Enlightenment

Chapter 2: Special

Two months. It had been exactly two months since Heiji had begun acting…odd. It had all started the day before they'd left Tokyo, during which they'd spent a week in August with the Mouri family. His moods were random and off-putting; one second he was oh so considerate and offered to take her to the new romantic drama that had just been released. The next he completely ignored her and walked home with a couple of his teammates from kendo.

Toyama Kazuha was not the kind of girl who'd allow someone to treat her in such a way but…this wasn't just someone…it was her best friend and the fact that he didn't even say anything, didn't even wave goodbye…well it hurt.

What was so strange about his behavior was that it seemed to go through cycles. For days he'd be distant and aloof, and then he'd be sweet and sensitive. Then another week would pass and he'd be detached and so far away.

But not since that day in Tokyo had he simply been Heiji. Sometimes he was kind and sometimes he teased her mercilessly. But he had always been there. Even during his periods of friendliness, it was all so foreign to her. This wasn't Heiji; she knew Heiji and in all this time not once had she really seen him.

Kazuha assumed that his detective sense hadn't changed a bit but she really had no way of knowing. Heiji no longer brought her along to cases that he was tipped off on. If they came across a murder, he wasted no time in asking an officer to take her home. She'd only watched him solve two murders in the past three months. The weekend that the Mouris had come to return the visit and they'd come across a dead woman. And then at the police charity dinner that her father had brought her to; during which he's spared her two words.

Her father had asked her about Heiji and she'd just shrugged, claimed that she'd had a lot of homework and went on her way. Kazuha hadn't been avoiding the question, per se, but she really didn't know. Ran-chan had commented that Heiji had been particularly courteous to her during their visit and Kazuha had just joked that she'd finally trained him. Little Conan-kun had looked at her strangely…almost as if he knew what was wrong but then that was highly unlikely. He was just a child.

Currently, Heiji was ignoring her; it had been going on since Monday, he'd even canceled plans to go on a picnic with her that he'd suggested the week before. After all, it was October now; the winter chill would soon begin to set in. And now it was Friday and she was out for a walk before the sun set. He'd walked home with his friends from Kendo and walked right past her in the hallway without so much as an "Aho! Didn't you hear me saying hi?"

Tugging at her sleeves as the autumn breeze blew through, Kazuha walked nonchalantly down the road, every once in awhile scuffing the toe of her sneaker. The leaves were changing colors and along with the suns fading rays, it made for a lovely sight.

If Heiji were here…the real Heiji, he'd probably say something stupid but he'd watch the sunset with me anyway. That's how it used to be.

Kazuha sighed and tugged at her ponytail in mild frustration. What was wrong with him? What had she done? Question raced in her head but no answers. Even the girls and boys at school had asked questions. She studiously ignored all of them and she had no idea how Heiji responded as they usually tended to pry at separate times. None of her friends could provide answers and Ran-chan's assumption that Heiji would confess his love was not just unlikely, it was preposterous, given the recent circumstances.

Heiji was a private sort of person so she doubted he'd divulged anything to his school friends. He talked to Conan-kun quite a bit but she doubted that they spoke about such matters. The only person she could think of that might know something was Kudo-kun. He and Heiji seemed to talk quite a bit and it was possible that Ran's almost boyfriend was clued in.

Kudo-kun. Now there was a boy who was in love. She'd only seen him a few times but each time he seemed to gaze at Ran in a way that made her envious. There was something so safe and caring in his eyes that made her blush just thinking about it. But at the same time there was a deep longing and she guessed that it had something to do with being so far from Ran-chan. She'd seen the same look in Ran's eyes more than once and it seemed to Kazuha that it had to be more than a stupid case to keep the head-over-heels detective away from Ran-chan; therefore, she sympathized with him a bit. Their situation often made her sad just thinking about it.

Her estrangement from Heiji wasn't quite the same; nonetheless, Kazuha was troubled. It was disconcerting to know that he was sitting right next to her but making no contact with her whatsoever. They didn't partner up for projects when he was distant. Even when she tried to initiate some sort of contact, he'd turn away and wave to a guy in the class or chat with Hiroko-san, the wavy-haired brunette on his other side.

But there was nothing for her to do. Two months ago, her anger would have bore holes in the back of his or Hiroko-san's head. She would have demanded to know what was wrong. Kazuha just shook her head, responding to her unanswered questions.

Kazuha wasn't as easily prone to tears as Mouri Ran but just thinking about how isolated she'd felt lately made her eyes burn. Rapidly trying to blink away the unshed tears, because she would not cry, Kazuha began to jog home.

------

Hattori Heiji knew that Kudo Shinichi, currently pint-sized Edogawa Conan, completely and absolutely disapproved of his plan. The young detective, emphasis on young, had told him as much during his most recent visit. Loudly and most profanely.

"Idiot! What kind of plan is that? Did I ever tell you to do anything like that? Damn it, Hattori!" Kudo yelled and then whirled around mumbling all sorts of things that were bound to corrupt Heiji's virginal ears had he heard them.

"Oi, Kudo! What's it to you, anyway? Listen it's for the best, really!" Heiji smiled winsomely and leaned nonchalantly against a guard rail outside a clothing shop. "Besides, it's not like you and 'neechan! I mean she's in love with you and that's just not the way it is with Kazuha and me!"

Shinichi rolled his eyes upward. Normally, he never got this annoyed or angry with Hattori. Normally, he kept his comments to himself. Normally, he merely observed Kazuha and Hattori's bickering courtship with a smirk.

But then he had got to thinking. Hattori was in the exact same position he himself had been up until recently. And Kazuha was just waiting…waiting for him to say something. Just like Ran had been. And the thought that Hattori just might miss his chance and that Kazuha would be like Ran…

Well, Shinichi had felt that he had to something. After all, couldn't have too many ill-fated lovers walking around.

So, then he'd had a talk with the Great Detective of the West. But apparently said detective's intellect wasn't very flexible.

That just had to be the reason for such a stupid idea. Such an idiotic attempt to…

When he didn't even have to!

Evaluating Hattori's last statement, Shinichi cleared his throat and attempted to keep his voice even. "If you don't think she loves you…and you don't love her… then why go through all this? Why isolate her? Why turn your back on her? Your best friend?" He put special emphasis on those last few words.

Heiji momentarily lost his verbal footing and crossed his arms. "I'm not turning my back on her, Kudo." He bit out and grinded his teeth. "If she really needed me, I'd definitely—"

"What makes you think she doesn't need you now?"

Clenching his fists, Heiji swallowed roughly. "Listen, Kudo, she's got plenty of friends and besides I still treat her to a movie and stuff everyone once in a while. I'm just slowly backing away. It happens with people all the time. Eventually, she'll get so annoyed that she'll back away too and then well…then we'll be where we'll be."

"Funny, because it always seemed to be that being there for someone you care about isn't about movies and picnics. It's about being there. When she's upset, when she's happy because she won a tournament, when she just wants to hang out with you. That's how you protect and care for someone. By being there when they need you, even if you don't know when that is." Shinichi responded quietly.

"Oh, you're one to talk! A guy who's only contact with his girlfriend comes from a cell phone and a bow tie! How many times has 'neechan cried over you? How many times has Kudo Shinichi let her down?" He stopped suddenly, shocked by his outburst and took in his friend's expression.

Maybe if he hadn't looked like such a little boy in that moment, Heiji wouldn't have felt so bad. Kudo looked as if Heiji had hit him and the hurt eyes stared up at him from behind the large frames.

"Kudo…I-I'm sorry. That was— that was just stupid. I shouldn't have..."Heiji trailed off, not knowing what to say.

But Shinichi just raised a hand to silence him. "It's all right, Hattori, you're right anyway. I'm in no position to criticize you."

"Kudo—"

"Forget about it, Hattori. I'm sure you know what you're doing." And he'd walked away to join the others.

But Heiji noticed that for the rest of the night, Kudo couldn't bring himself to look at Ran.

Cursing himself out loud, Heiji plopped back onto his bed. His outburst had been uncalled for. He knew fully well that if Kudo could he would be there for 'neechan. Hell, they'd probably get married the second he got his body back. And sure Kudo wasn't handling things perfectly but he doubted that he'd do anything different.

I probably wouldn't be able to tell Kazuha, either, I could get her into trouble. Even now, being a detective isn't safe work…if anyone knew how much I cared about her she'd be the first thing they'd use against me.

He shrugged off that trail of thought. Though he knew he was doing this for all the right reasons, Kudo's words still haunted him. Heiji had often thought that Kudo was too protective of Ran. And some of that resulted in that look 'neechan got every once in awhile. Where her face lit up with a bright smile but her eyes didn't match it.

What if Kazuha begins to look like that?

But Heiji ignored that thought and rolled on his side, trying to go to sleep. Never mind that he probably wouldn't be able to at all.

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With a sigh, Kazuha packed up her things but did not pick up her bag to go home. Instead, she left it on her chair since it was her turn to clean the class room today.

She waited for the last students to trickle out of there before she shut the door. Heiji had been one of the first to leave without so much as a glance her way, he had kendo practice anyway, and she'd miss her aikido practice today because of her classroom duty.

An hour passed and she came upon her last task. Kazuha began to wipe the white board and vigorously rubbed at a spot that looked as if it had been made with permanent marker instead of the standard erasable markers. Glaring at the offending mark, she dropped the rag with a huff and walked out of the room to fetch some stronger chemical to battle the board with.

The hallways were empty now and she strolled along, her mind solely focused on her mission. Hadn't she heard some girls mention that nail polish remover was good for this sort of thing? But she didn't have any nail polish remover not being a long-nailed-french-manicured girl herself.

She kept walking and spotted the janitorial closet and jogged right up to it. Quickly, she began to go through the various bottles and containers. "Peroxide? I think I already tried that…I need something stronger…" She shuffled through and finally decided on carrying four different bottles with her. If that didn't work, she'd apologize to her teacher the next day and let the next person deal with it.

Heading back, she glanced to her right and looked out the window for a second. The Karate team was practicing and she smiled. Kitaura Shiro-kun was very good, he often won the tournaments in this area but she had no doubt that Ran-chan could put him through a wall. She was just that good. Off to the right, she spotted the Kendo team finishing up practice and she noticed Heiji was preening after having just beaten his opponent.

It was a bittersweet moment and Kazuha smiled at the scene. The real Heiji was still there; he was boasting and his friends were slapping him on the back. He just wasn't there for her. She sighed and made to move away when she saw one of the guys notice her and point it out to Heiji. She darted out of view before Heiji could see her, not quite sure why. Maybe she just didn't want him to ignore her so publicly.

Picking up the products she'd dropped, Kazuha headed back to the classroom at a brisk speed and refused to stand there like an idiot reminiscing any longer. She swung the door open and headed to the white board, attacking it with all her pent up frustration.

------

It took her twenty-nine minutes and twenty-three seconds to vanquish the spot on the board from her sight. Sighing in satisfaction, she stepped back to admire her work. She was a meticulous cleaner if nothing else.

"Nice job, must have taken you ages." Kazuha whirled around and there was Heiji in his uniform, carrying his book bag and grinning at her.

Kazuha stiffened and turned away, heading to grab her bag. "Yeah, well, someone has to do it."

Not noticing her discomfort, Heiji just walked right up to her. "Wanna walk home together? Its getting kind of dark out, you shouldn't be out by yourself."

Touched by his concern but refusing to be jerked around like an idiot, she swung her bag over her shoulder and began to walk away. "No, thank you, I'll be just fine." And she proceeded to walk out of the room.

"Aho! What do you think you're doing? Didn't I just say that it was dark out? You could get mugged!" Heiji glared sharply at her and picked up his pace to match hers.

"I'm quite good at aikido; I can take care of myself, Heiji-kun. So, thank you for your concern but I won't need it." She responded coldly and practically jogged to the school's doors. She flung the door open and ran down the front stairs.

"Oi! Kazuha! Kazuha! Wait for me…oh damn! Stupid door—damn it, Kazuha!" Heiji pushed past the door and ran to catch up with her. He finally caught up with her and grabbed her shoulder. "Kazuha! Damn, where did you learn to run like that—" He panted and let go of her shoulder, his chest heaving.

"What do you want, Hattori Heiji? Want to take me to a movie? I'm not interested. Want to cancel another picnic? Fine, be my guest! Want to stop being my friend? I don't—I…just leave me alone!" Kazuha bit back the rest of her words. She just couldn't bring herself to say that she didn't care. Crossing her arms, she glared ferociously at him.

"I just wanted to walk you home! For goodness sake!" He replied, regaining his composure and rising to his full height, crossing his arms in an unconscious imitation.

"Well, spare yourself the trouble because I don't want you to! Aho! Do you think you can just keep doing this? Be my friend when you want to? Ignore me when you want to? It's not right, Heiji! What…what did I do? Why don't you even talk to me anymore? What happened?" Kazuha's anger died down, replaced with resignation, and her arms hung loosely in her sides.

Heiji stared at her and sighed. Damn it, he hated when Kudo was right and he wasn't.

"Aho…you didn't do anything. Kazuha, I swear you haven't done anything wrong." He replied, softly.

"Well, I figured as much. So why have you been ignoring me then?" Kazuha inwardly smiled, quietly chastising him.

Heiji raised an eyebrow. "Oh, you're so sure, huh? Well then maybe—"

"Get to the point, Heiji!" She demanded, clenching her fists.

"Well, can we at least walk while I talk? We look ridiculous just standing here."

"Fine. Come on then." Kazuha began to walk at a leisurely place and Heiji swung his book bag over his shoulder.

They walked in relative silence with Heiji commenting on various sights as they went , the latest detective manga and talking about his latest cases all of which ended with a "You should have been there!" after which he received a glare from the pony-tailed girl.

While Kazuha was enjoying the return to their normal relations she wasn't about to let him off so easily. After all, she'd gone through quite a bit these past couple of months and there was no way Heiji wasn't going to explain himself.

"Oi, aho! Quit trying to distract me! You keep skirting the issue!" She stopped in her tracks and placed her hand on her hips in a gesture that screamed 'you better explain yourself right now or else.'

Heiji stared at her with a strange expression in his eyes for a moment before responding. "All right, all right. Basically, I figured that my detective work was dangerous and that it'd be better if you stopped hanging around me so much. I guess…I was just trying to protect you. I mean look at Kudo—" He trailed off, unable to meet her eyes.

Words could not adequately describe what Kazuha was feeling in that moment. Shock was a good one but didn't quite capture the depth of it all.

"You thought your detective work was dangerous and you were trying to protect me…" She drifted off, turning sideways pondering the issue to herself.

Heiji watched her curiously; she seemed to be taking this remarkably well, surprisingly. After all this was Kazuha. She'd yelled at him for much less. Now if only she didn't ask why

"Now why would you do that, Heiji?" Kazuha asked turning back to him and stepping closer, trying to read an expression in those green eyes that he often kept guarded. She wasn't angry, yet.

"Well, its only natural, aho. I mean I don't want you dead or anything. I mean one of the suspects could go berserk and then where would you be? What about the time that psycho tried to stab 'neechan the first time they came to Osaka?" He retorted, defensively.

"Well, yes but…" She continued to look at him, questioningly. "You could have just told me and kept me from coming on cases with you, which you did, but why did you ignore me?"

At this point, Heiji began to sweat. He had hoped she wouldn't go there but she was. Who was he fooling? She was no idiot as much as he called her one. She could figure it out.

"Well, that is…I knew you'd try to come along anyway. So, I decided to move away from you a bit so that you wouldn't be interested." Heiji racked the brain he was so proud of for an excuse. There was no way she'd completely believe that one. She'd dig deeper and deeper.

"Oh…I see. Well, it seems logical enough. I would have fought it out with you. And since you were ignoring me I didn't go out of my way to go on the cases. I guess I just thought—never mind." She broke her gaze and began to walk.

"You thought what?" Heiji leaned in towards her, his curiosity piqued. Had she?

"Nothing. So are you going to keep ignoring me, Heiji? After all, my safety is not your concern. I can take care of myself. I mean, really, of all the ridiculous things!" Kazuha ranted, trying to change the subject from that. If he didn't feel that way about her then she wasn't going to say anything.

"Hey! Is it so ridiculous that I want to keep you from getting hurt?" He stopped and turned to look at her. "You think I want some madman to use you against me or that you might be threatened because they see how important you are to me?"

Oh, shit. Insert foot in mouth.

"Heiji? You—what?" Kazuha fought to find the right words; instead, she sounded like an idiot.

Running his fingers through his hair, Heiji fidgeted. "Well, yeah, I mean we've known each other since we were kids. I'd be an idiot if I lied and pretended that you weren't important."

But Kazuha just gazed up at him, suddenly he was so tall! When had that happened? She had this feeling that there was something more…that he wanted to say more to her but…how did she know?

Unable to conclude just how she knew or what she knew, Kazuha continued to stare at him taking in his lean build, the broad shoulders no doubt improved by his kendo skills. The tan skin and dark smooth hair. But she was most entranced by his eyes. They were so green just then, deeper than the grass and trees surrounding them. And they shone more brilliantly than any emerald. She caught herself wondering what it would be like to have him look at her in that way. The way she thought she'd once caught him staring at her but shrugged off to her imagination.

Her thoughts made her blush liberally and Heiji leaned and cupped his hand around her cheek.

"Kazuha? What's wrong? You're all flushed. Are you sick?" He asked his eyes peering into hers.

Slapping his hand away gently, she rolled her eyes. "Aho, I'm fine. Let's head home."

And they walked in silence for some time before it occurred to Kazuha that he had not answered her question.

"Heiji? You didn't answer my question? Are you going to keep ignoring me?" She asked quietly, willing herself to remain calm despite what his answer may be.

He stayed silent for awhile, she began to fear the worst, and then he spoke.

"Nah. After all, if anyone really wants to hurt me they'd find out about you anyway and 'sides I haven't had a chance to tease you properly for months. I can keep an eye on you when I'm around anyway; you're always getting into all sorts of trouble. How you managed without me for so long evades me."

Kazuha's heart felt like turning cartwheels but she got that under control long enough to yell, "Aho! Who says I need your protecting? And what do you mean 'tease me properly'? You know what? I think I'm going to start ignoring you for a change, see how you like it." She glared at him, hands on her hips.

"You couldn't do that, Kazuha; you'd miss me too much." He grinned charmingly at her, leaning against a park rail.

"Hmph!" She turned away from him, in mock anger. She didn't have the guts or heart to contradict him.

"Don't get mad…I missed you too, you know." Heiji said quietly.

She turned slowly to face him, her cheeks burning, but found that he was staring straight ahead and Kazuha could see tints of pink on his tanned skin. Her eyes softened and she smiled to herself.

Maybe?

"Look at the sunset." She said, softly, changing the subject and walked over to lean against the rail next to him.

"Technically, its twilight. There's still light in the sky but the sun is down."

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah."

Heiji stole a glance at her direction. When did she get so beautiful? The dark hair with a slight wave at the ends, the wisps of hair falling over her forehead, drawing attention to her soft green eyes that were nothing like his. No, hers were light and gentle. Always caring, always kind. Her rosy lips curved in a small smile as she looked on contently at the sky. A light flush touching her cheeks. And Heiji felt a strong desire to…

Well, no, he couldn't do that.

Not yet, anyway. But soon.

She looked so happy, so at peace. And Kazuha suddenly reminded him of 'neechan just after she got one of those rare calls from Kudo. And then he thought maybe…just maybe that's why Kudo kept her so close, even in his vertically-challenged form. So he could see that same curiously happy expression on her face.

Something swelled deep inside Hattori Heiji for a second and he glanced at the girl next to him another time.

"What is it, Heiji?" Kazuha asked him, turning to look at him and suddenly she was very close.

Too close for comfort…or rather too close for self-control.

"Ah…I—I just wanted to say that earlier. I kind of lied." Heiji willed himself to keep looking at her, trying to get his blushing under control.

"What?" She narrowed her eyes suspiciously.

"Well, when I said that you important because we've known each other for so long." He tugged at his collar, nervously.

"Huh?" Her brow wrinkled as she struggled to understand just what he was saying.

"What I mean is you are important to me but not just 'cause we're childhood friends. You…um…well you're always there and I like having you around even when you're just teasing me and you care even when you shouldn't and you're special to me…yeah, special." Heiji held his breath.

"Special…" Kazuha looked down gathering her thoughts and suddenly, everything clicked into place. Suddenly, she knew just what this mystery-loving idiot was trying to say and why he'd tried to keep her safe.

Who said Kudo was the only head-over-heels detective around?

Trying to keep her insides from fluttering and a giddy smile from her face, she looked up at him. "Special, huh? Well, Heiji, you're pretty special to me, too. In fact, you're very special."

Heiji looked on, his mouth opening and closing like a fish as he struggled to regain his composure. "Really? I, uh, I am? Huh." And suddenly a large grin spread across his face as he took in the smile playing on Kazuha's lips, the mischievous glint in her eyes and the overall glow that radiated from her.

"Yup, special." And she turned away all the while smiling, a dreamy look crossing her features.

Heiji just gazed at her, unable to tear his eyes away and then he mustered his courage and reached for her hand.

"Come on, I have to get you home." He said, trying to keep his voice in check.

Kazuha just smiled and walked closer, threading their fingers together in a more intimate handhold. Feeling this, Heiji just held her hand firmly but tenderly.

The light began to fade from the sky, and Kazuha knew that her father would probably begin to wonder just where she was right about now. But that wasn't what she was really most concerned over. She began to wrestle with the pros and cons of a certain action she could take.

Oh, to hell with logic and reasoning. I'm not a detective anyway.

And she abruptly stopped, dropped her book bag, grabbed him by the front of his uniform jacket and brought his lips to hers.

It was a chaste kiss, really. But both Kazuha and Heiji were blushing like they never had before. Kazuha reached down and grabbed her book bag, resumed their hand hold and sighed. "Come on, Heiji! Its late already and I have to get home!"

With a silly grin on his face, he made no argument and followed her down the street.

Hattori Heiji finally and truly understood just what Kudo was talking about.

------

End.

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Sapphire Stars' Notes: Originally, this chapter was going to be more romantic and while I think it still it is it has more of a playful and youthful element to it. My reasons for this are simply that I think Heiji and Kazuha have it the easiest. There are no secrets, no secret identities. Just two teenagers who have got it bad for one another, despite their denials. So, I think if they got together it seems to me unlikely that Heiji would be taking her to a fancy restaurant to propose right off the bat; they'll have more time to just date and be a young couple. And while technically Ran and Shinichi still have that there's a bit of desperation and star-crossed lovers bit to them that Heiji and Kazuha just don't have. That theme fits Shinichi and Ran and to a certain extent, Kaito and Aoko, but not for the Kansai couple. I really like the way this turned out and I hope you enjoy it as well. Please review, I'd really appreciate your feedback on this, my first Heiji/Kazuha fic.