Disclaimer: The characters involved belong to Aoyama Gosho, not me. Except the poor newbie. This fanfic is rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Yamashita Shigeru wasn't quite sure how he'd gotten into this position, though he wasn't exactly complaining. He'd been with Division One for barely a month, now, and they'd finally managed to wrap up a major case, involving a home invasion ring, unusually violent even by the standards of Division One's usual fare. So of course, the officers had gone out to celebrate in that time-honored method of cops everywhere-- getting totally and completely plowed.
Okay, so Shigeru had one beer. As a junior officer, it was his job to make sure his more inebriated seniors made it home in one piece. He didn't mind that so much, as the last thing he wanted was to get smashed and do something stupid in front of the Inspector.
And that was the situation he was talking about. Somehow, during the trip to the bar and the various officers settling into groups, he'd been snagged to join the table at which Megure-keibu was sitting. Shigeru thought it had been Satou-san who'd grabbed his wrist, judging by the glares he was getting from the rest of the men in the division. But now he was seated at the table, between Takagi-san and Chiba-san, as the waitress dropped off a bowl of edamame and another round of drinks.
"To a successful case!" Satou-san toasted, her cheeks barely flushed with pink.
"To none of us ending up in the hospital," Shiratori-keibu added wryly, lifting his own glass.
"To nothing exploding," was Takagi-san's offering, and the others winced in acknowledgment.
"To a reasonably small body count," Chiba-san threw in, clinking his beer bottle against the Coke Takagi-san held.
"To closing a case without the assistance of sleeping detectives, teenage detectives, mad inventors, or grade-schoolers with large glasses," Megure-keibu finished, raising his own glass.
Shigeru blinked. "Er… kanpai?" The six clinked glasses and each took a long swallow of his or her drink.
Grabbing a few soybeans from the bowl, Shigeru decided to ask the question that had been bothering him for most of the day.
"Er… Megure-keibu? I was wondering… You mentioned grade-schoolers? I kept hearing some of the officers talking about a 'weird kid,' during the operation…"
The other five looked at him, blinking.
"That's right," Satou-san exclaimed, leaning forward slightly. "You've only been here a month, you don't know about Conan-kun and Mouri-san yet."
Shiratori-keibu snorted. "Leave him his ignorance for a while, Satou-kun. He'll lose it soon enough."
Chiba-san rolled his eyes. "You just want to see how badly he'll put his foot in his mouth the first time he deals with the kid."
"I think we should tell him," Takagi-san said. "If he has to find out the hard way, it'll just waste time and make all of us look bad."
A nod from Megure-keibu. "You've been with the police a while, Yamashita-kun, haven't you? Have you heard any stories about the 'Sleeping Kogoro?'"
Well, of course he had, but… "The detective who solves cases in a trance state?" Shigeru couldn't help being skeptical.
"That's the one," Chiba-san agreed. "He's the real thing. It's spooky, but when he goes into those weird states? He's always right."
"Mouri-kun is… complicated," Megure-keibu continued. "Some people think he's an idiot, some people think he's a genius. He's not-- I've seen genius; Mouri-kun isn't it. But he's very good at what he does."
Shiratori-keibu nodded. "There's a bit of an art to dealing with Mouri-san. If he's awake and acting normally, you can pretty much ignore ninety percent of what he says. Listen to him-- he can be very observant-- but take it all with a grain of salt."
Taking a long slug from her glass, Satou-san took up the explanation. "When he makes a funny sound and goes into a trance, that's when you really listen. He'll ask you to do things that don't make any sense, until you find out you're re-enacting the way the crime occurred."
"There's another time you should listen to him," Megure-keibu added. "If there's immediate danger, especially if his daughter or Conan-kun are involved, you listen. He's like a different person when that happens. Most of the time he's lazy and quick to jump to conclusions, but when it matters… you don't want to cross him. Just do what he asks and get out of his way."
Shigeru blinked. "Wow." He took another sip of his beer. "So… er… who's Conan-kun?"
The other five officers grinned at him, suddenly looking like a pack of very amused wolves.
"Oh, Conan-kun is an experience," Satou-san told him, cheerfully malicious.
"Satou-san!" Takagi-san sounded scandalized. "Don't scare him like that."
To Shigeru, he continued. "Edogawa Conan-kun is a seven-year-old boy who lives with Mouri-san and seems to be some sort of apprentice. You'll recognize him by the fact that he has a cowlick and a pair of black-framed glasses that are entirely too big for him."
"Also," Chiba-san added, "you'll recognize him because the first time you see him, he'll be standing somewhere within twenty feet of a corpse, looking for evidence."
"According to proper forensic procedure." Shiratori-keibu's tone was drier than a desert.
"Did you know he's got the rest of the group carrying evidence bags now?" Satou-san threw in.
Megure-keibu raised an eyebrow. "Are they labeling them correctly?"
"They let Conan-kun do the writing, but yes."
Shigeru wasn't sure he was hearing this right. "He's seven?" They HAD to be joking. This was some sort of prank on the new guy, right?
"Going on seventy," Chiba-san confirmed. "And before you ask, no, it's not that Mouri-san drags him out to crime scenes. Apparently the kid can't go a week without tripping over a dead body in the course of his daily life."
"The dispatchers have a code for him now," commented Takagi-san.
Satou-san snorted. "That's nothing, forensics is talking about offering him a job when he hits middle school."
"Not a chance. The kid's an adrenaline junkie," was Chiba-san's opinion. "He won't give up the chase for anything. Why do you think he goes to those Kid heists?"
Scooping up a few soybeans from the bowl, Megure-keibu chuckled. "What I want to know is who he thinks he's fooling with that big-eyed act?"
Shiratori-keibu rolled his eyes. "You mean the one where his voice raises an octave and a half and his vocabulary shrinks?"
"And you get cavities just listening to him?" Chiba-san added. "What IS the current theory? I'm pretty sure 'space alien' was ruled out after he got shot and needed a transfusion…"
Shigeru realized with a sinking feeling that no, they were dead serious. The way they were talking to each other, they barely even remembered he was at the table; this was the absolute truth.
"Ano…" Takagi-san looked down at his hands as he peeled the label off his bottle of Coke.
Satou-san's eyes lit up. "You know something? Spill."
He flushed. "Well… I was talking to Hattori-kun… Did you know that nobody's heard from Conan-kun's parents in almost a year? Mouri-san gets a check deposited into his account once a month, but it's an electronic transfer. There're no calls, no letters, nothing."
"… Conan-kun doesn't seem to care that much," Chiba-san said finally.
Takagi-san shook his head. "No, he doesn't. At all. And he's less afraid of violence than he is of people asking questions and trying to get to know him. It kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?"
The six officers were silent for a moment.
"How much do any of us really know about him?" Satou-san asked, thoughtfully.
"He's close to Kudo-kun... possibly where he got that love of Holmes," Megure-keibu commented.
Takagi-san raised a finger. "He's very familiar with Kudo-kun, but I don't know if they were close. It sounds more like someone following an idol, or a distant older sibling. Kudo-kun never mentioned him to Ran-san, after all."
"He's been lonely a lot. Look how long it took him to really accept that the other three liked him," Chiba-san threw in.
Signalling for another glass, Satou-san propped her chin on her hands. "He won't ask for help. Not to reach something, not to move something, he won't admit he needs anyone else to do anything at all. And he always seems surprised when you offer."
Shiratori-keibu took a long drink. "I think," he said quietly, "that it would be just as well if none of us ever met Conan-kun's parents, don't you?"
A chorus of affirmative responses came from around the table. Shigeru was surprised at how fervently his own came out, but… this was a kid. Even if he was half the weird puzzle the other officers had described, he was a kid. Everyone seemed to like him.
Taking another drink of his beer, Shigeru smiled to himself. He was looking forward to meeting this Conan-kun-- at least he knew life wouldn't be boring.