Case Closed Fan Fiction ❯ Murder Mystery ( Chapter 7 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Chapter Seven
Murder Mystery
“So whaddya think?” Heiji mused as they descended the stairs. “Well, he ain’t Kudo, but I guess two detectives are better’n one…” “They’re all pretty suspect.”
“The crucial time is between her arrival at twelve and her death at five past one,” Hakuba said. “And they were all alone at some point during that time.”
“They all coulda come here,” Heiji said as they reached the crime scene. “Takahashi-han already admitted he was alone here, but Higurashi-han and Watanabe-han coulda come too. She was lyin’ about the hotel- it’s just around the corner, which makes her “someone followin’ me” story pretty suspect too. An’ that gift shop Higurashi-han’s got the bag from’s just down the road. Both of `em could’ve snuck back at some point, then left an’ returned when we did.”
“Yes, and that’s very suspicious, and not just in regards to the murder,” Hakuba said. “The girl at the desk said that Kuruma-san went straight to the cafe after he’d finished taking calls, but he’s the store owner- he could have gone anywhere on the… hmm?”
“Whassup?” Heiji said, following Hakuba’s gaze. “Hold the phone…”
Hakuba knelt down. The white outline of Kuragi Chihiro’s body had been smudged slightly. On top of that, the copy of Crimson Moon was leaning slightly against the base of the bookcase.
“Hey, Otaki-han,” Heiji said, “when you guys tested the book, I thought ya put it back afterwards?”
“We put it back the very place we picked it up,” Otaki said. “Under the desk.”
“Then what’s it doin’ over here?” Heiji wondered, pulling on gloves to pick it up. Hakuba pulled out a tub of powder. The only prints on it, however, were Chihiro’s, as well as some of Shigeru’s, from when he’d set up the display.
“No proof these weren’t from him settin’ up the display,” Heiji said, “But it don’t rule `im out, either.”
“Actually, this would seem to be in favour of Watanabe-sensei’s theory,” Hakuba said. “This was moved after the police arrived, but Kuruma-san has been in the cafe since then. That suggests that someone wearing gloves moved this.”
“So yer thinkin’ there’s another party involved?” Heiji mused. “Wonder if they removed anythin’…” He glanced over at the other copies of Crimson Moon lining the shelves. His eye caught the clock.
“Two already?!” he yelped. “Crap, I was supposed to be meetin’ `im off the train in half `n hour…”
“Oh, that’s right,” Otaki said. “Aren’t Mori-san and his family coming? You might want to give them a call, Hei-chan. Unless the murderer confesses now, I doubt you’ll be able to meet them in time…”
“Yeah, I might hafta call Kazuha ta get `em…” Heiji said, dialling Kudo Shinichi’s mobile. He picked up after a dozen rings.
“What took ya so long?” Heiji said.
You called Kudo Shinichi’s mobile, baka. I can’t let Ran see me answer it. I had to pretend I needed the bathroom. What’s happening?
“Listen, Kazuha’s gonna hafta meet ya,” Heiji said. “I kinda got tangled up in a case at the Kuruma Bookstore.”
Kuruma Boo… isn’t that where the mystery novel convention is?
“Yeah, one’ve the novelists got murdered. We got four suspects…” He relayed the details. Shinichi listened in silence. There was quiet for a minute after Heiji had stopped speaking.
Not good,” he said finally. “Four shaky alibis and no sign of the poison on anything else… Not even on the book…
“Damn. You stuck too? Hell, even Hakuba’s around and we got nothin’…”
Hey, was anything missing from the murder scene?
“Actually, no,” Heiji admitted, glancing over at the desks. “Just that book moved. Why?”
Well, I hope you find some evidence. I’m pretty certain this case is gonna be solved soon, though.
“What? How?” Heiji said in surprise. “Hey Kudo, c’mon… have ya figured it out?”
Nope. But why are you calling on Sherlock with Mycroft at hand?
“Mycroft? What? What’re you-”
Later, Hattori.
“Kudo? Hey, Kudo! Crap.”
Heiji stowed his phone away as he knelt down at where the book had been moved to. “Not even on the book…
Hold on a minute.
He reached out to the books on the shelves.
“Well, at the moment, most of the evidence points to Takahashi-sensei,” Hakuba was saying, looking at his notebook. “He has a motive- whatever that argument was about. He was alone at the crime scene… But then there’s that mysterious outsider…”
Heiji smiled when he saw what he was looking for. The murder weapon.
“Check it out, Hakuba. I think we’d better go see our suspects.”
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“What’s going on?” Hiromi asked as the two teen detectives returned to the cafe. “Have you caught the murderer? It’s that mystery outsider, isn’t it?”
“I don’t think so,” Heiji said, setting a copy of Crimson Moon on one of the tables, a red smudge of lipstick visible to them all. “But we did find the murder weapon.”
“The test came up positive, Hei-chan,” Otaki said. “That book is coated in arsenic.”
“Yes,” Hakuba said, “There were two books. This is proved by the fact that the book found at the scene had no arsenic on it- not even on the lipstick print, which is suspicious given that the arsenic was found on her lips. The murderer, finding themselves alone with the book, and knowing Kuragi-sensei’s habit of kissing her books and blowing the kiss, coated it in arsenic so that, at the reading, she would ingest the poison from the kiss and her fingertips. Later, once the police had gotten here, they took an opportunity to swap the poisoned book with a clean one from the shelves…”
“At least, that’s assumin’ that the murderer moved the book,” Heiji said.
“I’ve learned my lesson about assuming that the thief is the culprit, thank you,” Hakuba said, glaring slightly at Heiji. “As I was about to say, there was someone else who could have gotten to the scene after the murder- the “mysterious outsider”.”
“Who was it?” Kenji said frantically. “Who was spying on Hiromi-chan?”
“Not spyin‘,” Heiji said, “investigatin’. There’s another detective here.” He turned to the doorway, where a moustached man in glasses and a tuxedo had just entered. “Am I right?”
“My apologies for startling you, Watanabe-san,” he said. “But I’m afraid Higurashi-san’s wife asked a favour of me.” Kenji and Hiromi both blanched.
“Kudo-sensei!” Shigeru gasped. “What are you doing here?”
Kudo? Ah…
“Well, apparently I refused my invitation to come,” Kudo Yuusaku said, crossing over to them, “Although I can’t recall ever seeing it. Primarily, Yukiko had been talking to Higurashi-san’s wife, who was understandably distressed after discovering the relationship between Higurashi-san and Watanabe-san.”
“Ya got that one right on the money, Hakuba,” Heiji muttered. Hakuba nodded.
“Both of you lied about how far you had to travel for your errands, meaning that you were buying time for something else,” the blond kokosei-tantei explained. “One person doing it would instantly have been a murder suspect, but two of you…”
“’Course, that does rule ya out as murder suspects,” Heiji said. “As fer bein’ adultery suspects…”
“That is something to be dealt with later,” Yuusaku said, glaring at the pair. They were staring at their feet, like children caught with their hands in the cookie jar. “Of course, the “mystery outsider” is also ruled out.”
“You were th’ one messin’ with the crime scene, weren’t ya?” Heiji said. “Investigatin’ it, anyways. When I found th’ poisoned book, I realized it wasn’t the criminal, since they would’ve gotten rid’ve it if they’d been there alone. Then I heard from… well, I had an inklin’ there’d be another detective here.”
“Correct,” Yuusaku said. “I found the book too, but I thought it best to let the police find it for themselves. Simply wandering onto the scene and pointing things out generally makes yourself suspicious unless the police know you well enough. That was why I moved the book on the floor. I believed that you’d notice it and investigate.”
“So that leaves us with two suspects,” Hakuba said, “Kuruma-san and Takahashi-san. At the moment, Takahashi-san is the primary suspect, due to the fact that he was at the crime scene alone before Kuragi-san’s death, and the fact that he was arguing with her earlier-”
“N-no! I didn’t do it!” Kazuma cried. “I hated her… I needed that money for my wedding, but she put the bad word out on my new book and now no-one will publish it… she’s ruined my career- but I didn’t kill her, I swear! Kudo-kun, please believe me…”
“We don’t really have any evidence one way or th’ other,” Heiji said. “I wasn’t watchin’ either of `em too carefully, too busy tryin’ ta help Kuragi-han… what about you, Hakuba?”
“I went to seal off the entrances,” Hakuba said. “Due to the suddenness of it, I suspected a dart or similar at first…”
“But if your theory is correct,” Yuusaku said, indicating Heiji, “The murderer switched the books while everyone was distracted by Kuragi-san’s death throes. That person must have been near to Kuragi-san.”
Heiji and Hakuba looked at each other, each mentally drawing up an image of the murder scene. At almost the same moment, they realized.
“Correct,” Yuusaku said again, as if reading their thoughts. “I already knew who the murderer was, but I’m afraid I did not realize who the target was until it was too late. You see,” he said, turning to the trembling murderer, “As I mentioned, Yukiko was speaking to Higurashi-san’s wife when she mentioned this convention. She had heard that I had been invited but had turned it down, and was asking me to reconsider to find out the truth about her wandering husband. I was surprised, considering I’d never heard of the event. I contacted a few other authors and found that certain others had, apparently, turned down invitations that they had never received. There was one thing that we all had in common- all of us, in the past, had been detectives or done detective work. Someone wanted detectives away from the convention- someone, clearly, with murder on their minds. Whoever it was had been able to select who was invited and make it appear that those who weren’t had simply refused. The murderer had to have control over the guest list, and only one person did. Kuruma-san… It was you!
Kuruma Shigeru backed away, white-faced. “Kudo-sensei…” he gasped.
“You were th’ one nearest ta Kuragi-han when she collapsed,” Heiji said. He and Hakuba moved around to surround Kuruma-san, preventing him from escaping. “When ya backed away, when I was helpin’ her, ya switched the books.”
“You own the store,” Hakuba said. “It would have been easy for you to prepare one of the books on the shelves with arsenic, and you closed off the area all day so no-one would buy one. It would have been simple enough for you to switch the books on the way back from the phone. You thought there would be time to dispose of the book later, once someone else had taken the fall.”
“I… I…” Shigeru sank to his knees, dropping his head into his hands.
“It was because of the book, wasn’t it,” Yuusaku said quietly. “White Sun. Her first book. There were rumours…”
“It was mine,” Shigeru rasped out. “That woman… she was the boss of a small publisher’s… I couldn’t afford a large one. She read it and smiled and told me she’d publish it. I was so happy… I signed the paperwork as fast as I could. But… that witch…” He looked up, his eyes blazing with anger. “The next thing I knew, it was in bookstores with her name on it! When I confronted her about it, she just sneered and pointed out the contract… I’d signed every character of it into her possession! She stole my work and never gave me a yen, and there was nothing I could do because… I’d signed, and it was legal, dammit…” He choked out a sob, wiping his eyes as fat tears began to spill out of them. “I tried to write again, but I couldn’t do it anymore, I just couldn’t…. in the end, I gave up and opened the bookstore. But every time I saw a book with her name on it cross my tills… I knew she’d done the same to other writers, but there was nothing we could do. But I couldn’t forgive her… that witch who stole people’s dreams… I couldn’t…”
“Theft is a terrible crime, Kuruma-san,” Yuusaku said sternly, “but the most terrible form of it is the theft of human life… no matter how lowly that life may seem.”
Shigeru barked out a little laugh as Otaki cuffed him. “I guess you’re right, Kudo-sensei… perhaps I should have just hired you to investigate her instead, eh?”
“I’m not actually a detective, you know,” Yuusaku said, stepping aside to let the police lead him away.
“No,” Shigeru said with a smile, “neither was Mycroft.”
“Geez, he coulda told me,” Heiji muttered. “He knew this was gonna happen. Little…”
Who are you talking about, Hattori?” Hakuba said.
“Never mind,” Heiji said. “Anyways, nice ta meetcha, Kudo-san. Yer Kudo’s old man, aint’cha? Kudo Shinichi, I mean.”
“You’re Hattori Heiji,” Yuusaku said, shaking Heiji’s hand. “Both Shinichi and Yukiko have mentioned you.”
“Kudo Shinichi? Where have I heard that name before?” Hakuba said thoughtfully. Heiji sighed.
“The Tantei Koshien, ya baka,” he said. “’Member? He got invited ta represent the East?”
“Oh, yes, him,” Hakuba said dismissively. “The one that never showed up. Well, it doesn’t matter. We solved that one without him…”
“Yeah, we got it wrong, remember?” Heiji said, glaring at the blond teen Tantei. “Had ta be lead ta the answer by a seven-year-old kid.” He caught Yuusaku’s eye as the novelist raised an eyebrow and grinned. “Well, suppose it ain’t Kudo’s fault he wasn’t there. He’s got his own li’l problems ta sort out.” Yuusaku’s cheek muscles twitched as he kept his amusement to a grin.
“You aren’t embarrassed by being out-thought by a mere child?” Hakuba said, a little testily. “Not that you have very high standards to drop…”
“Watch it-” Heiji began, before his watch beeped. “Half-past… that train oughta be… ah, crap!” He suddenly yelled. “I forgot ta call Kazuha! Geez, they’ll be waitin’ at the station…”
“Baka,” Hakuba muttered as Heiji ran for the stairs. “Hakuba Saguru. Nice working with you.”
“Quite,” Yuusaku said with a smile. “If you’ll excuse me…”
He caught up to Heiji at the entrance. “Are you meeting Kogoro-kun, Ran-kun and, ah… Conan-kun?”
“Y… yeah,” Heiji said. “Damn, I’m gonna be so late…”
“We’re parked just around the corner, we were planning to meet them anyway,” Yuusaku said, leading Heiji towards the car. “If we let Yukiko drive, we should make it in time…”
“Whaddya mean?” Heiji said in confusion. Yuusaku stopped and looked at him for a second with an amused expression on his face.
“Hattori-kun, have you ever ridden in a car driven by Yukiko in a hurry?” he asked. Heiji shook his head.
“Nah,” he said, “we took th’ train ta that freaky monster party thing. Why?”
“I think you’re in for an interesting experience,” Yuusaku said with a rather worrying grin as he turned and headed for the car.
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Thanks for the review, Mel7200! I’ll update as often as I can during the holidays, but it’s going to be once a week once school’s back. Gives me a chance to practice my evil cliffies, at any rate.
Same to you, luthinuvielle. I’m glad you like the story. Thank you for reviewing!
Thanks also to bobbyneko for your comments! Hope you enjoy the story!
Glad to help with the quote, silvershadowbreeze. I worried that it was too obscure since it’s kind of an in-joke. ^_^;
I’m glad my writing makes your day, delyrical; nice reviews like yours make mine!
Oh, and I think Kokosei-tantei means High School Detective, but since it’s just something I’ve picked up by ear from the anime I could be horribly wrong. Anybody know?
I do not claim to own any of the characters in Meitantei Conan. They are the intellectual property of Aoyama Gosho. All characters, couples and locations, if Canon, will be faithful to the manga, so if you’re into fics with weird pairings like Ran and Heiji, the back button is at the top there. The fic may not make sense if you have not read up to chapter 679, which you can do at, but I advise you to buy the official Tankoban novels (up to volume 27 are out in English at the time of writing) so that Aoyama-sensei can afford to continue gracing us with his imagination. Now, I hope you enjoy the fic! (If you don’t, please see my previous comments re the back button).
The Calm Before the Storm