If you have any troubles reading this, please let us know. We're unfamiliar with writing a story/ rp style like this and making sure the characters shine through.
I also (LostinTheDreams here) looked it over myself... so their might be some mistakes. Sorry.

This takes place sometime after the London Arc of the story.

Chapter 1: Premonition

Heiji drummed his fingers until he heard the person pick up the phone on the other end. "KUDO, YOU AHOU! WHAT WER' YA THINKIN' TELLIN' NEECHAN ALL THAT!"

Conan narrowed his eyes at the cell and the loud voice coming over the speaker but couldn't help the blush that came over his face. "Nice to hear from you too, Hattori."

Heiji didn't know if he was more ticked at the calm response or calmed. "Kudo...why the...I can't believe ya did that. You're the one that preaches the whole 'keep it quiet', then I fin' out from Kazuha no less, 'cause Neechan told her. If I'm keepin' yer secret ya gotta keep me in the loop..."

Conan sighed. What business was it of Hattori's what he chose to tell Ran? It wasn't as if he'd given his secret away... When she ran up to him, all crying and spouting that nonsense about how love meant nothing... Some part of him cried out in defiance to that and he'd had to tell her. It wasn't like she hadn't already known; he'd just never used those words before. His personal life shouldn't have to be everyone's dinner conversation.

Heiji plopped down on his bed, glad his parents were out. The nightmares were not helping his reaction to the news. Kazuha had pestered him to no end about if he knew Kudo was gonna be in London and if he knew that he had confessed. What still had him shaking was his dreams...they'd been far too close to right before and now...knowing Kudo had shown up AS Kudo...even in London. "Just...don't do anything else stupid...OK?"

Conan's eyes narrowed further, something close to a sneer on his face. "Since when have I ever done anything stupid? Look who's talking?" But he knew he'd gotten himself into more than his fair share of trouble, not that he could help that anymore than he could help what he'd done in London. There were times to use logic and then there were times for action.

Heiji actually laughed at that. "OK... I'll admit... I've had my share... but if I recall... someone decided he could skateboard up a bridge when some gunmen were chasin' him...that ring any bells? Or what about a guy who asked me to dress as him while he dressed as someone else...only to get kidnapped after the disguise was removed...remember that? And before you deny it...Hakase told me about it."

Conan made a mental note to himself to lay out the professor the next time he got the chance. The old man had spilled more than one story to the Osakan that he hadn't wanted to share, mostly because it involved him failing at some point or another. "Yeah, but at least I don't knowingly walk in to confront an armed killer, unarmed myself and with no back up. Is that all you called to talk to me about?" Conan's voice became bored with this petty argument.

Heiji huffed and pulled the phone in front of his face...thinking back to the bullet he'd taken for the killer cop. He wanted to point out to Kudo that the entire reason he was shot was because he was stopping the guy from killing himself. He could have left it... let the man take his own life and not have been shot at all... but no... that guilt was not something he would put on him... not after he saw his reaction the first time he related how he had failed to save a suicide victim. "Actually Kudo... I was wonderin'... There's a vacation comin' up next week... Your choice- Osaka or Tokyo?"

"Every time I go to Osaka you end up showing me the same places we've already visited. Besides, it's not like I can drag Mouri out of the office just so that we can get a trip over there. Half the time the guy's not conscious enough for it and vacation-time over here translates to him as as much beer as he can get, stating that he needs a vacation too." Conan shrugged, not really caring. It was Hattori or the detective boys. Either way he'd be dealing with one of them and both options had their own flaws. Hattori's visit meant he'd be sharing floor space, but it was better than having to hear gossip about the new cute girl in the next class or what grades were given on the English test. "You'd have to make the trip here." Conan muttered to himself quieter so that Hattori couldn't hear "at least you're giving me warning"

"Done. By the way... should I bring Kazuha openly... it'll get both of them outta our hair at least... and I heard that."

"Openly? Why? Did you think I wanted you to tell her that you were coming out here for some secret reason? Because if you are, I'd like to know what it is." Conan raised an eyebrow and smirked. "I assumed you just do it out of boredom."

'Not good...' "Oh, no, Kudo...I just meant if I come and don't bring her than I either get her nagging on the phone or she follows me anyway." 'Not to mention I just don't wanna be stuck as the go-between AGAIN when she finds out I visited' Heiji took a deep breath and exhaled directly into the mouthpiece.

Conan shrugged, moving his phone to his shoulder so he could open the agency door. "What do I care if you bring her?" He and Kazuha really never interacted with each other. Ran would be happy to have the other girl there for someone to talk to but really, what did he care? It was Hattori's decision.

Heiji leaned over and brought up his free hand, resting his forehead on it. He couldn't tell Kudo about it. His dreams were nothing... He was talkin' to Kudo now and would see him in a couple days... sooner if he caught a plane right after class. "Just askin' because now ya can warn- tell Neechan that she's got two showin' up insteada just one. And Kudo... I meant what I said before..."

"What?" Conan juggled the phone again as he shut the door and slid on his pack. Ran was already downstairs and waiting for him, along with the posse. He knew her well enough that she'd welcome Kazuha and Hattori, even if they'd had plans - which they didn't. She'd be happy to have the company. And that would make him happy so he let up a little on being bothered so early in the morning.

"Just..." Heiji sighed; he hated this but... better to sound stupid giving a warning then not give one when ya should... at least... "Don't do anything..." Why could he not get it out? "Ah... gotta go... talk ta ya later." He ended the call but couldn't stop the uneasy feeling building up inside him. 'Come on, Kudo... just don't make my next visit to you be to a hospital.'

Conan looked angrily at the phone. Don't do anything? Was that even possible? He closed it shut and put it in his pocket as he took in the last few steps, turning and smiling to Ran as he told her of the guests they'd be getting tomorrow. As he thought, she smiled and stared down at him, not even a hint of anger at the sudden visit. That made him smile all the more. Out of all the people he'd ever met, she was one of the only ones that could put up with him - be him Conan or Shinichi. One day he was going to have to make sure that, for those same reasons, he'd never have to see her cry again.

Heiji snapped his phone shut and grabbed his school stuff; he had to get his mind off his dreams and back on school for the next two days. He started walking toward his school. Friday he was gone... first flight after he got outta school. He'd skip last period if he wasn't takin' Kazuha but she wouldn't stand for it. He continued walking on autopilot, completely lost in thought.

"Heiji!" Kazuha slapped Heiji hard on the back to break him out of thought before he walked past the school gates. "What's the matter with ya? Class is this way!" She huffed and tried to hide a worried look for her childhood friend. "Honestly. I hope ya weren't plannin' on skippin'."

"KAZUHA... I was thinkin' a somethin' important." Heiji looked at the girl next to him and decided to deflect her attention. "I'm headin' ta Tokyo Friday afta school and I was gonna invite ya ta come...but now I'm not so certain."

Humph. "Who would want ta go anywhere with an idiot like you when ya can't even see what's right in front of yer eyes! Besides, what important thing could you be thinkin' with that tiny little brain of yers?"

"I just thought ya might wanna go talk ta Neechan about London, ahou."

Kazuha looked away with a blush. It sounded like Heiji wanted her to... but no, she had to remind himself. Her friend looked annoyed at her and that only further aggravated her, along with solidifying what she guessed. There was no way Heiji would want her to... to... say something like that. But maybe he was the one that wanted to talk to her. She gave him a sideways look, judging him behind angry eyes. "Of course I wanna! Ran-chan needs support now that he's come out an' told her! I can't let 'im escape! ...Maybe Kudo-kun will come over now. I'd really like ta meet the guy. He had the guts to speak up to her after all."

'Not that he's able to admit it. Plus side...her focus can be on Kudo and Neechan instead of on me... Man, I need some sleep.' Heiji walked past Kazuha and to the door of the school before looking back. "Oy! Ya comin' or not? The bells gonna ring soon."

Kazuha glowered at Heiji. As if she'd ever expect him to be anything less than the complete idiot he was! The trip to Tokyo sounded nice though. At least she'd be around some decent company there. And she really did want to know all the details that Ran-chan had left off over their phone call. Kazuha took in the last few steps to the school that she needed and stuck out her tongue at Heiji. "Of course I'm comin'- ta both, so ya better not leave without me!"

Heiji let her go by him. 'Ha, as if ya wouldn't show up anyway.' He followed her to the classroom and took his seat but half way through first period he was fighting a losing battle against sleep.

Kazuha kicked Heiji's desk leg from next to him, noticing the idiot start to nod off during their algebra class. "Oi, do you sleep at night? The teachers gonna notice ya if you keep this up."

Startled, but too tired to care, Heiji glared at Kazuha. Plus side, she was keeping him awake so he wouldn't get in trouble. Down side... she was keeping him awake when he knew he couldn't last. "Ahou," He says quietly, "O'course I sleep at night. But if ya remember, I was listenin' ta ya go on an' on about what Neechan told ya. Sides... not like this stuff is hard."

Kazuha folded her arms in front of her but Heiji had a point. He wasn't a genius when it came to schoolwork but she could never fault him for being a slacker either. "I got enough sleep ta keep me awake, dinn't I? Don't think I'm gonna let ya off 'cause of that!"

"Yeah..." By lunch Heiji was ready to just drop. He stared at his lunch without touching did reach down to rub his leg... The last class he was nodding so often that Kazuha's more frequent kicks meant a better chance for her to miss the desk's leg and connect with his...earning him three hard kicks to his shin. He glared at the girl for a moment before fading off, head dropping onto his arm as sleep pulled him completely under.

Kazuha looked worriedly at Heiji. She'd known him to nod off in class before but never to fall asleep when there was food in front of him without even touching it. As criticizing as he was about most meals, he never wasted any of the food. She'd once made him something that, as much as she tried, she knew tasted awful and her friend had still eaten it. She let Heiji sleep, watching him with lidded eyes of her own as she wondered what was so important to him that he must stayed up so long after she's hung up with him.

"KUDO! WATCH OUT!" Heiji watched as Kudo, or really, Conan-kun this time, went down from a blow to the back of the head. He tried to get there, to get to him, but no matter what he couldn't move. "KUDOOOO!" He had to do something. Anything. His stomach twisted in knots as the dark figure hovered over the still form. He tried again to move. Nothing. He watched as the figure turned enough that he saw, again, the gun that had been used to deliver the blow. The gun pointed straight down and the sound of the shot tore though him like the bullet did to... "KUDO!"

Kazuha startled, watching Heiji's face contort with something close to pain as the hand he was using as a pillow clenched nothing. "Heiji?" She took her hand and placed it on his shoulder, shaking him gently to try and wake him up. "Heiji, what's the matter?" Her worry turned into something far worse than just watching her friend exhaust himself. "Heiji, it's alright. Wake up."

Suddenly, someone grabbed his shoulder, shaking him. No way... after what the creep did. He clenched his fist, thought of his rival, his friend... even... like a brother... still lying on the ground. He put that anger, frustration and helplessness into action. Swinging his arm around he hoped he could connect with whoever thought that they could kill Kudo in front of him.

Kazuha hadn't meant to do what she did. She'd been taking lessons in Aikido practically since she could stand. Heiji suddenly struck out at her in his fear-induced sleep and she used his momentum to not only dodge but counter as she jumped to her feet and almost threw him off the bench before she realized what she was doing.

"YA GONNA PAY FOR THA-" Heiji blinked. Still seeing Kudo but knowing that it was suddenly bright and...what the...where...

Kazuha released Heiji's arm when she noticed that he'd opened his eyes and was staring past her towards the room at large. There was a vacancy in his gaze that still spoke of sleep. "Heiji?" she ventured.

"Ku-do...no...gomen..." Heiji reached his hand forward for a second before accepting that the point blank range left no chance. He brought his hand back in a shaking fist.

"Heiji" Kazuha asked in an upset tone of voice. "What's the matter with ya?"

"What?" Heiji blinked a few times and Kudo faded... Kazuha... school... he fell asleep and... oh sh... "Kazuha. What happened?"

Kazuha's expressions deepened further. "You were sleepin'. I think ya started ta have a nightmare or somethin'. I tried to wake you up but ya wouldn't get up an' then..." Her worried eyes started into his confused ones. "Is somethin' the matter with Kudo-kun?"

"What! Kudo... no... of course not. Why would ya ask a stupid question like that?" 'What did I say that she heard... oh man I am so dead... either her, Neechan or Kudo will kill me if...' Heiji got up and brushed himself off, not so much because he needed it but as a way to avoid the other girl's gaze.

"Well, something's been keepin' ya up all night an' ya said Kudo-kun's name more than once. Are ya alright, Heiji?" Kazuha could feel that her friend was holding back on her. Heiji was good at that. It often took a lot of needling and then a lot more waiting until he told her what was wrong, and it was only after he had fixed it. She'd have to stay close to him when they went to Tokyo. It sounded like Kudo-kun was mixing him up in something dangerous again.

"I'm fine an' so's Kudo... Class'll start soon." Heiji grabbed his stuff and took off. He took his seat and pulled out his book, trying to focus on the words on the page rather than what he said or might have said out loud from his dream. 'If it was just his name then there's nothin' fer her ta go on. I don' think I said anything but...I need to make sure I don' fall asleep around her again. Way too close...' Heiji avoided Kazuha's gaze all though the rest of class and only hoped he could get away from her after school... and maybe call Kudo... just in case.

Kazuha left school, walking with Heiji who was obviously trying to bring up all manner of conversation and dodging the one about lunch. He hadn't even eaten and he'd stayed awake during the rest of class. Those two things mixed together made her friend look almost sick. She was worried about him, but it was clear Heiji wasn't going to tell her anything. She walked off when they had to part ways, smiling at him and telling him to get some rest, though she didn't know if it would do him any good. She'd known Heiji to have nightmares before, but never this bad. Wishing there was something she could do, she went into her house to start planning. Ran-chan needed her support but maybe she needed the help of the other girl too. Whatever was going on between Heiji and Kudo-kun, they'd get to the bottom of it.

Heiji was glad when Kazuha headed off her own way. It had seemed like she knew he was avoiding the topic and was waiting him out... why did she have to be so good at that? He got home and went straight to his room. He pulled out his cell and dialed Kudo's. 'Answer...answer...answer...'

Conan looked at his phone, glaring at the caller ID. He'd barely gotten out of school and Hattori was dead-set on coming over during break so he had to wonder what the other would need now. "Hello?" He answered dully, trying his best to fade out the conversation of the Detective Boy's around him. For once he was going to be free after school and he wanted to take advantage of it.

"Yo, Kudo. Ummm." Brilliant, that wasn't suspicious. "So... did ya ask Neechan about us comin' over? Kazuha can't wait ta talk ta her... but ya better be careful... she's likely to get Neechan to call ya while we're there."

Conan frowned. "Considering you brought it up, I had a feeling the two would plot something. It should be fine. I hardly needed a warning. And you know Ran, she's always happy to have you guys visit. What are you really calling about?"

'Why did he have to be so...' "Fine, I just... wanted ta check in. Everything OK? It's just that... Ah, I remembered that the little girl genius said you had to be sick to change... and considering you had changed a few times on your trip." 'He's gotta buy that one.' Heiji dropped down on his bed again, much like he had that morning, and waited for Kudo to accept his reason for a second call.

"It only had to be a mild cold, you know that," Conan spoke skeptically. "It was gone when I woke up in the morning. Find something interesting to talk about and then call me back." Conan hung up the phone. Really, did Hattori have to call him just because he had no one else to talk to?

In the darkness a man wrung his hands together, watching the little boy before him with a grin before taking off in the opposite direction.

"Kudo... KUDO?" Heiji stared at his phone as all he got is the dial tone. "Oh you did not just hang up on me." Heiji went to his closet and grabed his clothes and, without a second thought, his shinai, knowing that even if his dream isn't gonna come true he'd feel better having it. As soon as he had his gear together he dropped on his bed without even changing, only to have the same dream again.

Conan walked back into the agency, passing Ran on the way to his room as she started making them dinner. Mouri was where he always was, glued to the TV and laughing like an idiot. Conan sighed, pushing the door to Mouri's room open. He dumped his stuff before taking out Shinichi's phone and putting it on silent, incase Ran called him up when he wasn't ready for it.

Ran glanced over as Conan came in and shut the door to the room he and her father shared. She was looking forward to seeing Kazuha and knew that Hattori and Conan got along very well, despite the age difference. This would be a nice week. She pulled the food off the stove and brought it to the table. "Conan-kun, Otousan, dinner's ready!"

Conan heard Ran shout not long after he'd settled himself. He was hungry so he quickly put down his school book that he'd had to read for a homework assignment and left the room. He met Ran in the kitchen, hands out to help her set the table. "Let me help, Ran-neechan," he said with a smile, wishing he could do more after... after he'd spontaneously confessed to her.

"Oh, that's sweet. Here you go." Ran passed him a few things before grabbing two glasses for them and filling them. Her dad had a beer can and would likely just have another once that was done- no sense getting a third glass for him. She was proud of Conan becoming so helpful. Not that he hadn't before, but since they returned from London he had seemed to offer to help her more often. 'I wonder... did Shinichi ask him to help more, especially after... he said that to me.' She stood in the doorway, thinking back to when Shinichi had grabbed her arm in London, just holding her and Conan's drinks.

Conan walked in the room before Ran, putting the plates down and calling to the other room so Mouri could tear himself away from his desk TV and onto the one in here. He turned back, seeing Ran stare into the room without seeing it, not moving and a small smile on her lips. "Ran-neechan," he tugged on the leg of her skirt. "Let's eat. I'm hungry." He raised his hands up. "I can carry those."

"Huh, oh. OK. Don't spill them." Ran passed the two glasses down to the boy and followed him to the table where the meal itself was already in the center. Yes... that trip was better than anything she could have hoped for... except... if he had returned with them. She looked up as her father rushed in and plopped down at his spot only to start eating right away. Honestly, she was glad Conan hadn't picked up on his manners... at least not since the time he had tried to sneak more of that Paikaru Hattori had brought the first time. "So, Conan-kun, how was your day?"

Conan smiled at Ran from his spot after he set the glasses and took his seat, eating the rice greedily but trying to keep up the manners this his mother had instilled in him. "Fine. I have some homework but it won't take me long. Ayumi-chan had to go to her aunt's so I don't think I'll be going out today." He was tempted to ask how her day was but it felt too personal. The question lingered in his mind though and a part of him wished he could do such a simple thing without raising her suspicions.

"Well, that's fine. Sonoko wants me to meet up with her. She wants to make it to some sales that start tonight- some promotion or something. I guess you can come with us if you get your homework done, or you can stay here? Dad doesn't have a case." She smiled in her mind at the boy's face when she mentioned shopping. He and Hattori- neither liked shopping...another similarity. Unless it was the 'promotion' that got that reaction. How many times had Sonoko taken Conan along to get a special or a discount…

Conan couldn't help the look on his face. He was offered two choices, stay with Mouri while he got drunk without Ran there or go with her to the mall while her and that drama queen went to all of the girliest stores out there. He didn't like either at all, but he knew he'd be bored - the book short and him being a fast reader - and Sonoko registered just a tiny bit higher on his tolerance scale. "Can I go with you, Ran-neechan?"

"Of course, just finish up your homework 'cause we meet her in 45 minutes, OK?" 'I guess between Sonoko or my dad, Sonoko won. If it's a promotional at least Sonoko will be thrilled. I wonder if I could get him a book or something to keep him preoccupied.' Ran continued making plans as they finished their supper and her father asked for another beer while she was cleaning up.

Conan finished his food, not to happily. The trip to the mall sounded like it was going to be nothing dull, if not outrightly annoying. The book for school he could finish before he left and that was also something that just screamed dream-land at him. Not to mention he'd only have a day to himself before Hattori came over and he had no idea if the Osakan was going to stay during the entirety of their break or not. He hoped not.

Ran collected the rest of the dishes and placed them beside the sink. She stopped at the fridge and grabbed a beer for her father before going in and placing it in his waving hand. "Otousan, I better not come back to this place being a pigsty." She turned to Conan. "And don't forget, homework done before we leave. It's still a school night." With that she headed to the kitchen to get the dishes done before they headed out.

Kazuha drummed her fingers on the desk before sighing. She hit speed dial and 3 on her phone and waited for Ran to pick up.

Ran was just finishing the dishes when she heard her phone ring. "Oh no." Grabbing a towel, she dried the excess water off before scooping up the phone and hitting accept without even looking at who was calling. "I'm sorry, I was doing the dishes."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean ta interrupt." Kazuha had only just finished doing the dishes from dinner herself. "I'm sorry... but I need ta ask you something? Have ya heard from Kudo-kun recently?"

"Oh, Kazuha-chan. Ummm... not since we came back from London. Why?"

Kazuha fidgeted some more, not wanting to point fingers. "Well, Heiji's been actin' really weird recently. I think he's been havin' nightmares an' today... well I thought maybe he and Kudo-kun were doin' somethin', like on a case. When he told me all of a sudden he wanted ta go ta Tokyo... I didn't know what ta think."

"Hattori-kun... I don't know. Are you sure? Maybe it's just a coincidence. Why you think that he and Shinichi are on a case- or wait, Hattori-kun is having nightmares?"

"Yeah, I think. He kept fallin' asleep in class, but I wouldn't let 'im." Kazuha didn't know why but she felt tears start to form in his eyes. "When we we're eatin' he fell asleep an' he woke up all scared an' angry... an' he mentioned Kudo-kun's name." She shook her head. "I don't know. I just... can tell somethin's wrong with 'im." She blushed and hid, though no one could see her. There was nothing logical about the way she was feeling - it was something far more personal and indescribable. "I'm sorry." She wiped away the tears that hadn't had time to fall. "Maybe it's nothin'."

Ran walked over to a chair and sat down, glad that Conan was still in the other room and her dad absorbed by the TV in the next room. She took a deep breath to compose herself- her friend sounded like she was on the verge of tears. "I... I don't know. Is it normal for Hattori-kun to have nightmares? I mean, it could be he was just... having a flashback... maybe to when Shinichi was accused of attempted murder when it had really been someone else who looked like him. I'm not sure if Shinichi has nightmares, but I'm sure those two see a lot. They could have have some pretty bad reminders."

Kazuha nodded, thinking about that. But then, what had brought those thoughts back on? The realization hit her hard and she almost felt like crying again. She was the one who had called him last night. She was the one who had told him about Ran and Kudo-kun. Odds were that his conversation with her had brought back the memories of the last time that Kudo-kun had been with them. Heiji... he really had seen a lot. A lot more than she had. Holding off her emotions, she spoke into the phone. "You're right. That's probably it. Can ya... can ya help me watch out for him? If just talkin' about Kudo-kun brought on the nightmares... bein' in Tokyo might make it worse..." She had no fears of the other girl getting close with Heiji, now that Kudo had confessed to her, and she needed the help.

"Of course I will... but maybe..." Ran thought back to the K3 event in Osaka. "Do you remember the K3 event? How after Ray was arrested, Conan-kun was so down until Hattori-kun cheered him up? I could see if Conan-kun wants to cheer him up. What do you think?"

Kazuha smiled. Heiji did have a soft spot for that boy. "Sure, that would be nice. I'm sorry fer botherin' ya with this." The guilt was still there but hopefully it would fade. She had to be careful what she said around him from now on so it wouldn't bring up such bad memories.

"Not at all. I say we make sure the two of them get some time together. I'll run it by Conan-kun tonight or tomorrow before you guys get here. Take care."

"You take care to." Kazuha hung up the phone, feeling better. If she was the reason that Heiji was feeling so terrible, she'd make sure that their trip to Tokyo was relaxing. That meant she had to keep her temper in check when he decided to be an idiot. She could do that... she just had to keep reminding herself it was to help him.

Ran sighed and ended the call on her end too. 'Hattori-kun... I know I've had nightmares of him just never coming back but for him to be so worried that Kazuha sees it...that's that. The three of us are on cheer-up duty this week and I'm sure Conan-kun has the best chance.' Ran got up and walked over to the door, knocking softly. "Conan-kun? Is your homework done? I'm leaving now."

Conan was surprised at the knock. Had it really been forty-five minutes already? He'd finished the book in any case and he hid the Sherlock Holmes novel in Mouri's closet so that Ran wouldn't spot it. There was a place in the back that hadn't been touched and Conan had found a lot of modal magazines hidden away there. If Ran hadn't found those yet, his book should be safe. He didn't want to give her more reason to connect him to Shinichi. "Coming!" He reached up and turned the doorknob, smiling at her. "I'm ready."

Ran smiled at Conan-kun's enthusiasm, perfect for cheering someone up. She was about to tell him when she stopped. Maybe it would be best to come around to it. No sense getting Conan-kun upset or depressed or even worried about Hattori-kun when he couldn't do anything until the next day. Let him put the energy in keeping up with Sonoko at shopping-pace tonight. She'd meet him right after school and tell him then. With a smile, she got her shoes on and held out her hand. "Come on, Conan-kun, let's go."

Conan got on his shoes as she did, his childish facade coming to him as naturally as slipping his foot into the shoe. He smiled at her outstretched hand and took it. If there was one thing being a child made him happy about, it was that he had never been able to hold Ran's hand so often. As Shinichi, doing such a thing would have only embarrassed the both of them and caught a lot of attention. They'd used to do it so often as children that he missed that feeling.

Ran stepped out the door with a final, "Otousan, don't forget, I want this place to still be clean when we get back!" They walked down the street to meet up with Sonoko. She wondered if she should see about arranging a shopping trip while Kazuha was there, just the three of them. That would also give Conan-kun the chance to cheer Hattori-kun up without being embarrassed. "So, Conan-kun, looking forward to Hattori-kun and Kazuha coming to visit?"

Conan looked up at Ran. She sounded so happy so he indulged her. "Yeah!" He wanted to say something more but false words dried up. He spread his arms wide, still holding her hand. "Heiji-neechan makes everything fun!" What a lie. Interesting was a good word for what tended to happen when Hattori would visit but it didn't seem right for Conan to describe it that way.

"That's good. I know Kazuha is looking forward to it and I'm sure you and Hattori-kun can hang out without getting into too much trouble." 'Asking them to not get into any is a pointless effort.' She laughed for a moment until she spotted Sonoko waiting in front of the entrance... looking at her watch.

"Come on RAN!" Sonoko turned to her friend, noticing she'd brought the brat along. "What's with the pip-squeak?" Sonoko grabbed Ran's arm and dragged her into the shopping center. "Haven't you heard? My lovely Kid-sama is coming here next week and I need the PERFECT outfit for when I meet him. Then he's going to steal me away like the jewel!" Sonoko squealed. "Then Makoto-kun will try to rescue me! Either way I'm gonna end up with a superhot guy! This is a failsafe plan!"

"Oh... ah... Sonoko... really." Ran smiled at the enthusiasm as she thought back to all of Sonoko's 'fail-safe plans' to get Kid and wondered how this one was any different. If this had been her idea all along, Conan-kun might have been better off at home. "Conan-kun, come on." 'I think I'll get him that new mystery book that just came out. He'll like that.' She allowed her friend to continue to drag her to whatever her destination was.

Sonoko brought Ran into one of the best and most expensive stores she could find. Money was no issue when it came to matters of the heart. She sighed contently. Kid or Makoto... either way, she'd make sure they never found out about each other. Maybe she could have both. A white short dress with frills at the bottom and sequins down a v-neck had caught her attention. She held it up to her body. "So, what do you think?"

'I think I should get Conan-kun that book now so he can read it while she shops.' "Ummm, very nice... Can you excuse me for a moment. Conan-kun, come with me for a second, Sonoko, we're just going to the store right across from here, I'll be right back." She took Conan's hand and headed out.

Sonoko scowled at her friend as she ran off with the little twerp. Why was it always like that? First it was Ran and Kudo always sneaking off whenever she tried to have a girl's night and now she was using the brat for it. Oh well. The dress looked nice and if Kid saw she was wearing white too, he'd notice how perfect they were for each other.

Conan followed Ran out of the store as quickly as he could. Sonoko was worse than his mom. That place was full of nothing but gaudy outfits and dresses that didn't match their price tags. At least his mom knew how to be thrifty.

When they got into the bookstore, Ran made her way straight to the counter. "Excuse me, do you have the new..." She stopped and glanced down at Conan-kun. Pulling out a pad of paper, she writes quickly and shows the woman at the counter who nods, smiles and steps away, coming back in a minute with exactly what she asked for. Ran paid, keeping the book on the far side of the counter so Conan-kun couldn't see it. She slid it behind her back as she turned and smiled at the boy. "You know, I think this might be more interesting than watching Sonoko try on those... dresses." She pulled the book out and held it in front of him.

Conan's eyes widened. He thought he'd kept his interests to himself, though he'd known he'd given part of those secrets away. What she held out to him was definitely not a child's book, heck most teens didn't even read it. What she had handed him was the retelling of an old story that his father had read to him when he was little, thrown into modern day events and dubbed "The Telling Signs", since the original book had not been named. "Tha- Thank you, Ran-neechan." His words gradually grew quieter. He tried to hide as best he could how excited he was to have the book in his hands. He hadn't even known it had come out yet.

Ran smiled. It was pretty hard to get Conan-kun speechless... almost as hard as Shinichi. But here, she had done it. Maybe dropping a hint about Hattori now would be OK. "Perhaps you and Hattori-kun can read it. I'm sure he'll like it too, ne?"

That had him arching an eyebrow. Since when did he and Hattori sit around reading books to one another? He held the book tightly, almost possessive of it. As if he'd let anyone else set their hands on it, especially because it was a gift from Ran. "But I want to read it," he moaned as childishly as he could. "Heiji-neechan will just bend the pages."

Ran was a bit taken aback at first but thought back. Shinichi had been the same way, insisting on bookmarks and not allowing anyone to read it if he wasn't right there to supervise. "Well, maybe you can hold it then and he can read over your shoulder, just to give him something else to think abou..." Ran cut herself off right there. 'OK, change of topic.' Why don't you start reading it now? They have some chairs in the corner and I'll come back before the store closes. OK?"

Why was everyone acting so weird today? First Hattori calls him several times for no reason other than, apparently, to hear his voice. Then Ran starts talking about sharing his new book. Really- it wasn't that unusual for him and Hattori to spend time together, other than when they were on a case or were heading out to Tokyo on their own. Most of the time those two were at the office, they just laze about on their own. And what had she stopped herself from saying? Something to think about? When was Hattori NOT thinking about something, mostly things that were annoying and only served in some way to embarrass him. That was another reason the Osakan's visit wasn't looking promising. There'd be a lot of prodding about his confession to Ran and he didn't like that. He nodded to her anyway, smiling and sitting down on the chair, "I'll wait."

Ran took off and met up with Sonoko. After watching her try on several dresses, and being forced in a couple herself, she was ready to head back and join Conan with a book. She followed Sonoko to yet another store and was about ready to inquire as to how many more outfits she wanted to try. 'I think Conan-kun got the best deal of tonight.'

It was late. The girl had yet to return and the bookstore he was watching was quiet. Few people still lingered and the ones who did weren't close enough to be trouble. The man leered, his smile growing, as he walked into the store and pretended to browse the shelves, all the while getting closer to the kid. So, this boy was the reason Robert was in jail. Well, even if he was a child, there was no way he was going to let the boy get away with putting his brother behind bars. When everyone's attention was elsewhere, he snuck up on the child, pressing down the needle and injecting the sedative as he held the boy's mouth shut and watched as the chemicals did their thing.