Conan sat on Ran's lap, next to Kogoro as they waited for their train back to Tokyo. Hattori and Kazuha were arguing just a short distance away, but Conan didn't really care at the moment. Ran had hugged him close to her, as she seemed to love doing over the past holiday week, resting her head on his. Conan was trying not to blush, but he wasn't entirely sure if he was succeeding. Instead, he focused on the large screen TV across the station that was still reporting on Kuroba's second heist, even two days later. Well, Conan did have to admit that the second heist had been rather spectacular once Itotsuki had been arrested. Kuroba had led a merry chase through the Umeda Sky Building. With Hattori busy being in charge of Itotsuki, ensuring he was properly handcuffed and hauled off to jail, Conan had ended up being the one to give chase to the elusive Moonlight Magician.
The small detective couldn't stop a slight smile. He'd promised a proper chase to Kuroba, and a proper chase it very well was. With Ran's help over the radio and her disabling the high-pitched noises that were disrupting the police bans and then keeping the police informed of their positions, it ended up being quite the chase through Umeda, out on the streets for a brief moment, and up to the Sky Garden where Kuroba finally took off. Properly this time, without any bullets or passing out while flying. Ran, in a moment of sheer genius, made sure that all security cameras were patched into TV broadcasting, ensuring that it was a chase to be seen, and very, very public.
Conan squeezed Ran's hand as some footage on the TV changed to the chase that she had broadcasted. She squeezed back. Kogoro was beside them, hiding behind shades, hoping not to be recognized since some of the footage included him as a deadweight attached to Nakamori, something he wanted desperately to hide from. Conan had debated briefly on whether or not to announce that it was the Great Sleeping Kogoro in the station, but decided against it.
"Dammit," the shaded detective grumbled. "Where the hell is our train?" He stood. "Ran, keep an eye on the freeloader. I'm going to check the times and see if anything's running late." Turning, he grumbled and shuffled off, muttering something about keeping great detectives waiting and the indignity of it all.
With Kogoro gone, Hattori and Kazuha wandered a little closer.
"Ran-chan?" Kazuha asked quietly. "Have you heard from Kudo-kun? How's he doing?"
Hattori snorted beside her.
Ran just smiled. "I heard from him the night of the heist. He called shortly after Conan-kun and I got home." Kazuha nodded to herself, and Conan suspected that she confirmed for herself that the Kudo who had been staying with them was authentic, even though he wasn't.
"It was strange though," Ran continued, "he seemed confused when I asked him how his wound was doing. Apparently, he hadn't been injured since last fall."
Conan looked down to the ground, hiding a smirk. That injury last fall, of course, had been him bleeding into a bucket.
Kazuha's mouth kept opening and closing, her eyes wide, making her look like a landed fish. "Ya mean the Kudo we were hidin' wasn't Kudo?"
"No," Ran said quietly. "Apparently Kaitou Kid knows what Shinichi is doing. He even helps Shinichi out, on very rare occasions."
"All o' that effort was ta hide a criminal?" Kazuha hissed. "Argh!"
Hattori put a hand on her shoulder. "We couldn'ta known," he retorted, looking off to the side to hide his grimace. "He even had me fooled." Hattori snorted. "Bet the damn Kid's laughin' his monocle off."
Conan decided to pipe up. "At least Ojii-san doesn't know we messed up. We'd never hear the end of it."
To that, at least, they all laughed. Kogoro's likely proclamations on how he'd known that it was Kid in an instant were wildly untrue and would primarily be to satisfy his own ego. But they didn't have to put up with that.
Kazuha still looked like she was contemplating murder, however, when a voice started to cut through the crowds.
"Oh, oh, Aoko, how about 'Kid: Prestidigitator Extraordinaire'? Or maybe 'Cool Kid: Master of Illusions', or 'Kid: A Magician'? I like that last one, keeps things simple."
"Of course it's simple, you're a simpleton," was the reply.
"Aoko-chan!" Ran called, waving. "Kuroba-kun! Nakamori-keibu! Over here!"
Sure enough, the three came over, everyone making the appropriate greetings.
"So," Hattori drawled, "where's th' rest o' the Task Force?"
"Went home early," Nakamori grunted. "I had to set a few things. Where's your 'grown-up'?"
Conan pointed, having spotted Kogoro already in the crowd.
The man in question had removed his glasses and was chatting with an exquisitely beautiful twenty-something. "Well, you see, Kaitou Kid had to knock me out, he knew I was his greatest threat. You can't imagine my shame at being caught unawares..."
The young twenty-something gave a bell-like laugh.
Nakamori stormed over, grunting and attempting to clear up what he was muttering as "inconsistencies".
Ran let out a sigh. "I have to apologize for my father..."
Conan looked up to her and winked. "Ne, Ran, what else did Shinichi-nii-chan say when he called?"
Aoko immediately dove in. "Kudo-kun called you! Finally! Details, details!" Kazuha glanced back and forth, looking stressed, but that was to be expected. She was new to all this. But Ran was starting to become an old hand, at least with semi-prepared tales like this, and the three girls sat down to share some girl talk. Shinichi himself squirmed out of Ran's hands and went over to where Hattori and Kuroba were in a semi-glaring contest.
Not liking being ignored, especially when he had an important question to ask, the truncated detective tugged at Kuroba's pant leg. "Kuroba," he said softly. "The person you have tutoring Ran..."
After all, Shinichi may trust Kuroba, but anyone he didn't know was fair game as far as he was concerned.
Kuroba just gave his usual manic grin. "You and your girlfriend come over, say, a week from Friday, and you'll meet him face to face. That way you can go over whatever you need."
Shinichi nodded. A fair offering. But then curiosity got the better of him. "You'd said that you'd..." he hesitated, not sure if he could ask. But he was very curious... "you'd found a room? Once I'm satisfied with the tutor... could I...?"
Kuroba kept the manic grin, "No way in hell, tantei-kun. Gotta keep my secrets somehow."
Scowling, Shinichi acknowledged the truth of that. He'd have to work to keep his curiosity in check.
There was a loud squeal from the girls, and Shinichi could damn well guess what had just been revealed. After all, he and Ran had discussed it after returning from the heist. Or rather, they had wandered into the topic.
"What's got'em so riled?" Hattori grumbled.
"Don't know," Shinichi grumbled.
Kuroba, however, seemed to see right through him. "Oh, I think you do, tantei-kun. I think you do."
Shinichi tried not to blush.
"Why, Kid, I think ya got'm blushing. I'd say he knows somethin', alright."
"Why, yes, Hattori-kun, I believe you're right."
Shinichi started to back away.
Hattori and Kuroba looked at each other, united on something for once.
Shinichi had never expected the two of them to gang up on him. Good heavens, what had he started with all this?
Hattori grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and Kuroba produced a feather. "Ne, Hattori-han," Kuroba slipped into perfect Osakan drawl. "D'ya know where this pint-sized kiddo might be ticklish?"
"Might have a few ideas," Hattori drawled back.
Ran watched Kuroba and Hattori start tickling Shinichi and let out a small sigh of relief. If those three could be so relaxed after everything that had happened and (more importantly) been revealed, things looked like they'd be stable. 'Okay' was a question mark, there was still a lot of adjusting that would need to be done by everyone, but things were at least stable.
Back to the conversation at hand.
"I can't believe the elusive Kudo actually got the balls to talk future baby names with you!" Aoko trilled. "First he talks to you about marriage, and now baby names!"
Ran smiled. "Like I said when we had breakfast together, he's in no position to offer anything to me, not really. But it's nice when the two of us can plan what our future might bring."
Kazuha gave a small, sad smile, understanding with greater clarity just why Shinichi couldn't propose outright. "How'zzat big case he's workin' on?" she asked.
"Frustrating. Leads just keep drying up once he snatches them."
"Never mind that!" Aoko was positively beaming. "What sort of names did the two of you like? For a boy? For a girl?"
Not 'Conan', that's for sure, was Ran's first thought. While Ran wouldn't mind having a child named Conan, to remember the sweet child that was always by her side, Shinichi had refused, saying it was too painful and would be a reminder of all the bad things. She'd acquiesced, but she knew she'd be discussing it with him again one day.
"We were thinking of names like Chikao for a girl and Hideaki for a boy."
"You want smart kids, don't you?"
Kazuha let out a grunt. "With a daddy like Kudo? They'd be cursed if they didn' inherit his brains."
"As long as it's not a name like Hisoka," Ran said quietly.
Aoko blinked, pausing at that. Ran held back a grin. It was a clue on the secretive nature that had plagued her relationship with Shinichi, and Aoko noticed the reference to secrets.
Shrugging, Aoko offered, "Then how about Naoko? Or maybe Masahiro?"
"Ooooh," Kazuha interrupted, "Shinakio? Toshihiro?"
Ran laughed. "You two! You act like I'm already pregnant!"
"Ran!" Conan was blushing horribly at their feet, panting hard. "Kaito-nii-chan and Heiji-nii-chan won't stop tickling me!" he said through gulps for air.
Ran grinned widely, convinced that Shinichi had somehow deserved it, but it had the affect that Shinichi wanted. Aoko and Kazuha rounded to the other two young men.
Both had the wisdom to bring up their hands and take a step back.
"Shinichi," Ran whispered, "what did you do now?"
He gave a slightly bashful grin.
Heiji knew when he was dead meat. And that was pretty much any time that Kazuha was looking at him like she was at that moment. Damn Kudo and his using his apparent age to manipulate Kazuha! At least Nee-chan would handle him, and given his squirming, there wasn't any doubt that she would.
But Heiji never got the argument. Because Kid had whirled around Aoko and flipped her skirt. "Red lace? Aoko!" Kid grinned widely. "I had no idea you had such a sexy side. I really must see more of this!"
But as she turned to grapple the already moving thief, (Heiji had no idea how Kid could move like that with a bruised rib, even after a week) Kid merely flipped her shirt as well.
"Oooh, matching set! Aoko, when did you start to grow up?"
What Aoko said next had Heiji and Kazuha's ears burning as she whirled one of her bags around in an attempt to knock the magician off his light feet.
"But I must admit," Kid grinned as he slid around the bag. (Heiji wondered just how he could do that with his bruised rib...) "The pad kinda detracts. But I noticed it was only one pad. So you must be on, what, your fourth day? You usually flow quite heavily."
Heiji's jaw dropped. "Ya just don't say that t' a girl," he mumbled, feeling a flush building in his face. "Not even the oblivious Kudo is that bad..."
Beside him, Kazuha stiffened. Blinking, Heiji turned, raising an eyebrow. "What?" he asked quietly.
"How do ya do it?"
She shook her head. "How do ya do it?" she repeated. "How do ya get through th' day when ya know Kudo-kun's out there 'n' in danger? How didja talk to Ran when she didn't know, because I know ya knew 'bout Kudo-kun before she did. How do ya keep goin' on like everythin's normal?"
Heiji let out a small breath and looked up, not entirely sure how to answer that. He'd been dealing with that particular concern for so long it was like second nature. When Kudo'd first told him about the Black Organization, he'd been somewhat skeptical that any organization could have that kind of power. But after working with Kudo on a few cases that involved Them, he'd come to understand just what they were dealing with. And it was a scary prospect.
"Honestly? Whenever it felt too heavy, I'd just make sure ta find ya."
Kazuha blinked. "Eh?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Ya didn' notice? I've known where ta find ya so often 'cause I've always gone lookin' for ya when I needed a li'l support."
Her face turned red and Heiji was certain he saw steam. Why was beyond him.
"But I've never done anythin' fer ya!"
Heiji rolled his eyes. "Ka. Zu. Ha," he groaned. "Don'tcha know how just plain ordinary life can be stress relievin'? Ya seen yer father come home stressed 'n' after a meal with th' family, he's back ta normal. Y're the normal I look for when it feels like the world's spinnin' outta control. You'll see once we're back in school tomorrow, ya?"
Kazuha looked at him skeptically. "If ya say so," she mumbled. "'m so ready for this ta be over."
Nodding, Heiji winced when Aoko finally made contact with Kid, if only to stumble on top of him, making everyone start to laugh. "We're lucky. We're down here 'n Osaka 'n' we don't run across stuff as much as Kudo does. We'll be fine."
She nodded. "I hope so."
"Hattori-kun!" Kid called from underneath Aoko. "Since I've got Aoko in my arms and Ran-chan's got the ankle-biter in her arms, why don't you have Kazuha-san in your arms?"
Both Kazuha and Heiji started to violently protest.
Author's Notes: Gwah! For some reason this epilogue REFUSED to be written. So, lots of cute conclusionary stuff.
Now a lot of you have been asking about another story in this series. Rather than getting into it here, we'll direct you here: http: / /mirrorandimage . livejournal . com / 90448 . html (minus the spaces, obvously...)
For those curious, the names listed translate as the following:
Chikao Clever, wise
Hideaki Wisdom, cleverness
Hiromasa Broad-minded, just
Hisoka Secretive, reserved
Masa Righteous (Variations: Masahiro, Masajiro, Masao, Masataro)
Naoko Straight, honest - Naoki, Naoto, Naoya
Shinakio Faithful + bright
Toshihiro Intelligent + wise