Saguru had begun to feel like the life of an internationally famous travelling teenage detective was... lacking in something.
He wasn't quite sure what it was. Life in London was fine, school was... well, school was school. He was there to learn, not socialise. Not that he had much time for socialising, it was hard to keep up with people when whenever there was a break, he was usually somewhere in the country or across Europe, solving cases that the local police had difficulty with, much to the delight of newspapers everywhere.
It was supposed to be exciting, and yet the lustre on the lifestyle had worn off when he wasn't looking. Travel was long and boring; with huge stretches of doing nothing. Casework was engaging as ever, but it was mere moments of intense challenge and then extremely dull periods of nothing.
He needed something to constantly challenge him, not these infrequent flashes of brilliance.
And then he heard about the Internationally Wanted Criminal 1412, making reappearance in Japan. More specifically, in the same area his Otousan worked. He'd nearly jumped out of his chair in excitement upon reading about this 'Moonlight Magician' whom no one was able to catch. Plans, theories and variables began rattling through his brain at record speed, as if he'd just stuck his finger in an electrical socket, filling him with energy.
Mum had smiled and shooed him off to Japan with a wave and an admonishment to find what he was searching for.
The thought haunted him on the flight across the globe. What exactly was he searching for specifically? A challenge? More than a challenge?
What was Mum seeing that he wasn't? She did that occasionally, no matter how skilled of a detective or observer he became. Mum said it was a Mother thing.
Otousan didn't seem to mind his appearance or company, smoothing the way for Saguru to use his Uncle's laboratory and joining Nakamori-keibu and the Task Force to catch the 'Kaitou Kid' before leaving him in Baaya's care.
Not '1412', as Nakamori was quick to jump on. Kid. Even if Nakamori didn't know the slightest bit of information about the Kaitou Kid, even the gender.
But it was an odd name for an odd thief, Saguru had mused as he discovered the knocked out officer in the back of the patrol car and cut the ropes holding the balloon the thief had obviously hidden for his escape.
It was almost a disappointment, seeing the smoke bomb and the obvious trick that sent Nakamori and the Task Force fleeing to find the thief. The thief who picked himself up off the ground with a faint cough as the officers scattered and picked up the painting, commenting on his lack of understanding of art.
While Saguru privately found himself agreeing with the observation, 'The Adam's Smile' was hardly what he would call art, the thief himself was much more interesting to look at.
Late teens, maybe early twenties if he pushed it. Male. Took the train to the heist, lacking in funds or unable to drive, Saguru analysed as he talked with the thief as the white-clad Kid scampered up to a balcony to make his escape, which was no longer possible.
"I'm curious to know," Saguru drawled as he walked towards the cornered thief. "How did you come to be a thief? What is your purpose in stealing?"
What he got back was possibly the most annoying answer he'd ever been given. "Isn't it your business to find out the answer?"
Even as the Kid's cape turned into a hang-glider, --a feat that Saguru was privately impressed by, even if it was a terrible night for flying due to the strong winds-- and they snarked back and forth about Batman, the thief's words echoed in his head.
And then the idiot had thrown himself out of the window. Falling right into Nakamori and his men.
Saguru had watched as the Kid had taken off onto the ice skating rink. There was a moment of trouble as the Kid flailed, then a cloud of smoke appeared and there were suddenly TWO Kaitou Kid.
One laughed and jumped into the air, spinning with the gracefulness of a ballerina on ice, while the other... slid across the ice face first.
Nakamori and his men chased after the first, who quickly disappeared into the distance as the other slid away and vanished. Saguru watched them both go, recording his observations in a small notebook. Kid was either extremely good at ice skating or extremely bad. Unusual contradictory behaviour.
He mulled over the information that night, almost not waking too late to go to school. He made it in time, doing his standard introduction, stating the time and where he had formerly gone to school. There were the usual cheers from the girls and one very unusual boy falling out of his chair that he didn't think too hard about at the time.
At least, not until later when the falling boy's lovely female shadow asked the boy out to a concert and he turned her down. Which was wholly unacceptable, a gentleman should never refuse a lady their attentions.
Besides, Saguru had heard about this 'Prince Prince' and the idea of a pretty girl attending the concert alone filled him with uneasiness.
So he offered to go in her friend's stead.
Her friend responded by laughing insulting them. He'd allowed his anger to get the best of him and offered a wager. If he caught the Kaitou Kid, tonight, on air, he'd take the lovely Aoko to the concert. If not, her friend had to take her, which is what she wished for in the first place.
A win-win situation all around.
Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way. He'd caught the Kid, true, wrestling for the sleeping mask in the basement of the Ekoda Museum, and then promptly succumbed to the gas. The Kid had masqueraded himself as Saguru and almost made off with the statue, had Saguru not chained it to the ground.
Kid still made his escape unscathed and Saguru woke up from the sleeping gas with the strange feeling of someone having slept next to him the entire time. Which, of course, was ridiculous. Kaito took Aoko to the Prince Prince concert and was happy.
So Saguru was happy. Sort of. He was not disappointed. Not even remotely, a tiny infinitesimal bit. At all, even as Aoko smiled at him with merriment, asking if he was a troublemaker.
Aoko and Kaito, spats aside, were nearly inseparable, to the point of almost completing each other's sentences when they weren't sniping at each other. Even then, sometimes it was like they only spoke half the things they were saying, filling the end of each other's insults with near telepathic precision and continuing on.
He found himself watching them watching them probably a bit more than was wise, but there was just something about the way they interacted that caught his attention. He watched Kaito insult Aoko, then flip around the classroom as if his spine were that of an eel's, performing acrobatics that made Saguru's back hurt just watching them. He watched Aoko running track, hair streaming behind her as her long tanned legs ate up the dirt as if she were part deer instead of human.
They sparkled in what would otherwise be a very dull period during the day.
Then the Kaitou Kid stepped up his heists, pulling three heists in a row, driving the Task Force insane trying to keep up with him. But in the process, he got sloppy.
Saguru got a hold of the Kaitou Kid's hair, which gave him access to thief's deoxyribonucleic acid, his DNA.
He spent a feverish night going over the information he had gathered, adding what he had observed and Nakamori's own observations. The results had come back that the Kaitou Kid was his age, a high-schooler between 15 and 17. Which didn't add up if Nakamori had been chasing him for over 21 years.
But when he put that together with the thief's pattern and his disappearance eight years ago, it became obvious.
There were two Kaitou Kid. The original, most likely crippled or deceased, and the copy cat.
... He'd spent a little bit of time sulking, once he realised that he was chasing a copy cat. But whoever the copy cat was, they were as good as the original, and the thought cheered him up considerably.
Which then brought him back to the original question, who was the Kaitou Kid, past or present?
He spent a feverish night, pouring over the High School Databases, trying to determine this. And come to a very, very annoying conclusion.
One that he settled that morning when he dragged himself to school, to find Aoko snoring softly on Kaito's shoulder. Kaito muffled a yawn behind his hand as well.
The number one suspect that fit his analysis was in his own classroom. Kuroba Kaito. All the data, save weight which seemed to fluctuate, pointed to him. And even the weight discrepancies could easily be explained by the varying amounts of equipment that thief carried. Even the death of Kaito’s father corresponded with the Kaitou Kid’s original disappearance.
Kaito grinned and teased Saguru on his haggard appearance, even as he moved his arm around Aoko a little bit to prop her up better. She snuffled in her sleep and nuzzled closer, mumbling about how it was his turn next, sending a pang of annoyance through Saguru. Didn't she know who she was snuggling against?! Irritation that Kuroba, no, the Kid, would to that to someone innocent like that made him growl.
He invited Kuroba to the Kid's next heist, at the Ochima Museum, to unmask him once and for all. With Kuroba there next to him, if the Kid failed to show up, they would have definitive proof who the Kaitou Kid was, confirming Saguru's conclusion.
An unexpected protest came from an unusual person. Koizumi Akako, otherwise known as the Red Queen of Ekoda High, showed up and dragged Kuroba away, leaving Saguru slightly surprised. He'd known about Koizumi, of course, but he'd never realised that she was in the same classroom as they were.
... Perhaps his observational skills were starting to lag, explaining how he hadn't put Kuroba and Kid together earlier.
Aoko woke up as Kuroba was dragged away, admonishing him not to do anything obscene.
Saguru's irritation was slightly soothed as Kuroba tripped and landed face first on the floor, Koizumi blushing red as she stared back at a determined faced Aoko.
Shouts of 'It's a Trap' that brought to mind too many Star Wars references echoed from the rooftop shortly thereafter. Kuroba returned, looking fairly smug and confident in himself. Koizumi followed, looking worried.
Aoko appeared with Kuroba that night at the museum, much to Nakamori's surprise. Saguru couldn't help but to needle him about his so-called 'Magical Skills' when Nakamori brought up the idea of Kuroba stopping the Kaitou Kid. Aoko merely rolled her eyes and excused herself to the ‘Little Patrolwoman's Room’ at their antics, calling Saguru a ‘mayhem maker’.
Kuroba nervously laughed and attempted to follow along. Which was when Saguru sprung his plan into action, handcuffing Kuroba to him. Kuroba, needless to say, was not happy about this, especially as Saguru explained his late night research and his suspicions that Kuroba was the Kid.
The officers counted down the seconds until the Kid's appearance in hushed worried whispers, the word 'zero' hanging in the air.
"What?" Someone's wavering voice asked from the back of the room. "... He's not coming?"
"Ha ha! It looks like I win!" Saguru gloated, turning to Kuroba, who looked like he'd just bit into a lemon, a bead of sweat sliding down his face. Elation swelled in his chest. This was it, this was what he was looking for, solving the unsolvable riddle, catching the uncatchable. "You'd better confess how you really are!"
-Which was the moment that the Kaitou Kid showed up, dropping in from the skylight above.
"What?" He was vaguely aware of Kuroba echoing his sentiments next to him, both of their jaws on the floor as the Kid grabbed the large jewel and thanked them for giving it to him.
With that, the thief pulled out a control and pressed the button, a helicopter type propeller spouting from his back, spinning rapidly and sending him soaring up through hole he'd just fallen through.
"DON'T LET HIM GET AWAY!!!" Nakamori's voice bellowed. Officers reached into their jackets, pulling out handcuffs on ropes, throwing them in the air. Some of them grabbed the fleeing thief.
"Kyaa~!" The Kid gasped in a very feminine voice.
Saguru blinked. What?
"'Kyaa'-?" Nakamori repeated, confused as well.
*pft!* Saguru was aware of a jerk on his wrist and glanced over. But before he could see more than Kuroba's grave face turned the other direction, the lights went out.
*pft!* *pft!* *pft!* Saguru felt a brush of air as something flew past him. There were shouts as the ropes holding the thief from fleeing suddenly fell, landing on the police below. The sound of the Kid's blades rose, the shadow of the thief escaping through the broken skylight illuminating the Kid's getaway. Saguru felt the elation inside of him fall away, dropping him into the pits of despair.
"Dammit." Kuroba hissed next to him, glaring at the broken skylight. "Troublemaker."
Such an odd thing for someone who was the Kaitou Kid to say... He shook the thought from his mind, releasing Kuroba with a mumbled apology as Nakamori started bellowing. There had to be some sort of trick, a trap, a way for Kuroba to get around it. Some of the officers bellowed back, starting a shouting match.
"There are TWO Kids!" Saguru joined in, elbowing in on the fight as he attempted to shake off his melancholy. One who was Kuroba, one who was covering Kuroba's ass.
"He's a witch!" Someone else shouted.
"What are they talking about?" Aoko demanded, making reappearance, standing next to Kuroba. Kuroba shrugged back. Saguru was aware of them listening for a minute as the claims got stranger and stranger.
"Maybe he's an Alien!"
-What was it with the comic book references?
"Actually!" Aoko shouted, adding in her two cents. "The Kaitou Kid is-"
"Is what?" A nearby officer inquired.
"-Is Gay!" She said with determined look on her face. "Definitely."
One of the officers fell down; starting a cascading effect that resulted in most of them sprawled on the floor. "o-Oi." Kuroba protested from the ground, having fallen over as well.
"What?" Aoko looked down at him. "Guys don't go 'kyaa'."
"She's got a point." An officer agreed.
Saguru sighed and gave up. "I'm going home."
He spotted Koizumi sitting on a rooftop edge on the way home, watching the museum with a grin on her face, kicking her feet back and forth as she giggled.
Saguru stared at her, backlight by a sliver of the moon, and wondered why he came.
He spent the next several days ignoring his classmate’s existence and working whatever cases people had asked Baaya for his assistance for. A multitude of cases got solved in a short amount of time, much to Baaya's pleasure. She worried about him.
Aoko worried about him as well, catching him about a week later to make sure he was fine. He assured he was and went back to the textbooks, doing his level best to not pay any attention what so ever to Kuroba or Aoko. And failing.
Or to the Kaitou Kid's appearances in the newspaper, including one what appeared to be one very bizarre act of vandalism, firing off fireworks from a skyscraper that was lit up to wish someone a happy birthday.
He only partially succeeded.
It was even harder a few weeks later; with details of another Kaitou Kid heist was splashed across the papers. The Kaitou Kid cancelled the heist to steal the Red Tear, a large blue cursed ruby from the magician Jody Hopper, only to appear and steal Jody away. Nakamori and his men spent most of their time in pursuit of someone disguised as the Kid with a gun. It was... worrisome, to say the least.
Try as he might, he still made mental notes, even as he mentally chided himself, swearing he wasn't going to add to the Kaitou Kid file at the moment.
Aoko showed up to school the next day with bruised ribs, the apparent result of an unfortunate collision with an inattentive person on a bicycle going home the previous day. Kaito's face was tight and drawn, concern for Aoko written in every line of his body as he hovered around her. Not that Saguru blamed him.
But it kind of hurt, like a dull ache he'd mostly forgotten about, watching Kuroba flutter around her with so much obvious concern. She smiled tiredly and bore it with surprising good humour, considering her usually hair-trigger fiery temper.
Saguru wondered about the last time someone had worried about him that much and failed. Maybe Baaya or Mum when he was younger, but not for quite a while.
It wasn't jealousy, but he was at a loss to name it. It felt like loss, pieces of a jig-saw puzzle that he was missing, sliding out of his grasp, rendering him incapable of seeing the final image, unable to put the picture together.
The school semester ended shortly after and he returned to England, to London, to Mum. He had piles of cases waiting for him and he spent a great deal of time travelling, solving mysteries and helping people. He adopted and re-habituated a hawk, named Watson, who travelled around Europe with him. The hawk had been named when they'd met, a co-incidence that amused him greatly.
He got news occasionally of what the Kaitou Kid was up to. Stealing a clock tower for one thing. The Black Star, a large pearl that was the good luck charm of the Suzuki family. Appearing at a Magic User's Club in attempt to stop a potential murder.
There was the mental debate occasionally, if he should return. He was still restless in London, but Ekoda wasn't precisely home either. Perhaps Mum was correct; there was something he was searching for. It was the curse of his name, Saguru meant 'searching'.
Then Baaya called. Saguru had been invited back to Japan by 'The Phantom Child Abandoned by God'.
It didn't take an unrecordable IQ to be able to translate that one. He couldn't stop the giddy feeling in his chest that the Kaitou Kid had invited -him-.
Saguru was on the earliest flight he could manage, Watson along for the ride. It didn't dawn on him until he got there that had arrived slightly early. Which just gave him some time to go over the gory past of the Twilight Mansion, and the mysterious mass murder that had happened 40 years ago. The other detectives began to trickle in, each watching the others for signs that they were the Kaitou Kid.
It was amusing, in a twisted sort of way. Like a bunch of hungry cats, all circling each other as they hunted for the rat. And then the final players arrived and everything snapped together, like the steel jaws of a trap. Only it wasn't just the Kid that was caught, but all of them.
Saguru realised the long term effects of this, sending Watson out to Baaya with a note and to inform her know of what was happening. Watson was surprisingly co-operative, eager to leave the blood drenched building.
Which was just as well, Saguru had a gut feeling who the Kid was and stuck to him as obliquely as possible. He was not sure it that worked, but when guns came out to play, it seemed to work well enough to draw out the real villain in their play, thanks to the aid of a most unusual little boy.
... It was slightly unnerving not to be the youngest detective around. Especially by such a large margin. Granted, the next oldest detective was 12 years older than Saguru, but there was a much greater difference in terms of maturity between 7 and 17, than 17 and 29.
He had been shocked when Kid had actually unmasked himself. Not so much by the reveal, both he and the diminutive Edogawa Conan were watching him like hawks, but throwing himself out of the helicopter was just a -touch- on the dramatic side.
... The Show Off...
Saguru couldn't help the smile on his face as he watched the Kaitou Kid fly away, free as a bird in its native environment. Even if none of them had caught the Kid, there was just.... something about seeing the thief. As the Kaitou Kid disappeared to a white speck into the distance, Saguru felt something slide into place, like he'd just found a missing piece of his puzzle. A slight peace like he hadn't felt since he'd handcuffed Kuroba to himself several months ago.
After the true meaning of 'Twilight Mansion' was revealed, exposing quite a large amount of gold in the process, Saguru made arrangements to stay in Tokyo for the next unforeseen while.
Which meant returning back to Ekoda High. And Kuroba and Aoko.
He dreaded that return.
He didn't quite slink into the classroom, but he arrived with a lot less fanfare than he had previously, finding an empty seat and sitting down, pretending to read a book while he watched his classmates mill around.
Aoko was the one to notice his return, her arm looped around Kuroba's as she ran up beside Saguru's desk. "Look! It's our detective!" She cheered.
Kuroba gave him a grin that was just slightly less smug than Saguru expected. "So the prodigal son returns." Kuroba drawled. "Welcome back."
Saguru cleared his throat, finding it uncomfortably tight. "Ah. Thank you."
"You sticking around for a while this time?" Aoko asked, leaning forward to peer at his eyes inquisitively. "It's been boring with out you."
"Aoko!" Kaito elbowed her in the ribs. She straightened up, looking at him indignantly.
Kaito rolled his eyes. "Adrenaline junkie. Just hafta make things harder." He muttered to himself.
"Like you're one to talk." She snipped back before leaning forward again, her shirt collar drooping down to the 'dangerously teasing' area. "But seriously, are you going to disappear for a semester again?"
"Ah..." Saguru flailed around for an answer. "... I am not sure." He admitted.
Aoko pouted at him, her lower lip sticking out before sulking her way back to her seat.
"She missed you." Kuroba said quietly, turning to face Aoko. "Don't play the game unless you're going to stick around."
Saguru had the odd hunch that he was missing something. "Okay."
Kuroba nodded grimly before sticking his hands in his pockets and sauntering away, leaving Saguru with the distinct feeling he was missing a lot more than he realised.
Classes resumed. Saguru stayed mostly by himself, people not wanting to put the effort into making friends with someone who might just randomly up and disappear. Which was fine with him, he still had his casework and the Task Force.
The Kaitou Kid went underground for a while, being unusually quiet. This had happened before, Saguru could pull out documented timelines and potential reasons for it, and while it was annoying, he didn't worry overly much. Kuroba was still his primary suspect for who the Kaitou Kid was and Kuroba was in class being harassed by Aoko, so life was still fine as far as he knew.
He went back to Europe for the summer break, promising to return when break was over. Of course, with his damnable luck, the week after he left, the Kaitou Kid was challenged to a duel by a French thief, Chat Noir.
And there just wasn't enough time to return to Japan to chase the Kid.
He spent several hours in contemplation, then went out and started doing what he was good at. Footwork and analysis. It was a race against time, he'd agreed to go to the Paris Collection with Mum to see what the spring fashions were going to be.
When he was satisfied with what he had uncovered, he called Kuroba. It was almost comical, he could almost picture the other boy's annoyed face as Saguru greeted him as the Kaitou Kid. Kuroba protested slightly, but listened to Saguru's information before Saguru had to run off.
It wasn't much, but it was the best he could do by way of an indirect apology or an olive branch. He still thought Kuroba was the Kid, but lacked the definitive proof.
He wondered if he ever would ever gain that evidence.
Aoko grinned at him when school started again. Kuroba gave him a few sideways looks, but didn't say anything. Kuroba's attitude seemed to thaw slightly towards him afterwards, which made it worthwhile. It was slightly awkward to hold a conversation with 'So I Still Think You're The Kaitou Kid' looming over their heads.
Things died down and were quiet for a while until Suzuki Jirokichi challenged the Kaitou Kid to a duel. It was almost laughable, the effort the old man was putting into to attract attention.
"You coming?" Aoko asked as Saguru eyed the smug looking Kuroba who was doing everything but cackling manically at the images in the newspaper.
"I'll watch." He agreed, nodding his head. "I don't think I'm going to chase this time." The amount of people and cameras at this things was going to be -insane-. He didn't even want to think about what a full-out sprint was going to be like with that many people, it'd be more like a mob or a mosh pit than anything else. Too many potential pit falls for his taste.
"Don't have to chase to make observations-?" Aoko chirped.
"Precisely." Just watch.
"Hmm." She made a thoughtful sound, watching Kuroba with a fond look on her face. "Well, let me know what you deduce."
Saguru paused, staring at her for a minute. No one had ever asked him that before. "Seriously?" The word spilled out of his lips before he could censor it for something more dignified. He hastened to correct his mistake. "I would have thought you heard enough about the Kaitou Kid as it is."
"I almost used to hate him." Aoko wrinkled her nose cutely. "Kid. 'Touchan's been chasing him longer than I've been alive and Kaito's, like, his number one fan boy. I wouldn't be surprised if Kaito shows up to school one day with the Kid's autograph on his chest or something, swearing he'll never bathe again."
... That was not a mental image he particularly needed. He shook his head, attempting to forget it as quickly as possible.
Aoko shrugged, apparently not noticing his discomfort. "But I figured I could get angry all the time, or just go with it. Kid's not bad as far as criminals go, he's mostly harmless. 'Touchan's chased worse."
"True." Saguru admitted, resting his chin on the palm of his hand, elbow on the table. -He'd- chased worse before, not that he was going to inflict those kinds of horror stories on Aoko. He briefly wondered if that wasn't what caught his attention first about the white-clad thief, that he wasn't a complete homicidal maniac, just manic.
"Anyway, Kaito and I are going with Kaito's Uncle." Aoko gave him a grin. "Wave if you see us, okay?"
"Certainly." He agreed. It was unlikely, but it didn't hurt to agree. It was the little things that seemed to make Aoko's smile, something he felt was a worth while endeavour, seeing as she was constantly stuck with Kuroba's company.
Actually, Kuroba really wasn't that bad.
He didn't see either Aoko or Kuroba in the mass of screaming people. He did see Edogawa Conan and the Kaitou Kid walk in mid-air however, and had to privately admit he was impressed. No one could think or pull off bat-shit insane quite like the Kaitou Kid.
Aoko and Kaito were giddy and cackling throughout school the next day, leaning against each other and whispering conspiratorially between themselves before quietly laughing. Koizumi would glance over occasionally, watching them with an almost fond look on her face as they did so, making Saguru wonder what precisely her involvement was with the troublesome twins.
He was no closer to any of the answers the next night, after the Kid's accomplice was revealed to be in one of the many helicopters labelled '8'. Tracking down the pilots afterwards was even more of a nightmare for the Task Force, there wasn't a local airport big enough to accommodate all the helicopters, making checking for any fakes that much harder. To add to the task, they had no idea who the Kid's accomplice might be, meaning that they might not even be disguised.
It was a monumental, near impossible task. Saguru refused to call it 'impossible' and helped Nakamori and the rest of the Task Force shift through the data, putting his analytical abilities, computer skills, and laboratory to use.
He was almost late to school the next day due to this, but managed to escape detention. Aoko tracked him down during lunch, following up on his promise to tell her his deductions. She was surprisingly insightful when it came to extrapolating ideas, although some of them were more silly and far-fetched than anything else.
But it was still nice to be able to talk to someone his age about it.
The ink on the paperwork required by the police departments had barely finished drying when news of another Kaitou Kid appearance came through the wire. There was no note, apparently Edogawa's insane luck had held true, his group of small intrepid miniature detectives stumbling upon the Kaitou Kid doing preliminary work for a heist. The Kid had saved the lives of at least one of the children, if not all of them.
He wasn't sure who had the stranger luck, Edogawa or the Kid. Make that the worst luck. Because -honestly-, who went exploring an abandoned house, only to find dead bodies laying around? It was almost absurd, but that did seem to be the way things happened around Edogawa. Kid just got large sparkly jewels.
Shortly after that, Nakamori and the Task Force got called out for a prank call, the Kaitou Kid being framed for murder. To say that Nakamori was not pleased about it was a severe understatement. The Kaitou Kid did not -kill-. And while a cynical part of Saguru's brain wanted to mock Nakamori for his faith in the thief to maintain his non-murdering ways, he had to agree.
He could -not- see Kuroba as a murderer.
Saguru worked on some other cases before Baaya summoned him to another case, this one involving a contest between the Teenage Detectives of Japan. He was the 'Detective of the East', something he thought was rather ironic. Considering his other residence in England, he would have thought 'West' or 'North' to be more appropriate.
He arrived early to take a scope of the land, as was his wont from chasing the Kid. The island was peaceful, the scent of Lavender floating in the air. The only other person on the island was the Caretaker, a rather sour-faced old man. They talked a little bit, but primarily left each other to their own devices.
Eventually, the other detectives showed up, Edogawa in tow. It was interesting, seeing the small detective again. He doubted anyone other than Edogawa's self-appointed protector, one highly irritating Hattori Heiji, realised Edogawa's rather disturbingly sharp deduction ability. So it wasn't a huge sacrifice on his part to give the position of 'Detective of the East' over to the boy. And it served the double purpose of antagonising Hattori.
Saguru wasn't entirely sure why Hattori got on his nerves within seconds of meeting, but it was obviously mutual.
Another one of the party, Natsuki, caught his attention. For some reason, Natsuki reminded him of the Kaitou Kid, despite the fact that Natsuki was female. The thought was distracting, especially since he couldn't pin point what it was exactly.
Hattori's sloppy style also annoyed him, rushing headlong into a crime scene without a thought for preserving it.
They raced to find the killer, a three-way contest between himself, Hattori and Edogawa. He was strangely mixed when the true murderer was revealed, sadness for Natsuki and her friend and oddly relieved at the same time, bearing Hattori's mocking that Saguru was better off chasing thieves than murderers with a slight giddiness.
The murderer was not the Kid. He'd feared that.
In retrospect, it was probably the presence of Edogawa and the miniature detective's penchant for finding murders that had cast his mind down paths he normally wouldn't tread.
Aoko smiled at him when he arrived at school the next day, asking about the case, as Kuroba read his ever-present newspaper, obviously turned to the 'Detective Koushin' case, with Hattori, Edogawa and Saguru's pictures prominently displayed. Saguru smiled back, telling about the case and adding the bit about better at thieves than murderers, just for Kuroba. He got a muffled snicker from Kuroba and a giggle from Aoko, releasing some tension from his chest and making him feel lighter.
After the publicity of the 'Detective Koushin' case, life sped up a little bit, people calling more frequently for assistance, keeping both him and Baaya busy. He saw less of Kuroba and Aoko as he was pulled farther and farther away from Ekoda.
And then the Kid made the spotlight again. Saguru watched as the trap closed around the Kaitou Kid... Only for the thief to slip away at the last moment, vanishing almost like magic.
And then it was announced, the Kaitou Kid was teaming up with another internationally wanted criminal, Nightmare. He gathered the information he could find about this 'Nightmare' as quickly as possible, not liking what he uncovered. Nightmare had a history of 'teaming up' with prominent and skilled thieves, and then killing them after the job was done.
The news was quickly passed on to Nakamori's boss, Chiaki, who was not pleased about the information. Nakamori was even less pleased. Saguru debated for a short amount of time, then 'accidentally' left a report on Nightmare on Kuroba's desk when Aoko wasn't watching. Kuroba looked at him suspiciously, then slipped the pages of the report into his newspaper, reading them with an increasingly grim expression while Aoko was busy talking with their classmates.
He rushed through his homework before getting Baaya to driving him to the art museum. He was a bit dismayed to realised that they were stuck in traffic, Baaya having fallen for an obvious trick by the Kaitou Kid to delay his arrival. Although it was kind of flattering that the Kid would go to the effort of preventing his presence.
Saguru ran through the bumper-to-bumper traffic, ignoring the odd looks that he got as he did so. Fortunately, the art museum wasn’t more than a mile away. He called Nakamori, wincing slightly as he realised how little time he’d been spending with the Task Force lately at Nakamori’s exclamation that he’d returned. He listened to the heist, the black opal earrings floating on the water in the sealed tank. A trick. But by the time he got there, Nakamori had already opened the glass case and the earrings were missing.
He quickly figured out the trick that the Kid had used to steal the stones, deducing who the Kid must have been disguised as just as an officer ran up, reporting that Curator Condo had been found in the Kid’s favourite hiding hole, the men’s toilet.
Which then left the task of finding the Kaitou Kid, and more importantly, Nightmare. Before the Kid was killed. Saguru, Nakamori, and the officers quickly fanned out, searching the side streets for any sign of the white clad thief flying through the air. What they discovered was Aoko’s voice, talking to a small child who was urgently looking for his Papa. The small boy was Kent Connery, son of Jack Connery, the Interpol officer in charge of catching Nightmare.
Saguru had been just about to comment that this side trip was a waste of time when Kent exclaimed that he’d heard his father and they all went running off. Saguru caught a glimpse of something white up on a cat walk, then the unmistakable sound of the Kid’s cardgun, followed by something hollow rattling across the ground.
They found Jack Connery laying on the ground, a pool of blood behind his head, clearly dead. The black opal earrings and Nightmare’s mask with an ace of spades embedded in it lay nearby.
Kenta cried over his father’s body as Nakamori spat curses, jumping to the conclusion that Connery had died protecting the jewels.
Saguru bit his words back out of respect for the crying boy, looking at the Kid’s crumpled glove in Connery’s dead hand. Connery had fallen, the opals in his hand and Kid had tried to pull him back up. The firing of the cardgun he’d heard was the Kid removing the Nightmare mask from Connery’s face, for the sake of the sobbing child.
Things became frantic, calls made, the paramedics arriving to remove the body, the newly orphaned Kenta clinging to his dead father. A female officer pulled him aside, talking quietly and soothing the small child.
Saguru moved Aoko away, providing a shoulder for her to hide her face in as a few tears slipped down her cheeks, biting her lower lip to muffle the quiet sound of her sobs. “Kid…” She whispered. “He didn’t… he wouldn’t…”
”He tried to save him.” Saguru whispered into her hair as he watched Nakamori direct his men to collect evidence. The men were grim-faced, their eyes tight and anxious as they scurried around, fearful of what the evidence might find. Saguru raised his voice, so everyone could hear. “The Kaitou Kid isn’t a murderer.”
Aoko nodded, hiding her face in his jacket. Saguru awkwardly wrapped an arm around her shoulders, giving her what comfort he could. He should be out there, collecting evidence to prove the Kid’s evidence, and he would, just not right now. Saguru wished he could see Kuroba, talk to him, let him know that he had done everything he could.
Eventually Aoko let him go and he arranged for an officer to get her home, with Nakamori’s permission. After that, he marched through the investigation, tearing through the evidence, setting the wheels in motion to prove the Kid’s innocence. The mood changed from uncertain to determined, their steps lightening as they snapped to the orders.
Nakamori and himself went to Jack Connery’s apartment, finding Nightmare’s masks and paraphernalia. Mixed along with the official Interpol reports were more personal reports on the thieves he’d worked with in the past, and how he’d gotten the Kid to do his bidding.
The Kaitou Kid had accomplices. An old man and a young woman. Connery had threatened their lives, thus ensuring the Kid’s cooperation.
Nakamori bit through the stem of his pipe. Accomplices were a surprise to Saguru, but it made sense as well. There were times that the Kid’s actions seemed impossible, especially for someone working solo, but became more understandable with the premise of assistants.
He didn’t bother trying to sleep that night as he built the case proving the Kid innocent of murder as tight as he could. Security footage was found, the rooftop the Kid and Nightmare having been standing on being free of cameras, but the space below was caught on video tape, a camera watching the warehouse doors below.
A black-clad leg slid into camera view, followed by Nightmare. Nightmare’s decent suddenly stopped as he hung from one arm, a gun falling past him. Nightmare’s apparent free hand was clasped shut and refused to open as he argued with the person above him. Nightmare falling, one white glove clenched in the hand he’d been hanging from. A white-clad arm with a bare hand at the top of the screen trying to grab him as he fell, then hanging there dejectedly for a second before retracting, Nightmare’s body laying below.
The card flying through the air, removing the mask barely a second before Kenta, Aoko, Saguru and Nakamori reached the scene. The time stamps lined up with Saguru’s own observations.
Nightmare had fallen off the rooftop, probably at the sound of his son’s voice, and Kid had tried to save him.
There was no explanation for Nightmare falling off the roof, nor was it likely to ever be one, but it made no sense for the Kid to throw him off the roof and then attempt to save him. The official report read that Nightmare accidentally slipped off the rooftop during a confrontation with the Kaitou Kid and the Kid attempted to pull him back to safety and failed.
Saguru was exhausted and tiredly jubilant when he staggered into the classroom the next morning, several periods late. Kuroba and Aoko were subdued, leaning against each other as they sat next to each other, both looking haggard.
With the Kaitou Kid cleared, Saguru found himself at a loss of what to do next. He couldn’t exactly go up to Kuroba and apologise, Saguru had nothing to apologise for. Except maybe not arriving earlier, which was the Kid’s damn fault for delaying him. ’I’m sorry that you couldn’t save the person who tried to kill you’ didn’t sound quite right either.
But he couldn’t think of anything else to say other than ‘I’m sorry’. He ended up staring at the back of Kuroba’s head the rest of the day, his sleep-addled brain mulling over the case and what to say, coming up with a big fat zero.
The next day, the newspaper reports covered the aftermath of Kid’s heist, sensationalising Interpol Officer Jack Connery’s death, although he was grateful to note the fact that the Kid tried to save him was blasted equally as loud. Nightmare’s identity was left a mystery, he noted with some confusion, until he got word from Nakamori that Interpol wanted to keep it quiet that one of their officers was a high ranking criminal. It was probably better for Kenta as well.
Aoko shot him a wavering smile the next day, reading the paper over Kuroba’s shoulder. “Thank you.” She said quietly.
”I didn’t do anything.” He shrugged. “Just followed the evidence.”
She gave him small soft smile, turning back to the newspaper over Kuroba’s shoulder. Kuroba looked slightly better than the day before, but still not up to his sparkling personality. Saguru made a mental note to keep an eye on Kuroba for a while, he didn’t like seeing the magician so down.
It was a rather large surprise when the next week, he started hearing whispers, followed by furtive looks in his direction. Saguru made a point of not paying much attention to the local rumour mill at school. He listened just enough to keep abreast of potential leads or something that might prove of interest, but the majority of it was mindless tripe.
However, discovering his apparent ‘crush’ on Kuroba through the local gossip lines was just the slightest bit of a shock, as one might say. Apparently his concern and long-term bickering with the magician had been misconstrued.
It was most annoying since he did most emphatically did NOT think of Kuroba 'that way'. He admired Kuroba’s skills and brain, but that was as far as his feelings went.
Saguru's protests annoyingly fell on deaf ears as the rumours swirled and grew almost with a life of their own, his 'longing' for the wild-haired brunette growing stronger and more bizarre with every passing rendition. It only took a few days of whispered words to drag Saguru down from the Golden Knight from England to social outcast and pariah, people apparently afraid to get near him for fear that it would ‘spread’.
Aoko finally caught him by himself a few days later, her eyes a mix of concern and merriment, asking if he did have a crush on Kuroba, then laughing at his vehement refusal.
He sighed, running a hand through his hair as he slumped against the wall. “I am concerned for him.” He admitted tiredly. “That is all.” Because Kuroba was likely the Kaitou Kid. Although Saguru was getting increasingly tired of this game.
”Okay.” She smiled at him, slow, sweet, and secretive. “I'll get Kaito to take care of it.” Aoko promised before she turned and walking away.
Saguru watched her go, wondering what she meant by that.
The next day, a new rumour had hit the gossip mills. Aoko apparently had a crush on Saguru. Which was silly really, because Kuroba had such an obvious crush on Aoko. A love triangle! How exciting! And poor Saguru, he didn't have a chance...
He stared at Aoko when he first heard it. Was this what she meant by ‘take care of it’?
Kuroba caught him staring first, nudging Aoko. She turned and tossed a wink in his direction, a secretive smile on her face before she turned away. Kuroba smirked at him before turning his attention back to that day’s newspaper, which was unfortunately free of Kid activity.
Saguru caught himself staring at the couple a few times after that, trying to figure out what the hell was going on because it felt like he’d just been dropped in way over his head.
It didn't help that before he could figure out what the heck was going on, Suzuki Jirokichi made a re-appearance, showing a pair of legendary amethyst jewelled women's shoes in the middle of a busy public crossroads.
There were days when Saguru seriously wondered about that old man.
He decided to try his hand at chasing the Kid this time, but got lost in the crowds, trying to figure out what tricks the Kid was going to use in this strange scenario. Once he got past the 'busy public crossroads' bit, he could kind of see the logic behind Suzuki's plan. Heights hadn't worked, if anything, they worked to Kid's advantage, so therefore Suzuki was removing the advantage of Kid's hang-glider.
Although the crowds were to Kid's advantage. It would be interesting to see how it would play out.
Kid flew in on his hang-glider, a small propeller driving him forward. Saguru noted the propeller with amusement, because it meant that the one in the sky was a distraction and the real Kid was....
-Jumping onto the pedestal holding the fancy shoes as the one in the sky disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Classic.
The nets as Kid appeared were a bit of a surprise and more than a little claustrophobic, being trapped -inside- with several hundred screaming fans. Many people called to Kid for him to take on their appearance, which made Saguru wonder how much thought went into that suggestion. While the sentiment was admirable, it showed a distinctive lack of fore thought. Kid would be rather easy to pick out with two of the same person running around.
He was not expecting the Kaitou Kid to Teleport, just vanish like he did.
Although the cards floating through the air were a nice touch, before his re-appearance and subsequent flight away. And then something shot from the ground, through the air, striking the Kid's face. A second object, smaller than the first, fell as the thief escaped into the night sky, unimpeded by the nets.
Saguru ran, tracking the falling objects, ignoring what appeared to be a deflating soccer ball and grabbing the smaller object before it hit the ground, dodging several fans, who were vocally disappointed at missing their opportunity to grab a souvenir of the Kaitou Kid. He ducked behind the shouting Nakamori and his men to lose them before examining his prize. It wasn't the large amethyst, like he'd guessed it to be, but the Kaitou Kid's monocle.
Saguru stared at the prize in his hands, unable to believe what he was seeing, what he was holding.
Nakamori bellowed at him and Saguru startled, shoving his hands into his pockets, hiding the monocle before he made his report. Nakamori grunted, then sent him away with an irritated growl for being a lack of help.
He went home, feeling slightly in a daze.
The next morning, he walked into a fight between Aoko and Kuroba before school started. "-Then you shouldn't have called me right after you found the room!" Aoko's voice was sharp and annoyed, halting Saguru in his tracks.
Kuroba's response was muffled, attempting to soothe Aoko's ruffled feathers. A failed attempted if Aoko's growl about Kuroba playing with 'his' pet detective was any indication. Saguru debated backing away or finding some place to hide when Aoko threw up her hands, looking highly irritated at her best friend. "Fine. But you don't get to mock me for my favourite detective either!"
Kuroba made a strangled noise in his throat, spotting Saguru. Aoko spun, noticing him for the first time. "... Oh." She said, cheeks staining pink.
"Favourite... Detective..?" Saguru repeated, aware of one eyebrow creeping upwards. Kuroba had a faint bruise under his right eye that wasn't entirely concealed with make-up, like someone had taken a punch at him.
"I'm cheering for Touchan tonight." Aoko said smoothly, crossing her arms. "Kaito's cheering for someone else. And the Kaitou Kid."
"Oh." For a minute there, Saguru thought they might have been talking about him.
Aoko brightened, as if flipping a switch. "We'd better get to class." She said, grabbing Kuroba's sleeve. "Come on, Hakuba-kun. We're going to be late!"
Kuroba rolled his eyes, allowing himself to be pulled along and Saguru chuckled softly to himself as he followed after.
The next night, Saguru found himself pressed against the corner of a building, unable to move because of the press of bodies trying to get as close to the intact multi-story nets as they could. It was getting to the point of a safety hazard, but none of the police could do anything about it at the moment.
Then the Kid cancelled 'The Magic Show', sending the crowd into a mad rush, tearing at the nets. Saguru was caught up in the surge of people. Time seemed to slow for a moment as he caught a flash of metal, the silhouette of gun in a hand. It was like watching through a strobe light as people streamed by.
Edogawa standing still, posture stiff and expression grim. Kuroba crouched behind the small detective, the Kid's cardgun in Kuroba's hand, aimed for the back of Edogawa's head.
Kuroba lifted the gun into the air, firing off another card. The Kid's voice echoed above the noise of the crowd, but Saguru didn't quite hear it, trying to track where Kuroba disappeared to. It was almost like Kuroba was a ghost, the way he moved among the mass of people.
Suddenly the Kid was there, on the pedestal again, the mocking smile on his face as he arrived the same way the dummy had the day before. Saguru hadn't been previously aware that the propeller had enough power to actually push the weight of a person along.
He was too far away to hear the comment Kid made to a pale faced and panicked officer, but he could see the almost man-eating grin. What ever the comment was, it was enough to make the other guards stay their hands as the Kid vanished.
As the night before, there was the pause before the Kid's re-appearance. It was longer this time, the silence stretching out after the '3, 2, 1' countdown. Then Kid re-appeared, sticking out sideways from the side of a building. At the top, it looked like there was another figure staring down at the Kid, a very short, small figure.
Kid pulled out the card gun, shooting at something and the white banner hanging next to the one the Kid was standing on started to fall, revealing a second shadowy figure. "Come!" Kid ordered, the hang-glider snapping out as he grabbed his assistant’s hand, the two of them gliding away over the nets to the crowds outrageous cheers.
... The Kid's assistant looked a heck of a lot like Kuroba.
Saguru stared after them, the monocle weighing down his pocket.
It was still in his pocket the next day in class. He fiddled with it in class, pondering his conclusions. Kuroba was directly related to the Kaitou Kid, yes, but perhaps he'd miscalculated. Kid was supposed to be old, according to Nakamori. Perhaps Kuroba was training to be the Kid and wasn't the Kid himself?
How far off were his deductions, really?
But then there was the bruise on Kuroba's face....
Aoko broke him from his musings and he realised that he'd pondered his way through several classes. Aoko was 'casually' leaning over the desk, wanting to know what he was playing with.
He glanced around, finding Kuroba and Koizumi's sharp interested eyes watching him and he slowly pulled out the monocle, setting it out on the desk. Aoko made a hissing sound, a sharp intake of breath before shoving it back in his direction. He hid it under his hand, pulling it closer to him, shielding it with his body. "I do not know why, but I have yet to turn it into Nakamori-keibu." He confessed quietly.
"Touchan would scream." Aoko breathed softly.
"Yes." And knowing Nakamori, not in a pleasant way.
"It's not gonna help you in your investigation." Kuroba said gruffly. "Right?"
Saguru debated a moment. "If there were fingerprints, perhaps. Otherwise I already have the DNA, there is nothing more it can tell me except to verify what I already know."
Kuroba and Aoko exchanged a look before shrugging, like that explained everything right there. Then someone threw a chalkboard eraser and everything went back to normal.
Finals loomed and the Kid's appearances dropped away again. Saguru spent less time with the Task Force, spending more time in his studies. Aoko and Kuroba disappeared during lunch, hiding in the library and talking to each other in hushed whispers, locked apparently in some sort of long running argument.
Tests were taken, Koizumi talked one student down from a ledge and committing suicide, and just as things started calming down slightly, Aoko came storming up and grabbing his wrist. "You're good at secrets and stuff?" She demanded.
He nodded dumbly. "I'd like to think so, yes."
"And research too?" She demanded.
"I'm an analyst for your father." He pointed out.
With that, she pulled him down two flights of stairs, across campus, up another flight of stairs and into the library. Kuroba looked up from a table stacked with piles of books and raised one eyebrow in a disbelieving look. "Him?"
"Yes." Aoko nodded, jaw set stubbornly.
Kuroba rested his cheek on a fist, holding his head sideways. "Y'sure?"
Aoko shrugged. "Better than we're doing now."
"Hmmmm. Point." Kuroba made a thoughtful sound before motioning at the seat across from him. "Sit."
Saguru frowned, but did as he was bid.
"You any good with astronomy?" Kuroba asked, sitting upright and pinning him with his gaze.
"A bit." Saguru shrugged, resting his elbows on the table and lacing his fingers together at chin-height. "It's not my forte, but I do know some, yes."
"Good." Kuroba shoved some books towards him. "We're looking for a comet that passes by Earth on a 10,000 year cycle."
Saguru glanced at Aoko, but she was already immersed in her own stack of books. "And this is for-?"
"Secret." Kuroba shrugged, his attention already back to the book he was currently reading.
"Of course." Saguru muttered to himself, looking at the books he'd just been handed. Dull, dry and boring, he could tell from just looking at them. He was about to mutter a complaint when he looked over at Aoko and Kuroba's books and realised that they were reading the exact same sort of book.
Never mind then.
"In that case, it is highly unlikely to uncover." He said, picking up the first book in the stack. "A 'short period' for a comet is anything less than 200 years old, because it is nearly impossible to verify anything longer than that."
Kuroba set his book down, piercing him with dark eyes. "Explain."
"The rise of astronomy came about in the western world with Galileo Galilei's improvements to the telescope 400 years ago." Saguru tried to keep his voice from falling into the 'lecturing tone', which would only earn him their ire. "10,000 years ago would be 8,000BC, the end of the Ice Age and the start of the Neolithic, or New Stone Age. Sheep were just started to become domesticated."
"In other words-" Kuroba slumped forward, resting his head on an arm. "-It's not likely they were watching the skies and documenting it."
"Comets that arrive close enough to Earth to be seen with the naked eye are exceptionally rare." Saguru added as gently as he could.
"So it's a dead end, is what you're saying." Kuroba muttered darkly.
Saguru hesitated, not wishing to crush Kuroba's hope. "Not... necessarily." He said slowly. "Merely exceedingly unlikely." As in, 'he didn't wish to calculate the odds because they'd be so infintensiably small' unlikely.
Kuroba snorted. Aoko nudged her best friend with an elbow. "I'm not going to say 'I told you so'." She said fondly.
"-But you told me so." He waved it off. "Yeah, yeah." Kuroba muttered, straightening in his seat. "So that avenue is a bust. We've still got the other."
Aoko made a face. "That's an even longer long shot." She complained.
One of Saguru's eyebrows rose. Interesting.
"Okay, Tantei-san." Kuroba leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms in front of him, his drawl filled with challenge. Saguru had the strangest sense of deja vu, that wasn't the first time he'd been called that. "What would make something glow red in a comet's light?"
Something that would glow -red- in a comet's light? He frowned. Extrapolating from the previous question, he'd assume that 'something' would be some sort of rock or stone. But to make it -glow-.... "Comets produce a fair amount of Röntgen radiation, or x-ray, which is a type of electromagnetic radiation." He sounded out. "Some types of stone, such as diamonds, glow a faint red when exposed to x-rays. If there were something in a stone was to react to that electromagnetic frequency, it might do the same and glow." He ventured.
Kuroba released a breath he'd been holding. "So not impossible."
Saguru shrugged. More likely than finding a comet with a 10,000 year rotation.
Aoko exchanged a look with Kuroba. "So there is still a chance." She said and Kuroba nodded, a hopeful, contemplative expression on his face. Saguru glanced between them. If Kuroba was the Kaitou Kid, or the Kaitou Kid's apprentice, did that just mean that he had aid and abeded a known criminal?
On the other hand, did this mean that the Kaitou Kid was looking for a stone that glowed red under the light of a comet that appeared every 10,000 years? Or was this all an elaborate ruse on their part to confuse him?
"So..." Kuroba drawled, leaning forward again. "Neolithic, huh? What followed that?"
"Bronze age." Saguru tilted his head to the side, mentally verifying that. "Height of the Ancient Egyptians. First Dynasty in China." Although the 'Bronze Age' was rather hard to pin down in China.
Kuroba not quite, but almost purred. Aoko didn't, but the look on her face was remarkably similar to a cat with a warm bowl of cream.
The Kaitou Kid's next heist was stealing an Ancient Egyptian scepter. The next was an Xia Dynasty jade pendant. Saguru was not entirely amused. He debated avoiding Aoko and Kuroba after that, giving some serious thought to it, but in the end found himself dragged along anyway. This, like the monocle, he figured couldn't hurt. It wasn't impeding the investigation and he still lacked proof that Kuroba had anything to do with the Kaitou Kid.
The searching feeling, like he was missing something, faded when he was with them as well, chuckling over Kuroba's sharp-tongue comments about ancient civilisations and Aoko's light teasing laughter.
He was present at the next heist, hanging around in the background at a large temple and observing. The heist seemed to involve something about attempting to capture a duck using a hatbox and a bowling pin, Saguru was rather sketchy on the details and wasn't entirely sure he wanted to know. Something about a jewel the size or shape of an egg.
And then things got... hectic. He wasn't sure if he heard the sound of gunfire or not, but people were stampeding and he got pushed by a fleeing crowd. His head collided with a brick wall on the way down and things got fuzzy. Saguru thought he hit the ground, but he wasn't sure. He was aware of hands grabbing him and pulling him away from the sound of the crowd. He followed them blindly, his eyes squeezed shut against the pain in his head, allowing them to move him on blind trust.
He was set under a tree, somewhere quiet in the shadows were the light wasn't so bright on his skin. "Thanks." He muttered, squinting upwards at his blurry rescuer.
It was the Kaitou Kid. Even backlit and not being able to focus properly, it was unmistakably the Kaitou Kid.
Two Kaitou Kid actually.
One grabbed the other by the arm. "Gotta go." Was the whispered comment and they vanished in separate directions. Saguru sat there in a daze, unable to gather the mind power or energy to follow them.
He told Nakamori when the Inspector found him later in a thick slurred voice, clutching the large bump on his head with one hand, the duck egg jewel sitting in his lap. He was taken to hospital and treated for a concussion and a sprained hand, where someone had stepped on it.
Someone had opened fire on the Kaitou Kid on temple grounds, prompting the panicked crowd. Nakamori told him to rest and not worry about it.
The next day at school, Kuroba and Aoko kept constant vigilance on him, hovering around him with worried expressions. He would have paid more attention to it if his head had hurt a little less.
Two Kaitou Kid. Kuroba and someone else. Probably someone close to him. He stopped the flow of logic right there, before it could be carried to a conclusion. It was the concussion talking. After all, people often saw double with a head injury, right?
Hah. It was his job to catch criminals. The Kaitou Kid was a criminal. It was his duty to catch the Kid.
…. So why did it feel like he'd betrayed himself by telling Nakamori that he'd seen double? Saguru clutched the monocle he was still carrying around in his pocket and held his tongue, even as Aoko invited him to their 'study' sessions.
He went, but stayed silent, his thoughts in a blur. By not saying anything, that made him an accomplice now. The Kaitou Kid was supposed to be assisted by two people, a young woman and an elderly man. Aoko mentioned Kaito’s uncle one time.
It all fit. He knew who the Kaitou Kid was, he knew who was assisting him. He felt slightly nauseous and wondered if he could blame that on the concussion as well. How had he fallen so far?
Kuroba and Aoko watched him with concern. The cynical, analytical part of him wanted to complain that it was because they were worried that he’d spill their secrets and were therefore keeping a close eye on him. The rest of him wanted to believe that they were honestly concerned for him, that despite his accusations, however correct that they might be, that they were friends.
He wasn’t sure what to accept.
Saguru was restless for the next couple of days, his world feeling off-kilter in ways that had nothing to do with his head injury as he questioned his logic and everything he’d done since he’d moved to Japan for the first time. Perhaps he would have been better off staying in England.
The logic was solid. Kuroba was the Kaitou Kid. Aoko was assisting him. It not only fit, it explained several mysteries of how the Kaitou Kid was able to operate. Saguru was not wrong.
Aoko and Kuroba continued to watch him, but held their own silence, giving him the space that he desperately needed as he tried to reconcile everything.
And then the Kaitou Kid sent in a notice. It was plastered across the headlines of the newspapers Kuroba was reading. Saguru said nothing as he silently took a newspaper from Kuroba’s desk without permission and read it. There was a large rare diamond on display in a private showing for one night before it was sent on to Hong Kong for sale. Logically, if the Kid wanted to get to it, he had to act fast.
He was distantly aware of everyone in the classroom watching him as he read the paper. It was public knowledge that he’d been quiet since being injured chasing the Kaitou Kid and everyone wanted to know what he was going to do next. He glanced up from reading the paper, to Aoko and Kuroba’s guarded hopeful looks as they watched him, Aoko gripping Kuroba’s arm in a crushing grip that belied her placid expression.
”Excuse me.” He said with as much dignity as he could, putting the newspaper back on the table. “I need to go commit ritual suicide now.”
Scattered confused applause followed him out as for the first time in many years, Saguru cut class.
He spent the afternoon in his Uncle’s laboratory, going over data on automatically pilot as he debated his best course of action. It was late afternoon when he finally decided to do what he had always done. Go chase the Kaitou Kid and play it by ear.
Nakamori and the Task Force were as lively as they ever were, bristling with barely restrained hostility and enthusiasm, eager to start the hunt. Saguru watched them, feeling detached from the group, unable to bring himself to join in. They seemed to flow around him, enveloping him in their fold without touching.
Then the Kid made his appearance and they were off. The seller of the diamond was a rather jealous man with quite a large arsenal of disreputable looking bodyguards and security officers dressed in black at his disposal, most of them who were not-so subtly armed, despite the presence of the police. Saguru found himself keeping a wary eye on them. The Kid had been fired upon during the last heist and the circumstances were ripe for disaster.
He heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire and screams, and moved in that direction, following the flow of officers, some of whom who were belatedly demanding to see the permits for said firearms.
A flash of white caught his eye and Saguru ducked the mass of police, dashing down a side corridor. The only thing in it was the dim light at the end of a fire escape. A quick closer examination showed that the alarm on it had been dismantled, rendering it mute. He stepped through the door, nerves on edge as he glanced around the dim alley.
Saguru paused as he spotted a flash of dirty white behind a trash can. He stepped forward, freezing in mid-motion as his brain took in the scene in front of him.
The Kaitou Kid had been shot, the white shoulder bright red from blood, a black gloved hand applying pressure on the wound. A large diamond, tonight’s heist, sparkled in the Kid’s white gloved hand. Kid looked up at Saguru, hat knocked askew, giving him a clear look at the Kid’s face.
The Kaitou Kid, who was Nakamori Aoko.
Aoko was curled up against a black-clad Kuroba Kaito’s shoulder, Kuroba giving him a narrowed eyed look, as if daring Saguru to say something.
Saguru swallowed, the facts crashing down on him. In the distance, he heard the rush of feet, some of the officers having finally caught a clue and following him out the non-locked exit. He had a matter of milliseconds to decide their fate.
”The hat.” He croaked out, his mouth deciding before his brain caught up. “Give me the hat. And the cape. Now!” Aoko stared at him, eyes frozen in shock. Kuroba was faster, tossing him the top hat and reaching out and tugging on the fastenings of the cape, disconnecting it. Saguru quickly grabbed both of them, shoving the too-small hat on his head as he rapidly wrapped the cape around his shoulders, clasping it closed with one hand just as the fire door opened.
”THERE HE IS!”
With a quick breath, Saguru was off and running, the cape billowing out behind him. He was several centimetres taller than the Kid, and his clothing was tan, not white, but he hoped that they wouldn’t notice the slight discrepancies as he ran through the back roads, officers chasing his heels. He’d studied the surrounding area, in case he’d have to chase the Kid through the streets or rooftops and he relied on that knowledge now to keep himself from running down a dead end.
A few dizzying, heart pounding turns later, and he’d gained enough of a lead to feel confident to take off the hat and cape, tossing them in a dumpster before running back the direction he’d come, nearly colliding with several officers in the process. “Saguru-kun!” Hands grabbed him, keeping him upright as he panted for breath. “Did you see him?! Which way did he go?!”
He pointed down another alley, breathing too hard to speak. They nodded, patting him on the shoulder before they took off again, chasing after the phantom.
Saguru made his way back to the building, his lungs and legs burning with every step. He hadn’t done a flat-out sprint like that in a while, much less that sort of distance.
He passed by the trash cans he’d left Aoko and Kuroba, finding them gone. He wouldn’t have known they had been there at all except for a single white rose where they had been crouched, its damaged petals just beginning to bloom. He picked it up, cradling the blossom in his hand for a moment elation blooming in his chest. They’d made it. They’d escaped.
Nakamori and the rest of the Task Force congratulated him on tracking the Kaitou Kid, promising that they’d capture the Kaitou Kid yet. He smiled and nodded in return, the white rose safely tucked inside his jacket pocket.
Saguru eventually made it home after dealing with the massive amounts of paperwork that a Kid appearance always generated, falling face first into his bed without bothering to change his clothes and slept deeply for the first time in a while.
He was a bit nervous and anxious going to school the next day, wondering if anything would change now. Aoko and Kuroba greeted him in class with smiles tinged with almost shy hesitation, as if they were not sure what to do now either. They circled around each other for the rest of the day, which should have felt awkward but didn’t. Aoko showed no sign of the injury she’d acquired the previous night and he was hesitant to bring it up, especially at school.
He got jumped during lunch by their classmates who wanted details on the previous night's escapades, unable to sneak away to talk to the pair. And then the troublesome duo disappeared as the final bell for school rang, leaving them having exchanged only greetings the entire day, much to Saguru's private annoyance.
Which faded as Aoko tapped him on the shoulder as he walked home, flashing him a mischievous grin. “Can’t catch me.” She teased, dancing around him as Kuroba appeared at his side.
”What?” He had just enough time to ask before she took off running, long tanned legs flashing in the sun as she laughed, her wound not slowing her down. He blinked, then took off after her, Kuroba taking off at the same time. Aoko was fast, the best track runner at the school and he pushed himself hard, trying to close the gap between them. The streets seemed to pass by in a blur and he was vaguely aware of Kuroba falling back behind him as her lead grew to a half a block before she drew to a stop at a major intersection, the traffic running against them.
She braced her hands on her thighs leaning over as she attempted to catch her breath. He drew up along side her, panting for breath as well, Kuroba following behind. Aoko glanced over at him, then looked at Kuroba, a crooked grin growing on her face. “He’ll do.”
Kuroba… Kaito nodded, wiping the sweat of his forehead, a crooked grin of his own mirroring hers. Saguru recognised the smile, having seen it many times on the face of the Kaitou Kid during a heist. “Yeah.”
He grinned back as they all struggled for the breath to speak, his own grin coming out as brilliant and crooked as theirs. “Alright.” He was already an accomplice with his silence, he might as well go all the way.
They all had different strengths. Kaito was the master planner and infiltrator, able to mimic anyone and everyone he wished, slipping into places with the ease of a cat, his acrobatics aiding him where his mimicking ability failed. Aoko’s was their physical re-enforcement, the one who went in when strength over subtly went in, especially if any sort of chase was required.
Saguru stuck with the same strengths that he had in the police department, analysis. After he’d gotten over the scepticism he’d had when told about ‘Pandora’ and ‘crying tears of immortality’, he’d thrown his attention to tracking down the legends and fables, narrowing the field down to specific targets, which meant fewer heists. Fewer heists meant less danger for all of them.
Saguru was content with his role, acting as double agent in the Police Force. He still tracked down criminals, gaining satisfaction in uncovering criminals and bringing them to justice, but he also preferred guarding the Kaitou Kid’s back to chasing the illusive thief.
Still, it came as a surprise to find himself on a rooftop several months later, dressed in a white suit and top hat of his own, hair temporarily stained brown, and the monocle he’d found ages ago on his face. Aoko, with her hair wrapped up in a bun top of her head, and Kaito were dressed in their own white suits and capes, standing next to him in preparation of a heist.
Three Kids meant more confusion for Nakamori and the Police. It was a scheme that had Kaito grinning like a coyote in expectation of the mayhem they were about to cause.
Saguru grinned back, his heart pounding in anticipation of his first heist as the Kaitou Kid.
He’d come to Japan to discover what he was missing in the exciting life of an internationally famous travelling teenage detective. He’d found what he’d been searching for in two close friends and taking up the trickster lifestyle of an internationally wanted phantom thief.
In becoming the Kaitou Kid.