--Chapter 22: A Bit More Pondering--

During the time she and Conan were up on the rooftop, Ran felt almost like she was looking right at Shinichi. She felt since Conan didn't have his glasses, he WAS Shinichi. Her childhood friend, her best friend, her true love. She looked away, trying to get the image out of her mind. "iNo No NO! He's just a kid, why think such things, Mouri!?/i" she asked herself in her head.

Conan slowly turned his head up and looked at Ran. He blinked inquisitively, matching his eyes to hers. "Ran?..."

Ran smiled, "We should go Conan." She cleared her throat and knelt down, pulling him onto her back. "I'm sure the others are fine right now," she said, trying to change the subject. After climbing down the ladder, she gently hopped down and looked back at Conan. "You okay?"

Conan looked at Ran. "I-I don't know." He coughed. Looking around, he saw a black porsche cruise by, a couple of burning cigarette butts glowing in the windows. "Let's just go find the others," he responded.

Heiji let go slightly and looked into Kazuha's face. "Silly girl. She has no idea how close she just came to... to..." He sniffled, wiping the tears from his eyes. "Oh Kazuha... I love you," he slipped, unable to keep his words back.

Kazuha's eyes opened widely, she was flushed. She turned away and scratched the side of her face, then looked back into his eyes. "H-Heiji.." she said quietly, becoming even redder when she realized how close she was to him.

Ai pondered on the situation. Shock suddenly shot through her as she realized now just how close she was to Vermouth. "She was in the house... She knows its layout... She knows my habits! She knows everything she needs to get me..." She turned over to Heiji and Kazuha, having nothing more to say. "So she... now... she can..." She merely stuttered, looking like an adorable 7 year old, when in fact her mind was racing.

Heiji tilted his head slightly, noting Kazuha's redness. "She's so cute when she's nervous..." He sighed and gave her one last squeeze, before breaking off and turning to Ai. "I guess.. We need to be more careful from now on, then... don't we?" he told her, not quite understanding the reason for Ai's new worries. She just stared at him.

Ran nodded. "Y-Yeah." Walking back to the others, Ran looked down at Kazuha and Heiji, seeing how close they were. She shot a grin at Kazuha. "Oi.." she muttered.

Kazuha quickly got up, straightening out her skirt, she blushed. "R-Ran, you're okay!"

Ran nodded, setting down Conan. She looked around, "What happened to Nagi?" Kazuha sighed, patting her back. "It's a long story," she said, rolling her eyes.

Conan noted Ai's rigidness. He hopped down and over to her, whispering, "Haibara? What happened?"

Ai turned to the others frightenedly, then back to Conan. "V-Vermouth was living here... She's who N-Nagi actually w-was. The true Nagi was actually dead all along... I kn-knew it couldn't be him... But she was living with us!" She grabbed Conan's shirt desperately, whispering worriedly, "Vermouth was living with us all along. I didn't know it was her. She was in the house... She saw me... Her and Gin were just here.. and they... they..."

"They didn't hurt you..." blinked Conan. Ai glanced back at him.

"Yeah... I wonder if it had anything to do with them..." she looked back at the group behind them.

Ran stood quietly. The only light that everyone kept from everyone seeing each other well was the flickering streetlight hanging over head. She knew something had happened. But what? She could tell on Ai's, Kazuha's, everyone's faces. She simply looked away, focusing her eyes to the ground. Still sitting in the same position she had been in, Kazuha looked up at Ran. She leaned over and whispered the situation to her. After figuring out what had been happening, it seemed as if Ran understood what she had done to the real Nagi from before.

Or did she? Kazuha cleared her throat. Turning away, she looked at her hand, scraped-up from the fall. She smirked, not even noticing the stinging pain it had given her.

Conan turned back to Ran. He knew Vermouth was simply acting Nagi's part all along, meaning that everything she did were things that the true Nagi would have done. "Except..." he glanced between Ran and Kazuha, Kazuha and Ai, then back from Ai to Ran... "She.. sympathized."

Heiji looked down at Conan, realizing the same thing. With a small smile he looked off to the road, "So she actually SAVED Kazuha..."

Kazuha slowly got up, her hands releasing Heiji's. Her head face down as she slowly walked to Ran. Ran caught her eye, then before she knew it, she was in a tight hold. They hugged, both falling to their knees Kazuha still clinging to her. Ran stared off, "K-Kazuha.." she said, in a startled tone. Kazuha turned her head to Ran's, meeting with her eyes. She smiled.

As the boys stood around watching, Conan got a call on his cellphone. He pulled it out of his pocket, "Hello?"

"Shinichi! Is everything all right!? I could swear I just saw the car of-" the Professor started.

"Yeah, yeah. It did look like Gin's car. But everyone's safe, don't worry," he looked around to the group. "Hey, do you think you could come pick us up? We're about five blocks east now."

The Professor agreed and drove over, finding them pretty quickly.

Upon getting home, the girls were both unsure how they should talk to each other, or even to anybody else for that matter. When walking into the apartment, Kazuha quickly phoned her Dad. She walked out of the room, closing her cellphone, and gave a long sigh. "They postponed our flight in two weeks. Guess we'll be staying for a while longer," she smirked.

"That's great! I can give you more cooking skill tips," Ran grinned, nudging Kazuha in the arm.

Kazuha rose a brow, "C-Cooking tips?" She noticed Ran's Dad, finally coming home at midnight, quickly running over to his desk to snooze off.

Ran grew a sweat drop. "Uh. Guess we should go to bed?" she offered.

Kazuha shrugged. "Guess we should." Kazuha looked over at Heiji, "Let's go-" she stopped. Blushing furiously, she turned away and stumbled down the hallway into the spare bedroom. She remembered what he had said to her earlier tonight.

Heiji blushed as well, watching Kazuha zip off down the hall. "S-Silly girl..." he muttered, looking down at Conan. Conan breathed a long sigh as the two entered his room.

Conan climbed into his bed and lay back, his hands behind his head. "That.. was CRAZY..."

Heiji relaxed into his own blankets as well. "Yeah, but Vermouth was amazingly helpful again. At least, as helpful as someone in a large crime organization can be. The thing I'm worried about, though, is how this will affect Kazuha. She seemed to understand everything so well, even though she shouldn't know about the Black Org. What if she starts putting the pieces together and somehow relating it to you.. and to me knowing about you.."

Conan scoffed, "I think you're just a bit paranoid. Though it isn't impossible that she understands that the Black Org exists, I highly doubt she would ever think we were affected by it. Relax, okay?"

Heiji looked down, "I guess you're right... You always know how to put me back in my place, you know that, Kudou?... Hey?... Kudou?" But Conan was already asleep. Heiji flattened his brow, "All right then, don't accept the compliment. Neh, goodnight." He reached over and turned off the lamp, going to sleep, himself.

While Ran settled into her bed, Kazuha was at the windowsill again. This time it wasn't snowing, but raining. She exhaled deeply, lost in thought. Sitting in a dark room by herself wasn't so comforting, but it was helpful. This way, she can sit quietly and not be bothered before soon falling asleep.

--End Chapter 22--