Heiji Hattori didn't have a care in the world at the moment. No unsolved cases, no threats of death hanging over him, just the kendo instructer telling him that he had done a good job at today's practice.
He opened the front gate to his house and was almost inside when he heard it.
Bionk. Thud. Bionk. Thud.
Heiji set down his school bag, gripping his bokken tightly as he went to the side of his house peering around the corner to see a kid with glasses kicking a soccer ball against one spot on the wall.
Bionk. Thud. Boink. Thud, thud, thud.
The kid looked at him, startled as Heiji held him up by the back of his coat.
"Oi, Brat, are you trying to put a hole in my wall."
Heiji blinked as he fully realized who he was holding. "When did you get in, Kudo?"
"This morning, since about nine. I took the express."
"Oi, oi, if I knew you were coming I would have skipped school!" Heiji smiled, "How have you been!"
Kudo looked down at the ground with a glower.
"Sorry, Sorry!" Heiji said as he put the other detective down. "Seriously, let me know next time you're coming!"
Kudo looked up with an odd look. "I didn't know I was coming."
"Eh?" Heiji looked at Kudo with interest. Something was wrong with his Tokyo friend. Heiji let it go for the moment, he'd hear what was wrong eventually.
"Where are my manners? Come in, I'll make tea!"
"I'm not going to get poisoned, am I?"
Heiji gave a dry laugh, as he picked up his bag and let them in.
Heiji let Kudo make himself at home in the sitting room, while he made the drinks. When he came back, Kudo was leaning against the wall looking forward, as if the wall ahead of him held all the answers in the cosmos.
Kudo looked over at him like he was torn out of a trance.
"Sorry it took so long; I hope you like it!"
Kudo nodded taking one of the cups and taking a sip without noticing what it was.
"So, what brings you to Osaka?"
Kudo shrugged, drinking a bit before looking up at his Western counterpart. "Just wanted to talk."
"What diddja phone break?"
Kudo shook his head. "It's not the same."
"So talk about what? How Conan Doyle kicks Ellery Queen's ass? 'Cause that's not true!" Heiji said, putting as much enthusiasm as he could into his voice. It didn't escape that Kudo flinched at the name 'Conan'.
"Sherlock Holomes is the greatest! There is no one who can beat him! But that's not why I came."
Heiji sat there waiting, Kudo shook his head. "How is school going?"
Heiji let it slid, his friend wasn't ready yet, and pushing would only create problems. "I hate math class."
Kudo looked startled at the out burst. "Really? I never had that problem."
"That's awsome! Do you think you could help me out on some homework?"
Kudo looked shocked by the request, before a smile graced his face. "Yeah."
About thirty minutes later, Heiji and Kudo were staring at the assignment with the former starting to understand the material.
"Finally, this makes sense! Man, Kudo, if being a detective doesn't pan out you could always become a teacher. After all, you like explaining things!"
Heiji turned to see what Kudo would throw back at him.
Kudo stared at the book with a look of nostalgia.
The Tokyo detective took a deep breath.
"I almost commited suicide yesterday."
There was no way Kudo just stated that with a calm look and tone.
Kudo didn't look at him, that damn calm look still on his face even as he chuckled a bit.
Heiji grabbed the other boy by the shoulders forcing the shrunken detective to face him.
"Dammit, Kudo, that isn't funny!"
Kudo still laughed quietly staring at his lap, causing the Osakan detective to give him a hard shake.
"Tell me that's not true! Aren't you the one who always tries to save people, no matter what? Why are you even thinking about that then?"
Kudo then flopped forward into Heiji, shaking with surpressed laughter.
Kudo wasn't laughing.
He was sobbing.
"I don't know! All I could think yesterday was that it was almost over." Kudo stared at his hands. "That somehow made that one of the best days I've had since THIS happened!"
Heiji relaxed his grip on Kudo's shoulder as he listened to the explanation that was almost a confession.
"I hadn't even been aware that I had been thinking it until I found myself in the kitchen with a knife in my hands!"
Kudo looked up tears making his face red and pale. "I almost commited suicide! What the hell is wrong with me!"
Heiji reached forward and removed Conan's glasses, placing them on the table with a deep breath. "Kudo, we'll get to the bottom of this. But for now, start from the beginning."
Kudo gulped and nodded as he tried to regain some of his composer. "For the past few weeks I haven't gotten a single lead to that damn Organization. I was steadly becoming more, depressed, each day. And, and then yesterday I woke up and told myself that 'it was okay; that it would all be over soon.'" Kudo gave a bitter choked off laugh. "Who thinks that?"
Heiji said nothing, telling Kudo, who already knew, that it was typical suicidal behavior was pointless.
"Ran and everyone at school were pleased to see that I was happy, since I had been so, withdrawn. All of yesterday I just kept thinking that they were cheering me on, because the end was so close. I hung out with those kids after school and I couldn't stop smilng."
Heiji could feel Kudo shake under his hands.
"After Ran and Korgoro went to bed, I snuck into the kitchen and pulled out a knife. I had it to my arm before I realized what I was doing! I threw it in the sink before I ran up to Ran's room and slept with her, 'cause I knew she would stop me!"
Heiji let the opening that Kudo had made slide. If the situation was extremely different, the poor boy would have been screaming at Heiji to get his mind out of the gutter. But this was a matter of Kudo's life so, Heiji firmly clamped down on the urge to tease him.
"After Ran when to school this morning, I hopped on the earliest train I could out here."
Kudo gave a relieved sigh setting his head down on the table. "I really am an idiot. Here I am always talking against killing, and I almost go and kill myself."
Heiji drew easy patterns on Kudo's back, trying to process everything that he had just been told. None of this made any sense, but one thing kept nagging at Heiji.
He ran a hand through his hair. "Why me?"
Kudo gave a smile and a shrug while still being drapped on the table. "Because you call me by my name."
Heiji leaned back, suddenly wondering what he would have done in Kudo's situation.
To be stuck in a movable prison, able to see his friends but never able to talk to them. To be able to think and solve crimes but have to trick the police into solving them for you because no one would listen.
To be denined to help on homework, not be able to share a perverted joke with some guys. To have to watch movies and read books that were dumbed down for younger kids because you looked like one.
To never be called by his own name.
A shiver ran up his spine as Heiji experenced vertigo.
God, who could relate to that?
He waited until he had the Eastern detective's attention before continuing with slow deliberation.
"When with me, as long as it doesn't jeopardize your secret, I will always treat you as my equal."
Kudo stared at him for a moment.
Heiji shrugged. "Well I knew something was wrong but I didn't know it was something like that."
"I guess I was more troubled then I thought."
"Well, the fact that you drank an entire cup of hot water and didn't say anything was a big tip off."
"Really? I just thought you made really weak tea."
Heiji glared, inwardly relieved that Kudo was the one teasing him. "And for that comment, you're going to help me with the rest of my homework!"
"Stuipd, I'll help you with your homework."
Heiji grinned like a Cheshire Cat, sliding the next bit of homework over so Kudo could see it.
Kudo visibly cheered up as the two of them puzzled over homework, Heiji being difficult on purpose which frustrated Kudo beyond end.
When at last there was nothing left for them to work on Heiji reluctantly pointed out the time.
"You know if we leave now, we'll make Tokyo by about midnight."
Kudo gave a sad nod, and then looked up suddenly. "'We'?"
Heiji threw his arms behind his head. "What do you think that I'll let you go all the way back to Tokyo by yourself?"
Kudo gave a grateful smile as he gathered his stuff up. Heiji watched him for a moment before gathering up his papers and the remains of their "tea", they'd never gotten around to making anything other than hot water.
Heiji walked up as Kudo pulled on his shoes, silently handing him Conan's glasses.
Kudo nodded, slipping them on, as Heiji put on his shoes.
Heiji reached for the door when it slide open startling both detectives.
Hattori Heizou glared at them. "What is going on?"
Heiji and Kudo flinched. "Well, dad you see, uh, Ku-nan, uh, showed up and I'm taking him back home to Tokyo."
Heiji's father stared at both of them as they did their best not to fidget.
"I will call your school and tell them that you will be late."
Heiji nodded. "Yes, sir!"
Heizou stood aside, letting the two pass. They weren't fully out of the yard when Heiji's dad called out to them.
Heiji winced, turning back.
"We will discuss this tomorrow."
Heiji nodded, before he and Kudo ran off.
The two stood on the platform waiting to board.
"Hattori, sorry if I got you in trouble."
Heiji shook his head, messing up Kudo's hair. "Na, if you ever need to you can show up whenever you want. But I reserve the same right!"
Kudo offered a small smile as they boarded. "Thanks, Heiji-niichan."
Heiji glanced around and bent down to the Tokyo detective's level. "You don't have to call me niichan just yet. We're not anywhere near Tokyo yet," He whispered
Kudo shook his head as he whispered back. "Treat me like an equal, but I'll still call you niichan out in public." Kudo hesitated for a moment. "And could you, out in public…"
"Okay, brat, the train will be leaving soon." Heiji said standing up, a quick glance to assure that he understood what Kudo wanted.
The two sat talking about random topics, from Conan's school work, ("Wha? Last week, you got low marks on first grade Japanese?!"), to respective sports, ("My parents put me in kendo early, since that was how they met. What about you? I would have thought you'd fence, being the Heisei Holmes and all." "I wanted to but my elementry and middle didn't offer it. So, my dad put me in soccer instead."), to past cases, ("There is no way I'm buying that." "It's true!" "Heiji-niichan, you're telling me that he was killed with a pair of tweezers?").
True to Heiji estimate, they arrived just after midnight to find that the Detective Agency's lights were still on.
"Huh, wonder what that-" Heiji started until he realized that Kudo had stopped dead, his face draining of color. "Kudo?"
"I forgot to call them."
Heiji pinched the bridge of his nose. "Of course you did."
Kudo scrunched up his face. "Let's get this over with."
When Heiji knocked on the door, it opened almost immediately.
Ran looked down at Kudo, falling to her knees holding him close. "Thank God you're okay!" She pulled back to study his face. "Where were you? We were so worried!"
Megure cleared his throat, drawing Heiji's attention up from the drama happening at knee level. "I'm sure you have an explaintion Hattori-kun."
Heiji shrugged, rubbing the back of his neck. "I didn't know he didn't tell you."
Kogoro and Megure glared at him, as Heiji chuckled nervously.
Kudo pushed away from Ran. "It's not Heiji-niichan's fault I went to Osaka by myself."
Kudo nodded, looking guilty and depressed. "Yeah."
"WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING? YOU COULD HAVE BEEN KIDNAPPED! YOU COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED!"
Kudo's head hung low, accepting her yelling without even blinking. In fact, Megure and Kogoro were looking guilty as well.
"Neechan, he came to see me because he's worried about Kudo."
Kudo flinched as he glared at Heiji, his whole posture screaming at him to drop it.
"Conan-kun? Is that true?"
Kudo looked back at her at with an unsure look.
"Conan-kun does this have anything to do with that nightmare last night?"
Kudo looked everywhere but her face. He gave a short nod.
Heiji watched for a moment. Kudo may stumble seven times and recover eight, but that didn't mean he had to recover a ninth time on his own.
"Yeah, last night the kid couldn't sleep because he was worried about Kudo." Heiji knelt down placing a hand on Kudo's head. Kudo gave him a questioning look out of the corner of his eye.
Heiji gave him a quick wink.
Leave this to me.
"See, he was worried because Neechan was acting rather sad and he couldn't figure out how to cheer her up. Then he thought that I might know something about Kudo and decided to come over to see me yesterday (er, the day before yesterday now). He was a little nervous about going alone so that was why he slept with you last night."
Heiji paused. "Speaking of which does Kudo know you're sleeping with another man?"
Heiji winched as Kudo dug his elbow into his stomach.
"Heiji-kun, that's not funny!" Ran squawked, her checks turning pink.
"Sorry, sorry." Heiji rubbed the back of his head.
Ran looked uncomfortable. "So…?"
Heiji stood up. "Kudo's fine. But I'm going to swing by from time to time to check up on you all."
Heiji touched his hat. "Inspector, Detective Mouri."
Heiji walked back out of the door, turning back to see Ran and the others make a fuss over Kudo.
With a smile and a shake of the head he left.
As long as Kudo has us, Neechan, he'll be fine.