[Hakuba's routine for the next few days is probably going to be this almost redouble of his efforts to help around the inn and ... well, be interested in talk of exploration and investigation, but perfectly enjoying the chance for a break from home. And sitting very peacefully with tea, probably abusing that tin of maccha he found since he won't touch the bag tea.]
[And paying attention.]
[He can't exactly stalk Conan, it'd raise other people's suspicions, and if Conan knows that him being too helpful is him looking for clues, then he's going to probably not get many chances to watch Conan now.]
[This means he's left with what he's learned since he arrived, and Conan's previous behavior.]
[So there'll be this nice quiet expanding mental map of what he knows about Conan and can infer from that.]
[Conan is involved.
-> The amount that Conan could contribute to the conversation about what's going on
-> The way he backpedaled to hide mention of something that set him off; he would know Beatrice wasn't from his world, so it wasn't anything related to Beatrice, which meant something relating to their world
-> Knowledge that one of Toichi's apprentices was "skeevy"
--> He's far too paranoid to not be used to looking over his shoulder for someone aiming at him.
--> Aiming a weapon at Kid during the Sunset Manor - he has reflexes for such things.
Conan is very mature for an eight year old.
-> When given a serious conversation, he only sounds like most children when he's thinking about hiding something; the more distracted from hiding things or direct he's being, the less he talks and behaves like an eight year old.
-> His mood and behavior shifts are very obviously premeditated and controlled, and yet, he's gotten very good at pulling it off.
--> Natural actor to some degree.
--> Small children don't pull off transitions that smoothly.
-> The more agitated he is and the more he's "consciously trying to act normal", the worse he is at acting normal.
-> Least suspicious as such around Hattori.
--> Hattori is in on it, and it's likely a practiced foil relationship; Hattori draws attention and will cover for the things that, if Conan were to do/say them, it would be showing more of the odd behavior than normal. The flail at the Koushien when Hattori seemed to be accusing the butler still demonstrates that it's not a premeditated "Conan is feeding Heiji", just a practiced act that they're both good at playing off.
---> Hattori knows who he really is.
Conan also comes up with some very impressive long term plans.
-> The Sunset Manor plot. "The culprit would probably talk to a little kid because nobody thinks about kids :D And they won't reveal themselves until they think everyone is dead"
-> Concocting a test that involves using himself for bait.
Conan has some odd moments of putting things together for an eight year old.
-> Note that, while Saguru was sharp enough to be useful as an eight year old, he didn't really put things together a lot of the time so much as notice details and point them out, and occasionally put together theories for parts of it; some cases he may've solved, but there were a good number of things that he didn't actually understand enough to work the information into stringing things together yet.
Conan takes casework very seriously.
Conan also seems to find it an irritant if someone seems like they may not be taking it seriously.
-> Decent number of irritated looks shot at Hakuba whenever there were half-jokes made during a case, or moments of acting too much like he was enjoying the challenge/treating it as a game.
--> Entirely likely that part of his "cat with fur rubbed wrong" at Self is reading the "enjoys conflict" attitude as "not taking it seriously".
---> He does not, likely, think that Self is taking ANYTHING about the cases seriously enough.
----> This is another odd trait for a small child involved with these things, and under most circumstances taking it that seriously that young would be a fast way to stress-based neuroses.
-----> Not that he doesn't seem to have a few simmering under the surface, But Don't We All.
He's willing to put himself in danger without pause, but would throw himself between danger and others.
-> He's mentioned being willing to do anything and get in the way of anything for Ran.
--> He's also given Saguru some VERY impressive glares whenever Saguru was either acting a little odd, or too polite, to Ran.
---> Hell, besides the incident with Beatrice, he got some very special expressions whenever Saguru seemed to be too friendly/polite/"dear god the chivalry complex" with anyone attractive female.
Conan's obv. been around crime scenes and the like enough to have the kind of "Oh, I know how this goes!" that comes from being around them a LOT.
-> Whatever background he has before he went into hiding, he spent a lot of time around crime scenes.
The "aura of intimidation" schtick - which he did a little bit of in the Sunset Manor, and a very impressive version of out in the woods. Perfectly capable of playing dominant.
-> The "not taking being called a mascot" comment. Pride!
-> He probably didn't have much reason to be afraid of anything before he went into hiding, or there'd be more twitch-reflexes towards being less confrontational and dominant/aggressive.
--> The dominant-aggressive behavior is INCREDIBLY bizarre for a child. He certainly DIDN'T come from an abusive or uncertain/dangerous environment, and even at that, even the most assertive child has some kind of reflexive grasp of being lower on the pecking order; children do not just take dominant-posture that smoothly.
---> He's USED to being taken seriously. It comes naturally to him.
----> He's used to having some sense of ability to speak with authority with regards to this situation - even if not an actual office, that he would be listened to and in a position to be comfortable forbidding/allowing who is involved and how.
(Theory - Conan is someone that grew up around criminal investigations. Apparently somewhere that ended up crossing paths with them -> would almost have to be parents/legal guardians involved; police, special agents? Even with Hakuba's parents, effort was made to keep him out of dangerous cases; for official business, a child's presence would be hard to take for granted around something like organized crime cases, particularly since organized crime organizations are known for using families against. Would mean whoever raised him around this wasn't official, since their involvement would mean him not being allowed as close.
---> he's never shown signs of any kind of mourning behavior, and the dominant/aggressive confidence thing hasn't been shaken too badly yet; he hasn't had anyone important to him die, although he's aware of, and afraid of, the possibility.
----> If he is a child that grew up around investigations, his parents/guardians were involved but not with official circles, yet had to be around official circles for him to learn police procedure; and somehow must've handwaved having a small child where a small child would be a target. Also, he is in hiding without any sign of said nebulous parents/guardians, yet doesn't seem to show any cracks in his confidence that would come with having them killed; even with Kid's attitude, Kid is still more cautious and more dodgy-paranoid than confrontational-paranoid. This would mean said parents/guardians would have to have gone into hiding themselves, yet didn't take the kid with them for some reason; he's not as driven as Kid has been, so he's not trying to SAVE anyone, so they weren't caught, just hiding.
-> And have to be hiding somewhere they ... can't take the small child? And yet are complete unknowns, which means their hiding place is very effective.
--> He's aware that it's generally not a morally sound idea to use a small child as bait, yet he's the one with the most visible hiding place, and if his guardians/parents are alive, they would have to be more vaguely apathetic and distant than Saguru's to not realize that he's going to be dodging their enemies while he's in hiding as Conan.
---> Conan being put into hiding where he'll be investigating crimes is practically BEGGING for him to be noticed by them, which would mean they're using him as bait?
----> He'd been trying to impress NOT being able to turn to authorities. His situation would mean that's an issue for him. ... Which would mean his parents/guardians would NOT be connected to, or involved with, the Organization, or they'd already be involved, and being alive would mean they'd have to be competent enough to be potentially useful allies; he's too comfortable with the Side of the Law and too instinctively defensive of it to have been raised by members of the Organization or defectors.
---------------------------> Any theory where each explanation raises its own vetos that have to be accounted for every step of the way without any evidence for said vetos or steps is FAR too built on baseless theory and conjecture to be sound. Attempting to explain him as a small child that's stumbled into the Organization deflates; he would have to be an orphan, yet an orphan with no actual guardians, but still having resources to arrange SOME sense of where he needed to be and have SOME kind of contacts or reason for him to be staying with the Mouris. The only actual older contacts that can be inferred would be Hattori and Kudo; he's too well-adjusted to be COMPLETELY raised-by-himself-nobody-around, which means it should be "Kudo and his nebulous guardian-whatever", which becomes another too-messy-to-take-seriously-without-more-evidence theory.
---> Dominant/aggressive behavior as a response to challenges when there's an opening to enforce it, smoothly pulling off deceptions and controlled shifts in apparent mood and behavior, not only taking the casework seriously but irritation if someone else isn't, and he's used to being taken seriously.
----> Moreover, he's used to the above under normal circumstances - it isn't something that only comes up with specific people.
-----> Children do not get taken seriously.
------> All attempts at a reasonable theory that involves him actually being an eight year old get horribly snarled logistically.
-------> If Conan is not an eight year old, but someone older that is somehow reverted to childhood, it would neatly account for his behavioral oddities, dominant tendencies, well-developed sense of personal pride, maturity level, and failure at consciously acting like a kid, as well as why it's acceptable for him to be on the firing line with those that are aware of things, particularly since his involvement with a DETECTIVE AGENCY would mean he's practically ASKING to run into them, and even possibly going to be on the proverbial front lines, and his sense of assumed authority in the matter.
-> Conan is probably not an eight year old.
--> How then?
Supernatural means? ---> Even with involvement with Beatrice, he does not seem to take kindly to supernatural explanations for events. If whatever had caused it was supernatural, it would be an idea he would be very used to.
-> Of all the things he's hiding, if he is not an eight year old, the illusion of being one is one that seems to get the most work put into it and be treated as the most inviolate.
--> Whatever happened may be related to the case; if not-being-a-child is discovered, it would apparently be "RF,ED", which means that would be enough to blow his cover of hiding as Conan; therefore somehow it's connected to the case enough that the other side would have some kind of tools to make the necessary leap.
---> The other side is working on immortality and cheating death.
----> If anyone would have a plausible, non supernatural means to reverse aging, it'd be them.
-----> They can't have the puzzle pieces to put the equation together that he MIGHT be a child or being as visible as he is would be too dangerous; for one reason or another, whatever he ran into of theirs, they don't know it causes that kind of regression.
------> Insufficient data; it's some kind of scientific something one of them had been working on that he ran across.
-> Who is he then?
--> Familiar with Shinichi and the Mouris.
--> Familiar with police procedure and investigative work, and quite good at it.
--> See all of the above shifted to an older age group.
--> Dodgy looks whenever I was near Ran.
--> Heiji knows who he is.
--> Heiji knows where Kudo is.
--> Mention that Kudo hadn't actually been invited used as a private joke.
--> Coughgrumble at Kudo having been used to lure me out.
--> Theoretically possible that he is someone unknown to me that ran afoul of them where Kudo is arranging an escape, while Kudo is in hiding with his parents, if Yusaku knows something.
--> ...If he is not eight years old, then there's probably a good bit more that he's figured out or knows that he's hiding and/or attributing to other sources to avoid being too suspicious.
--> ........ It would be almost too painfully convenient an explanation if Conan = Kudo, would explain how protective he is of Ran and touchy about me approaching her, why he and Heiji will jibe back and forth about Kudo in his absence, why a large amount of what he knows is attributed to "Shinichi-niisan", and why Shinichi is capable of disappearing off the face of the Earth; also the insistence on NOT approaching parents or other authorities would be a slight oddity or have to be treating me as a special case if Shinichi is resorting to his own family, which would be the only other logical explanation for Shinichi's ability to totally vanish that suddenly. The similarities in implied background would also lend to this theory.
--> He's also a native speaker of Japanese; narrows the field a little on where he's been living.