Title: Out of the Bag
Fandom: Detective Conan
Friends: Kudo Shinichi/Edogawa Conan and Hattori Heiji
Theme: #3—late-night conversation
Disclaimer: I do not own Detective Conan—all the characters belong to Gosho Aoyama. I just kidnapped them and hid them in my closet to keep them safe from…I dunno, something awful, I'm sure. Don't worry, I feed them. Sometimes.
Summary: It's in your best interest to just forget what you've learned here.
"You're Kudo, aren't you?"
His protests were met by a ruthless assault of smug logic and evidence, accompanied by the realization that he'd inadvertently walked right into a trap. It hit him with all the weight and force of a charging rhino.
Panic, panic, panic…
He was being threatened now—Ran was going to be told if he didn't confess immediately. No way, this wasn't happening, this was blackmail! It wasn't happening…
"WAIT A MINUTE!"
The scene froze, allowing him enough time to grab Ran's hand and pull her away under the pretense of being hungry. A childish complaint, really, but it was an effective one. As Ran scolded him for not eating earlier, he looked back over his shoulder at his rival, whose own eyes widened at the message sent with a mere glance.
You don't know what you've done…
Hattori Heiji was a bit startled to open his door…and find Mouri Ran standing there, looking worried. "Neechan?" he asked with a yawn; it was awfully late, after all, and it had been a rather long day, what with the murder and all. "What'sa matter?"
"I'm sorry to bother you, but have you seen Conan-kun?" she told him, wringing her hands. "I can't find him anywhere—he started acting weird right after you solved the case, and now he just disappeared." That last was said with an air of irritation over a child's perceived misbehavior before fading back into concern. "He didn't come to our room."
Heiji manage to not react. He'd known the answer, but he wasn't the one who had actually solved the case. That had been the doing of one, Kudo Shinichi, camouflaged behind a door and speaking in Heiji's voice courtesy of a small mechanical device disguised as a bowtie around his neck.
Kudo Shinichi…alias Edogawa Conan, precocious seven-year-old. His strange behavior had started right after the case—right after Heiji had called him on it. Too many coincidences, too many similarities, and too many observations to ignore.
The reason Heiji—and Kudo as well—were as good as they were was because they trusted the evidence above all else. No matter how innocent a person seemed, or how preposterous a theory appeared, they both let the evidence speak and guide their theories. Both refused to shy away from what the clues dictated, where others might be hesitant to believe. It was because of this that both of them had been as successful as detectives as they were.
Even with that philosophy of deduction, he'd been having difficulty wrapping his mind around that idea. Still, the evidence of his own observations were speaking loud and clear, and he had no choice but to listen to his instincts. And he'd been proven far too right.
"I haven't seen him," Heiji replied, yawning again. "Do you want me to help ya look for him?"
"You don't have to—" she started to respond.
"Nah, it's all right. M'awake, might as well," he shook his head, waving her protests away. He stepped out of his room and closed the door behind him, trying valiantly to ignore the fact that his pillow was begging him to come back for further cuddling.
It really didn't take Heiji long to find him. Ran just hadn't gotten that far yet—the kid was curled up on the couch in the sitting room, fast asleep. They hadn't really used this room in the course of the evening and its accompanying murders—he'd probably come here to have a proper heart attack, knowing he wouldn't be disturbed.
"Neechan!" Heiji called softly. "Found him!"
Ran was at his side in an instant, looking down at her small charge. "How many times have I told him to take his glasses off before he goes to sleep?" she sighed, reaching down and carefully maneuvering the frames away from the boy's face; she folded them and set them on the cushion by his head.
Heiji took a good look at the sleeping child. Without the glasses obscuring his features, the physical similarities between Conan and Kudo were even more pronounced. How had he missed that? Had he been walking around with his eyes closed?
No…he'd just fallen into the snare that Shorty there had apparently worked quite hard to cultivate: the simple but effective trap of appearances. Anyone who just looked at him saw a curious, inquisitive child of above-average intelligence who loved mysteries, nothing of real suspicion.
Anyone who actually listened to the kid, though, or watched him at a crime scene…
How was it that no one had figured it out? Or at least noticed that something was very off-kilter?
"Do you think it's all right if I just leave him here?" Ran was asking him, and he snapped back to attention. "He looks comfortable, and we caught the killer…do you think he'll be okay?"
"I don't see why not," Heiji reassured her. Goodnights were said, and Ran headed back to seek her own bed. The minute the door closed, the cheery smile dropped right off Heiji's face, and he turned back to the slumbering not-child…only to find one blue eye wide open, wide awake, and regarding him warily.
"Thought you were awake," Heiji said.
Conan—or rather, Kudo—glared at him, showing no discomfort for lack of glasses.
"So, do you want to tell me what's going on now, or would you rather wait until morning?" the Osakan detective prodded, resting his folded arms on the back of the couch and leaning his weight against them. "I'd really like to know how you got stuck like this."
To his surprise, Kudo closed his eyes. "It's in your best interest," he said in a flat, even voice, "to just forget what you've learned here. Go back to Osaka, solve your mysteries there, and forget what you know. I strongly advise it."
"And why would I want to do that?"
"That's not an answer," Heiji replied. He honestly didn't feel like Kudo was trying to just brush him off; there was something else prompting the cryptic response. "I want to know."
Kudo was quiet for a minute. "If knowing meant that your life was in danger," the not-child went on in that same detached tone, "and the lives of everyone around you could be in danger as well…would you still want to know? Think before you answer."
Heiji didn't think long—he'd always been impulsive, running into dangerous situations head-on without a thought for the consequences. He knew it, and it hadn't killed him yet; no reason to change his ways now. "Tell me." To drive home the fact that he wasn't leaving without an explanation, he stepped around the couch and took a seat.
Kudo finally sat up and looked at him. "You really want to know."
"Matter of fact, I do," Heiji said. "So talk."
It changed in the space of an eye blink. One instant, there was still Conan there. In the next, the last few shreds of the mask had fallen away—or had Heiji inadvertently torn them away?—and there was Kudo, unmistakably. But it was different from the first time they'd met. Then, the Tokyo tantei had been coughing and sick, but standing tall and putting Heiji right in his place.
Now…he looked so tired. "You okay?" Heiji asked.
The Evil Eye he got in response was strangely reassuring. "Would you be?"
"Probably not," Heiji admitted. "Why don't you want anyone to know?"
"Because they want me dead," Kudo replied bluntly. "And if…when I get caught," he corrected himself, "I don't plan on taking anybody else down with me. So just forget about it."
"So you're hiding out from some people who are trying to kill you?" Heiji repeated incredulously.
Heiji frowned. "Who are they?"
There was a long, long pause before Kudo sighed. "I don't know."
It took everything Heiji had to keep from making a joke. Kudo Shinichi, admitting to not knowing something? It was tantamount to a sign of the Apocalypse, as far as he was concerned! But he held his tongue. No seven-year-old should seem this worn. Hell, it would have been out-of-place on Shinichi himself, were he his normal age.
Heiji made a quick decision. His curiosity was screaming at him, demanding answers, but his conscience said Back off. And maybe there was a little bit of guilt at dragging this out of his rival. Plus, he was exhausted himself. "Tell you what," Heiji suggested. "There's no way in hell I'm letting you off the hook for an explanation. I'm way too curious about whatever it is that's going on. But…we're both worn out. So let's sleep on it, and you can tell me the story tomorrow. That'll give you time to figure out all the nasty names you probably want to call me." He punctuated that last with a grin.
He was encouraged when the tiniest of smiles cracked on the not-child's face.
"For what it's worth, I'm not gonna tell," Heiji went on, relieved. "I'll respect the fact that you don't want the whole world to know, but I'd really like to know the who, what, where, when, why. I think that's fair, don't you?"
"I suppose that is fair," Shinichi nodded after a moment's thought. Then he leveled Heiji with a Look. "Why are so curious, anyway? It's none of your business, and you can't help me."
"Why am I so…" Heiji repeated, managing to not laugh. "You're supposed to be my age. You're not. This ain't normal, and I want to know what's going on. And…hell, whose to say I can't help ya out?"
"I'm hitting dead ends left and right," Kudo went on.
"Two heads are better than one," Heiji retorted. "We did pretty well tonight—except for that little thing with your magic sleeping needle." He reached over and thwapped Conan on the back of the head at the memory. "If you ever do that again, I'll drop-kick you."
Apparently, the smaller detective caught the jibe for what it was. "Well, excuse me, but you were certainly taking your sweet time about it!" the boy shot back, that irritatingly familiar smirk inching its way back onto his face. "Did I have to make a visual aid and sing it for you?"
"You sing one note, and you're out the window," Heiji fired right back in turn. "From what I hear, your voice is a lethal weapon—kills dogs, breaks glass, makes hydrants explode…"
"It's not THAT bad!" Kudo protested, clenching one small hand into a fist. Still, even as they argued (in the loosest sense of the word), the first faint glimmers of trust were begin to reveal themselves from the very depths of knowing blue eyes.
Shinichi sat back, arms folded. "Why are you so eager to help me, anyway?"
"Well, it's a mystery, and I never back down from one," Heiji acknowledged. "But…I dunno, you seem like you need it. Don't argue." He held up a hand to stay the protests before they could even begin. "You're just like me. You hate to admit that you're wrong, and you hate to admit you need help, even when it's offered. I bet you still have trouble asking people to get things off high shelves for you."
Kudo's response of silence said plenty. Still, that glimmer of trust seemed to be growing.
"Does Neechan really not know?" Heiji asked.
That got a reaction. "No!" Kudo hissed furiously, eyes blazing as he nearly rose up on his small knees. "She doesn't know! Especially not her! Listen to me, Hattori. Ran can't know!"
Heiji held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. "Okay, okay, I was just asking." A pause. "Why don't you want her to know? I'd figure she would be the one person you would tell…"
"There are a lot of reasons," the boy sat back down and folded his arms. "It's complicated."
After a moment, Heiji smiled knowingly. Still, he let it go. Plenty of time for teasing later. "So tomorrow," he said firmly in a sudden change of topic, standing up and stretching his arms over his head as far as they would go, "you're gonna tell me everything. And we'll see where things go from there. Deal?"
"Deal," Shinichi said after a moment.
"Get some sleep, Shorty. You look wiped out," Heiji advised.
"Well, I've had about five coronaries so far tonight," Shinichi snapped back, rolling his eyes and expertly ignoring the jibe about his height. "I have you to thank for all of them, I might add."
"Don't blame me, I'm here on vacation," Heiji laughed to brush the jab off easily; he headed for the door. "G'night. Talk to you tomorrow!" And he was gone, leaving Shinichi to stare at the ceiling and spend the rest of the night wondering how the hell he had slipped up so badly.
Yet he was slowly realizing that it could be worse.
The bus arrived shortly after sunrise.
Climbing the stairs to board it was surprisingly difficult, Shinichi found. Because he realized that Full Disclosure was waiting for him. Hattori really did have him in a bind. And Kudo Shinichi did not like losing control, especially of his own situation.
But the cat was out of the bag, whether he wanted it to be or not. He just had to make sure that it didn't get any further than this one person. Sighing, he stepped up onto the bus—acknowledging over his shoulder that yes, Ran-neechan, he had everything.
Hattori was already there, sitting in the very first seat. "Mornin'!" he said cheerily.
Trying not to let any nerves show—this was his life and more on the line, after all—he swung himself up into the seat next to him. "When we get going," he hissed, "I'll start."
Heiji nodded and settled back in his seat.
Ran boarded right behind Conan, and she paused to look at them.
"I wanna sit next to Heiji-niichan!" Conan bubbled, suddenly the energetic little boy he appeared to be, all smiles and big eyes. "Can I, Ran-neechan? Please?"
Her expression turned towards Heiji, who looked properly stunned. "Is that okay?"
He quickly shook himself. "Not a problem! I'll keep an eye on him!" he forced a grin.
Ran seemed satisfied, and continued towards the back of the bus to sit next to her father.
The smile dropped from Heiji's face and he leaned down towards his decidedly-smaller seat partner. "How the hell did you do that?" he growled. "Gimme a freakin' heart attack, why don'tcha?"
The smirk on Conan-kun's face was unmistakably Kudo's—it was lucky that Ran couldn't seem him. "Practice, Hattori. Practice. They think I'm a kid, remember? So I act like one. Get used to it, pal." He looked and sounded very smug, and seemed amused at Heiji's reaction.
Heiji sat back, still giving the boy a wary look.
Still, Kudo had just called him "pal." That was hopefully a good sign…
A few moments later, the bus started moving forward. They were finally getting away from this godforsaken spot. The murderer was under arrest and in the custody of police. Case closed.
Not wanting to push, but still antsy for the story that was forthcoming, Heiji looked down at his smaller seat-partner, only to find that the child was already looking up at him expectantly.
Without waiting for any further prompting, Kudo Shinichi sat back in his seat, folded his hands together behind his head…and began. "It all started when Ran and I went to Tropical Land…"
PS. …I know, I know. Another challenge. But I really like the dynamic of the friendship between our two favorite detectives. So…I fic them! MWAHAHA! Much love to SoulSeeker (otherwise known as Amm-chan) for pointing me in the direction of this lovely community. Hope you'll check out all thirty of them. Knowing Shinichi and Heiji…this could get very, very interesting.
As for this fic, it's one of those series things that's always bothered me. We go from "nighttime, case is solved, Heiji has Shinichi by the tail" to "daylight, riding a bus back to town, end of Full Disclosure." So I tried to fill in the blanks a bit. Plus, Heiji is prone to his occasional flashes of insight. They just don't happen where Kazuha's concerned :) Thanks, everyone! Much love!