Three years ago, Mouri Ran stood in front of a fire.
It wasn't too close, but it was close enough that Ran could feel the heat emitted from it. She stared dazedly at the blurred figure, barely visible through the flames and smoke.
A life was lost today. A life believed to be that of the Avatar.
But the Avatar was still alive. Ran knew this better than anyone.
Backing away toward the alleyway she had promised to wait in, she looked at the vent. Giving a few quick glances around the area, Ran reached out with her foot and kicked the vent once. Twice. A third time. She waited a bit before the fourth and fifth times. Drawing her foot back, she watched as the vent moved and Kudo Shinichi climbed out.
Shinichi smiled at Ran. "Hey."
Ran glanced back at the flames and smoke. It was hard to see them at the angle she was currently standing at, especially with the walls of the alley blocking her way, but they were there. It was the person within that was especially hard to see.
"Will they really believe…" Ran started, then paused before continuing. "Will the Fire Nation really believe that Miyano Akemi's body is yours?"
Shinichi nodded darkly. "They will," he said. "That fire… you don't know just how strong it is."
"I got a hint," Ran murmured.
"It's so powerful that there will be nothing left of her body except ashes," Shinichi continued. Ran shivered. It wasn't cold.
"Is there any way to control it?" Ran whispered. "The Avatar's powers…"
Shinichi shook his head. "No, that's impossible. It's difficult enough to control it just enough so that Miyano Akemi and I could make the switch. It'll be impossible to stop it from killing her."
Ran knew this was true. She didn't have to like it, though.
"We have to get away," Shinichi said, and then he took her hand and began leading her through the crowds. During his stay in the vents, he had already put on a disguise—really, it was only because Ran had known him for so many years that she was able to recognize him in the first place. Of course, Ran also had a disguise on. She couldn't risk the Fire Nation recognizing her as Shinichi's best friend.
"Is the other entrance to the vent closed?" Ran murmured quietly. She had to make sure there was no trace of Shinichi's disappearing act left behind.
Shinichi nodded slightly. "Yes," he whispered. I closed it with my earthbending once I was in the vents."
The entrance they were talking about wasn't a natural one. It was one Shinichi had prepared to create the moment his actions weren't detectable through the smoke and fire. And it seemed that it had worked.
They continued through the crowd for a while longer. The Fire Nation soldiers diminished and the Earth Kingdom citizens increased. Ran couldn't help but let out a small sigh of relief. Their disguises were great—as was expected of the creations of Kaitou Kid—but Ran couldn't help being nervous. Now that the Fire Nation soldiers weren't in sight, they were probably safer.
Finally, they reached the back entrance of her house. Ran stared blankly at the door for a moment, then turned back to Shinichi. "Sh- Conan," she said, correcting herself imminently as she remembered the fake name Shinichi had come up with.
Shinichi smiled. "Ran," he responded.
Ran felt a crushing sense in her soul. "This…this is all my fault, isn't it? It feels that way, at least…"
Shinichi shook his head. "None of it is your fault," Shinichi said. "It's the Fire Nation's." His eyes narrowed. "I'll never forgive them."
Ran was a more forgiving person than Shinichi was. She felt that maybe not all of the Fire Nation's members were as cruel as the soldiers who tried to kill Shinichi today. Miyano Akemi certainly wasn't. She voiced this. "What about Miyano Akemi?"
Shinichi looked down. "Akemi…" His voice almost faltered. It was a sort of rawness that Shinichi usually didn't demonstrate. "She was different. It's probably the same with her sister too. We'll go back for Miyano Shiho, but not yet. It's too early."
Ran couldn't respond to that.
Shinichi met her gaze again. "You remember where to meet me, right?"
Ran nodded. She hadn't written it on paper or anything the Fire Nation could get a hold of, but had traced the name on her arm many times, over and over, and walked the path so many times that it was engraved in her mind.
"I'll visit later," she said.
"When the Fire Nation has less eyes on you," Shinichi added, giving a nod. "I'll see you, then." He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her. Ran let out a small breath and hugged him back.
She just wished he never had to leave.
"Finally," Heiji said, staring ahead. "We're close."
Kazuha humphed. "We're close to the usual Air Nomad lands, that's all. We could still have another whole month, maybe more, to walk."
"Ride," Heiji snapped back, patting the back of the ostrich horse. Sonoko's money sure came in handy.
"Whatever," Kazuha muttered.
Momiji came up on Kazuha's other side, a smirk on her face. "Does it matter how long it takes?" she asked smoothly. "We are on Air Nomad land now, after all."
Heiji's spirits lifted. Momiji was agreeing with him! For once! Usually, the waterbender took Kazuha's side.
Kazuha also had a betrayed look on her face. The firebender still didn't seem to be a big fan of Momiji, but she had definitely gotten used to her being on her side.
Heiji glanced at Sonoko, who had a sullen look on her face. Makoto sat next to her, staring straight ahead, eyes slightly narrowed. Heiji shivered. That man was intimidating. On Sonoko's other side was Iori, who was keeping an eye on the heiress as per Momiji's orders.
"Hey, Suzuki!" Heiji called back, and Sonoko's head snapped up, eyes meeting his. "Ya sent the letters, right?"
Sonoko nodded glumly. "Yes," she said, "I lied to my two best friends in the whole world, as well as the second most handsome man to ever exist, and told them that my bodyguards defeated you guys long ago and that I was at home, relaxing."
"You didn't repeat the bodyguard part, did you? That's kind of suspicious," Heiji said.
"Of course I didn't," Sonoko replied, glaring at him.
Heiji shrugged and turned back to Kazuha and Momiji. "So, they don't know we're coming, unless the doves found a way to tell Kid."
"Doves can't talk, you idiot!" Kazuha elbowed him.
Heiji laughed. "Yeah, yeah, alright. Let's go on."
The group began moving forward. Heiji was grateful for the ostrich horses, because otherwise, for one, his feet would be in pain, and two, Momiji would be complaining endlessly. Heiji wasn't even sure how much of it was genuine and how much was part of her manipulations and master schemes. That woman was crazy smart, other than when she dumbly took Kazuha's side. Heiji didn't even understand why she kept doing that.
They had figured out where to go based on the direction the doves flew in. Heiji guessed they were nearby, but they couldn't be too sure. They just had to keep the dove mail coming.
My objective is closer, Heiji thought. Soon, I'll have returned Miyano Shiho to the Fire Nation, and then my father…
He paused at that. Was returning Shiho to Hattori Heizo and the rest of the Fire Nation really the best idea?
The Avatar had to have taken her for a reason, after all… She's a non-bender, so it can't be because of some amazing bending powers. It's probably because of Miyano Akemi's involvement with Kudo Shinichi's survival.
Is it really alright to take her away from them? And if the fact that Kudo Shinichi is alive is exposed… that could be very troublesome.
"I think this is probably it," Momiji spoke up, interrupting Heiji's thoughts. "I thought I saw the dove start to swoop downward as it got to this area."
Heiji looked around. They were at a hill range, some with temples or stairs. The temples looked abandoned, and Heiji felt a little daunted by them. Still, he took a deep breath in and said, "Let's search the temples."
Hopping off of his ostrich horse, Heiji began to walk forward, only to stiffen as a sudden blast of wind pushed him back. Stumbling, he barely managed to keep his balance. He heard a gasp from behind him, probably from Kazuha or Momiji, and when he looked up, Heiji saw a man dressed in white.
The man smirked. "Hello, Hattori Heiji," He gave a small bow. "Toyama Kazuha, Ooka Momiji, and Muga Iori. All four of you are quite uninvited."
"You're Kaitou Kid, aren't you?" Heiji asked through gritted teeth.
The man grinned, teeth flashing. "Oh, yes, I am. I've been waiting for you. Did you really think I wouldn't have noticed that the doves were taking a shorter time to reach me?"
Heiji stiffened. He had considered that possibility, but none of Kid's letters indicated any suspicion of him realizing this, and Heiji knew this because he, Kazuha, and Momiji had all read each letter and Sonoko's responses. But, as he glanced back at Sonoko, he realized that he had been tricked.
For the first time in so long, Sonoko's eyes seemed to have light in them. That scared him.
And then, the heiress whispered, "Ran."
Turning around, Heiji noticed that three more people had arrived. Mouri Ran was one he recognized easily, and then Miyano Shiho, who Heiji had never known personally but had seen a few times before. And then, the man he had first known as Edogawa Conan.
The one who was really named Kudo Shinichi.
Heiji locked eyes with him. "I know you aren't named Conan," Heiji said. He didn't know what else to say.
"It doesn't matter what my name is," Shinichi said. "In the end, you won't live long enough to tell anyone else."
Hattori Heizo stood in the dimly lit room, down on one knee, gazing at King Karasuma. On his left side was Kurosawa Jin, or, as he was more commonly known as, Gin. Gin had just finished giving his report: his soldiers were no closer to locating Miyano Shiho. Heizo could tell the man was frustrated. He was in such a revered position and had gained fame through his execution of the Avatar, yet he could not find this one single woman.
"Hattori Heizo," Karasuma said, gaze slowly dragging over to him. "Report."
"My son, Hattori Heiji, has not given me any reports," Heizo said, gritting his teeth. His son frustrated him—he had been given such an important mission, a chance to prove himself worthy of the Hattori name, yet he refused to give Heizo any important updates. Heizo had practically no way to track him now, especially since Miyano Shiho could be anywhere.
From the corner of his vision, Heizo saw Gin's eyes narrow.
"I am certain that he is closing in on her location, though," Heizo added. If Heiji had even an ounce of Hattori blood in his veins, he would definitely be able to find Shiho.
The doors opened behind Heizo, but he did not dare stand up. Gin seemed to do the same. Footsteps sounded behind them as the doors closed. Finally, a man walked through the gap between Heizo and Gin's kneeling bodies and stopped a few steps in front of them, dropping to one knee. "King Karasuma," he greeted.
Heizo immediately recognized him. Ooka. He should have guessed that the man would get involved.
"Report," Karasuma said.
"As you know, I sent my daughter, Ooka Momiji, on the path of Hattori Heiji," Ooka said. "I have given her orders to split off from him if he is no closer to finding Miyano Shiho."
Heizo's fists clenched. He felt anger burn inside him. Ooka dared to do something like this without telling him. "And if Heiji finds out your daughter's scheme and burns her alive?" he asked.
Ooka turned back slightly to look at him, and his eyes were cold. "He will not succeed," he said, "as my daughter is a waterbender."
Heizo jolted. Gin's eyes narrowed slightly, but all the man said was, "I suspected."
Heizo's mind was running. Ooka Momiji was a waterbender this whole time? Did she get it from Ooka's wife, her mother?
Ooka had already turned back to Karasuma. "I have not received any reports from her, but this is to be suspected. It means that she is still with Hattori Heiji. The two of them are likely working together to secure Miyano Shiho. I did tell her not to send me any updates if she is still with him."
Heizo glared at Ooka's back. My son will be the one to find Miyano Shiho. You shall receive no honor; the Hattori name will receive all.
"Bodyguards!" Sonoko cried out from behind Heiji. He quickly turned to look at her. "You know what to do!"
"Yes, Sonoko!" Makoto shouted, and then he slammed his fists together. The other seven bodyguards did the same, and earth began taking shape.
Fire lit in Kazuha and Iori's hands, and water began to flow around Momiji. Kazuha whipped her head to look at Heiji. "Run!" she snapped at him.
Heiji's first instinct was to protest, but before he could, an idea came to mind. He nodded once and began running, leaving behind a bewildered Kazuha, probably wondering if he was possessed.
They think I'm running, Heiji thought with satisfaction, but in reality, I'll just get them from behind!
Heiji nimbly climbed up the hill. He saw glimpses of the battle below. Kid had joined the fight, and now all four elements were locked in combat, fire and water against earth and air. He caught a glimpse of Sonoko joining Shiho in leaning against the wall. Sonoko seemed to be talking, while Shiho stood there quietly.
I'll bring you back to the Fire Nation, Heiji thought, but he wasn't too sure if he actually would.
Finally, reaching the top, Heiji prepared to catch his breath…
Only to stop breathing the second he noticed that he was not alone.
Across from him stood Kudo Shinichi and Mouri Ran.
"You couldn't have believed that would actually work, right?" Shinichi questioned, stepping closer. Heiji noticed that Ran's eyes were following Shinichi closely. Worry for her best friend, Heiji assumed. Shinichi lifted his hand, and air rushed around him. "It was easy for Ran and I to get up here," he said. "You never stood a chance."
Shinichi's voice was cold. Heiji wondered if it had always been that way, or if he had simply changed after the Fire Nation tried to execute him.
Heiji let fire flow around him. It was already starting to get out of control, he noticed. No matter what he did, he would never be able to control his own fire. But that didn't matter. Maybe more fire was necessary to face someone as powerful as the Avatar.
But Shinichi only glanced at it before snapping his fingers. A second later, the fire began to rush back at Heiji. His eyes widening, Heiji flung out his hands, willing his firebending to work, for the fire to not touch him—
It didn't touch him.
The earth trembled at Heiji's feet, and Heiji started running toward Shinichi. He flung his fire at him, but Shinichi didn't even have to move for a blast of water to hurl into Heiji. Heiji stumbled back, anger rushing through him—how could he be so weak—before once again flinging fire at the Avatar.
Water met it once more. Shinichi held out a hand in Heiji's direction, and fire and air began to surround it, a cyclone of destructive power, before the fire tornado began flying at Heiji. Heiji just barely dodged, the tornado catching a bit of his shirt. Giving an indignant yelp and batting at the flames, they receded, but when he looked up again, Shinichi was charging at him, running on pillars of earth. Fire appeared in his palms.
Even though Shinichi was trying to kill him, Heiji couldn't help but think that right now, he looked amazing.
Suddenly, the fire disappeared. Shinichi whipped his head to face Ran, who at that moment shouted, "Be careful!"
Wind surged around them. Heiji narrowed his eyes, and when the wind receded, there was a man in their midst.
For a moment, Heiji thought that maybe Kaitou Kid had joined in this fight, and felt horror seep through him. He hadn't stood a chance against Shinichi. He'd be dead if Kid joined in. He wasn't sure why Ran wasn't double teaming him already with Shinichi, but oh well, perhaps he should have been grateful for that.
But, looking at the man who had just appeared, Heiji quickly realized that this was not Kid. His hair was too blond for that, and his expression was not like the criminal's.
"My name is Hakuba Saguru," the man said, his voice echoing, "a detective pursuing Kaitou Kid." He nodded at the bottom of the hill. "Any allies of his should turn themselves in." He glared down. "Kid, you are under arrest."
Peeking at the bottom of the hill, Heiji saw Kid give a small gesture in Shinichi's direction. Telling him to hide, probably.
But it was too late. Saguru had noticed him.
Dazed, he muttered, "…the Avatar?"
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