Chapter 1: Understanding
"Hattori, we need to talk."
"'Bout what, Kudo?"
"Edogawa, you idiot! It's Edogawa! It's a miracle they haven't found me out yet!"
"Well, with that kind of ranting, I have to admit I'm surprised as well."
Kudo Shinichi, hidden behind the mask of seven-year old Edogawa Conan, glared at the much taller young man. And grumbled several things that Hattori Heiji did not wish to fathom.
"Oi, speak up Kudo. We've got quite a height difference here." He grinned cockily and ruffled the shorter detective's hair.
Violently waiving the hand away, Conan narrowed his eyes. "I said you can shove that smart mouth of yours right up your—"
"Okay, we're ready!" Toyama Kazuha's voice rang out, happily, her hand tugging along Mouri Ran, whose face shone with a similar cheerful expression.
"Aho! Do you have to announce it to the entire world? You took ages in there! " A lie. They'd been inside no longer than fifteen minutes. But then he wouldn't be Hattori Heiji if he didn't rag on the pony-tailed young woman at least once an hour, now would he?
"Aho! We were only gone fifteen minutes. Besides, you spent two hours today in the mystery section of that bookstore!"
Before he could open his mouth to respond, Ran interjected "Come on now, Hattori-kun! We were only trying on a few outfits."
"What for, it's not like anyone's gonna…OW!" Heiji screeched and began hopping on his foot, all the while hugging it. He looked down at Kudo, whose face now carried an evil grin.
"Conan-kun! You really hurt him!" Ran knelt down to scold her charge and adjust his jacket.
"It was an accident, Ran-neechan! I didn't mean to hurt Heiji-niichan! It's not like I have super strong sneakers or anything!" 'Conan-kun' flashed an adorable childish grin that saved him from any further chastising.
Ran smiled, quickly forgiving him, and ran her fingers through his bangs, an act that caused the bodily trapped teenager's insides to turn cartwheels.
"No strong sneakers, indeed. Oi! Did everyone forget? I'm the victim here?" Heiji whined and Kazuha walked over to him.
"There, there. Be a man, tantei-san!" Stepping beside him, she pulled his arm over her shoulder, wrapped hers around his waist and began to help him walk along.
Heiji, who so clearly did not need the help, merely blushed and hobbled along. Just because he didn't need it didn't mean he didn't want it. Not that he knew why he so wanted her…help…but um, well…that was an issue for another time.
Just focus on walking…yes, walking…not her arm around your waist or for that matter where your arm is! No, just walking…only walking.
Off to the side, Conan and Ran smiled knowingly at the couple. "They make a really cute couple. If only Hattori-kun would wake up and see how she feels. Baka." Ran shook her head but then smiled wistfully.
Conan glanced up at her and gave a small smile. "I'm sure he wants to tell her he's just waiting…waiting for the right moment."
Way to go, Kudo. Why don't you just tell her everything? Subtlety is so not your forte.
Ran merely glanced curiously at Conan but then a smile came up quickly, masking her confused expression. "I'm sure you're right, Conan."
As they walked along, Kazuha stalked ahead of Heiji leaving him to his own devices.
Oi, Kazuha! Shove your ponytail out of the way its making my nose itch!
Well, excuse me! But I can't do that and drag you along now can I?
Well, no one asked you to!
Aho! You were only whining about your stupid foot!
Aho! Quit making up stories! I'm just fine. I don't need your help!
Fine, you can drag yourself and your stupid foot along. See if I care!
And with that passionate comeback, she'd promptly dropped her grip and Heiji tumbled to the floor, as she muttered remarks about ungrateful detectives and how dense they were.
So now Ran was attempting to console the hot-tempered Kansai girl, trying to get her talking about their next trip to Osaka, the following month.
And Conan and Heiji were once again behind. The grown detective glowering at the back of Kazuha's head as the 'little boy' kept tossing him amused glances.
"And what, exactly, are you so smug about?" Heiji now turned his glare to the waist-high detective.
"Just contemplating how quickly you can royally screw something up. It's amazing. Really, you ought to contact the Guinness World Record people. You've got something to fall back on in case the whole detective beat fails."
"KUDO!" Heiji raised a fist to bop him, Kogoro style.
"I'd be careful with that if I were you. You'd be surprised how quick Ran could get here poised to aim a roundhouse kick straight at your head. She lets Mouri get away with it but she's already glaring at you." Conan grinned slyly, pointing in her direction.
Sure enough, Ran was already prepared to walk straight over to them. Kazuha watched as well, eyes narrowing, just daring him to try anything.
"Is everything all right, Conan-kun?" Ran's voice rang out, its sweet tone contrasting the death glare in her eyes.
"Everything's just fine, 'neechan! Don't worry, Conan-kun and I…Conan-kun and I were just playing a game!" Heiji grinned innocently at her.
"I'm sure." But she turned and resumed her conversation with her friend.
Heiji sighed. "Jeez, she's dangerous! Should have kept her around more often before, Kudo, maybe you wouldn't be in this predicament." He said, gesturing in his companion's direction.
"Very funny." Conan scowled. "Besides, I wouldn't have wanted her to get involved. You should know better. But back to before…"
"Before…oh right. You had something to say. All right, spill it!"
"Well, like I said before you rambled on with your cocky remarks…Hattori, we need to talk."
Heiji opened his mouth to interrupt but Conan elbowed him in the ribs. "Shut it, smart ass."
"Sheesh, fine. What do we need to talk about?" Heiji shoved his hands in his pockets and slowed his pace, prepared to listen to whatever Kudo had on his mind. The organization? Did he find out more about the Boss?
"Huh? Kazuha? What the hell does Kazuha have to do with the Black Organization?" Heiji stood up, agitated.
"Who said anything about the black organization?" Conan sighed, annoyed at the interruption.
"Do they have anything on her? Maybe it's because I know you, the Kudo you, that is. And then they decided to target her…oh crap, we need to leave now." Heiji turned and began to walk towards the young woman.
"WAIT! Damn it all, wait! This has nothing to do with them!" Conan rushed forward and latched onto his leg.
Ran and Kazuha turned, eyes questioning and Heiji reached out towards Kazuha and then…
"RAN-NEECHAN! Heiji-neechan is being mean! He promised to play soccer with me and now he doesn't want to!" Gone was the serious face of Kudo Shinichi, shrunken detective. In its place was the adorable, albeit whining, expression of a seven years old boy.
"Huh? What's this about, Ku…Conan-kun?" Heiji looked at him confused.
Dragging his arm towards him, Conan hissed fiercely in his ear. "Idiot! This has nothing to do with them. What are you causing a commotion for? Now play along!" Heiji's confused expression vanished and he scratched the back of his head, sheepishly.
"Hattori-kun, if you promised him…" Ran began.
"Sorry, 'neechan. It must have slipped my mind. C'mon kid, lets go!" Holding him by the shoulder, he led the now cheerful boy to the park benches.
But that didn't last long.
"Baka! What did you think you were doing? Did you want to leak out everything? For goodness sake! Though, your reaction is telling." A smirk appeared.
"What? I thought you had something on them so when you mentioned Kazuha, I naturally assumed her to be involved." Heiji replied, nonchalantly, attempting to cover his embarrassment.
"Well, you naturally assumed wrong. I said I wanted to talk about Kazuha. Not Kazuha and the organization. Not Kazuha and her parents. Not Kazuha and Ran. No. Just Kazuha!" Conan rolled his eyes. Sometimes…
"All right, all right I get it. But why do you want to talk about Kazuha?" He narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
"Oh, relax! I'm not checking out your girlfriend."
"'Not my girlfriend' you sound like a broken record, Hattori." Conan mimicked and leaned against the bench.
"I wouldn't be so high and mighty if I were you."
"Shut it you. I am private about my personal affairs. But at least I'm not in denial." Conan blushed slightly but refused to be deterred.
"I'm not in denial. What are you talking about anyway?"
Conan sighed for what seemed like the hundredth time this afternoon. Seriously, the guy wasn't a bad detective. He often gave him a run for his money. So why was he dense about his own feelings? Even he had known how he felt about Ran for ages. He just didn't have the courage to say anything. And now…
But back to the matter at hand.
"I'm talking about the indisputable fact that you are completely, deeply and stupidly in love with Toyama Kazuha, your childhood friend, also known as the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with."
Conan let out a breath as he finished, preparing for the inevitable blow that Hattori was bound to deliver because the Kansai detective had a tendency towards violence.
But Heiji just sat there with his mouth gaping open much like a fish gasping for air.
And here come the blushing denials…
"W-what are you talking about? Have...have you lost your mind? I-I'd never-I'd never even consider…I mean, Kazuha? Y-yeah, right!" Barely able to string together a coherent sentence, the detective decided to keep quite lest he uttered something incriminating.
Just as much blushing and stuttering as expected.
"Hattori, let it go. You're not fooling anyone. Except Kazuha-san." Conan regarded his friend, lazily, and crossed his arms behind his head.
"I-I'm not trying to fool anyone, Kudo! Your crazy is all. This state you're in is finally starting to loosen a few screws!"
Even as a teenager, Kudo Shinichi had been unfazed by insults. He wasn't about to start to let them affect him now. "Right. Who has gotta few screws loose? Who's the one that practically put Kazuha-san back on the next train to Osaka on the slight possibility that the organization might be after her?"
"I-I was just trying to make sure she was safe…her dad would kill me if anything happened to her!" Heiji retorted, slowly beginning to recover his footing.
"Really? Who nearly had a heart attack when those two guys hit on her when we were stranded on that island?"
"Who claimed that he wanted to leave his last words to her so that she could…and I quote…'treasure them in heaven'?"
"How, how did you—"
"You'd be amazed how much girls talk on the phone. And then how those same girls proceed to tell their little brothers everything."
"I'm gonna kill 'neechan…"
"Want to get another kick in the shins? And who continues to wear the onamori she made for him despite his claims that it's nothing but nonsense?" Conan countered, bringing out the big guns.
"I've got thousands more, Hattori. Just try me."
Heiji paused and then scowled. Crossing his arms in frustration, he turned to Conan.
"So what? Let's just say hypothetically that your accusation is true. Big deal, so what? What would I do, anyway? It's not like she cares about me…hypothetically, of course."
As much as Conan wished he could strangle his good friend, he figured that'd get them nowhere.
"And what makes you think, hypothetically, that she doesn't care for you?" Conan responded, reasonably. He realized that the only way to get through to this idiot was by reasoning with him.
"Because she's always yelling at me about schoolwork and my detective work, always tagging along just so she can nag at me. She's always talking on the phone with my mother just telling her horrible things about me, I'm sure. She doesn't want to spend time with me! She wants to visit 'neechan. It's not like I want her to anyway, just…hypothetically."
"Well, hypothetically, what if the 'tagging along' was a way to spend time with you. What if the reason she yells at you over your detective work was that she wanted you to stay safe? Isn't that why she forces you to wear the onamori?" Conan stole a quick glance at his friend and noticed that he had his baseball cap turned forward, in full mystery mode.
"I guess I never thought about it that way…um, hypothetically." Heiji quickly added, not yet ready to admit anything. Not to Kudo, not to himself and most certainly not to Kazuha.
"It seems to me that Kazuha-san is a smart and kind young woman, who spends a lot of her time concerned over you. And I'm sure that those blushing glances she sends your way aren't coincidence. Or the way she looks at you when she thinks no one is looking." Conan added, quirking an eyebrow.
"Yup. Something to think about, huh?" With that, Conan slid off the bench and ran towards the girls.
Heiji watched as Mouri Ran knelt down and adjusted his jacket all the while smiling and happily chatting with him. He wasn't oblivious to the blush that rose on Conan's cheeks when she remarked how handsome he looked in the new blue shirt she'd bought him. Heiji wasn't blind to the soft smile he gave when he thanked her.
And…just for a second, just a second…Heiji swore that it was Kudo Shinichi standing tall next to her, smiling down at Ran and taking her hand.
But then he blinked and Kudo Shinichi was gone and it was Conan-kun that had reached for his 'neechan's hand. He must have been seeing things.
But his gaze turned toward to the green-eyed girl, who was standing off to the side, smiling at the scene that lay before her. She looked up and locked eyes with Heiji and smiled.
"C'mon Heiji! We'll be late to meet Mouri-san for dinner!" Kazuha called and waited for him to catch up with her and she began chatting about some store she and Ran had passed. But he tuned her out and tried to not think about what Kudo had been so adamantly claiming.
"HEIJI! Hurry up! We're going to miss our train!" Kazuha shouted, holding her bags and halfway out the door. Mouri Kogoro was out on the street holding their taxi for them.
"You don't need to shout! I'm coming! I can't find my cap!" Heiji yelled back, looking underneath the couch.
"Aho! I'm holding it! Now let's go, we're going to be late!" Kazuha rolled her eyes. If his head wasn't screwed on, he'd lose that too. So dense!
Ran turned to wink at Conan, who was trying to hold in a laugh, and stooped down next to him. "Its like they've been married forever, huh?"
"What was that, Ran-chan?" Kazuha turned a sharp eye at her friend.
Ran laughed nervously. "Nothing, Kazuha-chan. Nothing." Still fidgeting under Kazuha's inquiring look, Ran turned to Heiji. "Let's go, Hattori-kun or you'll be late!"
Heiji let out a mournful groan. "Not you too! Where can a man get some peace?"
Kazuha grabbed his hand and tugged him along the stairs, muttering about lazy detectives.
Upon reaching the station, Kazuha tugged Ran off to the side. "Ran-chan? I have something to ask you."
Ran raised an eyebrow. "Sure, what is it?"
"Its Heiji, he's been acting odd since yesterday. He's really quiet and hasn't been talking about cases and I keep catching him looking at me." She stole a glance at said detective, who was currently joking with Ran's young charge.
Ran grinned and suddenly felt quite a bit like Sonoko. "I bet he's getting ready to confess his love for you!" She giggled, clapping her hands excitedly. Ran was a fairly calm, level-headed girl but even she got excited over the prospects of romance.
"Shhhh! He'll hear you! That's not true at all! Besides, why would I want him to say anything like that!"
Ran's happy smile faded and she regarded her friend with an air of impatience.
"Oh come on now Kazuha-chan! Everyone knows how you feel. Except Hattori-kun but he's as dense as a rock. But now if he's discovered his feelings…"
Thoughts of romantic proposals and moonlight walks on the beach began to play in her head.
"And then you'll tell him that you love him too and it'll be just perfect!" Once again, Ran grinned excitedly. But Kazuha shushed her and moved them farther away.
"Be serious, Ran-chan! Maybe he's quiet because he's trying to tell me that he won't be spending as much time with me because he has a girlfriend! Maybe an older girl…" Kazuha's eyes took on a jealous gleam and Ran laughed loudly.
"Ran-chan! What are you laughing about!"
"It's just too funny! Really now! An older girl and Hattori-kun?" Ran doubled over. The guy could barely get himself together in regards to Kazuha. He didn't have it in him to romance an older woman. But then she remembered how often she suspected Shinichi of the same thing and she grew serious.
"Look, if he were off with some other girl by now you would have noticed. You two are always together, right?" Kazuha opened her mouth to protest but Ran cut her off.
"Its true, Kazuha-chan. If he had another girlfriend, Shizuka-san would have mentioned it by now to you, right?" Ran nudged her, encouragingly.
"Well, it's possible." Kazuha acknowledged, though her jealous ideas had yet to fade.
"It is possible. In fact it's more than possible. Those are the facts. Don't worry about Hattori-kun, he's probably trying to get the words out." Ran stole a glance at Heiji and he seemed to be off in his own world.
But Kazuha shook her head. "No, he may not have another girlfriend but he's definitely not confessing to me. The idea is crazy. It just means there's something else wrong with him but I'll figure it out!" She clenched her fist, determinedly and Ran sighed. The poor girl could only do so much.
"Last call for all passengers heading to Osaka!"
The call startled everyone out of their respective conversations; Heiji and Kazuha began to say their goodbyes. They wrapped up plans for the Mouris to visit sometimes soon. Ran and Kogoro began to step back from the crowd but just before Heiji could step on the train, Conan tugged him down.
"Don't wait too long." He said before stepping back.
Heiji looked at him, confused and expected Kudo to sigh impatiently again. But Kudo just looked at him with a wistful expression.
"Because then it may be too late."
Conan turned and walked the other way. Heiji stood confused but took his seat inside beside Kazuha, looking out the window.
Just as the train began to move, he caught Ran waving at them and Kudo glancing up at her with the same expression from before.
And Hattori Heiji finally understood.
To be continued…
Sapphire Stars' Notes: Well, I haven't posted anything in a long while and I'm entering the Heiji Kazuha territory. Heiji is so clueless and its not like Shinichi is that much better but at least he'sbetter in tune with his own feelings. So for the Kansai couple we bring in Edogawa Conan, Dr. Love!
Please review! I'm very interested in your feedback on this one!