Three years ago, Shiho's sister, Miyano Akemi, disappeared.
And it wasn't like she just vanished one inconspicuous day, never to be seen again. No, she just had to leave the day that the Avatar was executed.
It was suspicious.
Shiho could understand disappearing that specific day. Everyone else's concentration would be taken up by the execution. It would be so easy to slip away. Yet, Shiho didn't know why Akemi didn't even try to take her with her. Yes, she had offered before, but… not in the months before she actually left. In the end, she had chosen herself over Shiho.
…Shiho supposed she could accept it, maybe someday. But it had been three years and she still hadn't.
Ever since then, Shiho had been under suspicion. There was always someone watching her. And whenever she was in the same room as Gin, she saw his suspicious glare. She knew that Akemi had been with Gin and a few other soldiers when she disappeared. It reflected badly on Gin. He had a reason to hold a grudge.
Shiho wanted to escape, but she couldn't, so she'd just put up with this life for even longer.
Until she finally snapped.
She didn't know when it would come, but she knew that one day, it would.
Before the conversation - if it could be called a conversation - could progress any further, Ran burst into the room. "What are you doing here?" she demanded Heiji.
Heiji threw up his hands. "It was an accident!" he cried out. "I got lost!"
"I think he's telling the truth," Edogawa Conan said. The man looked at his second cousin, adjusting his glasses slightly. "He didn't expect to see me there; I could tell by the clear look of surprise on his face. He was expecting the bathroom."
"Alright…" Ran looked dubious. Her entire posture was rigid as she stared at Heiji. He wondered if she was that horrified at the idea of Heiji catching Conan's illness.
"I've recovered," Conan said, "from the illness. However," he glared at Heiji, "I would much prefer to be left alone."
Ran was immediately trying to push Heiji out. Heiji's initial reaction was to resist, but eventually, he gave in, not seeing why he shouldn't. He had no business in Conan's room, anyway.
Though the way they were acting… That was certainly suspicious.
"The bathroom is this way," Ran said, ushering him towards the correct room this time. She looked panicked, and Heiji vaguely remembered Conan's demeanor during the whole conversation.
He was calm.
Heiji said nothing as he entered the bathroom. He came out in a few minutes to find Ran still standing outside. She followed him as he reentered the dining room and took his seat. Kazuha shot him a questioning look, but he gave her a look back saying that he would explain it all later.
Dinner was awkward now.
"Why was it so…" Kazuha paused, then asked, "awkward?"
Heiji didn't respond. He stopped as they got out of Ran's view, then grabbed Kazuha's wrist and dragged her near a window, making sure that both of them were not in anyone's line of sight if they happened to look through it. Not that it mattered; the curtains were clearly drawn, just as they were when Heiji had entered the room earlier. He pressed his finger to his mouth, silencing any complaints she was about to make.
"Are they gone?" Conan's voice came through, barely audible. Heiji had to strain to hear it.
"Yeah," Ran's voice this time. "I'm sorry for inviting them, I just…"
"I understand," Conan sighed. "But we have to make our move soon. I know how to get the red dove."
Ran sucked in her breath. "You do?"
A brief pause, in which Heiji assumed that Conan nodded. "I've laid out everything here." A rustle of paper. "And after we get the red dove, we must bring it to the land under the hill."
"Of course." Silence, as Ran seemed to read whatever was on the paper.
No more words came out.
Pulling Kazuha away from the wall and beginning to walk home, Heiji said, "That was suspicious."
"I don't think Ran's a bad person, though," Kazuha said. "The red dove is probably some souvenir, and the land under the hill is probably one of the names the Earth Kingdom has for themselves."
"You," Heiji muttered, "are too optimistic."
Kazuha grinned. "Well, I have to be, if you're not."
"With all the secrecy though…" Heiji sighed. "I doubt that it's something as simple as that."
Kazuha had no response.
News was circulating around town the next day. Heiji didn't listen. His first destination was the inn where Ran and Conan were staying. He found the window, expecting the curtains to still be drawn, but froze when he saw they weren't. Cautiously peeking inside, he found the room empty.
"Fuck," he muttered. Conan had seemed too secretive to leave the room and leave the blinds open. This probably meant that the two had already left. Heiji scrambled away from the inn and started walking around town. He had told Kazuha he was taking a walk, and now that he found out Ran and Conan were gone, he might as well actually take one.
His mind drifted off, wondering why the two had left so quickly. Did they find the… red dove… and leave for the… land under the hill? Heiji still didn't know what the two terms meant, but he knew for sure they were suspicious.
He felt a pang of guilt for suspecting Ran, who had so readily trusted him after he had made his views on the Avatar's execution clear, but he had to admit that whatever Ran was doing with Conan, it didn't seem too good. Heiji was right to suspect them.
But I suppose… if what they're doing is for the greater good, then…
"Did you hear?"
Heiji turned to see one of the other townspeople. He shook his head in confusion. "Hear what?"
"A woman disappeared," the townsperson said. "Miyano Shiho. Some say it has to do with the fact that her sister disappeared three years ago."
"Miyano Akemi," Heiji whispered, every bone in his body growing cold. "She disappeared during the Avatar's execution."
The townsperson nodded excitedly. "Yes! And now her sister is gone too. I wonder why." Laughing, he walked away.
But Heiji's mind was racing. Ran and Conan's suspicious behavior, their disappearance, and now Shiho's…
They were from the Earth Kingdom, just like the Avatar…
It was too much for it to be a huge coincidence. Shiho was the red dove.
Red for the Fire Nation. And dove… stands for love. Miyano Akemi loves Miyano Shiho.
He had it all figured out. But would he tell anyone…?
No, he decided. He couldn't risk it. Let Ran and Conan travel to the Earth Kingdom with Shiho in peace. They deserved it, especially if by protecting Shiho, they were helping someone who was likely involved with Kudo Shinichi.
Taking in a deep breath and then letting it out, Heiji headed home.
A letter arrived from his father.
Want to prove you are worthy of the Hattori family name? Find Miyano Shiho.
He considered laughing in his father's face and giving him the letter back, but…
He needed to find them before someone else did. If they were involved with the late Avatar, he had to.
And maybe, just maybe, he wanted his father's approval.
He explained it all to Kazuha.
By morning, they were gone.
If you're not too sure what's going on with why Ran and Conan are supposedly bringing Shiho to the Earth Kingdom, don't worry, you're not supposed to know everything yet.
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My upcoming works are on my profile!