply rename the floors so as to not have a fourth," Conan said.
"Well it's a great thing they haven't, young man!" Kaori's grandmother said, laughing. "I've made a small fortune selling these trinkets!"
A quiet ringing of a bell alerted them to the front door opening.
"Ooh, customers!" Kaori's grandmother said. "You three, don't ruin this, got it?"
The two people who entered were tourists. American tourists, a man and a woman, both overweight and wearing ugly Hawaiian shirts. The woman has a camera strapped around her neck. The man was half-bald and he had a pair of sunglasses hanging above his eyes.
"Ooh, Japanese good luck charms," the woman said in English.
"They are really expensive though," the man said in English. "Money doesn't grow on trees."
"But I want one, honey," the woman said.
"Okay, dear," the man said.
He approached Kaori's grandmother, taking out his wallet.
He bought a wallet and then said, "Dahmo ehrigatto."
Then they left. As soon as they were gone...
"Did you see that?" Kaori's grandmother said with a snicker. "I paid ¥500 per piece and those suckers bought one for ¥5000! If only I was such a shrewd businesswoman in my youth."
"Grandmother, since the boss's out today, I guess that means you're in charge," Kaori said. "Can I...?"
"Say no more," Kaori's grandmother said. "As this is the first time in three years that you've gotten to see your mainlander friend, you have my permission to take the rest of the day off. Make it two if you need to."
"Thank you very much!" Kaori said.
She went to the back and clocked out.
The three girls and Conan split the cost and bought one good luck charm, a blue one dedicated to Susanoo, the traditional Japanese god of storms and the sea, and then left to return to the resort.
It was 8:32 PM when they sat down at their table. They had decided to dine at Castiglioni's, an Italian restaurant on the resort grounds.
The waiter brought them some garlic bread sticks and glasses of water.
"Hey, you don't look Italian!" Genta accused.
"Genta-kun, just because it's an Italian restaurant doesn't mean all the people who work here are Italian," Ayumi said.
"My name is Mizuteru Sakaibara," the waiter said, "and I will be serving this table tonight. Here are some menus, and some coloring materials for the children."
He promptly handed these things out. "I'll be back in about ten minutes, so that you all have time to decide on an order."
"All right, thank you," Dr. Agasa said as the waiter was leaving.
"Um, thanks for paying my meal, Mr. Agasa," Kaori said.
"It's no problem," the Professor answered. "I was recently awarded a lot of money in a lawsuit."
One day, while Haibara was randomly surfing the internet, it came to her attention that a company based in Iwate was selling a product that the Professor had invented and patented. She brought this to his attention, and four months later he walked away with ¥3,000,000 yen, money which he then decided to blow on this present trip to a lavish resort in the Bonin islands, though about a third of it would be saved and put into Haibara's college fund.
Conan sat next to Nancy.
"He's staring at us funny," Conan said, almost in a whisper, referring to Shiro, who was sitting on the other side of the table.
"I think he knows," Nancy said. "That we've been talking about him behind his back. That's never a good feeling."
"Hmm," Conan responded, munching on a breadstick. After he had finished...
"I hear you taught him how to swim?" Conan said.
Nancy sighed. "I tried. But it turns out he's actually kind of afraid of the water."
"Then why the heck did he want to come, if he wasn't going to enjoy himself?" Conan asked.
"He says he wants to try again tomorrow though," Nancy said. "He tries to act stoic, and even a little rude, but...I think he's actually really embarrassed about this, and he really wants to learn how to do it."
There was a pause. Nancy looked at Sonoko and Kaori.
"So you've never met her before?" Conan asked.
Nancy shook her head. "I remember Sonoko talking about her on a few occasions over the years, but that's about it. I didn't even know what she looked like until now."
"I think I do remember, though," Conan said. "There was one time, I think it was three years back, when Sonoko invited you to accompany her and her family on vacation here. You told her that you were too busy. That always struck me as a little odd; I don't really remember you being busy with anything that summer."
"You should know perfectly well why I didn't," Nancy said. "I think we've had a similar conversation before. Then again, you were calling me 'Ran-neechan' at the time."
"It was because her family's wealthy, then?" Conan asked. "You didn't want to take advantage of that fact."
Nancy nodded. "To be honest, though, I always regretted not going. I wanted to meet Kaori too."
"And now she's sitting at the same table as you," Conan said. "But you can't introduce yourself to her as Sonoko's best friend. That's got to be more than a little disappointing."
"Yeah, it kind of is."
"One more thing," Conan said. "On an unrelated note, doesn't something about all this seem...off?"
"What? About this trip? This place?"
"I don't know. But there's something, and I can't really put my finger on it. It's like I've done this before."
"We've been to the beach quite a few times in this past year alone," Nancy said. "Maybe you're just tired of beaches?"
He was silent and the look on his face suggested he was deep in thought, trying to remember something.
On the other end of the table...
"And then what? And then what?" Kaori asked eagerly.
"W-well, there was kind of a misunderstanding," Sonoko said, evidently super embarrassed and fidgeting with her fingers.
"Misunderstanding?" Masumi said, puzzled. "What did Makoto-san do with your homemade gift?"
"H-he, well, he, uh, well he..." Sonoko stammered, unable to bring herself to say it. And then...
She stood up abruptly. "HE USES IT AS A GROIN CUP!"
This forceful declaration resonated across this fine dining restaurant. At a table across the room, two women regurgitated their food onto their plates. Sonoko sat back down.
"...Wow..." Masumi said, not knowing how to respond.
"Y-you did set the record straight, though, right?" Kaori asked.
"Come on now, how would I even begin to tell him it was a belt?" Sonoko countered.
To relieve her embarrassment she chowed down voraciously on the bread sticks.
"So, I'm definitely glad you decided to come here," Kaori said, "but was seeing me again your only reason? Did that...other thing factor into your decision as well?"
Sonoko grinned, her mouth halfway full. "I wouldn't miss it for a year's supply of these."
"Miss what?" Masumi said. "I'm confused."
"Heeh? You didn't see it on the news?" Sonoko asked.
"I don't read the news often," Masumi said.
"Well, you see..."
Kaori told her.
Masumi stood up. "Say WHAT?! A Kid heist HERE in two days?!"
Shocked, Conan put down the half-eaten breadstick and whipped his flip phone out of his pocket. He goggled it, and he saw the following headline, several days old:
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: Kaito Kid announces his intent to steal "Flaming Rose" gem on display at five-star hotel
To Be Continued
(Spirit by Rina Aiuchi)
There are only two kinds of people in this complex world
Those who'll fight for what's precious and everyone else
Sometimes I lay awake at night wondering why this is
Is it perhaps that we believe all hope is already lost?
It takes a lot less effort to tap out and forfeit the prize
Hang our heads in shame and defeat, a prisoner of war
Too many voices have cried out "Awaken, thou that sleepest!"
What we need is soothing balm so these bones may stir again
Come, you and me, together let's put on a show for the ages
Hurry, the curtain rises, the epic drama begins to unfold!
Oh you graceful swan, dancing in the middle of the downpour
All the world's your stage, and every eye is fixed on you
You've got heart, and nobody can ever take that away from you
Give them what they came for, the indomitable human spirit!
Next Conan's Hint: Attraction