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10 April 2007 @ 09:32 pm
Quest for the Question: The Hangman's Noose (DC)  
Title: The Hangman's Noose
Fandom: Detective Conan
Rating: PG
Genre: Humor
Publish Date: 2/14/2005 through 4/8/2005 (in Quest for the Question)
Disclaimer: I don't own Detective Conan. But I do have homemade hand-puppets for each character...that's normal, right?



To say it was raining would definitely count as an understatement. Saying it was raining was like saying that fish liked to swim, or that Kudo Shinichi was a good detective, or that Mouri Ran could hit things, or that Hattori Heiji was a good-looking guy…well, that last was Kazuha’s opinion, at least.

She didn’t usually say that out loud (after all, it was fairly common knowledge), unless she wanted to watch him turn red and start stuttering. He was the easiest person in the world to fluster if one knew how, and no one (save possibly for Kudo) knew better than Toyama Kazuha how to push Heiji’s buttons. Even after all their years together, it was still so simple to throw the poor guy off-balance.

She also knew something that even the Osakan detective didn’t even seem to realize at times: for as intelligent as he was, Hattori Heiji could be so incredibly clueless when push came to shove. Case in point, his feelings towards her.

They had been friends for so long—since childhood. But somewhere along the line, there had been a very subtle change in their relationship. It was so subtle that even both parties involved seemed to have missed it. But at some point, she had realized that he was looking at her differently, being a little more overprotective, and definitely sending Evil-Heiji-Glares-of-Death™ at any male of appropriate age who happened to give her that second look (she supposed that Heiji hadn’t realized she had seen him making grown men cry with that kind of Look).

And there was also that one night—they had been walking together in the park when she had suddenly found her fingers enveloped in a certain someone else’s slightly-larger hand. Said someone else had been looking everywhere but at her, and blushing brightly enough to light up the dusk of evening, but he had been smiling.

OR there was the time when they were in high school and another guy (a senior, no less!) had verbally expressed an interest in the charming Toyama Kazuha (as he put it). She still wasn’t exactly sure what had transpired between Kenji-kun and Heiji, but…well, the rumor mill had told a few interesting stories concerning fist-fights, lots and lots of creative swearing, and several live animals.

Somewhere along the line, they had become a couple without either of them saying a single actual word to that effect. It just kind of…happened. Neither missed it. But as shy (and clueless) as he was concerning romance, she’d finally had to bite the bullet and take a chance herself, catching him off-guard on the school roof. That had been their first kiss, on Valentine’s Day, their final year of high school.

He had not protested overly much. After getting over the initial shock—and returning the favor with enthusiasm—he had spent the rest of the day stammering and alternating between grinning like an idiot and blushing to the point of spontaneous combustion. But he still had trouble coming out and saying exactly how he felt; he preferred more to let actions speak louder than words. But the words, Kazuha reflected, were so nice to hear…

Kazuha knew he loved her. He had actually voiced it himself, at the police department’s New Year’s party. They were both the children of officers, and he was a detective to boot, so naturally both had warranted invitations. But the point was that she had gotten him to admit that he loved—he actually used the word loved!—her out loud!

…once.

very loudly.

…after he had insisted that one more of those tasty little drinks wouldn’t hurt him.

and after insisting that no, he was not drunk, thank you fairy—very much.

…and before getting chewed out by his father for a lack of restraint concerning the open bar.

and before he had pretty much passed out in the doorway of his apartment after the party, leaving Kazuha (only slightly less inebriated) to drag him to the couch. She opted for the couch rather than the bed for a simple reason—it was closer. She had then been blessed with an awesome opportunity to watch him sleeping, curled up like a baby.

Granted, it would have been nicer had there been only one of him instead of that strange identical twin he had miraculously acquired in front of her vision…but on the other hand, two of Heiji…if she could have only figured out which one was actually him…

Shaking her head to clear it of thoughts that could potentially be slightly ecchi at best and downright unprintable at worst, Kazuha refocused on the rain. It was pounding against the apartment’s windows, as though—and she snickered at her own metaphor—it was trying to get inside and out of the storm. But she took comfort in its consistency, sipping at tea that had long since gone lukewarm.

After being together for as long as they had been, Kazuha’s mind was starting to think about…other things. Things involving rings on a certain finger of the left hand. Not that she would voice that to him, of course; other people were doing it for her. It seemed like everyone had joined together with a plan to drag them to the altar, will you or nil you.

And yet he seemed to remain oblivious.

It was several minutes later that her almost-nonexistent thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. Part of her wondered who in the world would be out and about in this, but some part of her knew instinctively who was on the other side of that door.

Her hunch was right—the object of her current thoughts was standing there, a shining grin splitting his face from ear to ear—soaking wet. Drenched as a fish. “Hi!” he said cheerily. “Are ya busy?”

“Heiji, are you crazy?” she huffed, trying to hide the smile that was threatening to take over her own face in response to his. “Get in here, you’re going to give yourself pneumonia—hang the jacket up, don’t drip water everywhere! Honestly, what were you think—ACK!” Her ramblings ended in the abrupt squeak as Heiji pulled his trademark cap off (she had never been able to get him to trade it in for a newer model)—and flicked his wrist, sending a small spray of water at her.

He grinned at her—a little sheepish. “I was bored, and I figured you’d be bored, so I thought I’d come over and keep you company.” His shoes, jacket, and hat (all sopping wet) were left at the door. His jeans were damp too, but there wasn’t much that could done about that (well, nothing within the realm of decency, at least). House scuffs firmly in place on feet, he followed her back to the living room, where she had been so thoughtfully regarding the rain.

Heiji dropped into a chair with comfortable familiarity, and absolutely no regard for the current state of some of his clothing; Kazuha sighed and decided that damp furniture was a small price to pay for his company. “Why didn’t you grab an umbrella or something?”

“Boring…” he murmured, closing his eyes and stretching. “So whatcha up to?”

“Absolutely nothing,” she admitted, ignoring her now-empty tea cup. “Just watching the rain.”

“I have a brilliant idea!” he announced with a flourish, magically springing back to life with a renewed energy. “Let’s play a game!” At her blank stare, he wilted a little bit. “Just a thought…ya know, something to do…”

“Do you have a game in mind?” she asked, smiling internally. He was so cute when he got all sheepish like that…and besides, a game equaled something to do and spending time with Heiji. Something to do equaled boredom being gone, and spending time with Heiji equally bliss. What wasn’t to like?

He sprung from his chair and darted over to her desk, where he quickly retrieved a notebook and a pen. Prizes clutched possessively in his hands, he tumbled back into the chair he had claimed and flipped the notebook open to a blank page. “Remember when we were kids and we used to play Hangman?”

Kazuha couldn’t keep herself from laughing. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Of course I’m serious!” he protested, moving the pen across the paper. The crudely-drawn gallows had already taken form on the page, and he was now making a series of lines for a message.

I’m dating a detective, Kazuha thought wryly. Even playing games has to be some kind of puzzle…

He leaned over and held out the notebook. “Guess away!”

With a mental shrug, Kazuha obliged, and the game began.

It was easy to forget about the rain, the earlier boredom, and time itself. Message after message was unraveled, puzzle after puzzle was solved. Some were entire quotations; others a mere few words. Kazuha had to roll her eyes when one of Heiji’s messages proudly blazoned out Kudo’s most famous statement, regarding the number of certainties out there—in other words, there is only one truth.

The rain continued to fall without a hint of letting up. It was almost reminiscent of a childhood story—Mother Nature and Father Time. What the hell had Father Time done to piss Mother Nature off that badly that she would cry that much?

After a while, though, Kazuha felt the first niggling of suspicion growing in the back of her mind. She was the daughter of a police officer and the girlfriend of a world-class detective, so she was no stranger to critical or analytical thinking. After the first few, she began to get just a leeeeeeeeeeeettle wary.

Heiji’s messages on the hangman board. They were steadily growing a little…odd. Not all of them of course, but pretty much every other message dropped into a very peculiar theme.

Old, new, borrowed, blue.

Here comes the bride.

Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

I am the monkey and you are the cheese grater.


One dark eyebrow slowly arched. Well, what in the world?

No. No way…

She wrote in the last letter of her latest puzzle (which read Heiji is a ahou, just to get a laugh), and passed the rapidly-filling notebook back to him. He tapped the end of the pen against his chin, obviously thinking something over. She knew him well enough that he almost seemed to be wrestling with himself over something. But finally, he seemed to make up his mind, and a moment later, she was presented with a fresh page, consisting of a series of dashes followed by a question mark, and a freshly-drawn stick-gallows.

Kazuha started with the common letters, and Heiji filled them in as she called them out. “E.” The last blank filled. “T.” The hanging man acquired a head. “S.” And a body. “R.” Two more blanks filled. “N.” Dead-dude grew an arm. “M.” Another two blanks.

After a couple more minutes, he suddenly set the pen down and grinned. “You got it. I think you just set a new record.”

She started when he stopped writing. She hadn’t even been looking at the paper as she called out letters. But she managed a triumphant smirk. “A record, huh? What’s my prize?” she teased.

To her amazement, his eyes met hers and squarely held her gaze as he handed her the notebook with the finished puzzle. “A prize? Well…that’s up to you, I think.” And he waited while she processed the completed message in her hot little hands.

First of all, she noticed that the poor condemned hanging man was one eye and a mouth away from being complete. Then she stared blankly at the letters for a minute, trying to figure out if her eyes were playing tricks on her again.

Will you marry me?

After subtly pinching herself to make sure she was not dreaming and blinking several times to ascertain that her eyes were, indeed, not playing tricks on her, the realization hit, and her jaw dropped. Slowly, she dragged her eyes upwards from the words on the page (trying valiantly to make her heart stop doing those damn cartwheels), back up to Heiji.

Who was watching her intently, a shy little smile on his face. He had also produced something small, white, rectangular, and box-like, probably from his pocket, and was twirling it between his fingers in what she easily recognized as a very nervous habit.

“Heiji…?”

Ker-rash! said the thunder outside. Flash went the lightning.

“So…umm…” his blush deepened to a crimson color that should never be found in nature. She feared that if his face went any darker burgundy, he just might burst into flames. “H-how about it?”

Kazuha couldn’t help herself. She knew the situation was serious, but she just could not stop herself from bursting out into a bad case of the giggles. “How about it?” she repeated, feeling horrible for making the poor guy fidget more than he already was—but she just couldn’t stop herself.

Poor Heiji. He looked ready to either run screaming from the room, or simply die on the spot.

Squirm, squirm, squirm…

She got up, still giggling. “Do I have to put the ring on myself?”

—so if I get on the plane now, I’m sure Kudo would let me hide out with him for a few days until I can go into hiding in Europe somewhere because I am the biggest aho EVER and I totally screwed up and she’s gonna be so mad and I’m an idiot and—erk? What did she say? Unknowingly, Kazuha had interrupted Heiji’s extremely panicked thoughts. “…aaaah…ummm…eh?”

Kazuha laughed. “Come here already, genius!”

Really, he was so damn cute when he got all flustered-like!

Ten seconds later, the tiny diamond was sparkling on Kazuha’s left hand. She regarded it with a strange sort of awe for a while, then turned her gaze slowly up to her boyfriend-now-fiancé, whose face was still a lovely scarlet shade.

“WHOO!”

Letting out a war-whoop, Kazuha pounced on him. Her hands slammed into his shoulders, pushing him down to the ground; with the element of surprise on her side, Heiji went straight down. And it was quite some time before they moved from that spot.

“Sooooo…” Heiji murmured into her hair after a moment. “…I like Hangman.”

“Yeah. Bring on the noose,” Kazuha giggled.

“…kinky!”

“Shut up.”