[Yes.. Her mood seems to be a reflection of the weather..] Conan thought as he cast his gaze at his fellow shrunken compatriot, Ai Haibara, whose icy, withdrawn facade was still quite visible, underneath the winter scarf that seemed to purposefully cover her mouth, as she and the rest of his friends continued their leisurely stroll home through the city. It was definitely her light blue eyes. They had a way of standing out of any situation with an almost luminous intensity. It was a bit unnerving to him, and he internally affirmed his thanks she was an ally.
Then, the eyes darted towards his.. "What are you staring at?" Her annoyed voice asked, slightly muffled by the material.
"Why are you covering your mouth? It's not that cold, is it?" Conan asked curiously.
"Are you kidding? It's freezing.." Ai replied somewhat standoffish.
"Are you sure you're not trying to hide..?" Conan countered with an almost teasing inflection.
"SHH! Keep your voice down!" Ai harshly whispered reminding him of the usual company following behind, but it was far too late..
"WHAT?! What does Conan mean, "hiding", Haibara? Is someone bullying you?!" Genta quickly butted in between the two, placing his large, intimidating face directly in front of Ai's and demanding so loud as if trying to deliberately draw attention to the spot they stood on the sidewalk. He was actually almost immediately successful.
[Dammit Genta!] Ai growled internally, taking note of the confused and annoyed citizens glancing their way while remaining completely composed on her exterior. "N.. No, Genta, there's nobody bullying me." She calmly reassured him, albeit with a bit of a nervous smile peeking out from the scarf.
"She's not being bullied, Genta." Ayumi, walking alongside them, stated. "Isn't it obvious? She's embarrassed because she's in love!"
"HUUUH?!" Conan and Ai said in unison, blushing with their eyes bulging out.
"That's right. We girls understand these things." Ayumi said self assuredly, before approaching Ai more closely. "You read about Higo making that last minute goal at the match yesterday, didn't you?"
"Uh.. N-no, that is.." Ai stammered, now even more nervous than before. "I..It's just a little cold for me, that's all.."
"Uh, I just forgot! We've got to head home real quick for something!" Conan hastily informed the kids, before quickly taking hold of Ai's hand and pulling her along rather roughly, calling "Bye!"
Each one of the Detective Boys looked off at the two very suspiciously.
"You know, I believe that maybe both Haibara AND Conan may be hiding something from us!" Mitsuhiko implied distrustfully.
"Yeah! Who do they think they are, keeping secrets from their friends?!" Genta objected quite boisterously. "It sounds like another exciting case for..
"THE DETECTIVE BOYS!" The three all shouted energetically as one.
"Hey! Will you slow down? You're going to tear my arm off!" Ai complained as she and Conan raced down the street.
"Quiet! In here!" Conan instructed sternly dragging her into an alleyway.
"Kudo! What's your problem?!" Ai demanded with a harsh whisper.
"What is this secretive business? Do you honestly believe one of THEM might be walking around, looking for you?" Conan urged impatiently.
"Look, I'm not going to take any chances what with that Bourbon agent looking for me! What if Vermouth has told him about us?!" She responded with firey indignation.
"Come on. I made her promise to give up on you, remember? If she lied about agreeing, we'd both be dead by now." Conan countered. "Besides, I highly doubt Bourbon's going to recognize you as Sherry unless he saw you as a kid like that Pisco guy and quite frankly, there's little to no chance of that seeing that he was recently codenamed."
"What about that creepy Okiya guy that moved into your house? He has the scent, dammit!" Ai spat with such exasperation that her saliva was tacked onto Conan's glasses.
"Okay.. Okay.. Calm down.." Conan said, removing his glasses and cleaning the lenses with an aggravated expression. "He MAY be one of them, but no sweat. I've removed all the younger photos of me, just in case he puts two and two.." He began, somewhat sure of himself, before Ai grabbed him by the collar, gritting her teeth.
"We're not certain what he's capable of!!" She growled with furious outrage. "If he has the mind of a detective as Kir reported, what makes you think he won't eventually make the connection?!"
After a short break, Conan heaved a heavy sigh and said with a diligent expression "Ai, I think it's about time I told you something.." He then leaned forward and whispered into her ear.
Across the street, looking as conspicuous as possible, the Detective Boys peered over the corner of a building, viewing the very scene with disbelief.
"AH! Did you guys see that?! He kissed her right on the cheek!" Genta blurted out raucously. "You were right, Mitsuhiko!"
"GRR! I can't believe he would betray me like this!" Mitsuhiko grumbled, scowling as if he were painted by Picasso.
[Conan..Ai.. How could you?!] Ayumi thought to herself. So confounded, that she didn't know whether to begin sobbing, or to race over to Conan and begin to strangle him. [You said.. You said you didn't like him that way..]
"WHAT?! HAVE YOU GONE COMPLETELY MAD?!" Ai bellowed upon hearing what Conan had told her with an expression that made it look as if she had just witnessed an alien invasion.
"Look, you'll have to trust me.." Conan said stoically, donning his glasses. "It sounds crazy now, but it's an absolutely crucial measure."
Ai was completely dumbfounded. "But.. But do you realize how much this jeopardizes everything?! Our identities?! OUR LIVES?!" She imparted as clearly, yet as quiet as possible.
A brash, yet comforting smile crossed Conan's lips. "Glad to see you want to stay alive!" He cheerfully complimented her.
Ai's mouth went agape, her eyes widened with the shock of his statement. Her jaw then clenched shut and her brows furrowed with indignation as she then reared back and gave him a firm slap across his left cheek, knocking his glasses askew.
"How can you JOKE about that?!" She snarled, before stomping off and away from the scene, leaving Conan standing frozen and confused.
Back across the street, Genta could now barely contain his wrath. "GRR! Okay, that's it! I can forgive the whole kissing thing, but not THIS!!" He roared, before rolling his sleeves up and beginning to bolt towards Conan.
"Genta! Wait! Watch the street!" Mitsuhiko called out as he and Ayumi gave chase.
A car, headed down the street, swerved midway to avoid the jaywalking young pedestrians, the driver honking his horn furiously.
Conan, once again adjusting his specs, looked over to see his friends approach.
"Ah! What are you guys doing here?!" He exclaimed.
"Don't try to dodge this, Conan! We saw everything! Why were you threatening Haibara after you kissed her?!" Genta accused, sticking his big, meaty finger into Conan's ribs.
[Damn! These nosey kids can't know about this!] Conan thought uneasily. "Uh..What.. What are you talking about, guys?" He asked nervously.
"Don't lie to us, Conan! You kissed Haibara on the cheek, then told her that you were glad she wanted to stay alive!" Genta shouted, grabbing Conan by his collar.
"Whoa! Whoa, guys! There's been a huge misunderstanding!" Conan tried to explain, timidly. A sweatdrop rolling down his cheek.
"Then please explain in careful detail, Conan! Just what are you and Haibara hiding from us?!" Mitsuhiko demanded.
"Yes, Conan! We're your friends! We have a right to know!" Ayumi affirmed with an incensed expression.
"Look, guys, you've got us both wrong!" Conan began to explain in an easygoing way. "First off, I wasn't kissing her! I was whispering into her ear, about.. The.. The cool new Detective Boys gadget Professor Agasa is working on!"
"Yeah, well, what was that deal about you telling her about her staying alive and her slapping you?!" Genta demanded.
"Oh, that!" Conan replied, attempting to laugh it off. "That was just a joke I was telling her! Uh.. See, I was just telling her that she'd better not be in the Professor's house while he's working on it, in case it blew up!"
Conan may as well have told an old knock-knock joke. The ice cold suspicious glares from his friends cut into him with the bite of a blade.
"You really expect us to believe that?" Mitsuhiko asked blankly.
"Uh.." Conan began, when his phone suddenly began ringing in his pocket. [Whew..] He sighed in relief, before taking it out and answering it. "Hello?"
"Conan! I need you to come home as quickly as you can!" Ran Mouri greeted him very urgently.
"Oh.. Uh.. Hello, Professor!" Conan replied, beginning to think on his feet.
"What?! Conan, clean out your ears! This is Ran! Dad's just received a very important case and he has to leave very soon!" She informed him.
"Oh, Okay!" Conan replied nonchalantly, not acknowledging this, before hanging up. He then turned to his friends and said "Speaking of Professor Agasa, that was him! He wants to show me that gadget now, so see you!" Before racing off.
"HEY!" Genta shouted as Conan raced off again.
"Now it's certain, he's hiding something from us!" Mitsuhiko stated.
"And we have to figure out what that is!" Ayumi agreed.
"It's another exciting case for.. THE DETECTIVE BOYS!" Genta declared enthusiastically.
"HUH?! Yoko Okino?!" Conan asked in surprise outside the detective agency.
"SHH! Keep your voice down!" Ran warned him. "Yes, apparently, she has a problem and.. She wants Dad to help solve it." She explained, before turning her head and angrily staring at Kogoro, who was doing a last minute grooming session in the reflection of the rental car's window.
"Alright, let's hurry. We mustn't keep the lovely Miss Okino waiting." Kogoro said, ushering the two along impatiently.
"Dad.. I swear, if you try anything.." Ran said while glaring at him, making a vague threat.
"Come now, Ran. You know I'm a perfect gentleman in situations like this." Kogoro said with a ridiculously bad attempt at a suave demeanor.
[I'd like that in writing..] Conan thought sardonically.
Upon walking through the entrance lobby of the massive Beika concert hall, they were greeted almost immediately by a shifty looking older man with liver spots running along his forehead, his eyes partially concealed behind dark glasses. "Mister Mouri! Thank goodness that you're here! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Shuunsuke Tomohiro, and I'm the coordinator for Miss Okino's appearance here." He said in a nervous fashion, bowing quickly.
"No problem, Mr. Tomohiro. Now, from what I hear, Miss Okino was rehearsing here, when she found a threatening message in her dressing room?" Kogoro asked serious and businesslike. Almost immediately, Conan became attentive, and adopted a focused expression as well.
"Y..Yes, that's right." Tomohiro responded cautiously. "There were large letters written in red ink that looked like blood on her dressing room mirror, reading "CANCEL SHOW TONIGHT".
"Were the police called?" Kogoro asked.
"Yes, of course. They searched the grounds for any clues or sinister devices, but nothing of the sort could be located. It was Miss Okino herself who actually suggested your involvement." Tomohiro explained.
"Well, of course she did.." Kogoro responded arrogantly, as Conan and Ran cast annoyed grimaces in his direction. "Where would Miss Okino be right now?" He then asked.
"She's in the backstage area with her manager and the stage director." Tomohiro informed them, before making a come-along motion "Come on, I'll show you the way."
As the trio began to follow, Conan was already formulating in his mind [Strange.. For what reason would someone want Yoko to cancel her show? And why would they make such a personal show of it to her? Is it an obsessed fan? Or is there something else at hand..?]
TO BE CONTINUED....
Continuation of my alternate Bourbon Arc storyline.